The 1950’s and 1960’s were decades full of powerful speakers. These speakers could motivate people in such a strong way. They were a huge part of the Civil Rights Movement being successful. One of these powerful speakers was Malcolm X. He led a very interesting, yet tragic life.
Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. He was one of eight children. His mother, Louise Norton Little, was a homemaker while his father, Earl Little, was a Baptist minister. His father was a devoted follower of Marcus Garvey, who was the Black Nationalist leader. Malcolm had already moved twice by the time he was four because of threats aimed towards his father from white supremacy groups. Earl tried to get his family away from groups like the Black Legion but despite his efforts, the Legion burned down their house in Lansing, Michigan in 1929. In 1931, Malcolm’s father’s body was found mutilated on the town’s trolley tracks. Even though both incidents were ruled by police, the family knew the Black Legion was behind them both. Louise had a very hard time with the death of her husband. A few years after he died, Louise broke down and was committed to a mental institution. Because of this, all eight children were split up into various foster homes.
Malcolm was always a very smart student. In junior high, he was at the top in his class. Malcolm went through some hardships in school though. One of his favorite teachers told him some harsh words about his dream of becoming a lawyer which bumped his confidence down quite a bit. By the end of eighth grade he lost so much interest in school that he dropped out. He worked in Boston, Massachusetts for a while
and then moved to Harlem, New York. By this time he was committing crimes and just not a very good kid. In 1946, Malcolm and a friend moved to back to Boston where they
both got arrested for burglary charges. Malcolm was sentenced to 10 years, but only served prison time until 1952. While in prison, he was visited by his brother, Reginald. He shared with Malcolm his new devotion to the Black Muslims (Nation of Islam). Malcolm studied a lot about this and was very intrigued by the leader, Elijah Muhammad. Muhammad preached that whites were keeping African Americans away from success and should separate themselves from the white society. Malcolm left prison enlightened by it and had a new name… Malcolm “X”. He though Little was his “slave name” and “X” signified his lost tribal name.
After he was out of prison, he was selected to be a minister and national spokesman of the Nation of Islam. In 1958, he married a woman by the name of Betty Shabazz...