The Autobiography of Malcolm X

by Malcolm X, Alex Haley

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Chapter 6 Summary: Detroit Red and Chapter 7 Summary: Hustler

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Last Updated May 18, 2023.

In Chapters 6 and 7, Malcolm provides an in-depth account of his life in Harlem, where he earns the nickname "Detroit Red." He works at Small's Paradise and participates in various illegal activities, such as gambling, hustling, and drug use. He lives among prostitutes and drug addicts and befriends pimps. Sophia, now married, continues to visit him.

One day, Malcolm is arrested at work for giving a prostitute's number to an undercover officer but is released due to insufficient evidence. He loses his job as a waiter and starts selling marijuana with Sammy the Pimp's help. He visits Ella, Sophia, and Shorty in Boston, where Shorty now has his own band and performs at small clubs.

White narcotics detectives begin to harass Malcolm, leading him to acquire an automatic pistol for protection. Paranoid about being followed, he starts commuting on railroad lines to sell marijuana to musicians on the road.

After returning to Harlem, Malcolm gets a draft notice. At the army induction center, he feigns psychosis by threatening to kill white soldiers and outsmarts the army psychiatrists, resulting in his rejection from the Army.

Malcolm's younger brother, Reginald, visits him after joining the merchant marines. Malcolm introduces Reginald to New York's vibrant music scene and artists like Billie Holiday and Lionel Hampton. Reginald starts dating a black waitress who treats him like royalty, and he and Malcolm grow close.

Racial tensions in Harlem escalate, and when white police officers shoot a black soldier in a Harlem hotel, the community riots and loots local businesses. Afterward, white people become more fearful and stop visiting Harlem, forcing hustlers and prostitutes to seek legitimate work as their primary income source from white customers dwindles.

In 1945, Malcolm starts committing armed robberies alongside Sammy the Pimp. He becomes a numbers runner and pimp, expanding his operations beyond Harlem. He later works for Hymie, transporting bootleg liquor from Long Island to New York bars. Hymie vanishes after rumors circulate that he's a government informant. As Chapter 7 ends, Malcolm's life is in danger, but he expresses immense gratitude to God for helping him survive his criminal lifestyle.

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