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The subject has been one of immense debate since Malcolm's death in 1965. Many theories have been floated, many of those are conspiracy theories and still more may entirely be rumor. More on the debate can be read here.
No. Baines was a real person but in the movie, Baines serves as a "composite" character; a character comprised of several real-life people who had influence in Malcolm's life. For the screenplay, Baines was entirely invented. While Malcolm was imprisoned, he met a man named John Bembry whom is credited with Malcolm's voracious thirst for reading and knowledge. Malcolm's brother, Reginald, had written Malcolm a letter telling him that accepting Islam would be a way for his brother to free himself. Reginald later visited Malcolm and introduced him to Islam and Elijah Muhammed's teachings, which Malcolm took to very quickly. As depicted in the film, Malcolm did indeed write to Muhammed asking for his guidance and blessing in joining the Nation of Islam.
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