February 21


February 21, 1965 El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X), Muslim minister and human rights leader, was assassinated. Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska but grew up in Lansing, Michigan. In 1946, he was sentenced to prison and while in prison became a member of the Nation of Islam. After his parole in 1952, he became one of the Nation’s leaders and chief spokesman. In 1953, he was named assistant minister of Temple Number One in Detroit, Michigan and by 1954 he had established Boston’s Temple Number Eleven and expanded Philadelphia’s Temple Number Twelve.

Until his departure from the organization in March, 1964, Malcolm X was the public face of the Nation of Islam. After leaving, he became a Sunni Muslim, made a pilgrimage to Mecca, and founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity.  At his funeral, Ossie Davis delivered the eulogy and described Malcolm X as “our shining Black prince.” His autobiography, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” was published shortly after his death and in 1992 the film “Malcolm X” was released.

Many streets and schools around the country are named after him, including the El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz Academy in Lansing, Michigan. In 1999, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor and in 2005 Columbia University opened the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. The Malcolm X House Site in North Omaha, Nebraska is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of” the importance of Malcolm X to American history and national culture.” Malcolm X’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.


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