Malcolm X, the First Obama: The Making of a Multiracial Leader for African Americans

The Universal Negro Improvement Association was a sociopolitical-economic organization established by the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey. Indeed, the UNIA was a product of Garvey’s Manifesto for Africans to attain power and sovereignty based on their unique phenotypical, historical, and cultural traits.

 “In January 1918, the New York UNIA branch was formally established “(Marable 17).

It soon thereafter created a newspaper and formed a headquarters called Liberty Hall in Harlem.

 Key to Garvey’s, and thus, the UNIA’s allure was his ability to convince African Americans to embrace and partake in capitalism. “Be not deceived”, he said to members, “wealth is strength, wealth is power, wealth is influence, wealth is justice, is liberty, is real human rights” (17).

The significance of the UNIA on Malcolm X’s early life is a mixed bag. Although Malcolm X’s father, Earl Little, projected himself as a proud Black / African American man, it must have been confusing, indeed, absurd for Malcolm X to accept this as a fact. For the Earl Little we get to know abandons his first wife, an authentic African American woman in Georgia for a mulatto woman, Louisa. Louisa just happened to be participating in the “Social Justice” scene in Canada where Earl Little had relocated to.

Earl Little eventually marries her.

To be clear, the Malcolm X we come to know from Marable, “sensed that his light color served as a kind of shield from Earl’s beatings” (Marable 30). Giving proof Malcolm’s father had a fetish for white skin and thus his pronouncements and participation in the UNIA was merely for show. I submit to the reader this helped to form the cynicism we see more of in Malcolm X’s late teenage years and more importantly his alienation from African and European American society.


Marable, Manning. Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. New York: Viking, 2011. Print.

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