Malcolm’s father, Earl Little, a Baptist minister by profession, was also an organizer for the militant Universal Negro Improvement Association, a black nationalist group led by the Jamaican Marcus Garvey. Malcolm remembers him as a confident, self-sufficient man, willing to stand up to white men. It was this aspect of his personality which resulted in his death. His organizing activities in Omaha, Nebraska, caused trouble with the Ku Klux Klan. His house in Lansing, Michigan, was burned to the ground by a white racist group, the Black Legionnaires; it is likely that this group murdered him.
Reverend Little was vociferously proud of his blackness and proud of his African heritage. Yet, even he seems to have been a victim of white “brainwashing”; that is, he preferred his lightest-skinned child, Malcolm, to all the rest.
As a father and husband, he was a harsh man. He and his wife often fought violently, and he frequently whipped the children. Yet his strong authority held the family together, and after his death, it rapidly dissolved.