Photo credits: Facebook/Black Knowledge
Louise Helen Norton Little (née) Langdon; (1897–1989) was a Grenadian American activist. She was the mother of Malcolm X.
Little was born in La Digue, St. Andrew, Grenada, to Edith Langdon. Edith was the daughter of Jupiter and Mary Jane Langdon, “liberated Africans” who were primarily kidnapped from what is now Nigeria, subsequently freed from the slave ship by the Royal Navy and then settled in the Grenadian village of La Digue. When she was 11 years old, Edith, one of six children of the Langdons, was raped by a “significantly older” Scottish man named Edward Norton, resulting in Louise, her only child.
Little was raised by her grandparents, Jupiter, and Mary Jane, until his death in 1901 and hers in 1916 She was educated in a local Anglican school, and was fluent in English, French and Grenadian Creole French. After her grandmother’s death, she emigrated from Grenada in 1917 to Montreal, where her uncle Edgerton Langdon introduced her to Garveyism and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).
During the 1930s white Seventh-day Adventists witnessed to the Little family; later on Louise Little and her son Wilfred were baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In 1937, a man Louise had been dating—marriage had seemed a possibility—vanished from her life when she became pregnant with his child, Robert (1938–1999) In late 1938 she had a nervous breakdown and was committed to Kalamazoo State Hospital. The children were separated and sent to foster homes.
Little was institutionalized at the Kalamazoo Mental Hospital from 1939 through 1963. Malcolm—who had become a criminal, then convicted, imprisoned, and released, and rose to fame as Malcolm X, a leading minister of the Nation of Islam—joined his siblings in securing her release from the hospital. She lived with her surviving family and descendants for the rest of her life mostly in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Most of her children lived and died in Grand Rapids like her.