Tribute and Style Profile: Malcolm X
On this day in 1925, one of the most revolutionary figures in modern history was born – Malcolm X.
Malcolm X was an African-American Muslim minister, public speaker and human rights activist.
To his admirers, he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. His detractors accused him of preaching racism and violence.
Born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, he renamed himself Malcolm X when he joined the Nation of Islam to symbolize “the true African family name that he never could know” (taken from his autobiography) and then finally changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz after completing his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1964.
After living in a series of foster homes from the age of 13, Malcolm X became involved in the 1940′s criminal underworld in Boston and New York.
Malcolm’s fashion style during this time – sharp zoot suits in different colors, over-sized jackets, wide lapels and shoulders with high-waisted, baggy, low-crotched trousers – reflected Harlem’s unique flair and was depicted in Spike Lee‘s 1992 film Malcolm X.
A replica of a typical 1940′s men’s outfit; Malcolm X was known as “Detroit Red” during this time
In 1945, Malcolm X was sentenced to eight to ten years in prison. While in prison, Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam.
After his parole in 1952, he became one of the Nation’s leaders and chief spokesmen. For nearly a dozen years, he was the public face of the Nation of Islam. Tension between Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammed, head of the Nation of Islam, led to Malcolm X’s departure from the organization in March 1964.
During his time with the Nation of Islam, Malcolm developed his signature style. This included dark suits, white shirts, skinny ties and his trademark browline glasses:
After leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X became a Sunni Muslim and made a pilgrimage to Mecca. He traveled extensively throughout Africa and the Middle East. He founded Muslim Mosque Inc., a religious organization, and the secular, black nationalist, Organization of Afro-American Unity.
Malcolm X praying during his pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 1964
Malcolm X dressed in traditional West African garb on a trip to Africa
Less than a year after he left the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X was assassinated while giving a speech in New York in 1965. He was 39.
Numerous cities across America have a Malcolm X Boulevard, including New York City and Dallas. Malcolm X paraphernalia, including buttons, t-shirts, jackets and caps, surged in popularity in the early 1990′s but continue to be worn proudly to this day.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X - as told to Alex Haley (1965)
Malcolm X (1992) – film starring Denzel Washington as Malcolm X, directed by Spike Lee
Editorial source: Wikipedia