Malcolm X (born in 1925 and died in 1965), was
the 1920s. The family moved to Lansing, Michigan, and when Malcolm was six years old, his father was murdered after receiving threats from the Ku Klux Klan. Malcolm’s mother suffered a nervous breakdown and the eight children were taken by the welfare department. Malcolm was sent first to a foster home and then to a reform school. After the eighth grade, Malcolm moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he worked at various jobs and eventually became involved in criminal activity.
In 1946 Malcolm was sentenced to prison for burglary. While in prison, Malcolm became interested in the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Black Muslims, also called the Nation of Islam. Malcolm spent his time in jail educating himself and learning more about the Black Muslims, who advocated racial separation (Islam itself does not encourge or accept racism or racial separation but the Black Muslims group of that time did). When Malcolm was released in 1952, he joined a Black Muslim temple in Detroit, and took the well known name of Malcolm X. In 1958 he married Betty Shabazz, and together they had six daughters.
By the early 1960s, the Nation of Islam had become well known and Malcolm was their most known and popular speaker. In 1963, however, the Black Muslims silenced Malcolm for his remark that the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy was like “the chickens coming home to roost.” In the following year, Malcolm broke with the Nation of Islam and formed a secular black nationalist group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU).
In 1964 Malcolm made a hajj (pilgrimage) to the Islamic holy city of Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. Based on this trip, and other travels to Africa and Europe, he renounced his previous teaching that all whites are evil, and he began advocating racial solidarity, and adopted the Arabic name El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. On February 21, 1965, while addressing an OAAU rally in New York City, Malcolm was assassinated by men allegedly connected with the Black Muslims.