"Detroit Red"

The Prison Years and
Early Ministry: 1946-55

The Nation of Islam:

The National Spokesman:

Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement

The Silencing, Muhammad Ali and Out: Dec. 1963 - April 1964

The Epiphany of Mecca

African Sojourner, 1964

1965: The Final Months

February 21, 1965:
The Assassination and Aftermath


requires free RealPlayer

Robin KelleyRobin Kelley on Malcolm's relationships with women as a hustler

Peter BaileyPeter Bailey on Louise Little's mental health issues

Farah GriffinFarah Griffin on Louise's relationship after Earl Little's death

Louis DeCaroLouis DeCaro on Malcolm's memories of his father, Earl Little, pt. 1

Louis DeCaro on Malcolm's memories of his father, Earl Little, pt. 2

Robin KelleyRobin Kelley on Malcolm's "conk" hairstyle

Malcolm X’s childhood, “Detroit Red,” and Islam in Black America.

If one had to select one historical personality within the period 1940 to 1975 who best represented and reflected black urban life, politics, and culture in the United States, it would be extremely difficult to find someone more central than the charismatic figure of Malcolm X/El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1925, and growing up in the Midwest, young Malcolm Little was the child of political activists who supported the militant black nationalist movement of Marcus Garvey. After his father’s violent death and his mother’s subsequent institutionalization due to mental illness, Little was placed in foster care and for a time in a youth detention facility. At age sixteen he left school, relocating to Boston upon the invitation of his older half-sister, Ella Little. During World War II, the zoot-suited “Detroit Red” became a small-time hustler, burglar, and narcotics dealer in Harlem and Roxbury.

  • Malcolm X/Haley, Autobiography, Chapters 2-9.
  • Richard Brent Turner, Islam in the African-American Experience, pp. 110-173.
  • Louis De Caro, Jr., On the Side of My People, chapters 3-5, pp. 38-71.
  • Ted Vincent, “The Garveyite Parents of Malcolm X,” Black Scholar (March/April 1989), pp. 10-13.
  • Robin D.G. Kelley, “The Riddle of the Zoot: Malcolm Little and Black Cultural Politics During World War II,” in Joe Wood, ed., Malcolm X: In Our Own Image, pp. 155-182.
  • Rodnell Collins, Seventh Child, Chapter 4, pp. 38-47.

  • The Malcolm X Project at Columbia University home