Born Malcolm Little in 1925, he grew up in poverty and lived a life crime. While in prison he worked to self-educate and converted to Islam, taking the Muslim name El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Publicly he became known as Malcolm X, dropping what he referred to as his “slave name.” He would become one of the leading figures of the fight for equality for African-Americans. In contrast to Martin Luther King who called for non-violent protest, Malcolm X believed that violence would be necessary for black people to gain their rights. He was considered a black-supremacist who believed that blacks and whites could never live together. Just prior to his death, he disavowed that position and preached the equality of all people. He embraced the possibility of peaceful change and a willingness to work with other Civil Rights leaders. He was assassinated in 1965 by members of the group he formerly led, the Nation of Islam.
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