Malcolm Little, from the womb of his pregnant mother, experienced racial hate and trauma that shaped him and charted a course which started its journey here in Omaha, Nebraska. This course ended in his brutal assassination in front of his pregnant wife and their four children, at the Audubon Ballroom in Bronx, New York City, NY by those who practiced hate.
Earl and Louise Little; came to Omaha, Nebraska in 1921, two years after the brutal riot and lynching of Will Brown at the downtown Omaha courthouse. A white mob of reportedly 10,000-20,000 home grown terrorists, beat, shot, lynched, dragged and burned an innocent Black Man, while still in their Sunday church clothes. Will Brown lost his life with no trial and no evidence, for the standard racists dog whistle, an alleged sexual assault on a white girl, that according to a grand jury, were increasingly being committed in Omaha at that time by white men, in black face.
The violence and the damage that was inflicted on the residents and property in the North Omaha Black Community during this terrible time was conveniently never quantified, nor recompensed.
Omaha, in the 1920’s, could once boast of having the 2nd largest Black population of western
cities, (only Los Angeles had a greater population of black people than Omaha,), but North Omaha has never fully recovered from this riot and many others.
A full 2,000 Black people left Omaha, Nebraska in September of 1919, in fear for their lives due to the lynching of Will Brown. Many of them leaving had already ran to Omaha during the Great Migration, trying desperately to escape the Jim Crow South. 6 million men, women and children, Americans.. right here in these United States, sought asylum in the North and the Midwest, to flee the terrors of black codes, mass incarcerations, rape, assault, violence and death in the deep South.
The Klu Klux Klan, a terrorist group, widely known for its unchecked and unprosecuted, murders, gang-rapes, lynchings, drownings, tortures, abductions, castrations and fire bombings; of the Black Community as well as the Jewish, Immigrant, Catholic, and LGBTQ communities across the United States, gained a large foot hold in the plains of Nebraska.
The 1st Nebraska chapter of the KKK, was founded in Omaha in 1921, called Klavern #1, originally located on 41st and Farnam St., and is now a UNMC parking lot. By the end of 1921, numbers of the KKK had risen to 24 chapters in the state with an estimated membership of 1,100 Nebraskans.
In less than 2 short years, by 1923, the KKK headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia claimed that Nebraska had 45,000 members of the Ku Klux Klan in the state. “The Lincoln Star reported that the Klan was "active in Lincoln, Omaha, Fremont, York, Grand Island, Hastings, North Platte and Scottsbluff". Large amounts of KKK activity was also reported in towns such as McCook, Curtis, David City, and Fairfield. According to the population of Omaha between the 1920’s and 30’s, 45,000 Klan members means, 1 out of every 4 or 5 Nebraskans, would have been an official member of the Ku Klux Klan, including Women and Children.
These same KKK thugs armed with shotguns and the law of the land on their side, threatened a pregnant Louise Little, with her 3 young children at their home on 3448 Pinkney St. in Omaha, Neb., while her husband Earl was away working,. The KKK broke the windows out of their one room shanty during a night raid, in the middle of a January Nebraska winter in 1925. Louise Little suffered all this trauma pregnant with Malcolm Little, more commonly known as the Human and Civil rights leader Minister Malcolm X.
The hate that Malcolm Little experienced in-vitro, before the outside world could even lay eyes on him, according to experts would have had a lasting impact, particularly when reinforced by subsequent traumatic experiences of the same variation.
“Theory and research from the last 20 years indicates that prenatal experiences can be remembered, and have lifelong impact.., and prenatal experiences are likely to have lifelong impact when they are followed by reinforcing conditions or interactional trauma, … that the most formative experiences were ones that occurred prenatally, especially during the first trimester.”
Malcolm X indeed continued to suffer more trauma as a child due to incidents of racial violence, year after year, which reinforced his world view of being born into a hostile environment, one that was set out to destroy his family and him, a child and an innocent, who had never harmed anyone, simply because they were black.
The Littles fled Nebraska and moved to Lansing, Michigan in 1929, where around the age of four Malcolm and his family’s house was set on fire because they were Black. The fire department refused to come and put the fire out because they were Black and the Little family, barely escaping with their lives, watched everything they owned and worked hard for burn to the ground and they were in transit and homeless yet again.
Malcolm’s Father was tragically killed, (suspectedly murdered because he was Black) just 2 yrs. later when Malcolm was around 6 yrs. old, adding significantly more trauma.
Malcolm and his family suffered extreme poverty after Earl Little died. The Littles were defrauded the insurance money owed to them because they were Black, and the children sometimes ate dandelions and stole because there was no food. More trauma occurred around the age of 14 yrs old, when Malcolm’s mother was forced into a mental institution, and he was separated from his 7 brothers and sisters. Malcolm then dropped out of school after his teacher told him he could never be a lawyer because he was Black.
Malcolm ended up being homeless as a teen, addicted and traumatized, hopeless and lost, eventually incarcerated because of this stream of tragic events, that manifested in many ways simply because he and his family were Black, starting from the very womb of his mother, in Omaha, Neb.
At this point hate had taken everything good and stable from Malcolm, his dreams, his homes, his family, his freedom, even his identity.
Newton’s Third Law of Relativity states that for every action there is an equal and adverse reaction and Malcolm’s very public denunciation of the violent white racist power structure was equal to the pain and hate he had suffered...from a baby. Malcolm was a survivor with 1st hand experience of the hate and racism that had stripped everything he loved from him. Malcolm’s life had always been surrounded by those who hated him for no other reason than the truth of his existence.
Then adversely, despite all of the hate, violence and trauma; something miraculous happened in Malcolm X… seeds of Love, like a rose through the concrete, started to grow within Malcolm’s mind and heart. Somehow, Malcolm X found himself embarked on a short, yet intensely transformative journey of Love… that started with the Love of himself.
Malcolm first discovered a Love of his very own skin, hair, nose, and the shape of his own lips.
Malcolm X rekindled his Love for education, culture, and heritage.
Malcolm grew to love the power his own mind, his strengths, and a higher power.
Malcolm was then blessed with the Love of his Wife and 6 daughters, and the Love of many different people of all stations throughout the world.
Most importantly however, Malcolm found a deep Love for Truth, and that Love for Truth made a change in Malcolm, Before Malcolm was killed, he publicly and repeatedly expressed Love for all people operating in Truth and Justice, regardless of color.
“I Am for the Truth no matter who tells it, I Am for Justice no matter who it is for or against” --- Malcolm X
It is because of this Love of Justice and Truth, that Malcolm knowingly put his life on the line for oppressed human beings of every race, religion, culture, and creed.
Eventually Malcolm was even killed by the ones he loved and made into a sacrifice and a Martyr for the cause of Freedom. Malcolm knew his life was in danger (as it always had been), but it was his Love for an equitable future, a future where babies are not terrorized from the womb, that matured into a perfect Love for all humanity, that drove out all fear.
Although Malcolm X was born into the world amidst hate, it is his unlikely miracle of Love that Malcolm X embodied and left to us that we honor and celebrate. A Love that inspires us to continue to grow and learn, to relate and adapt as Malcolm did.
Malcolm X from Omaha, Nebraska is The Love That Hate Produced.
Malcolm showed us a Love that gave literally everything, its very existence, and asked for nothing in return but our highest good, until his last breath. Malcolm X left us a legacy and example of the transformative power of Love, a love that can change a mind and a heart, a life, even the world. My hope for Nebraska is that we all embrace the Love of ourselves and others that Malcolm lived and died for. A love that transcends race and religion, gender and class, and nationality. A love that somehow cheats death and commands a better future.
Malcolm X and his legacy of Love proves that in the end, despite hate and fear, trauma and heartbreak, if we are open to receiving it… Love will always find a way.
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. St. John 15:13 NLT
“Dead are Arising” By Les and Tamara Payne
The AutoBiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley
“A Time For Burning” Documentary
Bio: Schmeeka Simpson is a Mother of 3, a community advocate and political activist, a Creighton University Graduate and currently works as the Director of Tours for the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation. Schmeeka is a board member for the NPO Stand In For Nebraska and on the Governing Board of Divisible; A Documentary about Redlining in Omaha, using Malcolm X’s birth place as a case study of Redlining nationwide, Divisible will be released in July of this year. Schmeeka also serves as a member of the UNO Community Engagement Center’s Redlining Board and conducts tours of the “Undesign The Redline” exhibit being held at the CEC to educate Nebraskans about the negative impact of Redlining in Omaha Nebraska.