The Life and Times of Malcolm X

By acwhitt
  • The UNIA is founded.

    The UNIA is founded.
    The Universal Negro Improvement Association is founded in 1914 by Marcus Garvey. Earl and Louise Little (Malcolm X's parents) met when Earl was the president of the UNIA chapter in Omaha, Nebraska and Louise was covering UNIA activities for "Negro World."
  • The Ku Klux Klan marches in Washington, D.C.

    The Ku Klux Klan marches in Washington, D.C.
    Tens of thousands of uniformed Ku Klux Klan members march down Pennsylvania Avenue in broad daylight. This is the height of Ku Klux Klan membership in America, with some estimates being as high as 3 million people.
  • Malcom Little is born.

    Malcolm Little is born to Earl and Louise Little in Omaha, Nebraksa
  • The Little family relocates.

    In 1926 the Little family relocates after Earl begins to receive threats from a group called The Black Legion (a white supremacist group).
  • The Little family home is attacked.

    Despite Earl Little's attempts to distance himself from threats by the Black Legion, the family home in Lansing, Michigan is burned to the ground. This surely had a major impact on young Malcolm.
  • The Great Depression begins.

    The Great Depression begins.
    The stock market crashes on what is now called "Black Tuesday." The Great Depression hits all of America hard, but black people are hit the hardest. Some estimates say that unemployment in black people reached 50% at its peak, while unemployment in white people reached only 30%.
  • Earl Little is found dead.

    Earl Little's body was found lying across trolley tracks in Lansing, Michigan. Although it was officially ruled "an automobile accident," the Little family would contend that it was a racially motivated murder.
  • The Berlin Olympic Games

    The Berlin Olympic Games
    Jesse Owens shows out at the Berlin Olympic Games. By winning 4 gold medals at the Berlin games, Owens puts a dent in Hitler's plan to prove "aryan supremacy" to the world.
  • Malcolm and his siblings are sent to orphanages and foster homes.

    Malcolm and his siblings are sent to orphanages and foster homes.
    After Malcolm's mother suffers a mental breakdown, Malcolm and his siblings are split up among orphanages and foster homes.
  • The Detroit Race Riots of 1943

    The Detroit Race Riots of 1943
    After U.S. entry into WW2, the automotive industry in Detroit, Michigan was shifted to focus on military production. Offering higher wages, these jobs became extremely attractive to both black and white southerners. With a housing and job shortage in the area, white people were often chosen for housing and jobs ahead of their fellow black citizens. Violent riots ensued.
  • Malcolm Little is arrested and sent to prison.

    Malcolm Little is arrested and sent to prison.
    Malcolm and his friend were arrested in Boston and convicted of burglary. Malcolm was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was paroled after 7 years. It was during his time in prison when he would find Islam and the Nation of Islam.
  • Executive Order 9981

    Executive Order 9981
    Harry Truman signs Executive Order 9981, which is aimed at achieving equality in the armed forces for all races and ending segregation in the armed forces.
  • FBI opens a file on Malcolm X

    The FBI first opened a file on Malcolm Little after he writes a letter to then President Harry Truman describing himself as a communist and showing his opposition to the Korean War. It was also later this year that he began calling himself Malcolm "X" because he considered Little to be a name given to his family by former slave-owners.
  • Malcolm X is paroled.

    Malcolm X is paroled and goes to visit Elijah Muhammad in Chicago with whom he had a correspondence during his incarceration.
  • FBI begins surveillance of Malcolm X

    FBI begins surveillance of Malcolm X
    The FBI begins actual surveillance of Malcolm X during this time period. They had turned their attention from his suspected communist activities to his ties to the Nation of Islam.
  • Brown vs. Board of Education

    Brown vs. Board of Education
    The Supreme Court rules on Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The court unanimously agrees agrees that segregation in schools is unconstitutional. This ruling paves the way for desegregation on a large scale.
  • Malcolm X meets Betty Sanders.

    Malcolm X meets his future wife, Betty Sanders, at a Nation of Islam event. As one-on-one dates were prohibited by the teachings of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm would only court her entirely through public events.
  • Murder of Emmett Till

    Murder of Emmett Till
    Emmett Till is visiting family in Mississippi when he is violently lynched and his body was thrown in the Tallahatchie River for allegedly "whistling at a white woman." Two white men were arrested in connection with the murder but were acquitted by an all white jury.
  • Rosa Parks is arrested.

    Rosa Parks is arrested.
    Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat at the front of a colored section for a white passenger in the city of Montgomery, Alabama. She is arrested, spurring the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
  • Hinton Johnson Incident

    Hinton Johnson Incident
    Hinton Johnson was beaten by police officers in April. After his arrest, Malcolm X and a group of supporters went to the local jail, demanded to see him and was determined to get Johnson medical attention. A crowd gathered outside the jail at this time and when the situation reached a stalemate, Malcolm stepped outside to signal the crowd to disperse. Alarmed at the amount of power he held and his anger towards the department, the New York City Police Department put him under surveillance.
  • Desegregation of Little Rock Central High School

    Desegregation of Little Rock Central High School
    Nine black students trying to attend Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas are blocked from entering on orders given by then governor Faubus. President Eisenhower would have to send federal troops to Little Rock to resolve the issue.
  • Malcolm X marries Betty Sanders.

    Malcolm X marries Betty Sanders.
    Malcolm X proposes to Betty Sanders over the telephone and the pair were married within days of that proposal. They would go on to have six children between 1958 and 1965.
  • James Meredith enrolls at Ole Miss.

    James Meredith enrolls at Ole Miss.
    James Meredith becomes the first black person to enroll at the University of Mississippi. Violence and riots ensue, causing John F. Kennedy to send 5,000 federal troops to resolve issues pertaining to his enrollment and attendance at the University of Mississippi.
  • Malcolm X finds the truth about Elijah Muhammad.

    Malcolm X finds the truth about Elijah Muhammad.
    Malcolm X finds out that Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam and someone who Malcolm considered to be a kind of prophet, was secretly having sexual relations with as many as six different members of the Nation of Islam. He even had children out of wed-lock with some of these women. This led to Malcolm becoming disillusioned with the Nation of Islam.
  • "Letters From a Birmingham Jail"

    "Letters From a Birmingham Jail"
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is arrested and jailed during an anti-segregation protest in Alabama. It is during this time he writes "Letters From a Birmingham Jail."
  • "I Have a Dream"

    "I Have a Dream"
    About 200,000 people gather to march on Washington, D.C. where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama.

    Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama.
    Four children are killed while attending Sunday School when a bomb explodes in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The church was often a meeting place for those involved in the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Malcolm X leaves the Nation of Islam and takes the Hajj.

    Malcolm X leaves the Nation of Islam and takes the Hajj.
    After his disillusionment with the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X publicly announces his break from the organization. This is also the year he takes the obligatory Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims must take once in their life time if they are able to do so.
  • The 24th Amendment is passed

    The 24th Amendment is passed
    The 24th Amendment abolishes the poll tax, which had been an obstacle put in place to stop black people from voting where it was instituted in 11 different states.
  • The Civil Rights Act becomes law.

    The Civil Rights Act becomes law.
    Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act. This is the most drastic change in civil rights since the Reconstruction era. The act prohibits discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion or natural origin. The act also provides the government with more power to enforce desegregation.
  • Malcolm X's family home is attacked.

    Malcolm X's family home is attacked.
    Malcolm X's family home in East Elmhurst, New York is firebombed. Luckily no one in the family was seriously injured.
  • Malcolm X is assassinated.

    Malcolm X is assassinated.
    At a speaking engagement in the Audobahn Ballroom in Manhattan, 3 gunmen rush the stage. Malcolm is shot at close range 15 times. He is pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital at age 39.
  • March from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama

    March from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama
    African-Americans in Alabama begin a march from Selma to Montgomery in support of voting rights. They are stopped at the Pettus Bridge by police. Around 50 marchers are hospitalized in what is now called "Bloody Sunday."
  • Betty X gives birth to twins.

    Betty X gives birth to twin girls named Malikah and Malaak in the months following Malcolm's death.
  • Three men are convicted of the murder of Malcolm X.

    Three men are convicted of the murder of Malcolm X.
    Thomas Hagan, Norman Butler and Thomas Johnson are convicted of first degree murder in the death of Malcolm X.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is Assassinated.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is Assassinated.
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated by James Earl Ray as he stands on the balcony outside his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee.