After being born in 1925 in Omaha Nebraska to a Baptist preacher who followed the preaching’s of Marcus Garvey and consistently fought against the Ku Klux Klan in terms of black rights, Malcolm Little was destined to follow the path to becoming a Civil Rights activist. His family moved to Lansing, Michigan when he Malcolm was young, and had to endure tragedy at the age of six when his father was killed by a White Supremacist group. After going through conflicts involving foster care and welfare throughout his childhood, it would be no surprise that Malcolm Little dropped out of school after the eighth grade and was heading towards a life of crime. At the age of 21, Little was arrested on burglary charges which is where he learned about the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, the lead of the Black Muslim group known as the Lost-Found Nation of Islam (NOI). This group promoted the thought that the “white man is the devil with whom blacks cannot live”. This is where Malcolm decided to drop his last name, and would be known from that point forward as: Malcolm X.
Malcolm X would go on to make a name for himself in Harlem as the minister of Temple No. 7 and an advocate for the Nation of Islam, where his advocacy for self-defense against racism began to spread. Utilizing newspaper columns, radio, television and any other kind of media he could drum up, Malcolm had a message to preach, and was willing to use everything at his disposal to spread the ideals of the NOI. He was perceived to be the opposite of Martin Luther King Jr. who kept a clam demeanor. Malcolm X was borderline brash with his preaching’s and his self-made controversies brought the attention he crazed for the meaning of his preaching’s and the NOI. Eventually, he would see a falling out from the Lost-Found Nation of Islam and Muhammad, who felt that X’s success, including his influence on the much respected Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), was a threat to himself. Eventually this lead to Malcolm leaving the organization in 1964. Malcolm X would change his religious beliefs after a visit to Mecca. The change to become an orthodox Muslim would quiet his demeanor on his return to the United States, but still meant to advocate for black rights and their release from racism.
Eventually, Malcolm X would be assassinated in February of 1965 at a rally of his in New York, but as he had previously predicted, his influence would be far more important in death than when he was living. The SNCC would call for black power for black people, which was the main component of X’s urgings. He always thought that the lack of power was what kept the black race down in society. This is the main reason why Malcolm X is so prominent amongst black historical leaders, and why his autobiography The Autobiography of Malcolm X had sold over 6,000,000 copies by 1977.