American Literature I
Mrs. Holly Evans
Malcolm Little was born on May 19th, 1925 to his mother, Louise Norton Little, and his father, Earl Little in Omaha, Nebraska. Louise was a stay at home mother who took care of the house hold as well as 8 children. Earl was not only a Baptist minister but a supporter of Marcus Garvey who was a Black Nationalist leader. Malcolm often attended his father in the Universal Negro Improvement Association. “Earl’s civil rights activism prompted death threat from the white supremacist organization Black Legion, forcing the family to relocate twice before Malcolm’s fourth birthday.” (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.malcolmx.com/about.bio.html)
On September 28th 1931, Earl Little was said to have committed suicide but, was found with his head crushed on one side as well as almost decapitated from his body. He was beaten and left on the trolley tracks, then ran over. Because the case was ruled a suicide, the family was declined Earl‘s life insurance. “The strain of taking care of everyone by herself started to take its toll on Louise and by 1937 she was showing signs of becoming mentally ill. Then in January 1939, Louise was committed to the State Mental Hospital in Kalamazoo.” (McKinney) Caseworkers came in and placed the children in foster care.
After the tragedy of Malcolm’s parents, he dropped out of the 8th grade and became known as “Detroit Red,” and got in to the life of crime. Years later at the age of 21, in 1946 Malcolm was sentenced to 8-10 years for larceny and being caught carrying a concealed weapon. While serving his time he educated himself, and reformed to Islamic faith. He was attracted to this by believing, “whites are devils.” (Scrimgeour). He then became a Black Muslim in the Nation of Islam (N.O.I).
6 years later, Malcolm was released in 1952 as an ardent supporter of the NOI as well as a freelance writer. 1 year later he accepted “X” as his last name representing “unknown” ancestry, making it complicated to identify African Americans heritage. “…Malcolm X rose quickly in the NOI, becoming the minister of the NOI’s Temple Seven in Harlem…” [ (McKinney) ]. From 1952-1963 Malcolm X helped build the N.O.I from a little division to a renowned force. Malcolm’s dominant presence, intelligence, commended with his background being a hustler, made him a compelling leader. He was a supreme believer in segregating the blacks and whites. He also believed that African American’s should go back to Africa. This lead to Malcolm’s speech on April 3rd, 1964, The ballot or the Bullet,
“Now in speaking like this, it doesn't mean that we're anti-white, but it does mean we're anti-exploitation, we're anti-degradation, we're anti-oppression. And if the white man doesn't want us to be anti-him let him stop oppressing and exploiting and degrading us. Whether we are Christians or Muslims or nationalists or agnostics or atheists, we must first learn to forget our differences. If we have differences, let us differ in the closet; when we come out in front, let us not have anything to argue about until we get finished arguing with the man. If the late President Kennedy could get together with Khrushchev and exchange some wheat, we certainly have more in common with each other than Kennedy and Khrushchev had with each other. If we don't do something real soon, I think you'll have to agree that we're going to be forced either to use the ballot or the bullet. It's one or the other in 1964. It isn't that time is running out -- time has run out!” [ (X, 1964) ]
When President JF Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, Malcolm X was informed by Elijah Muhammad (the leader of the N.O.I) not to comment on his death. Malcolm X did not obey what he was told. He made apathetic and, harsh comments about his death. Malcolm states, his assassination was “chickens coming home to roost…” (Trueman, 2012). He claimed that he had meant, “The feelings of hate…