The National Register of Historic Places has listed the early residence of civil rights leader Malcolm X. The property in Inkster, Michigan, served as Malcolm X’s home after his release from jail, and it was here that he began to formulate his religious walk in the Nation of Islam and first met the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
According to a news release from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the home has been designated as a landmark site by the National Register of Historic Places, which is administered by the State Historic Preservation Office.
“A crucial part of the National Register program is to chronicle and recognize locations that are associated with events that have made a substantial contribution to the broad patterns of our history,” stated Mark A. Rodman, Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Officer. In the mid-twentieth century, people and locations in Michigan played significant roles in the Civil Rights movement. With the listing of this home, we are proud to join the city of Inkster in commemorating one of those roles.”
Between 1952 and 1953, Malcolm X lived at 4336 Williams Street, near Annapolis Avenue, in Inkster.
After his release from a Massachusetts jail, his older brother Wilfred X and his family let the 27-year-old to live with them. He stayed in a second-floor bedroom, where the entire family would gather to pray together ritualistically.
Malcolm Little, the freedom fighter’s birth name, was imprisoned in a Charlestown state prison in the commonwealth in 1946 for burglary. In 1948, he was exposed to the Nation of Islam through his siblings and began communicating with its founder, Hon. Elijah Muhammad. During his stay there, he decided to alter his life by becoming a better reader, spending time in the jail library reading books on philosophy, history, literature, and science.
He also began a letter-writing campaign to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, demanding the right to worship Islam while incarcerated. He took part in a variety of activities that would determine his place in American history, such as joining the prison debate team and honing his oratory talents. According to Massmoment.org, his deliberate endeavor to reform his life resulted in his eventual freedom in 1952.
His brother accepted him into his home and faith after his release and introduced him to the Nation of Islam Temple No. 1 in Detroit. He became a member of the temple, which was one of only four in the country at the time, and before the end of the year, he had met the man with whom he had been communicating, Elijah Muhammad, in person. He received the “X” from him during that occasion, a symbol of his shedding of the slave master’s name he was given as a youngster.
He also began a recruitment push after observing that the faith had just approximately 400 members globally, according to PBS, to expand the religion’s scope, which now has over 50,000 adherents by 2022. He worked on this project in the Inkster household.
Around this time, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began extensive surveillance of his life at this residence, a government intrusion that lasted until his assassination in New York City in 1965.
“With so much of Malcolm X’s physical legacy being destroyed over time, this house is all the more significant,” said Todd Walsh, the Michigan SHPO’s National Register coordinator.
“Its significance is not simply its association with Malcolm X, but its connection to Malcolm at an incredibly pivotal time in his life. This house will help us better understand Malcolm X, not as an icon, but as a human being. It will also help us understand his family and the important role that played in his development into one of the most important figures in American history.”
Adding the residence to the registry is just one of many steps in the repair process. The National Park Service African American Civil Rights program awarded the organizations a $380,000 grant to turn the house into a museum “that would focus on the life and significance of Malcolm X, advocacy, and as a youth learning center.”
Project We Hope, Dream, & Believe, a group that has been working on this endeavor for a long time, is leading the charge. The organization chose to start the campaign to have the property designated as a historical landmark because “the house is a part of American history, Black history, and Inkster history,” according to its website.
“Our goal is to fix the house and turn it into a museum for people to come see, as well as to use it as a learning center to assist the young with education work,” it continued.
Advocates argued that it should be included in the registry under the following headings: Criterion A of the National Register for Ethnic Heritage: Black or Social History.
“We are working hard toward rehabilitating and renovating the Malcolm X house, with the goal of transforming the home into a museum that will showcase Malcolm’s life history, with a special focus on his human and civil rights activism, as well as his relationship to the city of Inkster, which he referenced in one of his final speeches,” said Project We Hope, Dream & Believe executive director Aaron Sims.
“We have also partnered with Wayne State University’s Anthropology Department to conduct archeological excavations around the home, which, we hope, will provide further clues about what life was like in the neighborhood Malcolm lived in between 1952 and 1953,” said Tareq A. Ramadan, a Wayne State University professor and Project We Hope, Dream & Believe project manager.
He went on to say, “Malcolm had a link with Wayne State as well.” “He gave a speech there in front of hundreds of students in the still-standing State Hall building in October of 1963, so it’s only natural that the university and its students will be involved today.” This is a historic moment for the city of Inkster, as Malcolm has emerged as a true hometown hero, and Project We Hope, Dream, & Believe, as well as the rest of the community, is dedicated to preserving Malcolm’s legacy.”
The Inkster house is one of Malcolm X’s few remaining residences.