Understanding that Malcolm Little, an African American, was born into a struggling family is important in accepting who he was as an individual. His father, a fiery and angry Christian preacher, was a follower of Marcus Garvey, the founder of the African American “Back to Africa” movement. The Black Legion, a local Black Hate Group, began harassing Mr. Little when they believed that he was inciting the black people to rebellion.
“Nearly everywhere his father went, Black Legionnaires were reviling him as an ‘uppity nigger’ for wanting to own a store, for living outside the Lansing Negro district, for spreading unrest and dissention among ‘the good niggers’.” (3)
Most of Malcolm’s life was spent without his father, since the Black Legion killed him while Malcolm was young. Malcolm grew up to be a troublesome boy, who stole, and caused much mischief. His family was separated when Malcolm was a youth. His mother was sent to an insane asylum from the stress of having to support her family without a husband, while the younger children, including Malcolm, were sent to other families around town. When Malcolm came of age, he peddled drugs and directed wealthy people to prostitutes in and around Boston, Chicago and New York. He even dabbled in armed robbery, and house burglary. When he was caught and sent to jail, he was encouraged by his biological brothers and sisters to become a Muslim.
“One day, in 1948, after I had been transferred to Concord Prison, my brother Philbert, who was forever joining something, wrote me this time that he had discovered the ‘natural religion for the black man’. He belonged now, he said, to something called ‘the Nation of Islam’. He said I should ‘pray to Allah for deliverance.’” (158)
He studied frequently while in prison, and read many books. Reading about religion, he came to believe that Islam was “Black Man’s true religion”. After converting, he drastically changed his ways by quitting drugs “cold turkey”, smoking, drinking, and eating pork. As an extremely devout Muslim, he converted other inmates to Islam. Once he was released from prison, he taught about Islam to people in the Chicago area. Helping the region’s foremost Black Muslim leader, Elijah Muhammad, start multiple mosques in cities across the country, his recognition grew. As he became more famous throughout the country, Elijah Muhammad had him framed for being rebellious and for trying to split from his special cult of Islam. Malcolm was very hurt but continued to preach that Islam was the true religion. Malcolm X’s upbringing and his youthful pursuits set him on the course for a prison sentence. It was here, however, that Malcolm found his calling and purpose.
Overall, Malcolm X was a great leader for racial equality. While many of his topics were for the overall good of African American people, some enraged and offended the white majority. While preaching, Malcolm X made opinionated remarks, most of which were offensive specifically to Caucasians, while...