Malcolm Before the Nation of Islam

Malcolm’s ideology before induction into the Nation of Islam was largely based on his upbringing by his parents, devout followers of Marcus Garvey. Thus, Malcolm came into contact with ideas of black pride and “uplift” at a young age. Later, after the death of his father, likely at the hands of white supremacists, young Malcolm Little harbored a growing dislike for white people.

In his young adulthood, Malcolm continually experienced the effects of white supremacy, even harboring a dislike for dating white women in particular. In fact, the particular crime which saw Malcolm in jail during the time of his conversion to the Nation of Islam was for the burglary of a wealthy white family’s home.

While in prison, before truly converting to the NOI, Malcolm decided to use the time to educate himself. He studied under the tutelage of a man named John Elton Bembry who encouraged Malcolm to improve his oratory skills. After receiving the initial letter about the NOI from his brother Reginald, Malcolm additionally did some research into spiritual pursuits such as those of Buddhism, and learned more about historical events that shaped his outlook on racial issues; he studied W.E.B. DuBois and read about Nat Turner’s rebellion with relish, shaping his future philosophies on the use of violence in protest or resistance.