Inkster’s Malcolm X House added to National Register of Historic Places, renovations planned

What’s happening: The Malcolm X House in Inkster has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The civil rights leader lived in the house at 4336 Williams St. from 1952 to 1953.

Historical significance: After serving time at a prison in Massachusetts, Malcolm X was paroled to this house in Inkster, where his brother Wilfred Little and his family lived. It was while living in this house that Malcolm, born Malcolm Little in 1925, met Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam, in person. Muhammad would confer Malcolm with “X” in late 1952. It’s also here where the Federal Bureau of Investigation began to actively surveil Malcolm X, something that would continue until his assassination in 1965.

Why it’s important: “With so much of the physical legacy of Malcolm X lost over time, this house is all the more important,” says Todd Walsh, Michigan SHPO’s National Register Coordinator. “Its significance is not simply its association with Malcolm X, but its connection to Malcolm at an incredibly pivotal time in his life. This house will help us better understand Malcolm X, not as an icon, but as a human being. It will also help us understand his family and the important role that played in his development into one of the most important figures in American history.”

What’s planned: Listing the home in the National Register of Historic Places will help the rehabilitation and preservation of the property, which is being led by Project We Hope, Dream & Believe. The team is transforming the house into a museum that focuses on the life of Malcolm X, a place of advocacy, and a youth learning center. Project We Hope, Dream & Believe recently received a $380,000 grant from the National Park Service African American Civil Rights program to help complete the project. The group has partnered with Wayne State University to perform archaeological excavations on the property.

What they’re saying: “We are working hard toward rehabilitating and renovating the Malcolm X house, with the goal of transforming the home into a museum that will showcase Malcolm’s life history, with special focus on his human and civil rights activism, as well as his relationship to the city of Inkster, which he referenced in one of his final speeches,” says Aaron Sims, executive director of Project We Hope, Dream & Believe.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.