May 19, 1925 to February 21, 1965

As the nation’s most visible proponent of  Black Nationalism , Malcolm X’s challenge to the multiracial, nonviolent approach of Martin Luther King, Jr., helped set the tone for the ideological and tactical conflicts that took place within the black freedom struggle of the 1960s. Given Malcolm X’s abrasive criticism of King and his advocacy of racial separatism, it is not surprising that King rejected the occasional overtures from one of his fiercest critics. However, after Malcolm’s assassination in 1965, King wrote to his widow, Betty Shabazz: “While we did not always see eye to eye on methods to solve the race problem, I always had a deep affection for Malcolm and felt that he had the great ability to put his finger on the existence and root of the problem” (King, 26 February 1965).

Malcolm Little was born to Louise and Earl Little in Omaha, Nebraska, on 19 May 1925. His father died when he was six years old—the victim, he believed, of a white racist group. Following his father’s death, Malcolm recalled, “Some kind of psychological deterioration hit our family circle and began to eat away our pride” (Malcolm X,  Autobiography , 14). By the end of the 1930s Malcolm’s mother had been institutionalized, and he became a ward of the court to be raised by white guardians in various reform schools and foster homes.

Malcolm joined the Nation of Islam (NOI) while serving a prison term in Massachusetts on burglary charges. Shortly after his release in 1952, he moved to Chicago and became a minister under Elijah Muhammad, abandoning his “slave name,” and becoming Malcolm X (Malcolm X, “We Are Rising”). By the late 1950s, Malcolm had become the NOI’s leading spokesman.

Although Malcolm rejected King’s message of  nonviolence , he respected King as a “fellow-leader of our people,” sending King NOI articles as early as 1957 and inviting him to participate in mass meetings throughout the early 1960s ( Papers  5:491 ). Although Malcolm was particularly interested that King hear Elijah Muhammad’s message, he also sought to create an open forum for black leaders to explore solutions to the “race problem” (Malcolm X, 31 July 1963). King never accepted Malcolm’s invitations, however, leaving communication with him to his secretary, Maude  Ballou .

Despite his repeated overtures to King, Malcolm did not refrain from criticizing him publicly. “The only revolution in which the goal is loving your enemy,” Malcolm told an audience in 1963, “is the Negro revolution … That’s no revolution” (Malcolm X, “Message to the Grassroots,” 9).

In the spring of 1964, Malcolm broke away from the NOI and made a pilgrimage to Mecca. When he returned he began following a course that paralleled King’s—combining religious leadership and political action. Although King told reporters that Malcolm’s separation from Elijah Muhammad “holds no particular significance to the present civil rights efforts,” he argued that if “tangible gains are not made soon all across the country, we must honestly face the prospect that some Negroes might be tempted to accept some oblique path [such] as that Malcolm X proposes” (King, 16 March 1964).

Ten days later, during the Senate debate on the  Civil Rights Act of 1964 , King and Malcolm met for the first and only time. After holding a press conference in the Capitol on the proceedings, King encountered Malcolm in the hallway. As King recalled in a 3 April letter, “At the end of the conference, he came and spoke to me, and I readily shook his hand.” King defended shaking the hand of an adversary by saying that “my position is that of kindness and reconciliation” (King, 3 April 1965).

Malcolm’s primary concern during the remainder of 1964 was to establish ties with the black activists he saw as more militant than King. He met with a number of workers from the  Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee  (SNCC), including SNCC chairman John  Lewis  and Mississippi organizer Fannie Lou  Hamer . Malcolm saw his newly created Organization of African American Unity (OAAU) as a potential source of ideological guidance for the more militant veterans of the southern civil rights movement. At the same time, he looked to the southern struggle for inspiration in his effort to revitalize the Black Nationalist movement.

In January 1965, he revealed in an interview that the OAAU would “support fully and without compromise any action by any group that is designed to get meaningful immediate results” (Malcolm X,  Two Speeches , 31). Malcolm urged civil rights groups to unite, telling a gathering at a symposium sponsored by the  Congress of Racial Equality : “We want freedom now, but we’re not going to get it saying ‘We Shall Overcome.’ We've got to fight to overcome” (Malcolm X,  Malcolm X Speaks , 38).

In early 1965, while King was jailed in Selma, Alabama, Malcolm traveled to Selma, where he had a private meeting with Coretta Scott  King . “I didn’t come to Selma to make his job difficult,” he assured Coretta. “I really did come thinking that I could make it easier. If the white people realize what the alternative is, perhaps they will be more willing to hear Dr. King” (Scott King, 256).

On 21 February 1965, just a few weeks after his visit to Selma, Malcolm X was assassinated. King called his murder a “great tragedy” and expressed his regret that it “occurred at a time when Malcolm X was … moving toward a greater understanding of the nonviolent movement” (King, 24 February 1965). He asserted that Malcolm’s murder deprived “the world of a potentially great leader” (King, “The Nightmare of Violence”). Malcolm’s death signaled the beginning of bitter battles involving proponents of the ideological alternatives the two men represented.

Maude L. Ballou to Malcolm X, 1 February 1957, in  Papers  4:117 .

Goldman, Death and Life of Malcolm X , 1973.

King, “The Nightmare of Violence,”  New York Amsterdam News , 13 March 1965.

King, Press conference on Malcolm X’s assassination, 24 February 1965,  MLKJP-GAMK .

King, Statement on Malcolm X’s break with Elijah Muhammad, 16 March 1964,  MCMLK-RWWL .

King to Abram Eisenman, 3 April 1964,  MLKJP-GAMK .

King to Shabazz, 26 February 1965,  MCMLK-RWWL .

(Scott) King,  My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr. , 1969.

Malcolm X, Interview by Harry Ring over Station WBAI-FM in New York, in  Two Speeches by Malcolm X , 1965.

Malcolm X, “Message to the Grassroots,”  in Malcolm X Speaks , ed. George Breitman, 1965.

Malcolm X, “We Are Rising From the Dead Since We Heard Messenger Muhammad Speak,”  Pittsburgh Courier , 15 December 1956.

Malcolm X to King, 21 July 1960, in  Papers  5:491 .

Malcolm X to King, 31 July 1963, 

Malcolm X with Haley,  Autobiography of Malcolm X , 1965.

Historical Material

Maude L. Ballou to Malcolm X

From Malcolm X

African American Heritage

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Malcolm X (May 19, 1925 - February 21, 1965)

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska. In his early years, Malcolm experienced extreme racism, spent years in the foster system and served a sentence in jail for larceny and breaking and entering. While in jail Malcolm joined the Nation of Islam and after his release, he became the public face of the organization. He led countless demonstrations and spoke publicly, both nationally and internationally with a focus on empowering Black people. Records at the National Archives related to Malcolm X includes Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) case files and recordings of his speeches and debates.

Search the Catalog for Records relating to Malcolm X  

Social Networks and Archival Context - Malcolm X

Malcolm X, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing right.

Malcolm X, 1964 ( Library of Congress )

Selected records relating to malcolm x.

HICK - John R. Hickman Audio Collection

Sound Recordings of Historical Radio Broadcasts, 1906-1993

Address by Malcolm X to a United Black Front Rally in Harlem

Black Muslims in America

Malcolm X: A Retrospective

Speech by Malcolm X

RG 65 - Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Classification 44 (Civil Rights) Headquarters Case Files

44-12831, Section 9 Serials 342-434, Alabama (1965) Selma, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Edmund Pettus Bridge

44-12831, Section 11 Serials 436-454, Alabama (1965) Selma, Malcolm X

44-16520, New York (1960) Malcolm X

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, 1957 - 1978 [St Louis, Missouri Field Division]

157-4433-v.1 -- Malcolm K Little -- Malcolm X -- Nation of Islam(NOI)

RG 79 - Records of the National Park Service

National Register of Historic Places and Landmarks Records, 2013-2017

Nebraska SP Malcolm X House Site

RG 490 - Records of the Peace Corps

Moving Images Relating to International Volunteer Activities, 1982-1995

The Negro and the American Promise: With Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and Minister Malcolm X

The New York Public Library

Archives & manuscripts, the malcolm x collection : papers 1948-1965 [bulk 1961-1964] d.

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Biographical/historical information

Scope and arrangement, administrative information, using the collection.

Malcolm X was an African American nationalist leader and minister of the Nation of Islam who sought to broaden the civil rights struggle in the United States into an international human rights issue, and who subsequently founded the Muslim Mosque Incorporated and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City on February 21, 1965. Writings, personal memorabilia, organizational papers and printed matter documenting Malcolm X's activities and opinions as the Nation of Islam's first National Minister, and following his separation from the organization and his embrace of orthodox Islam in early 1964, as a prominent advocate of human rights and self-determination for African-Americans.

The Malcolm X Collection is divided into nine series, the bulk of which range from 1961 to 1964. The papers consist of personal and family memorabilia, correspondence, writings and notes, selected organizational records and printed matter. They provide an in-depth documentation of Malcolm X as Black Muslim theologian, black nationalist ideologue, propagandist for the Nation of Islam, and skilled organizer — with occasional glimpses of his private or family life. Overall, the collection's original order has been preserved.

The The Malcolm X collection : papers are arranged in nine series:

This small group of personal items includes two address books (1958-1961), a notebook with details of the Shabazz family vacation in Miami in January 1964, hotel receipts from 1961 to 1965, and various items found in Malcolm X's heavily scored copy of the Quran and in one of the two address books. In this latter group are several newspaper clippings, some disparaging notes about Martin Luther King, Jr., described as the "hare in the bushes" without the desire "to run for self", and a 1961 letter from a member of Mosque No. 7 in New York who found himself "obligated to recognize the good work that you are doing for the Nation of Islam", while deploring that "with the pace of things going so fast, it is a rare occasion for me to see you, lest I interfere or detain you at your busiest moments". In his autobiography, Malcolm X explained how the demand on him to speak all over the country grew dramatically with the publication of C. Eric Lincoln's book, The Black Muslims in America in 1961. Letters, airline tickets, hotel bills, currency exchange slips, customs declarations, telephone messages, visitors' cards and an announcement for a public lecture in Ghana in the Middle East and West Africa Trip folder, amount to a day to day itinerary of Malcolm X's first major trip abroad in 1964.

Miscellaneous items in this and the next series include invoices for the Corona Mosque in Queens, a prescription for Phenobarbitol, one to be taken "as needed for nerves", an invoice for a new 1962 Oldsmobile, various receipts (camera shop, book stores, a master tailor), household expenditure lists in Malcolm X's hand, a message from one Dr. Adams at Bellevue Hospital, and an airline questionnaire where the subject listed the year of his first airline flight as 1956 and his highest level of education as elementary school.

This small but significant group of documents includes both incoming and outgoing correspondence, receipts and other household-related items. The earliest document in this series is a 1955 letter to a friend where Betty Shabazz, then Betty X Saunders, a nursing student, discusses the difficulty of conforming to the Nation of Islam's religious strictures against socializing with whites, whether at meal times, in class projects, or at a dance party her class was organizing. The outgoing correspondence also includes three letters to Elijah Muhammad, two of them written during the period of her husband's silencing. The earlier letter (February 18, 1963) was written at Muhammad's suggestion to "tell you what I thought about the trip to Philadelphia (critical points)". She went on to confide that "Ministers' wives have a full time job keeping the minister happy so he can do his job", but also felt that she could do other "constructive things" and was "wasting away". The second letter dated January 5, 1964 was an appeal "to come out to see you one week end", adding that "I have no one that I feel I can talk to but you". The last letter written three months later, three days before Malcolm X's official separation from the NOI, was an attempt to elucidate the charges against herself and against her husband "beside speaking against past President JFK". "In your letter, you stated my action toward the Muslims since my husband was sat down is deserving of time, how have I acted? " she wrote.

The incoming correspondence includes letters from Elijah Muhammad's wife and daughter, Clara and Harriett Muhammad, and Elijah Muhammad's special instructions for Ramadan in 1962. Orthodox Islam follows the lunar calendar in the observance of Ramadan, but Muhammad had set December as Ramadan month for his followers, "because we were once Christian believers and we used to worship this month as the month Jesus was born". His instructions called on married couples to "take no pleasure during this month", and on all his followers "not to forget in our prayers that the enemy has killed one of our brothers this year - the first we have lost since Allah's coming - due to the murderous hands of the devils". NOI member Ronald Stokes had been killed earlier that year in a police shooting at the Los Angeles Mosque. Letters to her from Malcolm X are filed in the next series. There are several letters from her adoptive mother in Detroit, ending typically: "Write when you feel like it. Your worried lonely mother". The Condolence file, more than 70 letters and cards, includes messages of sympathy from prominent figures across the country, many of which were read by Ruby Dee at the funeral service for Malcolm X. Other documents in the series include a selection of charity slips or receipts for contributions paid first to Muhammad's Mosque No. 7 and later to the Muslim Mosque, Inc.

  • Correspondence 1948-1965 0.6 linear feet

The Writing series is divided into the following subseries: Major Addresses, Interviews, Radio Scripts, Religious Teachings, Diaries, and Speech Notes. For the most part the documents within each subseries have been kept in the order they were found. However, documents that reveal a clear relationship to another category have been moved to the appropriate subseries (i. e. alternate versions of a lecture, various drafts of a speech) and arranged chronologically when possible. In the main, the writings in this series are dated pre-December 12, 1963 or until Malcolm X's silencing. But there are several speeches, in addition to the travel diaries of Malcolm X's trips to Africa and the Middle East, that date after March 12, 1964, following his split from NOI.

Divided into General, New York Mosque and Other Cities subseries, these selected files and working papers are not the actual records of the Nation of Islam, nor are they necessarily the extent of NOI-related documents once in Malcolm X's possession. The General subseries opens with the form letter addressed to "W. F. Muhammad... Dear Saviour Allah, Our Deliverer", that new recruits were required to copy without fault before they would be granted an X as the replacement of their "slave name". Louis Lomax wrote that "The Black Muslims have little or no liturgy". The file "Lessons and Questions, Prayers" holds some of the few documents that form the NOI creed. "Actual Facts" and "Student Enrollment, Rules of Islam", are the first sets of questions and answers that the new convert had to memorize by rote and in sequence. Then came "Lesson No. 1" and "Lesson No. 2", which also came in the form of questions and answers, to be memorized textually. These basic documents, together with a selection of prayers and a glossary of some twenty words or concepts, were the cornerstone of the convert's new worldview. Also included here is a set of nine questions answered by Malcolm X on December 25, 1963, during the period of his silencing, "to the best of my knowledge and understanding of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's Mission (message and work) among us". Two other documents, "English Lesson C-1" and "The Problem Book", and two additional texts distributed among Muslims, "The Sacred Ritual of the Nation of Islam" and a religious cryptogram, "Teachings for the Lost-Found Nation of Islam in a Mathematical Way", that only W. D. Fard, it was said, could interpret, are other tenets of the NOI dogma that are not available in this collection.

The Elijah Muhammad file consists of printed matter and carbon copies of pronouncements by and about Muhammad. Also included are letters and directives from Muhammad to his ministers across the country. A four-page introductory essay entitled "The Honorable Elijah Muhammad" argues that the historical Muhammad was not an actual prophet, or Allah's final messenger. "The Holy Quran was not meant for that Muhammad 1400 years ago in Arabia.... The Injil [New Testament] prophecies last right up to the resurrection, but how could the Holy Quran be the fulfillment (destroy) [sic] of the Injil prophecies when there was no resurrection in Muhammad's days 1400 years ago". Elijah Muhammad, on the other hand, was the last messenger, "raised up from among the dead" by the Mahdi (W. D. Fard or God in person). He and his followers were the real fulfillment of prophecy. "I am here to tell you", Muhammad wrote in a 1958 untitled pronouncement, "why America does not want you to accept Islam...not the 'old' Islam, but the 'New Islam'.... Ours is a new government and a new religion". Muhammad further clarifies that the United States was not alone in keeping the Black Man at the bottom of civilization. "I have seen the Black Man even in Africa and Asia working as the burden-bearer (doing all the heavy work) while the Brown Man sat in the shade". In a broadside, "What Is Un-American? Problems of the Black Man in Africa, Asia, America the Same", written in response to a 1961 report by the California State Senate Fact-Finding Subcommittee on Un-American Activities, he reaffirmed his Twelve-Point Program as the only salvation for African Americans.

The Muhammad Speaks file includes correspondence and typed articles by Abdul Naeem, a Brooklyn-based Pakistani immigrant who served as a go-between between Muhammad and the orthodox Islamic world, and articles by Charles P. Howard whose syndicated column, "United Nations Report", appeared in the NOI newspaper. Publicity Material in this subseries include leaflets, broadsides and a souvenir journal, advertising public appearances by Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad. The Printed Matter file consists of articles and essays by scholars such as C. Eric Lincoln, August Meier, J. Schacht, professor of Arabic and Islamics at Columbia University, and by law enforcement agencies.

This series is very sketchy, containing many gaps in the documentation. The MMI survived its founder for about a year, at which point the papers were reportedly dispersed. Included here are several statements by Malcolm X (March 1964) announcing his separation from the Nation of Islam, and his rationale for launching a new group. Malcolm X insisted he did not leave NOI of his own free will, but that he had been driven out by the "Chicago officials". The philosophy of the MMI was to be Black Nationalism. The switch to orthodox Islam came during his pilgrimage to Mecca in April 1964. In statements issued in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, and in Lagos, Nigeria, the author told the story of his conversion to "true Islam", which "removes racism" and "concerns itself with the human rights of all mankind, despite race, color or creed". James Shabazz, Malcolm X's personal assistant and Vice-President of the new organization, handled the day-to-day business of the group. His list of twelve questions put to Malcolm X, indicating the areas of responsibility entrusted by the latter to his associates can be found here.

In this series is a group of letters Shabazz sent on May 14, 15 and 16, 1964, to a wide array of national and international contacts, thanking the latter for their assistance to the MMI leader during his pilgrimage, and expressing Malcolm X's new disposition for "mutual cooperation" with leaders of the civil rights movement. The only substantive response to these letters in the collection came from James Farmer, Executive Director of the Congress of Racial Equality. Malcolm X's itinerary during the Hajj, his schedule of activities immediately after his return to the U. S. in early June, and a log of telephone calls received by his office at the Theresa Hotel during that period, give a sense of the tremendous interest occasioned by Malcolm X's new orientation.

Also included is a copy of the certificate from the office of the Supreme Imam of Al-Azhar University designating Malcolm X as "one of the Muslim community...with his true and correct faith", with the responsibility "to propagate Islam and offer every available assistance and facilities to those who wish conversion to Islam". A leaflet in the same file boldly advertised twenty "stipend-bearing" scholarships to Al-Azhar University and fifteen additional scholarships to the University of Medina in Saudi Arabia, and called on people to join the MMI, the Organization of Afro-American Unity and the Organization of Afro-American Students. Malcolm X had developed a strong NOI chapter in Philadelphia and retained a strong base of support in that city. The Philadelphia file in this series gives some indication that the MMI leader was planning to develop an MMI chapter there with the help of a local barber, "Brother Aaron". The remaining files in the series deal with mosque attendance, donations and charity slips, and the sale of the Theresa Hotel. There are also leaflets and publicity material, including a March 22, 1964 Spanish-language flyer advertising a talk by Malcom X at the Rockland Palace on "El Nacionalismo de la Raza de Color en Harlem".

Malcolm X founded the OAAU to broaden the scope of the African-American civil rights movement into a struggle for human rights with international linkages. Partly due to his prolonged trips abroad, he only played a limited role in the day-to-day life of the new organization. An early draft of the OAAU's "Basic Aims and Objectives" called for organizing "the Afro-American community block by block", and proposed to join or to form political clubs, and to establish local businesses "to stop the flow of millions of dollars that leave our community weekly, never to return". But superimposed on that grassroots "organization of the people" was the expectation of a leadership structure "patterned after the letter and the spirit of the Organization of African Unity", with the purpose of uniting "Afro-Americans and their organizations around a non-religious, non-sectarian program for human rights". These two contrasting views are reflected in the collection through Malcolm X's statements from abroad and in local efforts to organize a membership base for the new organization.

The correspondence file includes carbon copies of Malcolm X's well-publicized June 30, 1964 telegrams to Martin Luther King, Jr. in St. Augustine, Georgia, and to James Forman, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in Mississippi, proposing to "immediately dispatch some of our brothers there to organize our people into self-defense units capable of retaliating against the Ku Klux Klan in the only language it understands". Also included are OAAU acting chair, Lynn Shifflet's invitation, on behalf of Malcolm X, to representative African-American leaders and personalities, to a roundtable discussion on the so-called Harlem Riot of 1964; and a two-page letter from Ana Livia Cordero, Puerto-Rican independence activist and the wife of African-American expatriate writer Julian Mayfield, who had launched the first international branch of the OAAU in Ghana, on approaches to the Puerto Rican community in New York.

The file Working Papers consists of research material, and suggestions and recommendations from two OAAU research groups. At an initial May 30, 1964 meeting chaired by Malcolm X, it was decided that the new group would start work at the local level in Harlem. "When we control New York City, we will then be a model for other U. S. cities". The organization would try to mobilize mass resistance against Governor Rockefeller's "No Knock" and "Search and Seizure" laws, and against police brutality. In subsequent meetings, the group laid out its organizational structure, dealt with issues of membership and finances, debated the nature of its relationship with the civil rights movement, analyzed some of the "social, political and economic facts in Harlem", and attempted to define a basic policy on education, on self-defense and on culture. Also included are personal commentaries from Sara Mitchell, a prime contributor to this file.

The balance of this series comprises declarations and statements by Malcolm X upon launching the new organization. Included are his July 17, 1964 address to the OAU in Cairo, a series of research notes prepared by James Shabazz on the legality of rifle clubs in New York and elsewhere, copies of the OAAU newsletter, Blacklash, membership receipts, miscellaneous financial records, a complete set of the resolutions and recommendations adopted at the first OAU assembly of heads of state and government in Addis Ababa in July 1964, including a resolution against "Racial Discrimination in the United States of America", which is attributable to Malcolm X.

This is a broad mix of printed matter on individuals, organizations and subjects of interest to Malcolm X, and typescripts of stories written about Malcolm X, some of them after his death. The Africa file is a compilation of research papers by mostly black scholars on African Americans and Africa, African messianic movements, Africa in antiquity, and the African press. The Muhammad Ali file is mostly newspaper and magazine articles, including a two-page Associated Press report stipulating that "Scholars at Islam's 1,000 year-old university welcomed Cassius Clay's statement that he is a Moslem" but expressed "reservations about the 'Black Muslim' movement in the United States". The file dates from the mid-February 1964 period when the athlete was training for his championship fight against Sonny Liston, and attests to some of Malcolm X's activities and thinking during the later period of his silencing. Invited with his family for a winter vacation at the young boxer's training camp, Malcolm X is credited with recruiting Ali to the NOI. In a little known February 19, 1964 interview Malcolm X circumvented his silencing to tell the Miami News, through a third party, of his admiration for "The Champ", and to predict that "when warmer weather begins to appear in the North, the problem is going to get worse in 1964 than it was in 1963". Malcolm X presumably counted on his friendship with the young athlete to woo him to his side in the feud with his mentor, but the outspoken Ali quickly put any such hope to rest. "I don't know much what Malcolm X is doing", he told the Norfolk Journal and Guide, "but I do know that Muhammad is the wisest". (March 14, 1964).

Taken together, the Civil Rights files in this and the Printed Matter series attest to Malcolm X's intense preoccupation throughout 1963 with the nonviolence and integration movement represented by King. The annotated and underscored articles, noting every hesitation or setback, comforted the author in his claim that the civil rights movement was controlled by the white-Jewish "liberal establishment", and was running out of steam. The Education folder complements other materials in the NOI series. The Group on Advanced Leadership (GOAL) convened the November 1963 Grassroots Leadership Conference in Detroit at which Malcolm X delivered his celebrated speech, "Message to the Grassroots". The file documents the split between the GOAL group, led by Richard B. Henry, and the more conservative Detroit Council for Human Rights, which had initially called for a Northern Negro Leadership summit, with the exclusion of known nationalists and communists, including the Black Muslims. The Rev. Albert Cleague, who represented GOAL on the Council, insisted that "all black men, regardless of their views, should sit down and hammer out a concerted policy for a united civil rights push in the North".

The slim Martin Luther King file includes material by and critical of King's nonviolent strategy. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) folder consists mostly of educational or promotional material leading to and following the MFDP Challenge to the white Democratic delegation at the 1964 National Democratic Convention. The Monroe "Kidnapping" file includes a draft article by the same title by Julian Mayfield, and printed matter of the Committee to Aid the Monroe Defendants. The story of the Monroe incident is told in Robert F. Williams's Negroes with Guns (Third World Press, 1975). The Repatriation Commission file contains a 25-page report to Prime Minister Michael Manley of Jamaica by a 1961 "Back to Africa" mission that traveled to five African states to explore the conditions for "Africans living abroad" to return to the "ancestral land". The original manuscripts in this series include "A Fallen Star" by Ruby Williams, a disillusioned Black Muslim who aspired to tell "the naked truth" of some of Elijah Muhammad's shortcomings, and "Malcolm", a screenplay by Betty L. Rhea, completed in 1974.

  • Printed Matter 1959-1965 1.6 linear feet

Custodial history

The papers form the larger part of the Malcolm X collection, stored initially in the Shabazz family home in Mount Vernon and later sold at a storage auction in Miami. The Shabazz family regained control of the papers after cancellation of the public auction by Butterfields Auctioneers in Los Angeles, and deposited them at the Library for a period of 75 years.

Source of acquisition

Estate of Betty Shabazz, December 2002

Processing information

Processed by Andre Elizee, Millery Polyne and Lisann Lewin, with the expert assistance of Mr. Abdullah Abdur-Razzaq (formerly known as James 67X and James Shabazz), 2004-2005

Accessioned by Andre Elizee, January 2004

Separated material

The following records have been transferred:

Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division - Film and Audio Materials

Photographs and Print Division - 22 archival boxes and binders of photographs, slides and negatives.

Related Material

Malcolm X Material in Other Collections And Repositories

Schomburg Center, MARB: Organization of Afro-American Unity Collection, 1964-1965. 0.2 lin. ft.

Schomburg Center, MARB: John Henrik Clarke Papers, box 24. 1.0 lin. ft.

Schomburg Center, MARB: David Garrow / Freedom of Information Act Materials on the Civil Rights Movement, SCM 92-42, boxes 19-20. 1.6 lin. ft.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit, MI: Malcolm X Collection, 1941-1955. 0.5 lin. ft.

Access to materials

Conditions governing use.

Reproductions, including scans, photographs, and photocopies, are prohibited.

Information on copyright (literary rights) available from repository.

Access restrictions

Researchers are restricted to the microfilm copy in the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division. Reproductions, including scans, photographs, and photocopies, are prohibited.

Container List

The Correspondence series encompasses Malcolm X's personal and professional activities. The series begins with a group of thirty handwritten letters, with a later typed version, to his brother Philbert, and the latter's wife, Henrietta, between 1948 and 1952, shortly after Malcolm X joined the Nation of Islam. Writing from jail to another correspondent, Sister Beatrice, Malcolm X confided his desire to assist Elijah Muhammad in building the NOI. "There is nothing I would like more so than a beautiful Muslim wife and family, but something tells me fate has chosen me to lead a lonely life, for I have the ability to speak to my people and guide them to the Apostle, and I cannot go to Georgia, Alabama and into the heart of this devil's stronghold where the truth has not been heard unless I am free to travel and preach, and that is my one and only desire, to preach to my people". In a later letter to Sister Beatrice, dated March 1955, he commented on his recruiting successes while having "to take care of FOUR TEMPLES", and hints at the incipient jealousy among the older Muslims. "Many years now, Islam has been among our people, and they have sat on the curb waiting for ELIJAH MUHAMMAD to do all of the WORK himself. Now the new Muslims want to help 24 HOURS A DAY, and those who have been in the Temple all these years take our sincerity to DO our utmost, not as something good, but instead they accuse us of being self-righteous. Or they classify the faith we have in our ability to achieve success as a display of arrogance. They say that I have lost my sense of humor and gift of ease and humanness". [Emphases in original].

There are also seven letters from Malcolm X to Betty Shabazz, ranging from 1959 to August 1964, generally encouraging greater thriftiness ("Don't call unless it's vital; write letters. Phone costs too much. "), and patience with his busy schedule. He prods her to be more devout ("Stress to all the importance of Ramadan and regular prayers during Ramadan. ") and more involved in his overall activities ("Keep a close check on the papers and the newscasts. When I know you do this, I can call you to find out what's happening instead of someone else. ") Writing from an Organization of African Unity summit conference in Cairo in July 1964, he comments: "I realize many there in the States may think I'm shirking my duties as a leader (and even as a husband) by being way over here while there is so much trouble there, but what I'm doing here will be more helpful to the whole in the long run, and I always think in terms of the whole".

Other outgoing letters include a September 1962 tongue-lashing reply to a Sudanese Muslim in Philadelphia, where he recounts his and Elijah Muhammad's visits to the Sudan in 1959. "The letter that you wrote in a recent issue of the Pittsburgh Courier doesn't sound like it came from the heart of a Sudanese Muslim", he wrote to Yahya Hayari. "It sounds like it came from the heart of an American Negro Christian whose only excuse is that the condition of his heart and mind are the results of 400 years of brain-washing". In the same letter, he derides NOI's adversary Talib Dawoud whose "followers combined can fit in one station wagon", and the latter's wife, singer Dakota Staton, who sings "dirty songs in a nightclub to entertain drunken customers". Responding to Eleanor Mason, a California student, during the period of his silencing (December 6, 1963), he wrote that: "We are living at a time and in a world of paradoxes", and that "the Messenger has the right solution and the right program, if handled by intelligent persons who properly understand it". In a second letter to Mason, following his break from NOI (March 21, 1964), he ventured that "you were perhaps well aware of the many obstacles placed in my path to prevent the progressive moves necessary to unite our people and make them stand on their own feet", adding that "I have gotten responses from students throughout America expressing solid support in this new venture. All we have to do is organize energies into one progressive direction and our people will be free overnight". In several letters written that same day, Malcolm X clarified his position vis-à-vis Elijah Muhammad and sought to recruit members into his new "militant Muslim movement", pledging that they will be "actively involved in the Human Rights Struggle that our people are waging in this country".

In a three-page letter to Elijah Muhammad, also dated March 21, 1964, he assured his former mentor that he is still his "number one" follower: "You know well that I would never leave you of my own free will". Two paragraphs later he explained: "Some very bad lies have been spread and are still being spread about me among the Muslims by the officials.... I would do nothing to harm your image or your work or Islam, but I don't hesitate a minute to attack and expose these vicious hypocrites who are trying to make it appear that I am the hypocrite". He further explained that NOI members had been sent to kill him, and that he will readily abandon his East Elmhurst residence to the NOI officials if they would allow him to respond to their charges before the general body at Mosque No. 7. In another series of letters written in June 1964, he discussed his pilgrimage to Mecca, his meetings with several African heads of state and with the African-American expatriate community in Ghana. Writing to Maya Angelou on June 1, he conveyed that "the true reason for my splitting from the Muslim movement is being told here in the States.... It will be exactly as I explained to you". This was in reference to recent news stories about group conflicts and jealousy of Malcolm X on the part of the NOI leadership.

Following his second trip to West Africa and the Middle East in 1964, Malcolm X was intent on reorganizing the Muslim Mosque Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity along separate lines. He engaged in detailed correspondence with his contacts abroad, as part of a broad OAAU networking drive, and also to solicit Islamic support for the Muslim Mosque. In a December 21, 1964 letter to Warith Muhammad (Wallace Muhammad), he sought to entice him to move to Philadelphia: "... we can work together like twins and in no time have Islam on the right path". The last letter in this file is an undated, handwritten protest to U. S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, following the refusal by French officials on February 9, 1965 to allow him entry to the country where he had been scheduled to speak. The letter requested an investigation as to "why this incident took place with no intervention from the United States embassy".

Correspondents in this subseries include Ayo Emeka Azikiwe, the son of Nigeria's first president Nnamdi Azikiwe, then a student in the U. S.; Alex Haley who assisted Malcolm X in the writing of his Autobiography; Elijah Muhammad and two of his sons, Akbar and Wallace (Warith Deen). The Haley file includes an author-collaborator letter of agreement dated June 1, 1963, signed by the two parties, stipulating that the author, Malcolm X, had no desire to profit personally from this joint venture and that "any and all money representing your 50% share shall be made payable to Muhammad's Mosque No. 2" in Chicago. Also in this file are a series of letters written by Haley soliciting additional material needed to shore up various aspects of the narrative; the carbon copy of a letter to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, in which Haley lays out the basis of his association with the Muslim minister, upon his being informed that two teams of federal agents had been asking questions at a previous residence in Manhattan; copies of Haley's letters to his agent stressing the need for timely advances to Malcolm X and raising the prospect of another book using the latter's travel diaries; and two letters, dated June 21 and June 27, 1964, exhorting Malcolm X to follow in Prophet Muhammad's footsteps and embark on a Hegira or flight of his own, "to now remove yourself from the scene in which you are". The last letter in the Haley file, sent to Malcolm X during his second pilgrimage to West Africa and the Middle East, is concerned with distribution rights and with "the changes which have occurred in your perspectives" which would necessitate a complete rewriting of the last two chapters of the book. Other materials pertaining to the Autobiography are located in the Publishers and Agents subseries.

Akbar Muhammad's letters relate to his life in Egypt as a student at Al-Azhar University and to his expulsion from the Nation of Islam for refusing to denounce Malcolm X as a hypocrite. He encouraged his embattled correspondent "to strike a blow" against his enemies: "If you strike now, [Allah] will be with you because it will definitely be for the good of Islam in the Western hemisphere". Elijah Muhammad's letters, all written before the Malcolm X silencing, covered a broad range of topics, from discussing his own health, to the mechanics of selling 500,000 copies of C. Eric Lincoln's book on the Black Muslims through the NOI network. Praising his disciple's work as "wonderful among the educated class", he further instructed that when speaking on college campuses Malcolm X should not "go too much into details on the political side, nor into the subject of a separate state here for us". "Make the public to seek (sic) for the answers", he insisted, adding that "there are two other Ministers who have already gone too far on this subject". In another letter (March 1962), he acknowledged that "The people are more inclined towards the Teachings than ever before, especially about the program on 'some of this earth that we can call our own'" concluding that "This is winning the minds of most of our people today than the religious side which is Islam". In the same letter, he commented that his health was improving and that he was thinking of doing "a little more work", adding that "the greater part will be in study and preparing myself for the great 'rush' that I sense will come pretty soon". With Allah's help, he advised that "the institutions of learning of this devil's civilization will crumble like the others before his - ancient Babylon and Rome - they all fell. Great Kingdoms and Institutes fell before them. So this one is on the way and we are trying to save our people from falling with it".

In a signed letter to Minister Lewis (sic) (Louis Farrakhan) in Massachusetts, also in this file, Elijah Muhammad, reacting to the police killing of Black Muslim Ronald Stokes in Los Angeles commented: "It is very good to see our people showing, for the first time, sympathy with us. This tells us that the dead is (sic) now rising". But faced with the impatience of some followers who anticipated some form of retaliatory action for that killing, he warned that "Physical retaliation will not work too well for us at the present time, as Allah himself wants to show these devils who He is and cannot do so with us running ahead". In response to Malcolm X's offer to go to Detroit to help his brother Wilfred deal with "the ever increasing disagreement between the Ministers and the Captains of No. 1", he praised his disciple's ability to get along "with my near of kin there. Surely they love you and do love your brother, but your brother has not been able to see it because of certain other factors. I have yet to hear or see one of my kin folks say or act in no way other than good towards you". He turned down Malcolm X's offer. (June 17, 1962).

In other letters, Muhammad instructed his disciple to avoid the appearance of direct involvement in politics, which would "gradually ease over into just what the devil is desiring to charge us with". (September 18, 1962) Malcolm X was to avoid further public speaking engagements without first consulting with him. "You should always notify me in advance and give your leader just what you have in mind to say to the people ... on my mission and the teaching or message to the people that Allah has given to me". He advised Malcolm X to decline an invitation to speak in Canada, adding that he pays little attention to similar requests from Europe "because I am not particular about them. I am only after my people here in America". Other requests for personal appearances should be filtered through him, so "I can guide best on what to say". (September 20, 1962) Malcolm X wrote back he was canceling a debate against Martin Luther King that was scheduled for October 1962. The last letter in this group, dated August 1, 1963, warned Malcolm X to be "careful about mentioning Kennedy in your talks and printed matters [sic] by name; use U. S. A. or American Government".

Wallace Muhammad's correspondence begins with a July 24, 1964 letter from his father, setting the conditions "on which you may return and be recognized as a true Muslim Believer in Allah Who came in the Person of Master Fard Muhammad and follow me, His Messenger to His people". The conditions called for Wallace Muhammad and his wife to publicly repudiate their previous "disbelief and opposition of my mission", adding that "if you wish to sincerely return and follow me, if they [sic] will not repent themselves, I still could not accept you". In a December 14, 1964 letter, Wallace Muhammad reached out to Malcolm X to "help you find and serve your purpose in this world", and advised that "the greatest deterrent to the threat of violence is a strong warning and the readiness to back it up, especially when you are faced with religious psychopaths and popularity worshipers who measure their religion in terms of dollars". A one-page cover letter, December 17, 1964, attached to a threatening open telegram from Fruit of Islam Supreme Captain Raymond Sharrieff published in the New Crusader, warned that "they are ready to kill members of their own race with no desire for peace. They've never been this violent or vicious against their own kind before". Other letters spoke of mounting threats against Malcolm X, of Wallace Muhammad's financial and organizational troubles, and of his new name, Warith Ud'Deen, given to him by an Imam from India. A January 15, 1965 reply referred to the "many brothers throughout the country" who had been led astray by "the false shepherd that they were following", and for the need for the two correspondents to "start building a solid foundation right now which will make it possible for us to intelligently pick up the pieces and start building a good house that our people can come into and rest".

Other material in this series pertaining to Malcolm X's separation from the Nation of Islam include an August 15, 1964, open letter (18 pages, incomplete) from Assistant-Minister Henry X, FOI Captain Joseph X and Mosque Secretary Maceo X, local officials at Mosque No. 7, the purpose of which was to shame its recipient as a hypocrite.

The Adam Clayton Powell file consists of invitations to Powell-led discussions, and copies of Powell's correspondence with State and prison authorities protesting the use of shackles in bringing Muslim prisoners to the Federal courthouse in Buffalo, New York.

The Cairo file begins with Malcolm X's second stay in that city in July 1964, and includes correspondence with David Du Bois about the OAAU and the American Muslim Student Association in Ghana, a letter from Shirley Graham Du Bois, along with various articles by and about Malcolm X written in Cairo, and an appeal to Diallo Telli, Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity to urge an investigation by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights "into the inhumane destruction of Afro-American life and property which the present United States government seems either unable or unwilling to protect". The England file relates principally to Malcolm X's presentations at the London School of Economics, Sheffield University and other venues, in late 1964. The France file consists of an August 1964 article in the Paris edition of the New York Times citing official concerns in the U. S. that Malcolm X's efforts to internationalize the plight of African-Americans could become "a touchy problem"; and a letter from Carlos Moore about the mass meeting the Afro-American Center was planning for Malcolm X's February 9, 1965 visit, which was abruptly cancelled by the French government. The text of a telephone conversation between Moore and Malcolm, recorded the evening of February 9, is located in a small OAAU collection, also at the Schomburg Center.

The Speaking Engagements subseries consists of invitation letters with attachments, arranged chronologically into three categories: Colleges and Universities, Radio and Television, and Churches and Community Groups. Correspondents in these categories include Daniel Schechter of Dialogue Magazine; Adelaide Cromwell Hill from the African Studies Program at Boston University; C. Eric Lincoln; Sterling Stuckey, Chairman of the Amistad Society in Chicago; Morroe Berger, Director of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University; Henry Kissinger, Director of Harvard's International Seminar; and Chester Himes for French radio and television.

The General Correspondence subseries includes students, editors and writers, soliciting interviews and data about the Nation of Islam; people commenting on Malcolm X's pronouncements in the media and at public venues; former NOI members writing their grievances against the group; a July 3, 1962 letter from his brother Wilfred X in Highland Park, Michigan, about a local Socialist newspaper's offer to raise funds for the legal expenses in the California police brutality case; a letter with attachment from Bayard Rustin inviting Malcolm X to write a response to be published alongside a critique by August Meier in the magazine Liberation; another letter from the author's sister, Hilda Little, alleging corruption in the Boston Mosque (October 1962); Ossie Davis's thank you letter in response to Malcolm X's invitation to attend the 1962 African-Asian Bazaar as his guest; and a note from Ron Karanga begging his indulgence for his "stereotypical negligence" in not writing sooner.

The 1963 file is mostly incoming letters from fellow activists like William Worthy, and NOI members like Jeanne 2X reporting on the indictment of several Black Muslims on felony charges in the aftermath of the police assault on the Los Angeles Mosque in April 1962. Other correspondents shared their insights, or took exception with the NOI version of Islam and its focus on racial separation. In a Letter to the Editor at the New York Times in response to an article by Robert Payne, Malcolm X denounced the "frantic effort" by American newspapers and magazines "to prove the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is wrong, to discredit him in the Muslim world, and to stop the rapid spread of his religious message". Also included are letters from other mosques discussing NOI activities in various cities; a detailed letter by a recent convert describing the raptures of his new faith, letters denouncing various instances of racial discrimination; and invitations to speak at venues outside the three categories outlined above.

Less voluminous, the 1964-1965 General Correspondence file begins with the same mix described above. News of Malcolm X's break from the Nation of Islam occasioned some elation and invitations to public forums in Chicago and San Francisco to expound on his new views. A March 12, 1964 letter referred to "several brothers in Washington who desire to unite with you in your new Party". J. ben Thomas and Shaynii Zeffii Tau of Radio Free Africa in New York offered to incorporate the Muslim Mosque in a regular discussion of Black nationalist politics in their broadcasts. Ruby Williams wrote from Phoenix, Arizona, (July 4, 1964) of her husband's "information about Mr. Muhammad and his family which includes the tape you made telling him about the low sexual morals of the so-called Muslims". Her narrative, "Fallen Star", from her "experiences while employed in Mr. Muhammad's home and from documents" is located in the Subject Files series (Box 15, folder 10). A correspondent from Tanzania confided that Malcolm X's visit to Dar-es-Salaam had conquered the minds and hearts of those who heard his message: "You left a host of followers and well-wishers behind". (December 17, 1964) The last letter in this file is a note from Maggie Hathaway (February 4, 1965) from the L. A. Sentinel, thanking the author for writing and looking forward to his upcoming visit to Los Angeles.

The Correspondence series ends with sample letters from high school and college students; letters from Roy Wilkins, James Forman, Whitney Young, James Farmer, Ralph Bunche's and Martin Luther King's secretaries, declining Malcolm X's invitation to speak at an August 10, 1963 outdoor rally in Harlem; and letters from public officials and from Black Muslims in jail.

Arranged chronologically

This subseries primarily encompasses social, economic and political themes, delivered to diverse audiences, regardless of race or religion. It includes several versions of Malcolm X's "God's Judgment of White America" (1963), "Farce on Washington" (1963) and his "Warning to White America" (1964) speech. In "God's Judgment of White America" Malcolm X asserted the impending collapse of white power rule in the United States. Moreover, he clearly addressed how an emerging black internationalism, the rise of Islam and the influence of decolonization efforts within the global arena served as tools for dismantling white supremacy, and that these factors and others could further the black revolution in the U. S.

Also, in "God's Judgment", Malcolm X makes the distinction between the "black revolution" and the "Negro revolution". The black revolution represented an independent, radical and immediate movement towards African-American liberation while the Negro revolution advocated gradualist reforms and was controlled by the U. S. government. In his "Farce on Washington" speech Malcolm X argued that the 1963 March on Washington movement was initially a radical "grassroots" movement, but was soon transformed "into one of the meekest demonstrations that the country has ever known". President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X asserted, was unable to prevent the approaching black uprising in Washington so he had "to weaken it, to mix it up, to integrate it, to control it" by supporting the distribution of close to $800,000 in funds to civil rights organizations. According to Malcolm X, the March on Washington was "one of the best conducted picnics in history".

Although Malcolm X's split with the Nation of Islam, his well-publicized Hajj to Mecca, and his travels to Africa and the Middle East in 1964 often signal a more inclusive social and political philosophy, his assessments of racism and segregation remained critical. For example, his 1964 speech "Warning to White America" admitted that he "no longer subscribes to sweeping indictments of any one race", however, he maintained that many Anglo-Americans were averse to forced integration. This speech, also printed in the August 25, 1964 issue of the Egyptian Gazette under the title "Racism: The Cancer That is Destroying America", demonstrated the internationalization of Malcolm X's ideas.

Also located here are typescripts of speeches and other material from Malcolm X's speaking engagements between 1961 and 1963 at many of the nation's top colleges and universities, including Harvard and Yale Universities, the University of California at Berkeley and Howard University in Washington D. C. Indeed, during most of this period Malcolm X was at the forefront of Nation of Islam politics. His confidence and fluid articulation on U. S. and international racial politics, his deep faith in the NOI dogma and his loyal character, situated him as a central figure in the Black Muslim movement in the United States. In 1962, Howard University students invited him to debate Bayard Rustin, noted pacifist and civil rights leader. Malcolm X's opening lecture at Howard University is included in this subseries. He lectured so frequently that he often gave the same or similar lectures. The speeches", A Racial Powderkeg" and "The Anemic Negro Leadership" mirrored his Howard University speech in many ways.

Coupled with numerous college visits, local speeches and the growth of the NOI, the impact of television and documentary filmmaking propelled the image of Malcolm X and the NOI into the national and international arena. This subseries includes notes and transcripts for the 1961 NBC series "The Open Mind". Entitled "Where is the Negro Headed? " the program included such guests as psychologist Kenneth Clark and Richard Haley, field secretary of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE). The subseries also contains a transcript for a 1962 interview of Malcolm X by a French television crew. Similar to the CBS documentary "The Hate That Hate Produced", the French documentary focused on the NOI's criticism of racism in the U. S. Chester Himes, the African-American writer who also served as assistant director and translator on the project, provided a list of questions for Malcolm X, one of which was: "What is the aim and purpose of your organization? " In a clear and concise fashion Malcolm X wrote in his notes, to "raise the dead". Malcolm X understood the power that television and radio wielded in shaping the image of the NOI and conveying their ideas. His direct style of communication often complemented the hunger of reporters and television producers seeking to tell a story.

Other documents in the Writings series include press releases written by Malcolm X, notes and talking points for college debates and other public meetings, and various declarations, statements, open letters and letters to the editor. In his many forays on college campuses, encouraging students' interests in "controversial issues" became one of Malcolm X's principal goals. The recurring themes of separation versus segregation, the resurrecting power of Islam in African America, token integration, the need for a Black revolution and African-American participation in voting stirred up audiences and inspired students to question anti-black prejudice and social injustice in the U. S. There are several intriguing letters from college students to Malcolm that offer solutions and suggestions regarding the Civil Rights struggle, but also reveal their intellectual wrestling with the ideas of social and economic justice.

Radio served as a means to further educate audiences on the religious and political philosophy of the Nation of Islam. Following Elijah Muhammad's bout with asthmatic bronchitis and his subsequent move to Phoenix, Arizona in 1961, Malcolm X played a greater role in the development of NOI's radio program titled "Mr. Muhammad Speaks". Many of the broadcast listeners were non-Muslims and the NOI took advantage of this to inform and possibly recruit black converts to its ranks. Malcolm X traveled widely, from Boston's Mosque No. 11 to Atlanta, Georgia and as far West as Phoenix, Arizona and Mosque No. 27 in Los Angeles, California, to broadcast the NOI's message. The radio scripts in this series have been numbered 1 through 80 and kept in the order that they were found after their acquisition from the auction house. See Appendix I for an itemized list of the radio scripts and the cities where they were broadcast.

Similar to his major speeches and university lectures, Malcolm X's radio broadcasts were recycled for different venues and also encompassed a wide range of themes, from economic self-help, religious teachings, to token African-American leadership in the Civil Rights movement. Although many of the radio scripts are not dated there are a few temporal references that may alert the researcher to approximate dates.

This subseries comprises speeches and notes used to enhance and advance spiritual knowledge to black people in the U. S. Several speeches delivered at Christian churches are included — specifically Abyssinian Baptist Church, the Community Church of New York City and Los Angeles Prayer Baptist Church. Most of Malcolm X's teachings were delivered to Muslim audiences in mosques across the country. But on Sundays Nation of Islam ministers often preached to mixed Muslim and Christian audiences. To some degree, one is able to distinguish between religious teachings to Muslims as opposed to religiously mixed audiences because of the subject matter. It was rare that Malcolm X or other NOI ministers would discuss NOI's cosmology or its theological beliefs to non-Muslim audiences. Other instances reveal where Malcolm X shared religious teachings designed for registered Muslims, with Christian and other religious listeners.

The Religious Teachings folders possess a wealth of knowledge regarding the NOI's Ten Questions ("Student Enrollment"), and questions that have to be answered in order to become a registered Muslim (the Lessons #1 and #2 and the Problem Book). Some of these materials are located elsewhere in the collection. A special five-part teaching by Malcolm X includes lectures on the "Reality of God and Heaven", "Reality of the Devil and Hell", "Messenger Elijah Muhammad" and "Morals, Prayer, Charity". The fourth teaching is absent. Other teachings address subjects such as how to become a good Muslim, the dichotomy between Islam and Christianity, the meaning of Yacub, the black scientist from Nation of Islam mythology who created the white race to commit genocide on black people, and the "Actual Facts", a series of questions to which all the answers are numbers that describe humans' place on the planet and in the universe. The Religious Notes entitled "Roots of Civilization" incorporate material on the question "Why did we [Muslims] run Yacub from the root of civilization? " This question presumably stems from the NOI's Lesson #1 Question #4. In addition, some of the material in this subseries include notes on "Bible, God and the Devil", "Ezekiel's Wheel", the "Muslim Girl's Training" program, and the "End of the World". The latter reveals Malcolm X's thoughts on the fall of Western civilization and its relationship to black peoples' spiritual development.

Malcolm X's religious teachings are infused with social and political commentary on black Americans' (Muslim and non-Muslim) relationship with Allah (God), the Earth and to their humanity. Presented at churches, mosques, street corner rallies, Malcolm X's radical and spiritual messages conveyed the enriching power of Islam, the beauty of a black identity and a rationale for black economic and political empowerment. Islam was the religion of truth, according to Malcolm X, and black people's commitment to Islam (the truth) could liberate them from racial oppression in the U. S. Interestingly, although a devout Muslim, Malcolm X and the NOI primarily utilized the Bible as their spiritual and educational guide. Documents in the Religious Teachings subseries and throughout his writings display and explain Biblical references more so than Qu'ranic verses. The Bible was considered a book of prophecy that spoke to modern day issues of racial oppression and social injustice. Preaching to a population predominately rooted in a Judeo-Christian tradition may account for the use of the Bible as a primary source for educating U. S. blacks.

Organized alphabetically by first sentence or by title. Original titles are in quotations. Periods and ellipses denote a sentence or portion of a sentence. Titles supplied by the processor are in brackets.

This subseries consists of eight notebooks numbered 1 through 8. The first two are disculpatory notes that chronicle Malcolm X's separation from the NOI. Notebooks 3 to 7 are travel diaries for the author's trips to Africa and the Middle East in 1964. The last notebook contains outlines of later speeches, up to "The Last Message" delivered in Detroit, Michigan, on February 14, 1965.

The influence of Malcolm X's sojourn through Africa and the Middle East on his personal and political philosophies is immeasurable. The travel diaries bring to light his day-to-day interactions and opinions on various peoples and issues — from Arab and African statesmen, religious figures and African-American expatriates, to modernization and industrialization in Africa and the Arab world. A transcription of the July to September 1964 travel diaries is also included.

The purpose of Malcolm X's journey to Africa and the Middle East was two-fold: to build better communication and understanding between African-American Muslims and Muslims throughout the world and to strengthen relations between African Americans of all faiths and the emerging African nations. A struggle on two fronts, Malcolm X's work focused on the spread of Islam, human rights and racial equality in the U. S. He asserted in a 1964 speech at Shuban al-Muslimin in Egypt:

"As a Muslim, I feel obligated to fight for the spread of Islam until all the world bows before Allah, but as an Afro-American, I can never overlook the miserable plight of my people in America, so I have two fights, two struggles.... So, I come before you here in the Muslim World, not only to rejoice over the wonderful blessings of Islam, but also to take advantage of the opportunity to remind you that there are 22 million of us in America, many of whom have never heard of Allah and Islam, and all of whom are the victims of America's continued oppression, exploitation and degradation."

The travel diaries detail Malcolm X's interactions with writers Maya Angelou and Julian Mayfield in Ghana, and his evolving ideas on Anglo-Americans and whiteness. Also included are notes for university speeches, perspectives on racial politics in the West and also the role that Africa should play in the lives of African Americans. Malcolm X clearly argued for a political and religious agenda of Black Nationalism and Islam if African Americans were to be successful in combating the social, economic and political divide in the U. S. He stated: "...it will take Black Nationalism to make our people conscious of doing for self and then Islam will provide the spiritual guidance...[that] will link us spiritually to Africa, Arabia and Asia". Malcolm X's ideas during this time period involved an interplay between local and global issues that addressed the plight of millions of black people in the U. S.

The travel diaries ground Malcolm X's thoughts and his international socio-political agenda during the pivotal year of 1964 — in which his trips to the Middle East and Africa and the formation of the Organization of Afro American Unity proved fundamental to the evolution of his identity and his politics.

Malcolm X's speech notes complement the myriad of ideas expressed in his completed lectures and informal talks. In some of the more detailed notes, the author focused on the separation versus integration debate (2 folders), the Los Angeles police brutality case involving Ronald Stokes, white supremacy in the U. S., and the importance of studying the history of African-descended peoples. The "African-Asian Bazaar" folder highlights the influence of the 1955 Bandung Conference on Malcolm X's ideas on economic independence and international cooperation. Also included here is a folder of notes for lectures at a number of academic institutions that further document his ideas on separation and integration, the theological and organizational mission of Elijah Muhammad, and Malcolm X's own understanding of the NOI as a religious institution. Overall, this subseries provides rich documentation to further examine Malcolm's socio-political message.

Incorporated in May 1956 as Muhammad's Temple of Islam, Mosque No. 7 was the largest and most active NOI chapter, under Malcolm X's direction. Its files in the collection consist of administrative and educational material, correspondence, disciplinary decisions and appeals, and advocacy and legal documents pertaining to police brutality in New York City and religious discrimination in New York State prisons. The 1956 Certificate of Incorporation bears Malcolm X's signature as presiding officer. The Leases and Space Rental file includes correspondence between NOI lawyer Edward Jacko and New York State National Guard officials for the rental of the 369th Regiment's armory in Harlem for a bazaar showcasing the achievements of African-American businesses. The request had been initially rejected on grounds that the Nation of Islam was a "controversial organization" whose religious character was "in litigation in this State". Also included are attendance slips, one for 1961 and 24 for 1963, ranging from March 17 to October 20. Weekly services were held at the original Mosque No. 7 in Harlem as well as in Corona, Queens, (No. 7-B) and in Brooklyn (No. 7-C). The attendance slip for March 17, 1963 in Harlem records the presence of 219 men (Fruits of Islam or FOI), 137 women (Muslim Girls Training or MGT), 49 Junior FOI and 37 Junior MGT, 34 Brothers and 76 Sisters "on Forms" (waiting for their "X"), 74 visitors and 53 "Lost-Founds". The keynote speaker was Minister Malcolm X. The subject was "Freedom, Justice and Equality". On Sunday, October 6, services were held at all three locations, with a total of 665 participants in Harlem, 107 in Corona and 394 in Brooklyn.

The Youth Training Program at Mosque No. 7 was geared toward children aged 3 to 7, 8 to 12 and 13 to 18, and addressed the academic and moral needs of the children. Included in the file are a Parents-Teachers Association newsletter, proposals by Muslim educators and the Mosque's Youth Training Committee, an address by Sister Bernice entitled "The Children of Islam", the first two pages of an "ABC of Divine Knowledge" for children, and a 15-page "Guide for Teachers: Contributions of Afro-Americans to the American Culture" by Edwina Chavers Johnson. NOI women learned "how to keep house, how to rear children, how to take care of their husband, sew, cook, and in general, how to act at home and abroad", in classes designed by founder W. D. Fard for the Moslem Girls' Training and General Civilization Class (MGT-GCC). The MGT file consists of two short essays on the woman in Islam and some notes. Additional material on women and the NOI are in the Printed Matter series.

The slim correspondence file in the New York Mosque subseries includes inquiries from NOI members on such things as the meaning of Ramadan, sleeping arrangements for visiting Muslims attending a NOI rally in New York City, and members seeking guidance or redress against other members. MGT women in Mosque No. 10 (Atlantic City) wrote in alarm, in November 1962, of accusations made by their minister "that we are unfit for the brothers to give their life for us and that we are uncouth". One telegram dated December 1, 1962 offered "iron clad proof of an organized plot against you". An August 14, 1963 letter from FOI Captain Quinton R. X. in Washington, D. C., is concerned with a purported statement by Bayard Rustin that organizers of the historic 1963 March on Washington would welcome Malcolm X if he would embrace nonviolence. Also included are two January 1963 letters from the New York State Commissioner for Human Rights about a reported confrontation between the Rochester police and local Black Muslims. That meeting and a subsequent one between Malcolm X and the Commissioner for Public Safety in Rochester, Donald Corbett, were amply reported in an attached issue of the news magazine We.

The NOI held its members to strict codes of personal conduct, and enforced its discipline through temporary banishment or "Time Out". The disciplinary process involved the Minister, the FOI Captain and Investigators of both sexes. Some cases were forwarded to Chicago for a decision. The Disciplinary file includes several reports detailing member misconduct. The Police Brutality file deals marginally with New York City. An October 20, 1961 draft resolution in Malcolm X's hand called for the sub-committee on police brutality of the Emergency Committee for Unity on Social and Economic Problems to "disband at once and give back to the entire body of UNITY the gigantic responsibility of forming an Emergency Committee on Law Enforcement". The Emergency Committee was a coalition effort chaired by A. Philip Randolph. A four-page "Program for Correcting and Preventing the Breakdown of Law and Order Enforcement in the Black Community" is also included, along with other documents dealing with police misconduct in New York. On January 2, 1963, Malcolm X sent a telegram to Mayor Wagner, Police Commissioner Michael Murphy and District Attorney Frank Logan, to protest the increased harassment of Muslim street sellers of the Muhammad Speaks newspaper. The telegram called for an immediate investigation of the previous Christmas day arrest of two paper sellers at gunpoint in Times Square. Other documents in this file include a handout entitled "America has become a police-state for 20 million Negroes", a telegram to President Kennedy protesting the detention of a NOI minister and 12 Black Muslims in Rochester, and a press release announcing a February 13, 1963 protest in Times Square.

Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X filed a multi-million dollar damage suit against the Hearst Corporation in 1960, for a New York Journal-American article that characterized Muhammad's Temple of Islam as a "terrorist organization". The article stemmed from Malcolm X's thirty-minute private meeting with Fidel Castro at the Theresa Hotel in Harlem in September 1960. The complaint file by Edward Jacko recalled the context of Castro's stay at the Harlem hotel where he entertained Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev, among others. The two plaintiffs filed another lawsuit against the New York World-Telegram newspaper, following a February 17, 1961 article about "the Muslim Brotherhood, also known as the Black Muslims, Muslim Cult of Islam, Nation of Islam and other Arabic-sounding names". Citing police sources, the article referred to the Muslim Brotherhood as "one of the most dangerous gangs in the city", as a "fanatic Negro cult" responsible for a riot at the United Nations in which some 40 people had been injured, following the assassination of Congolese Prime-Minister Patrice Lumumba.

The remaining New York files relate to Black Muslims in jail and the restriction of their rights as a religious group by prison authorities. The Rikers Island folder refers to a policy prohibiting in-jail conversion to Islam. "The only inmates who are permitted to attend the [Muslim] services are those inmates who previously stated, prior to admittance to the institution, that they are Muslim.... All others are kept out of the services even if the guards have to resort to violence". At Attica, the Rules of Religious Services limited the chaplaincy only to candidates who held a degree from an accredited four-year college or university. This and other requirements disqualified most NOI ministers. In 1962, a group of Muslim inmates who had filed a suit against this discriminatory policy were brought to court in leg chains. A vigorous campaign involving Mosque No. 7, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell and African Americans in Buffalo, challenged Governor Nelson Rockefeller to discontinue these discriminatory practices. The file includes copies of correspondence between Powell and the governor's office, press releases, accounts in local newspapers, and various petitions filed by the plaintiffs. A similar situation at Clinton Prison in Dannemora, NY, led the NOI through its attorney, Edward Jacko, to file a civil rights brief on behalf of three inmates: James Pierce, Martin Sostre and William Marion. Inmates in Greenhaven Prison, Dutchess County, NY, also sought a relief order for the ministration of their faith. The Greenhaven file includes a late 1963 handwritten draft press release penned by Malcolm X, indicating that "two Negro inmates" had "filed a complaint last week with [United Nations] Secretary General U Thant charging violations of their human rights by the U. S. government and by the state of New York". This and other briefs are included here.

On May 4, 1962, Malcolm X issued a press alert in Los Angeles to call attention to an incident that had occurred a week earlier when a police squad forced its way inside the local mosque killing mosque secretary Ronald Stokes and wounding several others. A Grand Jury subsequently brought felony charges against fourteen of the Black Muslims, all of them unarmed at the time of the confrontation. Malcolm X went to L. A. as Elijah Muhammad's national representative, and sought to mobilize support in the local black community for the indicted men and against police brutality. The file includes Malcolm X's initial notes on the case, his "Open Letter to America's Five Negro Congressmen", press releases from the local and national NAACP, correspondence, legal documents, newspaper clippings and publicity material for several NOI-organized protests.

The Philadelphia file consists of correspondence and publicity material pertaining to the October 1962 NOI national convention in that city, and the minutes of a Fellowship Commission on Community Tension meeting on the Black Muslim movement. Also included are material developed by Minister Clifford X on organization and community relations. The Boston file includes three letters by Minister Louis X (Farrakhan) to Malcolm X, to community organizations, and to Massachusetts elected officials on the subject of police brutality in Los Angeles and Boston. In 1963 Malcolm X assumed stewardship of Mosque No. 4 in Washington, D. C. Included in the file for that city are monthly tallies of expenditures and income from May through August, attendance slips for the month of August, correspondence between Malcolm X and the District of Columbia Department of Corrections about the religious rights of Muslim inmates in D. C. jails, and some printed matter.

This subseries consists of articles from the national press and from local newspapers gathered by Malcolm X as he traveled around the country and across the world. The articles are arranged chronologically, according to preexisting headings found in the collection. Malcolm X used current events in his political agitation and as a result paid close attention to the news media. A fair number of articles are annotated and underlined. Malcolm X also expected his associates to write frequent press releases to publicize their events and their views, however when the media covered the events in question, the views expressed were often sensationalized, as if to constantly fuel public fear of the Black Muslims' more radical or extreme views. The nationalist leader understood this dynamic and warned the country in his prophecy of "the Ballot or the Bullet" that the price of denying the accommodationist demands of the civil right movement was the prospect of racial confrontation and unbridled violence.

The Malcolm X file picks up in 1962, as the NOI became "one of the fastest growing mass movements in the United States (Cornell Daily Sun, 3/7/62), and the young Muslim leader its most visible emblem. Articles in the file range from the mainstream New York daily press to local papers like the Ithaca Journal and the Omaha Star, with more coverage after his break from the NOI from the leftwing press and publications in Africa. The next file, Separation from the Nation of Islam, lends credence to claims that a campaign had been underway, prior to President Kennedy's November 22, 1963 assassination to foster division in the Black Muslims' ranks, or at the very least to drive Malcolm X away. The Chicago Defender and two other Chicago newspapers ran stories, in early November 1963, alleging a feud between Malcolm X and Muhammad. The black press sensationalized his silencing, and in the case of the Afro-American declared a "showdown" between the two men, set for the annual NOI Convention on February 26, 1964 in Chicago. The New York Times wrote (2/25/64) that the "chickens coming home to roost" remarks had been used by Muslim officials in Chicago to "cut Malcolm down to size". After the separation, the headlines veered to alleged armed confrontations between Malcolm X followers and NOI members, and to sizzling accounts of Muhammad's extra-marital affairs. Additional materials on Malcolm X are also found in the Black Muslims folder. The file "Mr. Muhammad Speaks" contains copies of the weekly column written by Elijah Muhammad and published in various African-American newspapers. Copies of the weekly column, "The Woman in Islam", published in the New Crusader and written by NOI member Tynetta Deanar are filed under that title. Other files relate to Black Muslims in jail, the L. A. police killing of Ronald X Stokes, the civil rights movement, the Kennedy administration, and racial unrest in the U. S. in 1964.

There is also a box of oversized newspapers featuring articles about Malcolm X and his activities at home and abroad. Printed matter not microfilmed include a Bible and three copies of the Quran, Muslim publications brought back from trips in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, and a copy of the book History of Palestine Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine which is said to support Elijah Muhammad's claim that 33-Degree Masons were initially accepted as members of the Shrine, also known as Moslems Sons.

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Revisiting Malcolm X's Life and Legacy: Remote Resources for Readers of All Ages

Portrait of Muslim minister and activist Malcolm X

Portrait of Muslim minister and activist Malcolm X. NYPL Digital Collections, Image ID: 57824065

El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz yes. they have taken your tongue still you speak yes. you dared and were damned by your own skin black hands took you but have not taken you  bullets slew you but have not slain you blood spilled out of you that day blood running out and spilling into us where you live where the black phoenix rises in our hearts forever

—Wanda Coleman from  Heavy Daughter Blues: Poems & Stories 1968-1986

Orator, activist and leader Malcolm X was born on May 19, 1925 and died in 1965. Malcolm X was one of the most iconic figures to emerge in the mid-twentieth century. The Schomburg Center houses materials in its research divisions on Malcolm X, some of which may be accessed remotely, that document his evolution and efforts to liberate people of African descent from oppression, racism and colonialism. 

Some of the unique items on Malcolm X at the Schomburg include The Malcolm X Collection: Papers, 1948-1965 , which contain correspondence, diaries, writings, clippings and other items.  The notes from Malcolm X's speech, "The Ballot or The Bullet," which are included in this collection have been digitized and  may be viewed here .  The Malcolm X Manuscripts  contains an unpublished Autobiography of Malcolm X chapter, “The Negro,” as well as manuscript versions of published chapters and fragments of chapters from his autobiography. Both of those collections may be accessed via the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division . Published primary and secondary source materials can be found in the Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division and audiovisual recordings may be found in the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division.  Photos may be found in the Photographs & Prints Division .

In the decades following Malcolm X’s death researchers continue to study his legacy and seek inspiration from writings and teachings. In 2019 a six-part documentary series Who Killed Malcolm X ?  was released and in it, Abdur-Rahman Muhammad who is a lay historian and activist conducted his own investigation into the assasination of Malcolm X. The documentary renewed interest in the re-examination of Malcolm’s role with the Nation of Islam (NOI), his split from this organization and the conspiracies surrounding his murder. View a segment from a 2020 episode of PBS NewsHour featuring  Phil Bertelsen (director of Who Killed Malcolm X? ) and Abdur-Rahman Muhammad discussing the documentary series  here .

We are highlighting resources that readers of all ages may use remotely (including databases, e-books, audiobooks and streamed programs) to get started on their research about Malcolm X and discover more about the man, as well as the global impact he had during his lifetime and beyond.

Online Resources

Databases including African American Experience and Biography in Context are a helpful place to start for students to locate biographical resources about Malcolm X. Malcolm X, A Search For Truth, is an online exhibit that was curated by the Schomburg Center that chronicles Malcolm X and includes a detailed timeline arranged by major events in Malcolm X’s life.  

Researchers can locate newspaper and magazine articles on Malcolm X from the Black and ethnic press by searching databases that contain digitized versions of African American newspapers African American Periodicals 1827-1998 , ProQuest Historical African American Newspapers , African American Newspapers and Ethnic NewsWatch .    

Scholarly journal articles on Malcolm X can be found in the databases Project Muse , ProQuest Research Library , JSTOR , Periodicals Index Online and America: History and Life .

Clay Celebrates with Malcolm X

ProQuest Historical African American Newspapers

Autobiography of Malcolm X book cover

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

 as told to Alex Haley

Originally published in 1964, Malcolm X, the Muslim leader, firebrand, and anti-integrationist, tells the extraordinary story of his life and the growth of the Black Muslim movement. His fascinating perspective on the lies and limitations of the American Dream, and the inherent racism in a society that denies its nonwhite citizens the opportunity to dream, gives extraordinary insight into the most urgent issues of our own time. The Autobiography of Malcolm X stands as the definitive statement of a movement and a man whose work was never completed but whose message is timeless. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand America.

End of White World Supremacy book cover

The End of White World Supremacy: Four Speeches

by Malcolm X

The End of White World Supremacy contains four major speeches by Malcolm X, including: "Black Man's History," "The Black Revolution," "The Old Negro and the New Negro," and the famous "The Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost" speech ("God's Judgment of White America"), delivered after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This new edition bundles with the book an audio download of Malcolm's stirring delivery of "Black Man's History" in Harlem's Mosque No.7 and "The Black Revolution" in the Abyssinian Baptist Church.

Dead Are Arising book cover

The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X

by Les Payne and Tamara Payne

This 2021 Pulitzer Prize winning book offers "a revisionary portrait of the iconic civil rights leader draws on hundreds of hours of interviews with surviving family members, intelligence officers and political leaders to offer new insights into Malcolm X’s Depression-era youth, religious conversion and 1965 assassination."  

On The Side of My People book cover

On The Side of My People: A Religious Life of Malcolm X

by Louis A. DeCaro, Jr.

“This book recounts Malcolm X’s life, places it in the context of Black nationalist religion, and describes his conversions to the Black Muslim faith and to orthodox Islam and their effects on his teachings.”

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention book cover

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

by Manning Marable

An authoritative biography of Malcolm X draws on new research to trace his life from his troubled youth through his involvement in the Nation of Islam, his activism in the world of Black Nationalism, and his assassination.

Lie of Reinvention book cover

A Lie of Reinvention, Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X

edited by Jared A. Ball and Todd Steven Burroughs

Two books were published in response to Marable's controversial biography. One was  By Any Means Necessary: Malcolm X Real, Not Invented; Critical Conversations on Manning Marable's Biography of Malcolm X    edited by Herb Boyd. The other is  A Lie of Reinvention Collecting Manning Marable's X   and "in this collection of critical essays, editors Jared Ball and Todd Steven Burroughs lead a group of established and emerging Black scholars and activists who take a clear stance in this controversy: Marable’s biography is at best flawed and at worst a major setback in American history, African American studies, and scholarship on the life of Malcolm X.

 Growing Up X book cover

Growing Up X

by Illyasah Shabazz with Kim McLarin

February 21, 1965–Malcolm X is assassinated in Harlem’s Audubon ballroom... June 23, 1997–After surviving for a remarkable twenty-two days, his widow, Betty Shabazz, dies of burns suffered in a fire set by her own grandson. In the years between, their six daughters reach adulthood, forged by the memory of their parents’ love, the meaning of their cause, and the power of their faith. Now, at long last, Ilyasah Shabazz has recorded that touching and tumultuous journey in an unforgettable memoir, Growing Up X.

Blood Brothers book cover

Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X

by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith

The book "draws on previously untapped sources to illuminate the secret friendship and disastrous estrangement between Cassius Clay and Malcolm X, sharing insights into Malcolm's alleged role in shaping Clay's double life as a patriotic athlete and Islamic reformer."

Sword and the Shield book cover

The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

by Peniel Joseph

This dual biography of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King upends longstanding preconceptions to transform our understanding of the twentieth century's most iconic African American leaders.

E-Books and Audiobooks for Young Readers

Malcolm X book cover

Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary

by Walter Dean Myers

This biography “traces the life of the controversial Black leader, describes his involvement with the Nation of Islam, and looks at his speeches and assassination.

X book cover

by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon

Co-written by Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz, this riveting and revealing novel follows the formative years of the man whose words and actions shook the world.

Betty Before X book cover

Betty Before X

by Ilyasah Shabazz and Renee Watson

Collaborating with author Rene̲e Watson, Ilyasah Shabazz illuminates four poignant years in her mother's Betty Shabazz’ childhood, painting a beautiful and inspiring portrait of a girl overcoming the challenges of self-acceptance and belonging that will resonate with young readers today.

Malcolm Little book cover

Malcolm Little: The Little Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X

by Ilyasah Shabazz, illustrated by AG Ford

An inspiring picture book profile of the iconic civil rights leader's childhood, written by his daughter, describes how young Malcolm's optimism and faith were challenged by intolerance and a series of tragedies that compelled him to learn self-reliance and how to embrace his individuality to reach his highest potential.

The Indelible Influence of Malcolm X

A notable who’s who of participants including Kathleen Cleaver, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Esther Armah, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Ismael Beah, Bryonn Bain, and others read the writings of Malcolm X.  Watch the livestream here.

The Life and Times of Malcolm X

View an abridged concert performance of  The Life and Times of Malcolm X  opera by Anthony Davis and Christopher Davis and a post-performance talk with the opera’s creators.   Watch the livestream here.

Remembering Malcolm X

In this video participants who attended the Schomburg Center’s annual celebration of Malcom X in February 2020 shared how Malcolm X’s writings and activism made an impact on their lives.  Watch the livestream here.

A Special 50th Anniversary of Commemoration of the Assasination of Malcolm X

Viewers can watch a conversation that focuses on Malcolm X’s legacy and impact from an international perspective featuring Les Payne, Azizah al-Hibri, Dr. Hisham Aidi, Dr. Saladin Ambar, Dr. Ahmed Osman, and filmmaker Stephen Page. Sister Aisha Al-Adawiya, a founding member of the Malcolm X Museum, and a long time Schomburg Center staff member appears in the program. Akimi Kochiyama, the granddaughter of the late Yuri Kochiyama who was an activist and friend of Malcolm X, and Sam Anderson (of the Malcolm X Museum) also make appearances in the program.  Watch the livestream here. 

Women Speak About Malcolm X 

Scholars Sylvia Malik-Chan, Johanna Fernández and Esmerelda Simmons gathered to discuss human rights, social justice and transformation from the perspective of women of color. The program featured a special appearance by poet, activist and educator Sonia Sanchez.   Watch the livestream here.

For more resources about Malcolm X, in addition to the above resources, click  here  to view the titles of materials across the Schomburg Center collections about Malcolm X and  here  to view titles authored by him. 

research paper on malcolm x

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By: History.com Editors

Updated: December 18, 2023 | Original: October 29, 2009

circa 1963: American civil rights leader Malcolm X (1925 - 1965) at an outdoor rally, probably in New York City. (Photo by Bob Parent/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Malcolm X was a minister, a leader in the civil rights movement and a supporter of Black nationalism. He urged his fellow Black Americans to protect themselves against white aggression “by any means necessary,” a stance that often put him at odds with the nonviolent teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. His charisma and oratory skills helped him achieve national prominence in the Nation of Islam, a belief system that merged Islam with Black nationalism. After Malcolm X’s assassination in 1965, his bestselling book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, popularized his ideas and inspired the Black Power movement.

Malcolm X: Early Life

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska . His father was a Baptist preacher and follower of Marcus Garvey . The family moved to Lansing, Michigan after the Ku Klux Klan made threats against them, though the family continued to face threats in their new home.

In 1931, Malcolm’s father was allegedly murdered by a white supremacist group called the Black Legionaries, though the authorities claimed his death was an accident. Mrs. Little and her children were denied her husband’s death benefits.

Did you know? In 1964, Malcolm X made a pilgrimage to Mecca and changed his name to el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz.

At age 6, the future Malcolm X entered a foster home and his mother suffered a nervous breakdown. Though highly intelligent and a good student, he dropped out of school following eighth grade. He began wearing zoot suits , dealing drugs and earned the nickname “Detroit Red.” At 21, he went to prison for larceny.

Nation of Islam

It was in jail that Malcolm X first encountered the teachings of Elijah Muhammad , head of the Lost-Found Nation of Islam, or Black Muslims, a Black nationalist group that identified white people as the devil. Soon after, Malcolm adopted the last name “X” to represent his rejection of his “slave” name.

Malcolm was released from prison after serving six years and went on to become the minister of Mosque No. 7 in Harlem, where his oratory skills and sermons in favor of self-defense gained the organization new admirers: The Nation of Islam grew from 400 members in 1952 to 40,000 members by 1960. His admirers included celebrities like Muhammad Ali , who became close friends with Malcolm X before the two had a falling out.

His advocacy of achieving “by any means necessary” put him at the opposite end of the spectrum from Martin Luther King, Jr. ’s nonviolent approach to gaining ground in the growing civil rights movement .

After King’s “ I Have a Dream ” speech at the 1963 March on Washington, Malcolm remarked: “Who ever heard of angry revolutionists all harmonizing ‘We Shall Overcome’ … while tripping and swaying along arm-in-arm with the very people they were supposed to be angrily revolting against?”

Malcolm X’s politics also earned him the ire of the FBI , who conducted surveillance of him from his time in prison until his death. J. Edgar Hoover even told the agency’s New York office to “do something about Malcolm X.”

In 1958, Malcolm X married Betty Shabazz (née Betty Sanders), a native of Detroit, Michigan , after a lengthy courtship.

The couple had six children, all daughters: Attallah, Qubilah, Ilyasah, Gamilah Lumumba and twins Malikah and Malaak. Several of Malcolm X’s children have been outspoken activists in the civil rights movement and other causes.

Organization of Afro-American Unity

Disenchanted with corruption in the Nation of Islam, which suspended him in December 1963 after he claimed that President John F. Kennedy’s assassination was “the chickens coming home to roost,” Malcolm X left the organization for good.

A few months later, he traveled to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where he underwent a spiritual transformation: "The true brotherhood I had seen had influenced me to recognize that anger can blind human vision," he wrote. Malcolm X returned to America with a new name: El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

In June 1964, he founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which identified racism, and not the white race, as the enemy of justice. His more moderate philosophy became influential, especially among members of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee ( SNCC ).

Malcolm X Assassination

On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated by three gunmen at an Organization of Afro-American Unity rally in the Audubon Ballroom in New York City .

Though it was initially believed that the three assassins were members of the Nation of Islam and were affiliated with religious leader Louis Farrakhan, the killing remains controversial and no consensus exists on who the killer(s) actually were.

In 2021, Muhammad Aziz was exonerated after being convicted in 1966 for the killing along with Khalil Islam and Mujahid Abdul Halim. Halim, who admitted to the shooting but later said Aziz and Islam were not involved, was paroled in 2010.

Malcolm X had predicted that he would be more important in death than in life, and had even foreshadowed his early demise in his book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Malcolm X is buried in Ferncliff Cemetery, New York.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Malcolm X began work on his autobiography in the early 1960s with the help of Alex Haley , the acclaimed author of Roots . The Autobiography of Malcolm X chronicled his life and views on race, religion and Black nationalism. It was published posthumously in 1965 and became a bestseller.

The book and Malcolm X’s life have inspired numerous film adaptations, most famously Spike Lee’s 1992 film Malcolm X starring Denzel Washington .

Quotes by Malcolm X

“If you have no critics, you'll likely have no success.”

“Stumbling is not falling.”

“There is no better teacher than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”

“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

“You can't separate peace from freedom, because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”

Malcolm X. Biography.com . ‘Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X.’ New York Times. People and Ideas: Malcolm X. PBS . Malcolm X’s 5 surviving daughters: Inside lives marred by tragedy and turmoil. New York Post . A man exonerated in the killing of Malcolm X is suing New York City for $40 million. NPR .

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Black Power Scholar Illustrates How MLK And Malcolm X Influenced Each Other

Terry Gross square 2017

Terry Gross

research paper on malcolm x

A man walks past a mural of Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. in London. Thabo Jaiyesimi/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images hide caption

A man walks past a mural of Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. in London.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are frequently seen as opposing forces in the struggle for civil rights and against white supremacy; King is often portrayed as a nonviolent insider, while Malcolm X is characterized as a by-any-means-necessary political renegade. But author and Black Power scholar Peniel Joseph says the truth is more nuanced.

"I've always been fascinated by Malcolm X and Dr. King ... and dissatisfied in how they're usually portrayed — both in books and in popular culture," Joseph says.

In his book, The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., Joseph braids together the lives of the two civil rights leaders. He says that King and Malcolm X had "convergent visions" for Black America — but their strategies for how to reach the goal was informed by their different upbringings.

"Malcolm X is really scarred by racial trauma at a very early age," Joseph says. "King, in contrast, has a very gilded childhood, and he's the son of an upper-middle-class, African-American family, prosperous family that runs one of the most important churches in Black Atlanta."

Joseph says that, over time, each man became the other's "alter ego." Malcolm X, he says, "injects a political radicalism on the national scene that absolutely makes Dr. King and his movement much more palatable to mainstream Americans."

Now, with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, Joseph says that King and Malcolm X's visions have converged: "What's really extraordinary is that the Black Lives Matter protesters really are protesting for radical Black dignity and citizenship and see that you need both. So Malcolm and Martin are the revolutionary sides of the same coin, and really the BLM movement has amplified that."

Interview highlights

The Sword and the ShieldThe Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., by Peniel E. Joseph

On what Malcolm X meant by racial separatism

This idea of separatism is really interesting. The deeper I investigated Malcolm X, the more I understood what he meant and what the Nation of Islam meant by racial separatism. It wasn't segregation. It was separatism, they argued, and Malcolm does this in a series of debates against Bayard Rustin , against Jim Farmer , against James Baldwin , Louis Lomax. He says that racial separatism is required because white people do not want Black people to be citizens and have dignity. And if they did, you wouldn't have to protest and experience police violence and police brutality: small children trying to integrate Little Rock High School, young people trying to integrate lunch counters, and they're arrested and brutalized, sometimes people were killed, of course. So what's interesting about this idea of separatism, Malcolm argues separatism is Black people having enough self-love and enough confidence in themselves to organize and build parallel institutions. Because America was so infected with the disease of racism, they could never racially integrate into American democracy.

On Malcolm X's vision of "by any means necessary" protest

Malcolm X's Public Speaking Power

Code Switch

Malcolm x's public speaking power.

Malcolm is making the argument that, one, Black people have the right to self-defense and to defend themselves against police brutality. It's really striking when you follow Malcolm X in the 1950s and '60s, the number of court appearances he's making, whether it's in Buffalo, N.Y., or Los Angeles or Rochester, N.Y., where members of the Nation of Islam have been brutalized [and], at times, killed by police violence. So Malcolm is arguing that, one, Black people have a right to defend themselves. Second part of Malcolm's argument — because he travels to the Middle East by 1959, travels for 25 weeks overseas in 1964 — is that because there [are] anti-colonial revolutions raging across Africa and the Third World in the context of the 1950s and '60s, he makes the argument that the Black revolution in the United States is only going to be a true revolution once Black people start utilizing self-defense to end the racial terror they're experiencing both in the 1950s and '60s, but historically. And one of the reasons Malcolm makes that argument, obviously, is because his father and his family had experienced that racial terror.

On King's policy of non-violent protest v. self defense

One thing that's important to know is that when we think about nonviolence versus self-defense, it's very, very complex, because even though Martin Luther King Jr. is America's apostle and a follower of Gandhi and believes in nonviolence, there are always people around King who are trying to protect him and in demonstrations, who actually are armed, they're not armed in the same way that, say, the Black Panthers would arm themselves later, but they're armed to actually protect and defend peaceful civil rights activists from racial terror. And of course, King famously had had armed guards around him in Montgomery, Ala., after his home was firebombed during the bus boycott of 1955 to '56. And it's Bayard Rustin who famously told him he couldn't have those armed guards if he wanted to live out the practice of nonviolence.

The Power Of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Anger

The Power Of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Anger

So King usually does not have his own people being armed. But when he's in the Deep South, there are civil rights activists who actually are armed and at times protecting him. They're not necessarily connected to his Southern Christian Leadership Conference, but the movement always had people who were trying to protect peaceful demonstrators against racial terror.

On King's response to Malcolm X's argument against non-violent civil disobedience

research paper on malcolm x

Peniel E. Joseph, Ph.D., is the founding director of the LBJ School's Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the University of Texas, Austin. Kelvin Ma/Basic Books hide caption

Peniel E. Joseph, Ph.D., is the founding director of the LBJ School's Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the University of Texas, Austin.

King has several responses: One is that nonviolence is both a moral and political strategy. So the morality and the religious argument is that Black people could not succumb to enemy politics. And this idea that when we think about white racism, we would become as bad as the people who are oppressing us. So he pushes back against that. Politically, he says, well, then there aren't enough Black people, even if they arm themselves to win some kind of armed conflict and struggle. And then finally, he says and there's a great speech in 1963 in Los Angeles where he doesn't mention Malcolm X, but he's speaking out against Malcolm X in terms of what's happening in Birmingham. And Malcolm has called him an Uncle Tom and all kinds of names. He says that non-violence is the weapon of strength. It's the weapon of people who are powerful and courageous and brave and heroic and disciplined. It's not the weapon of the weak, because we're going to use this non-violent strategy to actually transform the United States of America against its own will. ...

I say Malcolm is Black America's prosecuting attorney. He's prosecuting white America for a series of crimes against Black humanity that date back to racial slavery. Dr. King is Black America's defense attorney — but he's very interesting: He defends both sides of the color line. He defends Black people to white people and tells white people that Black people don't want Black supremacy. They don't want reverse racism. They don't want revenge for racial slavery and Jim Crow segregation. They just want to be included in the body politic and have citizenship. But he also defends white people to Black people. He's constantly telling — especially as the movement gets further radicalized — Black people that white people are good people, that white people, we can redeem the souls of the nation. And we have white allies who have fought and struggled and died with us to achieve Black citizenship. So it's very interesting, the roles they both play. But over time, after Malcolm's assassination, one of the biggest ironies and transformations is that King becomes Black America's prosecuting attorney.

On how Malcolm X and King's visions merged

They start to merge, especially in the aftermath of Malcolm's assassination on Feb. 21, 1965. And in a way, when we think about King, right after Malcolm's assassination, King has what he later calls one of those "mountaintop moments." And he always says there are these mountaintop moments, but then you have to go back to the valley. And that mountaintop moment is going to be the Selma to Montgomery march, even though initially, when we think about March 7, 1965 — Bloody Sunday — demonstrators, including the late Congressman John Lewis , are battered by Alabama state troopers, non-violent demonstrators, peaceful demonstrators on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

'A Proud Walk': 3 Voices On The March From Selma To Montgomery

'A Proud Walk': 3 Voices On The March From Selma To Montgomery

But by March 15, LBJ, the president, is going to say these protesters are right and they are part of a long pantheon of American heroes dating back to the revolution. And then March 21 to the 25, the Selma to Montgomery demonstration is going to attract 30,000 Americans — including white allies, Jewish allies like Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel — to King and the movement. So King is going to make his last, fully nationally televised speech on March 25, 1965, where he talks about American democracy, racial justice, but the long road ahead. By that August, Aug. 6, 1965, the Voting Rights Act has passed. So these are real high points.

But then five days after the Voting Rights Act is passed, Watts, Los Angeles explodes in really the largest civil disturbance in American history up until that point. And when we think about after Watts, that's where King and Malcolm start to converge, because Malcolm had criticized the March on Washington as the "farce on Washington," because he said that King and the movement should have paralyzed Washington, D.C., and forced a reckoning about race in America. And they didn't do that. By 1965, King says that in this essay, "Beyond the Los Angeles Riots," that what he's going to start doing is use non-violent civil disobedience as a peaceful sword that paralyzes cities to produce justice that goes beyond civil rights and voting rights acts.

Sam Briger and Thea Chaloner produced and edited the audio of this interview. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper and Meghan Sullivan adapted it for the Web.

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The Autobiography   |  Biography & History   |  Speeches & Writings   |  Perspectives

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“Malcolm X’s autobiography seemed to offer something different. His repeated acts of self-creation spoke to me; the blunt poetry of his words, his unadorned insistence on respect, promised a new and uncompromising order, martial in its discipline, forged through sheer force of will.” —Barack Obama “Extraordinary . . . a brilliant, painful, important book.” — The New York Times “A great book . . . Its dead level honesty, its passion, its exalted purpose, will make it stand as a monument to the most painful truth.” — The Nation “The most important book I’ll ever read, it changed the way I thought, it changed the way I acted. It has given me courage I didn’t know I had inside me. I’m one of hundreds of thousands whose lives were changed for the better.” —Spike Lee “This book will have a permanent place in the literature of the Afro-American struggle.” —I. F. Stone

Biography & History banner

The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. by Peniel E. Joseph (2020)

Payne & Payne Dead Arising cover art

The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne & Tamara Payne (2020)

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Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X by Randy Roberts & Johnny Smith (2016)

Ball & Burroughs cover art

A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable's Malcolm X ed. Jared Ball & Todd Steven Burroughs (2015)

Autobio Malcolm X cover art

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X & Alex Haley (2015)

Norrell Alex Haley cover art

Alex Haley and the Books That Changed A Nation by Robert J. Norrell (2015)

Tuck The Night Malcolm X cover art

The Night Malcolm X Spoke at the Oxford Union: A Transatlantic Story of Antiracial Protest by Stephen Tuck (2014)

At Oxford Union Ambar cover art

Malcolm X at Oxford Union: Racial Politics in a Global Era by Saladin Ambar (2013)

Boyd By Any Means Real cover art

By Any Means Necessary: Malcolm X - Real, Not Reinvented: Critical Conversations on Manning Marable's Biography of Malcolm X ed. Herb Boyd et al (2012)

Clayborne FBI File cover art

Malcolm X: The FBI File by Carson Clayborne (2012)

Marable Life of Reinvention cover art

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable (2011)

Sherwood Visits Abroad cover art

Malcolm X Visits Abroad: April 1964-February 1965 by Marika Sherwood (2011)

Shabazz & McLarin cover art

Growing Up X by Ilyasah Shabazz & Kim McLarin (2009)

Wainstock Revolutionary cover art

Malcolm X, African American Revolutionary by Dennis D. Wainstock (2008)

Helfer & DuBurke Graphic cover art

Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography by Andrew Helfer & Randy DuBurke (2006)

Blake Children of the Movement cover art

Children of the Movement by John Blake (2004)

DiEugenio & Pease cover art

The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK, and Malcolm X, ed. James DiEugenio & Lisa Pease (2003)

Rickford Betty Shabazz cover art

Betty Shabazz: A Remarkable Story of Survival and Faith Before and After Malcolm X by Russell John Rickford (2003)

Seventh Child cover art

Seventh Child: A Family Memoir of Malcolm X, by Rodnell P. Collins & A. Peter Bailey (2000)

Decaro On the Side cover art

On the Side of My People: A Religious Life of Malcolm X by Louis A. Decaro, Jr. (1995)

Carew Ghosts in Our Blood cover art

Ghosts in Our Blood: With Malcolm X in Africa, England, and the Caribbean by Jan Carew (1994)

Gallen Malcolm X Reader cover art

A Malcolm X Reader: Perspectives on the Man and the Myths, ed. David Gallen (1994)

Greene Make It Plain cover art

Malcolm X: Make It Plain ed. Cheryll Y. Greene (1994)

Davis Great Photographs cover art

Malcolm X: The Great Photographs by Thulani Davis, ed. Howard Chapnick (1993)

Friedly Assassination cover art

Malcolm X: The Assassination by Michael Friedly (1993)

Gallen As They Knew cover art

Malcolm X: As They Knew Him, ed. David Gallen (1993)

Karim Remembering Malcolm cover art

Remembering Malcolm: The Story of Malcolm X from Inside the Muslim Mosque by Benjamin Karim et al (1993)

Evanzz Judas Factor cover art

The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X by Karl Evanzz (1992)

Clarke Man Times cover art

Malcolm X: The Man and His Times, ed. John Henrik Clarke (1991)

Goldman Death and Life cover art

The Death and Life of Malcolm X by Peter L. Goldman (1979)

Breitman Miah Assassination cover art

The Assassination of Malcolm X by George Breitman et al, ed. Malik Miah (1976)

Breitman Last Year cover art

The Last Year of Malcolm X: The Evolution of a Revolutionary by George Breitman (1967)

Joseph Sword and Shield cover art

This dual biography of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King upends longstanding preconceptions to transform our understanding of the twentieth century's most iconic African American leaders. To most Americans, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. represent contrasting ideals: self-defense vs. nonviolence, black power vs. civil rights, the sword vs. the shield. The struggle for black freedom is wrought with the same contrasts. While nonviolent direct action is remembered as an unassailable part of American democracy, the movement's militancy is either vilified or erased outright. In this work, Joseph upends these misconceptions and reveals a nuanced portrait of two men who, despite markedly different backgrounds, inspired and pushed each other throughout their adult lives. This is a strikingly revisionist biography, not only of Malcolm and Martin, but also of the movement and era they came to define.

Payne & Payne Dead Arising cover art

Les Payne, the renowned Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist, embarked in 1990 on a nearly thirty-year-long quest to interview anyone he could find who had actually known Malcolm X ― all living siblings of the Malcolm Little family, classmates, street friends, cellmates, Nation of Islam figures, FBI moles and cops, and political leaders around the world. His goal was ambitious: to transform what would become over a hundred hours of interviews into an unprecedented portrait of Malcolm X, one that would separate fact from fiction. The result is this historic biography that conjures a never-before-seen world of its protagonist, a work whose title is inspired by a phrase Malcolm X used when he saw his Hartford followers stir with purpose, as if the dead were truly arising, to overcome the obstacles of racism. Setting Malcolm’s life not only within the Nation of Islam but against the larger backdrop of American history, the book traces the life of one of the twentieth century’s most politically relevant figures “from street criminal to devoted moralist and revolutionary.” This book is a penetrating and riveting work that affirms the centrality of Malcolm X to the African American freedom struggle.

Marable Life of Reinvention cover art

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History, this work is the definitive biography of Malcolm X. Hailed as "a masterpiece" (San Francisco Chronicle), the late Manning Marable's acclaimed biography of Malcolm X finally does justice to one of the most influential and controversial figures of twentieth-century American history. Filled with startling new information and shocking revelations, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America. Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism as followers of Marcus Garvey through his own work with the Nation of Islam and rise in the world of black nationalism, and culminates in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X is a stunning achievement, the definitive work on one of our greatest advocates for social change.

Helfer & DuBurke Graphic cover art

The age of multitasking needs better narrative history. It must be absolutely factual, immediately accessible, smart, and brilliantly fun. Enter Andrew Helfer, the award-winning graphic-novel editor behind Road to Perdition and The History of Violence, and welcome the launch of a unique line of graphic biographies. If a picture is worth a thousand words, these graphic biographies qualify as tomes. But if you're among the millions who haven't time for another doorstop of a biography, these books are for you. With the thoroughly researched and passionately drawn Malcolm X, Helfer and award-winning artist Randy DuBurke capture Malcolm Little's extraordinary transformation from a black youth beaten down by Jim Crow America into Malcolm X, the charismatic, controversial, and doomed national spokesman for the Nation of Islam.

The gunmen rose from the crowd and set their sights on Malcolm X. The thunder of shotgun blasts ripped through the ballroom, and Betty Shabazz turned to see her husband float backward, keel over and crash to the ballroom stage. She grabbed her children, hurling them beneath a booth and shielding them with her body while the room erupted into screams and chaos. As she lay there squeezing her family, the Betty Shabazz who was the dutiful and obedient wife of the Civil Rights Movement's most feared leader ceased to be, and the woman who emerged would become one of the greatest heroines of our day. This work is the first major biography of Dr. Betty Shabazz, the unsung and controversial champion of the Civil Rights era. From her early marriage to black liberation's raging voice through her evolution into a powerful and outspoken African-American leader, Betty Shabazz was in constant struggle to bring freedom and justice to her people. Yet, at times her greatest fight was to struggle through tragedy and hold on to her faith amidst the stereotypes forced on her by a culture of racism and the very people she was trying to liberate.

Seventh Child cover art

Ella Little Collins saw her brother Malcolm through some of the most significant times of his life, and knew him better than anyone else. Now, for the first time, she shares her poignant, vivid memories of him. Told to her son, Rodnell, to whom Malcolm was a much-loved uncle and mentor, this work contains bitter, haunting, as well as joyful, recollections by two people who knew him intimately in the context of the family. It reveals Malcolm not just as a leader, but also as a brother, cousin, nephew, uncle, father, husband, and friend. It also provides remarkable information about Malcolm's family genealogy that has never before been available to the general public. No other book about Malcolm X -- and there have been dozens -- offers such enlightenment on the man. With rare family photos, including one of Rodnell with Malcolm the night before his assassination, this book adds immeasurably to our knowledge of this great and controversial figure.

Speeches & Writings banner

The End of White World Supremacy: Four Speeches by Malcolm X (2020)

Diary of Malcolm X cover art

The Diary of Malcolm X, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, 1964 by Malcolm X, ed. Herb Boyd & Ilyasah Al Shabazz (2013)

Malcolm X Speaks cover art

Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements by Malcolm X, ed. George Breitman (1994)

By Any Means Speeches cover art

By Any Means Necessary: Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X (1993)

Habla Malcolm cover art

Habla Malcolm X: discursos, entrevistas, y declaraciones by Malcolm X, ed. Martin Koppel (1993)

Final Speeches cover art

February 1965: The Final Speeches by Malcolm X, ed. Steve Clark (1992)

Epps Speeches at Harvard cover art

Malcolm X: Speeches at Harvard by Malcolm X, ed. Archie Epps (1992)

Talks to Young People cover art

Malcolm X Talks to Young People: Speeches in the U.S., Britain, and Africa by Malcolm X (1991)

On Afro-American History cover art

Malcolm X on Afro-American History by Malcolm X (1990)

Last Speeches cover art

Malcolm X: The Last Speeches by Malcolm X, ed. Bruce Perry (1989)

King Malcolm Baldwin cover art

King, Malcolm, Baldwin: Three Interviews, ed. Kenneth B. Clark (1985)

End of White World Supremacy cover art

Malcolm X remains a touchstone figure for black America and in American culture at large. He gave African Americans not only their consciousness but their history, dignity, and a new pride. No single individual can claim more important responsibility for a social and historical leap forward such as the one sparked in America in the sixties. When, in 1965, Malcolm X was gunned down on the stage of a Harlem theater, America lost one of its most dynamic political thinkers. Yet, as Michael Eric Dyson has observed, "he remains relevant because he spoke presciently to the issues that matter today: black identity, the politics of black rage, the expression of black dissent, the politics of black power, and the importance of consolidating varieties of expressions within black communities — different ideologies and politics — and bringing them together under a banner of functional solidarity." This collection contains four major speeches by Malcolm X, including: "Black Man's History," "The Black Revolution," "The Old Negro and the New Negro," and the famous "The Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost" speech ("God's Judgment of White America"), delivered after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Several of the speeches include a discussion with the moderator, among whom Adam Clayton Powell, or a question-and-answer with the audience.

Diary of Malcolm X cover art

In 1964, Malcolm X made two trips to Africa and the Middle East. During those trips, he kept copious notes. This remarkable document, The Diary of Malcolm X El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, 1964, is comprised of those notes, along with editing, annotations, and commentary by editors Herb Boyd and Ilyasah Al-Shabazz. This volume captures Malcolm X in all his complexity, reveals some of his trepidations, and above all, reveals his humanity as he encounters a coterie of dignitaries, world leaders, and ordinary people who were mesmerized by his genius as he was in wonder of the often challenging new cultures he experienced from country to country. Readers will discover how significantly the Diary complements his autobiography, at times filling in the blanks, expanding an incident, and adding context to moments sometimes only mentioned in passing before.

Malcolm X Speaks cover art

These are the major speeches made by Malcolm X during the last tumultuous eight months of his life. In this short period of time, his vision for abolishing racial inequality in the United States underwent a vast transformation. Breaking from the Black Muslims, he moved away from the black militarism prevalent in his earlier years only to be shot down by an assassin's bullet.

Perspectives banner

Critical Insights: Malcolm X, ed. Robert C. Evans (2020)

Sawyer Black Minded cover art

Black Minded: The Political Philosophy of Malcolm X by Michael E. Sawyer (2020)

Polizzi Hermeneutic cover art

A Phenomenological Hermeneutic of Antiblack Racism in the Autobiography of Malcolm X by David Polizzi (2019)

Africa in Black Liberation cover art

Africa in Black Liberation Activism: Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, and Walter Rodney, by Tunde Adeleke (2018)

Byrd & Miri cover art

Malcolm X: From Political Eschatology to Religious Revolutionary, ed. Dustin J. Byrd & Seyed Javad Miri (2017)

Malcolm X and Africa cover art

Malcolm X and Africa by A. B. Assensoh & Yvette M. Alex-Assensoh (2016)

Benson Fighting cover art

Fighting for Our Place in the Sun: Malcolm X and the Radicalization of the Black Student Movement, 1960-1973 by Richard Benson (2015)

Michigan Worldview cover art

Malcolm X's Michigan Worldview: An Exemplar for Contemporary Black Studies ed. Rita Kiki Edozie & Curtis Stokes (2015)

Reimagining Malcolm X cover art

Reimagining Malcolm X: Street Thinker Versus Homo Academicus by Seyed Javad Miri (2015)

Seekdaur Pragmatic Nationalist cover art

Malcolm X: The Pragmatic Nationalist by Lukmaan H.K. Seekdaur (2014)

Tuck Night Malcolm X Spoke cover art

The Iconography of Malcolm X by Graeme Abernethy (2013)

Ambar Malcolm X at Oxford Union cover art

Dreams and Nightmares: Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the Struggle for Black Equality in America by Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson (2012)

Taylor Black Nationalism cover art

Black Nationalism in the United States: From Malcolm X to Barack Obama by James Lance Taylor (2011)

Terrill Cambridge Companion Malcolm X cover art

The Cambridge Companion to Malcolm X, ed. Robert E. Terrill (2010)

Barnes Black Liberation cover art

Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power by Jack Barnes (2009)

Conyers & Smallwood cover art

Malcolm X: A Historical Reader, ed. James L. Conyers, Jr. & Andrew P. Smallwood (2008)

Hart Black Religion cover art

Black Religion: Malcolm X, Julius Lester, and Jan Willis by William David Hart (2008)

Mancini Racism Autobiography cover art

Racism in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, ed. Candice L. Mancini (2008)

Doctor Malcolm X for Beginners cover art

Malcolm X for Beginners by Bernard Aquina Doctor (2007)

Geography of Malcolm X cover art

The Geography of Malcolm X: Black Radicalism and the Remaking of American Space, by James Tyner (2005)

Howard-Pitney cover art

Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the Civil Rights Struggle of the 1950s and 1960s by David Howard-Pitney (2004)

Terrill Inventing cover art

Malcolm X: Inventing Radical Judgment by Robert E. Terrill (2004)

Baldwin & Al-Hadid cover art

Between Cross and Crescent: Christian and Muslim Perspectives on Malcolm and Martin by Lewis V. Baldwin & Amiri Yasin Al-Hadid (2002)

Jenkins & Tryman cover art

The Malcolm X Encyclopedia, ed. Robert L. Jenkins & Mfanya Donald Tryman (2002)

Baldwin One Day cover art

One Day, When I Was Lost: A Scenario Based on Alex Haley's The Autobiography of Malcolm X by James Baldwin (2000)

Sales Civil Rights Black Liberation cover art

From Civil Rights to Black Liberation: Malcolm X and the Organization of Afro-American Unity by William W. Sales (1999)

DeCaro Malcolm and the Cross cover art

Malcolm and the Cross: The Nation of Islam, Malcolm X, and Christianity by Louis A. Decaro, Jr. (1998)

Dyson Making Malcolm cover art

Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X by Michael Eric Dyson (1995)

Perry Teaching Malcolm X cover art

Teaching Malcolm X: Popular Culture and Literacy, ed. Theresa Perry (1995)

Asante Malcolm X as Cultural Hero cover art

Malcolm X As Cultural Hero: and Other Afrocentric Essays by Molefi Kete Asante (1993)

Barboza American Jihad cover art

American Jihad: Islam After Malcolm X by Steve Barboza (1993)

Gallen Malcolm A to X cover art

Malcolm A to X: The Man and His Ideas, ed. David Gallen (1993)

Gwynne Justice Seeker cover art

Malcolm X: Justice Seeker, ed. James B. Gwynne (1993)

Cone Martin & Malcolm cover art

Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or A Nightmare? by James H. Cone (1992)

Understanding malcolm x: the controversial changes in his political philosophy by edward r. leader (1992).

Wood In Our Own Image cover art

Malcolm X: In Our Own Image, ed. Joe Wood (1992)

Paris Black Religious Leaders cover art

Black Religious Leaders: Conflict in Unity by Peter J. Paris (1991)

Malcolm x: a comprehensive annotated bibliography, by timothy v. johnson (1986).

T'Shaka Political Legacy cover art

The Political Legacy of Malcolm X by Oba T'Shaka (1986)

Davis & Moore cover art

Malcolm X: A Selected Bibliography ed. Lenwood G. Davis & Marsha L. Moore (1984)

Victims of Democracy cover art

The Victims of Democracy: Malcolm X and the Black Revolution by Eugene V. Wolfenstein (1981)

Lomax When the Word cover art

When the Word Is Given...: A Report on Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and the Black Muslim World by Louis E. Lomax (1979)

Known as 'the angriest black man in America', Malcolm X was one of the most famous activists to ever live. Going beyond biography, this book examines Malcolm X's philosophical system, restoring his thinking to the pantheon of Black Radical Thought. Michael Sawyer argues that the foundational concepts of Malcolm X's political philosophy - economic and social justice, strident opposition to white supremacy and Black internationalism - are often obscured by an emphasis on biography. The text demonstrates the way in which Malcolm X's philosophy lies at the intersection of the thought of W.E.B. Du Bois and Frantz Fanon and is an integral part of the revolutionary politics formed to alleviate the plight of people of African descent globally. Exploring themes of ontology, the body, geographic space and revolution, Black Minded provides a much-needed appraisal of Malcolm X's political philosophy.

Benson Fighting cover art

In this work, Richard D. Benson II examines the life of Malcolm X as not only a radical political figure, but also as a teacher and mentor. The book illuminates the untold tenets of Malcolm X’s educational philosophy, and also traces a historical trajectory of Black activists that sought to create spaces of liberation and learning that are free from cultural and racial oppression. It explains a side of the Black student movement and shift in black power that develops as a result of the student protests in North Carolina and Duke University. From these acts of radicalism, Malcolm X Liberation University (MXLU), the Student Organization for Black Unity (SOBU/YOBU), and African Liberation Day (ALD) were produced to serve as catalysts to extend the tradition of Black activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Scholars, researchers, community organizers, and students of African-American studies, American studies, history of education, political science, Pan-African studies, and more will benefit from this provocative and enlightening text.

Tuck Night Malcolm X Spoke cover art

Less than three months before he was assassinated, Malcolm X spoke at the Oxford Union ― the most prestigious student debating organization in the United Kingdom. The Oxford Union regularly welcomed heads of state and stars of screen and served as the training ground for the politically ambitious offspring of Britain’s "better classes." Malcolm X, by contrast, was the global icon of race militancy. For many, he personified revolution and danger. Marking the fiftieth anniversary of the debate, this book brings to life the dramatic events surrounding the visit, showing why Oxford invited Malcolm X, why he accepted, and the effect of the visit on Malcolm X and British students. Stephen Tuck tells the human story behind the debate and also uses it as a starting point to discuss larger issues of Black Power, the end of empire, British race relations, immigration, and student rights. Coinciding with a student-led campaign against segregated housing, the visit enabled Malcolm X to make connections with radical students from the Caribbean, Africa, and South Asia, giving him a new perspective on the global struggle for racial equality, and in turn, radicalizing a new generation of British activists. Masterfully tracing the reverberations on both sides of the Atlantic, Tuck chronicles how the personal transformation of the dynamic American leader played out on the international stage.

Abernethy Iconography cover art

From Detroit Red to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, the man best known as Malcolm X restlessly redefined himself throughout a controversial life. His transformations have appeared repeatedly in books, photographs, paintings, and films, while his murder set in motion a series of tugs-of-war among journalists, biographers, artists, and his ideological champions over the interpretation of his cultural meaning. This book marks the first systematic examination of the images generated by this iconic cultural figure — images readily found on everything from T-shirts and hip-hop album covers to coffee mugs. Graeme Abernethy captures both the multiplicity and global import of a person who has been framed as both villain and hero, cast by mainstream media during his lifetime as "the most feared man in American history," and elevated at his death as a heroic emblem of African American identity. As Abernethy shows, the resulting iconography of Malcolm X has shifted as profoundly as the American racial landscape itself. Abernethy reveals that Malcolm X himself was keenly aware of the power of imagery to redefine identity and worked tirelessly to shape how he was represented to the public. His theoretical grasp of what he termed "the science of imagery" enabled him both to analyze the role of representation in ideological control as well as to exploit his own image in the interests of black empowerment. This provocative work marks a startling shift from the biographical focus that has dominated Malcolm X studies, providing an up-to-date — and comprehensively illustrated — account of Malcolm's cultural afterlife.

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Islamophobia in uk education: the trojan horse affair, media mind: virtual reality (vr) and new media technologies, football and media: qatar and the world cup, malcolm x: the legacy of a civil rights leader.

Malcolm X was a legendary civil rights activist and leader who fought for the rights of the African American community in the mid-twentieth century. He was born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, and became one of the most influential figures of the Civil Rights Movement. His message of  black nationalism, self-reliance, and human dignity inspired countless people, both in the United States and around the world. On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated while giving a speech at the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) in New York City. The assassination shocked the nation and sparked widespread outrage and grief. He was only 39 years old at the time. However, his impact on the Civil Rights Movement and the African American community is immeasurable. He had become one of the most prominent and outspoken leaders in the fight for equal rights, and his death was a devastating blow to the African American community. However, his legacy lived on, and his message of self-reliance and human dignity has continued inspiring generations. 

Malcolm X was a  prominent figure  in the Civil Rights Movement, and one of his most notable contributions was his emphasis on Black Nationalism. He believed that African Americans needed to take control of their own lives and destinies and should not rely on the larger American society for their well-being. This emphasis on self-determination departed from the mainstream civil rights movement’s approach, which focused on integration and assimilation into American society.  Malcolm X’s advocacy for Black Nationalism  was rooted in his belief that African Americans had been systematically oppressed and marginalized in American society and that this oppression was perpetuated by institutional racism. He argued that African Americans needed to create their own institutions, businesses, and communities to be truly self-reliant and thrive as a people. This approach, he believed, would enable African Americans to control their own destinies and to resist the systemic oppression that had held them back for centuries.

Malcolm X, as the leading proponent of Black Nationalism in the United States, presented a sharp contrast to the nonviolent, multiracial approach of Martin Luther King, Jr. Their differences in ideology and tactics contributed to the ideological and tactical conflicts that characterized the black freedom struggle in the 1960s. Malcolm X was highly critical of King and advocated racial separatism, which made it unsurprising that King did not respond to Malcolm’s occasional overtures. He disagreed with the idea of integration and referred to mainstream civil-rights leaders as “ Uncle Toms ,” indicating that they were fools for thinking white America would ever willingly give them equality. When Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington, Malcolm called it the “ Farce on Washington .” “Who ever heard of angry revolutionists all harmonizing ‘We Shall Overcome’… while tripping and swaying along arm-in-arm with the very people they were supposed to be angrily revolting against?” he wrote in his  autobiography . However, after Malcolm X’s assassination in 1965, King expressed his admiration for Malcolm in a  letter  to his widow, Betty Shabazz. Despite their differences in methods, King recognised Malcolm’s ability to identify and address the root causes of racial inequality in the United States. King wrote, “While we did not always see eye to eye on methods to solve the race problem, I always had a deep affection for Malcolm and felt that he had the great ability to put his finger on the existence and root of the problem.” The relationship between King and Malcolm X highlights the diversity of approaches within the black freedom struggle. Their differing tactics and ideologies represented competing visions for the future of African Americans in the United States. However, King’s letter to Betty Shabazz demonstrates his recognition of Malcolm’s contributions to the struggle, despite their disagreements. This acknowledgement also highlights the complexity and diversity of the black freedom struggle in the 1960s.

The current issue facing the black community is the ongoing struggle for equality and justice. Despite significant progress toward racial equality in the United States, African Americans are disproportionately affected by various social and economic issues. One of the most pressing issues facing the black community is the inequities and biases within the criminal justice system. African Americans are more likely to be stopped, searched, and arrested by law enforcement officials and are more likely to receive harsher sentences than their white counterparts. Additionally, police violence against black people remains a pervasive and ongoing problem, with a disproportionate number of black individuals killed by law enforcement officers. Another significant challenge facing the black community is the persistent wealth gap between white and black families. Black families have fewer resources to access education, healthcare, and other essential services. This lack of access to resources perpetuates a cycle of poverty that has persisted for generations, making it difficult for black individuals and families to achieve economic stability and upward mobility.

Malcolm X was a visionary leader who devoted his life to the fight for civil rights. His message of black pride and self-reliance resonated with many, and his influence on the struggle for racial equality in the United States is immeasurable. His assassination on February 21, 1965, was a tragic loss not only to the African American community but to the nation as a whole. Despite the controversies surrounding his advocacy of black nationalism and separatism, Malcolm X’s legacy endures, and his impact on American society continues to be felt today. His message of empowerment and self-determination inspires new generations, and his ideas continue to be studied and debated in academic circles. Malcolm X’s life and work remind us of the importance of standing up for what we believe in and fighting for justice, even in the face of adversity. His uncompromising dedication to the cause of civil rights serves as a powerful example of the power of individual action and collective struggle to effect social change. In conclusion, Malcolm X’s life and legacy represent an essential chapter in the ongoing struggle for racial equality and social justice in the United States. His ideas and message continue to inspire and challenge us to work toward a more just and equitable society, and his impact will be felt for generations to come.

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Civil rights activist Malcolm X was a prominent leader in the Nation of Islam. Until his 1965 assassination, he vigorously supported Black nationalism.

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Early life and family, time in prison, nation of islam, malcolm x and martin luther king jr., becoming a mainstream sunni muslim, assassination, wife and children, "the autobiography of malcolm x", who was malcolm x.

Malcolm X was a minister, civil rights activist , and prominent Black nationalist leader who served as a spokesman for the Nation of Islam during the 1950s and 1960s. Due largely to his efforts, the Nation of Islam grew from a mere 400 members at the time he was released from prison in 1952 to 40,000 members by 1960. A naturally gifted orator, Malcolm X exhorted Black people to cast off the shackles of racism “by any means necessary,” including violence. The fiery civil rights leader broke with the Nation of Islam shortly before his assassination in 1965 at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, where he had been preparing to deliver a speech. He was 39 years old.

FULL NAME: Malcolm X (nee Malcolm Little) BORN: May 19, 1925 DIED: February 21, 1965 BIRTHPLACE: Omaha, Nebraska SPOUSE: Betty Shabazz (1958-1965) CHILDREN: Attilah, Quiblah, Lamumbah, Ilyasah, Malaak, and Malikah ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Taurus

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska. He was the fourth of eight children born to Louise, a homemaker, and Earl Little, a preacher who was also an active member of the local chapter of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and avid supporter of Black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey .

Due to Earl Little’s civil rights activism, the family was subjected to frequent harassment from white supremacist groups including the Ku Klux Klan and one of its splinter factions, the Black Legion. In fact, Malcolm Little had his first encounter with racism before he was even born. “When my mother was pregnant with me, she told me later, ‘a party of hooded Ku Klux Klan riders galloped up to our home,’” Malcolm later remembered. “Brandishing their shotguns and rifles, they shouted for my father to come out.”

The harassment continued when Malcolm was 4 years old, and local Klan members smashed all of the family’s windows. To protect his family, Earl Little moved them from Omaha to Milwaukee in 1926 and then to Lansing, Michigan, in 1928.

However, the racism the family encountered in Lansing proved even greater than in Omaha. Shortly after the Littles moved in, a racist mob set their house on fire in 1929, and the town’s all-white emergency responders refused to do anything. “The white police and firemen came and stood around watching as the house burned to the ground,” Malcolm later remembered. Earl moved the family to East Lansing where he built a new home.

Two years later, in 1931, Earl’s dead body was discovered lying across the municipal streetcar tracks. Although the family believed Earl was murdered by white supremacists from whom he had received frequent death threats, the police officially ruled his death a streetcar accident, thereby voiding the large life insurance policy he had purchased in order to provide for his family in the event of his death.

Louise never recovered from the shock and grief over her husband’s death. In 1937, she was committed to a mental institution where she remained for the next 26 years. Malcolm and his siblings were separated and placed in foster homes.

In 1938, Malcolm was kicked out of West Junior High School and sent to a juvenile detention home in Mason, Michigan. The white couple who ran the home treated him well, but he wrote in his autobiography that he was treated more like a “pink poodle” or a “pet canary” than a human being.

He attended Mason High School where he was one of only a few Black students. He excelled academically and was well-liked by his classmates, who elected him class president.

A turning point in Malcolm’s childhood came in 1939 when his English teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, and he answered that he wanted to be a lawyer. His teacher responded, “One of life’s first needs is for us to be realistic... you need to think of something you can be... why don’t you plan on carpentry?” Having been told in no uncertain terms that there was no point in a Black child pursuing education, Malcolm dropped out of school the following year, at the age of 15.

After quitting school, Malcolm moved to Boston to live with his older half-sister, Ella, about whom he later recalled: “She was the first really proud Black woman I had ever seen in my life. She was plainly proud of her very dark skin. This was unheard of among Negroes in those days.”

Ella landed Malcolm a job shining shoes at the Roseland Ballroom. However, out on his own on the streets of Boston, he became acquainted with the city’s criminal underground and soon turned to selling drugs.

He got another job as kitchen help on the Yankee Clipper train between New York and Boston and fell further into a life of drugs and crime. Sporting flamboyant pinstriped zoot suits, he frequented nightclubs and dance halls and turned more fully to crime to finance his lavish lifestyle.

In 1946, Malcolm was arrested on charges of larceny and sentenced to 10 years in prison. To pass the time during his incarceration, he read constantly, devouring books from the prison library in an attempt make up for the years of education he had missed by dropping out of high school.

Also while in prison, Malcolm was visited by several siblings who had joined the Nation of Islam, a small sect of Black Muslims who embraced the ideology of Black nationalism—the idea that in order to secure freedom, justice and equality, Black Americans needed to establish their own state entirely separate from white Americans.

He changed his name to Malcolm X and converted to the Nation of Islam before his release from prison in 1952 after six and a half years.

Now a free man, Malcolm X traveled to Detroit, where he worked with the leader of the Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad , to expand the movement’s following among Black Americans nationwide.

Malcolm X became the minister of Temple No. 7 in Harlem and Temple No. 11 in Boston, while also founding new temples in Hartford and Philadelphia. In 1960, he established a national newspaper called Muhammad Speaks in order to further promote the message of the Nation of Islam.

Articulate, passionate, and an inspirational orator, Malcolm X exhorted Black people to cast off the shackles of racism “by any means necessary,” including violence. “You don’t have a peaceful revolution. You don’t have a turn-the-cheek revolution,” he said. “There’s no such thing as a nonviolent revolution.”

His militant proposals—a violent revolution to establish an independent Black nation—won Malcolm X large numbers of followers as well as many fierce critics. Due primarily to the efforts of Malcolm X, the Nation of Islam grew from a mere 400 members at the time he was released from prison in 1952, to 40,000 members by 1960.

By the early 1960s, Malcolm X had emerged as a leading voice of a radicalized wing of the Civil Rights Movement, presenting a dramatic alternative to Martin Luther King Jr. ’s vision of a racially-integrated society achieved by peaceful means. King was critical of Malcolm’s methods but avoided directly calling out his more radical counterpart. Although very aware of each other and working to achieve the same goal, the two leaders met only once—and very briefly—on Capitol Hill when the U.S. Senate held a hearing about an anti-discrimination bill.

A rupture with Elijah Muhammad proved much more traumatic. In 1963, Malcolm X became deeply disillusioned when he learned that his hero and mentor had violated many of his own teachings, most flagrantly by carrying on many extramarital affairs. Muhammad had, in fact, fathered several children out of wedlock.

Malcolm’s feelings of betrayal, combined with Muhammad’s anger over Malcolm’s insensitive comments regarding the assassination of John F. Kennedy , led Malcolm X to leave the Nation of Islam in 1964.

That same year, Malcolm X embarked on an extended trip through North Africa and the Middle East. The journey proved to be both a political and spiritual turning point in his life. He learned to place America’s Civil Rights Movement within the context of a global anti-colonial struggle, embracing socialism and pan-Africanism.

Malcolm X also made the Hajj, the traditional Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, during which he converted to traditional Islam and again changed his name, this time to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

After his epiphany at Mecca, Malcolm X returned to the United States more optimistic about the prospects for a peaceful resolution to America’s race problems. “The true brotherhood I had seen had influenced me to recognize that anger can blind human vision,” he said. “America is the first country... that can actually have a bloodless revolution.”

Just as Malcolm X appeared to be embarking on an ideological transformation with the potential to dramatically alter the course of the Civil Rights Movement, he was assassinated .

On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X took the stage for a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan. He had just begun addressing the room when multiple men rushed the stage and began firing guns. Struck numerous times at close range, Malcolm X was declared dead after arriving at a nearby hospital. He was 39.

Three members of the Nation of Islam were tried and sentenced to life in prison for murdering the activist. In 2021, two of the men—Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam—were exonerated for Malcolm’s murder after spending decades behind bars. Both maintained their innocence but were still convicted in March 1966, alongside Mujahid Abdul Halim, who did confess to the murder. Aziz and Islam were released from prison in the mid-1980s, and Islam died in 2009. After the exoneration, they were awarded $36 million for their wrongful convictions.

In February 2023, Malcolm X’s family announced a wrongful death lawsuit against the New York Police Department, the FBI, the CIA, and other government entities in relation to the activist’s death. They claim the agencies concealed evidence and conspired to assassinate Malcolm X.

Malcolm X married Betty Shabazz in 1958. The couple had six daughters: Attilah, Quiblah, Lamumbah, Ilyasah, Malaak, and Malikah. Twins Malaak and Malikah were born after Malcolm died in 1965.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

In the early 1960s, Malcolm X began working with acclaimed author Alex Haley on an autobiography. The book details Malcolm X’s life experiences and his evolving views on racial pride, Black nationalism, and pan-Africanism.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published in 1965 after his assassination to near-universal praise. The New York Times called it a “brilliant, painful, important book,” and Time magazine listed it as one of the 10 most influential nonfiction books of the 20 th century.

Malcolm X has been the subject of numerous movies, stage plays, and other works and has been portrayed by actors like James Earl Jones , Morgan Freeman , and Mario Van Peebles.

In 1992, Spike Lee directed Denzel Washington in the title role of his movie Malcolm X . Both the film and Washington’s portrayal of Malcolm X received wide acclaim and were nominated for several awards, including two Academy Awards.

In the immediate aftermath of Malcolm X’s death, commentators largely ignored his recent spiritual and political transformation and criticized him as a violent rabble-rouser. But especially after the publication of The Autobiography of Malcolm X , he began to be remembered for underscoring the value of a truly free populace by demonstrating the great lengths to which human beings will go to secure their freedom.

“Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression,” he said. “Because power, real power, comes from our conviction which produces action, uncompromising action.”

  • Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression because power, real power, comes from our conviction which produces action, uncompromising action.
  • Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.
  • You don’t have a peaceful revolution. You don’t have a turn-the-cheek revolution. There’s no such thing as a nonviolent revolution.
  • If you are not willing to pay the price for freedom, you don’t deserve freedom.
  • We want freedom now, but we’re not going to get it saying “We Shall Overcome.” We’ve got to fight to overcome.
  • I believe that it is a crime for anyone to teach a person who is being brutalized to continue to accept that brutality without doing something to defend himself.
  • We are non-violent only with non-violent people—I’m non-violent as long as somebody else is non-violent—as soon as they get violent, they nullify my non-violence.
  • Revolution is like a forest fire. It burns everything in its path. The people who are involved in a revolution don’t become a part of the system—they destroy the system, they change the system.
  • If a man puts his arms around me voluntarily, that’s brotherhood, but if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that’s not brotherhood, that’s hypocrisy.
  • You get freedom by letting your enemy know that you’ll do anything to get your freedom; then you’ll get it. It’s the only way you’ll get it.
  • My father didn’t know his last name. My father got his last name from his grandfather, and his grandfather got it from his grandfather who got it from the slavemaster.
  • To have once been a criminal is no disgrace. To remain a criminal is the disgrace. I formerly was a criminal. I formerly was in prison. I’m not ashamed of that.
  • It’s going to be the ballot or the bullet.
  • America is the first country... that can actually have a bloodless revolution.
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Guest Essay

Why We Have to Reckon With the Real Malcolm X

A contact sheet with varied headshots of Malcolm X, from 1963.

By Peniel E. Joseph

Dr. Joseph is a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of “The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.”

When Anthony Davis’s opera “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X,” which is currently being revived at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, premiered in the mid-1980s, it seemed like a radical act of elevation: The opera lent grand pathos to the story of Malcolm X by giving his life the arc of a tragic hero. And at that moment, Malcolm X was a hero, achieving a grandeur on the world stage in death beyond what he had achieved in life.

As a proud member of Generation X, I witnessed firsthand the iteration of Malcolm X that exploded into popular culture during the 1980s and 1990s, peaking with Spike Lee’s virtuosic 1992 biopic, “Malcolm X.” By 1999, Malcolm X’s resurgence ( remember “X” hats?) meant that his image had become mainstream enough — and safe enough — to be placed on a postage stamp. He had finally received the unofficial imprimatur of an American government that had imprisoned, harassed and surveilled him during his life.

My generation found in Malcolm a regal standard-bearer. But there was much we missed in Malcolm’s journey. His sense of humor, love for his wife and children, compassion toward strangers, his childhood trauma and fears and anxiety over impending death are all vulnerabilities we now understand as culled from strength. He still looms over our political and cultural ferment, as his call for Black dignity informs our understanding of everything from the election of Barack Obama to the murder of George Floyd, and his spirit radiates through political movements from Black Lives Matter to prison abolition. But when we revisit him, we may find we encounter, and even crave, a Malcolm X who is not omniscient, and who would not seem destined for a postage stamp, but one who dwells in an ambiguous world of doubt.

When, in the summer of 1989 as an eager 16-year-old, I watched “Do the Right Thing,” I remember sitting in stunned silence in a movie theater in Queens as two epigraphs appeared: one by Martin Luther King Jr. condemning violence and one by Malcolm X explaining the need for self-defense and dignity with an awe-inspiring clarity that elicited cheers from the theater’s Black patrons. A few years earlier, in 1987, the playwright Jeff Stetson had premiered “The Meeting,” a fictionalized account of an extended meeting between Malcolm and Martin Luther King Jr. The play offered catharsis to a Black community still mourning the loss of both figures by imagining a historical past where they found a political rapprochement while still alive.

This ’80s-era artistic rediscovery of Malcolm — which arrived, not coincidentally, as the nation embraced the political conservatism and neoliberalism of the Reagan-Bush years — also came with a wave of enlightening new considerations from scholars, writers and journalists, including the influential anthology “Malcolm X: In Our Own Image” and Michael Eric Dyson’s book “Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X.”

Much of what we’ve learned about Malcolm X since would seem to undermine his mythology. The historian Manning Marable, for example, won a Pulitzer Prize for his 2011 biography, “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” which stirred controversy with its examination of Malcolm’s purported marital strife and its suggestions that, as a young hustler, Malcolm may have engaged in homosexual sex. Les and Tamara Payne’s “The Dead Are Arising,” an in-depth and poignant retelling of Malcolm’s childhood, adolescence, hustling years and initial time in the Nation of Islam, further revised his origin story, showing us a figure shaped by profound depths of racial trauma, familial grief and personal ambition. And Michael E. Sawyer’s “Black Minded: The Political Philosophy of Malcolm X” daringly reveals him to be a brilliant thinker who contributed original intellectual reasoning to a vibrant tradition of radical Black humanism that remains understudied.

Onscreen, audiences met a different Malcolm as well — most notably in Regina King’s 2020 film “One Night in Miami,” which dramatized an evening in 1964 that Malcolm spent with the gridiron legend Jim Brown, the soul music icon Sam Cooke and the newly crowned heavyweight champion Cassius Clay, who was on the verge of being rechristened Muhammad Ali by Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm’s onetime surrogate father who’d become a mortal enemy. Rather than the swathed-in-righteous-dignity version of Malcolm X so familiar from previous portrayals, audiences were presented with a surprisingly vulnerable portrait of a husband, father and intellectual in the process of questioning, and losing, many of his long-held beliefs.

At a moment when the broader notion of identity as a fixed and immutable quality is undergoing a profound reconsideration, we are now better equipped to appreciate Malcolm X’s contradictions. His less laudable qualities — sexism, religious and political dogmatism, as well as his strategic mistakes — can coexist for us alongside the revolutionary human rights activism and his prowess as a by-any-means necessary radical organizer. When we see Malcolm X’s humanity in all its contingencies, complexities and vulnerabilities, only then can we relate to, and be inspired by, Malcolm’s story even when — especially when — he disappoints us.

In my own research and writing on Malcolm X, I have endeavored to peel back the thick layers of historical framing that have varnished the monument. And I’ve found that doing that, rather than devaluing the myth of Malcolm X, gives me a deeper appreciation of the man. I’ve discovered a Malcolm who was more than a martyr. This is the Malcolm X who believed so much in human dignity and a revolutionary notion of freedom that he was willing to not only die for it but to live for it — and to love for it.

Malcolm X exists now as a powerfully vulnerable figure, one whose personal missteps, as much as his political brilliance, shaped the course of his life. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm’s onetime rival, sometime adversary and timeless compatriot in the struggle for freedom, benefits tremendously from a similar consideration of his humanity in all its complexities. King’s personal flaws, far from diminishing his legacy, allow us to better recognize, wrestle with and finally embrace the human being behind the mythology.

Malcolm X is certainly a figure worthy of operatic veneration. But we must never lose sight of the man. In confronting the many facets of Malcolm X’s personal life, political activism and religious beliefs — along with his evolving understanding of race, class, identity and human rights — we offer grace not only to Malcolm but to ourselves. The more we recognize Malcolm X’s fundamental humanity, the more inspired by him we become.

Peniel E. Joseph is a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of “The Third Reconstruction: America’s Struggle for Racial Justice in the Twenty-First Century.”

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Malcolm X “Learning to Read”

Malcolm X’s literacy narrative, “Learning to Read” follows his journey as he learned to read in prison. Unlike Jose Antonio Vargas or Amy Tan, Malcom X focused his literacy narrative on a specific period of his life; he had only his own will guiding him through rewriting the entire dictionary, a feat he had accomplished in order to expand his vocabulary, and better his penmanship. His literacy narrative takes place during his adult life, unlike Vargas and Tan. His literacy narrative was not written to stand alone, it is a part of an autobiography, yet it still stands as a very strong piece on its own.

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September 22, 2020 at 6:11 pm

Dear Evyatar, Thanks! I like how you compare Malcolm X’s piece to the Tan and Vargas pieces. I also like your observation that he focused on one slice of his life in the telling of this particular story.

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The Civil Rights Movement and Contribution of Malcolm X

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Introduction

The Civil Rights Movement was a massive social grouping of the black American citizens and the white activists that supported them in the fight against racial discrimination in the 1950s – 1960s and beyond (Wilson, 2013). In the southern region of the United States, a century of slavery and decades of segregation created a legal and political system, which was characterized by the domination of the whites. They expected from the blacks-only their obedience, and resistance from the black population was unthinkable. Many white southerners believed that blacks accepted the role of second-class citizens, and they even liked it. In 1954, the US Supreme Court examined the case of “Brown vs. Board of Education,” which stated that segregation of schools stamped black children with the “stigma of inferiority” and that the authorities of the southern states should have created unified schools for the whites and the blacks as soon as possible (Sitkoff, 2008). However, southern politicians opposed this decision. “Citizens’ Counsels” were created, these were the groups that subjected to economic sanctions representatives of any race who dared to advocate such an integration (Sitkoff, 2008). The purpose of the paper is to research two decades of the Civil Rights Movement and to analyze its leader.

Comparison of two decades of the Civil Rights Movement

In segregation, blacks were not allowed to participate in the elections by various means used by the whites. There was legislation (the Jim Crow laws), according to which the blacks could not study at schools and universities together with white people, and they had their own educational system; moreover, they had to take a specially designated place for them in the public transport and so on (Sitkoff, 2008). Many shops, restaurants, and hotels refused to provide services to blacks. People of color always addressed the whites as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” (Sitkoff, 2008). The problem of the African-American population takes its roots in the middle of the 19th century when slavery was abolished in the United States. Legislating this situation, the US government did not make any practical steps. Since its beginning in the mid- 20th century, the technological revolution hit primarily on the most vulnerable segments of the population, among whom there were also African Americans. In turn, this led to a strengthening of the process of struggle for the rights of the black.

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research paper on malcolm x

In 1954, the US Supreme Court made a historic decision: state laws for division training were deemed unconstitutional (Tsesis, 2008). However, President Eisenhower believed that the racial problem could not be solved by law as there had to be gradual changes in traditions, culture, and psychology. Supporters of the segregation gathered force, created the Councils of white citizens. They threatened to boycott desegregated institutions, calling for civil disobedience, preparing for a confrontation with the federal authorities. Extensive automation, adapting the nature of the demand for labor that necessitated its radical redistribution led to the so-called technological unemployment, as well as there were a number of other consequences that seriously affected the situation of the most disadvantaged sections of the population, primarily the African-Americans.

Strikes began in the afflicted communities, during which Martin Luther King became an icon of the civil rights movement. The promotion of non-violent struggle in the US by non-violent actions, speeches, boycotts, slogans were those peaceful actions opposite to the terrorist and legal ways that helped the movement to acquire a mass character and prevent civil war in the country.

In the late 1960s, there were cases of armed resistance and riots (Tsesis, 2008). The latter happened in black ghettos. During the ghetto riots (“black riots”), the US Communists demonstrated loyalty to their principled position on the Negro question (Sitkoff, 2008). They provided effective assistance to the population of the black ghetto, organizing campaigns to provide the rebels with food and basic necessities.

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Events of this decade triggered a sympathetic response in the broad democratic strata of the American people and the world community. At the same time, it is impossible not to see that the “black riots” of the 1960s, which especially advanced the slogan of many radical organizations: “Black Power!”, made a large part of the white population occupy an intermediate, often vacillating position between the racists and their opponents, in the camp of the supporters of racial segregation (Sitkoff, 2008).

Two decades of the Civil Rights Movement showed the beginning and the peak of resistance. It demonstrated both peaceful and non-peaceful means: liberal and radical ones. Thus, along with the civilian way to combat segregation used by Martin Luther King in the 1960s, there emerged the extremist movement called “Black Muslims” (Tsesis, 2008). Dissatisfaction with the result of civil resistance prompted the members of that movement to stand for more active forms of their protest. “Black Muslims” have not been a scattered force and had a permanent leader (Tsesis, 2008). At its core, this movement was organizational in nature and brought together a large number of people. Thus, the fight of the African Americans for their rights in the 1960s was not homogeneous. It was both organized and spontaneous. Spontaneous forms of protest were riots in black ghettos in the 1960s. The organizational methods of the struggle of the black in the period under review can be divided into two major areas: peaceful (Martin Luther King) and extremist (“Black Muslims”).

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By the early 1970s, the tendency for extreme forms of Black Nationalism gradually weakened. The number of supporters of radical leaders and nationalist organizations decreased (Sitkoff, 2008). There was a soberer understanding of the place of movement of black Americans in the common struggle of the democratic forces, a more realistic assessment of problems that the black-faced and the ways to solve them.

Malcolm X or El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz was the African-American Islamic spiritual leader and fighter for human rights. Among his supporters, Malcolm X is known as a defender of the black population of the United States, a sharp critic of the Americans of European origin, who were according to him, guilty in crimes against the blacks. X’s opponents accused him of the support for racism and violence. X has been recognized as one of the most influential African Americans in history (Marable, 2011).

Malcolm X is believed to be one of the greatest and most powerful African Americans ever (Marable, 2011). He is associated with raising the level of African Americans’ self-identity and the establishment of their links with the African heritage (Marable, 2011). X became one of the preachers of Islam in the black community of the United States. According to many black Americans, especially the inhabitants of the northern and western states, X was able to formulate their aspirations better than any one of the known representatives of the civil rights movement of African Americans.

At the end of the sixties of the 20th century more and more radical black activists have often relied on the identity of X and his teachings in their activities. The formation of the “Black power” and the Black Arts Movement was largely inspired by the activities of Malcolm X. The roots of the popular slogan “Black is beautiful” go back to his personality (X & Haley, 1999).

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In prison, Malcolm converted to Islam and changed his original name, calling himself Malcolm X (Malcolm Unknown) (X & Haley, 1999). In 1961, he joined the movement of “Black Muslims” and soon became one of its leaders. “Black Muslims” were in favor of the principle of self-settlement of African Americans in the United States. In other words, it was about ethnic reservations, like the American Indians (X & Haley, 1999). Soon Malcolm X was disappointed in his choice; he accused the “Black Muslims” in collusion with the Ku Klux Klan and the promotion of racial unrest (X & Haley, 1999).

X was often accused of hate speeches, but he did not agree on these views. The ideologist of the “Panther” said he was only trying to explain to his listeners what white America did to them, in the hope that the understanding of that situation would release at the powerless people a lot of energy – both positive and negative – that could then be directed to a constructive purpose (X, 1963). The mistake would be to try to organize the sleeping population; he said that it was necessary to wake them first, and then it would work effectively (X & Haley, 1999). In fact, X worked with a guilt complex, which occurs in victims of violence. Shock therapy was an integral part of his method.

During his trip to Africa, Malcolm X spoke about American blacks. He was politely but firmly corrected, “We do not like that word (nigger), Mr. X, as “African American” sounds more dignified, and it makes more sense” (X & Haley, 1999). From that moment on, Malcolm stopped using the word “nigger”, since he understood from the brief reprimand that it was a racist term. There are people of different nationalities, genotypes, cultures, and religions, and grouping them according to some features of appearance is illogical.

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Malcolm X did a pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca in 1964 as the confirmation of being a devout Muslim. That led to the final X’s transition from a position of Black Nationalism to African-American internationalism – at the same time, however, he did not renounce the idea of armed resistance.

The first of these two main aspects of Malcolm X’s philosophy was racially religious, the second was cultural and political. According to Malcolm X, in Mecca, he realized that he was a true supporter of Islam: “America needs to understand what the real Islam is. Islam is opposed to racism, as people of all colors and all races worship one God … thereby accept each other as brothers and sisters. Islam etches “white” from the minds of white people. If white Americans accept one God, they perhaps would have accepted any person and no longer hurt and annoy others because of differences in skin color” (X, 1963). “In Mecca, I have seen people with blond hair and blue eyes, but when they call themselves white, they describe a particular secondary quality. But here in America, when a person says that he is white, he means something else. It is audible in his voice. When he says that he is white, he makes it clear that he is the chief” (X, 1963).

Back in America, X formed the “Organization of Afro-American Unity” in March 1964, which aimed at “struggling for the full independence of people of African blood” in the Western Hemisphere, and primarily in the United States, Malcolm was able to win over a quarter of a million former supporters of the “Black Muslims” (X & Haley, 1999). As a result, relations between the two groups deteriorated sharply.

The reason for the break with the “Islamic nation” induced Malcolm’s growing popularity and numerous speeches. He thought that assassination of Kennedy was retribution for the horrors of slavery. However, in order not to incur the resentment of the white majority, the “Islamic nation” agreed to remove X from the organization for three months.

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After the murder of Malcolm X, from the military wing of the movement “Black Muslims” the party of self-defense, “Black Panther” singled out (Sitkoff, 2008). It was founded in October 1966 in Oakland, California, to counter the police lawlessness in the black ghetto (Sitkoff, 2008). Two years later, the party entered the arena of American radical politics (Sitkoff, 2008). Therefore, Malcolm X changed the outlook of African Americans in the US. He marked the beginning of active resistance and his philosophy is remaining active even nowadays.

In sum, in twelve years of nonviolent struggle for civil rights, the movement had achieved cessation of racial discrimination in various fields. It prompted black Americans such feelings as self-esteem, pride, and confidence in their abilities, which helped to achieve mutual understanding between white and black US citizens.

In 1956, the supporter of passive resistance, Martin Luther King became the leading figure of the black movement. Passive resistance was converted into the main weapon of the struggle for civil rights provision. The second decade was characterized by riots and more active hostilities. Armed protests in the black ghettos showed the US government that race relations in the country began to go beyond the control of the authorities. The “black riots” showed a real threat to the existing order. That forced the administration to change strategy concerning the blacks. In general, the reaction of the US government, federal and local, on the rise of the Negro movement and riots in the ghetto developed along two main lines – through the tightening of repression using the whole arsenal of suppression resources and through partial temporary concessions, the formal recognition of the black basic rights and freedoms. Malcolm X did not become a true political leader, but his books had a profound effect on African-American culture.

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113 Malcolm X Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

🏆 best malcolm x topic ideas & essay examples, 💡 most interesting malcolm x topics to write about, ⭐ good research topics about malcolm x, 👍 simple & easy malcolm x essay titles, ❓ malcolm x research questions.

  • Autobiography of Malcolm X Written by Alex Haley, a journalist by profession, The Autobiography of Malcolm X is a description of Malcolm’s life in a country dominated with racial discrimination, poverty, abuse of drugs, and crime.
  • Political Theories of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. The struggle reached a climax in the mid 1960s, and in the midst of it all were two charismatic and articulate leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr.and Malcolm X. We will write a custom essay specifically for you by our professional experts 808 writers online Learn More
  • Reflection on Malcolm X This is reflected in the speech Malcolm X delivered in a bid to unify the African Americans. In my view, Malcolm X was using these revolutions to spur the African Americans into action.
  • The Black Arts Era: Contributions of Malcolm X & Martin Luther King Jr. The era was heralded by the establishment of the Black Arts Movement in Harlem in the decade of the 1960s. Many historians view this movement as the artistic arm of the Black Power movement, representing […]
  • Critical Review: Malcolm X by Spike Lee In prison, Malcolm experienced an epiphany, a vision by Elijah Muhammed which aimed to make him understand his role and purpose in life, to promote the deliverance of the black man against the “devil’s curse”.
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X One of the greatest and most influential men that captured the attention of both his friends and enemies, and articulated the struggle, the hunger, and the credence of African-American in the early 1960s is none […]
  • Martin Luther King and Malcolm X Although Malcolm X did not favor violence, he had a strong objection on the subject of nonviolence philosophy on the blacks.
  • Change One’s Life: “Malcolm X” In addition, the film is entertaining and makes the audience stay alert to capture all the happenings in a dynamic manner.
  • Fight Against the Demonization in «Malcolm X» In light of critics’ remarks in the book “The mistakes of Malcolm X”, the director went beyond propaganda and told the story of a society changer. In this instance, the signifier refers to the negative […]
  • Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Comparison In the entire history of the United States, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were the greatest advocators of freedom and civil rights. He believed that the whites were not to be allowed to misbehave […]
  • Malcolm X’s Influence across the World Malcolm was fast and precise in his esteemed roles, and he utilized both the print and broadcast media to pass the NOI’s agenda across the American society.
  • Film Studies: “Malcolm X” But in doings so he earned the wrath of the very people with whom he worked and was assassinated while he was crusading for the cause of equality.
  • Race Identity Evaluation in the Film “Malcolm X” Considering the points at which Omi’s work crosses the plot of the movie and marking the differences between the two, one can track the slightest implementations of racism in the modern American society, which is […]
  • The Activities of Malcolm X This desire elevated him to one of the highly influential African Americans in the long history of the United States and the black community in the country.
  • Malcolm X and Frederick Douglass’ Comparison He was challenged in the area of writing and was incapacitated without the skill and ability to write letters to Mr. He was then to be imprisoned, and inside the four walls of the prison, […]
  • Harrison Bergeron and Malcolm X as Revolutionaries Harrison was the man who was not afraid to stand up to the existing social order and makes some steps to achieve his major goal, which was to make all people free from burdens that […]
  • The Civil Rights Movement: Martin King and Malcolm X’s Views King also stressed that the major concepts he adopted were taken from the “Sermon on the Mount and the Gandhian method of nonviolent resistance”.
  • The Speech “Message to the Grassroots” by Malcolm X When Malcolm refers to black people as a big family and when he constantly repeats the word “common” in regards to the white man as the common enemy, he makes the audience experience a feeling […]
  • King Jr. and Malcolm X in African American History Malcolm was able to sell his ideas to the African Americans in various meetings in the streets of Harlem and in major universities across the United States.
  • Malcolm X’s “Learning to Read” During Imprisonment The mind of an imprisoned person will want to free itself in spite of the fact that it is tightly coupled to the body of the person.
  • Emotional Scene in the “Malcolm X” Film The most powerful part of the film was when Malcolm X started his ‘Nation of Islam’ campaign in the streets of the ghetto.
  • John Locke’s vs. Malcolm X’s Political Philosophy In the context of Malcolm X’s view, the American war for independence underpins the notion that American society awaits another fight for the liberation of the black community.
  • Islam and Racism: Malcolm X’s Letter From Mecca Malcolm’s experience of the pilgrimage has made him believe that real unity and understanding actually can exist between people regardless of their country of birth, the color of skin, or the language they speak.
  • “Malcolm X” (1992) by Spike Lee The movie tells the story of Malcolm Little, also known as Malcolm X, – the Afro-American spiritual leader and a fighter for human rights who lived in the USA in the 1960s. Washington’s talent is […]
  • Reading Competition: “Malcolm X” by Helfer and DuBurke Probably, it is because they realize neither the best way to read nor the importance of reading to their future. Likewise, I have learned to read using competition to encourage me, thus it is my […]
  • Martin Luther King and Malcolm X: Who Is Closer to Success? Martin Luther King Jr.and Malcolm X are remembered for their outstanding fight for civil rights in the United States at a time when the black community faced oppression and inequality in different ways.
  • “The Ballot or the Bullet“ the Speech by Malcolm X Malcolm X’s speech “The Ballot or the Bullet” is focused on several themes important for describing the experiences of many African Americans in the sixties.
  • Malcolm X Warns, “It Shall Be The Ballot or The Bullet” Near the beginning of his speech, Malcolm X said: The first step for those of us who believe in the philosophy of Black Nationalism is to realize that the problem begins right here.
  • The Sixties: Malcolm X’s Speech Black Nationalism, Religion, African-American integration, Violence/non-violence are some of the main issues that Malcolm X addressed in his speech in regards to the Civil Rights movement and the larger American society.
  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s and Malcolm X’s Leadership Styles Thesis: Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were both charismatic leaders, but the latter was more of a transformational leader as well because of his idealistic views and his ability to inspire his followers to […]
  • Comparing MLK with Malcolm X Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were the two major leaders in the Civil Rights Movement of mid 20th century. Though Malcolm X did not live to achieve his goals, his followers were instrumental in […]
  • Malcolm X’s “Ballot or Bullet” Speech: An Analysis There is nothing ethical in Malcolm’s urgings in his overt and covert ‘call to arms’ though he cleverly covers up by giving a choice of either using the ‘Ballot’ or the ‘Bullet’ when he actually […]
  • Malcolm X: Life and Influence in History Upon release on Parole Malcolm becomes a model citizen and an active member of the Detroit temple of the Nation of Islam. Even after his parole, he remained very active in organizing his fellows and […]
  • Freedom: Malcolm X’s vs. Anna Quindlen’s Views However, in reality, we only have the freedom to think whatever we like, and only as long as we know that this freedom is restricted to thought only.
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X as Told to Alex Haley After Malcolm X has gained a huge popularity, as he thought, and was suspended from the Nation of Islam, the real fear for his own life attended him more often.
  • Malcolm X and Sherman Alexie In fact, Learning to Read is an account of Malcolm, his life as a prisoner showing how the dictionary contributed to his present position.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X Under the leadership of Martin Luther King, whom the activists chose as their representative and leader, they protested the arrest with a bus boycott that put a strain on the town’s economy.
  • Malcolm X’s “Ballot or the Bullet” Speech The speech was powerful and motivational, with the speaker masterfully using the rhetorical devices of ethos, pathos, and logos to appeal to his audience.
  • Dr. King, Jr. and Mr. Malcolm X to the Civil Rights Struggle Martin Luther King addressed both black and white people, and his goal was to convince them of Jim Crow’s moral injustice and social discrimination.
  • The Ballot or the Bullet Speech by Malcolm X Malcolm X’s philosophy is partially separatist in nature, but, at the same time, it is filled with the spirit of unity.
  • Malcolm X: The Idea of Black Supremacy Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X had an arduous relationship at the beginning of the 1960s due to the rumors of the latter’s marriage, which was prohibited by the organization’s codex and doctrine.
  • Malcolm X and His Second Conversion However, Malcolm would never have the opportunity to fully evolve his new worldview, as he was shot and killed in 1965.
  • Malcolm X: Galvanizing Change Through Speech Malcolm X is remembered as a literary genius, and “The Ballot or the Ballot” is his greatest oratory achievement. In conclusion, in 1964, Malcolm X made the landmark “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech expressing […]
  • “The Ballot or the Bullet” by Malcolm X and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” by M. L. King According to the activist, the latter means allowing all people to live freely and without fear, segregation, violence, and the need to fight for their rights.
  • The Speeches by Martin Luther King and Malcolm X I want to thank you for this interesting and properly built discussion about how justice and the law are combined in the speeches by Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. The indefatigable aggressiveness of the […]
  • “A Homemade Education” Book by Malcolm X After the release, Malcolm had the tools he needed to change his life and the lives of many others in America.
  • Malcolm X’s Legendary Speech: The Ballot or the Bullet
  • Strategies and Goals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And Malcolm X During the Civil Rights Movements
  • Malcolm X and His Goals in the Civil Rights Movement in America
  • African American Literature: The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • Childhood and Young Adulthood of Malcolm X
  • Black Nationalist Movement: Malcolm X
  • Martin Luther King and Malcolm X – Two Views, One Cause
  • Race and Gender Throughout Malcolm X’s Life
  • Malcolm X’s and Black Separatism
  • The Black Power Movements vs. The Civil Rights Movement: Martin Luther King vs. Malcolm X
  • The Inspirations From the Life Story of Malcolm X
  • Perfect Examples of Freedom Fighters: Martin Luther King, Jr. And Malcolm X
  • The Civil Rights Strategies of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King
  • The Ideological and Spiritual Transformation of Malcolm X
  • Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X: Vision for Equality and Freedom From Racism
  • Religious and Social Visions of Malcolm X
  • Malcolm X’s Legacy From the Ghetto to Activist
  • Breaking Down the Symbolism in Malcolm X’s Life
  • Early and Late View of Nation of Islam Leader Malcolm X
  • Social Justice and Civil Equality: Martin Luther King and Malcolm X ​
  • Icons for the Civil Rights Movement: Martin Luther King Jr. And Malcolm X
  • The Idea That All Men Are Created Equal: A Contradiction Study of Martin Luther King Jr. And Malcolm X
  • Civil Disobedience and Various Approaches of Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X
  • Ritual Dimension: Malcolm X’s Hajj
  • Contemporary Black Nationalism and Malcolm X
  • Philosophies and Tactics of Dr. King and Malcolm X
  • Life and Times of Malcolm X Essay
  • Malcolm X: A Radical Vision for Civil Rights
  • The Impact Malcolm X Had on the Civil Rights Movement
  • Societal Structural Changes and the Influence of Malcolm X
  • American Civil Rights Leaders: Martin Luther King and Malcolm X
  • Malcolm X’s Knowledge and Liberation
  • 1960’s Diary Entries Witness to the Assassination of Malcolm X
  • Malcolm X’s Ideologies Before Mecca and Following
  • Beyond Pan-Africanism: Garveyism, Malcolm X and the End of the Colonial Nation-State
  • Civil Rights Leaders: Dr. Martin Luther King vs. Malcolm X
  • The Life and Leadership of Malcolm X
  • Malcolm X’s Life, Philosophy, and Accomplishments
  • African American Leader: Malcolm X: A Man Who Changed American History
  • The Life and Influence on the Black Civil Rights Movement of Malcolm X
  • Who Is Malcolm X, and Why Is He Famous?
  • What Was Malcolm X Best Known For?
  • Who Died First, Malcolm X or Martin Luther King?
  • Why Was Malcolm X Jailed?
  • What Is a Good Thesis Statement for Malcolm X?
  • Why Was Malcolm X Important?
  • What Was the Purpose of Malcolm X’s Writing?
  • What Was Malcolm X Known for Saying?
  • What Did Malcolm X Symbolize?
  • What Does Malcolm X Tell His Teacher He Wants to Be When He Grows Up?
  • How Important Was Martin Luther King Compared to Malcolm X?
  • How Martin Luther King Jr, Stokely Carmichael, and Malcolm X Fought for Black Power and Civil Rights?
  • Was Martin Luther King Jr’s or Malcolm X’s Doctrines a Better Course of Action for African Americans?
  • What Impact Did Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam Have on the Civil Rights Movement?
  • What Do Martin Luther King, Jr. And Malcolm X Represent in America, World History, and Culture?
  • What Short-Term Impact Did Malcolm X Have on the Black Civil Right Movement 1965-1968?
  • What Would Have Happened if Malcolm X Had Not Been Assassinated?
  • Why Black Activists Rejected Martin Luther King and Followed Malcolm X?
  • Why Does Martin Luther King Have a Public Holiday but Not Malcolm X?
  • Why the Life and Journey of Malcolm X Should Be Taught in School?
  • How Did Malcolm X Overcome the Obstacles of His Early Life?
  • What Did Malcolm X Do Almost to Get Killed by Archie?
  • What Was Malcolm X’s Essential Attitude Toward the Issue of Education?
  • What Happened to Malcolm X’s Historical Reputation Over Time?
  • What Was Malcolm X’s Main Accomplishment?
  • What Praises and Criticism Is There of Malcolm X?
  • How Did Malcolm X Push for Equality?
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  1. Malcolm X

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  2. Malcolm X

    Malcolm X (born May 19, 1925, Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.—died February 21, 1965, New York, New York) African American leader and prominent figure in the Nation of Islam who articulated concepts of race pride and Black nationalism in the early 1960s. After his assassination, the widespread distribution of his life story— The Autobiography of ...

  3. Documenting the Life and Legacy of Malcolm X

    The Portable Malcolm X Reader. New York: Penguin Classics, 2013. Pp. 656. Paper $22.00. In 2011 Manning Marable's Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention was published and in 2012 the book won the Pulitzer Prize for History. Despite the accolades that his book received from the "mainstream media" and others, a number of African American scholars ...

  4. Malcolm X: Criticalassessments and Unanswered Questions

    Herb Boyd, Ron Daniels, Maulana Karenga, and Haki Madhubuti, eds., By Any Means Necessary Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented. Chicago, IL: Third World Press, 2012. Pp. 280. Paper $ 25.00. This incisive and insightful compilation from a range of perspectives address-es two key issues: how we should remember Malcolm X and the future of the black ...

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    In 1964, Malcolm X made two trips to Africa and the Middle East. During those trips, he kept copious notes. This remarkable document, The Diary of Malcolm X El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, 1964, is comprised of those notes, along with editing, annotations, and commentary by editors Herb Boyd and Ilyasah Al-Shabazz. This volume captures Malcolm X in all his complexity, reveals some of his ...

  11. The Malcolm X Project at Columbia University

    THE LIFE OF MALCOLM X takes you on a chronological journey through Malcolm's life, featuring readings, analysis and multimedia concerning each period of his life. MALCOLM MULTIMEDIA is a comprehensive collection of digital media about Malcolm X, featuring video interviews with people who knew Malcolm, government documents and archival footage ...

  12. Malcolm X: The Legacy of a Civil Rights Leader

    Malcolm X was a legendary civil rights activist and leader who fought for the rights of the African American community in the mid-twentieth century. He was born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, and became one of the most influential figures of the Civil Rights Movement. His message of black nationalism, self-reliance, and human dignity ...

  13. Malcolm X: Biography, Civil Rights Activist, Nation of Islam

    Malcolm X was a minister, civil rights activist, and prominent Black nationalist leader who served as a spokesman for the Nation of Islam during the 1950s and 1960s. Due largely to his efforts ...

  14. Opinion

    Malcolm X exists now as a powerfully vulnerable figure, one whose personal missteps, as much as his political brilliance, shaped the course of his life. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm's onetime ...

  15. The autobiography of Malcolm X

    Malcom X was born on 19 th May 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, and was a son of an African Baptist preacher. His mother, Louise Norton Little was a house wife and took responsible of raising the eight children. Malcolm X, Haley and Shabazz, (2) explains that the father of malcoml X, Earl Little was an outspoken activists and minister, and was among ...

  16. Malcolm X "Learning to Read"

    Malcolm X's literacy narrative, "Learning to Read" follows his journey as he learned to read in prison. Unlike Jose Antonio Vargas or Amy Tan, Malcom X focused his literacy narrative on a specific period of his life; he had only his own will guiding him through rewriting the entire dictionary, a feat he had accomplished in order to expand his vocabulary, and better his penmanship.

  17. Malcolm X Essays

    Malcolm X, whose real name is Malcolm Little, was born on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nevada. He was famous for being a leader in the nation of Islam. He wanted the Blacks to accept themselves the way that they were and his other main... Malcolm X. Topics: Harlem, Main leader, Nation of Islam, Negro, Omaha.

  18. The Civil Rights Movement and Malcolm X Essay Sample

    Malcolm X. Malcolm X or El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz was the African-American Islamic spiritual leader and fighter for human rights. Among his supporters, Malcolm X is known as a defender of the black population of the United States, a sharp critic of the Americans of European origin, who were according to him, guilty in crimes against the blacks.

  19. 113 Malcolm X Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

    The Sixties: Malcolm X's Speech. Black Nationalism, Religion, African-American integration, Violence/non-violence are some of the main issues that Malcolm X addressed in his speech in regards to the Civil Rights movement and the larger American society. Martin Luther King Jr.'s and Malcolm X's Leadership Styles.

  20. Malcolm X Essays & Research Papers

    The importance of this research paper is to compare and contrast the two speeches made by Malcolm X. The speaker, Malcolm X, constructs himself as a member of the movement. Malcolm X wanted equality among the two races, negroes and caucasians. In the history of the United States, we have had many years of segregation due to race.

  21. Malcolm X Research Paper

    Malcolm X Research Paper 732 Words | 3 Pages. Malcolm X was born on May 19, 1925 in Omaha Nebraska. He was the fourth of eight children to Louise, a homemaker, and Earl Little, a preacher who was also an active member of the local chapter of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and avid supporter of black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey.

  22. Malcolm X Research Papers

    Malcolm X Research Paper 533 Words | 3 Pages. Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. Malcolm was exposed to white racism and the black separatist movement at an early age. His father, Earl Little, was a Baptist minister and a follower of Jamaican-born, black nationalist Marcus Garvey. When the Littles lived in ...

  23. Malcolm X Research Paper

    Malcolm X Research Paper. 732 Words3 Pages. Malcolm X was born on May 19, 1925 in Omaha Nebraska. He was the fourth of eight children to Louise, a homemaker, and Earl Little, a preacher who was also an active member of the local chapter of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and avid supporter of black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey.