Malcolm X withdraws from the Nation of Islam.
1964 (Mar 12)
Malcolm X, one of the most notable Black Muslim ministers, announced his withdrawal from Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam. Born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1925, his father was a Baptist minister from Georgia who had supported Marcus Garvey's "Back to Africa" movement in the early 1900s. His mother was West Indian. By the time Malcolm was thirteen, three of his uncles had been slain by whites; his father was murdered; and his mother was committed to a mental institution. A school drop-out, Malcolm made his living principally by illegal means, at one point ending up in a detention home for stealing. In February of 1946, Malcolm was sentenced to ten years in prison for burglary in Boston, where he eventually converted to Islam. Upon his release from prison in August of 1952, Malcolm drew closer to the movement. In the summer of 1953 he became assistant minister of the Detroit temple, and in 1957 he founded Muhammad Speaks, a Muslim newspaper. By 1959 he had become one of the leading spokesmen for the Muslims. As Malcolm's charisma and media exposure brought him a larger following, Elijah Muhammad reportedly labeled him ambitious and dangerous. Following President John F. Kennedy's assassination in November of 1963, Malcolm referred to the killing as an example of "chickens coming home to roost." Muhammad immediately suspended Malcolm from his Muslim duties for that intemperate statement. This was the beginning of the end for Malcolm X as he left the movement on March 12, 1964, carrying only a few defectors with him.