Did you know another fact about Malcolm X is that he once tried to trick a known killer out of his money? Yes, in his autobiography he told Alex Haley this fact about a numbers runner that had a photographic memory whose name was West Indian Archie.
West Indian Archie’s memory was well known for never having to write a number down which was a valuable asset in the numbers business because the police could never catch him with number slips. He would memorize numbers customers gave him in any combination and then record them later that night.
For over twenty years he never missed a customer’s number until one day Malcolm X then known as Detroit Red claimed that he had hit a number and accused him of forgetting he played it.
West Indian Archie went on and paid Malcolm his money but checked his betting slips later and realized that Malcolm had made a false claim.
This was a dangerous play. West Indian Archie’s reputation was on the line because he knew that young hustlers often tried to trick older hustlers out of their money and at the same time build a reputation of their own in the process.
West Indian Archie put a gun in Malcolm’s face and demanded his money back within four hours. This was a death threat that Malcolm either had to confront or leave town.
Malcolm X decided to leave town.
But Malcolm returned years later after he had spent 7 years in prison and had became a minister for the Nation of Islam. He returned and found West Indian Archie living far below the level he was when Malcolm had left.
He was now living in a boarding home, broke and very sick. Malcolm says he was too hurt to stay much longer because he couldn’t stand to see Archie living that way after knowing him in his best days.
But, another fact that Malcolm X failed to tell in his autobiography is that West Indian Archie was broke because of Malcolm X beat him.
After Malcolm claimed Archie was losing his memory and forgetting his numbers many others followed making false claims until his memory could not be trusted anymore by his financial backers.
This led to West Indian’s downfall.
This was devastating to West Indian Archie because his reputation for having a photographic memory was his claim to fame in the numbers racket.
This is another fact about Malcolm X that is very important because later, Malcolm X would also attempt to destroy the reputation of his renowned leader “The Honorable Elijah Muhammad.”
But unlike the situation with West Indian Archie, Malcolm X would not escape death and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad would continue to flourish and in fact become even more renown after Malcolm X’s untimely death.
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