Malcolm X: Caribbean connections


A post by Peter Jordens.

Last Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the murder of African-American human rights activist Malcolm X (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965). A tribute by teleSUR reminds us that Malcolm X’s father, Earl Little (1890-1931), was a Baptist minister and organizer for Marcus Garvey’s ​Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in the USA, while his mother, Louise Helen Norton Little (1897-1991), served as the national recording secretary for UNIA

Louise was originally from Grenada (born in the town of La Digue, St. Andrew) but moved to Canada to live with an uncle in her late teens. The Littles met at an UNIA convention in Montreal in 1918 (sources: various, including According to Ted Vincent’s ‘The Garveyite Parents of Malcolm X’ (The Black Scholar, Vol. 20, No. 2, March/April 1989, pp. 10-13), issues of Marcus Garvey’s newspaper Negro World from 1926 and 1927 clearly show that both Malcolm X’s parents were very active in UNIA. PBS station WGBH writes that they had qualities that Malcolm would later show: a spirit of independence, a refusal to be intimidated, an innate black pride, and resourcefulness ( and See also (


In an interview shortly before his death, the Jamaica Gleaner asked Malcolm X about his mother’s influence on his thinking. He responded: “[M]ost people in the Caribbean area are still proud that they are black, proud of the African blood and their heritage, and I think this type of pride was instilled in my mother, and she instilled it in us too, to the degree that she could. […] In fact she was an active member of the Marcus Garvey movement. […] It was Marcus Garvey’s philosophy of Pan-Africanism that initiated the entire freedom movement, which brought about the independence of African nations and had it not been for Marcus Garvey and the foundation laid by him, you would find no independent nations in the Caribbean today … All the freedom movements that are taking place in America were initiated by the work and teachings of Marcus Garvey.” (Source: Noel Leo Erskine, ‘What Method for the Oppressed?’ pp. 235-254 in: Lewis V. Baldwin and Paul R. Dekar, “In an Inescapable Network of Mutuality”: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Globalization of an Ethical Ideal, Wipf and Stock, 2013, p. 251).

In 1975, Jamaican roots reggae artist Winston McAnuff wrote a song dedicated to Malcolm X, as Howard Campbell writes in a recent article for the Jamaica Observer. Listen to the song here: McAnuff’s song was later also recorded by Earl Sixteen and most successfully by Dennis Brown; listen to their renditions here: and For the full Observer article, go to

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