, 1925–65, African American
(revolutionary black nationalist
) leader in the United States, also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz
, b. Malcolm Little in Omaha, Neb. He was introduced to the Nation of Islam
(Black Muslims) while serving a prison term and became a Muslim minister upon his release in 1952. He rose to become the national spokesman of the Nation and quickly became very prominent in the movement, with a following perhaps equaling or greater than that of its leader, Elijah Muhammad
. In 1963, Malcolm X
was suspended by Elijah after a speech in which Malcolm
suggested that President Kennedy’s assassination was a matter of the “chickens coming home to roost.” He then formed a rival organization of his own, the Muslim Mosque, Inc.
In 1964, after a pilgrimage to Mecca, he announced his conversion to orthodox Islam and his new belief that there could be brotherhood between black and white
. In his Organization of Afro-American Unity
, formed after his return, the tone was still that of militant (revolutionary) black nationalism but no longer of separation. Between 1963 and 1965, Malcolm developed a close relationship Maxwell Stanford, the national field chairman of the Revolutionary Action Movement
(RAM), a clandestine organization. According to papers published by Stanford and others, Malcolm agreed to serve as international spokesman of RAM. He kept it a secret because RAM international Chairman was Robert F. Williams who at the time
was a fugitive in exile from the US and living in China and Cuba. In Feb., 1965, Malcolm X
was shot and killed in a public auditorium in New York City. His assassins were vaguely identified as Black Muslims, but this is a matter of controversy. Malcolm believed the threat to his life was much larger than the Nation of Islam. He noted that he had been under US Government
surveillance while traveling in Africa and that some of the things happening to him were beyond the capabilities of the Nation of Islam. Evidence would later surface during the investigation of the FBI’s counter intelligence program COINTELPRO
showing that police/government agents had infiltrated Malcolm’s organizations to the highest levels and were present at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, NY, when he was assassinated.