Interview by Minister of Information JR
MOI JR: You are listening to another edition of POCC Block Report Radio with the Minister of Information JR. Today we are going to be talking to Malcolm Shabazz, the grandson of El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, formerly known as Malcolm X. We are going to be talking specifically about the literary work, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” and this new attempt by opportunists – to say the least – to tarnish the legacy of our great Black leader of resistance.
Malcolm, how are you?
Malcolm Shabazz: Good, thank you. How are you doing?
MOI JR: I’m good.
Malcolm, can you tell us a little bit about this new ordeal with the autobiography of your grandfather, which has influenced so many people over generations? Can you tell us a little bit about this work?
Malcolm Shabazz: Basically, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” my grandfather, every time I read it, I get something out of it. It’s impacted so many individuals all over the world, including myself. I often get emotional when I read it. I’ve read it several times.
There are supposedly three chapters that were withheld from my grandfather’s autobiography and it’s being portrayed presently that it was withheld by the publishing company or by Alex Haley himself, which is not the case.
These three chapters were purchased back in 1992 for $1,000 from the Alex Haley estate by a man named Gregory Reed, who was an attorney out of Detroit. Unfortunately, this individual, Gregory Reed, doesn’t have the best interests of the Shabazz family at heart and he is not concerned with the preservation of my grandfather’s legacy. He is only in it for the money. He is trying to make a fast buck.
He’s had these three chapters since 1992. Someone would have to ask, “Why has he had them for so long and is only trying to make his profit now?” The thing is, he has had them for this long because a lot of publishers don’t want to mess with him. Because even though he purchased the three chapters, there is a controversy over the intellectual rights and the ownership rights – the right to publish. So even though he has these three chapters, there is a controversy over whether he has the right to actually publish them. So a lot of publishers do not want to deal with this individual.
He is trying to portray as if it was Alex Haley or the publishers that withheld these three chapters, which is not the case. My grandfather himself was actually the one who didn’t want these three chapters to be published. Reason being is because they were more reflective of him being the spokesperson for the Nation of Islam at that time. They were more reflective of a time when everything he said, he attributed to Elijah Muhammad. He would say, Elijah Muhammad teaches us thus and so – even when it wasn’t Elijah Muhammad. He was just doing this to show respect and so forth.
“My grandfather himself was actually the one who didn’t want these three chapters to be published.”-Malcolm Shabazz
So when he had a fallout with the Nation of Islam and was no longer speaking on their behalf, he made the decision that he wanted these three chapters to be taken out because he didn’t want his book to be reflective of that because he had moved on. He had grown. So it was my grandfather that made this decision to keep the three chapters out of the book, not Alex Haley and not the publishing agency.
MOI JR: Has this guy ever tried to contact the family?
Malcolm Shabazz: He has spoken to maybe one person out of my grandfather’s six daughters. But he hasn’t met with any key family members or even key supporters of my grandfather’s family. So you know, I would like to speak with him personally. My Aunt Ilyasah, they provided him with a platform to speak at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Educational Center in Harlem just recently. That was an opportunity for him to say what was up or whatever. But what he did was he rambled on, taking up so much time that he ran right into the Q & A.
People were there that wanted to ask questions, but he just kept going and going and when it was time for the question and answer, he just got up out of there. He just took off. There were people that were supporters of my grandfather that were there with him, holding him down, that were there ready to ask this man some questions, and he didn’t even give them the time. He didn’t even stop to speak with them after the event was over. He got in his car and took off.
So he has not sat down with any key members or supporters of my grandfather’s family. The publishers don’t want to deal with him because of the controversy over the intellectual rights and the ownership rights – the right to publish. They feel like the whole deal is not clean cut. They don’t want to squabble or have to take it to court.
MOI JR: How do you personally feel about this ordeal?
Malcolm Shabazz: When I first heard about it, I had just come back from overseas. People were asking me about it and I didn’t know. So I called a few of my family members and family supporters and found out what was going on. At first, I was under the impression, because the way they are making it seem, as if Alex Haley had withheld the three chapters, or the publishers had withheld the three chapters, so I got angry. I felt that wasn’t right. They should put those out. But then as I started to find out more about this dude: He is shady. Gregory Reed, the attorney out of Detroit, is shady.
I’ve come to find that he is only in it for the money. He is not in it for the preservation of my grandfather’s legacy. He does not have the best interests of my family. Through more investigation, I came to find out that it was actually my grandfather himself who said that he didn’t want these three chapters included in the book. There is a distinction between what was reflective of him representing the Nation of Islam, speaking as a spokesperson for the Nation of Islam, and speaking for himself.
He didn’t want anything to be reflective of him representing the Nation of Islam. So that is why he asked for these three chapters to be excluded. I actually have a letter between my grandfather and Alex Haley stating why he didn’t want these three chapters included in the book. I have the actual letter that I got from A. Peter Bailey, who was an original OAUU member – one of my grandfather’s top supporters. He was also a pallbearer.
MOI JR: What do you feel the impact of the book is at this point and how do you feel it would change if someone was to try and put these three chapters that your grandfather did not want in the book – in the book?
Malcolm Shabazz: First of all, I feel that anybody that respects the autobiography and respects my grandfather should not want these three chapters to be included.
MOI JR: Right.
Malcolm Shabazz: Because my grandfather himself stated he didn’t want it in there. Out of all due respect, we shouldn’t support it then. We shouldn’t support the inclusion of something he didn’t want. I mean, I think that the three chapters are probably very interesting but he didn’t want them in there so I feel we shouldn’t support the inclusion of them.
MOI JR: No doubt. I agree 100 percent. We shouldn’t support the inclusion of it.
What is the impact of your grandfather’s book overseas among people that knew who he was?
Malcolm Shabazz: I was born in France, but I hadn’t been back since I was 3 years old. So I went back for the first time last December. It was amazing to me. Because of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” so many people in Europe are conscious of who my grandfather is and of his legacy. Even also the movie as well.
More people were aware there in like the Algerian and Moroccan Muslim community than here in the United States. They were very excited when I stepped off the plane. There was a warm welcome. They even had a red carpet out. I was staying at the hotel. They played “Malcolm X,” the movie, on the TV all night. When I went out to eat, they shut down the restaurant for me and all my people.
They just showed a lot of respect. I was really humbled. But because that autobiography of my grandfather had such an impact, so many people have changed their lives.
Even when a lot of people went to prison, they may have been out in the street, ripping and running, living reckless and they ended up in prison and read “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” It changed their lives. I’ve met a lot of people like that. It opened up a door for them to read more books and to start to explore, broaden and expand their mind into other areas. This had an impact on me. I’ve read it several times and every time I get something different out of it.
MOI JR: What are some of your favorite parts of the book?
Malcolm Shabazz: Some of my favorite parts in the book are when he went to prison and made his transformation. That was one of my favorite parts because the transformation that he made showed all the things that he went through in his life. It was in stages. Throughout our lives, we all go through these stages. Stages and phases, I will call them. After so many stages, we go into the next phase.
Everyone speaks about being a revolutionary; I often say that my grandfather was the perfect example and epitome of what it is to be a true revolutionary. A true revolutionary is one that constantly strives to evolve and re-evolve into greater stages of maturity.
When you read his book, you will see that he was on this constant search for truth. He was never set in his ways. He was always looking for the truth. If he found it, he wasn’t unwilling to say that he was wrong and correct his errors. He didn’t have too much pride.
My favorite part is when he went to prison because after all the things he went through – running in the streets, running numbers, drug dealing, using drugs and burglarizing homes – he went to prison and started to read and become more conscious of himself and his surroundings.
It is just amazing what was produced out of it. He said himself that he got his Master’s Degree at UCLA – the University Corner of Lennox Avenue in Harlem – and that he got his Ph.D. in prison. It’s very interesting because he didn’t even go to high school. He dropped out of school in the eighth grade.
“A true revolutionary is one that constantly strives to evolve and re-evolve into greater stages of maturity.” – Malcolm Shabazz
When he really started to become the man we know as Malcolm X was in prison. That is when that transformation started. When he came out of prison, he would go on to give lectures and debate brothers at top Ivy League universities all over the world, like Princeton, Harvard, Yale and Oxford.
And it’s interesting, my grandfather’s FBI file started before he was with the Nation of Islam. It started before he was a Muslim. His FBI file started when he was in prison and stated that he would no longer eat pork. When he said that he would no longer eat pork, that is when his FBI file started. That’s an interesting thing as well.
MOI JR: Well definitely, man, I just want to say again to our supporters, do not support the inclusion of the three chapters that were left out of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by this Detroit attorney, by the name of
Malcolm Shabazz: Gregory Reed.
MOI JR: Malcolm is there anything else that you want to say about this prolific literary work about your grandfather?
Malcolm Shabazz: Just all praises due to God. That book has had such an impact on so many individuals, so many brothers and sisters out there, including myself. It shouldn’t be tampered with. Nothing needs to be added to it or taken away from it. When I first heard about it – just to say again – I was under the impression it was being withheld by Alex Haley or the publishers at that time, and that is not the case. That is what they are trying to portray in order for you to promote it and rally for it to come out.
They are trying to create this buzz, this controversy. It’s not the case. It was withheld by grandfather. He had written a letter to Alex Haley. I have the letter, stating that he did not want these three chapters to be included within the autobiography because he felt that they were more reflective of his position as a spokesperson in the Nation of Islam. At the time, when his book came out, he no longer was and had grown above and beyond that. At that point, he was speaking for himself. So he, my grandfather himself, decided that these three chapters should not be added.
MOI JR: You were just listening to the voice of Malcolm Shabazz, the grandson of the late great El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, otherwise known as Malcolm X. We were talking about “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and the supposed three chapters that Gregory Reed, a Detroit attorney, is trying to get included in the book and have it re-published.
Don’t believe the hype. Don’t support it. And all supporters of El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, otherwise known as Malcolm X and our resistance struggle, do not support it. This is the Minister of Information JR. Until next time, what’s the call? Free ‘em all!
Malcolm Shabazz: Free ‘em all!