1963 : Malcolm X Gives Speech at Michigan State University

January 23, 2018 all-day

Malcolm X photograph, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Malcolm X speaks at Erickson Kiva on January 23, 1963, on the MSU campus, to students and faculty about race problems and the Black Muslim religion and its ideas. The speech is followed by answers to questions from the audience. A recording available in the MSU Library Vincent Voice Library.

The MSU Vincent Voice Library also has a June 22, 1963 recording of Malcolm X speaking at a Michigan State University press conference about the race problem, aims of Black Muslims, the Meredith case and Mississippi followed by various takes of the interview for an MSU film.

Malcolm X was one of the most influential and most polarizing figures of the civil rights era.

Beginning in the late 1950s, Malcolm became the public face of the Nation of Islam, fluently articulating the rage many blacks felt toward the unjust system in which they lived, preaching racial separation where others sought integration, self-defense where others advocated nonviolence.

But Malcolm broke with the Nation of Islam in 1964, and, after a trip to the Muslim holy city of Mecca later that year, began to believe that racial divisions could be overcome. He was assassinated on Feb. 21, 1965.

During his childhood, Malcolm X, aka Malcolm Little, also lived in Lansing and Mason, Michigan. Not that Lansing was particularly good to the young Malcolm Little.

It was here, in 1929 when Malcolm was 4 years old, that the home his family had purchased in a whites-only subdivision northwest of the city was burned to the ground.

His father was run over by a streetcar two years later, and Malcolm would grow up with rumors that his father had been murdered by a local white supremacist group called the Black Legion.

By the time he was 13, Malcolm’s mother had been sent to the State Mental Hospital in Kalamazoo, and he and his brothers and sisters parceled out to foster homes.

Later in his life he returned for a short time at the end of World War II, making mattresses at Capital Bedding, sweeping floors at the Reo Motor Car Co., and working as a waiter at Coral Gables.

He also married his wife Betty X before a Justice of the Peace in Lansing on January 14, 1958.

Today there is one public marker of Malcolm’s presence here, at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Vincent Court, the site of one of his childhood homes. And there is also an unofficial marker, the El-Hajj Malik El Shabazz Academy uses his Muslim name as its own name.

Source : “Malcolm X: What is his Lansing legacy?”, Lansing State Journal, February 7, 2012.

[Collected speeches of Malcolm X] MSU Libraries Vincent Voice Library VVL-01-0021 : Malcolm X speaks at Michigan State University in three of these five recordings. Recordings also include Malcolm X speaking in Detroit after his split with Elijah Muhammed, and Malcolm X explaining his opposition to non-violence.

Malcolm X at Michigan State University, January 23, 1964 via YouTube.