Malcolm X Hall of Fame induction inspires book donation to inmates

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Long ago, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” wouldn’t have been allowed in Nebraska’s prison libraries. But now, corrections leaders think it has the power to change lives.

“People still probably view him as a controversial figure, but that means they haven’t taken the time to actually view Malcolm through a holistic perspective and see that where he started is not where he ended,” said Sen. Terrell McKinney.

The autobiography, which was published after he was assassinated in 1965, highlights the change that Malcolm X underwent in prison and chronicles his evolving philosophy on civil rights activism.

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services is ideally about reformation. That’s what the director believes Malcolm X’s autobiography can inspire.

“There isn’t anything in that book that is going to lead to anything except reflection, hope, and an opportunity to see how somebody overcame some very difficult circumstances. And with each part of his journey, [he] turned it into a learning experience,” said Scott Frakes, director of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

Frakes said he read the book when he was twelve. It was gifted to him by a friend to help him “see the world differently.”

“And it did,” said Frakes.

Inmates will have access to the book thanks to community activist and mental health advocate, Paul Feilmann. He partnered with NDCS and the Malcolm X Foundation to make the delivery possible.

“I see this thing as an opportunity for the guys on the inside to support each other, to make some changes, empowerment of themselves. Because if we’re waiting for the system or the government to make those changes, I think it’s not going to happen. I think it’s got to come from people who are affected in the community,” said Feilmann.

Late. McKinney believes Malcolm X’s autobiography will help people in Nebraska’s prison system think about changing the trajectory of their lives.

“It makes you think about, ‘OK, I’m going through this and why am I going through this?’ And I think a book like this allows individuals to self-evaluate themselves and see what they can do to improve themselves,” said McKinney.

These books will be distributed to prison libraries and available for checkout. It’s the organizers’ hope that one day inmates can get their own copy of the autobiography—a story of “redemption and perseverance,” said McKinney.


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