Malcolm X

Malcolm X
Malcolm X in March 1964
Malcolm X in March 1964
Malcolm Little

(1925-05-19)May 19, 1925
DiedFebruary 21, 1965(1965-02-21) (aged 39)
Cause of deathGunshot wound
Resting placeFerncliff Cemetery
Other namesel-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz
OccupationMinister, activist
Betty Shabazz (m. 1958)
RelativesMalcolm Shabazz (grandson)[1]
Malcolm X Signature.svg

Malcolm X (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965) 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 hospitalization. In New York, Little engaged in several illicit activities, and was eventually sentenced to ten years in prison in 1946 for larceny and breaking and entering. In prison, he joined the Nation of Islam (NOI) and changed his name to Malcolm X. After his release, he quickly became one of the organization's most influential leaders after being paroled 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 social achievements he made with the Nation, particularly its free drug rehabilitation program. In the 1950s, Malcolm X endured surveillance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for the Nation's supposed links to communism.

In the 1960s, Malcolm X began to grow disillusioned with the Nation of Islam, and in particular, with its leader Elijah Muhammad. Expressing many regrets about his time with them, which he had come to regard as largely wasted, he instead embraced Sunni Islam. Malcolm X then began to advocate for racial integration and disavowed racism after completing Hajj, whereby he also became known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz.[A] After a brief period of travel across Africa, he notably repudiated the Nation of Islam, and founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. (MMI) and the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) to emphasize Pan-Africanism.

Throughout 1964, his conflict with the Nation of Islam intensified, and he was repeatedly sent death threats. On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was preparing to address the OAAU in Manhattan when he was assassinated by Thomas Hagan, Thomas Johnson, and Norman Butler, three members of the Nation of Islam. The trio were sentenced to indeterminate life sentences, and were required to serve a minimum of 20 years in prison. Conspiracy theories regarding the assassination, and whether it was conceived or aided by leading members of the Nation or with law enforcement agencies, have persisted for decades after the shooting.

Malcolm X was posthumously honored with Malcolm X Day, which commemorates him in various cities and countries worldwide. Hundreds of streets and schools in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor, while the Audubon Ballroom, the site of his assassination, was in part redeveloped in 2005 to accommodate the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center.

Early years

A ledger with names, ages, and other personal information
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 (née Norton) and Georgia-born Earl Little.[2] Earl was an outspoken Baptist lay speaker, and he and Louise were admirers of Pan-African activist Marcus Garvey. Earl was a 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.[3][4][5] Malcolm X later said that white violence killed four of his father's brothers.[6]

Because of Ku Klux Klan threats‍—‌Earl's UNIA activities were said to be "spreading trouble"[7]‍—‌the family relocated in 1926 to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and shortly thereafter to Lansing, Michigan.[8] 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.[9]

When Malcolm 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.[10] After a dispute with creditors, Louise received a life insurance benefit (nominally $1,000‍—‌about $16,000 in 2018 dollars[B]) in payments of $18 per month;[11] the issuer of another, larger policy refused to pay, claiming her husband Earl had committed suicide.[12] To make ends meet Louise rented out part of her garden, and her sons hunted game.[13]

In 1937 a man Louise had been dating‍—‌marriage had seemed a possibility‍—‌vanished from her life when she became pregnant with his child.[14] 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.[15][16]

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".[17] Later Malcolm X recalled feeling that the white world offered no place for a career-oriented black man, regardless of talent.[17]

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.[18][19]

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.[20] According to recent biographies, Little also occasionally had sex with other men, usually for money.[21][22][C] He befriended John Elroy Sanford, a fellow dishwasher at Jimmy's Chicken Shack in Harlem who aspired to be a professional comedian. Both men had reddish hair, so Sanford was called "Chicago Red" after his hometown and Little was known as "Detroit Red". Years later, Sanford became famous as Redd Foxx.[30]

Summoned by the local draft board for military service in World War II, he feigned mental disturbance by rambling and declaring: "I want to be sent down South. Organize them nigger soldiers ... steal us some guns, and kill us [some] crackers".[31][32][33] He was declared "mentally disqualified for military service".[31][32][33]

In late 1945, Little returned to Boston, where he and four accomplices committed a series of burglaries targeting wealthy white families.[34] In 1946, he was arrested while picking up a stolen watch he had left at a shop for repairs,[35] and in February began serving an eight-to-ten-year sentence at Charlestown State Prison for larceny and breaking and entering.[36]

Other Languages
العربية: مالكوم إكس
aragonés: Malcolm X
asturianu: Malcolm X
azərbaycanca: Malkolm X
Bân-lâm-gú: Malcolm X
беларуская: Малкальм Ікс
български: Малкълм Екс
bosanski: Malcolm X
brezhoneg: Malcolm X
català: Malcolm X
čeština: Malcolm X
Cymraeg: Malcolm X
dansk: Malcolm X
Deutsch: Malcolm X
eesti: Malcolm X
Ελληνικά: Μάλκολμ Χ
español: Malcolm X
Esperanto: Malcolm X
euskara: Malcolm X
français: Malcolm X
Frysk: Malcolm X
Gaeilge: Malcolm X
galego: Malcolm X
गोंयची कोंकणी / Gõychi Konknni: Malcolm X
한국어: 맬컴 엑스
Hausa: Malcolm X
hrvatski: Malcolm X
Igbo: Malcolm X
Bahasa Indonesia: Malcolm X
íslenska: Malcolm X
italiano: Malcolm X
Jawa: Malcolm X
ქართული: მალკოლმ იქსი
қазақша: Малколм Икс
Kiswahili: Malcolm X
kurdî: Malcolm X
Кыргызча: Малколм Икс
Latina: Malcolmus X
latviešu: Malkolms X
Lëtzebuergesch: Malcolm X
lietuvių: Malcolm X
lingála: Malcolm X
magyar: Malcolm X
Malagasy: Malcolm X
Bahasa Melayu: Malcolm X
Nederlands: Malcolm X
日本語: マルコム・X
norsk: Malcolm X
norsk nynorsk: Malcolm X
occitan: Malcolm X
polski: Malcolm X
português: Malcolm X
română: Malcolm X
русский: Малкольм Икс
sardu: Malcolm X
Scots: Malcolm X
shqip: Malcolm X
Simple English: Malcolm X
slovenčina: Malcolm X
Soomaaliga: Malcolm X
српски / srpski: Malkolm Iks
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Malcolm X
suomi: Malcolm X
svenska: Malcolm X
Tagalog: Malcolm X
Türkçe: Malcolm X
українська: Малколм Ікс
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: مالكولم X
Tiếng Việt: Malcolm X
Winaray: Malcolm X
Yorùbá: Malcolm X
Zazaki: Malcolm X
中文: 麥爾坎·X