Malcolm X

Malcolm X
Image via Wikipedia

Formerly Malcolm Little, Malcolm X (1925-65) was a leading American human rights activist.

His life began on a bumpy road. Malcolm’s father was killed when he was six and his mother entered a psychiatric hospital when he was thirteen.

Living in foster homes, Malcolm was arrested and imprisoned for burglary at age 20. While in jail Little converted to The Nation of Islam (NOI), a religious group founded in Detroit.

At one point he taught that whites were devils, inferior to blacks and doomed to disappear from the globe. In his own words:

Thoughtful white people know they are inferior to Black people. Even [Senator James] Eastland knows it. Anyone who has studied the genetic phase of biology knows that white is considered recessive and black is considered dominant.¹

This socio-biological position was based on the teachings of Fard Muhammad (1891-?), the controversial founder of NOI.

Watched by the FBI, Fard Muhammad claimed that the morally inferior “blue-eyed devils” would be destroyed by the appearance of a space ship, an event that would mark global Armageddon.²

Little took the new name “Malcolm X,” saying that

Little was the name that “the white slavemaster … had imposed upon [his] paternal forebears”.³

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X March 1964 – Wikipedia

While still active within NOI, Malcolm X advocated a black nation – that is, racial segregation – in the southern USA.

Ultimately he grew dissatisfied with NOI and became a Sunni Muslim and black leader, seeing Islam as non-racist and thus the religion of choice.

His agenda became increasingly moderate. Instead of focusing on a separate black nation he became a spokesman for human rights, especially among African Americans.

Malcolm X made a pilgrimage to Mecca, visited Africa, France and the UK. He then toured the United States promoting black solidarity at college campuses and thru the media.

He experienced a profound change when visiting the Mecca, where Muslims of all colors and nationalities gathered in peace and shared everything.4

Muhammad Ali 1966 – Wikipedia

After receiving death threats he was assassinated in 1965 by a group of three rival Muslims in Harlem. Since then he has become an icon for political activists, artists, rappers and pop musicians.

Today he is generally regarded one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history, inspiring figures like Muhammad Ali, liberation movements like Black Power, The Black Arts Movement, and slogans like “Black is Beautiful.”


² Melanie King, Prophets, Seers & Visionaries, 2009, p. 130.



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