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This is an extraordinary letter from Malcolm X to his prophet and teacher Elijah Muhammad. Their relationship was deep and complex, but at its heart Malcolm X cared a great deal about the approval of Muhammad, as he stated in this letter, “I never want to displease you.” This letter reads almost like a confessional, and describes in detail the Malcolm’s difficult relationship with his wife, Betty. Malcolm X’s tone in this letter is deeply heartfelt, a stark contrast from the bold and powerful public persona that Malcolm cultivated during his time with the Nation of Islam. He paints a picture of an uncomfortable and mutually unsatisfying married life that drove him to dedicate himself more deeply and heavily into his work as a public speaker and activist. However, his terse relationship with his wife engulfed all of his endeavors, as he typed, “I have had difficulty for some time getting the spirit to teach when I’m in New York.” The biggest obstacle in Malcolm and Betty’s marriage was their sexual relationship, as Malcolm was recently emerging from a ten year period of celibacy and was having trouble adjusting to married life. He speaks about their troubled relationship, as he states, “the main source of our trouble [is] based upon SEX.”
This letter provides incredible insight into the relationship between Malcolm and the man who would later have him murdered. Malcolm X implores the Prophet Elijah Muhammad to speak to Betty on his behalf, writing the he hopes “a knowledge of this will enable you to speak to my wife from any angle and upon any subject that you chose…and get her side of the story.” In a turn of tragic irony, the break between Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam came down to a matter concerning sexual relationships. This letter stands as a testimony to the man behind the icon, a thoughtful and compassionate man who was just as human as the rest of us.
This letter was typed on March 25, 1959, six years before Malcolm X’s death. It is four pages long, and features many marks and corrections penned by Malcolm X. At the bottom of this letter, Malcolm X signed his name in blue pen and wrote “I humbly and sincerely submit to Allah and His Messenger”. This letter comes with a LOA from Steve Grad of Beckett Authentication and a full LOA from JSA (Z46102).
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