January 10th, 2018
The Early life of Malcolm X
Malcolm X’s life was one characterized by constant change. Born in 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm was immediately thrust into racial conflicts which became a constant feature of his life (Simon, Spellman and Gardner 26). Even before his birth, “his mother was [while pregnant with him] attacked by Ku Klux Klansmen trying to force his family out of Town” (Simon, Spellman and Gardner 26). Such targeted violence followed his father’s – Earl Little’s – support of a blacks’ movement lead by Marcus Garvey’s that embodied the “back to Africa” ideals (Simon, Spellman and Gardner 26). Following these acts the family migrated to Lansing, Michigan where violence followed them as evidenced by the burning of their home by “members of the Black Legion, a white Fascist organization,” in 1929 (Simon, Spellman and Gardner 26; Hatch 28). Later Malcolm X father’s body was found tramped on a car track which the police ruled to be a case of suicide thus depriving the family off some of the life insurance proceeds (Simon, Spellman and Gardner 26; Hatch 28).
Following the death of his father, the family faced a torturous era characterized by absolute poverty that forced their separation and ultimate depression of his mother who had to take care of eight children single handedly (Simon, Spellman and Gardner 26). After the family separation, Malcolm X’s life underwent another phase of change. Living in a group foster home, Malcolm attended a mostly white school where his brightness earned him a position as a class president while in grade seven (Simon, Spellman and Gardner 26). His skin color was however to become a discouragement to continue his passion to become a lawyer when his white teacher suggested he pursue carpentry instead because, unlike the whites “We all here like you, you know that, but you’ve got to be realistic about being a nigger” (as qtd in Simon, Spellman and Gardner 26). Such racist sentiments and other discrimination based on race lead to his discontinuance of schooling and entry into another phase in his life.
With the effects of the great depression being evident and institutionalized racism being high, Malcolm’s search for work after leaving school was futile (Simon, Spellman and Gardner 26). This led to his migration to Boston and New York where he engaged in gambling, brothel activities, and burglary eventually leading to his capture and conviction of many crimes (Simon, Spellman and Gardner 26). Consequently, Malcolm was handed a ten years’ prison sentence by a Massachusetts court (Simon, Spellman and Gardner 26). In prison, Malcolm met a long-serving inmate who had acquired knowledge through self teaching and on their friendship hitting ground; Malcolm was initiated into a reading culture that inculcated wide range of knowledge in him (Simon, Spellman and Gardner 26). Through such knowledge, Malcolm was also disabused off the harsh ideology he previously held of religion, a factor that saw his conversion to Islam by joining a black Muslims faction – the Nation of Islam (Simon, Spellman and Gardner 26). Go to part 3 here.