Social Justice Activists | Malcolm X


Malcolm X photoMalcolm X (originally Malcolm Little) was born on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska.  As a child, his father was murdered as were four of his uncles.  His mother was sent to a mental institution and Malcolm was sent to a foster home.  At the age of 13, Malcolm was charged with delinquency and spent time in juvenile detention.  He dropped out of school when he was fifteen.

Malcolm later moved to Boston and fell further into a life of crime committing acts that included gambling, selling drugs and burglary.  In 1946, Malcolm was sentenced to ten years in prison for burglary.  It was while in prison that Malcolm began to take a more political/religious stance in life.  He started following the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, The Black Muslims leader.  After Malcolm was released from prison in 1952, he was accepted into The Black Muslims movement and took on the name of Malcolm X. 

Due to his readings in prison, Malcolm X developed a high proficiency for public speaking and soon became the national spokesman for The Black Muslims.  The philosophy of The Black Muslims emphasized the need for racial separation.  This proved volatile, especially at a time when the United States was pushing for racial integration. 

In March 1964, Malcolm X left The Black Muslims and formed two new organizations: Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity.  After spending some time abroad, Malcolm X returned to America with a new outlook regarding race.  From then on, he stated that his organizations were willing to work beyond African American-centric groups and instead, welcome all races.

Malcolm X began progressively spreading his new message around Harlem, NY, holding meetings and speeches.  On February 21, 1965 at one such meeting, Malcolm X was assassinated.



Sources used:

An abridged biography of Malcolm X. (2015). Retrieved from

Malcolm X biography. (2016). Retrieved from