Malcolm Little was an African-American human rights activist and minister born in Omaha, Nebraska, United States. He was the fourth of seven children of Marcus Garvey supporters Earl Little and Louise Helen Norton Little.
Earl was born in Georgia, USA while Louise was born in Grenada. In 1931, he died due to what was officially ruled a streetcar accident in Lansing, Michigan, USA but she believed the Black Legion killed him.
Louis Farrakhan aka Louis X and Wallace D. Muhammad were among Malcom’s proteges. Prior to Malcolm’s death, he converted to the Sunni Muslim faith.
Malcolm was also known as Malcolm X and el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz. Here are 13 more things about him:
- In 1934, he started robbing food from stores in Lansing. He attended West Junior High School in Lansing and then Mason High School in Mason, Michigan. In 1938, he and his siblings were sent to foster homes while their mother was committed to Kalamazoo State Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan following a nervous breakdown. He feigned mental disturbance when the local draft board summoned him for military service in World War II, which lasted from 1939 to 1945.
- In 1940, he moved to Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts, USA to live with his half-sister Ella Little-Collins. In 1941, he left high school before graduating. In 1942, he moved to Harlem, New York City, New York, USA, worked on the New Haven Railroad and engaged in drug dealing, gambling, pimping, racketeering and robbery.
- In 1944, he was accused of stealing and pawning his half-sister’s fur coat and was arrested for the first time. In 1945, he returned to Boston where he and four accomplices burglarized several wealthy white families. In 1946, he was sentenced to state prison.
- While in prison in 1950, he wrote to 33rd U.S. president Harry Truman and declared himself a communist opposed to the Korean War, which was fought between North Korea and South Korea from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953.
- After leaving prison in 1952, he moved to his brother’s house near Detroit, Michigan where he attended the local Nation of Islam (NOI) mosque and actively sought out new converts. He dropped his surname Little, which he considered a slave name, in favor of the letter X. He became a favorite of NOI leader Elijah Muhammad, who promoted him to minister before dispatching him to Boston and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA to establish new mosques there.
- In 1955, he met Betty Sanders. in 1956, she changed her name to Betty X. They got married in January 1958. She gave birth to their daughters Attallah Shabazz in 1958, Qubilah Shabazz in 1960, Ilyasah Shabazz in 1962 and Gamilah Lumumba Shabazz in 1964. They lived in New York City.
- In 1957, he led NOI members to seek justice for their fellow NOI member Hinton Johnson, who was beaten by two New York City police officers. In 1958, a Federal Bureau of Investigation information described him as a man of high moral character who neither smokes nor drinks.
- In September 1960, he was invited to the official functions of several African nations at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City where he met Fidel Castro of Cuba, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Ahmed Sékou Touré of Guinea and Kenneth Kaunda of the Zambian African National Congress.
- In 1961, he spoke at a NOI rally alongside American Nazi Party head George Lincoln Rockwell.
- In 1963, he and his siblings secured their mother’s release from Kalamazoo State Hospital. When Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington that year, he called it the Farce on Washington. On December 1, 1963, he said that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was a case of “chicken coming home to roost.”
- In January 1964, NOI member Cassius Clay brought him and his family to Miami, Florida, USA to watch Clay train for the boxer’s fight against Sonny Liston. On March 26, 1964, he met King for the first time in the halls of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., USA. They attended a Senate hearing on the Civil Rights Act. On March 8, 1964, he publicly announced his break from the NOI. He announced the establishment of Muslim Mosque, Inc. on March 12, 1964 and of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) on June 28, 1964. On April 3, 1964, he delivered a speech titled “The Ballot or the Bullet” at Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. In April 1964, his half-sister Ella financially supported his pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. After completing the Hajj, he became known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz.
- On February 14, 1965, Molotov cocktails were thrown at his New York City home, forcing him, Betty X, who was then pregnant, and their four daughters to take refuge in the backyard. On February 21, 1965, he was fatally shot when several men opened fire while he was preparing to address the OAAU at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, New York City. Three NOI members were arrested namely Mujahid Abdul Halim aka Talmadge Hayer and Thomas Hagan, Muhammad A. Aziz aka Norman 3X Butler and Khalil Islam aka Thomas 15X Johnson.
- He died at the age of 39. In September 1965, Betty X gave birth to their twin daughters Malikah Shabazz and Malaak Shabazz.