Malcolm X born in Omaha, Nebraska May 19, 1925 - February 21, 1965 born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz was an African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers, he was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. Detractors accused him of preaching racism, black supremacy and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.
Malcolm Little was born May 19, 1925 the fourth of seven children of Grenada-born Louise Little and Georgia-born Earl Little. Earl was an outspoken Baptist lay speaker, admirer of Pan-African activist Marcus Garvey, and local leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) who inculcated self-reliance and black pride in his children. Malcolm X later said that violence by whites killed three of his father's brothers. When Little was six, his father was killed by a streetcar. Though police said the dying man declared he had slipped, at the funeral someone told one of the children their father had been pushed onto the tracks; some blacks suspected the Black Legion. After a dispute with creditors, a life insurance benefit (nominally $1,000—about $15,000 in 2010 dollars) was paid to Louise Little in payments of $18 per month, the issuer of another, larger policy refused to pay, claiming suicide. To make ends meet Louise Little rented out part of her garden, and her sons hunted game.
In 1938 when Malcolm was 13 his mother had a nervous breakdown and was committed to Kalamazoo State Hospital, where she remained until Malcolm and his siblings secured her release 24 years later. The children were separated and sent to various foster homes. Malcolm Little excelled in junior high school but dropped out after a white teacher told him that practicing law, his aspiration at the time, was "no realistic goal for a nigger”. It made Malcolm feel that the white world offered no place for a career-oriented black man, regardless of his talent. After living in a series of foster homes, at age 15 Little went to live with a half-sister, Ella Little Collins, in Roxbury, a largely African-American neighbourhood of Boston, where he held a variety of jobs. After a short time in Flint, Michigan, Little moved to Harlem, New York, in 1943, where he engaged in drug dealing, gambling, racketeering, robbery, and pimping, according to recent biographies, he also occasionally had sex with other men, usually for money. He was called "Detroit Red" because of the reddish hair he inherited from his Scottish maternal grandfather. Little was declared "mentally disqualified for military service" after he told draft board officials he was eager to "steal us some guns, and kill us some crackers. In late 1945, Little returned to Boston, where he embarked on a series of burglaries targeting wealthy white families. In 1946, he was arrested while picking up a stolen watch he had left for repairs at a jewellery shop, and in February began serving an eight- to ten-year sentence at Charlestown State Prison. There he met John Bembry, a self-educated man he would later describe as "the first man I had ever seen command total respect ... with words", under Bembry's influence, Little developed a voracious appetite for reading.
During Little's imprisonment several of his siblings wrote to him about the Nation of Islam, a relatively new religious movement preaching black self-reliance and, ultimately, the reunification of the African diaspora with Africa, free from white American and European domination. After a visit in which Reginald described the group's teachings, including the belief that white people are devils, Little came to the conclusion that every relationship he'd had with whites had been tainted by dishonesty, injustice, greed, and hatred. In 1950 Little began signing his name "Malcolm X", explaining in his…