10 Interesting Facts About Malcolm X
What led him to become Muslim? Who’s responsible for his death?
Malcolm X is arguably one of the most misunderstood public figures in modern history. Learn more about what shaped the man and his message with this list of interesting facts about his life.
Malcolm X may be remembered as one of the world’s most famous Muslims, but his father, Earl Little, was a Baptist minister. Little’s civil rights activism made him a target for white supremacists.
After his family moved from Omaha, Neb., to East Lansing, Mich., Malcolm found himself the sole black child at his junior high. His classmates liked him enough to elect him class president, but Biography.com reports that Malcolm felt more like a “class pet.”
Earl Little took out a life insurance policy before white supremacists killed him. Despite the fact that Little was obviously assaulted before his corpse was found on a set of railroad tracks, the authorities ruled his death a suicide, barring the Little family from receiving a life insurance payout.
Malcolm’s brother Reginald is widely credited with influencing him to join the Nation of Islam.
Malcolm’s half-sister Ella, whom he lived with in Boston after leaving school as a young teen, was the first black woman he met who expressed pride in her skin color.
Manning Marable, the late author of “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” wrote in the biography that Malcolm was not the criminal he claimed to be, even though Malcolm did serve time for larceny. Instead, Marable argued that Malcolm was living in Michigan when he claimed to have committed many of the crimes he copped to on the East Coast.
On Feb. 21, 1965, three men gunned down Malcolm X as he gave a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan. That ballroom is now the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center.
Historian Marable argued that the New York City Police Department and the FBI both knew that Malcolm X’s days were numbered before his assassination, but did not stop his killers. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne denied this in a 2010 statement, explaining, “The N.Y.P.D. was not complicit in Malcolm X’s assassination, and it’s gratuitously false to suggest as much.”
Following Malcolm X’s assassination, his widow had no money to raise their daughters. Betty Shabazz survived from royalties she received from “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and the publication of her husband’s speeches.
None of the three men convicted of killing Malcolm X served life sentences for the assassination. Two of the men were released from prison in the 1980s, and Thomas Hagan was paroled in 2010. Hagan maintains that the other two men who were convicted weren’t involved in the assassination plot.
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