There are two sides to every story, for every positive, there is always a negative, whether obvious or otherwise. Powerful stories that influenced history like that of Malcolm X are not the exception to this seemingly simple rule. To some, Malcolm was an epitome of racism and violence while to others, he was one of the greatest black persons in the history of America. In this article, we talk about who Malcolm X was, what led to his death and the actual time this sad event occurred.
Who Was Malcolm X?
Malcolm X was born as Malcolm Little on 19th May 1925 into the large family of Louise Ellen and Earl Little. He and his six siblings were raised with Black pride instilled in their hearts by their parents, which did not come as a surprise since they were the children of a Universal Negro Improvement Association leader and a pro-black reporter. During his childhood, his family had to move around a lot due to several harassments and threats that their conviction attracted from several opposing entities, notably the white supremacist hate groups Ku Klux Klan (also known as KKK or the Klan) and Black Legion. Allegedly, the latter went as far as burning down the family house of the Littles in 1929, and killing the family’s patriarch the following year, although his death was ruled as a car accident.
The death of his father left Malcolm and his siblings in the care of their mother who tried her best to keep the family together despite having several issues of her own. However, the stress resulted in a depletion of her mental health and she eventually had to be committed to a psychiatric hospital. This led to Malcolm X getting separated from his siblings as they all had to grow up in different foster homes.
Needless to say, Malcolm had a hard life growing up and being black did not help matters. Amidst all his mishaps, young Malcolm had a dream of becoming a lawyer but that dream was reportedly quashed by a white teacher who told him his dream was not for “niggers”. He later dropped out of school after junior high school.
Gradually, Malcolm went from a promising young student to doing odd jobs and getting involved in petty crimes like robbery, pimping, gambling and dealing drugs. He was eventually arrested along with some accomplices and sentenced to prison after a series of robberies targeting rich white families in 1946.
He was granted parole in August 1952 and he joined a political and religious group of African-Americans called Nation of Islam. In the following few years, Malcolm rose so much within the ranks of the movement that he was able to expand the number of temples and recruit thousands of African-Americans to join their cause. He also started using the names ‘Malcolm Shabazz’ and ‘Malik e-Shabazz’. More so, using his charm as a well-built handsome man and his skill as an eloquent speaker, Malcolm was able to further the cause of the Nation of Islam and establish temples in cities like Boston, Harlem, Philadelphia, Hartford, Springfield, and Atlanta.
Malcolm remained in the Nation and rose in leadership to become the second most influential person there, after its founder Elijah Muhammed. During his time there, he promoted the group’s teachings which were basically that Black people are the original owners of the world and that they are superior to white people who are devils whose demise was forthcoming.
On 18th March 1964, Malcolm X departed from the Nation of Islam, citing that Elijah Muhammed was preventing him from working with other civil rights leaders and he started the Black Nationalist organization.
When And How Did Malcolm X Die?
The people of the Nation of Islam did not take kindly to Malcolm X’s departure from the movement and they subsequently intimidated him and his family with several death threats throughout the year 1964. On February 21, 1965, while he was preparing to address an audience of 400 people in Audubon Ballroom, Manhattan, there was a commotion and he was shot repeatedly by gunmen who were later identified as members of the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X was pronounced dead at exactly 3:30 pm on the same day at the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, he died from 21 gunshot wounds to the shoulder, chest, arms, and legs, as revealed by his autopsy.