Malcolm X (19251965) was an American Muslim minister and human rights activist who was a popular figure during the civil rights movement. He is best known for his controversial advocacy for the rights of blacks; some consider him a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans, while others accused him of preaching racism and violence.
Born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, he relocated to New York City's Harlem neighborhood in 1943, after spending his teenage years in a series of foster homes following his father's murder and his mother's placement in a mental hospital. In New York, he engaged in several illicit activities, and was sentenced to ten years in prison in 1946 for larceny and breaking and entering. In prison he joined the Nation of Islamchanging his name to Malcolm X because, he later wrote, Little was the name that "the white slavemaster ... had imposed upon my paternal forebears"and quickly became one of its most influential and visible leaders after his parol in 1952.
During the civil rights movement, Malcolm X served as the public face of the controversial group for a dozen years, where he advocated for black supremacy, the separation of black and white Americans, and rejected the notion of the civil rights movement for its emphasis on racial integration. He also expressed pride in some of the Nation's social achievements, particularly its free drug rehabilitation program. In the 1950s he came under surveillance by the Federal Bureau of Investigation because of the Nation's alleged links to communism.
In the 1960s, Malcolm X grew disillusioned with the Nation of Islam, particularly with its leader Elijah Muhammad. Expressing regret about his time with them, which he had come to regard as largely wasted, he instead embraced Sunni Islam. He began to advocate for racial integration and disavowed racism after completing Hajj, after which he became known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz.[A] After a brief period of travel across Africa, he repudiated the Nation of Islam, and founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) to emphasize Pan-Africanism.
Throughout 1964, Malcolm X's conflict with the Nation of Islam intensified and he received repeated death threats. On February 21, 1965 he was assassinated by three members of the Nation of Islam as he prepared to deliver an address at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan. Conspiracy theories regarding the assassination persist, particularly accusations that Nation of Islam leaders or law enforcement officials were involved.
Hundreds of streets and schools in the United States are named for Malcolm X, and Malcolm X Day is commemorated in many U.S. cities and a number of countries.
Wikipedia contributors. (2019, April 28). Malcolm X. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia
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