Malcolm X Biography

Malcolm X was a renowned African-American Sunni Muslim civil rights activist. This biography provides detailed information about his childhood, profile, career and timeline

Malcolm X
Quick Facts

Nick Name: El-Hajj Malik, El-Shabazz, Detroit Red, Red

Birthday: May 19, 1925

Nationality: American

Famous: Quotes By Malcolm X Bisexual

Died At Age: 39

Sun Sign: Taurus

Also Known As: Malcolm Little

Born in: North Omaha, Nebraska

Famous as: Minister

Height: 6'4" (193 cm), 6'4" Males


Spouse/Ex-: Betty Shabazz

father: Earl Little

mother: Louise Little

siblings: Ella Collins, Philbert X, Reginald Little, Wilfred X

children: Attallah Shabazz, Gamilah Lumumba Shabazz, Ilyasah Shabazz, Malaak Shabazz, Malikah Shabazz, Qubilah Shabazz

Died on: February 21, 1965

place of death: New York City

Personality: ESTP

Cause of Death: Assassination

U.S. State: Nebraska

Founder/Co-Founder: Organisation of African Unity, Muslim Mosque, Inc., Organization of Afro-American Unity

More Facts

awards: 1994 - NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture - Angela Bassett
1994 - NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture - Denzel Washington
1993 - MTV Movie Award for Best Male Performance - Denzel Washington

1992 - New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor - Denzel Washington
1994 - NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture - Al Freeman; Jr
1994 - NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture

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Often considered as one of the most significant leaders of African-American Muslim citizens, Malcolm X did his part to inspire many blacks across the United States, to strive for personal freedom. His inspiration came when, in his childhood, his father was seemingly killed by whites, and Malcolm was left an orphan. Also, as a kid, his teachers showed no confidence in him despite his exceptional academic performance. His dream of becoming a lawyer was shattered when it was suggested that carpentry would be a better profession for a black. Initially inspired by his stepsister Ella, he found himself employment, but soon took to unfair means of earning money. During his term at the prison, he was introduced to the tenets preached by the religious organization, 'Nation of Islam'. He was highly motivated by the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, proceeding to spread the same message to others. He soon became famous, but was also often the subject of scrutiny for controversial comments. It was only after leaving the 'Nation of Islam' that he worked hard to attain unity, and gained popularity. He also earned his share of enemies, who eventually assassinated him during one of his public addresses. Even today, this activist is held in high regard by some of the most distinguished human rights leaders

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Malcolm X
Childhood & Early Life
  • Malcolm Little was born to Earl, a local political leader, belonging to the 'Universal Negro Improvement Association' ('UNIA'), and his wife, Louise Helen, in Omaha, Nebraska, United States, on May 19, 1925.
  • Because of the volatile black-white conflict in the region, the family soon shifted to Wisconsin's largest city, Milwaukee, in 1926. Here too, the Little family wasn't safe, and Earl, being an active political leader, invited trouble from white racists.
  • Within a few years, Earl died in a car accident, but his wife believed that there had been foul play, and he had been killed by the white members of the organization, 'Black Legion'.
  • During 1937-38, Malcolm's mother, Louise, suffered from depression after being cheated on by a new boyfriend who had left her pregnant. She had to be hospitalized, and the children had to be raised by different foster families.
  • The young boy was a brilliant student in school, popular with his friends even though he was the only black in the class. However, one day when he expressed his dream of pursuing law in future, his teacher discouraged him saying that dreaming big for a black was irrational. This caused the excellent student to quit school, and start work as a shoeshine boy.
  • Soon however, Little got drawn towards antisocial activities like smuggling drugs, gambling, and stealing, which eventually led to his arrest and a long sentence in prison.
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Later Life
  • While in the 'Charlestown State Prison', in Boston, Massachusetts, he was gradually motivated by his brothers and sisters to join the 'Nation of Islam', a new Detroit-based religious organization, despite his initial hesitation.
  • He was introduced to the leader of the 'Nation of Islam', Elijah Muhammad, in 1948, by his brother Reginald, and the religious chief played a major role in Little's later life.
  • In 1950, he claimed to be a Communist, and in a correspondence to US President Harry S. Truman, spoke of how he was against the 'Korean War', signing his name as "Malcolm X". He stopped using the name "Little", since he believed that the surname was given by some white master to his slave ancestors.
  • Malcolm was let out on parole in 1952, during which he met religious leader, Elijah Muhammad. For the next two years, he served as the head of mosques known as Temple Number 1, 11, 12, and finally 7. As one of the prominent personalities of the 'Nation of Islam', he set up mosques in various places like Springfield, Hartford, and Atlanta.
  • In 1957, this political leader came under the New York police scrutiny, when he stood up against the arrest of his colleague Johnson Hinton from the 'Nation of Islam'.
  • As a member of the 'Nation of Islam', he preached that whites were reincarnations of the devil, and that the blacks were the only natives of the world. He was also sure that the "white race" would eventually die out, leaving the blacks as the sole rulers of the world.
  • These teachings did not make him favourable to the whites, and even some blacks. He came across as prejudiced, himself, and was considered by many as a hindrance to peaceful relations between members of two races.
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  • He showed open contempt for civil rights rallies and movements, calling Martin Luther King Jr. a fool, and claiming that George Washington was a black-hater. He went completely against the goals of civil rights organization by demanding a separate nation for the blacks, rather than working towards racial integration.
  • Towards the end of the decade, he had chosen another name for himself, Malik el-Shabazz, and was becoming quite famous. In 1959, he appeared on the documentary, 'The Hate That Hate Produced', which spoke about the 'Nation of Islam' and its leaders.
  • In 1960, he attended the 'United Nations General Assembly', held at New York City. It was here that he got acquainted to famous African leaders like Egyptian Gamal Abdel Nasser, Guinean Ahmed Sékou Touré, and Zambian Kenneth Kaunda. He also built up a rapport with the Communist luminary, Fidel Castro, who invited Malcolm to Cuba.
  • Based on Malcolm X's discourse, a lot of black extremists led revolutionary movements, like the 'Black Arts' and the 'Black Power'. With his growing popularity amongst the supporters of the 'Nation of Islam', Elijah Muhammad grew envious, harbouring hatred for the former.
  • On March 8, 1964, X declared that he had decided to quit the 'Nation of Islam', and follow the teachings of Sunni Islam from thereon. He blamed his mentor, Muhammad for having helped form his extreme biased ideals and developed his hatred for civil rights campaigns.
  • After quitting the 'Nation of Islam', he strived to establish racial integration in America, working alongside activists like Martin Luther King Jr. and establishing the 'Organization of Afro-American Unity'.
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Major Works
  • In 1964, Malcolm founded the 'Organization of Afro-American Unity' with the goal of promoting human rights for African-Americans, and bringing about cooperation between Africans across the United States.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • Malcolm met Betty Sanders in 1955, during his lectures at the 'Nation of Islam' meetings. Sanders became a regular face at his lectures, and soon the two fell in love.
  • Malcolm got married to Sanders, who is also known as Betty X, in 1958. The couple were blessed with six daughters, Gamilah Lumumba, Qubilah, Attallah, Ilyasah, Malaak and Malikah.
  • Upon leaving the 'Nation of Islam', the activist received several threats to his life, and was finally assassinated on February 21, 1965, during a speech at the 'Audubon Ballroom' in Manhattan.
  • The leader was rushed to the 'Columbia Presbyterian Hospital', where the post-mortem revealed 21 gunshots aimed at him. Three of the conspirators were identified as Talmadge Hayer, Norman Butler, and Thomas Johnson, members of 'nation of Islam'. Of them, Hayer was one of the assailants, but the identities of the others were unknown.
  • Malcolm's funeral service was held at Harlem's 'Unity Funeral Home', and was attended by eminent people like John Lewis, Andrew Young, James Farmer, and Ossie Davis, amongst others.
  • This famous leader of America's 'Nation of Islam' inspired the boxing champion, Muhammad Ali to join the organization, and gradually the two grew close, almost like brothers.

See the events in life of Malcolm X in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Malcolm X Biography
- Editors,
Last Updated
- July 21, 2017

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