Malcolm X , original name Malcolm Little, Muslim name el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, (born May 19, 1925, Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.—died February 21, 1965, New York, New York), African American leader and prominent figure in the Nation of Islam who articulated concepts of race pride and Black nationalism in the early 1960s. After his assassination, the widespread distribution of his life story— The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965)—made him an ideological hero, especially among Black youth.
An articulate public speaker, a charismatic personality, and an indefatigable organizer, Malcolm X expressed the pent-up anger, frustration, and bitterness of African Americans during the major phase of the civil rights movement from 1955 to 1965. He preached on the streets of Harlem and spoke at major universities such as Harvard University and the University of Oxford. His keen intellect, incisive wit, and ardent radicalism made him a formidable critic of American society. He also criticized the mainstream civil rights movement. Malcolm argued that more was at stake than the civil right to sit in a restaurant or even to vote—the most important issues were Black identity, integrity, and independence. Continue reading from Britannica
In the immediate aftermath of Malcolm X's death, commentators largely ignored his recent spiritual and political transformation and criticized him as a violent rabble-rouser. But especially after the publication of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, he will be remembered for underscoring the value of a truly free populace by demonstrating the great lengths to which human beings will go to secure their freedom. "Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression,” he said. “Because power, real power, comes from our conviction which produces action, uncompromising action." Continue reading from History