|“||You get freedom by letting your enemy know that you'll do anything to get your freedom; then you'll get it. It's the only way you'll get it.||„|
|~ Malcolm X|
Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, (May 19th, 1925 - February 21st, 1965) was a Civil Rights leader in America and a prominent figure in the Nation of Islam. Unlike Martin Luther King, in his earlier years he was an advocate of black supremacy and encouraged complete separation from white America and believed that whites were the devil. He also described himself as a communist.
Malcolm Little was born May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, the fourth of seven children of Grenada-born Louise Helen Little (née Norton) and Georgia-born Earl Little. Earl was an outspoken Baptist lay speaker, and he and Louise were admirers of Pan-African activist Marcus Garvey.
Prior to his imprisonment and conversion to Islam, Malcolm X led a life of crime. After he was released from prison, Elijah Muhammed took Malcolm under his wing and made him his closet associate. Due to Elijah's influence, Malcolm rejected the notion of the civil rights movement for its emphasis on racial integration. He also expressed pride in some of the social achievements he made with the Nation of Islam, particularly its free drug rehabilitation program. In the 1950s, Malcolm X endured surveillance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for the Nation's supposed links to communism.
In September 1960, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, Malcolm X was invited to the official functions of several African nations. He met Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Ahmed Sékou Touré of Guinea, and Kenneth Kaunda of the Zambian African National Congress. Fidel Castro also attended the Assembly, and Malcolm X met publicly with him as part of a welcoming committee of Harlem community leaders. Castro was sufficiently impressed with Malcolm X to suggest a private meeting, and after two hours of talking, Castro invited Malcolm X to visit Cuba.
In the 1960s, Malcolm X began to grow disillusioned with the Nation of Islam, and in particular, with Elijah Muhammad. Expressing many regrets about his time with them, which he had come to regard as largely wasted, he instead embraced Sunni Islam. Malcolm X then began to advocate for racial integration and disavowed racism after completing Hajj, whereby he also became known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz. After a brief period of travel across Africa, he notably repudiated the Nation of Islam, and founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. (MMI) and the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) to emphasize Pan-Africanism.
Throughout 1964, his conflict with the Nation of Islam intensified, and he was repeatedly sent death threats. On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was preparing to address the OAAU in Manhattan when he was assassinated by Thomas Hagan, Thomas Johnson, and Norman Butler, three members of the Nation of Islam, allegedly on the orders of Elijah Muhammed. The trio were sentenced to indeterminate life sentences, and were required to serve a minimum of 20 years in prison. Conspiracy theories regarding the assassination, and whether it was conceived or aided by leading members of the Nation or with law enforcement agencies, have persisted for decades after the shooting.
Malcolm X 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 did the mainstream civil rights movement. 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, increasingly radical black activists based their movements largely on Malcolm X and his teachings. The Black Power movement, the Black Arts Movement, and the widespread adoption of the slogan "Black is beautiful" can all trace their roots to Malcolm X.
In 1963 Malcolm X began a collaboration with Alex Haley on his life story, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. He told Haley, "If I'm alive when this book comes out, it will be a miracle." Haley completed and published it some months after the assassination.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a resurgence of interest in his life among young people. Hip-hop groups such as Public Enemy adopted Malcolm X as an icon, and his image was displayed in hundreds of thousands of homes, offices, and schools, as well as on T-shirts and jackets. This wave peaked in 1992 with the release of the film Malcolm X, an adaptation of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
In 1998 Time named The Autobiography of Malcolm X one of the ten most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century.