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11"w x 17"h ready to hang print on wood. The print is designed on a floating mount which gives the illusion it is suspended in mid air once hung.

Malcolm X

  • On May 19, 1965, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X, was born Malcolm Little in Omaha. Nebraska, U.S.A., to Earl Little and his wife Louise.


    Shortly after Malcolm’s birth, his family moved to Lansing, Michigan. The events that would unfold helped to mold the personality of one of the greatest leaders and most eloquent and outspoken speakers of the civil rights movement.


    Malcolm’s father, Earl Little, was a Baptist preacher and an outspoken critic of the social and economic inequalities of his time. He was also a supporter of the “Back to Africa” movement of the Black Nationalist, Marcus Garvey. In 1931, Earl Little was killed. Some people believe he was murdered by white terrorists because of his social and political activism. After Malcolm’s father was killed his mother suffered a nervous breakdown and her eight children were taken away from her. Malcolm was placed in a foster home and at a later date, he was placed in a reform school. At the age of 16, he went to live with his half-sister in Boston and at the age of 17, he moved to Harlem, in New York City.


    In Harlem, Malcolm was known as “Detroit Red”. He soon became a player in the New York City underworld, committing crimes such as drug dealing and armed robbery. At the age of 20, he was sentenced to ten years in prison for a burglary conviction. While in Prison, Malcolm became an avid reader. He also became interested in the Nation of Islam, one of the three major religions of the world.


    Malcolm studied the teachings of the leader of the Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad. In addition to the traditional teachings of Islam, Elijah Muhammad also advocated Black Nationalism and economic self determination for African-Americans living in the United States. The Nation of Islam opposed the use of drugs and alcohol, coordinated various community level programs as well as started numerous businesses including farms, small stores and restaurants across the country. In 1952, Malcolm Little was released from prison and moved back to Detroit. There, he joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name from Malcolm Little to Malcolm X. The X represented the unknown in accordance with the Nation of Islam’s position that his last name was a slave name given to one of his ancestors by a slave master.


    In 1958, Malcolm X married Betty Sanders; later to be known as Betty Shabazz. They had six daughters.


    Malcolm X rose rapidly within the Nation of Islam and became one of their best ministers attracting many followers. In 1954, Elijah Muhammad appointed Malcolm as the chief minister of Harlem’s main temple. Malcolm also helped to establish the Nation of Islam's newspaper, Muhammad Speaks. While most black leaders of the civil rights movement advocated integration, Malcolm taught the opposite.


    Malcolm followed the Nation of Islam’s belief that white people were the “devil” by nature and that western culture was inherently racist. He believed that black people should be in control of their own society, ethical values, and businesses.


    Malcolm X’s fiery style and natural speaking ability made him a very popular public speaker and a magnet for new recruits. However, his growing reputation and popularity created tension between some of the Nation of Islam's other leaders and himself.


    In 1963, when the president of United States, John F. Kennedy, was killed, Malcolm remarked that this represented “the chickens coming home to roost”. Although this comment was not meant to be disrespectful to the late president, the media used it to infer that Malcolm thought the President deserved to die. In fact, Malcolm was referring to how this murder brought to light the problem of violence as a normal part of the American culture.


    Blacks were well aware of this violence since they were often the victims of it at the hands of racists.


    But now, that it had struck the president, white Americans were finally becoming aware of it as well. However, the insensitive nature of Malcolm’s comments reflected poorly on the Nation of Islam. With the tensions already present within the Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad instructed him to not speak in public or he would be dismissed from the Nation of Islam. This, along with other issues, prompted Malcolm to leave the Nation of Islam in 1964 and form his own organization the Muslim Mosque, Inc.


    After his break with the Nation of Islam, Malcolm took a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy Muslim city in Saudi Arabia and the birth place of the founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad. He also visited several other African and Arabic nations. While on this trip, he wrote a highly publicized letter expressing his own faith as a follower of traditional Islam and renounced the teachings that all white people were evil.


    He became a Sunni Muslim (Sunni Islam) and adopted the religious name El_Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. This name means Malcolm (or Malik) who is from the tribe or family of Shabazz and has made the Hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca. Although he adopted this new name, he accepted people still referring to him as Malcolm X.


    When Malcolm returned to the US, he encouraged blacks to vote and take part in the political system. He also advocated racial solidarity and sought to form a coalition of black organizations to fight white racism. Malcolm once said that in Mecca, he realized that all colors are all children of Allah (God).


    On February 21, 1965, El_Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Malcolm X, was assassinated while addressing a rally in New York City.

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