Malcolm X

Malcolm X, 1925–65, militant black leader in the United States, also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, b. Malcolm Little in Omaha, Neb. A petty criminal in Boston and Harlem, he was convicted of burglary (1946) and sent to prison, where he read widely and was introduced to the Black Muslims , joining the group and becoming a Muslim minister upon his release in 1952. A charismatic and eloquent spokesman for the doctrines of black nationalism and black separatism, he quickly became very prominent, establishing many new temples in the North, Midwest, and California, and acquiring a following perhaps equaling that of the movement's leader, Elijah Muhammad . In 1963 Malcolm was suspended by Muhammad after a speech in which Malcolm suggested that President Kennedy's assassination was a matter of the chickens coming home to roost. He then formed a rival organization of his own, the Muslim Mosque, Inc. In 1964, after a pilgrimage to Mecca, he announced his conversion to orthodox Sunni Islam and his new belief that there could be brotherhood between black and white. In his Organization of Afro-American Unity, formed after his return, the tone was still that of militant black nationalism but no longer of separation. In Feb., 1965, he was shot and killed in a public auditorium in New York City. His assassins were vaguely identified as Black Muslims, but this remains a matter of controversy.

See his autobiography (as told to A. Haley, 1964) and selected speeches, Malcolm X Speaks (1965) biographies by P. Goldman (1973, repr. 2013), B. Perry (1992), and M. Marable (2011) study by M. E. Dyson (1994) J. H. Clarke, ed., Malcolm X (1969) J. L. Conyers et al., ed., Malcolm X: An Historical Reader (2008) R. E. Terrill, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Malcolm X (2010).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.