Malcolm X was an African American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers, he was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans; however, detractors accused him of preaching racism and violence. Take a look below for 30 more awesome and interesting facts about Malcolm X.
1. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.
2. His father was killed when he was six and his mother was placed in a mental hospital when he was thirteen, after which, he lived in a series of foster homes.
3. In 1946, at the age of 20, Malcolm went to prison for larceny and breaking and entering.
4. While in prison, he became a member of the Nation of Islam, changing his birth name Malcolm Little to Malcolm X because, he later wrote, “Little” was the name that “the white slavemaster … had imposed upon [his] paternal forebears.”
5. After his parole in 1952, he quickly rose to become one of the organization’s most influential leaders, serving as the public face of the controversial group for a dozen years.
6. In his autobiography, Malcolm X wrote proudly of some of the social achievements that the Nation of Islam made while he was a member, particularly its free drug rehabilitation program.
7. While Malcolm X was a member, the Nation of Islam promoted black supremacy, advocated the separation of black and white Americans, and rejected the civil rights movement for its emphasis on integration.
8. By March 1964, Malcolm X had grown disillusioned with the Nation of Islams and its leader Elijah Muhammad.
9. Malcolm expressed many regrets about his time with the Nation of Islam, which he had come to regard as largely wasted, and he embraced Sunni Islam.
10. After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, which included completing the Hajj, he became known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz.
11. He repudiated the Nation of Islam, disavowed racism and founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
12. Malcolm X continued to emphasize Pan-Africanism, black self-determination, and black self-defense.
13. On February 21, 1965, he was assassinated by three members of the Nation of Islam.
14. He was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 19, 1925, to Earl and Louise Little. Both of his parents were admirers of the Black nationalist, Marcus Garvey.
15. Earl Little was a Baptist lay speaker, who was also a leader of the local Universal Negro Improvement Association. Both Early and Louise taught their children self-reliance and black pride.
16. Due to harassment from Klansmen over Earl’s UNIA activities, the family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1926, and not long after that to Lansing, Michigan. There, the family received threats from a white racist group known as the Black Legion. When the family home was set alight in 1929, Earl blamed the Black Legion.
17. Malcolm was very focused in school and very smart. He graduated junior high, but then dropped out, mainly because a white teacher told him that practicing law, his aim at the time, was, “no realistic goal for a nigger.”
18. After some time in Boston, Malcolm moved to Harlem, New York City in 1943. There, he lived a life of drug dealing, gambling, pimping, robbery, and racketeering.
19. Malcolm X was widely credited with increasing the Nation of Islam’s membership. Numbers went from 500 to 25,000 members between the early 1950s and early 1960s.
20. In 1958, he married Betty X, a civil rights activist. They had six daughter together.
21. Two of his children, a set of twins, were born after his death.
22. On the advice of his brother Reginald, Malcolm stopped smoking and refused to eat pork while in prison.
23. In 1960, Malcolm X was invited to several functions given by the United Nations General Assembly and met such people as Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Kenneth Kaunda of the Zambian African National Congress, Ahmed Secou Toure of Guinea and Fidel Castro of Cuba.
24. The Civil Rights movement would come out against the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X as irresponsible extremists.
25. The house that once stood at 3448 Pinkney Street in North Omaha, Nebraska, was the first home of Malcolm Little. The house was torn down in 1965 by new owners who didn’t know of its connection with Malcolm X. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and is now identified by a historic marker.
26. In Lansing, Michigan, where Malcolm Little spent his early, formative years, a Michigan Historical Marker was erected in 1975 to mark his homesite.
27. In cities around the world, Malcolm X’s birthday, May 19, is commemorated as Malcolm X Day.
28. The first known celebration of Malcolm X Day took place in Washington, D.C. in 1971.
29. The city of Berkeley, California, has recognized Malcolm X’s birthday as a citywide holiday since 1979.
30. In 1987, New York mayor Ed Koch proclaimed Lenox Avenue in Harlem to be Malcolm X Boulevard.