February 21, 1965 – less than 1 year after breaking with the Nation of Islam, former minister and chief spokesman Malcolm X is assassinated by 3 men. He was shot 16 times, including a shot to the chest with a sawed-off shotgun. He was 39 years old. His wife was expecting twins-their 5th and 6th daughters. His assasins were memebers of the Nation of Islam.
Born Malcolm Little, he converted to the Nation of Islam while serving a prison sentence in 1948. Upon release, he visited Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad changing his surname to X to symbolize the African family he could never know. He was brilliant, charismatic, and never at a loss for words. He advocated complete separation of the races and demanded restitution for the descendants of slaves. He sought justice “by any means necessary”, called white men devils, and encouraged black people to think of black as beautiful — in stark contrast to what they had been taught. His bold comments about the Kennedy assassination in December 1963 led to his censor by the Nation of Islam and he formally broke with them in March 1964. He then converted to Sunni Islam, made a Haji to Mecca, and traveled extensively. Upon his return to the United States, he expressed an interest in working with the civil rights movement calling it human rights and moderated his views on race relations. To many, he was the founder of black militancy without which we might not have evolved to the nation we are today.