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After his parole in 1952 he quickly rose to become one of the organization’s most influential leaders, serving as the public face of the controversial group for a dozen years. On February 21, 1965, he was assassinated by three members of the Nation of Islam. X later said that white violence killed four of his father’s brothers. When the family home burned in 1929, Earl accused the Black Legion. Louise believed Earl had been murdered by the Black Legion. Rumors that white racists were responsible for his father’s death were widely circulated, and were very disturbing to Malcolm X as a child. As an adult, he expressed conflicting beliefs on the question.
To make ends meet Louise rented out part of her garden, and her sons hunted game. Malcolm and his siblings secured her release 24 years later. Malcolm Little excelled in junior high school but dropped out after a white teacher told him that practicing law, his aspiration at the time, was “no realistic goal for a nigger”. X recalled feeling that the white world offered no place for a career-oriented black man, regardless of talent. According to recent biographies, Little also occasionally had sex with other men, usually for money. He befriended John Elroy Sanford, a fellow dishwasher at Jimmy’s Chicken Shack in Harlem who aspired to be a professional comedian.
Both men had reddish hair, so Sanford was called “Chicago Red” after his hometown and Little was known as “Detroit Red”. In late 1945, Little returned to Boston, where he and four accomplices committed a series of burglaries targeting wealthy white families. In fact, up to then, I had never been so truly free in my life. Under Bembry’s influence, Little developed a voracious appetite for reading. Africa, where they would be free from white American and European domination.
He showed scant interest at first, but after his brother Reginald wrote in 1948, “Malcolm, don’t eat any more pork and don’t smoke any more cigarettes. After a visit in which Reginald described the group’s teachings, including the belief that white people are devils, Little concluded that every relationship he’d had with whites had been tainted by dishonesty, injustice, greed, and hatred. He explained in his autobiography that the Muslim’s “X” symbolized the true African family name that he could never know. For me, my ‘X’ replaced the white slavemaster name of ‘Little’ which some blue-eyed devil named Little had imposed upon my paternal forebears. X visited Elijah Muhammad in Chicago. In June 1953 he was named assistant minister of the Nation’s Temple Number One in Detroit.