February 27, 1946

Malcolm X Imprisoned

Greater Boston

On this day in 1946, 20-year-old Malcolm Little entered the state prison in Charlestown to begin serving a sentence for burglary. While in jail, he joined the Black Muslims, a new branch of Islam. Burning to know more about his faith, he began a campaign to improve his reading and writing. After copying an entire dictionary page-by-page, he read every book the prison library had in philosophy, history, literature, and science. He later said, "Months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I had never been so truly free in my life." When he was paroled in 1952, Malcolm X became one of the country's most compelling black leaders.

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