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Malcolm X (1925 - 1965) was a black leader who, as a key spokesman for the Nation of Islam, epitomized the "Black Power" philosophy. By the early 1960s, he had grown frustrated with the non-violent, integrated struggle for civil rights and worried that blacks would ultimately lose control of their own movement. In February 1965, he was killed by members of the Nation of Islam; Malcolm had recently left the organization. But even in death, his teachings lived on in the rhetoric of other black power organizations including the Black Panther Party.

As a young man, Malcolm Little, later renamed Malcolm X, drifted between Boston and New York City, cultivating his image as "Detroit Red," a dapper pimp and a dangerous hustler. While in prison for robbery, he educated himself and converted to the Muslim faith. Upon release, Malcolm became active in the Nation of Islam, a black Muslim organization committed to black uplift. He quickly rose to the rank of National Minister, speaking on behalf of the organization in cities across the country.

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