Malcolm X ► May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965
∟ Malcolm X, the activist and outspoken public voice of the Black Muslim faith, challenged the mainstream civil rights movement and the nonviolent pursuit of integration championed by Martin Luther King Jr. He urged followers to defend themselves against white aggression “by any means necessary.” Born Malcolm Little, he changed his last name to X to signify his rejection of his “slave” name. Charismatic and eloquent, Malcolm became an influential leader of the Nation of Islam, which combined Islam with black nationalism and sought to encourage and enfranchise disadvantaged young blacks searching for confidence in segregated America.
After Malcolm X’s assassination on February 21, 1965, his bestselling book The Autobiography of Malcolm X popularized his ideas, particularly among black youth, and laid the foundation for the Black Power movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. [x]