Malcolm X born Malcolm Little and later also known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz
Malcolm X (/ˈmælkəm ˈɛks/; May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965), born Malcolm Little and later also known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz[A]1[pronunciation?] (Arabic: الحاجّ مالك الشباز), was an African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans; detractors accused him of preaching racismand violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history. Malcolm X was effectively orphaned early in life. His father was killed when he was six and his mother was placed in a mental hospital when he was thirteen, after which he lived in a series of foster homes.
In 1946, at age 20, he went to prison for larceny and breaking and entering. While in prison, Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam, and after his parole in 1952, quickly rose to become one of the organization's most influential leaders. He served as the public face of the controversial group for a dozen years. In his autobiography, Malcolm X wrote proudly of some of the social achievements the Nation made while he was a member, particularly its free drug rehabilitation program. The Nation promoted black supremacy, advocated the separation of black and white Americans, and rejected the civil rights movement for its emphasis on integration. By March 1964, Malcolm X had grown disillusioned with the Nation of Islam and its leader Elijah Muhammad. Expressing many regrets about his time with them, which he had come to regard as largely wasted, he embraced Sunni Islam. After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, which included completing the Hajj, he repudiated the Nation of Islam, disavowed racism and founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
He continued to emphasize Pan-Africanism, black self-determination, and black self-defense. In February 1965, he was assassinated by three members of the Nation of Islam. 1930 United States Census return listing the Little family (lines 59ff.) Malcolm Little was born May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, the fourth of seven children of Grenada-born Louise Helen Little and Georgia-born Earl Little. Earl was an outspoken Baptist lay speaker, and he and Louise were admirers of Pan-African activist Marcus Garvey. Earl was local leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association(UNIA) and Louise served as secretary and "branch reporter", sending news of local UNIA activities to Negro World; they inculcated self-reliance and black pride in their children. Malcolm X later said that white violence killed three of his father's brothers. Because of Ku Klux Klan threats—Earl's UNIA activities were "spreading trouble"—the family relocated in 1926 to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and shortly thereafter to Lansing, Michigan. There the family was frequently harassed by the Black Legion, a white racist group. When the family home burned in 1929, Earl accused the Black Legion. When Little was six, his father died in what was officially ruled a streetcar accident, though his mother Louise believed Earl had been murdered by the Black Legion. Rumors that white racists were responsible for his father's death were widely circulated, and were very disturbing to Malcolm X as a child.
As an adult, he expressed conflicting beliefs on the question. After a dispute with creditors, Louise received a life insurance benefit (nominally $1,000—about $16,000 in 2015 dollars in payments of $18 per month; the issuer of another, larger policy refused to pay, claiming her husband Earl had committed suicide. To make ends meet Louise rented out part of her garden, and her sons hunted game. In 1937 a man Louise had been dating—marriage had seemed a possibility—vanished from her life when she became pregnant with his child. In late 1938 she had a nervous breakdown and was committed to Kalamazoo State Hospital. The children were separated and sent to foster homes. Malcolm and his siblings secured her release 24 years later. Malcolm Little excelled in junior high school but dropped out after a white teacher told him that practicing law, his aspiration at the time, was "no realistic goal for a nigger". Later Malcolm X recalled feeling that the white world offered no place for a career-oriented black man, regardless of talent. From age 14 to 21, Little held a variety of jobs while living with his half-sister Ella Little-Collins in Roxbury, a largely African-American neighborhood of Boston. After a short time in Flint, Michigan, he moved to New York City's Harlem neighborhood in 1943, where he engaged in drug dealing, gambling, racketeering, robbery, and pimping. According to recent biographies, he also occasionally had sex with other men, usually for money.
His daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, and Ta-Nehisi Coates questioned the accuracy of these accounts. Malcolm X was referred to as "Detroit Red" because of the reddish hair he inherited from his Scots maternal grandfather. Little was declared "mentally disqualified for military service" after he told draft board officials he wanted to be sent down south to "organize them nigger soldiers … steal us some guns, and kill us [some] crackers". In late 1945, Little returned to Boston, where he and four accomplices committed a series of burglaries targeting wealthy white families. In 1946, he was arrested while picking up a stolen watch he had left at a shop for repairs, and in February began serving an eight-to-ten-year sentence at Charlestown State Prison for larceny and breaking and entering. Prison "Between Mr. Muhammad's teachings, my correspondence, my visitors ... and my reading of books, months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I had never been so truly free in my life. —Malcolm X When Little was in prison, he met fellow convict John Bembry, a self-educated man he would later describe as "the first man I had ever seen command total respect … with words". Under Bembry's influence, Little developed a voracious appetite for reading. At this time, several of his siblings wrote to him about the Nation of Islam, a relatively new religious movement preaching black self-reliance and, ultimately, the return of the African diaspora to Africa, where they would be free from white American and European domination.
He showed scant interest at first, but after his brother Reginald wrote in 1948, "Malcolm, don't eat any more pork and don't smoke any more cigarettes. I'll show you how to get out of prison", he quit smoking and began to refuse pork. After a visit in which Reginald described the group's teachings, including the belief that white people are devils, Little concluded that every relationship he'd had with whites had been tainted by dishonesty, injustice, greed, and hatred. Little, whose hostility to religion had earned him the prison nickname "Satan", became receptive to the message of the Nation of Islam. In late 1948, Little wrote to Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad advised him to renounce his past, humbly bow in prayer to Allah, and promise never to engage in destructive behavior again. Though he later recalled the inner struggle he had before bending his knees to pray, Little soon became a member of the Nation of Islam, maintaining a regular correspondence with Muhammad. In 1950, the FBI opened a file on Little after he wrote a letter from prison to President Truman expressing opposition to the Korean War and declaring himself a Communist. That year, Little also began signing his name "Malcolm X". He explained in his autobiography that the Muslim's "X" symbolized the true African family name that he could never know. "For me, my 'X' replaced the white slavemaster name of 'Little' which some blue-eyed devil named Little had imposed upon my paternal forebears."
After his parole in August 1952,Malcolm X visited Elijah Muhammad in Chicago. In June 1953 he was named assistant minister of the Nation's Temple Number One in Detroit
Beside his skill as a speaker, Malcolm X had an impressive physical presence. He stood 6 feet 3 inches
After his parole in August 1952, Malcolm X visited Elijah Muhammad in Chicago. In June 1953 he was named assistant minister of the Nation's Temple Number One in Detroit.
Later that year he established Boston's Temple Number 11; in March 1954, he expanded Temple Number 12 in Philadelphia; and two months later he was selected to lead Temple Number 7 in Harlem, where he rapidly expanded its membership. In 1953, the FBI began surveillance of him, turning its attention from Malcolm X's possible communist associations to his rapid ascent in the Nation of Islam. During 1955, Malcolm X continued his successful recruitment of members on behalf of the Nation of Islam. He established temples in Springfield, Massachusetts; Hartford, Connecticut; and Atlanta, Georgia. Hundreds of African Americans were joining the Nation of Islam every month.
Beside his skill as a speaker, Malcolm X had an impressive physical presence. He stood 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m) tall and weighed about 180 pounds (82 kg). One writer described him as "powerfully built", and another as "mesmerizingly handsome … and always spotlessly well-groomed".1 Marriage and family In 1955, Betty Sanders met Malcolm X after one of his lectures, then again at a dinner party; soon she was regularly attending his lectures. In 1956 she joined the Nation of Islam, changing her name to Betty X.
One-on-one dates were contrary to the Nation's teachings, so the couple courted at social events with dozens or hundreds of others, and Malcolm X made a point of inviting her on the frequent group visits he led to New York City's museums and libraries. Malcolm X proposed during a telephone call from Detroit in January 1958, and they married two days later.They had six daughters: Attallah (b. 1958, named after Attila the Hun); Qubilah (b. 1960, named after Kublai Khan); Ilyasah (b. 1962, named after Elijah Muhammad); Gamilah Lumumba (b. 1964, named after Patrice Lumumba); and twins Malikah and Malaak (b. 1965 after their father's death, and named in his honor).