Malcolm X

Who is Malcolm X: 

Malcolm X was an African American civil rights activist, pastor, and proponent of Black nationalism. He pushed his fellow African-Americans to defend themselves against white hostility by whatever means necessary, a stance that sometimes clashed with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s peaceful teachings. 

 Impact of influence: 

Shortly following Malcolm’s release from prison, he helped to lead the Islamic nation into the period of its greatest influence and growth. He would preach his beliefs on the streets to any African American that would listen. He made the biggest impact through his speeches which contributed to the development of Black nationalist ideology. This greatly helped in popularizing the values of autonomy among African Americans throughout 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s.  

Malcolm X Mugshot


Malcolm X became the principal spokesman of the Nation of Islam during the 1960’s. Alongside founding a newspaper company and leading Temple No. 7 in New York City’s Harlem. He was later appointed the national representative of Islam, which was the second most powerful position in the NOI (Nation of Islam). 

Iconic Status: 

If the iconic status was not achieved during his lifetime, he gained the recognition he deserved after this death through the publication of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”. Malcolm X Day takes place either on his birthday of May 19 or the third Friday of May. The remembrance of the civil rights leader has been a yearly recurrence since the first Malcolm X Day celebrated on May 19, 1971. 


Malcolm X meeting with Martin Luther King Jr. (March 26, 1964)


He became the leading spokesperson for racial separatism in America, but also against racism in a quite unique way from traditional civil rights groups. He did more than speak out against racism in the abstract; he also spoke out on concerns, majority of which remain with us. Unlike other civil rights activists like MLK, Malcolm X believed that equality should be achieved through violence if necessary.  

Contribution to a field: 

Following Malcolm X’s conversion to Islam, he became an avid member of the Nation of Islam, an African American sect of Islam headed by Elijah Muhammad. In August 1952, Malcolm X was released on parole. Shortly after being released, he visited Elijah Muhammad in Chicago. In June 1953, he was named assistant minister of the Number One Temple in Detroit, continuing to expand his influence within the Nation of Islam. In 1964, Malcolm X converted to Sunni Islam, participating in hajj the same year and denouncing the Nation of Islam as well as Elijah Muhammad. On February 19, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated by a member of the Nation of Islam. The nation began to fear Malcolm X and separatism, fearing his significance in mainstream African American society.

Malcolm X partaking in Hajj (Islamic Pilgrimage to Mecca)

Historical Significance:

Malcolm X, a prolific yet overlooked civil rights activist. Malcolm X was motivated to bring peace to all nations. He became in international diplomat through visiting 14 African countries as well as meeting with 11 heads of state. He was a very significant figure in the history of African Americans, as well as believers of Islam through fighting for their rights. His ideology was different from the non-violent methods of Martin Luther King Junior. This is shown through several of Malcolm’s speeches: “Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”  Although his methods were seen as extreme, the impact he had on society at the time and the society of today have not gone unnoticed. 


“Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.” 
― Malcolm  


Mamiya, Lawrence A., editor. Britannica. 

Malcolm X. 

“On 50th Anniversary of Assassination, Malcolm X’s Legacy Continues to Evolve.” TIME,     3715164/50-years-malcolm-x/. 

“Malcolm X.” Biography, 

“The Legacy of Malcolm X.” The Atlantic,     the-legacy-of-malcolm-x/308438/.