Malcolm X Timeline
1925 (19th May)
Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little to Earl Little and his wife Louise Helen Little (née Norton) at Omaha Nebraska. He was the fourth of the couple’s seven children. Malcolm’s father was a Baptist lay speaker and member of the Universal Negro Improvement Association
The family moved to Milwaukee to escape threats by the Ku Klux Klan.
The Little family moved to Lansing, Michigan. There, they were subject to threats and harassment by a white racist group called the Black Legion.
The family home was set alight. Malcolm’s father, Earl Little believed it to be an arson attack by the Black Legion.
Earl Little died in a streetcar accident. Malcolm’s mother believed that her husband’s death was not an accident. She believed he had been murdered by the Black Legion.
Malcolm’s mother, Helen Little, became pregnant. When the father found out about the pregnancy he vanished from her life.
Malcolm’s mother suffered a nervous breakdown and was committed to Kalamazoo Psychiatric hospital. Her children were separated and sent to foster homes.
Malcolm attended West Junior High School in Lansing, Michigan.
Malcolm transferred to Mason High School, Michigan.
Disillusioned with education after being told by a teacher that as a black person he should not pursue a career in law, Malcolm dropped out of school.
Malcolm moved in with his half-sister, Ella Little-Collins and worked a variety of jobs.
Little avoided being drafted to fight in World War Two
by convincing the draft board that he was mentally disturbed.
After moving to Harlem, New York, Malcolm found work on the New Haven Railroad. On the side he engaged in drug-dealing, gambling, stealing and profiteering.
Malcolm was arrested for stealing.
Malcolm Little moved to Boston where he and four others committed a series of burglaries.
Little was arrested for stealing. He was tried and sentenced to 8 – 10 years imprisonment. He was sent to Charlestown State Prison.
Malcolm was moved to Norfolk Prison Colony. There he met John Bembry, a man who had educated himself and made a big impact on Malcolm.
Malcolm Little learned about the Nation of Islam. Founded in 1930, the organisation sought freedom from white oppression for Black Africans.
Malcolm Little joined the Nation of Islam and began calling himself Malcolm X. The X represented his African family name that had been lost.
Malcolm X was released from prison.
Malcolm X paid a visit to the founder of the Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad.
Malcolm became Assistant Minister of the Nation of Islam’s Temple Number One in Detroit. He was quickly noted for his powerful speaking ability.
Malcolm established Temple Number 11 in Boston.
Alarmed by his rapid rise within the Nation of Islam, the FBI placed Malcolm under surveillance.
Malcolm X expanded Temple Number 12 in Philadelphia.
Malcolm was chosen to lead Temple Number 7 in Harlem, New York.
Malcolm established three new temples for the Nation of Islam. Number 13 in Springfield Massachusetts, Number 14 in Hartford, Connecticut and Number 15 in Atlanta. Membership of the Islamic group was growing month by month.
Betty Sanders began attending Malcolm X’s lectures and managed to meet him afterwards. The two were attracted to each other and began meeting at social events.
Betty Sanders became a member of the Nation of Islam and changed her name to Betty X.
1957 (26th April)
Nation of Islam members, Hinton Johnson and two others intervened when they saw two police officers beating an African-American man in New York. The officers were so enraged that they turned on Johnson beating him so badly that he suffered a subdural haemorrhage. They then arrested all four men. On hearing of the attack, Malcolm X went to the police station and demanded to see Johnson and then arranged for an ambulance to take Johnson to hospital. A crowd of thousands had gathered outside the station but dispersed when Malcolm X indicated they should leave.
1957 (after 26th April)
New York police officers were shocked by the power Malcolm X had over the crowd outside the station and placed him under surveillance. They also sent undercover policemen to infiltrate the Nation of Islam.
Malcolm and Betty X became engaged and married two days later.
Malcolm began using the surname Shabazz. However, he was popularly still referred to as Malcolm X.
1958 (16th November)
A daughter, Attallah Shabazz was born to Betty and Malcolm X.
Malcolm X was featured in a TV broadcast about the Nation of Islam entitled ‘The Hate That Hate Produced’.
Malcolm X attended the United Nations General Assembly where he met several African leaders. He also met Fidel Castro of Cuba.
1960 (25th December)
A daughter, Qubilah Shabazz was born to Betty and Malcolm X.
Whenever he spoke, Malcolm promoted the views of the Nation of Islam which included not voting or taking part in the political process. This brought him into conflict with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) who wanted black people to be enfranchised. Malcolm X also disagreed with racial integration and believed that blacks and whites should be separated. His views also conflicted strongly with those of Martin Luther King
. Whereas King advocated peaceful protest, Malcolm X believed that black people should achieve their goals by any means necessary.
1962 (27th April)
In Los Angeles, two police officers began pushing and beating several members of the Nation of Islam. The incident escalated and shots were fired. Several Muslims were charged following the event but no police officers were charged. This infuriated Malcolm X who wanted to take action against the police. However Elijah Muhammad forbade any such action.
1962 (22nd July)
A daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz was born to Betty and Malcolm X.
Civil Rights Groups were involved in the organisation of the March on Washington
. Malcolm X criticised the event calling it the ‘Farce on Washington’ and did not attend.
1963 (28th August)
Around 250,000 people converged on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC at the end of the March on Washington. Martin Luther King delivered his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech during the rally.
1963 (1st December)
Asked about the assassination of President Kennedy
, Malcolm X refused to express sadness, citing numerous murders that had not been prevented during the Kennedy administration. His comments caused widespread outrage and criticism of him and the Nation of Islam.
Professional boxer, Cassius Clay, was influenced by Malcolm X and joined the Nation of Islam. He changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
A daughter, Gamilah Lumumba Shabazz was born to Betty and Malcolm X.
As Malcolm X moved further away from the principals of the Nation of Islam, members of the group increasingly saw him as a threat. Many openly advocated his murder.
1964 (8th March)
The conflicts between Malcolm X and Nation of Islam leaders had continued to grow and Malcolm X now formally left the group and joined the Civil Rights Movement.
1964 (26th March)
Malcolm X and Martin Luther King met during the Senate debates on the forthcoming Civil Rights Act.
1964 (3rd April)
Malcolm X made his speech ‘The Ballot or the Bullet’ in which he challenged the policy of non-violent protests if equality continued to be denied by the government.
1964 (late April)
Malcolm had joined the Sunni Muslim faith and made a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. While there he met Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia and began to believe that racial equality could be achieved through the Muslim faith.
1964 (late May)
Malcolm X returned to the United States.
1964 (8th June)
Betty Shabazz received a telephone call in which she was told that her husband was ‘as good as dead’.
Malcolm X visited several African nations and met with their leaders.
1964 (2nd July)
President Lyndon Baines Johnson
signed the Civil Rights Act into law. The law stated that discrimination by race, colour, nationality, religion or sex was illegal. Martin was present at the White House for the signing of the Act.
1964 (late July)
Having returned to the United States, Malcolm X made a speech denouncing Congo leader, Moïse Tshombe who had used white mercenaries to put down the Simba rebellion and kill Patrice Lumumba.
1964 (23rd November)
Malcolm visited Paris and spoke at the Salle de la Mutualité.
1964 (23rd November)
Malcolm X visited the United Kingdom and spoke at a debate at the Oxford Union Society in favour of the motion that ‘Extremism in the Defense of Liberty is No Vice; Moderation in the Pursuit of Justice is No Virtue’. During the debate he pushed his belief that British and American leaders had unfairly portrayed the events of the Simba Revolution in Congo against the revolutionaries. His views on this were not well received.
1965 (8th February)
Malcolm X spoke at the meeting of the Council of African Organisations in London.
1965 (14th February)
Malcolm X’s home in East Elmhurst, Queens, New York, was burnt down.
1965 (19th February)
Malcolm X told a reporter that the Nation of Islam wanted to kill him.
1965 (21st February)
Malcolm X was assassinated at a rally in New York City, New York by members of the Nation of Islam group, Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson. He was shot multiple times and pronounced dead at 3.30pm.
1965 (27th February)
Malcolm X’s funeral was attended by around 20,000 people. He was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York.
1965 (30th September)
Twin daughters, Malikah and Malaak Shabazz were born to Betty and posthumously to Malcolm X.
Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson were found guilty of the murder of Malcolm X and sentenced to life in prison.