Malcolm X as he officially wanted to be called was a black American nationalist, human rights activist, and religious leader who fought for the emancipation of black Americans.
Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska. He was the fourth of eight children born to a homemaker Louise, and her preacher husband, Earl Little. Earl was also an active member of the local chapter of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and avid supporter of black nationalist leader, Marcus Garvey.
Earl’s civil rights activism prompted death threats from the white supremacist organization, Black Legion, forcing the family to relocate twice before Malcolm’s fourth birthday.
In 1931, six years after Malcolm’s birth, his father’s body was found lying lifeless at the municipal streetcar tracks. His family believed he was murdered by white supremacists from whom he had received countless and frequent death threats but the police ruled out the claim insisting Earl Little’s death was a streetcar accident, thus, voiding the large life insurance policy Earl had purchased to provide for his family in the event of his death.
Malcolm X’s mother never able to recover from the shock of her husband’s death as a result, she was committed to a mental home in 1937, where she remained for 26 years.
With their mother in a mental home, Malcolm and his siblings were separated and placed in foster homes, he got in and out of trouble. In 1946, Malcolm X was arrested on charges of larceny and sentenced to 10 years in jail. While in jail, Malcolm completed his PhD programme. It was also during his time in jail that he encountered the teachings of Elijah Muhammad – leader of the Lost-Found Nation of Islam, popularly known as the Black Muslims.
After his release from jail, Malcolm became a loyal disciple of Elijah Muhammad and adopted X–symbolic of a stolen identity–as his last name. His contact with Elijah Muhammad, helped him direct his vision towards the emancipation of “Afro-Americans” under the auspices of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad appointed him a spokesman for the Nation of Islam. It is on record that during his time at the NOI, the organization’s membership increased from 500 in 1952 to 30,000 in 1963.
Malcolm adhered strictly to the teachings of Elijah Muhammad which included celibacy until marriage, he was soon knocked off balanced when he found out his mentor was not practising what he preached – Elijah Muhammad, was secretly having affair with as many as six women within the organization and some of these relationships had resulted in children.
Malcolm reportedly refused Muhammad’s request to help cover up his affairs and subsequent children, he also felt guilty about the masses he had led to join the NOI, which he now felt was a fraudulent organization built on too many lies to ignore. As a result, Malcolm left the NOI and founded Muslim Mosque Inc.
After his resignation from NOI and denouncing the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, the relationship between them became volatile and Malcolm began to receive several threats on his life that he rarely went anywhere without bodyguards.
In 1965, February 14th to be precise, his home in East Elmhurst, New York was firebombed. Luckily, Malcolm and his family escaped physical injury.
The following week, February 21, Malcolm was brutally assassinated at a speaking engagement in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom. Three gunmen had rushed Malcolm onstage and shot him 15 times at close range. The 39-year-old was pronounced dead on arrival at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.
He was buried on February 27, 1965. Malcolm’s assassins Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler, and Thomas 15X Johnson – all members of the Nation of Islam, were convicted of first-degree murder in March 1966.
At first, the revolutionary irrationally campaigned for a complete severing of ties with the white community but later added a touch of accommodation to it, thereby preaching respect and ‘equal’ justice for both white and black races. The later subtlety that came with his personality did not in any way deter his brave and fiery side. It is a fact that he was a formidable force that the ‘white’ government could not easily subdue; he was strong till the end. Rumour has it that the United State’s government ‘turned a blind eye’ to the assassination plot of Malcolm X.
Wife And Kids
Malcolm got married to his heartthrob, to Betty Shabazz in 1958 and they had six daughters together namely Attallah, Qubilah, Ilyasah Gamilah Lumumba, Malikah, and
Betty died in 1997 at the age of 63.
Malcolm X Quotes
Below are some of the witty, realistic, brilliant and lovable quotes of this fire-brand:
1. Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.
2. It is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks. It is legal and lawful to own a shotgun or a rifle. We believe in obeying the law.
3. Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.
4. You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.
5. When “I” is replaced with “we”, even illness becomes wellness.
6. History is a people’s memory, and without a memory, man is demoted to the lower animals.
7. Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.
8. Truth is on the side of the oppressed.
9. I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their colour.
10. In my recent travels into African countries and others, I was impressed by the importance of having a working unity among all peoples, black as well as white.
11. If you are in a country that is progressive, the woman is progressive… But in every backward country, you’ll find the women are backward, and in every country where education is not stressed its because the women don’t have an education.
12. My alma mater was books, a good library… I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.
13. Usually, when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change
14. There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.
15. They don’t stand for anything different in South Africa than America stands for. The only difference is over there they preach as well as practice apartheid. America preaches freedom and practices slavery.
16. You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or who says it.
17. A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.
18. The price of freedom is death.
19. Here I am, back in Mecca. I am still travelling, trying to broaden my mind, for I’ve seen too much of the damage narrow-mindedness can make of things, and when I return home to America, I will devote what energies I have to repairing the damage
20. I am neither a fanatic nor a dreamer. I am a black man who loves peace, and justice, and loves his people.