Introduction - Malcolm XMalcolm X was one of the most famous leaders of the Black Civil Rights Movement. He is considered by many to have been a great leader who fought for the rights of black men and women; however others regard him as a racist and accuse him of promoting violence. His controversial stand that racism must be stopped by any means necessary was not in line with Martin Luther King Junior's belief in non-violent resistance. On this page is a list of interesting facts about this famous black leader, a summary of his life, including what influence he had on black history, why he was such a controversial figure, and how and why he was assassinated. This information is written for both adults and kids, who may be looking for information for Black History Month reports.
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Malcolm X Early Life
- Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 to Louise and Earl Little in Omaha, Nebraska.
- Malcolm X's father, Earl Little, was active in the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) which fought against discrimination of black people. It is suspected that white supremacists were responsible for Malcolm's father's death when he was just six years old. His death, however, was ruled an accident.
- When Malcolm X was just 13 years old, his mother was sent to a mental institution where she lived for the next twenty five years or so. Malcolm X was ashamed of his mother's illness and rarely visited her.
- After dropping out of school at age 15, he went from shining shoes to selling drugs on the streets of Boston. He fell deeper and deeper into the drug and crime scene and in 1946 was found guilty of larceny and sentenced to ten years in prison.
- He used his time in prison wisely and read everything he could get his hands on. He wanted to make up for dropping out of school at 15. It was during this time that he became intrigued with Elijah Muhammad, the Nation of Islam leader.
- It was while in prison that Malcolm X converted from his Baptist upbringing to the Nation of Islam.
Interesting Malcolm X Facts
- In 1950 Malcolm Little began signing his name "Malcolm X". He explained why he changed his last name to "X" in his autobiography; he stated that the "X" replaced the name "Little" which had been forced upon his ancestor by white slave owners and the "X" symbolized his true, unknown, African family name.
- In 1958, Malcolm X married Betty Shabazz, also a civil rights activist. They went on to have six daughters, including a set of twins that were born after his death.
- In 1963, according to the New York Times, Malcolm X had become the second most sought after speaker in the U.S.
- He drastically increased membership in the Nation of Islam from 500 members to 25,000 members in the span of eleven years.
- Malcolm X was asked to participate in debates throughout the country. Radio stations, universities and television programs all sought him out.
- Unlike Martin Luther King Jr., and most other Black Civil Rights leaders, Malcolm X as a member of the Nation of Islam, did not fight for racial equality and acceptance but rather advocated the separation of African Americans from whites.
- His autobiography, "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" was published in 1965.
Malcolm X Assassination
- In 1964, he left the Nation of Islam after he became disillusioned with leader Elijah Muhammad. A pilgrimage to Mecca further changed his views on how he wanted to inspire change for African Americans. He no longer wished to promote violence and found his new calling in the Sunni Muslim religion.
- After leaving the Nation of Islam he began to work with other Black Civil Rights leaders, even though he did not agree with all their policies.
- Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21st of 1965 in New York City's Audubon Ballroom.
- Three men, all members of the Nation of Islam, jumped on the stage while he was preparing to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity and shot him numerous times.
- He was rushed to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City where he was pronounced dead soon after arriving.
- His three assassins were captured and all were sentenced to serve life in prison.
- Malcolm X was an important figure in the Civil Rights Movement and his controversial role in that movement still sparks great interest; a CNN special report titled "The Assassination of Malcolm X" aired on February 17th of 2015.