Interesting facts about Malcolm X
October 4, 2010 | In: People facts
Published just before his assassination in 1965, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” brought national attention to a man whose goals for fellow American blacks differed strongly from those of his contemporary, Martin Luther King, Jr.
While King advocated peaceful protests and sought integration of blacks into white society, Malcolm X took an angrier position and sought separate power for blacks as part of the black nationalism movement of the 1960s. Unlike King’s message of love and harmony, Malcolm X spoke of black hatred for white society and the need to focus on black heritage. His message earned Malcolm X many black fans and caused anxiety in mainstream America, white and black.
Born as Malcolm Little in 1925, the future Black Power leader grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and later moved to Harlem, in New York City. From 1946 to 1956, he served time in prison; here, he became influenced by the Nation of Islam movement, also known as Black Muslims. He took the last name of “X,” saying “Little” was a white-given name during his ancestors’ slave days.
Later in life, Malcolm X made a pilgrimage to Mecca, which is the worldwide home of the Muslim faith. When he returned to America, he broke from the Black Muslims and formed the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Shortly after his message became less aggressive toward white America, Malcolm X was assassinated in a Harlem mosque. Two Black Muslim men were arrested and convicted for his murder.
Like Eldridge Cleaver, Huey Newton, and other militant black leaders of the 1960s, Malcolm X used his time in prison to educate himself and gain a focus for his life and his people. While mainstream blacks feared that these people’s angry message would turn whites against them, many others welcomed the Black Power message and said they were tired of catering to whites for favors.
Malcolm X never gained the widespread acceptance or stature of Dr. King, but the 1992 making of a movie on his life by black film maker, Spike Lee, brought his name back to life, and brought the letter “X” to hats and T-shirts across America.