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Picture of Malcom X
Malcom X: Biography

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska on May 19, 1925. Malcolm was the son of a Baptist minister who was murdered after receiving threats from the Ku Klux Klan. While in prison for burglary as a young man, Malcolm became interested in the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Black Muslims, also called the Nation of Islam. When Malcolm was released from prison in 1952, he took the name Malcolm X.

By the early 1960s, Malcolm was a prominent spokesperson for the Nation of Islam. Malcolm's increasing popularity and his growing interest in political action generated tensions with Elijah Muhammad. The tension was exacerbated by Malcolm's disillusionment upon learning Elijah Muhammad had fathered children by his former secretaries and by Elijah Muhammad's rebuke of Malcolm because of comments he made about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1964 Malcolm broke with the Nation of Islam and formed a secular black nationalist group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity. In 1964 he toured several African nations and made a pilgrimage to the Islamic holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. In many African nations, Malcolm was greeted with honors normally accorded foreign heads of state. While in Mecca, he renounced his previous teaching that all whites are evil and began advocating racial solidarity. Upon returning to the United States, he changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. He was assassinated in Harlem on February 21, 1965.

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