On May 19, 1925 Malcolm Little was born to Louise and Earl Little. He was born in Omaha, Nebraska. Malcolm was the seventh of eleven children. Malcolm's father, Earl, was a Baptist minister from Reynolds, Georgia. His mother was raised in Grenada in the British West Indies. His father was also became an organizer for Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association. Marcus Garvey and his followers fought for racial separation and more power for blacks. Growing up, Malcolm's family moved a lot due to violence and prejudices aimed at his family. They finally decided to settle in Lansing, Michigan in the late 1920's. In 1929, the Little family's house was firebombed while the whole family was inside sleeping. It was suspected that racists or members of the Ku Klux Klan committed the arson. However, since police and firemen just stood watching as the house burnt to the ground, they did not believe that the arson was a hate crime. In September 1931 Earl Little was found dead beside the local trolley tracks. He had apparently been crushed by the trolley tracks. Earl was believed to have been murdered by a group of racists. Malcolm's mother was left to raise the children on her own. They lived in extremely poor conditions. In 1939, Louise Little was declared legally insane and committed to a mental institution in Kalamazoo, Michigan. With no one to care for them, Malcolm's younger siblings were placed in foster homes. Malcolm, himself, was already under foster care due to juvenile delinquency. (Haley)
Malcolm graduated from junior high at the top of his class. He exceeded academically and athletically. He had always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. However, a teacher shattered his dreams by telling him he should be a carpenter instead because of his color. Despite his intelligence, Malcolm was discouraged to go any further in school because of his race. Instead, he moved to Roxbury, a predominantly black section of Boston, with his sister Ella and her husband. Malcolm took on his first job in Roxbury as a shoe-shiner. Here, Malcolm learned the role of a hustler. (Haley)
In 1942, Malcolm decided to get a job as a railroad dining car porter and settle in Harlem. While in Harlem, Malcolm got mixed up in robbery, prostitution, narcotics, and many other criminal activities. Living the life of a hustler, drug dealer, and pimp made Malcolm notorious on the streets. Malcolm also became addicted to drugs. He was even given the nickname "Red" because of his red hair. Malcolm said jail, jobs, and the army were the three things that worried him the most. (Breitman)
After only a year in Harlem, Malcolm moved back to Boston and continued his life of crime. There he created a house-robbing gang. It all caught up with him in February of 1946. He was arrested, convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison in Charleston, Massachusetts for burglary. (Haley)
While in prison, Malcolm began...