Malcolm Little, born in Omaha (United States), is the son of a Baptist carpenter preacher, who died in 1931. Malcolm Little is convinced that his father was killed by militants close to the Ku Klux Klan. He was imprisoned in 1946 for acts of delinquency. During his stay in prison, he discovered Nation of Islam, a politico-religious organization advocating African-American nationalism, corresponded with its leader Elijah Muhammad and converted to Islam.
On his release from prison in 1952, Malcolm Little took the nickname Malcolm X, because he did not know his real name, Little was the name of the master of one of his slave ancestors. He became an activist of the Nation of Islam organization (called Black Muslins in the press), a sectarian Muslim movement, marked by black nationalism and the rejection of the white man, considered as an exploiter, slave and capitalist. He is appreciated for his speaking skills and quickly becomes the spokesperson for the organization. He preaches black separatism and defends the idea of the creation of an independent black republic within the United States.
In March 1964, no longer getting along with Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X left Nation of Islam, which was only a religious and not a political movement. He converted to Orthodox Sunni Islam and founded his own religious organization, The Muslim Mosque Inc. He rejected the integration of blacks and refused to condemn the violence of the oppressed.
In April 1964, he made a pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) and on his return he called himself El-Hajj Malek El-Shabazz. He condemns the anti-white racism of the Nation of Islam and founded the Organization for African-American Unity, a non-religious political movement, making the unity of all blacks his priority.
After having been the object of several threats, Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965 during a public speech by activists of The Nation of Islam. Considered a fanatic by nonviolent blacks, Malcolm X inspired the Black Panther Party founded in 1966 with his ideas.