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History: Malcolm X as Civil Rights Activist


Malcolm X was a renowned African American nationalist who contributed heavily to the final freedom of blacks from discrimination and racism. He demonstrated that freedom and inclusivity are the gifts that mankind must realize to enjoy life. Despite the troubled youth, Malcolm X’s contribution as an adult climaxed in the achievement of freedom among the African Americans and other minority groups in the US.

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Early life

Malcolm X was born in the month of May 1925 in a town called Omaha, Nebraska. His parents were a preacher and a homemaker. Malcolm X father’s involvement in the Universal Negro Improvement Association and frequent harassment from groups such as the Black Legion and Ku Klux Klan exposed him to open racism at a very tender age.

For instance, at the age of four, he witnessed wanton distraction to his father’s house by the hooded riders from the infamous Ku Klux Klan. In 1929, his father’s house was torched by the gang, and the white policemen just watched (Marable, 2012).

Malcolm X’s father was killed in unclear circumstances. In 1937, at a tender age of 12 years, Malcolm X was forced to relocate to the home of a family friend because his mother was committed to a mental detention center. Malcolm X had troubled youth.

Despite being a bright student, he dropped out of school in 1940 after a discouraging remark by the English teacher. Upon moving to Boston at the age of 15 years, Malcolm X did a series of odd jobs to make ends meet. At the age of 21 years old, he was incarcerated for a decade long sentence for larceny crime (Gunderson, 2011).

Involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

At the incarceration center, Malcolm X begum reading many books which shaped his ideology and he became a Muslim. Upon release from jail, he worked alongside other Muslim leaders to conduct nationwide recruitment of black Americans in the Islamic faith. In 1960, he founded the Muhammad Speaks newspaper as a tool for internalizing the Islamic beliefs (Marable, 2012).

Malcolm X’s oratory and articulate skills became very instrumental in his campaign against racism. He even urged blacks to embrace violence if peaceful means of attaining freedom is not effective. One of his notable quotes is “you don’t have a turn-the-cheek revolution.

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There’s no such thing as a nonviolent revolution” (Gunderson, 2011, p. 28). During his time as a vocal anti-racism crusader, his followers grew from just hundreds to more than 40,000 by the beginning of the year 1960. Malcolm X was the most visible force behind the Civil Rights Movement, especially on the radicalized forefront as an alternative to Luther’s dream of realizing peaceful integration.

Contribution to the movement

Malcolm X greatest role in the Civil Rights Movement within the US was the empowerment of African Americans into believing in themselves as agents of change. His ideology motivated the need to inspire inner conviction into fighting and even dying for what is right and just. In one of his famous quotes, Malcolm X noted that “power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression” (Marable, 2012, p. 31).

Personal reflection

Research work on the achievements of Malcolm X has allowed me to understand the significance of conviction and ideology in framing the direction of one’s struggles. The achievements of Malcolm X and spirited fight for freedom convinced me that determination is the main ingredient towards greatness.


Gunderson, J. (2011). X: A Biography of Malcolm X. New York, NY: Capstone.

Marable, M. (2012). Malcolm X: A life of reinvention. New York, NY: Penguin.

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