Malcolm X

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Malcolm X was born under the name Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska on May 19th, 1925. His mother, Louise Norton Little, stayed at home tending the eight children they had while his father Earl Little was a Baptist minister. Earl Little was a strong supporter of the Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey, who promoted the return of the black people to their homeland in Africa. His activism in civil rights brought death threats from white supremacists, which forced them to move several times. In Michigan, unable to escape the racist actions of the white supremacists, their home was firebombed and destroyed. Two years later Earl was found dead on the trolley tracks. The police ruled his passing as an accident, though the Little's thought otherwise. Louise later suffered a mental breakdown and was committed to a mental institution, with the children being split up amongst different foster homes.

In school, Malcolm was "a smart, focused student. He graduated from junior high at the top of his class. However, when a favorite teacher told Malcolm his dream of becoming a lawyer was "no realistic goal for a nigger," Malcolm lost interest in school." ("About Malcolm") With his teacher successfully putting an end to his dreams of a rightful career, Malcolm went to Boston, Massachusetts working odd jobs before winding up in Harlem, New York. This is where he began participating in petty crimes. Rising from small time hustles to more serious crimes such as armed robbery and drug dealing, it was only a matter of time before Malcolm was caught.

After moving back to Boston, he was arrested in 1946 for a burglary charge and sentenced to 10 years in prison. It was here where Malcolm recalled his days in school and put his long time to use by educating himself. It was during this period of self-enlightenment where, as Kevin Brown explains, "his brother Reginald visited him and told him of his involvement in the Muslim religion." (241) Intrigued, Malcolm began to study the teachings of the NOI (Nation of Islam) leader Elijah Muhammad. What Muhammad taught was that the white society was purposely put on this earth to actively "keep the African-Americans from empowering themselves and achieving political, economical, and social success." ("Embraced") Among other goals, the NOI fought for a separate landmass that would be strictly for black people. When Malcolm was paroled in 1952, he came out of prison with the new name Malcolm X and as a devoted follower of Islamic religion.

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