The year was 1925, and someone special was born. His birth name was Malcolm Little, however there were big things in store for this child. Born in Omaha, Nebraska. The seventh of eleven children born to Earl Little, an organizer for Marcus Garvey’s “back-to-Africa” movement (Compton’s encyclopedia online). At age six Malcolm’s father was murdered.
As a result his mother later suffered a nervous breakdown, and the family was separated by welfare agencies (Compton’s encyclopedia online). Later in life he would blame these same agencies for destroying his family. He was bounced around from boardinghouses and schools, and dreamed of becoming a lawyer only to be discouraged by his teachers.
After leaving school, in the eighth grade, he lived with a relative in Boston, Mass. He shined shoes, worked in a restaurant and on a railroad kitchen crew. In 1942 he moved to a section in New York called Harlem. Where he lived as a hustler, cheating people to make money for himself. He also sold drugs and became a drug addict himself. A rival drug dealer named “West Indian Archie” ran him out of New York. And he ended up back in Boston. Where he started a burglary ring, which consisted of friend named Shorty, a pretty boy type of fellow named Rudy, a woman that Malcolm dealt with named Sophia and one of her friends (Alex Haley 168).
He soon found out that crime does not pay, when he soon got arrested and stolen items were found in his possession. The Negroes of that group was sentenced to eight years, while the whites of the group were sentenced to only two. This put an image in Malcolm’s head on how the justice system was ran. While in prison. Malcolm was well known to the guards. One time he was asked to state his number, but instead he said he forgot his number. The guards beat him and sent him to the “darkroom”. In the darkroom he met Brother Bains. Bains was a man everyone respected including guards. He was known as a real man and gave speeches about Islam. Malcolm did not listen at first; however it didn’t take him long to listen to the words of black empowerment, spoken by brother Bains.
The black Muslims prediction that in the near future a great war would take place in which whites would be destroyed and black people would rule the world through the power of Allah, their creator. To prepare for this Brother Bains preached, the importance of self-restraint, opposed the use of drugs and alcohol, and organized self-help groups.
Malcolm Little was converted to this faith. Instead of wasting his time in prison getting into more trouble, he begins to read and broaden his thoughts. As he did this, his mind opens up to knowledge. He also tried to improve in other areas such as appearance and speech. He decided not to associate himself with former friends he got in trouble with, and formed new friendships with people of the same faith. He left prison Malcolm X.
An image popped into my head while reading “the Autobiography of Malcolm X”(Alex Haley 231). The image of a strong man standing in the middle of stage giving a speech. The year is 1953. At the height of racial tension, the city is Detroit. Malcolm X is giving a speech after a run in with FBI agents concerning the nation of Islam’s practices, and how their message was being used. He stands on the pulpit, and delivers a message. “We didn’t land on Plymouth rock, my brothers Plymouth Rock landed on us!” It’s a clear message to his followers. If you want to succeed, first get from under that rock. He insisted that “black is beautiful,” and that African Americans must take control of their own destiny.
As Malcolm was giving a speech at the autobahn in New York City. Three men gunned him down, in cold blood, in front of his wife and children. At the end of Malcolm’s life. He was a changed man, a man no longer involved with racism although he had a large following he saw an even larger picture. He saw a world where people of all colors and religions could help one another instead of fight one another. His most enduring messages are one of black pride and self-respect, combined with his uncompromising rejection of racism.