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Facts about Malcolm X For Kids


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 and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.

  • Malcolm X was orphaned early in life.
  • While in prison, Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam, and after his parole in 1952, quickly rose to become one of the organization’s most influential leaders.
  • In his autobiography, Malcolm X wrote proudly of some of the social achievements the Nation made while he was a member, particularly its free drug rehabilitation program.
  • In keeping with the Nation’s teachings, he promoted black supremacy, advocated the separation of black and white Americans, and rejected the civil rights movement for their emphasis on integration.
  • By March 1964, Malcolm X had grown disillusioned with the Nation of Islam and its leader Elijah Muhammad.
  • After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, which included completing the Hajj, he repudiated the Nation of Islam, disavowed racism and founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
  • Malcolm Little was born May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, the fourth of seven children of Grenada-born Louise Helen Little (née Norton) and Georgia-born Earl Little.
  • Rumors that white racists were responsible for his father’s death were widely circulated and were very disturbing to Malcolm X as a child.
  • In 1946, he was arrested while picking up a stolen watch he had left at a shop for repairs, and in February began serving an eight-to-ten-year sentence at Charlestown State Prison for larceny and breaking and entering.
  • In 1950, the FBI opened a file on Little after he wrote a letter from prison to President Truman expressing opposition to the Korean Warand declaring himself a Communist.
  • In June 1953 he was named assistant minister of the Nation’s Temple Number One in Detroit.
  • During 1955, Malcolm X continued his successful recruitment of members on behalf of the Nation of Islam.
  • The American public first became aware of Malcolm X in 1957, after Hinton Johnson, a Nation of Islam member, was beaten by two New York City police officers.
  • By the late 1950s, Malcolm X was using a new name, Malcolm Shabazz or Malik el-Shabazz, although he was still widely referred to as Malcolm X.
  • His comments on issues and events were being widely reported in print, on radio, and on television, and he was featured in a 1959 New York City television broadcast about the Nation of Islam, The Hate That Hate Produced.
  • Malcolm X felt that calling the movement a struggle for civil rights would keep the issue within the United States while changing the focus to human rights would make it an international concern.
  • Malcolm X has been described as one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.
  • In the late 1960s, increasingly radical black activists based their movements largely on Malcolm X and his teachings.