African-American leader and prominent figure in the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X articulated concepts of race pride and Black nationalism in the 1950s and '60s.
Born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm was the fourth of eight children born to Louise, a homemaker, and Earl Little, a preacher who was also an active member of the local chapter of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and avid supporter of Black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. Due to Earl Little's civil rights activism, the family was subjected to frequent harassment from White supremacist groups including the Ku Klux Klan and one of its splinter factions, the Black Legion. In fact, Malcolm X had his first encounter with racism before he was even born.
Malcolm X was a prominent Black nationalist leader who served as a spokesman for the Nation of Islam during the 1950s and '60s. Due largely to his efforts, the Nation of Islam grew from the time he was released from prison in 1952 to 40,000 members by 1960. Articulate, passionate and a naturally gifted and inspirational orator, Malcolm X exhorted Blacks to cast off the shackles of racism "by any means necessary," including violence. The fiery civil rights leader broke with the group shortly before his assassination on February 21, 1965, at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, where he had been preparing to deliver a speech.
He would have been 92 years old this week had he lived.