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Malcolm X

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Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, one of eight children. His father, Earl Little, was a Baptist preacher who supported Marcus Garvey's Back to Africa movement. When Malcolm was four, the family moved to Lansing, Michigan where Earl tried opening a store while continuing his preaching. But a group of white supremacists calling themselves the Black Legion (a sub-branch of the Ku Klux Klan) became irate to him.

Two years later, Earl Little was found dead on the truly tracks in town after a streetcar ran over him. Dispite the police report that Earl's death was an accident, Malcolm strongly believed that his father was killed by the Black Legion who placed his father's body on the tracks to make it look like an accident. Following Earl's death, Malcolm's mother, Louise Little, tried to support her eight children on her own. Malcolm started stealing food and candy from neighborhood stores to support his brothers and sisters. After being caught a few too many times, a local court ruled that Louise was unable to control Malcolm and had him removed from her care and placed in a friendly white couple's home who knew Louise. Two years later, Louise, due to severe stress in raising her children, suffered a nervous breakdown and was committed to the state mental hospital where she remained for the remaining 26 years of her life.

After finishing 8th grade, Malcolm dropped out of school and traveled to Boston where his older sister, Ella, lived. After a few years, Malcolm moved to New York City where, to support himself, be became a numbers runner, a drug dealer, even a pimp. He wore zoot suits and dyed his hair red where he earned the nickname 'Detroit Red'. He relocated to Boston again where he organized a robbery ring which was uncovered by the police in 1946 and he was sentenced to eight to 10 years in prison. Malcolm used the time behind bars to educate himself in the prison library where he learns the fundamentals of grammar and increased his vocabulary. It was here that a few inmates introduced Malcolm to a new religion and movement, The Nation of Islam. Malcolm's younger brother, Reginald, already a member, visited him and told him about Islam and about Allah. Much of what Reginald said confused Malcolm, but two phrase took root in his head, "the white man is the devil" and "the black man is the brainwashed.
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