CRIME FILE - Famous crime:
The Assassination of Malcolm ‘X’
Malcolm ‘X’ was born Malcolm Little on 19 May 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, one of eight children born to Earl and Louise Little (née Norton). His father was an outspoken Baptist preacher, and both Earl and Louise were staunch supporters of Marcus Garvey, the leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association. His father’s outspoken championing of civil rights resulted in death threats from the white supremacist group, Black Legion, and they are generally supposed responsible for the death of Earl Little in Lansing, Michigan, on 28 September 1931, although the cause of death recorded officially was that he had been run over by a tram. His death resulted in Louise’s gradual mental breakdown, and she was admitted to an institution in 1939, and young Malcolm and his siblings were split between a number of foster homes and orphanages.
Despite being a bright student, Malcolm became disillusioned with studies when a teacher commented that his intention of becoming a lawyer was “no realistic goal for a nigger”, he dropped out of school and travelled to New York. Here he became embroiled in a life of petty crime, which included prostitution, gambling and narcotics, also managing to avoid being drafted into the military. He moved to Boston, and continued his criminal enterprises, which resulted in his arrest in Boston on 12 January 1946. He was convicted of burglary, carrying an illegal firearm and larceny, and sent to Charlestown State Prison for eight to ten years.
“Malcolm proved a valuable asset to the Nation of Islam; he was an impassioned, articulate orator and over the next decade he was largely responsible for lifting the public profile of the organisation.”
Whilst there he renewed contact with his brother, Reginald, who urged him to join the militant Black Islamic organisation called the Nation of Islam (NOI), headed by Elijah Muhammad, which fought for the political and economic empowerment of African Americans. NOI claimed that African-Americans had lost their original Muslim faith when sold into slavery from Africa, and advocated a return to their original faith. Malcolm commenced direct correspondence with its leader, Muhammad, from prison, reading extensively about Islam, and he became a devout follower, changing his name to Malcolm ‘X’, when he was paroled on 7 August 1952: the ‘X’ signified his original, lost tribal name, the surname Little having been imposed on his ancestors by their slave master.