May 19, 1925
February 21, 1965
Age at Death:
Malcolm Little, also known as Malcolm X, was born in Omaha, Nebraska to Louise Helen Little and Earl Little as the fourth of seven children. He is most famously known for his role in the Civil Rights Movement and for being a prominent human rights activist and African American Muslim minister. Malcolm X spent most of his childhood in foster homes or with relatives after his mother's hospitalization and his father's death. During his rough childhood, Malcolm X joined the Nation of Islam and adopted the name Malcolm X to symbolize his unknown African ancestral surname. For over a decade, Malcolm X served as the most prominent leader of the Nation of Islam through which he advocated for black empowerment, separation of black and white Americans, and racial justice. Malcolm X was also a husband and father, marrying Betty Sanders in 1955 and fathering six daughters over the next decade. After about twelve years with the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X left and founded the Islamic Muslim Mosque, Inc. (MMI) and the Pan-African Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). Despite his initial misgivings, Malcolm X also began to embrace the Civil Rights Movement and worked with their leaders to advance substantive reforms. His new endeavors contradicted the messages of the Nation of Islam and, consequently, Malcolm X was assassinated at the age of 39. Regarded as a controversial figure accused of advocating for racism and violence, Malcolm X is also a widely celebrated human rights activist who played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement in America and who continues to inspire communities of African Americans and Muslim Americans.
During the latter portion of his childhood, Malcolm X joined the Nation of Islam, an African American political and religious group, where he would begin his campaign for equal rights. Despite sharing a common goal with the Civil Rights Movement, the Nation of Islam promoted more violent and controversial methods of attaining equal rights. Malcolm X renounced the Nation of Islam after twelve years and subsequently embraced the Civil Rights Movement that the Nation of Islam vehemently disagreed with. Tensions grew as Malcolm X continued to preach rhetoric that contradicted that of the leader of the Nation of Islam and after receiving many death threats and even some attempts on his life, Malcolm X knew that he would soon be killed. On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X stepped on stage in Manhattan's Audubon Ballroom, but before he could even address the audience, an intense commotion erupted. Amidst the chaos, a man ran out of the crowd with a sawed-off shotgun and shot Malcolm X in the chest. Two other men also rushed the stage firing semi-automatic pistols. Shortly after arriving at a hospital, Malcolm X was pronounced dead. He succumbed to the many gunshot wounds that littered his upper body. The three assailants were thought to have been connected to the Nation of Islam, but Malcolm X's death is full of controversy and shrouded in mystery.
Was justice served?
Despite the multitudes of conspiracies, one may objectively conclude that justice has been served. Witnesses at the Audubon Ballroom identified the assailants as three Nation of Islam members and all were convicted of murder in March 1966 and sentenced to life in prison. Some questions still remain about whether these men were the actual killers or how many co-conspirators may have evaded justice. Of the three killers, two are still alive today and have been paroled, one in 1985 and the other in 2010.