People & Events: Earl and Louise Little
Earl Little, a Baptist minister born in Reynolds, Georgia, and his second wife, Louise, born in Grenada, British West Indies, were long-standing members of Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association. Earl Little worked as an organizer for the movement during the 1920s and at one time served as the president of the Omaha, Nebraska U.N.I.A. division. Louise Little served as division secretary, writing reports documenting local U.N.I.A. activities and division meetings for The Negro World newspaper. Earl Little also petitioned for Garvey's release after his 1925 incarceration on federal mail fraud charges.
On May 19, 1925, Louise Little gave birth to a son, Malcolm, who would later be known as Malcolm X. The Littles' involvement in the U.N.I.A. extended to their children. Recalling his father in his autobiography, Malcolm X said, "the image of him that made me proudest was his crusading and militant campaigning with the words of Marcus Garvey ... it was only me that he sometimes took with him to the Garvey U.N.I.A. meetings which he held quietly in different people's homes."
The Little family was often the target of harassment by the Ku Klux Klan. In The Autobiography of Malcolm X, the author describes an incident, which happened shortly before his birth, in which the K.K.K. arrived at the Little family home one night. Carrying shotguns and rifles, Malcolm X said, the hooded Klansmen warned Louise Little that "'the good Christian white people' were not going to stand for my father's 'spreading trouble' with the 'back to Africa' preachings of Marcus Garvey."
Earl Little died under mysterious circumstances in 1931; Malcolm X believed he had been assassinated. In 1934, Louise Little reportedly suffered a nervous breakdown, and spent many years in a mental institution. Her eight children, including her son Malcolm, were sent to foster homes.