Celebrated religious leader and human rights activist Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska.
Known for rallying crowds with his fiery speeches, he would go on to become one of the most prominent figures of the Black Power Movement of the 1960s. While serving a prison sentence for robbery in the 1940s, he converted to Islam and abandoned his surname, taking the letter “X” as a tribute to his unknown African ancestors.
After being paroled in 1952, Malcolm X became a vocal spokesman for the Nation of Islam (NOI), a religious sect that championed Black nationalism and self-determination. He split from the NOI in 1964 and founded the more inclusive Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) shortly after.
Tragically, Malcolm X was murdered Feb. 21, 1965, as he prepared to address the OAAU at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. He was 40.
BET National News - Keep up to date with breaking news stories from around the nation, including headlines from the hip hop and entertainment world. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
(Photo: Terry Disney/Getty Images)