Malcolm X is one of the most important and controversial figures in black history. Defender of the rights of African Americans and very critical of the white powers of the United States, he promoted the contact of blacks with their African roots.
His life is fascinating, and although not everyone likes him, his political project for the black race was the spark for the creation of black nationalism. Let’s take a closer look at his life through it Malcolm X biography in summary format.
Biography of Malcolm X
Malcolm X’s life is very intense, as is his work as an advocate for the rights of African Americans and a defender of the Islamic faith.
Malcolm X’s birth name was Malcolm Little and he was born in Omaha, Nebraska, United States, May 19, 1925. He was the son of a Protestant pastor and a mulatto woman, born as a result of a white man’s rape of a black woman. Malcolm X’s childhood was difficult. He had to live with the constant relocations of his family, which was constantly attacked by racist groups.
As a child, he lived through the murder of his father, an ardent defender of workers’ rights. After this misfortune, Malcolm’s mother was admitted to a mental hospital, due to the loss of custody of her children after the death of her husband.
After these events, who was still called Malcolm Little he went from house to house with foster families, living in the difficult conditions with which blacks were treated, Those who did not have the support of their families.
He moved to New York City, where he started out as a street criminal. He was involved in obscure activities, such as drug trafficking, theft and prostitution. He would later be involved in the affairs of the Boston and New York underworld. However, in 1945 he was eventually arrested and sentenced to between eight and ten years in prison.
Entry into the Nation of Islam
While in prison, he quit drugs and began studying by correspondence. It was during the seven years of incarceration that he made contact with an organization, influenced by other inmates, which would be fundamental for the rest of his life and for the formation of his thought: the Nation of the Islam.
This organization was a Muslim religious movement led by Elijah Muhammad in which the idea was postulated that Allah’s favorite race was black and that whites were the personification of the devil, a race doomed to imminent extinction.
In 1952, after leaving prison, Malcolm visited the leader of the Nation of Islam in Chicago, Illinois. It was during this visit that Malcolm Little would sacrifice his last name for a simple X, a meaningful act. The X symbolized the African surname lost to blacks when a white master enslaved one of his ancestors.
Malcolm X’s influence within the organization was not long in coming. In 1953 he was appointed deputy minister of the Number One Temple of the Nation of Islam in Detroit and, at the end of the same year, himself founded Temple Eleven in Boston.
The following year he founded number twelve in Philadelphia and was chosen to lead temple number seven in Harlem. He is also believed to be the founder of the Muhammad Speaks (Muhammad Speaks) newspaper.
The organization was opposed to many ideas championed by the civil rights movement. He advocated the idea that blacks and whites should be kept separate. In fact, they championed the idea of creating a new country, made up exclusively of black people from the southern United States, as a temporary measure for blacks to return to Africa.
Malcolm X, already Minister of the Nation of Islam, argued that the black race was the original of mankind, and that the true religion of black mankind was Islam, while Christianity was the religion of Islam. He argued that Wallace Fard Muhammad, the founder of the organization, was the personification of Allah and that Elijah Muhammad was his messenger.
But this not only raised controversy over his opinion and his entry into a black supremacist organization. the fbi opened an investigation into Malcolm X in 1953 for declaring himself a CommunistSomething very controversial in the midst of the Cold War.
Meeting with Fidel Castro and other world leaders
If the FBI already had its suspicions about Malcolm X’s communist activities, Fidel Castro’s visit to New York in 1960 was a clear indicator of his sympathies against American capitalism. Fidel Castro had set foot on American soil with the intention of meeting at the United Nations General Assembly. Due to Malcolm X’s impressive statements being an active member of the Nation of Islam, Fidel Castro wished to meet him in private.
Also, in the same General Assembly, Malcolm X he was invited to visit events organized by newly independent African nations, Including Gamal Abdel Nasser from Egypt, Ahmed Sékou Touré from Guinea and Kenneth Kaunda from the African National Congress in Zambia.
Abandonment of the Nation of Islam
Given Malcolm X’s controversial views, the media portrayed him as an apostle of violenceIn addition to emphasizing his message of rejection of the white man and showing him as a supremacist but African American.
On December 1, 1963, he was asked about his opinion on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, implying that he was happy about the event. Also, when asked about the murder of Patrice Lumumba and Medgar Evers, black rights activists, and the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, he came to say the same as with President Kennedy.
These comments angered society, both white and black. Even the Nation of Islam sent a message of condolence to the Kennedy family and ordered its ministers not to comment on the assassination. The Nation of Islam has publicly condemned Malcolm X. and, although he retained his position, he was prohibited from speaking in public for 90 days.
But the rivalry within the organization between Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X led the former to organize more effective means to silence him. An assassination plan began to be orchestrated. Suspecting this, Malcolm X decided in 1964 to officially break with the organization, claiming that the Nation of Islam had become too rigid with its religious doctrine.
In those times, he opted for an even more active political struggle, denouncing that neither the nation’s individual reform actions nor Martin Luther King’s campaign for civil rights would lead to the liberation of blacks. Violence was necessary. That was when to found the Muslim mosque movement (Muslim Mosque, Inc.) within American society.
Contact with Sunnism
Malcolm X wanted to conform to the religious precept of the pilgrimage to Mecca, taking the opportunity to visit seven Muslim countries. It was during this trip that he changed his racial stance, realizing that pairing all races was possible..
So he stopped preaching separatism and segregation and took a stance more favorable to black nationalism, as opposed to the white nationalism upon which the United States of America relied.
His visit to several Muslim countries allowed him to have contact with the Sunnis, Those who encouraged him to learn in depth what he thought was Islam.
Despite his friendliest view of the relationship between the races, he continued to champion the idea that African Americans have every right to defend themselves proportionately from aggressors, with all necessary violence. He continued to reject the pacifist message of non-violence campaign for civil rights.
His popularity remained remarkable and he continued to give several lectures on many college campuses, highlighting the opportunity he had to be able to speak to students and make them understand their struggle. He also interviewed with political parties, such as the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the largest Trotskyist party in the United States. Units
threats and murder
From the top of the Nation of Islam, there were already plans to end Malcolm X’s life even after his departure from the organization. He was also the victim of anonymous threats, calling him and his wife saying he deserved to be dead.
In June 1964 Nation of Islam sued him for claiming Malcolm X’s Queens house. The organization was successful and Malcolm X was ordered to leave the house.
On February 14, 1965, the day before the decision to hold a hearing to postpone the eviction date, the same house was set on fire. Malcolm X and his family miraculously survived, and despite the event, no one could be charged.
But it won’t be long before the final tragedy happens. On February 21 of that year, while at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, Malcolm X began speaking at a meeting of the Organization of African American Unity. As he spoke, someone shouted “Black, get your hands out of my pocket!” Causing a commotion. Malcolm X’s bodyguards came to find out what was going on, while another man shot him in the chest with a clipped shotgun.
Nothing could be done for his life, officially declaring him dead at Columbia University Medical Center.
The Legacy of Malcolm X
Malcolm X he has been described as one of the greatest African-American influencers in history, To be at the height of Martin Luther King or Richard Wright. He is credited with raising the self-esteem of African Americans and reconnecting them with their pre-slavery African roots. It is also thanks to Malcolm X that Islam had a greater impact in the United States.
Many black people saw in the figure of Malcolm X the real struggle for their rights, which they saw as the civil rights movement was too soft and seemed to lead them to none.
He is also credited with successfully changing the image of beauty, which until then had been monopolized in America by whites. So at the end of the 60s, and thanks to the inspiration of Malcolm X, the slogan “black is beautiful”.
Several decades later, in the late ’80s and early’ 90s, thanks to hip-hop icons like Public Enemy, the figure of Malcolm X resurfaced among black youth, in addition to being marketed to his name. as merchandising material. In 1992, the film Malcolm X, a film adaptation of the activist’s autobiography, starring Denzel Washington and directed by Spike Lee, was released in theaters.
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X. With the help of Alex Haley. New York: Grove Press, 1965.
- Breitman, G. (1965). Malcolm X speaks: selected speeches and statements. New York: Merit Editors.