They were black men who had a dream, but never lived to see it fulfilled. One was a man who spoke out to all humanity, but the world was not yet ready for his peaceful words, " I have a dream, a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of it's creed… that all men are created equal." (Martin Luther King). The other, a man who spoke of a violent revolution, which would bring about radical change for the black race. " Anything you can think of that you want to change right now, the only way you can do it is with a ballot or a bullet. And if you're not ready to get involved with either only of those, you are satisfied with the status quo. That means we'll have to change." (Malcolm X) While Martin Luther King promoted non-violence, Civil Rights, and the end to racial segregation, a man of the name Malcom X dreamed of a separate nation.
Malcom Little was born on May 19, 1925 and came from an underprivileged home. He was a self-taught man who received little schooling and rose to greatness on his own intelligence and determination. The early background of Malcolm X was a large factor responsible for the distinct different responses to American racism. During his childhood, He was raised in a harsh atmosphere consisting of fear and anger where the seeds of bitterness were planted resulting in his attitude effecting his decisions later in live. Malcolm X suffered not only from abuse by whites, but also from domestic violence. His father beat his mother and both of them abused their children. His mother was forced to raise 8 children during the depression. After his mother had a nervous breakdown his family was spilt up. The children were all placed in foster homes. And the burning of his house by the Klu Klux Klan resulted in the murder of his father. Malcolm's resentment was increased as he suffered through these hardships, and he was haunted by this early nightmare for most of his life. From then on, he was driven by hatred and desire for revenge.
Malcolm was first sent to a foster home and then to a reform school. After the 8th grade, Malcolm moved to Boston where he worked various jobs and eventually became involved in criminal activity. (Malcolm X, pg.1) In 1946 he was sentenced to prison for burglary. While in prison, Malcolm became interested in the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the black Muslims also called the Nation of Islam. Malcolm spent his time in jail educating himself and learning more about the black Muslims, who advocated racial separation. When Malcolm was released in 1952, he joined a Black Muslim temple in Detroit and became the most prominent spokesperson for the Nation of Islam by the early 1960's. It was then that he took the name of Malcolm X. Ultimately he became a towering icon of contemporary African-American culture and had a great influence on Black Americans. (Pg.254, Reflecting Back) Malcolm X's despair about life was reflected in his angry, pessimistic belief that equality is impossible because whites have no moral conscience. He promoted nationalist and separatist doctrines for most of his life and believed that only through revolution and force could blacks attain their rightful place in society. ("Malcolm X" Encarta)
Later in 1964, Malcolm X took off on a journey to Arabia to try to find the true religion of Islam. When returning home he began preaching about his newly formed philosophies. He created new ideas about race in America and about unity. His greatest change in beliefs were his thoughts about black and white relationships. His conversion to orthodox Islam changed his views upon white people. Around this time, Malcolm adopted a new name. He changed the Nation of Islam "X" in his name to an orthodox name. Malcolm X was no more; his new name was Malik El-Shabazz. Malcolm changing his name was probably the one that most symbolized his breaking away from the Nation of Islam. Malik now felt that he could practice his own newfound philosophy.(Breitmaned, pgs.5-6). Mr. El-Shabazz created his own organization called Muslim Mosque Inc., which was a group that was totally free of the old Nation of Islam's ideas. This group was trying to find black unity in America. Unlike before, Malik wanted whites to join his newly founded organization. This was something that would have never been considered in the Nation of Islam. The coexistence between races that Malcolm had witnessed in Arabia made him want to strive for something similar in America. He no longer believed that total segregation would benefit anyone. He also believed that the solution to racial problems lied in the minds of people, not in segregation. Now that he had adopted the true Islamic faith, he gave full support to all black organizations. He even gave support to Martin Luther King, whom he used to speak down upon and criticize for his work. He believed that civil rights should be addressed as human rights and should be looked upon as a problem with human rights.
Malik El-Shabazz had once said, "My whole life has been a chronology of Changes". When he was Malcolm Little, he was a drug addict, a thief, and an all around criminal. As Malcolm X, he went from a low life hoodlum to a very influential priest for the Nation of Islam. As Malik El-Shabazz, he went from teaching racial segregation to preaching racial equality and unification. He basically went from one end of the spectrum straight to the end; he became a good man, who taught what was right in his eyes. Unfortunately, on Feb., 1965, Malcolm Little (a.k.a. Malcolm X, a.k.a. Malik El-Shabazz) was assassinated in a public auditorium (The Audubon Ballroom) in Harlem, New York City.