LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – He was a controversial figure in the Civil Rights Movement after he was introduced to the world stage by Elijah Muhammad who appointed him to stand in as the national spokesman for the Nation of Islam.
Before he became a well-known minister in the Black Nationalism fight, he had humble beginnings in Lansing, Michigan.
Michigan State University African and World History Assistant Professor John Aerni Flessner says Malcolm X learned about black empowerment from his father Minister Earl Little.
“His father was also very active in Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association,” says Aerni-Flessner.
“The family was heavily involved in black nationalism from a very early time.”
Malcolm X wrote in his autobiography that he was scarred by what the KKK did to his father and it impacted his strong views on race relations.
“His father was brutally killed on the street car tracks that were right at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Detroit Street,” said Aerni-Flessner.
After his father died, Malcolm X’s mother struggled both mentally and physically to support the family.
His mother was sent to a psychiatric hospital and young Malcolm was placed in foster care.
Decades after his hard childhood in the Capitol City he’s now being honored by Reach Studio Art with a life-sized mural.
“We did one of the eyes on his eyeglasses in mirror to represent how his views changed throughout his life,” said Joy Baldwin, who is the program director at the center.
That mural will be donated to the school which honors the memory of Malcolm X, Shabazz Academy on Barnes Road in Lansing.
All across the city there are traces of his legacy.
There’s Malcolm X Street, a historical marker where the home he grew up in once stood and the El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz Charter Academy.
Malcolm X’s legacy continues to live on, not only in the Capitol area but around the world.