- NAME: Malcolm X
- OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, Minister
- BIRTH DATE: May 19, 1925
- DEATH DATE: February 21, 1965
- EDUCATION: West Junior High School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Omaha, Nebraska
- PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
- Full Name: Malcolm Little
- AKA: el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz
- AKA: Malcolm X
- AKA: El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz
Best Known For
African-American leader and prominent figure in the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X articulated concepts of race pride and black nationalism in the 1950s and '60s.
Malcolm X - Mini Biography (4:52)
Watch a short video about Malcolm X and discover the roots of his dedication to equality.
Malcolm X speaks to reporters about the Black Nationalist Movement and the need to establish Black Rifle Clubs.
A short biography of Malcolm X, who rejected the Civil Rights Movement's stance on nonviolence and preached black pride through his devotion to the Nation of Islam.
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Due primarily to the efforts of Malcolm X, the Nation of Islam grew from a mere 400 members at the time he was released from prison in 1952, to 40,000 members by 1960.
By the early 1960s, Malcolm X had emerged as a leading voice of a radicalized wing of the Civil Rights Movement,
presenting an alternative to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of a racially integrated society achieved by peaceful means. Dr. King was highly critical of what he viewed as Malcolm X's destructive demagoguery. "I feel that Malcolm has done himself and our people a great disservice," King once said.
Philosophical differences with King were one thing; a rupture with Elijah Muhammad proved much more traumatic. In 1963, Malcolm X became deeply disillusioned when he learned that his hero and mentor had violated many of his own teachings, most flagrantly by carrying on many extramarital affairs; Muhammad had, in fact, fathered several children out of wedlock. Malcolm's feelings of betrayal, combined with Muhammad's anger over Malcolm's insensitive comments regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, led Malcolm X to leave the Nation of Islam in 1964.
That same year, Malcolm X embarked on an extended trip through North Africa and the Middle East. The journey proved to be both a political and spiritual turning point in his life. He learned to place the American Civil Rights Movement within the context of a global anti-colonial struggle, embracing socialism and pan-Africanism. Malcolm X also made the Hajj, the traditional Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, during which he converted to traditional Islam and again changed his name, this time to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.
After his epiphany at Mecca, Malcolm X returned to the United States less angry and more optimistic about the prospects for peaceful resolution to America's race problems. "The true brotherhood I had seen had influenced me to recognize that anger can blind human vision," he said. "America is the first country ... that can actually have a bloodless revolution." Tragically, just as Malcolm X appeared to be embarking on an ideological transformation with the potential to dramatically alter the course of the Civil Rights Movement, he was assassinated.
On the evening of February 21, 1965, at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, where Malcolm X was about to deliver a speech, three gunmen rushed the stage and shot him 15 times at point blank range. Malcolm X was pronounced dead on arrival at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital shortly thereafter. He was 39 years old. The three men convicted of the assassination of Malcolm X were all members of the Nation of Islam: Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson.
In the immediate aftermath of Malcolm X's death, commentators largely ignored his recent spiritual and political transformation and criticized him as a violent rabble-rouser. However, Malcolm X's legacy as a civil rights hero was cemented by the posthumous publication in 1965 of The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley.
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