Malcolm X
Overview
Malcolm X born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz , was an African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. Detractors accused him of preaching racism, black supremacy
Black supremacy
The term black supremacy is a blanket term for various ideologies which hold that black people are superior to people of other races.-Overview:...

, antisemitism, and violence.
Quotations

I'm not an American. I'm one of the 22 million Black people who are the victims of Americanism. One of the 22 million Black people who are the victims of democracy, nothing but disguised hypocrisy.

I don't see any American dream; I see an American nightmare.

I'm nonviolent with those who are nonviolent with me. But when you drop that violence on me, then you've made me go insane, and I'm not responsible for what I do. And that's the way every Negro should get. Any time you know you're within the law, within your legal rights, within your moral rights, in accord with justice, then die for what you believe in. But don't die alone. Let your dying be reciprocal. This is what is meant by equality. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

You and I, 22 million African-Americans — that's what we are — Africans who are in America. You're nothing but Africans. Nothing but Africans. In fact, you'd get farther calling yourself African instead of Negro. Africans don't catch hell. You're the only one catching hell. They don't have to pass civil-rights bills for Africans.

The government has failed us; you can’t deny that. Anytime you live in the twentieth century, 1964, and you walkin' around here singing “We Shall Overcome,” the government has failed us. This is part of what’s wrong with you — you do too much singing. Today it’s time to stop singing and start swinging. You can’t sing up on freedom, but you can swing up on some freedom.

Once you change your philosophy, you change your thought pattern. Once you change your thought pattern, you change your — your attitude. Once you change your attitude, it changes your behavior pattern and then you go on into some action. As long as you gotta sit-down philosophy, you’ll have a sit-down thought pattern, and as long as you think that old sit-down thought you’ll be in some kind of sit-down action.

Encyclopedia
Malcolm X born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz , was an African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. Detractors accused him of preaching racism, black supremacy
Black supremacy
The term black supremacy is a blanket term for various ideologies which hold that black people are superior to people of other races.-Overview:...

, antisemitism, and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.

Malcolm X's father died—killed by whites, it was rumored—when he was young, and at least one of his uncles was lynched. When he was thirteen, his mother was placed in a mental hospital, and he was placed in a series of foster homes. In 1946, at age 20, he went to prison for breaking and entering.

In prison, Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam
Nation of Islam
The Nation of Islam is a mainly African-American new religious movement founded in Detroit, Michigan by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad in July 1930 to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African-Americans in the United States of America. The movement teaches black pride and...

 and after his parole in 1952 he quickly rose to become one of its leaders. For a dozen years Malcolm X was the public face of the controversial group, but disillusionment with Nation of Islam head Elijah Muhammad
Elijah Muhammad
Elijah Muhammad was an African American religious leader, and led the Nation of Islam from 1934 until his death in 1975...

 led him to leave the Nation in March 1964. After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East he returned to the United States, where he founded Muslim Mosque, Inc.
Muslim Mosque, Inc.
Muslim Mosque, Inc. was an Islamic organization formed by Malcolm X after he left the Nation of Islam. MMI was a relatively small group that collapsed after its founder was assassinated.-History:...

 and the Organization of Afro-American Unity
Organization of Afro-American Unity
The Organization of Afro-American Unity was a Pan-Africanist organization founded by Malcolm X in 1964. The OAAU was modeled on the Organisation of African Unity, which had impressed Malcolm X during his visit to Africa in April and May 1964...

. In February 1965, less than a year after leaving the Nation of Islam, he was assassinated by three members of the group.

Malcolm X's expressed beliefs changed substantially over time. As a spokesman for the Nation of Islam he taught black supremacy
Black supremacy
The term black supremacy is a blanket term for various ideologies which hold that black people are superior to people of other races.-Overview:...

 and advocated separation of black and white Americans
Black separatism
Black separatism is a movement to create separate institutions for people of African descent in societies historically dominated by whites, particularly in the United States. Black separatists also often seek a separate homeland...

—a stark contrast with the civil rights movement's emphasis on integration
Racial integration
Racial integration, or simply integration includes desegregation . In addition to desegregation, integration includes goals such as leveling barriers to association, creating equal opportunity regardless of race, and the development of a culture that draws on diverse traditions, rather than merely...

. After breaking with the Nation of Islam in 1964—saying of his association with it, "I was a zombie then ... pointed in a certain direction and told to march"—and becoming a Sunni Muslim, he disavowed racism and expressed willingness to work with civil rights leaders, though still emphasizing black self-determination and self defense.

Early years

Malcolm Little was born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha
Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha is the largest city in the state of Nebraska, United States, and is the county seat of Douglas County. It is located in the Midwestern United States on the Missouri River, about 20 miles north of the mouth of the Platte River...

, Nebraska, the fourth of seven children to Earl Little and Louise Norton. His father was an outspoken Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 lay
Laity
In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

 speaker. He supported Pan-African
Pan-Africanism
Pan-Africanism is a movement that seeks to unify African people or people living in Africa, into a "one African community". Differing types of Pan-Africanism seek different levels of economic, racial, social, or political unity...

 activist Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey
Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., ONH was a Jamaican publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator who was a staunch proponent of the Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism movements, to which end he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League...

 and was a local leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Malcolm never forgot the values of black pride
Black pride
Black pride is a slogan indicating pride in being black. Related movements include black nationalism and Afrocentrism.The slogan has been used in the United States by African Americans to celebrate heritage and personal pride. The black pride movement is closely linked with the developments of the...

 and self-reliance that his father and other UNIA leaders preached. Malcolm X later said that three of Earl Little's brothers, one of whom was lynched
Lynching in the United States
Lynching, the practice of killing people by extrajudicial mob action, occurred in the United States chiefly from the late 18th century through the 1960s. Lynchings took place most frequently in the South from 1890 to the 1920s, with a peak in the annual toll in 1892.It is associated with...

, died violently at the hands of white men. Because of Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

 threats, the family relocated in 1926 to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and shortly thereafter to Lansing, Michigan.

Earl Little, who was dark-skinned, was born in Reynolds
Reynolds, Georgia
Reynolds is a town in Taylor County, Georgia, United States. The population was 1,036 at the 2000 census.-Geography:According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of , of which, of it is land and 0.75% is water. The town was said to have been settled first by Dr. Alfred...

, Georgia. He had three children from his first marriage: Ella, Mary, and Earl Jr.—and seven with his second wife, Louise: Wilfred, Hilda, Philbert, Malcolm, Reginald, Yvonne, and Wesley. Louise Norton Little was born in Grenada. Because her father was Scottish, she was so light-skinned that she could have passed
Passing (racial identity)
Racial passing refers to a person classified as a member of one racial group attempting to be accepted as a member of a different racial group...

 for white
White people
White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

. Malcolm inherited his light complexion from his mother and maternal grandfather. Initially he felt his light skin was a status symbol, but he later said he "hated every drop of that white rapist's blood that is in me." Malcolm X later remembered feeling that his father favored him because he was the lightest-skinned child in the family; however, he thought his mother treated him harshly for the same reason. One of Malcolm's nicknames, "Red", derived from the tinge of his hair. According to one biographer, at birth he had "ash-blonde hair ... tinged with cinnamon", and at age four, "reddish-blonde hair". His hair darkened as he aged, yet he also resembled his paternal grandmother, whose hair "turned reddish in the summer sun." The issue of skin and hair color took on very significant implications later in Malcolm's life.

In December 1924, Louise Little was threatened by klansmen while she was pregnant with Malcolm. She recalled that the klansmen warned the family to leave Omaha, because Earl Little's activities with UNIA were "spreading trouble". After they moved to Lansing, their house was burned in 1929; however, the family escaped without physical injury. On September 8, 1931, Earl Little was fatally struck by a streetcar
Tram
A tram is a passenger rail vehicle which runs on tracks along public urban streets and also sometimes on separate rights of way. It may also run between cities and/or towns , and/or partially grade separated even in the cities...

 in Lansing. Authorities ruled his death an accident. The police reported that Earl Little was conscious when they arrived on the scene, and he told them he had slipped and fallen under the streetcar's wheels. The black community in Lansing disputed the cause of death, believing there was circumstantial evidence of assault. His family had frequently been harassed by the Black Legion
Black Legion (political movement)
The Black Legion was an organization that splintered from the Ku Klux Klan and operated in the United States in the 1930s. The organization was founded by William Shepard in east central Ohio...

, a white supremacist
White supremacy
White supremacy is the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds. The term is sometimes used specifically to describe a political ideology that advocates the social and political dominance by whites.White supremacy, as with racial...

 group that his father accused of burning down their home in 1929. Some blacks believed the Black Legion was responsible for Earl Little's death. One of the adults at the funeral told eight-year-old Philbert Little that his father had been hit from behind and shoved under the streetcar.

Though Earl Little had two life insurance
Life insurance
Life insurance is a contract between an insurance policy holder and an insurer, where the insurer promises to pay a designated beneficiary a sum of money upon the death of the insured person. Depending on the contract, other events such as terminal illness or critical illness may also trigger...

 policies, his family received death benefits solely from the smaller policy. The insurance company of the larger policy claimed that his father had committed suicide and refused to issue the benefit. The payout from the insurance policy was $1,000 (comparable to about $15,000 in 2010 dollars), and the probate court awarded Louise Little a monthly "widow's allowance" of $18. She rented space in the garden to raise more money, and her sons would hunt game
Game (food)
Game is any animal hunted for food or not normally domesticated. Game animals are also hunted for sport.The type and range of animals hunted for food varies in different parts of the world. This will be influenced by climate, animal diversity, local taste and locally accepted view about what can or...

 for supper.

In 1935 or 1936, Louise Little began dating an African-American man. A marriage proposal seemed a possibility, but the man disappeared from their lives when Louise became pregnant with his child in late 1937. In December 1938, Louise Little had a nervous breakdown
Mental breakdown
Mental breakdown is a non-medical term used to describe an acute, time-limited phase of a specific disorder that presents primarily with features of depression or anxiety.-Definition:...

 and was declared legally insane
Insanity
Insanity, craziness or madness is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns. Insanity may manifest as violations of societal norms, including becoming a danger to themselves and others, though not all such acts are considered insanity...

. The Little siblings were split up and sent to different foster homes
Foster care
Foster care is the term used for a system in which a minor who has been made a ward is placed in the private home of a state certified caregiver referred to as a "foster parent"....

. The state formally committed Louise Little to the state mental hospital
Kalamazoo Regional Psychiatric Hospital
The Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital is the largest mental health institution in Michigan. It was built under the Kirkbride Plan.-History:It officially opened on 29 August 1859 under the direction of Dr. Edwin Van Deusen, although three women patients had been admitted prior to that time. The first...

 at Kalamazoo
Kalamazoo, Michigan
The area on which the modern city stands was once home to Native Americans of the Hopewell culture, who migrated into the area sometime before the first millennium. Evidence of their early residency remains in the form of a small mound in downtown's Bronson Park. The Hopewell civilization began to...

, Michigan, where she remained until Malcolm and his siblings secured her release 24 years later.

Malcolm Little was one of the best students in his junior high school
Middle school
Middle School and Junior High School are levels of schooling between elementary and high schools. Most school systems use one term or the other, not both. The terms are not interchangeable...

, but he dropped out after a white eighth-grade teacher told him that his aspirations of being a lawyer were "no realistic goal for a nigger
Nigger
Nigger is a noun in the English language, most notable for its usage in a pejorative context to refer to black people , and also as an informal slang term, among other contexts. It is a common ethnic slur...

." Years later, Malcolm X would laugh about the incident, but at the time it was humiliating. It made him feel that there was no place in the white world for a career-oriented black man, no matter how smart he was. After living with a series of white foster parents
Foster care
Foster care is the term used for a system in which a minor who has been made a ward is placed in the private home of a state certified caregiver referred to as a "foster parent"....

, Malcolm moved to Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 in February 1941 to live with his older half-sister, Ella Little Collins.

Young adult years

Collins lived in Roxbury, a predominantly African-American middle-class neighborhood of Boston. It was the first time Little had seen so many black people. He was drawn to the cultural and social life of the neighborhood. In Boston, Little held a variety of jobs and found intermittent employment with the New Haven Railroad
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad
The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad , was a railroad that operated in the northeast United States from 1872 to 1968 which served the states of Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts...

. Between 1943 and 1946, he drifted from city to city and job to job. He left Boston to live for a short time in Flint
Flint, Michigan
Flint is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and is located along the Flint River, northwest of Detroit. The U.S. Census Bureau reports the 2010 population to be placed at 102,434, making Flint the seventh largest city in Michigan. It is the county seat of Genesee County which lies in the...

, Michigan. He moved to New York City in 1943. Living in Harlem
Harlem
Harlem is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, which since the 1920s has been a major African-American residential, cultural and business center. Originally a Dutch village, formally organized in 1658, it is named after the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands...

, he became involved in drug dealing, gambling, racketeering
Racket (crime)
A racket is an illegal business, usually run as part of organized crime. Engaging in a racket is called racketeering.Several forms of racket exist. The best-known is the protection racket, in which criminals demand money from businesses in exchange for the service of "protection" against crimes...

, robbery, and pimping
Procuring (prostitution)
Procuring or pandering is the facilitation or provision of a prostitute in the arrangement of a sex act with a customer. Examples of procuring include:*trafficking a prostitute into a country for the purpose of soliciting sex...

. During this period, Little became known as "Detroit Red" because he came from Michigan and because of the reddish color of his hair. According to recent biographies, Little occasionally engaged in sex with other men
Men who have sex with men
Men who have sex with men are male persons who engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex, regardless of how they identify themselves; many men choose not to accept sexual identities of homosexual or bisexual...

, usually for money.

In 1943, the U.S. draft board
Conscription in the United States
Conscription in the United States has been employed several times, usually during war but also during the nominal peace of the Cold War...

 ordered Little to register for military service. He later recalled that he put on a display to avoid the draft by telling the examining officer that he could not wait to "steal us some guns, and kill us [some] crackers
Cracker (pejorative)
Cracker, sometimes white cracker, is a pejorative term for white people. It is an ethnic slur that is especially used for the white inhabitants of the U.S. states of Georgia and Florida , but it is also used throughout the United States.-Etymology:One theory holds that the term comes from the...

." Military physicians classified him as "mentally disqualified for military service". He was issued a 4-F card, relieving him of his service obligations. In late 1945, Little returned to Boston. With a group of associates, he began a series of elaborate burglaries targeting the residences of wealthy white families. On January 12, 1946, Little was arrested for burglary while trying to pick up a stolen watch he had left for repairs at a jewelry shop. The shop owner called the police because the watch was very expensive, and the police had alerted all Boston jewelers that it had been stolen. Little told the police that he had a gun on his person and surrendered so the police would treat him more leniently. Three days later, Little was indicted for carrying firearms. On January 16, he was charged with larceny
Larceny
Larceny is a crime involving the wrongful acquisition of the personal property of another person. It was an offence under the common law of England and became an offence in jurisdictions which incorporated the common law of England into their own law. It has been abolished in England and Wales,...

 and breaking and entering
Burglary
Burglary is a crime, the essence of which is illicit entry into a building for the purposes of committing an offense. Usually that offense will be theft, but most jurisdictions specify others which fall within the ambit of burglary...

, and eventually sentenced to eight to ten years in prison.

On February 27, Little began serving his sentence at the Charlestown State Prison
Charlestown State Prison
Charlestown State Prison was a correctional facility in Charlestown, Boston, Massachusetts operated by the Massachusetts Department of Correction. The facility was located between Austin and Washington Streets and in proximity to the Boston and Maine Railroad tracks that intersected with the...

 in Charlestown, Boston. While in prison, Little earned the nickname of "Satan
Satan
Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...

" for his hostility toward religion. Little met a self-educated man in prison named John Elton Bembry (referred to as "Bimbi" in The Autobiography of Malcolm X). Bembry was a well-regarded prisoner at Charlestown, and Malcolm X would later describe him as "the first man I had ever seen command total respect ... with words." Gradually, the two men became friends and Bembry convinced Little to educate himself. Little developed a voracious appetite for reading, and he frequently read after the prison lights had been turned off. In 1948, Little's brother Philbert wrote, telling him about the Nation of Islam
Nation of Islam
The Nation of Islam is a mainly African-American new religious movement founded in Detroit, Michigan by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad in July 1930 to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African-Americans in the United States of America. The movement teaches black pride and...

. Like the UNIA, the Nation preached black self-reliance and, ultimately, the unification of members of the African diaspora
African diaspora
The African diaspora was the movement of Africans and their descendants to places throughout the world—predominantly to the Americas also to Europe, the Middle East and other places around the globe...

, free from white American and European domination. Little was not interested in joining until his brother Reginald wrote, saying, "Malcolm, don't eat any more pork and don't smoke any more cigarettes. I'll show you how to get out of prison." Little quit smoking, and the next time pork was served in the prison dining hall, he refused to eat it.

When Reginald came to visit Little, he described the group's teachings, including the belief that white people are devils. Afterward, Little thought about all the white people he had known, and he realized that he'd never had a relationship with a white person or social institution that wasn't based on dishonesty, injustice, greed, and hatred. Little began to reconsider his dismissal of all religion and he became receptive to the message of the Nation of Islam. Other family members who had joined the Nation wrote or visited and encouraged Little to join. In February 1948, mostly through his sister's efforts, Little was transferred to the Norfolk Prison Colony, an experimental prison in Norfolk
Norfolk, Massachusetts
Norfolk is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States with a population of 10,460 people in 2,818 households at the 2000 census. Formerly known as North Wrentham, Norfolk broke away to become an independent town in 1870.-History:...

, Massachusetts, that had a much larger library. In late 1948, he wrote a letter to Elijah Muhammad
Elijah Muhammad
Elijah Muhammad was an African American religious leader, and led the Nation of Islam from 1934 until his death in 1975...

, the leader of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad advised him to atone for his crimes by renouncing his past and by humbly bowing in prayer to Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

 and promising never to engage in destructive behavior again. Little, who always had been rebellious and deeply skeptical, found it very difficult to bow in prayer. It took him a week to bend his knees. Finally he prayed, and he became a member of the Nation of Islam. For the remainder of his incarceration, Little maintained regular correspondence with Muhammad. On August 7, 1952, Little was parole
Parole
Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole . Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their...

d and was released from prison. He later reflected on the time he spent in prison after his conversion: "Months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I had never been so truly free in my life."

Nation of Islam

When Little was released from prison in 1952, he had more than a new religion. He also had a new name. In a December 1950 letter to his brother Philbert, Little signed his name as Malcolm X for the first time. In his autobiography, he explained why: "The Muslim's 'X' symbolized the true African family name that he never could 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."

Shortly after his release from prison, Malcolm X visited Elijah Muhammad in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Illinois. In June 1953, Malcolm X was named assistant minister of the Nation of Islam's Temple Number One in Detroit. Soon, he became a full-time minister. By late 1953, Malcolm X established Boston's Temple Number 11. In March 1954, he expanded Temple Number 12 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Two months later Malcolm X was selected to lead Temple Number Seven
Mosque No. 7
Mosque No. 7 was the mosque in Harlem where Malcolm X preached until he left the Nation of Islam in 1964.Opened as Temple No. 7 of the Nation of Islam at the Harlem YMCA in 1946, it "was just a storefront in 1954 when Malcolm was named minister by Elijah Muhammad." When Malcolm X split from Elijah...

 in Harlem, and he rapidly expanded its membership.

The FBI
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 had opened a file on Malcolm X in 1950 after he wrote a letter to President Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 stating his opposition to the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 and declaring himself to be a communist. It began surveillance of him in 1953, and soon the FBI turned its attention from concerns about possible Communist Party association to Malcolm X's rapid ascent in the Nation of Islam.

During 1955, Malcolm X continued his successful recruitment efforts on behalf of the organization. He established temples in Springfield
Springfield, Massachusetts
Springfield is the most populous city in Western New England, and the seat of Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. Springfield sits on the eastern bank of the Connecticut River near its confluence with three rivers; the western Westfield River, the eastern Chicopee River, and the eastern...

, Massachusetts (Number 13); Hartford
Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford is the capital of the U.S. state of Connecticut. The seat of Hartford County until Connecticut disbanded county government in 1960, it is the second most populous city on New England's largest river, the Connecticut River. As of the 2010 Census, Hartford's population was 124,775, making...

, Connecticut (Number 14); and Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 (Number 15). 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 in 3 in (1.91 m) tall and weighed about 180 pounds (81.6 kg). One writer described him as "powerfully built", and another as "mesmerizingly handsome ... and always spotlessly well-groomed".

Johnson Hinton incident

Malcolm X first came to the attention of the general public after the police beating of a Nation of Islam member named Johnson Hinton. On April 26, 1957, two police officers were beating an African-American man with their nightsticks when three passersby who belonged to the Nation of Islam tried to intervene. They shouted: "You're not in Alabama or Georgia. This is New York!" One of the officers began to beat one of the passersby, Johnson Hinton. The blows were so severe, a surgeon later determined, that they caused brain contusions, subdural hemorrhaging, and scalp lacerations. All four men were arrested and taken to the police station.

A woman who had seen the assault ran to the Nation of Islam's restaurant. Within a few hours, Malcolm X and a small group of Muslims went to the police station and demanded to see Hinton. The police captain initially said no Muslims were being held there, but as the crowd grew to about 500, he allowed Malcolm X to speak with Hinton. After a short talk, Malcolm X demanded that Hinton be taken to the hospital, so an ambulance was called and Hinton was taken to Harlem Hospital.

Hinton was treated and released into the custody of the police, who returned him to the police station. By this point, about 4,000 people had gathered; the police realized there was the potential for a riot and called for backup. Malcolm X went back into the police station with an attorney and made bail arrangements for the other two Muslims. The police said Hinton could not go back to the hospital until he was arraigned
Arraignment
Arraignment is a formal reading of a criminal complaint in the presence of the defendant to inform the defendant of the charges against him or her. In response to arraignment, the accused is expected to enter a plea...

 the following day. Malcolm X realized things were at a stalemate. He stepped outside the station house and gave a hand signal. The Nation of Islam members in the crowd silently walked away. The rest of the crowd dispersed minutes later. One police officer told the editor of the New York Amsterdam News: "No one man should have that much power."

The following month, the Bureau of Special Services and Investigation of the New York Police Department
New York City Police Department
The New York City Police Department , established in 1845, is currently the largest municipal police force in the United States, with primary responsibilities in law enforcement and investigation within the five boroughs of New York City...

 (NYPD) began its surveillance of Malcolm X. The NYPD's Chief Inspector asked for information from the police department in every city where Malcolm X had lived, and from the prisons where he had served his sentence. In October, when a grand jury
Grand jury
A grand jury is a type of jury that determines whether a criminal indictment will issue. Currently, only the United States retains grand juries, although some other common law jurisdictions formerly employed them, and most other jurisdictions employ some other type of preliminary hearing...

 declined to indict the officers who had beaten Hinton, Malcolm X wrote an angry telegram to the police commissioner. In response, undercover NYPD officers were placed inside the Nation of Islam.

Marriage and family

Malcolm X met Betty Sanders
Betty Shabazz
Betty Shabazz , born Betty Dean Sanders and also known as Betty X, was an American educator and civil rights advocate. She was the wife of Malcolm X....

 in 1955. She had been invited to listen to his lecture, and she was very impressed by him. They met again at a dinner party. Soon Sanders was attending all of Malcolm X's lectures at Temple Number Seven. In mid 1956, she joined the Nation of Islam.

Malcolm X and Betty X did not have a conventional courtship. One-on-one dates were contrary to the teachings of the Nation of Islam. Instead, the couple shared their "dates" with dozens, or even hundreds of other members. Malcolm X frequently took groups to visit New York's museums and libraries, and he always invited Betty X.

Although they had never discussed the subject, Betty X suspected that Malcolm X was interested in marriage. On January 12, 1958, he called from Detroit and asked her to marry him, and they were married two days later in Lansing, Michigan.

The couple had six daughters. Their names were Attallah, born in 1958 and named after Attila the Hun
Attila the Hun
Attila , more frequently referred to as Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in 453. He was leader of the Hunnic Empire, which stretched from the Ural River to the Rhine River and from the Danube River to the Baltic Sea. During his reign he was one of the most feared...

; Qubilah
Qubilah Shabazz
Qubilah Shabazz is the second daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. In 1995, she was arrested in connection with an alleged plot to kill Louis Farrakhan, who she believed was responsible for the assassination of her father. Shabazz maintained her innocence...

, born in 1960 and named after Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

; Ilyasah
Ilyasah Shabazz
Ilyasah Shabazz is the third daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. She is the author of a memoir, Growing Up X, and a motivational speaker.-Early life:Shabazz was born in Queens, New York, on July 22, 1962...

, born in 1962 and named after Elijah Muhammad; Gamilah Lumumba, born in 1964 and named after Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Émery Lumumba was a Congolese independence leader and the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo after he helped win its independence from Belgium in June 1960. Only ten weeks later, Lumumba's government was deposed in a coup during the Congo Crisis...

; and twins, Malikah and Malaak, born in 1965 after their father's assassination and named for him.

The Hate That Hate Produced

After a 1959 television broadcast in New York City about the Nation of Islam, The Hate That Hate Produced
The Hate That Hate Produced
The Hate That Hate Produced is a television documentary about the Nation of Islam. It was produced in 1959 by Mike Wallace and Louis Lomax.-Background:...

, Malcolm X became known to white Americans. Representatives of the print media, radio, and television frequently asked him for comments on issues. By the late 1950s, Malcolm X had acquired a new name, Malcolm Shabazz or Malik el-Shabazz, although he was still widely referred to as Malcolm X.

In September 1960, Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 arrived in New York to attend the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

. He and his entourage stayed at the Hotel Theresa
Hotel Theresa
The Hotel Theresa was a vibrant center of black life in Harlem, New York City, in the mid-20th century. The hotel sits at the intersection of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and West 125th Street . The hotel was built by German-born stockbroker Gustavus Sidenberg , and designed by the firm of...

 in Harlem. Malcolm X was a prominent member of a Harlem-based welcoming committee made up of community leaders who met with Castro. Castro was so impressed by Malcolm X that he requested a private meeting with him. At the end of their two-hour meeting, Castro invited Malcolm X to visit him in Cuba. During the General Assembly meeting, Malcolm X was also invited to many official embassy functions sponsored by African nations, where he met heads of state and other leaders, including Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein was the second President of Egypt from 1956 until his death. A colonel in the Egyptian army, Nasser led the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 along with Muhammad Naguib, the first president, which overthrew the monarchy of Egypt and Sudan, and heralded a new period of...

 of Egypt, Ahmed Sékou Touré
Ahmed Sékou Touré
Ahmed Sékou Touré was an African political leader and President of Guinea from 1958 to his death in 1984...

 of Guinea, and Kenneth Kaunda
Kenneth Kaunda
Kenneth David Kaunda, known as KK, served as the first President of Zambia, from 1964 to 1991.-Early life:Kaunda was the youngest of eight children. He was born at Lubwa Mission in Chinsali, Northern Province of Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia...

 of the Zambian African National Congress
Zambian African National Congress
The Zambian African National Congress was a political organisation dedicated to promoting the rights of black people in Zambia. ZANC was formed in 1958, following a split from the Northern Rhodesian African National Congress. The president of ZANC was Kenneth Kaunda. In 1959 the party was banned...

.

From his adoption of the Nation of Islam in 1952 until he left the organization in 1964, Malcolm X promoted the Nation's teachings. He taught that black people were the original people of the world, and that white people were a race of devils. In his speeches, Malcolm X said that black people were superior
Black supremacy
The term black supremacy is a blanket term for various ideologies which hold that black people are superior to people of other races.-Overview:...

 to white people, and that the demise of the white race was imminent. While the civil rights movement fought against racial segregation
Racial segregation in the United States
Racial segregation in the United States, as a general term, included the racial segregation or hypersegregation of facilities, services, and opportunities such as housing, medical care, education, employment, and transportation along racial lines...

, Malcolm X advocated the complete separation
Black separatism
Black separatism is a movement to create separate institutions for people of African descent in societies historically dominated by whites, particularly in the United States. Black separatists also often seek a separate homeland...

 of African Americans from white people. He proposed the establishment of a separate country for black people as an interim measure until African Americans could return to Africa. Malcolm X also rejected the civil rights movement's strategy of nonviolence
Nonviolence
Nonviolence has two meanings. It can refer, first, to a general philosophy of abstention from violence because of moral or religious principle It can refer to the behaviour of people using nonviolent action Nonviolence has two (closely related) meanings. (1) It can refer, first, to a general...

, and instead advocated that black people use any necessary means of self-defense to protect themselves. Malcolm X's speeches had a powerful effect on his audiences, generally African Americans who lived in the Northern
Northern United States
Northern United States, also sometimes the North, may refer to:* A particular grouping of states or regions of the United States of America. The United States Census Bureau divides some of the northernmost United States into the Midwest Region and the Northeast Region...

 and Western
Western United States
.The Western United States, commonly referred to as the American West or simply "the West," traditionally refers to the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. Because the U.S. expanded westward after its founding, the meaning of the West has evolved over time...

 cities, who were tired of being told to wait for freedom, justice, equality and respect. Many blacks felt that he articulated their complaints better than the civil rights movement did.

Many white people, and some blacks, were alarmed by Malcolm X and the things he said. He and the Nation of Islam were described as hatemongers, black supremacists, violence-seekers, and a threat to improved race relations. Civil rights organizations denounced Malcolm X and the Nation as irresponsible extremists whose views were not representative of African Americans. Malcolm X was accused of being antisemitic.

Malcolm X was equally critical of the civil rights movement. He described its leaders as "stooges" for the white establishment, and said that Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

 was a "chump". He criticized the 1963 March on Washington
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was the largest political rally for human rights in United States history and called for civil and economic rights for African Americans. It took place in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr...

, which he called "the farce on Washington". He said he did not know why black people were excited over a demonstration "run by whites in front of a statue of a president who has been dead for a hundred years and who didn't like us when he was alive". Malcolm X has been widely considered the second most influential leader of the Nation of Islam after Elijah Muhammad. He was largely credited with increasing membership of the group; from 500 in 1952 to 25,000 in 1963 by one author's estimate, or from 1,200 in 1953 to 50,000 or 75,000 in 1961 by another's. He inspired the boxer Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali is an American former professional boxer, philanthropist and social activist...

) to join the Nation of Islam. Ali later left the group and became a Sunni Muslim
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

, as did Malcolm X.

In early 1963, Malcolm X started collaborating with Alex Haley
Alex Haley
Alexander Murray Palmer Haley was an African-American writer. He is best known as the author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family and the coauthor of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.-Early life:...

 on The Autobiography of Malcolm X. In 1964, he told Haley, "If I'm alive when this book comes out, it will be a miracle." The book was not finished when Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965. Haley completed it and published it later that year. In 1998 Time named The Autobiography of Malcolm X one of the ten most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century.

Leaving the Nation

On December 1, 1963, when he was asked for a comment about the assassination of President Kennedy
John F. Kennedy assassination
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas...

, Malcolm X said that it was a case of "chickens coming home to roost". He added that "chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they've always made me glad." The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

wrote, "in further criticism of Mr. Kennedy, the Muslim leader cited the murders of Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Émery Lumumba was a Congolese independence leader and the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo after he helped win its independence from Belgium in June 1960. Only ten weeks later, Lumumba's government was deposed in a coup during the Congo Crisis...

, Congo leader, of Medgar Evers
Medgar Evers
Medgar Wiley Evers was an African American civil rights activist from Mississippi involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi...

, civil rights leader, and of the Negro girls bombed
16th Street Baptist Church bombing
The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed on Sunday, September 15, 1963. The explosion at the African-American church, which killed four girls, marked a turning point in the U.S...

 earlier this year in a Birmingham
Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County. According to the 2010 United States Census, Birmingham had a population of 212,237. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, in estimate by the U.S...

 church. These, he said, were instances of other 'chickens coming home to roost'." The remarks prompted a widespread public outcry. The Nation of Islam, which had issued a message of condolence to the Kennedy family and ordered its ministers not to comment on the assassination, publicly censured their former shining star. Although Malcolm X retained his post and rank as minister, he was prohibited from public speaking for 90 days.

On March 8, 1964, Malcolm X publicly announced his break from the Nation of Islam. He said that he was still a Muslim, but he felt the Nation of Islam had "gone as far as it can" because of its rigid religious teachings. Malcolm X said he was going to organize a black nationalist
Black nationalism
Black nationalism advocates a racial definition of indigenous national identity, as opposed to multiculturalism. There are different indigenous nationalist philosophies but the principles of all African nationalist ideologies are unity, and self-determination or independence from European society...

 organization that would try to "heighten the political consciousness" of African Americans. He also expressed his desire to work with other civil rights leaders and said that Elijah Muhammad had prevented him from doing so in the past.

One reason for the separation was growing tension between Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad because of Malcolm X's dismay about rumors of Muhammad's extramarital affairs with young secretaries, actions that were against the teachings of the Nation. Although at first Malcolm X had ignored the rumors, after speaking with Muhammad's son Wallace and the women making the accusations, he came to believe that they were true. Muhammad confirmed the rumors in 1963 but tried to justify his actions by reference to precedents set by Biblical prophets. Another reason for the separation was growing resentment by people within the Nation. As Malcolm X had become a favorite of the media, many in the Nation's Chicago headquarters felt that he was over-shadowing Muhammad. Louis Lomax
Louis Lomax
Louis E. Lomax was an African-American journalist and author. He was also the first African-American television journalist.-Early years:...

's 1963 book about the Nation of Islam, When the Word Is Given, featured a picture of Malcolm X on its cover and included five of his speeches, but only one of Muhammad's, which greatly upset Muhammad. Muhammad was also envious that a publisher was interested in Malcolm X's autobiography. After leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X founded Muslim Mosque, Inc.
Muslim Mosque, Inc.
Muslim Mosque, Inc. was an Islamic organization formed by Malcolm X after he left the Nation of Islam. MMI was a relatively small group that collapsed after its founder was assassinated.-History:...

, a religious organization, and the Organization of Afro-American Unity
Organization of Afro-American Unity
The Organization of Afro-American Unity was a Pan-Africanist organization founded by Malcolm X in 1964. The OAAU was modeled on the Organisation of African Unity, which had impressed Malcolm X during his visit to Africa in April and May 1964...

, a secular group that advocated Pan-Africanism
Pan-Africanism
Pan-Africanism is a movement that seeks to unify African people or people living in Africa, into a "one African community". Differing types of Pan-Africanism seek different levels of economic, racial, social, or political unity...

. On March 26, 1964, he met Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

 in Washington, D.C., after a press conference held when both men attended the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 to hear the debate on the Civil Rights bill
Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against African Americans and women, including racial segregation...

. This was the only time the two men ever met and their meeting lasted only one minute—just long enough for photographers to take a picture. In April, Malcolm X made a speech titled "The Ballot or the Bullet
The Ballot or the Bullet
"The Ballot or the Bullet" is the name of a public speech by human rights activist Malcolm X. In the speech, which was delivered on April 3, 1964, at Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, Malcolm advised African-Americans to judiciously exercise their right to vote, but he cautioned that if the...

" in which he advised African Americans to exercise their right to vote wisely. Several Sunni Muslims encouraged Malcolm X to learn about Islam. Soon he converted to Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

, and decided to make his pilgrimage to Mecca
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

 (hajj).

Pilgrimage to Mecca

On April 13, 1964, Malcolm X departed JFK Airport
John F. Kennedy International Airport
John F. Kennedy International Airport is an international airport located in the borough of Queens in New York City, about southeast of Lower Manhattan. It is the busiest international air passenger gateway to the United States, handling more international traffic than any other airport in North...

 in New York for Jeddah
Jeddah
Jeddah, Jiddah, Jidda, or Jedda is a city located on the coast of the Red Sea and is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and the second largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. The...

, Saudi Arabia. His status as an authentic Muslim was questioned by Saudi authorities because of his United States passport
Passport
A passport is a document, issued by a national government, which certifies, for the purpose of international travel, the identity and nationality of its holder. The elements of identity are name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth....

 and his inability to speak Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

. Since only confessing Muslims are allowed into Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

, he was separated from his group for about 20 hours.

According to his autobiography, Malcolm X saw a telephone and remembered the book The Eternal Message of Muhammad by Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam
Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam
Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam ‎ was an Egyptian diplomat, with family origins in Egypt. He served as the first secretary-general of the Arab League between 1945 and 1952.Azzam also had a long career as an ambassador and parliamentarian...

, which had been presented to him with his visa approval. He called Azzam's son, who arranged for his release. At the younger Azzam's home, he met Azzam Pasha, who gave Malcolm his suite at the Jeddah Palace Hotel. The next morning, Muhammad Faisal, the son of Prince Faisal
Faisal of Saudi Arabia
Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud was King of Saudi Arabia from 1964 to 1975. As king, he is credited with rescuing the country's finances and implementing a policy of modernization and reform, while his main foreign policy themes were pan-Islamic Nationalism, anti-Communism, and pro-Palestinian...

, visited and informed Malcolm X that he was to be a state guest. The deputy chief of protocol accompanied Malcolm X to the Hajj Court, where he was allowed to make his pilgrimage.

On April 19, Malcolm X completed the Hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

, making the seven circuits around the Kaaba
Kaaba
The Kaaba is a cuboid-shaped building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is the most sacred site in Islam. The Qur'an states that the Kaaba was constructed by Abraham, or Ibraheem, in Arabic, and his son Ishmael, or Ismaeel, as said in Arabic, after he had settled in Arabia. The building has a mosque...

, drinking from the Zamzam Well
Zamzam Well
The Well of Zamzam is a well located within the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, east of the Kaaba, the holiest place in Islam...

, and running between the hills of Safah and Marwah
Al-Safa and Al-Marwah
Al-Safa and Al-Marwah are two small mountains now located in the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia between which Muslims travel back and forth seven times during the ritual pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah.-History:...

 seven times. After completing the Hajj, he was granted an audience with Prince Faisal. Malcolm X said the trip allowed him to see Muslims of different races interacting as equals. He came to believe that Islam could be the means by which racial problems could be overcome.

Africa

Malcolm X visited Africa on three separate occasions, once in 1959 and twice in 1964. During his visits, he met officials, gave interviews to newspapers, and spoke on television and radio in Egypt, Ethiopia, Tanganyika
Tanganyika
Tanganyika , later formally the Republic of Tanganyika, was a sovereign state in East Africa from 1961 to 1964. It was situated between the Indian Ocean and the African Great Lakes of Lake Victoria, Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika...

 (now Tanzania), Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea, Sudan, Senegal, Liberia, Algeria, and Morocco. Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah was the leader of Ghana and its predecessor state, the Gold Coast, from 1952 to 1966. Overseeing the nation's independence from British colonial rule in 1957, Nkrumah was the first President of Ghana and the first Prime Minister of Ghana...

 of Ghana, Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein was the second President of Egypt from 1956 until his death. A colonel in the Egyptian army, Nasser led the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 along with Muhammad Naguib, the first president, which overthrew the monarchy of Egypt and Sudan, and heralded a new period of...

 of Egypt, and Ahmed Ben Bella
Ahmed Ben Bella
Mohamed Ahmed Ben Bella was a soldier and Algerian revolutionary, who became the first President of Algeria.-Youth:...

 of Algeria invited Malcolm X to serve in their governments.

In 1959, Malcolm X traveled to Egypt (then known as the United Arab Republic
United Arab Republic
The United Arab Republic , often abbreviated as the U.A.R., was a sovereign union between Egypt and Syria. The union began in 1958 and existed until 1961, when Syria seceded from the union. Egypt continued to be known officially as the "United Arab Republic" until 1971. The President was Gamal...

), Sudan, Nigeria, and Ghana to arrange a tour for Elijah Muhammad. The first of the two trips Malcolm X made to Africa in 1964 lasted from April 13 until May 21, before and after his Hajj. On May 8, following his speech at the University of Ibadan
University of Ibadan
The University of Ibadan is the oldest Nigerian university, and is located five miles from the centre of the major city of Ibadan in Western Nigeria...

, Malcolm X was made an honorary member of the Nigerian Muslim Students' Association. During this reception the students bestowed upon him the name "Omowale", which means "the son who has come home" in the Yoruba language
Yoruba language
Yorùbá is a Niger–Congo language spoken in West Africa by approximately 20 million speakers. The native tongue of the Yoruba people, it is spoken, among other languages, in Nigeria, Benin, and Togo and in communities in other parts of Africa, Europe and the Americas...

. Malcolm X wrote in his autobiography that he "had never received a more treasured honor."

On July 9, 1964, Malcolm X returned to Africa. On July 17, he was welcomed to the second meeting of the Organization of African Unity in Cairo as a representative of the Organization of Afro-American Unity. By the time he returned to the United States on November 24, 1964, Malcolm had met with every prominent African leader and established an international connection between Africans on the continent and those in the diaspora
Diaspora
A diaspora is "the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland" or "people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location", or "people settled far from their ancestral homelands".The word has come to refer to historical mass-dispersions of...

.

France and the United Kingdom

On November 23, 1964, on his way home from Africa, Malcolm X stopped in Paris, where he spoke at the Salle de la Mutualité. A week later, on November 30, Malcolm X flew to the United Kingdom, and on December 3 participated in a debate at the Oxford Union
Oxford Union
The Oxford Union Society, commonly referred to simply as the Oxford Union, is a debating society in the city of Oxford, Britain, whose membership is drawn primarily but not exclusively from the University of Oxford...

. The topic of the debate was "Extremism in the Defense of Liberty is No Vice; Moderation in the Pursuit of Justice is No Virtue", and Malcolm X argued the affirmative. Interest in the debate was so high that it was televised nationally by the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

.

On February 5, 1965, Malcolm X went to Europe again. On February 8, he spoke in London, before the first meeting of the Council of African Organizations. The next day, Malcolm X tried to go to France, but he was refused entry. On February 12, he visited Smethwick
Smethwick
Smethwick is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell, in the West Midlands of England. It is situated on the edge of the city of Birmingham, within the historic boundaries of Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire....

, near Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

, which had become a byword for racial division after the 1964 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1964
The United Kingdom general election of 1964 was held on 15 October 1964, more than five years after the preceding election, and thirteen years after the Conservative Party had retaken power...

, when the Conservative Party
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 won the parliamentary seat after rumors that their candidate's supporters had used the slogan "If you want a nigger for your neighbour, vote Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

."

Return to United States

After leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X spoke before a wide variety of audiences in the United States. He spoke at regular meetings of Muslim Mosque, Inc., and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. He was one of the most sought-after speakers on college campuses, and one of his top aides later wrote that he "welcomed every opportunity to speak to college students." Malcolm X also spoke before political groups such as the Militant Labor Forum
Socialist Workers Party (United States)
The Socialist Workers Party is a far-left political organization in the United States. The group places a priority on "solidarity work" to aid strikes and is strongly supportive of Cuba...

.

Tensions increased between Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. As early as February 1964, a member of Temple Number Seven was given orders by the group to wire explosives to Malcolm X's car. In September 1964, Ebony
Ebony (magazine)
Ebony, a monthly magazine for the African-American market, was founded by John H. Johnson and has published continuously since the autumn of 1945...

published a photograph of Malcolm X holding an M1 Carbine
M1 Carbine
The M1 carbine is a lightweight, easy to use semi-automatic carbine that became a standard firearm for the U.S. military during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and was produced in several variants. It was widely used by U.S...

 and peering out a window. The photo was intended to illustrate his determination to defend himself and his family against the death threats he was receiving.

The Nation of Islam and its leaders began making both public and private threats against Malcolm X. On March 23, 1964, Elijah Muhammad told Boston minister Louis X (later known as Louis Farrakhan
Louis Farrakhan
Louis Farrakhan Muhammad, Sr. is the leader of the African-American religious movement the Nation of Islam . He served as the minister of major mosques in Boston and Harlem, and was appointed by the longtime NOI leader, Elijah Muhammad, before his death in 1975, as the National Representative of...

) that "hypocrites like Malcolm should have their heads cut off." The April 10 edition of Muhammad Speaks
Muhammad Speaks
Muhammad Speaks now known as Muslim Journal was one of the most widely-read newspapers ever produced by an African American organization. Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad began the publication on May 1960. Its first issue bore the title Some of this Earth to Call Our Own or Else. A weekly...

featured a cartoon in which his severed head was shown bouncing. On July 9, John Ali, a top aide to Muhammad, answered a question about Malcolm X by saying that "anyone who opposes the Honorable Elijah Muhammad puts their life in jeopardy." The December 4 issue of Muhammad Speaks included an article by Louis X that railed against Malcolm X, saying "such a man as Malcolm is worthy of death."

Some threats were made anonymously. During the month of June 1964, FBI surveillance recorded two such threats. On June 8, a man called Malcolm X's home and told Betty Shabazz to "tell him he's as good as dead." On June 12, an FBI informant reported getting an anonymous telephone call from somebody who said "Malcolm X is going to be bumped off."

In June 1964, the Nation of Islam sued to reclaim Malcolm X's residence in Queens
Queens
Queens is the easternmost of the five boroughs of New York City. The largest borough in area and the second-largest in population, it is coextensive with Queens County, an administrative division of New York state, in the United States....

, New York, which they claimed to own. The suit was successful, and Malcolm X was ordered to vacate. On February 14, 1965, the night before a scheduled hearing to postpone the eviction date, the house burned to the ground. Malcolm X and his family survived. No one was charged with any crime.

Assassination

On February 21, 1965, as Malcolm X prepared to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan's Audubon Ballroom
Audubon Ballroom
The Audubon Ballroom was a theatre and ballroom located on Broadway at 165th Street in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, north of Harlem in New York. It is best known as the site of Malcolm X's assassination on February 21, 1965....

, a disturbance broke out in the 400-person audience—a man yelled, "Nigger! Get your hand outta my pocket!" As Malcolm X and his bodyguards moved to quiet the disturbance, a man rushed forward and shot him in the chest with a sawed-off shotgun
Sawed-off shotgun
A sawed-off shotgun also called a sawn-off shotgun and a short-barreled shotgun , is a type of shotgun with a shorter gun barrel and often a shorter or absent stock....

. Two other men charged the stage and fired handguns, hitting Malcolm X 16 times. He was pronounced dead at 3:30 pm, shortly after he arrived at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital
Columbia University Medical Center
Columbia University Medical Center is an academic medical center that includes Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, College of Dental Medicine, School of Nursing and Mailman School of Public Health...

.

One gunman, Nation of Islam member Talmadge Hayer (also known as Thomas Hagan) was seized and beaten by the crowd; witnesses identified the others as Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson, also Nation members. Hayer confessed at trial but refused to identify the other assailants except to assert that they were not Butler and Johnson. All three were convicted.

Butler, now known as Muhammad Abdul Aziz, was paroled in 1985 and became the head of the Nation's Harlem mosque
Mosque No. 7
Mosque No. 7 was the mosque in Harlem where Malcolm X preached until he left the Nation of Islam in 1964.Opened as Temple No. 7 of the Nation of Islam at the Harlem YMCA in 1946, it "was just a storefront in 1954 when Malcolm was named minister by Elijah Muhammad." When Malcolm X split from Elijah...

 in 1998. He continues to maintain his innocence. Johnson, who changed his name to Khalil Islam, rejected the Nation's teachings while in prison and converted to Sunni Islam. Released in 1987, he maintained his innocence until his death in August 2009. Hayer, now known as Mujahid Halim, was paroled in 2010.

Funeral

A public viewing was held at Harlem's Unity Funeral Home from February 23 through February 26, and it was estimated that between 14,000 and 30,000 mourners attended. The funeral was held on February 27 at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ
Church of God in Christ
The Church of God in Christ is a Pentecostal Holiness Christian denomination with a predominantly African-American membership. With nearly five million members in the United States and 12,000 congregations, it is the largest Pentecostal church and the fifth largest Christian church in the U.S....

 in Harlem. The church was filled to capacity with more than 1,000 people. Loudspeakers were set up outside the Temple so the overflowing crowd could listen and a local television station broadcast the funeral live.

Among the civil rights leaders attending were John Lewis
John Lewis (politician)
John Robert Lewis is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1987. He was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee , playing a key role in the struggle to end segregation...

, Bayard Rustin
Bayard Rustin
Bayard Rustin was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, pacifism and non-violence, and gay rights.In the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation , Rustin practiced nonviolence...

, James Forman
James Forman
James Forman was an American Civil Rights leader active in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panther Party, and the International Black Workers Congress...

, James Farmer
James L. Farmer, Jr.
James Leonard Farmer, Jr. was a civil rights activist and leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. He was the initiator and organizer of the 1961 Freedom Ride, which eventually led to the desegregation of inter-state transportation in the United States.In 1942, Farmer co-founded the Committee...

, Jesse Gray
Jesse Gray
Jesse Gray was a leader of rent strikes in Harlem in the 1960s and served as a New York State Assemblyman from 1972 to 1974.-Biography:...

, and Andrew Young
Andrew Young
Andrew Jackson Young is an American politician, diplomat, activist and pastor from Georgia. He has served as Mayor of Atlanta, a Congressman from the 5th district, and United States Ambassador to the United Nations...

. Actor and activist Ossie Davis
Ossie Davis
Ossie Davis was an American film actor, director, poet, playwright, writer, and social activist.-Early years:...

 delivered the eulogy
Eulogy
A eulogy is a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, especially one recently deceased or retired. Eulogies may be given as part of funeral services. However, some denominations either discourage or do not permit eulogies at services to maintain respect for traditions...

, describing Malcolm X as "our shining black prince".

There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain—and we will smile. Many will say turn away—away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man—and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate—a fanatic, a racist—who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them: Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.


Malcolm X was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery
Ferncliff Cemetery
Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum is located on Secor Road in the hamlet of Hartsdale, town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, about 25 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. It was founded in 1902, and is non-sectarian...

 in Hartsdale
Hartsdale, New York
Hartsdale is a hamlet and a census-designated place located in the town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York. The population was 5,293 at the 2010 census.-Geography:Hartsdale is located at ....

, New York. At the gravesite after the ceremony, friends took the shovels from the waiting gravediggers and completed the burial themselves. Actor and activist Ruby Dee
Ruby Dee
Ruby Dee is an American actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, and activist, perhaps best known for co-starring in the film A Raisin in the Sun and the film American Gangster for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.-Early years:Dee was born Ruby...

 (wife of Ossie Davis) and Juanita Poitier (wife of Sidney Poitier
Sidney Poitier
Sir Sidney Poitier, KBE is a Bahamian American actor, film director, author, and diplomat.In 1963, Poitier became the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field...

) established the Committee of Concerned Mothers to raise funds to buy a house and pay educational expenses for Malcolm X's family.

Responses to assassination

Reactions to Malcolm X's assassination were varied. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

 sent a telegram to Betty Shabazz, expressing his sadness over "the shocking and tragic assassination of your husband."

While we did not always see eye to eye on methods to solve the race problem, I always had a deep affection for Malcolm and felt that he had a great ability to put his finger on the existence and root of the problem. He was an eloquent spokesman for his point of view and no one can honestly doubt that Malcolm had a great concern for the problems that we face as a race.


Elijah Muhammad
Elijah Muhammad
Elijah Muhammad was an African American religious leader, and led the Nation of Islam from 1934 until his death in 1975...

 told the annual Savior's Day
Saviours' Day
Saviours' Day is a holiday of the Nation of Islam commemorating the birth of its founder, Master Wallace Fard Muhammad, February 26, 1877. It was established by Elijah Muhammad....

 convention on February 26, "Malcolm X got just what he preached." "We didn't want to kill Malcolm and didn't try to kill him," Muhammad said. "We know such ignorant, foolish teachings would bring him to his own end."

The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

wrote that Malcolm X was "an extraordinary and twisted man" who "turn[ed] many true gifts to evil purpose" and that his life was "strangely and pitifully wasted". The New York Post
New York Post
The New York Post is the 13th-oldest newspaper published in the United States and is generally acknowledged as the oldest to have been published continuously as a daily, although – as is the case with most other papers – its publication has been periodically interrupted by labor actions...

wrote that "even his sharpest critics recognized his brilliance—often wild, unpredictable and eccentric, but nevertheless possessing promise that must now remain unrealized."

The international press, particularly that of Africa, was sympathetic. The Daily Times of Nigeria
Daily Times of Nigeria
The Daily Times of Nigeria is a newspaper with headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria.At its peak, in the 1970s, it was one of the most successful locally owned businesses in Africa....

wrote that Malcolm X "will have a place in the palace of martyrs." The Ghanaian Times
Ghanaian Times
The Ghanaian Times is a government-owned daily newspaper published in Accra in Ghana. The newspaper was established in 1958....

likened him to John Brown
John Brown (abolitionist)
John Brown was an American revolutionary abolitionist, who in the 1850s advocated and practiced armed insurrection as a means to abolish slavery in the United States. He led the Pottawatomie Massacre during which five men were killed, in 1856 in Bleeding Kansas, and made his name in the...

 and Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Émery Lumumba was a Congolese independence leader and the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo after he helped win its independence from Belgium in June 1960. Only ten weeks later, Lumumba's government was deposed in a coup during the Congo Crisis...

 among "a host of Africans and Americans who were martyred in freedom's cause". Guangming Daily
Guangming Daily (China)
The Guangming Daily was launched on June 16, 1949 by the China Democratic League, and is a nationwide comprehensive newspaper based in Beijing. Its sponsorship was shifted to various democratic parties in China and the China Federation of Industry and Commerce in 1953...

, published in Beijing, stated that "Malcolm was murdered because he fought for freedom and equal rights", while in Cuba, El Mundo described the assassination as "another racist crime to eradicate by violence the struggle against discrimination".

Allegations of conspiracy

Within days of the assassination, questions were raised about who bore ultimate responsibility. On February 23, James Farmer, the leader of the Congress of Racial Equality
Congress of Racial Equality
The Congress of Racial Equality or CORE was a U.S. civil rights organization that originally played a pivotal role for African-Americans in the Civil Rights Movement...

, announced at a news conference that local drug dealers, and not the Nation of Islam, were to blame. Others accused the NYPD
New York City Police Department
The New York City Police Department , established in 1845, is currently the largest municipal police force in the United States, with primary responsibilities in law enforcement and investigation within the five boroughs of New York City...

, the FBI, or the CIA
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

, citing the lack of police protection, the ease with which the assassins entered the Audubon Ballroom, and the failure of the police to preserve the crime scene.

In the 1970s, the public learned about COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO was a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.COINTELPRO tactics included discrediting targets through psychological...

 and other secret FBI programs directed towards infiltrating and disrupting civil rights organizations during the 1950s and 1960s. John Ali, national secretary of the Nation of Islam, was identified as an FBI undercover agent. Malcolm X had confided in a reporter that Ali exacerbated tensions between him and Elijah Muhammad. He considered Ali his "archenemy" within the Nation of Islam leadership. On February 20, 1965, the night before the assassination, Ali met with Talmadge Hayer, one of the men convicted of killing Malcolm X.

In 1977 and 1978, Talmadge Hayer submitted two sworn affidavits
Hayer affidavits
The Hayer affidavits are two sworn affidavits made by Talmadge Hayer—also known by the name Thomas Hagan—one of the convicted assassins of Malcolm X...

 re-asserting his claim that Butler and Johnson were not involved in the assassination. In his affidavits Hayer named four men, all members of the Nation of Islam's Newark
Newark, New Jersey
Newark is the largest city in the American state of New Jersey, and the seat of Essex County. As of the 2010 United States Census, Newark had a population of 277,140, maintaining its status as the largest municipality in New Jersey. It is the 68th largest city in the U.S...

 Temple Number 25, as having participated with him in the crime. Hayer asserted that a man, later identified as Wilbur McKinley, shouted and threw a smoke bomb to create a diversion. Hayer said that another man, later identified as William Bradley, had a shotgun and was the first to fire on Malcolm X after the diversion. Hayer asserted that he and a man later identified as Leon Davis, both armed with pistols, fired on Malcolm X immediately after the shotgun blast. Hayer also said that a fifth man, later identified as Benjamin Thomas, was involved in the conspiracy. Hayer's statements failed to convince authorities to reopen their investigation of the murder.

Some, including the Shabazz family, have accused Louis Farrakhan of being involved in the plot to assassinate Malcolm X. In a 1993 speech, Farrakhan seemed to boast of the assassination:

Was Malcolm your traitor or ours? And if we dealt with him like a nation deals with a traitor, what the hell business is it of yours? A nation has to be able to deal with traitors and cutthroats and turncoats.


In a 60 Minutes
60 Minutes
60 Minutes is an American television news magazine, which has run on CBS since 1968. The program was created by producer Don Hewitt who set it apart by using a unique style of reporter-centered investigation....

interview that aired during May 2000, Farrakhan stated that some of the things he said may have led to the assassination of Malcolm X. "I may have been complicit in words that I spoke", he said. "I acknowledge that and regret that any word that I have said caused the loss of life of a human being." A few days later Farrakhan denied that he "ordered the assassination" of Malcolm X, although he again acknowledged that he "created the atmosphere that ultimately led to Malcolm X's assassination." No consensus on who was responsible has been reached.

Philosophy

Except for his autobiography, Malcolm X left no published writings. His philosophy is known almost entirely from the myriad speeches and interviews he gave from 1952 until his death in 1965. Many of those speeches, especially from the last year of his life, were recorded and have been published.

Beliefs of the Nation of Islam

Before he left the Nation of Islam in 1964, Malcolm X taught its beliefs in his speeches. His speeches were peppered with the phrase "The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us that...". It is virtually impossible to discern whether Malcolm X's beliefs diverged from the teachings of the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X once compared himself to a ventriloquist's dummy who could only say what Elijah Muhammad told him.

Malcolm X taught that black people were the original people of the world, and that white people were a race of devils who were created by an evil scientist named Yakub. The Nation of Islam believed that black people were superior
Black supremacy
The term black supremacy is a blanket term for various ideologies which hold that black people are superior to people of other races.-Overview:...

 to white people, and that the demise of the white race was imminent. When he was questioned concerning his statements that white people were devils, Malcolm X said that "history proves the white man is a devil." He enumerated some of the historical reasons that, he felt, supported his argument: "Anybody who rapes, and plunders, and enslaves, and steals, and drops hell bombs on people... anybody who does these things is nothing but a devil."

Malcolm X said that Islam was the "true religion of black mankind" and that Christianity was "the white man's religion" that had been imposed upon African Americans by their slave-masters. He said that the Nation of Islam followed Islam as it was practiced around the world, but the Nation's teachings varied from those of other Muslims because they were adapted to the "uniquely pitiful" condition of black people in America. He taught that Wallace Fard Muhammad
Wallace Fard Muhammad
Wallace Fard Muhammad was a minister and founder of the Nation of Islam. He established the Nation of Islam's first mosque in Detroit, Michigan in 1930, and ministered his distinctive religion there for three years, before mysteriously disappearing in June 1934. He was succeeded by his follower...

, the founder of the Nation, was Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

 incarnate, and that Elijah Muhammad was his Messenger, or prophet
Prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

.

While the civil rights movement fought against racial segregation
Racial segregation in the United States
Racial segregation in the United States, as a general term, included the racial segregation or hypersegregation of facilities, services, and opportunities such as housing, medical care, education, employment, and transportation along racial lines...

, Malcolm X advocated the complete separation
Black separatism
Black separatism is a movement to create separate institutions for people of African descent in societies historically dominated by whites, particularly in the United States. Black separatists also often seek a separate homeland...

 of African Americans from white people. The Nation of Islam proposed the establishment of a separate country for black people in the Southern
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 or Southwestern United States as an interim measure until African Americans could return to Africa. Malcolm X suggested the United States government owed reparations
Reparations for slavery
Reparations for slavery is a proposal that some type of compensation should be provided to the descendants of enslaved people in the United States, in consideration of the coerced and uncompensated labor their ancestors performed over several centuries...

 to black people for the unpaid labor of their enslaved ancestors. He also rejected the civil rights movement's strategy of nonviolence
Nonviolence
Nonviolence has two meanings. It can refer, first, to a general philosophy of abstention from violence because of moral or religious principle It can refer to the behaviour of people using nonviolent action Nonviolence has two (closely related) meanings. (1) It can refer, first, to a general...

 and instead advocated that black people should protect themselves by any necessary means.

Independent views

After leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X announced his willingness to work with leaders of the civil rights movement, though he felt that it should change its focus to human rights. So long as the movement remained a fight for civil rights, its struggle would remain a domestic issue, but by framing the struggle as a fight for human rights, it would become an international issue, and the movement could bring its complaint before the United Nations. Malcolm X said the emerging nations of the world would add their support to the cause of African Americans.

Malcolm X declared that he and the other members of the Organization of Afro-American Unity were determined to defend themselves from aggressors, and to secure freedom, justice and equality "by whatever means necessary", arguing that if the government was unwilling or unable to protect black people, they should protect themselves.

Malcolm X stressed the global perspective he gained from his international travels. He emphasized the "direct connection" between the domestic struggle of African Americans for equal rights with the liberation struggles of Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

 nations. He said that African Americans were wrong when they thought of themselves as a minority; in a global context, black people were a majority, not a minority.

In his speeches at the Militant Labor Forum, which was sponsored by the Socialist Workers Party
Socialist Workers Party (United States)
The Socialist Workers Party is a far-left political organization in the United States. The group places a priority on "solidarity work" to aid strikes and is strongly supportive of Cuba...

, Malcolm X criticized capitalism. After one such speech, when he was asked what political and economic system he wanted, he said he didn't know, but that it was no coincidence the newly liberated countries in the Third World were turning toward socialism. Malcolm X still was concerned primarily with the freedom struggle of African Americans. When a reporter asked him what he thought about socialism, Malcolm X asked whether it was good for black people. When the reporter told him it seemed to be, Malcolm X told him, "Then I'm for it."

Although he no longer called for the separation of black people from white people, Malcolm X continued to advocate black nationalism, which he defined as self-determination for the African-American community. In the last months of his life, however, Malcolm X began to reconsider his support of black nationalism after meeting northern African revolutionaries who, to all appearances, were white.

After his Hajj, Malcolm X articulated a view of white people and racism that represented a deep change from the philosophy he had supported as a minister of the Nation of Islam. In a famous letter from Mecca, he wrote that his experiences with white people during his pilgrimage convinced him to "rearrange" his thinking about race and "toss aside some of [his] previous conclusions". In a 1965 conversation with Gordon Parks
Gordon Parks
Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks was a groundbreaking American photographer, musician, poet, novelist, journalist, activist and film director...

, two days before his assassination, Malcolm said:

[L]istening to leaders like Nasser

Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein was the second President of Egypt from 1956 until his death. A colonel in the Egyptian army, Nasser led the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 along with Muhammad Naguib, the first president, which overthrew the monarchy of Egypt and Sudan, and heralded a new period of...

, Ben Bella
Ahmed Ben Bella
Mohamed Ahmed Ben Bella was a soldier and Algerian revolutionary, who became the first President of Algeria.-Youth:...

, and Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah was the leader of Ghana and its predecessor state, the Gold Coast, from 1952 to 1966. Overseeing the nation's independence from British colonial rule in 1957, Nkrumah was the first President of Ghana and the first Prime Minister of Ghana...

 awakened me to the dangers of racism. I realized racism isn't just a black and white problem. It's brought bloodbaths to about every nation on earth at one time or another.



Brother, remember the time that white college girl came into the restaurant—the one who wanted to help the [Black] Muslims and the whites get together—and I told her there wasn't a ghost of a chance and she went away crying? Well, I've lived to regret that incident. In many parts of the African continent I saw white students helping black people. Something like this kills a lot of argument. I did many things as a [Black] Muslim that I'm sorry for now. I was a zombie then—like all [Black] Muslims—I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march. Well, I guess a man's entitled to make a fool of himself if he's ready to pay the cost. It cost me 12 years.



That was a bad scene, brother. The sickness and madness of those days—I'm glad to be free of them.


Legacy

Malcolm X has been described as one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history. He is credited with raising the self-esteem of black Americans and reconnecting them with their African heritage. He is largely responsible for the spread of Islam in the black community in the United States. Many African Americans, especially those who lived in cities in the Northern and Western United States, felt that Malcolm X articulated their complaints concerning inequality better than the mainstream civil rights movement did. One biographer says that by giving expression to their frustration, Malcolm X "made clear the price that white America would have to pay if it did not accede to black America's legitimate demands."

In the late 1960s, as black activists became more radical, Malcolm X and his teachings were part of the foundation on which they built their movements. The Black Power
Black Power
Black Power is a political slogan and a name for various associated ideologies. It is used in the movement among people of Black African descent throughout the world, though primarily by African Americans in the United States...

 movement, the Black Arts Movement
Black Arts Movement
The Black Arts Movement or BAM is the artistic branch of the Black Power movement. It was started in Harlem by writer and activist Amiri Baraka...

, and the widespread adoption of the slogan "Black is beautiful
Black is beautiful
Black is beautiful is a cultural movement that began in the United States of America in the 1960s by African Americans. It later spread to much of the black world, most prominently in the writings of the Black Consciousness Movement of Steve Biko in South Africa...

" can all trace their roots to Malcolm X.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a resurgence of interest in Malcolm X among young people fueled, in part, by his use as an icon by hip hop
Hip hop music
Hip hop music, also called hip-hop, rap music or hip-hop music, is a musical genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted...

 groups such as Public Enemy. Images of Malcolm X could be found on T-shirts and jackets. Pictures of him were on display in hundreds of thousands of homes, offices, and schools. This wave peaked in 1992 with the release of Malcolm X
Malcolm X (film)
Malcolm X is a 1992 biographical motion picture about the Muslim-American figure Malcolm X . It was co-written, co-produced, and directed by Spike Lee. It stars Denzel Washington as the titular character. It co-stars Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Al Freeman, Jr., and Delroy Lindo...

, a much-anticipated film adaptation of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Portrayals in film and on stage

The 1992 film Malcolm X was directed by Spike Lee
Spike Lee
Shelton Jackson "Spike" Lee is an American film director, producer, writer, and actor. His production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, has produced over 35 films since 1983....

 and based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X. It starred Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington
Denzel Hayes Washington Jr. is an American actor, screenwriter, director, and film producer. He first rose to prominence when he joined the cast of the medical drama, St. Elsewhere, playing Dr...

, with Angela Bassett
Angela Bassett
Angela Evelyn Bassett is an American actress. She has become well known for her biographical film roles portraying real life women in African American culture, including singer Tina Turner in the motion picture What's Love Got to Do with It, as well as Betty Shabazz in the films Malcolm X and...

 as Betty Shabazz and Al Freeman, Jr.
Al Freeman, Jr.
Al Freeman, Jr., M.Ed. is an African-American actor and director....

, as Elijah Muhammad. Critic Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

 and director Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese
Martin Charles Scorsese is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and film historian. In 1990 he founded The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to film preservation, and in 2007 he founded the World Cinema Foundation...

 both named the film one of the ten best of the 1990s. Washington had previously played the part of Malcolm X in the 1981 Off Broadway play When the Chickens Came Home to Roost. Other actors who have portrayed Malcolm X include:
  • James Earl Jones
    James Earl Jones
    James Earl Jones is an American actor. He is well-known for his distinctive bass voice and for his portrayal of characters of substance, gravitas and leadership...

    , in the 1977 film The Greatest.
  • Dick Anthony Williams
    Dick Anthony Williams
    Dick Anthony Williams is an American actor. Williams is known for his starring performances on Broadway in The Poison Tree, What the Wine-Sellers Buy and Black Picture Show. He is also remembered for playing the character of Pretty Tony in The Mack, which starred Max Julien and Richard Pryor...

    , in the 1978 television miniseries
    Miniseries
    A miniseries , in a serial storytelling medium, is a television show production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. The exact number is open to interpretation; however, they are usually limited to fewer than a whole season. The term "miniseries" is generally a North American term...

     King
    King (miniseries)
    King is a television miniseries based on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the American civil rights leader and 1964 Nobel Laureate. It aired for three consecutive nights on NBC from February 12 through 14, 1978...

    and the 1989 American Playhouse
    American Playhouse
    American Playhouse is an anthology television series periodically broadcast by Public Broadcasting Service in the United States.It premiered on January 12, 1982 with The Shady Hill Kidnapping, written and narrated by John Cheever and directed by Paul Bogart...

    production of the Jeff Stetson play The Meeting.
  • Al Freeman, Jr., in the 1979 television miniseries Roots: The Next Generations
    Roots: The Next Generations
    Roots: The Next Generations is a 1979 television miniseries that continues the story of the family of Alex Haley from the 1880s, and their life in Henning, Tennessee, to the 1960s, with Haley researching his family history and his travels to Africa to learn of his ancestor, Kunta Kinte...

    .
  • Morgan Freeman
    Morgan Freeman
    Morgan Freeman is an American actor, film director, aviator and narrator. He is noted for his reserved demeanor and authoritative speaking voice. Freeman has received Academy Award nominations for his performances in Street Smart, Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption and Invictus and won...

    , in the 1981 television movie Death of a Prophet
    Death of a Prophet
    Death of a Prophet - The Last Days of Malcolm X is a 1981 made for TV film, written and directed by Woodie King Jr. and starring Morgan Freeman as Malcolm X.-DETAIL:*Direction: Woodie King Jr.*Scenario: Woodie King Jr....

    .
  • Ben Holt, in the 1986 opera X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X at the New York City Opera
    New York City Opera
    The New York City Opera is an American opera company located in New York City.The company, called "the people's opera" by New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, was founded in 1943 with the aim of making opera financially accessible to a wide audience, producing an innovative choice of repertory, and...

    .
  • Gary Dourdan
    Gary Dourdan
    Gary Robert Dourdan is an American actor. He is best known for portraying Warrick Brown on the television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.-Early years:...

    , in the 2000 television movie King of the World.
  • Joe Morton
    Joe Morton
    Joseph Thomas "Joe" Morton, Jr. is an American stage, television, and film actor.-Early life:Morton was born in The Bronx, a borough of New York City, New York. He is the son of Evelyn, a secretary, and Joseph Thomas Morton, Sr., a U.S. army intelligence officer. Because of his father's...

    , in the 2000 television movie Ali: An American Hero.
  • Mario Van Peebles
    Mario Van Peebles
    Mario "Chip" Cain Van Peebles is an American director and actor who has appeared in numerous Hollywood films. He is son of filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles.-Life and career:...

    , in the 2001 film Ali
    Ali (film)
    Ali is a 2001 American biographical film directed by Michael Mann. The film tells the story of boxing icon Muhammad Ali, played by Will Smith, from 1964 to 1974 featuring his capture as of the heavyweight title from Sonny Liston , his conversion to Islam, criticism of the Vietnam War, banishment...

    .

Memorials and tributes

The Malcolm X House Site, at 3448 Pinkney Street in North Omaha
North Omaha, Nebraska
North Omaha is a community area in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. It is bordered by Cuming and Dodge Streets on the south, Interstate 680 on the north, North 72nd Street on the west and the Missouri River and Carter Lake, Iowa on the east, as defined by the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the Omaha...

, Nebraska, marks the place where Malcolm Little first lived with his family. The house where the Little family lived was torn down in 1965 by owners who did not know of its connection with Malcolm X. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

 in 1984 and a historic marker identifies the site because of the importance of Malcolm X to American history and national culture. In 1987 the site was added to the Nebraska register of historic sites and marked with a state plaque.

Lansing, Michigan, where Malcolm Little spent his early, formative years, is home to a Michigan Historical Marker erected in 1975 marking his homesite. The city is also home to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz Academy, a public charter school
Charter school
Charter schools are primary or secondary schools that receive public money but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school's charter...

 with an Afrocentric
Afrocentrism
Afrocentrism is cultural ideology mostly limited to the United States, dedicated to the history of Black people a response to global racist attitudes about African people and their historical contributions by revisiting this history with an African cultural and ideological center...

 focus. The Academy is located in the building where Little attended elementary school.

In cities around the world, Malcolm X's birthday (May 19) is commemorated as Malcolm X Day. The first known celebration of Malcolm X Day took place in Washington, D.C., in 1971. The city of Berkeley
Berkeley, California
Berkeley is a city on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay in Northern California, United States. Its neighbors to the south are the cities of Oakland and Emeryville. To the north is the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington...

, California, has recognized Malcolm X's birthday as a citywide holiday since 1979.

Many cities have renamed streets after Malcolm X; in 1987, New York mayor Ed Koch
Ed Koch
Edward Irving "Ed" Koch is an American lawyer, politician, and political commentator. He served in the United States House of Representatives from 1969 to 1977 and three terms as mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989...

 proclaimed Lenox Avenue in Harlem to be Malcolm X Boulevard. The name of Reid Avenue in Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

, New York, was changed to Malcolm X Boulevard in 1985. In 1997, Oakland Avenue in Dallas, Texas, was renamed Malcolm X Boulevard. Main Street in Lansing, Michigan, was renamed Malcolm X Street in 2010.

There have been dozens of schools named after Malcolm X, including Malcolm X Shabazz High School in Newark
Newark, New Jersey
Newark is the largest city in the American state of New Jersey, and the seat of Essex County. As of the 2010 United States Census, Newark had a population of 277,140, maintaining its status as the largest municipality in New Jersey. It is the 68th largest city in the U.S...

, New Jersey, Malcolm Shabazz City High School
Malcolm Shabazz City High School
Malcolm Shabazz City High School is a four-year alternative public high school in Madison, Wisconsin. Shabazz was founded in 1971. The educational program at Shabazz places special emphasis on service learning and respect for diversity. Shabazz has a strong anti-harassment policy offering a safe...

 in Madison
Madison, Wisconsin
Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the county seat of Dane County. It is also home to the University of Wisconsin–Madison....

, Wisconsin, and Malcolm X College in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Illinois. Meanwhile, the Malcolm X Library and Performing Arts Center of the San Diego Public Library
San Diego Public Library
The San Diego Public Library is a public library system serving the city of San Diego, California.-History:The San Diego Public Library was established on May 19, 1882, by an elected board of library trustees. The first location was rented space in the Commercial Bank building at Fifth and G...

 system opened in 1996. It is the first library named after Malcolm X.

The U.S. Postal Service
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

 issued a Malcolm X postage stamp in 1999. In 2005, Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 announced the opening of the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. The memorial is located in the Audubon Ballroom, where Malcolm X was assassinated.

Published works

  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X. With the assistance of Alex Haley
    Alex Haley
    Alexander Murray Palmer Haley was an African-American writer. He is best known as the author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family and the coauthor of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.-Early life:...

    . New York: Grove Press, 1965. .
  • Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements. George Breitman
    George Breitman
    George Breitman was an American communist political activist and newspaper editor. He is best remembered as a founding member of the Socialist Workers Party and as a long-time editor of that organization's weekly paper, The Militant. Breitman also supervised and edited several important...

    , ed. New York: Merit Publishers, 1965. .
  • Malcolm X Talks to Young People. New York: Young Socialist Alliance, 1965. .
  • Two Speeches by Malcolm X. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1965. .
  • Malcolm X on Afro-American History. New York: Merit Publishers, 1967. .
  • The Speeches of Malcolm X at Harvard. Archie Epps
    Archie Epps
    Archie C. Epps III was dean of students at Harvard University from 1971 to 1999....

    , ed. New York: Morrow, 1968. .
  • By Any Means Necessary: Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X. George Breitman, ed. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970. .
  • The End of White World Supremacy: Four Speeches by Malcolm X. Benjamin Karim, ed. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971. .
  • The Last Speeches. Bruce Perry, ed. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-87348-543-2.
  • Malcolm X Talks to Young People: Speeches in the United States, Britain, and Africa. Steve Clark, ed. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1991. ISBN 978-0-87348-962-1.
  • February 1965: The Final Speeches. Steve Clark, ed. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1992. ISBN 978-0-87348-749-8.

Further reading

External links

Interviews
Speeches
Other links
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