Black History We Didn’t Learn In School Part 3

Keeping with last week’s theme we decided to continue to educate ourselves on Black History – because our knowledge is sorely lacking. 

This week on the podcast we shared information about Malcolm X (Emily’s share) and the 2003 South Carolina School Raid (Brenton’s share). 

The link is below if you want to listen to the podcast.

Let’s jump in! 

Malcolm X  – Resource I used

The assisination of Malcolm X is still hotly contested but before we can dig into the who and why (more on that next week) we need to understand who Malcolm was and why he was so important for the Black Power movement.

Malcolm’s Childhood 

Malcom was born as Malcolm Little on May 19, 1825 in Omaha, Nebraska. Malcolm’s father was Earl Little. He was a Baptist Minister and supporter of Black Nationalist Leader Martin Garvey. Earl’s activism created a target on the Little family from the White Supremacist group the Black Legion. 

The Little family had to move often due to this target and in 1929 their house in Michigan was burned down. In 1931 Earl’s body was found lying on the trolly tracks. In both of these instances the police ruled that these were accidents. Now, we assume that it was the work of the Black Legion. 

A couple years after his father’s death, Malcolm and his seven siblings were placed in different foster care and orphanages. Their mother had a mental health breakdown within a couple years of the attack and was institutionalized. 

Young Adulthood 

In his early adulthood Malcolm and a friend moved to Boston. They were arrested for burglary and Malcolm was sentenced to 10 years in jail. 

Malcolm spent his time in jail learning. His brother Reginold visited him at told him about the Nation of Islam. Malcolm began learning about the Nation of Islam and the current leader Elijah Muhhammad. Elijah Muhhammad taught Nation of Islam members that white society was actively working to keep Black Americans from empowering themselves. 

Malcolm agreed with the message and converted to Nation of Islam. By the time he was paroled in 1952 he had educated himself on the NOI’s teachings. He also changed his last name to X. Malcolm believed that “Little: was a slave name. X signified the loss of his tribal last name. 

Nation of Islam 

Malcolm worked his way up the NOI and became a minister and spokesperson for the group. He is credited with increasing membership from 5k to 30k over the course of 11 years. He gave many interviews and was a beautiful aurotor with a powerful message. 

The rapid growth of NOI and Malcolm’s popularity caught the attention of the FBI. They infiltrated NOI and planted bugs, wires and went undercover. 

Muslim Mosque, Inc 

In 1963 Malcolm learned that Elijah Muhammad was abusing his position of power and was having relations with six women in the group. Malcolm refused to cover for Elijah and ended up leading the NOI. 

Malcolm felt guilty for bringing so many people to an organization that was lead by a man who did not follow his own teachings. 

After leaving Malcolm founded the Muslim Mosque, Inc. He also went on a pilgrimage to Mecca. On his pilgrimage his outlook on the world changed. He met “blonde haired and blue eyed men that I could call my brothers”. This caused Malcolm to change his message. He now wanted to speak to all races about the importance of the Black Power movement. 


Next week I’ll dig into what we know and don’t know about his assisination but here’s some basic info. 

After learning NOI Malcolm was marked for assisination. On Valentine’s day in 1965 someone firebombed his home. Luckily, he and his family were all ok after this event. A week later Malcolm was speaking at the Audubon Ballroom and was shot FIFTEEN times by THREE men. 

The men were all registered as members of Nation of Islam.  

Stratford High School Raid

Example and policing facts pulled from “The End of Policing” by Alex S. Vitale.

School-Prison Pipeline

Schools are currently an integral part of the prison industrial complex. There are a few key ways that schools feed students toward incarceration. The move to measuring school success based on test scores has resulted in more suspensions and expulsions for “problem” students. Rather than working with children, they are instead removed altogether. This in essence inflates the school’s test scores but leaves these students without further education. This is not a fault of the school’s per se (budgets and other items are based on these scores) but a wider problem of the education system.

To deal with punishments, schools have also seen an increase in “School Resource Officers” or SROs. These are police stationed at schools. A study during the 2013-2014 school year estimated more than 43,000 police were based in schools in the US. This is number had drastically increased during the 90’s due to a fear of a juvenile crack epidemic and the Columbine shooting. These officers based in schools are there to enforce the law, but often take part in disciplinary planning and enforcement. In 2011-2012, the Department of Education reported that 92,000 arrests were made in schools. Another study showed schools with SROs had nearly 5x the arrests of other schools. The Department of Education also found that Black, Latino, and special needs students were disproportionately subjected to Criminal Justice. A Washington Post report listed that at least 120 SRO forces utilized the 1033 weapons transfer program, which puts military weapons in the hands of police.

November 7, 2003 – Goose Creek, SC

Administrators at Stratford High School worked with SROs to organize a SWAT team raid of their school. According to principal George McCrackin “We received reports from staff & students that there was a lot of drug activity. Recently we busted a student with over 300 plus prescription pills. The volume and amount of marijuana coming into the school is unacceptable.” A local paper reported that the high school was one of the largest in the state and one the top in schools academically in Lowcountry.

Lt. Dave Aarons, Goose Creek police, said suspected drug dealers appeared to be knowledgeable of the school surveillance cameras. Students would congregate under the cameras and periodically walk into the bathroom with different students. “They know where the cameras are.”

14 officers with SWAT gear stormed the school and “moved initially to safely secure the 107 students in the hallway.” According to Aarons “anytime narcotics and money are involved, there is a reasonable assumption weapons are too.” Students were told to get on their knees with their hands on their heads. 12-14 students were placed in handcuffs for failing to comply. 12 backpacks were confirmed by police dogs as well. Jason Weeks, student, told WCSC that the police were aggressive. “[They] pushed us against the wall and searched us.” “There is certain people you know sell drugs, they could have just searched them.” Another students, Aaron Sims said they put a gun up to their friend and pushed them against a wall without even saying anything.

No drugs were found and no arrests were made. David Burrow, Secondary School Supervisor said “The school had no knowledge guns would be drawn,” but he still stood by the raid. Black students represented less than a quarter of the student body but were more than ⅔ of students targeted. The ACLU brought a lawsuit to charge police and school officials with violating students’ right from unlawful search and seizure. The case was settled in 2006. The settlement protected students’ freedoms; the raid was declared unconstitutional and blocked the police department from future use of force at the school. A $1.6 million fund was established to compensate the students and cover medical and counseling costs from the incident. With this settlement, those students became the only ones in America with complete freedom from unconstitutional search and seizure.