Malcolm X, A Nebraska Native Son

Malcolm X (1925-1965) was a leader and active voice during the mid-20th century on behalf of Civil Rights. Born in Omaha as Malcolm Little, he relocated with his family to Michigan as a young child and later moved to Massachusetts and New York.

According to https://www.malcolmx.com/biography, he learned about and converted to the Nation of Islam, a religious organization founded in the United States in 1930, when he was in his early twenties while serving time for robbery. He later became disillusioned by the leader’s hypocrisy and efforts to hide it in the years that Malcolm X was instrumental in growing the movement from 500 to over 30,000 members. He broke from the organization in 1963, in his late thirties, and his popularity continued to grow.

According to https://www.malcolmx.com/biography, in 1964, “Malcolm went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The trip proved life altering. For the first time, Malcolm shared his thoughts and beliefs with different cultures, and found the response to be overwhelmingly positive. When he returned, Malcolm said he had met ‘blonde-haired, blued-eyed men I could call my brothers.’ He returned to the United States with a new outlook on integration and a new hope for the future. This time when Malcolm spoke, instead of just preaching to African-Americans, he had a message for all races.”

When he was 39, three assassins murdered him during a speaking engagement in Manhattan.

His Landmark Autobiography

Malcolm X’s autobiography, written with Alex Haley, was published posthumously soon after he died. (Read about a landmark connected to Alex Haley here: Alex Haley in Tennessee.)

Find the audio book at Malcolm X Autobiography (Audiobook) or through Audible here: Malcolm X Autobiography as recorded by Laurence Fishburne. It is also available in several forms through numerous book vendors.

According to director Spike Lee, it was “…the most important book I’ll ever read, it changed the way I thought, it changed the way I acted. It has given me courage I didn’t know I had inside me. I’m one of hundreds of thousands whose lives were changed for the better.”

Its publisher, Penguin/Random House (https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com) descrbes it this way: “The Autobiography of Malcolm X stands as the definitive statement of a movement and a man whose work was never completed but whose message is timeless. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand America.”

The book became a feature film starring Denzel Washington in 1992.

The Place

The Malcolm X Memorial Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, is located slightly north of Adams Park in Omaha. It welcomes the public to its special events and community programs. Visitors pre-register through its website and need to pre-schedule on-site visits. For information or to make a donation, please visit https://www.malcolmxfoundation.org.

The Foundation has also compiled an excellent group of videos here: https://www.malcolmxfoundation.org/video.

This location is the third stop on the Nebraska Author Adventures Trail. Remember to contact them in advance.

Patricia Smart