By Naderah Brooks
The history curriculum in African-american school systems acknowledge familiar faces such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Madame C.J. Walker. Black history is full of activists, inventors, education specialists, and career driven pioneers that have contributed a great deal to society. The purpose of black history is to pay homage to those who have come before us. How can we celebrate black history without knowing the full context? One of the activists that is gone but, shouldn’t be forgotten, is Malcolm X.
On May 19, 1925, Malcolm Little was born in Omaha Nebraska to his mother, Louise Norton Little and his father, Earl Little. His mother was a stay-at-home mother of eight children and his father was a Baptist Minister and loyal supporter of Marcus Garvey’s Black Nationalist Movement. Due to Earl Little’s activism, he received death threats from a white supremacist group called The Black Legion. He had to relocate his family to Lansing, Michigan. Despite his father’s efforts, their home was burned down in 1929. Two years later, his father’s dead body was found on railroad tracks.
Malcolm Little continued to experience turbulence several years after his father’s death, because his mother was committed to a mental institute due to a mental breakdown. As a consequence, Malcolm and his siblings were split up. As a juvenile, he was convicted of burglary charges in 1946, which resulted in a sentence of 10 years.
The time that Malcolm spent in prison allowed him to become the man that we know him as today, Malcolm X. During his period of self enlightenment, Malcolm X referred to the teachings of Nation of Islam (NOI) leader, Elijah Muhammad. Under Muhammad’s mentorship, Malcolm was taught that the white society oppressed African-americans by limiting economic, political, and social gains.
From then on, Malcolm X was known for his charismatic attitude as a black nationalist, and as a public advocate for black Muslim faith. Malcolm X’s “by any means necessary” approach to white supremacy combated King’s peaceful approach. He also encouraged the enfranchisement of disadvantaged black youths by founding the Organization of Afro-American Unity in June 1964. Due to Malcolm’s rising stature, he was assassinated on Feb. 21,1965. Malcolm X spoke for impoverished black America, because he was the voice of full freedom and civil rights. Malcolm X’s advocacy for the African-american community is short lived, however, his diligence has earned him a seat at the table with some of the greatest and most memorable black leaders of our time.