The Prison Years and Early Ministry: 1946-55
In January 1946, Little was arrested for burglary and weapons possession charges, and received a ten-year sentence in the Massachusetts prison system. While incarcerated, Little’s siblings introduced him to the Nation of Islam, a tiny black nationalist-oriented religious movement led by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Converting to the NOI’s version of Islam, Little experienced a spiritual and intellectual epiphany behind bars. Emerging from prison in August 1952, as Malcolm X, the talented and articulate young convert was soon the assistant minister of the NOI’s Detroit Temple No. 1. . In 1954, Malcolm X was named minister of Harlem’s Temple No. 7, which he led for just short of a decade. As an itinerant spokesman for black nationalism, Malcolm X traveled constantly across the country, winning thousands of new converts to the NOI.