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​Malcolm X - Interview at the University of California

Malcolm X - PBS Documentary

The Great Civil Rights Leader Malcolm X

Malcolm X   1925-1965










​As a youth involved in the life crime, Malcolm Little could have easily ruined his life.  Instead, he educated himself and became one of the most respected leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.

Malcolm Little was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 19, 1925.  He was the fourth of eight children born to Earl and Louise Little.  Malcolm’s mother was from the West Indies.  His father, a Baptist preacher, followed the teachings of the famous Marcus Garvey. Garvey, a nationalist, believed that blacks should organize as a nation and be independent.  Because of Rev. Little’s preaching’s, a white mob forced the family out of their home in Nebraska.
The family then moved to Lansing, Michigan, where Malcolm spent most of his early childhood.  He was only six years old when his house was set on fire, and his father beaten to death.  A white racist group was responsible for Rev. Little’s death.  As a result, Malcolm began to fear and dislike all white people.
Not wanting to stay in Lansing, the family moved to Detroit.  Because Malcolm’s mother was unable to support her eight children, the family was forced to separate.  Malcolm went to a foster home; he quit school after eighth grade.
​ Next, he ran away to Boston, Massachusetts, and later to New York City.  In New York, Malcolm began to lead a life of crime.  At 15, because of his hair and skin color, he was known as “Detroit Red” and “Big Red.”  At age 20, Malcolm was sentenced to 10 years in prison for burglary.
​ While in the Massachusetts State Prison, Malcolm decided to change his life.  He began to educate himself by regularly reading books from the prison library and studying the entire dictionary.  Malcolm also joined the Nation of Islam, a very religious group known as the Black Muslims.  The Muslims strongly believed in Black Pride and were cautious of whites.  Dropping his slave name Little, he became known as Malcolm X.
In 1952, after leaving prison, Malcolm X met the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam.  Following Mr. Muhammad’s teachings, he became a popular minister in the Muslims’ New York Harlem temple.  By 1960, Malcolm X was receiving national attention for some of his arousing speeches.  He was a frequent guest on radio and television talk shows.  In 1963, he became the Nation of Islam’s National Spokesman.  He preached that blacks should control their strong leadership and convincing speeches enabled the Black Muslim’s membership to spread nationally.
​ In 1964, because of a disagreement with Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X was suspended from the Nation of Islam.  Later that year, he made a religious trip to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.  He also visited several African countries.  Meeting with Muslims of different races removed Malcolm’s distrust of white people.  Upon returning to America, Malcolm X formed the Organization of Afro-American Unity(AAU), which called for unity among black leaders in America.
​ On February 21, 1965, while speaking to a small group in New York City, Malcolm X was assassinated.  He was survived by his wife Betty, and six children.  Over 20,000 people attended his funeral in New York City.  Before his death, many of his speeches were recorded and published.  The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published the year of his death.  Malcolm X is remembered as an outstanding figure in the struggle for the civil rights of Black Americans.

​​Excerpt from A Gift of Heritage – Black Civil Rights Leaders.

​This is only a summary of the life of the Great Malcolm X.