Malcolm X: Social & Racial Activist
Born May 19, 1925,
Died February 21, 1965,
Black militant leader who articulated concepts of race pride and blacknationalism in the early 1960s. After his assassination, the widespread distribution of his life story—The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965)—made him an ideological hero, especially among black youth.
Growing up in
Malcolm X was sent on speaking tours around the country and soon became the most effective speaker and organizer for the Nation of Islam. He founded many new mosques and greatly increased the movement's membership.
Speaking with bitter eloquence against the white exploitation of black people, Malcolm developed a brilliant platform style, which soon won him a large and dedicated following. He derided the civil-rights movement and rejected both integration and racial equality, calling instead for black separatism, black pride, and black self-dependence. Because he advocated the use of violence (for self-protection) and appeared to many to be a fanatic, his leadership was rejected by most civil-rights leaders, who emphasized nonviolent resistance to racial injustice.
Malcolm's success had by this time aroused jealousy within the Black Muslim hierarchy, and, and in response to his controversial comments on the Kennedy assassination, Elijah Muhammad suspended Malcolm from the movement. In March 1964 Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam and announced the formation of his own religious organization. As a result of a pilgrimage he took to
Growing hostility between Malcolm's followers and the rival Black Muslims manifested itself in violence and threats against his life. He was shot to death at a rally of his followers at a
Edited from Encyclopedia Britanica Online - http://www.britannica.com/blackhistory/article-9050305