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Thinking Critically, Seventh Edition
John Chaffee et al.
Author Biographies
Chapter 4: Perceiving

"Five accounts of the Assassination of Malcolm X" (p. 161)
Malcolm X (1925-1965)


Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska. His father was a Baptist minister. As a result of his ties with Marcus Garvey's back-to-Africa movement, Malcolm's father was murdered by white supremacists. Malcolm's mother subsequently suffered an emotional breakdown and was committed to a mental institution. Malcolm and his seven siblings were sent live in foster homes. Malcolm gradually began to associate with criminals, and he became well known as a gangster named "Detroit Red." In 1946 he was sentenced to ten years in prison for robbery.

Malcolm took advantage of the prison library and became interested in the Black Muslim's Nation of Islam. He assumed the last name "X" because he refused to be called by the name given to his ancestors by the white man. After his release in 1952, Malcolm X became a Black Muslim minister and eventually the national spokesman for the Nation of Islam.

In 1964, however, after tension grew between himself and Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Black Muslims, Malcolm X left the organization. He went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and returned with a new faith in integration of the races. He was speaking in Harlem on his newfound belief, on February 21, 1965, when he was assassinated. Three members of the Black Muslims were convicted.



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