An African American leader of Islam was born on May 19, 1925. Malcolm X, whose birth name is Malcolm Little, was born in Omaha, Nebraska. The father of Malcolm X was named James Earl Little. Though the family lived in Omaha, the Klu Klux Klan threatened the family and forced them into Lansing, Michigan. His father was murdered by the Black Legion. Malcolm was stripped from his family by welfare caseworkers. He moved to Boston and became involved many times in criminal activity, moving in and out of jail several times.
Malcolm was arrested once again in 1946 because of a robbery. It became a routine to Malcolm to be in jail, but he never realized the incredible change in his life that was to come. To pass the time he spent in jail, Malcolm X spent countless hours in the prison library, completely memorizing a dictionary verbatim. He attended debate classes due to his interest in increasing his investigation skills. While he was incarcerated, Malcolm encounters the teachings of the leader of the Nation of Islam named Elijah Muhammad. The followers of Muhammad are called Black Muslims. The teachings had a huge impact on Malcolm X which caused him to self-educate and take on the last name X to serve as a symbol for his stolen African identity. X is a common name taken on by members of the nation, usually to get rid of their family name which they believed was started by their slaveholders in the past. HIs brother Reginald, who was jailed in Norfolk County Prison with Malcolm, also influenced him to become part of the Nation. Reginald later became a member with Malcolm in Detroit. Malcolm and his brother became super strong in their faith, giving up things they both enjoyed such as smoking, gambling, and eating pork. He was very prideful in his defending of the African American race and his muslim beliefs. Malcolm X became an important religious leader to the Nation of Islam and was looked up to by many Muslims and African Americans.
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Once Malcolm was released from prison, he led the Nation of Islam during the period of its greatest growth. He started creating temples in the Big Apple. He started a newspaper called Muhammad speaks, which described the evils of whites and talked about the superiority of blacks. Malcolm was so influential to people the Nation gained 500,000 Islamic members. He started speaking in the streets of Harlem and large universities such as Oxford and Harvard. He preached against the main civil rights movement, turning Martin Luther King Jr. into his rival. Malcolm strongly felt that African Americans deserved more than just being able to sit in a restaurant or be able to vote. Malcolm said to his followers, defend yourself by any means necessary. These preachings led to the foundation of the Black Power and Black Consciousness movements in the late 1960’s and 70’s. Malcolm X is the reason blacks are referred to as black and Afro-American instead of negro and coloured. Elijah Muhammad started second guessing himself when he sees Malcolm is becoming too powerful. These two are straining further from the partner title and closer to the enemy description. He thinks he should suspend Malcolm from the Nation. There was a climax in the tension between Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm. They both thought the direction of the political movement should be moving different ways. Malcolm believes the Nation should lean more towards the civil rights protests instead of just being a critic on the sidelines. Malcolm reaches the conclusion that Muhammad is breaking the moral code of the religion, bearing children to 6 of his personal secretaries. The issue was then made public, which worsened people’s views on the Nation. To make things worse, Malcolm publicly calls President Kennedy’s assassination an example of chickens coming home to roost. This was the last straw for Malcolm. Muhammad commands Malcolm to be silent for 90 days. The 90 day silence became an eternity of no communication between Malcolm and Muhammad. The partnership is over.
After leaving the nation in 1964, Malcolm founded Muslim Mosque Inc. He decides to leave the nation, making a Muslim trip to Mecca. Here, he was not judged by his race by the Orthodox Muslims. Not only did he create an Organization of Afro-American Unity while he was there, he also changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. During this trip to Mecca, he is converted, once again, to another branch of the religion called Sunni Islam. Malcolm believes the solution to the United States problems is to convert anyone and everyone to orthodox Islam. This large change was to transition from civil rights to human rights. As Malcolm’s departure from the Nation grew broader, the death threats and hostility from the people grew even larger. Malcolm was beginning to become hated. The leader of the Nation of Islam lived a short life, being assassinated like his father on February 21, 1965. He was speaking publicly in the Audubon Ballroom in the city of Harlem, being murdered by three members from the Nation.
In conclusion, Malcolm X, also called El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was an incredibly large influence in the religion of Islam and to the race of the African-Americans. Many admired Malcolm and his teachings, and they lived their lives parallel to what he taught. The death of the leader impacted many people in a very negative way, leaving them without a role model or a father-figure to look up to. He was a very important part to the Islamic culture, as well as a celebrity to the United States. The teachings of Malcolm X still reside today, and are followed by many people all over the world.
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