9 Surprising Ways Malcolm X Has Affected The World We Know Today

Malcolm X
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

9 Interesting Things About Malcolm X:

  • Malcolm X’s parents were harassed multiple times into moving by racists – Malcolm’s adoptive parents, Louise and Earl Little were very devoted to pan-Africanist and Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) founder Marcus Garvey. Earl was a Baptist preacher in their local UNIA chapter in Omaha, Nebraska, and Louise was a secretary, who was tasked with inter-chapter communication. However, their activities caught the attention of Ku Klux Klan members, who sent lots of threats to the family to move out. The white supremacist group Black Legion then started harassing the Littles in Michigan. Their family home burned when Malcolm was only 4, and his father blamed the Black Legion, and his father was then killed in a streetcar “accident”, which was considered to be the blame of the Black Legion too.
  • Malcolm X grew up in multiple foster homes – When Malcolm was only 13, his mother had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized, sending Malcolm and his seven siblings to different foster families, boarding houses, and even state-run institutions. After being expelled for putting a thumbtack on one of his teacher’s chairs, he was sent to a detention home in Michigan, where he noticed the white politicians over there treated him with kindness, but not as if he was a fellow human being.
  • Malcolm X dropped out of school after being discouraged by his teacher – Malcolm X was a smart student who dreamed one day of becoming a lawyer, but he dropped out of school after one of his teachers told him that his dream wasn’t “realistic for a n****”. He understood that he will never be accepted as a Black man, no matter how smart or talented he was. At the founding rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, he said something that is still in history: “Education is our passport to the future, so tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
  • Malcolm X converted to the Nation of Islam while he was still in jail – In 1946, Malcolm was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and while he was incarcerated, his brother Reginald convinced him to convert to the Nation of Islam (NOI). Then, Malcolm started studying and corresponding with its founder Elijah Muhammad, who preached Black self-reliance.
  • The X in Malcolm X’s adopted name stands for a surname he’d never know – Just as many other Black Americans, Malcolm’s roots were very obscured by the slave trade that completely stripped him of his true ancestral last name. In 1950, he started calling himself Malcolm X, as he viewed the surname “Little” just as another tool of oppression. As he mentioned in his autobiography, “For me, my ‘X’ came as a replacement for the white slavemaster name of “Little”, which some blue-eyed devil called Little imposed upon my paternal forebears.”

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