Malcolm Little was born in the American South. His father, a Christian minister, was murdered by white racists in 1931. Several years later, because of their great poverty, and her mental illness, he and his siblings were taken from their mother by social workers and put into a children's home. He was later fostered but got into trouble (he was once sent to reform school for putting a thumb tack on a teacher's chair).
Although a brilliant student he drifted into a life of petty crime. While in prison he became converted to the Nation of Islam (the Black Muslims) and when released he became one of their most effective evangelists and leaders.
After a pilgrimage to Mecca he left the Nation of Islam and became a "mainstream" Muslim, but he was assassinated by members of the Nation of Islam in 1965, leaving three daughters and a widow pregnant with twins.
He is known as one of the most influential of all the civil rights activists of the 1950s and 1960s.
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