The Autobiography of Malcolm X

A slight, soft spoken man, Elijah Muhammad founded and led the Nation of Islam from 1934 until 1975. After Malcolm converts, he becomes his spiritual director and assumes a father-figure role in his life. Muhammad’s apparent righteousness and humility inspire both the support of Malcolm and of the Nation at large. However, Muhammad eventually becomes jealous of Malcolm’s growing fame, and he ultimately makes Malcolm into a scapegoat to divert from scandals around his own sexual affairs.

Elijah Muhammad Quotes in The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The The Autobiography of Malcolm X quotes below are all either spoken by Elijah Muhammad or refer to Elijah Muhammad. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Ballantine Books edition of The Autobiography of Malcolm X published in 1992.
Chapter 11 Quotes

Let me tell you something: from then until I left that prison, in every free moment I had, if I was not reading in the library, I was reading on my bunk. You couldn't have gotten me out of books with a wedge. Between Mr. Muhammad's teachings, my correspondence, my visitors—usually Ella and Reginald—and my reading of books, months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free in my life.

Related Characters: Malcolm X (speaker), Elijah Muhammad, Ella Little, Reginald Little
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12 Quotes

And Allah blessed me to remain true, firm and strong in my faith in Islam, despite many severe trials to my faith. And even when events produced a crisis between Elijah Muhammad and me, I told him at the beginning of the crisis, with all the sincerity I had in me, that I still believed in him more strongly than he believed in himself.

Related Characters: Malcolm X (speaker), Elijah Muhammad
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 14 Quotes

“Today's Uncle Tom doesn't wear a handkerchief on his head. This modern, twentieth-century Uncle Thomas now often wears a top hat. He's usually well-dressed and well-educated. He's often the personification of culture and refinement. The twentieth-century Uncle Thomas sometimes speaks with a Yale or Harvard accent. Sometimes he is known as Professor, Doctor, Judge, and Reverend, even Right Reverend Doctor. This twentieth-century Uncle Thomas is a professional Negro . . . by that I mean his profession is being a Negro for the white man.”

Related Characters: Malcolm X (speaker), Elijah Muhammad
Page Number: 248
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

And that was how, after twelve years of never thinking for as much as five minutes about myself, I became able finally to muster the nerve, and the strength, to start facing the facts, to think for myself.

Related Characters: Malcolm X (speaker), Elijah Muhammad
Page Number: 313
Explanation and Analysis:

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Elijah Muhammad Character Timeline in The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The timeline below shows where the character Elijah Muhammad appears in The Autobiography of Malcolm X. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 10: Satan
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Allah, Reginald says, came to America and revealed himself to a man named Elijah. But there was also a devil, and this devil only had 33 degrees of knowledge,... (full context)
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...all converted to the Nation of Islam. They urge him to accept the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, who is described as a wise, gentle man—and a black man just like Malcolm.... (full context)
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...his older sister Hilda to come and visit him. She urges Malcolm to write to Elijah Muhammad, who understands the hardships of prisoners, as he himself just finished a five-year sentence... (full context)
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...Master W. D. Fard, the mixed-race founder of the Nation of Islam, who then left Elijah Muhammad in charge of leading it. (full context)
Chapter 11: Saved
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...many drafts and attempts to express himself, Malcolm manages to write a short letter to Elijah Muhammad. He receives a very gracious typed response in which Elijah tells him to have... (full context)
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...dives head first into his new faith. He writes two letters a day, one to Elijah and one to one of his siblings. Meanwhile, he also writes letters to all the... (full context)
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Elijah Muhammad’s teachings about the “whitening” of history really struck a chord with Malcolm and thousands... (full context)
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...to better understand the oppression of black men and how to defend the teachings of Elijah Muhammad. Rather than seeking a degree or some kind of recognition, his studying is meant... (full context)
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...with his brother. But Reginald is uninterested, and in fact begins to speak poorly of Elijah Muhammad. Then Malcolm learns that Reginald has been expelled from the Nation of Islam for... (full context)
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Elijah responds to Malcolm’s letter, asking why he does not trust in the truth. He knows... (full context)
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...but the result of his entire family turning their backs on him in favor of Elijah’s teachings. (full context)
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...issue rest there. Malcolm’s fame in the prison spreads, giving him leverage to start spreading Elijah Muhammad’s teachings. (full context)
Chapter 12: Savior
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...come to Detroit to live with them, as he still has much to learn about Elijah Muhammad’s teachings. Wilfred secures Malcolm a job at the furniture store he manages, ticking Malcolm’s... (full context)
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...Malcolm anxiously awaits their Temple’s caravan trip to Chicago, where they will go to hear Elijah Muhammad himself speak in Temple Number Two. Never again has Malcolm felt such warmth and... (full context)
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Elijah speaks to the crowd about his devotion to spreading the word of God to them,... (full context)
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...has indeed been faithful to his faith ever since, and he was always faithful to Elijah Muhammad, even when a “crisis” arose between them. According to Malcolm, jealousy has driven the... (full context)
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...a very gracious host to them all. As they talk during dinner, Malcolm asks for Elijah’s advice on the recruitment of new members. When Elijah tells him to go for the... (full context)
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...he works hard, it is several months before the Temple’s numbers begin to grow significantly. Elijah continues to praise Malcolm’s good work, and Malcolm in turn “worships him.” Meanwhile, Malcolm is... (full context)
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At his dinner table, Elijah begins to speak often about his need for enthusiastic young ministers to spread his word... (full context)
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...hears Mr. Muhammad speak and stays at his house. There, he talks for hours with Elijah and his mother, Mother Marie. Then Elijah and Malcolm drive to visit the Muslim-owned stores... (full context)
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...Mother Marie tells Malcolm all about her son’s childhood. She once had a vision that Elijah would become a great man; and though he was quiet and not the oldest, he... (full context)
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Elijah Muhammad could never stand to be degraded or cursed at by his employers, and he... (full context)
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...had been waiting for. Fard then set up the first University of Islam in Detroit. Elijah Poole, renamed Elijah Muhammad, was named head minister over all the other ministers, causing great... (full context)
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The other ministers then began to make attempts on Elijah’s life, forcing him to flee for Washington, D.C., where he founded Temple Four. With “hypocrites”... (full context)
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...cause him a serious spiritual crisis, he says, when later he no longer believes in Elijah Muhammad’s integrity. (full context)
Chapter 13: Minister Malcolm X
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After realizing that Elijah Muhammad needs more help in spreading the faith, Malcolm quits his job at Ford and... (full context)
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Once Elijah feels that Malcolm is ready, he sends him to Boston to work with Brother Lloyd... (full context)
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...space and folding chairs to establish a new temple. He joyously reports the news to Elijah Muhammad. (full context)
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...locals take to Islam very quickly and by May, Temple Twelve is up and running. Elijah then sends Malcolm to lead Temple Seven in New York City, which fills Malcolm with... (full context)
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...for Malcolm, while many respond to his preaching, only a few will commit to following Elijah Muhammad and becoming Muslims, due to the strict moral code involved: no fornication, pork, tobacco,... (full context)
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Malcolm’s enthusiasm brings him frequent chastisement from Elijah Muhammad on his visits to Chicago. Malcolm often feels that the other ministers are not... (full context)
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In 1955, Elijah sends Malcolm on his first long-distance trip to Atlanta, Georgia, where he helps Brother James... (full context)
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...very little to continuously try and meet the demands of his job. Around this time, Elijah authorizes Temple Seven to buy a car for Malcolm to use for his traveling preaching,... (full context)
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...if a marriage might help her in this situation. He also notices that, according to Elijah’s teaching, she is the right height and age for him. (full context)
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...being shocked at his own desires, Malcolm decides to confront the possibility directly. He tells Elijah he is thinking of marriage—and Elijah smiles and asks to meet the woman. On the... (full context)
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...to fly back to New York for nursing school, but she quickly returns. In Detroit, Elijah makes the marriage announcement before the whole Temple, shocking many sisters who had shown interest... (full context)
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...is astonished to see his half-sister Ella among those standing, signaling her readiness to follow Elijah Muhammad. It may have taken five years to convince her, but he’s all the more... (full context)
Chapter 14: Black Muslims
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...at Boston University, would like to write his dissertation on the Nation of Islam. With Elijah’s blessing, Malcolm gives both projects the go ahead. (full context)
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Malcolm and Elijah Muhammad have both written columns for the Amsterdam News—the Harlem newspaper—but Malcolm wants to expand... (full context)
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At this time, Malcolm travels as Elijah Muhammad’s representative to many nations, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, Nigeria, and Ghana, who... (full context)
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...to the negative coverage. Though he is angry, he remains reserved in his responses, on Elijah’s orders. Malcolm particularly notes that American journalists push the “hate-cult” narrative more than European ones... (full context)
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Utilizing his knowledge of history, Malcolm defends Elijah against claims of being a “demagogue” by explaining that a demagogue means “teacher of the... (full context)
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...the press, his personal anger is reserved for the black leaders who attack the Nation. Elijah asks Malcolm and the others to avoid lashing back at them, as this is what... (full context)
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...asking Malcolm to come on and debate with both white and black scholars to defend Elijah Muhammad and the Nation. Passionately furious, he agrees with no hesitation. As Malcolm goes to... (full context)
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...radio, even if he was the one on camera, his entire goal was to represent Elijah Muhammad to the best of his abilities and to never accept any praise for himself. (full context)
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...phenomenal success. Now, instead of small caravans of ten cars going to Chicago to hear Elijah Muhammad speak, there are whole fleets of buses coming from the East Coast cities. The... (full context)
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The ministers and leaders of the Nation sit up on stage behind Elijah Muhammad’s chair. As the event gets ready to begin, new and old ministers alike greet... (full context)
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Malcolm goes up to the microphone to warm up the crowd for Elijah, addressing them as “black people of all faiths.” The main point he underlines is that... (full context)
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Then, as Malcolm continues to speak, Elijah Muhammad begins to approach the stage through the center aisle. A slight, fragile man, his... (full context)
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Elijah Muhammad then speaks, and the Muslim crowd yells out their praises as he pauses. Then,... (full context)
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One of the Nation’s greatest points of pride is that Elijah Muhammad does not accept financial backing from any white organizations or donors. They only accept... (full context)
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As they hold more rallies, Elijah Muhammad starts to allow a small section for white press, and then a small visitor’s... (full context)
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...The phones of the Nation’s branches and of its leaders’ houses are all tapped. Yet Elijah tells them to have no fear, for they have the truth on their side. (full context)
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...new Islamic Center is to be built in Chicago as the headquarters of the nation. Elijah Muhammad travels to the Middle East, and then directs that all Temples be known as... (full context)
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Thanks to Malcolm’s hard work and fundraising throughout the Nation, Elijah’s eight children all become full-time employees of the Nation, serving in different offices. This is... (full context)
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Elijah’s bronchial cough, which has bothered him for many years, becomes enflamed after so many public... (full context)
Chapter 15: Icarus
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...Northern liberals, who do not see themselves as implicit in a racist system. Malcolm and Elijah Muhammad see the honest and upfront racism of Southerners to be much easier to combat... (full context)
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Malcolm tells Elijah that these speaking tours allow more people, especially those in elite universities, to hear their... (full context)
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...he sees how much he’s changed and grown, thanks to the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad. This awareness makes him more grateful than ever for how Elijah has led him... (full context)
Chapter 16: Out
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As Elijah Muhammad’s bronchial condition begins to grow worse in 1961, he misses several major rallies and... (full context)
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...see him as power-hungry and prideful. He pays them no concern, as he remembers that Elijah had prophesied to him that his work would inspire jealousy; instead, he places his faith... (full context)
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...very uncomfortable, and he does everything he can to direct the attention and praise towards Elijah Muhammad instead. For example, Malcolm passes out photos for reporters to use of Elijah instead... (full context)
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...appears in the “Muhammad Speaks” newspaper that he himself founded. Now run by one of Elijah’s sons, the staff has been given orders to run as little as possible about Malcolm.... (full context)
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...than losses for himself. Nonetheless, Malcolm still has every reason to believe that he enjoys Elijah’s support. In 1963 at a rally in Philadelphia, Elijah embraces Malcolm, makes him National Minister... (full context)
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...avoid preaching about morality and only talk about social doctrine. He has just learned that Elijah Muhammad himself has broken their moral code. (full context)
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In 1963, Elijah Muhammad faces paternity suits from two of his former secretaries, both of them in their... (full context)
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...the Muslim community for a sexual affair. He had put the Nation and faith in Elijah above even the ties of family, a decision that he now finds deeply troubling. (full context)
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...to act. He first flies to Chicago, where he meets with Wallace Muhammad, one of Elijah’s sons. He instantly understands why Malcolm has come, and they begin to discuss what should... (full context)
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From there, Malcolm seeks out three of Elijah’s former secretaries to hear the story directly from them. They all say that Elijah is... (full context)
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Feeling disloyal through his inaction, Malcolm decides to write a letter to Elijah, telling him about the rumors that have been circulating about him and asking for guidance.... (full context)
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In April 1963, Malcolm flies to Phoenix to see Elijah. They embrace, and then Malcolm tells Elijah about the content of the rumors and how... (full context)
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...However, this move is then recast by the Chicago headquarters as Malcolm spreading rumors about Elijah, rather than as him trying to defend him. The plan, apparently, is to unite Muslims... (full context)
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...on the assassination. A few days later, Malcolm goes to an event to speak in Elijah’s place, and he delivers a prepared speech on how white America will reap the hate... (full context)
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Malcolm then flies out to see Elijah, where he feels that something bad is going to happen. Elijah brings up Malcolm’s comments... (full context)
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...killed for what he’s done, a serious threat which he feels could only occur with Elijah’s approval. (full context)
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Malcolm meets Cassius in 1962, when he comes into the Muslim restaurant in Detroit before Elijah is about to speak in the mosque. A handsome, likeable person, Cassius and his brother... (full context)
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Malcolm is still trying to convince himself that Elijah’s mistakes were actually divine prophecy, and therefore not really mistakes. But he cannot deny that... (full context)
Chapter 18: El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz
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...asked about his split with the Nation, which he attributes to political differences, while affirming Elijah’s very important message for African Americans. He is also firmly corrected from using the word... (full context)
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...has been in the country for a few days. As Cassius is still aligned with Elijah and the Nation, they barely speak, but Malcolm does sincerely wish him well. (full context)
Chapter 19: 1965
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...solitary confinement, envisioning large crowds before him. He also thought back over his time serving Elijah Muhammad in the Nation and how he had believed in him as a divine figure,... (full context)
Epilogue: Alex Haley
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...called the Nation of Islam, which is only for black people and is led by Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X. While visiting the Muslim restaurant in Harlem, Alex proposes to Malcolm... (full context)
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Finally, Malcolm suggests Alex go to Chicago to ask permission from Elijah. Elijah talks primarily of being under government surveillance while “sizing up” Alex. When Alex returns... (full context)
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Alex publishes his piece, entitled, “Mr. Muhammad Speaks”, and he is praised by Elijah and Malcolm for writing an objective piece, as promised. Malcolm then agrees to give Alex... (full context)
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...Islam, all the proceeds go to supporting the Nation, and that he gets permission from Elijah. After flying out to Phoenix, Alex receives permission from Elijah. He then goes back to... (full context)
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...he’s in, he always makes sure to give all the credit for his success to Elijah Muhammad. (full context)
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...in the day, he is taking phone calls from the press, expressing his obedience to Elijah and his regret for having let him down, but Alex knows him well enough to... (full context)
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...to work on his book. In his phone calls with Malcolm, he hears him critique Elijah Muhammad and speculate that he might not be reinstated to the Nation. At the same... (full context)
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...and Cassius says that he doesn’t want to discuss Malcolm, who has betrayed the Nation. Elijah Muhammad also apparently becomes very emotional and upset if anyone mentions Malcolm in his presence,... (full context)
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...was kicked out of the Nation because of jealousy and because of his objections to Elijah’s affairs, not his JFK comments. He alludes to the fact that he’s built up the... (full context)
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...horrified at the amount of edits Malcolm has made to his original remarks, especially regarding Elijah Muhammad. Alex reminds Malcolm of their previous decision to leave those things as they are,... (full context)
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As the court battle over the house drags on, Malcolm begins to speak out against Elijah Muhammad publicly, something he had largely avoided since leaving the Nation. Death threats continue to... (full context)
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...28th, Malcolm flies to Los Angeles to meet with two of the former secretaries suing Elijah. Throughout his entire stay, he is followed by Black Muslims, and they even stake out... (full context)
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...seen responding to the assassination. One of the suspects still has not been named publicly. Elijah Muhammad refuses to make a statement, as does Wilfred, initially. (full context)
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Elijah puts out a statement on Monday, saying that Malcolm’s death was the result of his... (full context)
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...and Lansing, respectively, both advocate unity and moving beyond Malcolm’s violent preaching and death. Finally, Elijah Muhammad gets up and rails against Malcolm as a hypocrite and a traitor who was... (full context)