People Who Kick Buts: Malcolm X
Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.
- Born on May 19, 1925; Passed away on February 21, 1965
- An African American Muslim minister and human rights activist.
- To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. Detractors accused him of preaching racism, black supremacy, antisemitism, and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.
- Malcolm X’s father died—killed by whites, it was rumored—when he was young, and at least one of his uncles was lynched. When he was thirteen, his mother was placed in a mental hospital, and he was placed in a series of foster homes. In 1946, at age 20, he went to prison for breaking and entering.
- In prison, Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam and after his parole in 1952 he quickly rose to become one of its leaders. For a dozen years Malcolm X was the public face of the controversial group, but disillusionment with Nation of Islam head Elijah Muhammad led him to leave the Nation in March 1964. After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East he returned to the United States, where he founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. In February 1965, less than a year after leaving the Nation of Islam, he was assassinated by three members of the group. Because of Ku Klux Klan threats, the family relocated in 1926 to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and shortly thereafter to Lansing, Michigan.
- Malcolm Little was born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska.
- Malcolm Little was one of the best students in his junior high school, but he dropped out after a white eighth-grade teacher told him that his aspirations of being a lawyer were “no realistic goal for a nigger.” Years later, Malcolm X would laugh about the incident, but at the time it was humiliating. It made him feel that there was no place in the white world for a career-oriented black man, no matter how smart he was. After living with a series of white foster parents, Malcolm moved to Boston in February 1941 to live with his older half-sister, Ella Little Collins.
- Malcolm X met Betty Sanders in 1955. She had been invited to listen to his lecture, and she was very impressed by him. They met again at a dinner party. Soon Sanders was attending all of Malcolm X’s lectures at Temple Number Seven. In mid 1956, she joined the Nation of Islam.
Malcolm X and Betty X did not have a conventional courtship. One-on-one dates were contrary to the teachings of the Nation of Islam. Instead, the couple shared their “dates” with dozens, or even hundreds of other members. Malcolm X frequently took groups to visit New York’s museums and libraries, and he always invited Betty X.
Although they had never discussed the subject, Betty X suspected that Malcolm X was interested in marriage. On January 12, 1958, he called from Detroit and asked her to marry him, and they were married two days later in Lansing, Michigan.
The couple had six daughters.