Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1745
Amilah (or Gamilah, as mentioned in Alex Haley's epilogue) was Malcolm X and Sister Betty's fourth daughter, born in 1964.
West Indian Archie
West Indian Archie was ‘‘one of Harlem's really bad Negroes,’’ according to Malcolm. Still, Malcolm placed many numbers bets with Archie during the mid-1940s, when Malcolm himself was working in the numbers business. Archie threatened to kill Malcolm over a misunderstanding about money, but Shorty and Sammy arranged to have Malcolm leave town.
Attallah was Malcolm X and Sister Betty's first daughter, born in 1958. She was named after Attilah the Hun, who sacked Rome.
Malcolm met Bimbi in jail. Bimbi, an old burglar, encouraged Malcolm to read and study and was the first man Malcolm had ever met who commanded respect simply with his words.
Sister Clara was married to Elijah Muhammad and was, according to Malcolm X, a ‘‘dark, good wife.’’
Ella Mae Collins
Ella was one of Malcolm's father's three children from a previous marriage. Malcolm first met her while he was in seventh grade, and he considered her the proudest black woman he had ever seen. She owned property in Boston and was successful enough in business to help bring a number of her relatives from Georgia to live in Boston. The summer Malcolm spent in Boston with her changed his life, especially when he saw the contrast between the small town he lived in and the big city. The next year, he moved to Boston to live with her.
After a while, Malcolm decided that Ella was a snob and dismissed her efforts to help him. She wanted Malcolm to improve himself, but as a teenager and young adult he was only interested in having fun. After Malcolm converted to Islam, he encouraged her to convert as well. After a number of years, she converted and even set up a language school for young Muslim girls. She also loaned Malcolm the money to make his pilgrimage to Mecca.
Earl was one of Malcolm's father's three children from a previous marriage. He lived in Boston. When he became an adult, he was a successful singer who went by the name Jimmy Carleton.
El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz
See Malcolm X.
Ilyasah (from Ilyas, Arabic for Elijah, according to Malcolm) was Malcolm X and Sister Betty's third daughter, born in 1962.
See Elijah Muhammad.
Malcolm met Laura while working at an ice cream parlor in Ella's ritzy black neighborhood. Although she came from a "good'' family and was studious, Laura distinguished herself to Malcolm by her friendliness. Ella became very fond of Laura and encouraged Malcolm to see her often. He loved taking Laura to dances, but she had to lie to her family about where she was going. According to Malcolm, their relationship started Laura on the downward path involving drugs, alcohol, and prostitution, for which he blamed himself.
Reverend Earl (Early) Little
Earl Little was Malcolm's father, a Baptist preacher who also advocated the "back-to-Africa'' teachings of Marcus Garvey. He chose to do this kind of work because, according to Malcolm, he had seen three of his brothers killed by white men. A large man, well over six feet, and not typically intimidated, Little had to move his large family around more than he would have liked because much of his preaching angered many local whites. He was murdered in 1931 by a white racist group in Lansing, Michigan, when Malcolm was about six-years-old.
Earl treated Malcolm a bit better than he treated his other children; Malcolm always wondered whether this favoritism was because his skin was lighter than the other children's. Earl had eleven children, three from a previous marriage and eight with Louise, Malcolm's mother. Louise and Earl fought often, usually over Louise's dietary restrictions.
Hilda was Malcolm's quiet older sister. He remembers that she served as his "second mother.’’ After their father died, Hilda helped around the house by taking care of the younger children while Louise went to work.
Louise Little was Malcolm's mother, born in Grenada to a black woman who had been raped by a white man, according to Malcolm. She had very light skin and was often mistaken for a white woman. This fact helped her get jobs as a maid after her husband died, but as soon as her white employers realized that she was black—often when one of her children dropped by where she worked—she would be fired.
Louise had definite ideas about what she and her family should eat. For example, she refused to allow her children to eat rabbit or pork, and very often these restrictions were the source of fights that erupted between her and her husband. She occasionally had visions, and the day Earl was murdered she had a vision of his death.
After Earl died, the state welfare officials tried to take Louise's children away. Eventually she broke down under the stress of trying to rear her eight children alone. The house fell into disrepair, and the state placed all of her children in different homes and placed her in a mental asylum for twenty-six years. In 1963, her son Philbert removed her from the asylum and took her in.
See Malcolm X.
Philbert was one of Malcolm's older brothers who distinguished himself by enjoying his father's preaching, while Malcolm found it confusing. When Philbert and Malcolm weren't fighting with each other, they ganged up against other children. Philbert converted to the Nation of Islam before Malcolm did and became a temple minister in Lansing, Michigan.
Reginald was one of Malcolm's younger brothers and was always in ill health due to a hernia. Malcolm worked to have Reginald look up to him in the same way that Malcolm respected Wilfred. When Reginald was a teenager, he joined the merchant marine, but he left it and moved in with Malcolm in Harlem in the mid-1940s. Malcolm secured his brother a safe "hustle," or illegal way to make money, selling cheap clothes for about twice their worth, and was always impressed with Reginald's poise and street smarts. Reginald converted to the Nation of Islam but was kicked out for immoral activities before Malcolm left prison. He ended up in a mental asylum.
Robert was one of Malcolm's younger brothers. He spent time at Michigan State University, doing post-graduate work in psychology.
Wesley was one of Malcolm's younger brothers.
Wilfred was the first child Earl had with Louise. Malcolm, as a child, felt very close to Wilfred and looked up to him, especially after their father was murdered. After his father's death, Wilfred quit school and took a job to help support the family. He converted to the Nation of Islam and became a temple minister in Detroit.
Yvonne was Malcolm's younger sister, born in 1929.
Mother Marie was Elijah Muhammad's mother. Malcolm X loved to sit and listen to her tell stories about Elijah's childhood and humble beginnings.
Mary was one of Earl Little's three children from a previous marriage. She lived in Boston.
See Elijah Muhammad.
Mr. Ostrowski was Malcolm's English teacher at Mason Junior High School. Like many of the other teachers, he made racist jokes during class. When Malcolm was in eighth grade, Mr. Ostrowski asked him what he wanted to do with his life. When Malcolm answered, ‘‘be a lawyer,’’ Mr. Ostrowski told him that blacks could not be lawyers. This incident crystallized Malcolm's discontentment about living in a small town after having spent the summer in Boston with Ella.
See Elijah Muhammad.
Qubilah was Malcolm X and Sister Betty's second daughter, born in 1960.
Rudy was one of Shorty's friends in Boston and was half-Italian and half-black. He worked for an employment agency that hired him out to wealthy white families as a waiter when they needed catering help for parties. His knowledge of wealthy households made him indispensable when Malcolm decided to gather together a burglary gang. Rudy, along with everyone else in the gang, eventually went to jail for the robberies.
Sammy the Pimp
Sammy the Pimp was one of Malcolm's best friends while he lived in Harlem during the 1940s. He was from Kentucky and had the reputation of having the best-looking whores in Harlem. Sammy "helped" Malcolm in a variety of ways, including getting him started in selling marijuana. Malcolm and Sammy partnered on a few robberies, but their relationship cooled when Malcolm hit Sammy's girlfriend and Sammy threatened him with a gun. However, Sammy later helped save Malcolm's life after Malcolm had angered dangerous people in Harlem. Sammy called Shorty, who came to Harlem and took Malcolm back to Boston.
Malcolm met Shorty at a Boston pool hall soon after he moved there to live with Ella. He was from Lansing, Michigan, where Malcolm spent a few years of his childhood. Shorty found a job for Malcolm (whom he took to calling "Red" ) as a shoeshine boy at the famous Roseland State Ballroom. As well, he introduced Malcolm to all that the city had to offer, including drinking, gambling, expensive clothes, and women. Shorty helped save Malcolm's life by answering Sammy's call to take Malcolm back to Boston when he was threatened in Harlem.
Sophia, a well-to-do and attractive white woman, fell for Malcolm after she saw him and Laura dance together in Boston. They became a couple, breaking Laura's heart. Sophia gave Malcolm money that helped him move out of Ella's house and in with Shorty. Malcolm X noted in his book that having a white, attractive girlfriend was an important status symbol for a black man during that period in Boston. After Malcolm moved to Harlem, Sophia visited him, even after she married a wealthy Boston man. She was eventually arrested with Shorty and Malcolm for armed robbery.
Sister Betty X
Sister Betty X served as an instructor to the women members of the Nation of Islam in housekeeping and hygiene. She was a nursing student when Malcolm X first noticed her and began to consider the possibility of their marriage. He did not waste much time courting her, dismissing the concept of romance, but asked her to marry him in a 1958 telephone conversation after the two had spent a minimal amount of time together. Malcolm X considered her a good Muslim wife who stood by him through good and bad times.
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