Malcolm X Essay, Research Paper
Malcom X, born Malcom Little, embodied the heart and soul of African people, not only in America but also all around the world. He articulated the hurt and pain they suffered during that trying time. Malcom proved that your life doesn t have to start out perfect to become a good man. He proved that one should not judge another by the color of his skin but by his character.
Malcom s earliest memory came when he was four years old. He was awakened the middle of the night because his house had caught on fire. His father, Earl Little, claimed two white men started the fire and he had chased them off with his gun. But the police said Earl himself had done it because he recently lost a battle in court to keep the house. They said he did it out of revenge but no charges were made for lack of evidence (Stine, 4).
His father favored Malcom and though he beat his wife and other children Earl didn t beat him. Malcom was the only one his father took to his U.N.I.A. meetings. When Malcom s mother tried to punish him he d scream so loudly she would stop of embarrassment. Malcom later said, I learned early that crying out in protest could accomplish things (Haley, 11)
One day Malcom came home from school to find his parent s arguing again. His mother was against eating rabbits and pork but the Littles raised rabbits to sell to whites. In those hard times food was tough to get so his father killed a rabbit for dinner. His mother and father got in an argument over this and though she started to prepare it anyways Earl walked out. That night two officers came to the house to tell his mother Earl was found dead on some railroad tracks. Once again two stories were presented; the first being that white men in the Black Legion, which was a group like the KKK, had murdered Earl. But the Police said he was alive when they got there and claimed it was an accident (Stine, 9). It was 1931.
After his fathers death the family began to fall apart. They were very poor and eventually had to go on welfare. With welfare agent s making constant visits Lousie, Malcom s mother, began to become distant. She soon started talking to herself and eventually she suffered a complete breakdown and was sent to the State Mental Hospital at Kalamazoo (Haley, 22). Malcom moved into juvenile home but fifteen in 1941 he moved him to Boston with his half sister Ella.
In Boston he met a friend called he called Shorty who got him a job at a ballroom shinning shoes and introduced him to hassling. He began dating a white lady named Sophia but Ella disapproved and got Malcom a railroad job. This job kept him on the go and he liked that but he didn t give up Sophia. He came back to Boston several times a week and when he finally stayed in New York she still supplied him with clothes and money (Stine, 25)
He stayed in Harlem and got a job Small s Paradise whose rules were no lateness, no laziness, no stealing, and no hassling. Malcom tried to stay straight but one day he hustled a customer and when Charlie Small found out he fired Malcom. So Malcom was back out on the tough streets of Harlem selling marijuana to musicians and doing drugs himself. Then he became a number runner who passed along illegal bets and later he robbed neighborhood stores (Haley, 93).
In 1945 after avoiding the draft Malcom went back to Boston and met up with Sophia and a few friends and began burglarizing private homes. Sophia and two of her girlfriends knew many wealthy people in Boston so they pointed out the houses for Malcom and a friend Malcom Jarvis to rob. They kept robbing for several weeks until Malcom made a mistake. He took a stolen watch in to get repaired but the clerk recognized the watch and called the police. He was arrested and at the station he confessed his crimes and named his accomplices including Sophia. The girls claimed to have been forced to help and got one to five years in jail but the men got a harsher sentence. Malcom got ten years hard labor and Malcom Jarvis got eight to ten years (Stine, 29)
Malcom spent nearly seven years in prison and the details are well told in his autobiography. He says his cell is so small you can lie on the bed and put a hand on each wall. The toilets were just covered pails because there was no running water. He remembers that in jail all you have is a number but he couldn t remember it at the time. He was often insubordinate like not responding when his number was called and shouting obscenities and his cellmates nicknamed him Satan (Haley, 176) He got high off of nutmeg and began hustling with the guards and got some reefer too.
Malcom struck up a friendship with a convict named Bimbi. Bimbi could even attract whites and guards to hear him converse over subjects. Bimbi straightened Malcom out and told him he was not Satan . He told Malcom that he had brains, if only he d use them. Malcom took his advice and began a correspondence course in English. He got a letter from one of his brothers saying he should join the Nation of Islam as he had. At first he disregarded the letter and the notion to convert but one day Reginald, one of his brothers, visited him. In his autobiography the conversation went something like this:
Reginald, There s a man who knows everything.
Malcom, Who is that?
God is a man, His real name is Allah.
Reginald went on and explained that Allah came to America and made himself known to a black man named Elijah. He said that all white men are the devil and they know it, without exceptions at all. When his brother left Malcom thought of all the white people he had come across and could see his brother s point (Haley, 183).
He finally wrote a letter to Elijah Muhammad and Elijah wrote back including a five-dollar bill. Malcom had a hard time bending to his knees to and praying and when he finally did he didn t know what to say. He wrote everyday to Elijah and to his brothers and sisters (Stine, 42).
Malcom was released from prison in 1952 at the age of twenty-two. Malcom stayed and worked with a man named Wilfred who was also a Muslim. Malcom liked Muslim traditions and how it felt like he was part of a family, a kind of family he didn t have growing up. He was disappointed, though, with the little numbers in his temple so he asked Elijah at a dinner how to recruit new Muslims and he was told to go after young people. So he did and he tripled the membership to his temple in Detroit. (Stine, 45)
Malcom later declared himself a traditional Muslim but he made it clear that all men were brothers and equal before God (DeCaro, 205). After becoming an assistant minister in Detroit he went to Boston. Little by little Malcom recruited enough people to form a temple in Boston. Then he went to Philadelphia and did the same thing all over again. He would go from city to city preaching about black pride. In 1954 he was sent to New York. He re turned to Harlem to find it hadn t changed much but he had changed so much for the better. Still he felt it was good to see some old faces (Stine, 51)
Recruiting was tough because of the competition with other black religious organizations so Malcom changed his tactics and eventually they worked. By 1957 his temple was a large and important presence in Harlem. Then one day a Black Muslim named Johnson Hinton stopped to watch two cops beat a drunken black man. The police tried to get onlookers to move away and when Hinton wouldn t move they beat him too. They arrested him and took him to the station. Within thirty minutes word spread of these events and a group of Muslims stood peacefully in a military from outside of the station. They eventually let Malcom in to see Hinton and he saw Hinton bloody, bruised, semi conscious, and his skull was cracked open. He demanded that Hinton be taken to a hospital and that the officers be punished and said he would get rid of the crowd. He did that with a simple of his hand proving how immense his power was (Stine, 52)
In 1958 on his way to Detroit form New York he called a girl named Betty he had been seeing and asked if she would marry him. She said yes. She flew out to meet him and on January 14th they were married. Over the years they had six children (Stine, 64). At the same time his life was growing more public everyday. Malcom became the center of attention in 1959 after a documentary on the Nation. He silenced his opponents with good answers and reasonable points (Sine, 67).
Malcom was rumored to have envied Martin Luther King because more people respected him and followed him because of the actions he took while Malcom was criticized. They met face-to-face only once in 1964 in a hallway.
In 1963 Malcom heard rumors that Elijah had romances and children out of wedlock. Malcom flew to confront Elijah with these rumors and was horrified when he confessed. For revenge Malcom did many things to anger Elijah that forced him to silence and then throw Malcom out of the Nation (Stine, 75).
Malcom began getting death threats from the Nation and one of his friends was ordered to wire Malcom s car to explode but he told Malcom instead. He decided to start his own organization but first he decided to make the hajj to Mecca. He came away from the trip with a sense of the brotherhood between all people of color in the world. He returned to New York in May of 1964 after being away for six weeks. He began calling himself El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and said he now thought of whites as human beings (Stine, 88).
Elijah tried to take back Malcom s house that the Nation had given him and won in court. It was strangely similar to what happened to his father because the night before he was to be in court again his house was on fire once again. Malcom blamed black Muslims but the police suggested that Malcom had done it for revenge. They never had a chance to arrest him (Stine, 90).
On February 21, 1965 Malcom was holding a speech for his followers. None of the speakers he was expecting to come came so Malcom went out on his own. He walked out onto the stage and greeted the crowd but before he could begin his speech a disturbance happened. Take your hand out of my pocket! a man screamed. As everyone turned to see three men stood up in the front row and started firing. In the chaos that followed an unknown number of assassins rushed the stage. Bullets from a sawed off shotgun struck him in the heart and even after he fell the gunmen kept firing. In the end there were over a dozen bullet holes in their fallen leader. Mobs grabbed and beat the shooters as they tried to escape. At least one man, Hayer, didn t get away and the police arrested him (Stine, 94).
Malcom was a new man; he was more open and enlightened. Malcom X was shoot because they feared his power and what he might do. Malcom X was a man. Malcom X was thirty-nine.
DeCaro, Louis A., Malcom and the Cross, New York University Press, 1998, 235
Haley, Alex, The Autobiography of Malcom X as told to Alex Haley, Ballantine
Books, 1964 and 1965, 527
Stine, Megan, Malcom X, Civil Rights Leader, Dell publishing, 1994, 102
WWW. BrohterMalcom.net, 2000