More on Malcolm X (from wiki so caveat emptor, but it regards his formidable years and there is little reason to censor that):http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_X
Malcolm Little was born in 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, to Earl and Louise Little (née Louisa Norton). His father was an outspoken Baptist lay speaker; he supported Pan-African activist Marcus Garvey and was a local leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Malcolm never forgot the values of black pride and self-reliance that his father and other UNIA leaders preached. Malcolm X later said that three of Earl Little's brothers, one of whom was lynched, died violently at the hands of white men. Because of Ku Klux Klan threats, the family relocated in 1926 to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and shortly thereafter to Lansing, Michigan.
Earl Little was dark-skinned and born in Georgia. Earl's second wife was Louise, with whom he had seven children, of whom Malcolm was the fourth. Earl and Louise Little's children's names were, in order: Wilfred, Hilda, Philbert, Malcolm, Reginald, Yvonne, and Wesley. He had three children (Ella, Mary, and Earl, Jr.) from his first marriage.
Louise Little had been born in Grenada. Her father was Scottish and she was so light-skinned that she could have passed for white. Malcolm inherited his light complexion from his mother and grandfather. Initially he felt his light skin was a status symbol, but he later said he "hated every drop of that white rapist's blood that is in me." Malcolm X later remembered feeling that his father favored him because he was the lightest child in the family; however, he thought his mother treated him harshly for the same reason. One of Malcolm's nicknames, "Red", derived from the tinge of his hair. According to one biographer, at birth he had "ash-blonde hair ... tinged with cinnamon", and at four, "reddish-blonde hair". His hair darkened as he aged, but he also resembled his paternal grandmother, whose hair "turned reddish in the summer sun." The issue of skin color and skin tone took on very significant implications later in Malcolm's life.
In December 1924, Louise Little was threatened by Klansmen while she was pregnant with Malcolm. She recalled that the Klansmen warned the family to leave Omaha, because Earl Little's activities with UNIA were "spreading trouble".
After they moved to Lansing, their house was burned in 1929
, but the family escaped without physical injury. In 1931, Earl Little was run over by a streetcar in Lansing and died.
Authorities ruled his death an accident. The police reported that Earl Little was conscious when they arrived on the scene, and he told them he had slipped and fallen under the streetcar's wheels. Malcolm X later remembered that the black community disputed the cause of death, believing there was circumstantial evidence of assault. His family had frequently been harassed by the Black Legion, a white supremacist group that his father accused of burning down their home in 1929. Some blacks believed the Black Legion killed Earl Little. They doubted that he could "bash himself in the head, then get down across the streetcar tracks to be run over."
Though Earl Little had two life insurance policies, his family received death benefits solely from the smaller policy. The insurance company of the larger policy claimed that his father had committed suicide and refused to issue the benefit.
 Several years after her husband's death, Louise had her youngest son, Robert Little, by an unnamed partner. In December 1938 Louise Little had a nervous breakdown and was declared legally insane. The Little siblings were split up and sent to different foster homes. The state formally committed Louise Little to the state mental hospital at Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she remained until Malcolm and his siblings secured her release 26 years later.Malcolm Little was one of the best students in his junior high school, but he dropped out after a white eighth-grade teacher told him that his aspirations of being a lawyer were "no realistic goal for a nigger."
Years later, Malcolm X would laugh about the incident, but at the time it was humiliating. It made him feel that there was no place in the white world for a career-oriented black man, no matter how smart he was. After enduring a series of white foster parents, Malcolm moved to Boston in February 1941 to live with his older half-sister, Ella Little Collins.
Young adult years
Collins lived in Roxbury, a predominantly African-American middle-class neighborhood of Boston. It was the first time Little had seen so many black people. He was drawn to the cultural and social life of the neighborhood.
In Boston, Little held a variety of jobs and found intermittent employment with the New Haven Railroad. Between 1943 and 1946, Little drifted from city to city and job to job. He left Boston to live for a short time in Flint, Michigan. He moved to New York City in 1943. Living in Harlem, he became involved in drug dealing, gambling, racketeering, robbery, and steering prostitutes.
When Little was examined in 1943 for the draft, military physicians classified him as "mentally disqualified for military service". He later recalled that he put on a display to avoid the draft by telling the examining officer that he could not wait to "steal us some guns, and kill us [some] crackers." His approach worked; his classification ensured he would not be drafted.
In late 1945, Little returned to Boston. With a group of associates, he began a series of elaborate burglaries targeting the residences of wealthy white families. On January 12, 1946, Little was arrested for burglary while trying to pick up a stolen watch he had left for repairs at a jewelry shop. The shop owner called the police because the watch seemed too expensive for the average Roxbury resident. Little told the police that he had a gun on his person and surrendered so the police would treat him more leniently. Two days later, Little was indicted for carrying firearms. On January 16, he was charged with larceny and breaking and entering, and eventually sentenced to eight to ten years in Massachusetts State Prison.
On February 27, Little began serving his sentence at the Massachusetts State Prison in Charlestown. While in prison, Little earned the nickname of "Satan" for his hostility toward religion. Little met a self-educated man in prison named John Elton Bembry (referred to as "Bimbi" in The Autobiography of Malcolm X). Bembry was a well-regarded prisoner at Charlestown, and Malcolm X would later describe him as "the first man I had ever seen command total respect ... with words." Gradually, the two men became friends and Bembry convinced Little to educate himself. Little developed a voracious appetite for reading, and he frequently read after the prison lights had been turned off.
In 1948, Little's brother Philbert wrote, telling him about the Nation of Islam. Like the UNIA, the Nation preached black self-reliance and, ultimately, the unification of members of the African diaspora, free from white American and European domination. Little was not interested in joining until his brother Reginald wrote, saying, "Malcolm, don't eat any more pork and don't smoke any more cigarettes. I'll show you how to get out of prison." Little quit smoking, and the next time pork was served in the prison dining hall, he refused to eat it.
When Reginald came to visit Little, he described the group's teachings, including the belief that white people are devils. Afterward, Little thought about all the white people he had known, and he realized that he'd never had a relationship with a white person or social institution that wasn't based on dishonesty, injustice, greed, and hatred. Little began to reconsider his dismissal of all religion and he became receptive to the message of the Nation of Islam. Other family members who had joined the Nation wrote or visited and encouraged Little to join.
In February 1948, mostly through his sister's efforts, Little was transferred to an experimental prison in Norfolk, Massachusetts, a facility that had a much larger library. In late 1948, he wrote a letter to Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad advised him to atone for his crimes by renouncing his past and by humbly bowing in prayer to Allah and promising never to engage in destructive behavior again. Little, who always had been rebellious and deeply skeptical, found it very difficult to bow in prayer. It took him a week to bend his knees. Finally he prayed, and he became a member of the Nation of Islam. For the remainder of his incarceration, Little maintained regular correspondence with Muhammad.
On August 7, 1952, Little was paroled and was released from prison. He later reflected on the time he spent in prison after his conversion: "Months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I had never been so truly free in my life."
Nation of Islam
In 1952, after his release from prison, Little visited Elijah Muhammad in Chicago, Illinois. Then, like many members of the Nation of Islam, he changed his surname to "X". In his autobiography, Malcolm X explained the "X": "The Muslim's 'X' symbolized the true African family name that he never could know. For me, my 'X' replaced the white slavemaster name of 'Little' which some blue-eyed devil named Little had imposed upon my paternal forebears."
The FBI opened a file on Malcolm X in March 1953 after hearing from an informant that Malcolm X described himself as a Communist. Soon the FBI turned its attention from concerns about possible Communist Party association to Malcolm X's rapid ascent in the Nation of Islam.
In June 1953, Malcolm X was named assistant minister of the Nation of Islam's Temple Number One in Detroit. By late 1953, he established Boston's Temple Number Eleven. In March 1954, Malcolm X expanded Temple Number Twelve in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Two months later he was selected to lead the Nation of Islam's Temple Number Seven in Harlem. He rapidly expanded its membership. After a 1959 television broadcast in New York City about the Nation of Islam, The Hate That Hate Produced, Malcolm X became known to a much wider audience. Representatives of the print media, radio, and television frequently asked him for comments on issues. He was also sought as a spokesman by reporters from other countries.
From his adoption of the Nation of Islam in 1952 until he left the organization in 1964, Malcolm X promoted the Nation's teachings. He taught that black people were the original people of the world, and that white people were a race of devils. In his speeches, Malcolm X said that black people were superior to white people, and that the demise of the white race was imminent.
While the civil rights movement fought against racial segregation, Malcolm X advocated the complete separation of African Americans from white people. He proposed the establishment of a separate country for black people as an interim measure until African Americans could return to Africa. Malcolm X also rejected the civil rights movement's strategy of nonviolence and instead advocated that black people use any necessary means of self-defense to protect themselves.
Malcolm X's speeches had a powerful effect on his audiences, generally African Americans who lived in the Northern and Western cities who were tired of being told to wait for freedom, justice, equality, and respect. Many blacks felt that he articulated their complaints better than the civil rights movement did.
Many white people, and some blacks, were alarmed by Malcolm X and the things he said. He and the Nation of Islam were described as hatemongers, black segregationists, violence-seekers, and a threat to improved race relations. Civil rights organizations denounced Malcolm X and the Nation as irresponsible extremists whose views were not representative of African Americans.
Malcolm X was equally critical of the civil rights movement. He described its leaders as "stooges" for the white establishment and said that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a "chump". He criticized the 1963 March on Washington, which he called "the farce on Washington". He said he did not know why black people were excited over a demonstration "run by whites in front of a statue of a president who has been dead for a hundred years and who didn't like us when he was alive".
Malcolm X has been widely considered the second most influential leader of the movement after Elijah Muhammad. He was largely credited with increasing membership in the Nation of Islam from 500 in 1952 to 25,000 in 1963. He inspired the boxer Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali) to join the Nation of Islam. Ali later left the Nation of Islam and became a Sunni Muslim, as did Malcolm X.
Marriage and family
On January 14, 1958, Malcolm X married Betty X (née Sanders) in Lansing, Michigan. The two had been friends for about a year and—although they had never discussed the subject—Betty X suspected that he was interested in marriage. One day, he called and asked her to marry him.
The couple had six daughters. Their names were Attallah, born in 1958 and named after Attila the Hun; Qubilah, born in 1960 and named after Kublai Khan; Ilyasah, born in 1962 and named after Elijah Muhammad; Gamilah Lumumba, born in 1964 and named after Patrice Lumumba; and twins, Malaak and Malikah, born in 1965 after their father's assassination and named for him.