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 with the Nation of Islam, form a new organization,…

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Citation: Hartnell, Anna. "Malcolm X". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 January 2009 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=4823, accessed 25 July 2024.]

4823 Malcolm X 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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