Journey to Justice

Journey to Justice

Everyone who is Black knows Malcolm X. He was one of the most prominent people during the Civil Rights movement, encouraging Black people to emancipate themselves from white oppression.

He had amazing levels of charisma and a brash baritone that gave his oration an even more beautiful quality. His ideas inspired the Black Power movement too.

So who was Malcolm X, really, and what did he do? Let's jump into the life of Malcolm X.

Early Life to Nation of Islam

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska. His father Earl was an outspoken preacher, and he and his mother Louise loved the prominent Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey.

The family suffered from despicable occurrences of racism. The Ku Klux Klan threatened them, forcing them to leave town, and a group called the Black Legion constantly harassed them.

Eventually, Malcolm's father died, and his mother never recovered, spiraling into a nervous breakdown.

All these affected Malcolm, and he became rebellious, dropping out of school and committing many crimes. Eventually, he went to prison for his crimes.

There, he got to know about the Nation of Islam, a religious group that preached freedom of Black people from white domination. Soon, he was a fervent member, even exchanging letters with Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. It was around this time he adopted the surname X, signifying the rejection of his “slave” name.

When he was released from prison, he met Elijah and became the minister of Mosque No. 7 in Harlem, New York. He became influential due to the popularity of his sermon, and soon, he had many followers.

He was soon suspended from the Nation, however. He had been at odds with them about their corruption, their unwillingness to fight for Black people harassed by brutalized by white policemen, and the sexual misbehavior rumors floating around about Elijah Muhammad. Also, he had said that the 'chickens coming home to roost' about the assassination of President Kennedy.

So he left the Nation, saying that it had "gone as far as it can" because of its rigid teachings. He was still a Muslim though.

Pilgrimage to Mecca and Organization of Afro-American Unity

In April 1964, Malcolm went on the Hajj, the pilgrimage obligatory to every Muslim. In  Mecca, he underwent a spiritual transformation and changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. He later said that seeing Muslims of "all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans," interacting like equals made him see Islam as a means by which racial problems could be overcome. He was encouraged.

Malcolm X on his 1964 pilgrimage to Mecca

In June 1964, after he came back from Hajj, Malcolm founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity. It was modeled on the Organization of African Unity, which had impressed him when he visited Africa in the 50s.

The purpose of the OAAU was to fight for the human rights of African Americans and promote cooperation among Africans and Africans in the Diaspora.

One of its teachings, derived from Malcolm's time in Mecca, identified racism, not the white race, as the enemy of justice, representing a more moderate shift to Malcolm's past radical thinking. This more moderate philosophy became influential.

He traveled to many countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria, France, and the UK, speaking and debating. He met many famous African leaders.

At the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, the Nigerian Muslim Students Association gave the honorary Yoruba name Omowale (the son has come home). He called it his most treasured honor.

Malcolm X in Egypt

Rivalry With The Nation of Islam and Death

Malcolm X's rivalry with the Nation of Islam became worse, and they repeatedly threatened him, one time even making a cartoon depicting him as beheaded.

Eventually, all these came to a boiling point, and Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965 at an Organization of Afro-American Unity rally in the Audubon Ballroom.

He was hit by 21 gunshots. Malcolm X is buried in Ferncliff Cemetery, New York.

He had once predicted that he would be even more important in death than alive, and that prediction came true. His book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, was published posthumously. He had predicted an early death in that book, and the book became a bestseller.

His life and death were an inspiration to many, and he is a Black hero who has inspired and will inspire many for years to come.

Malcolm X is one of the Icons featured and illustrated at Iconiq Wear. Shop our Journey to Justice Malcolm X shirt and Malcolm X hoodie. And take a look at our Iconiq Wear shop here.

Malcom X with his signature glasses which continue to be a fashion statement for many individuals that see Malcolm X as a role model and iconic figure that shaped history.

Sources used: Wikipedia, Britannica, Thought Co, US History, Wisconsin Muslim Journal, This is Africa