Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. He considered “Little” a slave name and adopted X to acknowledge his lost tribal name. He was a minister, human rights activist and prominent black nationalist leader who served as a spokesman for the Nation of Islam (NOI) during the 1950s and 1960s and was credited with increasing the membership of NOI from 500 in 1952 to 30,000 by 1963. A natural orator, Malcolm X became known for countering racism through his signature slogan “by any means necessary.”
After severing ties with NOI, Malcolm started his own religious group called the Muslim Mosque, Inc. That same year, he went on a pilgrimage to Mecca which fundamentally changed his life and shifted his beliefs. While on the pilgrimage he shared his beliefs with other cultures and found them to be embracing of his ideals, returning to the United States with a new outlook and perspective for hope grounded in integration. Instead of targeting his message to just African Americans he preached unity to all races. After renouncing his position at NOI relations between Malcolm and NOI were never the same and there were repeated attempts to take his life. On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated by 3 gunmen from NOI who shot him at close range in the Audubon Ballroom. He is one of the foremost leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and his legacy continues to live on. We are proud to celebrate Malcolm X as part of the Icon collection.