Born Malcolm Little, Malcolm X later substituted his surname with an “X” to signify an African American heritage lost to a wider US narrative that he believed to be irredeemably bound up with the logic of slavery and racism. In his attempt to defeat such logic, Malcolm X became known as a prophet of black nationalism, the philosophy that came to characterize the latter stages of the post-1945 black struggle. Malcolm X rose from a life of crime – during which he was known as “Detroit Red” – to become the foremost spokesperson of the Nation of Islam, a controversial sect that was offering black people an alternative ideology to that being offered by Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement. Malcolm would later split …
Hartnell, Anna. "Malcolm X". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 January 2009; last revised 30 November -1.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=4823, accessed 21 April 2015.]