While in prison as a young man, Malcolm Little became so focused on reading and writing that he began copying every page of a dictionary by hand.
“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,” he later wrote in “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” “No university would ask any student to devour literature as I did when this new world opened to me, of being able to read and understand.”
Malcolm Little, who would later become civil rights leader Malcolm X, was without question proud of his reading and writing skills.
Now his daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, is carrying on the literary tradition. Her latest book, “X: A Novel,” was selected by the Michigan Humanities Council as the 2017 Great Michigan Read. The book, co-written by noted young adult author Kekla Magoon, tells the story of a young Malcolm as he deals with the death of his father and the institutionalization of his mother.
The Michigan Humanities Council will distribute more than 6,000 copies of a special edition of the book to schools, libraries and nonprofit groups that sponsor reading programs. The council also will create a special reader’s guide for the book, and a team of experts on the life of Malcolm X will be available for groups who want to delve into his life in more depth.
“I was excited, humbled and honored by the selection,” said Shabazz, who spoke to City Pulse by phone.