Malcolm X (1925-1965), formerly Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, converted to the Nation of Islam (Black Muslims) while he was in prison. After his release in 1952 he became a minister and spokesman of the Nation of Islam, second in prominence only to Elijah Muhammad. As a Black Muslim, he preached the racial superiority of blacks and black nationalism. Malcolm X was a critic of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s strategy of nonviolence. He is considered a forefather of the Black Power movement. Tensions within the Nation of Islam led to his departure in 1964. He converted to mainstream Islam and made a pilgrimage to Mecca. His experience there with Muslims of all colors convinced him that different races could coexist. He founded the Muslim Mosque, Inc., and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. On February 21, 1965, at the Organization of Afro-American Unity meeting in Manhattan, three men who were members of the Nation of Islam assassinated him.
Image: Original caption: Malcolm X addresses a crowd at street rally on a rainy day in central Harlem. June 29, 1963. Copyright: Bob Adelman/Corbis.