Malcolm X’s ties to the Lansing area

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Malcolm X is one of the many African-American icons honored during Black History Month, and he had ties in mid-Michigan.

Michigan State University Professor of African and World History, John Aerni-Flessner, said Malcolm X and his family have deep roots in the Capital city.

When Malcolm lived in Lansing, he was known as Malcolm Little.

“The Little family purchased a house up in the Westmont subdivision up by what’s today the airport off of Grand River Avenue,” Professor Aerni-Flessner said.

Malcolm X was born in Nebraska and moved to Lansing at 2-years-old with his family.

His father, Earl Little, moved them to a predominately white neighborhood. But they weren’t there long.

“The Little house burned to the ground. Most likely an arson attack by white supremacist,” Professor Aerni-Flessner said.

They moved to two other houses in the Lansing and East Lansing area. Soon after they moved to a house Malcolm’s father built, the family was hit with a big loss.

“Unfortunately later that Fall, his father was found dead at the railroad tracks at Michigan Avenue and Detroit Avenue,” Professor Aerni-Flessner said.

Malcolm’s mom was eventually sent to a mental institution. Malcolm and his siblings were put in foster care. He moved out of Lansing after junior high, and would go on to become a civil rights activist.

“Malcolm did this despite all of the obstacles. Despite being African American in Lansing in the 1930s,” Professor Aerni-Flessner said.

He even came back to give a speech at MSU in 1963.

“The number one domestic problem facing America is the race problem,” Malcolm X said during his speech.

Professor Aerni-Flessner said the situation Malcolm X faced back then, we still see today.

“Some of the conditions that Malcolm wrote about and protested about are still with us,” Professor Aerni-Flessner said.

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