He was one of the most captivating and electrifying speakers this country ever produced. The things Malcolm X said and exposed during his time as the No. 2 man in the Nation of Islam rocked his contemporaries and his adversaries alike.
Born at Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Neb., and assassinated as El Hajj Malik El Shabazz on Feb. 21, 1965 in Harlem, N.Y. — 50 years ago today — he was about as responsible for the advancement of civil rights in America as any other figure in American history, despite the fact that he has never been accepted by mainstream society. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy warned his brother, President John F. Kennedy, that if the administration didn’t support Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement that the oppressed blacks would begin to follow “the Black Muslims.”
His influence was not just felt by the people during his time (such as H. Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael and especially the Black Panther Party), but his message of self-determination, self-love and self-reliance still resonates to this day.
He was, as the late, great Ossie Davis eulogized him as, “our black shining prince,” and we look back at the man who made an indelible impact on society through photos.