The life and assassination of Malcolm X, the controversial civil rights activist whose death remains a mystery
- Malcolm X was one of the most important and controversial civil rights activists in the 20th century.
- Unlike other civil rights leaders who advocated for nonviolent civil disobedience, Malcolm X promoted self-defense and racial justice"by any means necessary," and called for racial separatism between black and white Americans.
- In his lifetime, he helped grow the Nation of Islam, an African American religious and political movement, from a few hundred members to nearly 75,000 people, before differences with the organization's leader forced him out. About a year later, he was assassinated.
- Malcolm X's murder is being re-investigated after a six-part documentary called "Who Killed Malcolm X?" was released on Netflix in February, 55 years after his assassination.
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Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, experienced racism first-hand as a child when his house was burned down and his father, an outspoken black Baptist minister, was said to have been violently murdered by white supremacists. Not long after, his mother was institutionalized for mental illness.
While serving an eight to 10-year sentence in prison for grand larceny, Malcolm X joined the Nation of Islam, an African American religious and political group that has become "one of the wealthiest and best-known organizations in black America," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Over the course of 12 years, Malcolm X helped grow the group from a few hundred members to up to 75,000 people. He was a talented orator - with a deep and gravelly voice - and became a vocal civil rights activist, but unlike leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., did not agree with nonviolent civil disobedience. Instead, he spoke out in favor of self-defense and racial separatism between blacks and whites.
Malcolm X would go on to change many of his views on race in America and leave the Nation of Islam. A year later, in 1965, he would be assassinated.
Since then his death, Malcolm X's reputation has been far from static, and now - due, in part, to a six-part Netflix documentary called "Who Killed Malcolm X?" - the controversial black nationalist who died by assassination 55 years ago is being reintroduced to America.
Here is the life and death of Malcolm X.