Throughout the Civil Rights Movement, Malcolm X preached everywhere he could, and his message was always the same; he said, "The white man wants black men to stay immoral, unclean, and ignorant. As long as we stay in these conditions, we will keep on begging him and he will control us. We never can win freedom and justice and equality until we are doing something for ourselves!" Malcolm X was a unique militant leader of the oppressed black race whose life is still remembered today.
Malcolm Little was born on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. When Malcolm was six, his father, a preacher who had previously received threats from racists, was murdered by people who wanted him to discontinue preaching. Malcolm became a good student who wished to become a lawyer, but in eighth grade, a teacher told him he should learn carpentry instead because he was black. This discouraged him so much that he left school. He later organized a burglary ring in Boston; in 1946, he was arrested. While in prison, he learned about the Nation of Islam's leader, Elijah Muhammad. Muhammad was a radical leader who "encouraged hostility towards whites by African Americans" (Myers). After getting out of prison in 1952, Malcolm joined the Nation of Islam's temple in Detroit. He dropped his last name, considered a "slave name" by Black Muslims, and became Malcolm X. Malcolm X later became the Nation of Islam's most prominent leader. In 1963, he was suspended from speaking publicly on behalf of the Nation of Islam for his statement that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was "a case of the chickens coming home to roost". "He was trying to say that the violent treatment of blacks had now come back to the "roost" with violence against a white president. However, the insensitive nature of the statement reflected poorly on the Black Muslims" (Finkelman). In 1964, Malcolm X publicly announced his split with the Nation of Islam.