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Malcolm X is a prominent African-American civil rights activist and Muslim minister who introduced black nationalism and African pride during the 1950s and 60s. See the fact file below for more information on Malcolm X or alternatively download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Early and Personal Life
- On May 19, 1925, Malcolm X was born in Omaha, Nebraska. He was the fourth of the seven children of Louise and Earl Little. His father was an avid supporter and member of the Universal Negro Improvement Movement, and he supported Marcus Garvey, a known Pan-African nationalist leader. Malcolm X’s family experienced several harassments from the Ku Klux Klan and other factions such as the Black Legion due to Earl’s civil rights activism.
- When young Malcolm was four, his family moved to Milwaukee after a hooded party of Ku Klux Klan riders raided their home in Omaha. In 1929, a racist mob set their house on fire leading them to move again to East Lansing.
- In 1931, Malcolm’s father was found dead in the street across the municipal streetcar tracks. His mother was admitted to Kalamazoo State Hospital six years later due to trauma and depression, where she stayed for 24 years. Meanwhile, Malcolm and his siblings were sent to foster families.
- By 1938, Malcolm X was sent to the juvenile detention home in Mason, Michigan. He stayed with a white couple who treated him well. Later on, he attended Mason High School, where he excelled academically and socially.
- At the age of 15, Malcolm dropped out of school after encountering his English teacher. Malcolm thought of being a lawyer, but the teacher told him to be realistic and consider carpentry instead.
- He moved to Boston with his sister Ella. Malcolm worked at the Roseland Ballroom. Later on, he became acquainted with drug sellers in the underground streets of Boston.
- When in Harlem, Malcolm engaged in gambling, drug dealing, robbery, and pandering. In 1945, Malcolm robbed wealthy white families.
- Malcolm X was arrested in 1946 for robbery, and he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Most of his time in prison was spent reading books while his siblings joined the Nation of Islam.
- In 1958, Malcolm married another member of the Nation of Islam, Betty Sanders, later known as Betty X. The couple had six daughters.
The Nation of Islam and Activism
- In 1950, Malcolm wrote to US President Harry Truman opposing the Korean War. In the same year, he began to use “Malcolm X” in his correspondence.
- In 1952, he converted to the Nation of Islam with the idea that black Americans should have their state separate from white Americans to gain freedom, justice, and equality.
- After his release from prison, Malcolm travelled to Detroit, Michigan. He met Elijah Muhammad, a leader of the Nation of Islam, and supported him to expand the movements nationwide.
- Malcolm served as the minister of Temple No.7 in Harlem and Temple No.11 in Boston, together with the new temples in Hartford and Philadelphia. By 1960, the national newspaper Muhammad Speaks was established.
- Malcolm’s militant proposal earned him numbers of followers and critics. The Nation of Islam grew to 40,000 members from 400 in 1952.
- Due to the rapid ascent of the Nation of Islam from Detroit to Boston to Philadelphia and Harlem, the FBI tagged him with communism.
- In 1955, the Nation of Islam temples was built in Springfield, Hartford, and Atlanta.
- Malcolm’s biographers believed that his physical appearance was also impressive, aside from the man’s excellent speaking skills.
- Malcolm X became known to the American public in 1957 following the Hinton Johnson incident. Johnson, a member of the Nation of Islam, was beaten by New York police officers after interfering in the beating of another African-American.
- As an active member and leader of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm believed that black people are the world’s original people. The white people were the protagonist, and the demise of the white race was coming.
Rise to Prominence
- In 1960, Malcolm attended the United Nations General Assembly in New York City and met Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Guinea’s Ahmed Sékou Touré, Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda, and Cuba’s Fidel Castro.
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a contemporary of Malcolm during the early 1960s. However, King’s Civil Right Movement as an alternative to Malcolm’s radical philosophy. The NAACP, in particular, denounced the Nation of Islam and its extremist actions.
- While most civil rights movements, including King’s NAACP, fought against racial segregation, Malcolm pushed for the complete separation of black people from whites. He believed that African-Americans should go back to their continent. He opposed King’s nonviolence and pushed to fight by any means necessary.
- Next to Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm was regarded as the second most influential Nation of Islam leader. He even inspired the famous boxer Cassius Clay (later named Muhammad Ali) to join the organization. He also mentored Louis Farrakhan (Louis X).
Break from the Nation of Islam
- In 1964, Malcolm left the Nation of Islam after feeling betrayed and misunderstood. He found Elijah Muhammad’s extramarital affairs against his teachings, while Elijah did not like his comments regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
- In the same year, he founded Pan-African groups, the Muslim Mosque, Inc (MMI), and the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). On March 26, 1964, he met Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Senate’s debate on the Civil Rights bill in Washington.
- A few weeks after leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm converted to the Sunni faith.
- He embarked on a trip to North Africa and the Middle East, where he had his Hajj in April 1964. Malcolm X converted to traditional Islam during his pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and was named El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.
- After he visited Africa, Malcolm stopped in Pais and spoke in the Salle de la Mutualité. He then flew to the UK and attended a debate at the Oxford Union Society.
- Upon his return to the United States, he became more optimistic about a peaceful resolution regarding racial problems in America. He spoke at the Militant Labour Forum of the Socialist Workers Party.
Threats, Death, and Legacy
- On February 14, 1965, Malcolm’s wife, Betty, and their four daughters escaped from the firebomb thrown in their house in East Elmhurst, New York. Repeated death plots forbid the family from travelling.
- On February 19, Malcolm told interviewer Gordon Parks about the death threats from the Nations of Islam.
- On February 21, 1965, he was assassinated by the members of the Nations of Islam in New York City while addressing his Organization of Afro-American Unity. It was an event that altered the path of the Civil Rights Movement.
- At 39 years old, Malcolm X faced his death with 21 close-range gunshots. He was pronounced dead on arrival at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.
- According to The Dead are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, the assassins were members of the Nation of Islam, including William Bradley, Leon Davis, Thomas Hayer, Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler, and Thomas 15X Johnson.
- On February 27, 1965, fifteen hundred people attended his funeral at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ. His remains were buried at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.
- In March 1966, Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler, and Thomas 15X Johnson were convicted of the first-degree murder of Malcolm X and were sentenced to life in prison. In 1985, Butler was paroled and became the Nation’s Harlem mosque’s leader by 1988.
- In 2021, Butler and Johnson were exonerated from their convictions.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed his sadness about the assassination in a letter to Betty X. Meanwhile, Elijah Muhhamad spoke that Malcolm X “got just what he preached.”
- Despite his relatively short life, Malcolm X was regarded as one of the most influential African-Americans. He was credited for the spread of Islam in the US and the reconnection of African-Americans to their African heritage.
- Many African-Americans in the Northern and Western regions believed that Malcolm X articulated discrimination and inequality better than the mainstream civil rights movement.
- Inspired by the philosophy of Malcolm X, the Black Power movement and the Black Arts movement were established in the late 1960s.
- In 1992, filmmaker Spike Lee directed the film Malcolm X featuring Denzel Washington. It received Oscar nominations.
Malcolm X Worksheets
This bundle contains 11 ready-to-use Malcolm X Worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about the prominent African-American civil rights activist and Muslim minister who introduced black nationalism and racial pride during the 1950s and 60s
Download includes the following worksheets
- Malcolm X Facts
- Malcolm X
- Civil Rights Movement
- Malcolm in Words
- Malcolm and Martin
- Black or White
- X Says
- Famous African-Americans
- Dialogue Analysis
- Freedom Board
Frequently Ask Questions
What was Malcolm X famous for?
Malcolm X was an African-American civil rights leader and minister of the Nation of Islam.
What is Malcolm X’s real name?
Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little. He was later renamed Malik el-Shabazz.
Who died first, Malcolm X or Martin Luther King?
Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965, while Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed in 1968.
Why did Malcolm change his name?
While in prison, Malcolm joined the Nation of Islam and adopted Malcolm X’s name to symbolize his unknown African ancestral surname.
What happened to Malcolm’s father and mother?
In 1931, Malcolm’s father was killed by the white supremacist Black Legion. Following his father’s death, his mother suffered a nervous breakdown and was sent to a mental institution.
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Link will appear as Malcolm X Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 7, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.