Malcolm X moved to 4705 Logan Street (now Martin Luther King Boulevard) in 1930. Malcolm’s father, Earl Little, built the house for his family when they got tired of the racial segregation of East Lansing, and it was the Little family’s third house in the Lansing area. Malcolm was enrolled in Pleasant Grove Elementary school in January of 1931. The events that would happen in September would change the course of Malcolm’s life forever.
Earl Little was murdered on September 28th, 1931 by the Black Legion, a white supremacist group, because of his ties to Marcus Garvey and the United Negro Improvement Association. His body was placed over the streetcar tracks to make the death look like suicide, which was formally declared by the Lansing police (Historian/Educator Jamon Jordan on Malcolm X's father's death). Because of this, Louise Little couldn’t collect insurance money, and the family fell into financial hardship. Louise resented it, but they came to rely on Welfare; Louise did not trust the social workers who often came to evaluate her eight children. In 1939, Louise was declared mentally unstable by the Welfare social workers and was taken to a state mental hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Malcolm and his siblings were split up and taken to different foster families in the Lansing area, and his oldest two siblings Wilfred and Hilda remained in the house (Malcolm X, Autobiography).
This home and what happened there was integral to Malcolm’s future choices and political decisions. When his family fell on hard times, Malcolm began to go into town and regularly steal treats for himself, like apples or trinkets. When Malcolm was older and living in New York City, he became a hustler and a thief, and eventually went to prison for theft. As Malcolm matured and became well-read in prison, he thought back to his Lansing years, and how his family suffered at the hands of the racist state and federal government and the white supremacist groups (Malcolm X, Autobiography). It was his experiences in Lansing that made Malcolm see that a few African American families could not survive in a white neighborhood in the mid-twentieth century; they needed neighborhoods, schools, and a government of their own. Those memories and Earl’s preaching on Garveyism (a black movement back to Africa) helped form Malcolm’s political ideology, preaching Black Nationalism and separatism.
Photograph from BrotherMalcolm.net photograph gallery.
[Updated Aug 18, 2017 by John Aerni-Flessner]
Louise Little was still listed in the 1941 Ingham County Directory as the owner of the property. The 1942 Directory is either missing or was never published, but the 1943 Directory does not list her with that property, suggesting that it was sold at some point between 1941 and 1943.