Malcolm Little was born in Omaha, Nebraska, USA on May 19, 1925. His family moved around often while he was a kid, but he spent much of his childhood in Michigan. Malcolm’s father, Earl Little, was a leader in an African-American group called the UNIA. This caused the family to be harassed by white supremacists. They even had their house burnt down once. When Malcolm was six, his father was found dead on the tracks of the local streetcar.
While the police said the death was an accident, many thought his dad was murdered. Malcolm’s mother was left to raise seven children on her own. To make matters worse, this happened during the Great Depression. Although his mom worked hard, Malcolm and his family were constantly hungry.
As a young man
He went to live with a foster family at the age of 13 and dropped out of school altogether at the age of 15 and moved to Boston. s a young black man in the 1940s, He worked odd jobs, but also turned to a life of crime. In 1945, he was caught with stolen goods and was sent to prison. While in prison, Malcolm’s brother sent him a letter about a new religion he had joined called the Nation of Islam.
The Nation of Islam believed that black people were superior to white people and that white people were evil. It also said that Islam was the true religion of black people. He decided to join the Nation of Islam. He also changed his last name to “X.” , saying this represented his real African name, that was taken from him by white people.
Nation of Islam
After getting out of prison, Malcolm became a minister for the Nation of Islam. Malcolm was an impressive man, a powerful speaker, and a born leader. The Nation of Islam grew rapidly wherever he went. It wasn’t long before Malcolm X was the second most influential member of the Nation of Islam after their leader (Elijah Muhammad).
Civil Rights Movement
When the African-American Civil Rights Movement began to gain momentum in the 1960s, Malcolm was skeptical. He did not believe in the peaceful protests of Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm didn’t want a nation where blacks and whites were integrated. As Malcolm’s fame grew, other leaders of the Nation of Islam became jealous. This eventually led to a rift between Malcolm and their leader Elijah Muhammad. In the end, he left the Nation of Islam.
Change of Heart
Malcolm may have left the Nation of Islam, but he was still a Muslim. He made a pilgrimage to Mecca where he had a change of heart over the beliefs of the Nation of Islam. Upon his return he began to work with other civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. on ways to peacefully achieve equal rights.
But Malcolm had made many enemies within the Nation of Islam. Many leaders spoke out against him and said that he was “worthy of death.” On February 14, 1965 his house was burned down. A few days later on February 15th as Malcolm began a speech in New York City, he was gunned down by three members of the Nation of Islam.
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