Malcolm X Bookmark
Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 19, 1925. Malcolm was the son of a Baptist minister who was murdered after receiving threats from the Ku Klux Klan. While in prison for burglary as a young man, Malcolm became interested in the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Black Muslim Movement in America, also called the Nation of Islam. When Malcolm was released from prison in 1952, he was given the last name of X, signifying “of unknown origin,” and was known as Malcolm X.
By the early 1960s, Malcolm X was a prominent spokesperson for the Nation of Islam. Malcolm’s growing popularity created interest in political action and soon generated tensions with followers of Elijah Muhammad. In 1964 Malcolm broke with the Nation of Islam and formed the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). In 1964 he toured several African nations and made a pilgrimage to the Islamic holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and became El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (signifying “of known origin”). On his crusade of nationalism, Malcolm was greeted in many African nations with honors normally accorded to foreign heads of state. While in Mecca, he learned that through Islam all people are—and should treat one another—as equal human beings, and that the racial problems in America did not need to
exist. Malcolm X, the nation’s most influential black leader, preaching a hopeful message of universal freedom and human rights, was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, NY, on February 21, 1965.
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