More Louise Little – Less Malcolm X
It’s been annoying me that Louise Little’s (Malcolm X’s mother) life is so sparsely documented.
But what can I expect, she was a woman, a black woman, and a woman locked away for insanity for over twenty years, when the limited evidence would point to some kind of post-natal psychosis that these days may have been treated and resolved far, far more quickly.
Her political activism is recorded as a supplement to that of her husband’s – Earl Little. Her resistance to the Klu Klux Klan a matter of a few words only. Earl was killed in 1931 and Louise brought up her children for nearly eight years until in 1938 she gave birth to an eighth child and was subsequently committed to a mental institution. She was about my age: 41. It is noted in some places that, before she was committed, Malcolm had already been removed from her care by the authorities, aged 13, on account of his stealing. He was placed with a white couple known to his mother who fostered him.
So Louise Little, born in Grenada to a black mother and a white father (the result of a possibly consensual relationship, but very possibly not), the second wife of Earl Little, mother to eight children the fourth being Malcolm X is reduced to a sentence or two in the Kingdom of Google.
This is how she was summarised after her husband’s death in one online document:
“Unable to cope with the financial and emotional demands of single parenthood, she was placed in a mental institution, and the children were sent to separate foster homes.”
Seven children, for seven years, plus an eighth child and no damn money and she was ‘unable to cope’? How diminished do you want her footnote in history to be?
To be continued… Any flesh on the bones welcomed. So far, these are the discrepancies I can find. Her father was Scottish, or English. She was committed for 24 years or for 26. Her husband was murdered or not. Her will was broken by the State, or she just plain lost the plot.
This is the record of her life:-
Louise Helen Norton, b. La Digue, St. Andrew, Grenada 1897, d. 1991.
What Louise might have said or thought, when her son Malcom was shot dead in 1965, twenty-six years before her own death, does not seem to merit any mention.