Malcolm X

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In 1952, after his release from prison, Little visited Elijah Muhammad in Chicago, Illinois.[59] 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."[60] 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.[61]

In June 1953, Malcolm X was named assistant minister of the Nation of Islam's Temple Number One[62] in Detroit.[63] By late 1953, he established Boston's Temple Number Eleven.[64] In March 1954, Malcolm X expanded Temple Number Twelve in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[65] Two months later he was selected to lead the Nation of Islam's Temple Number Seven in Harlem.[66] He rapidly expanded its membership.[67] 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.[68] Beside his skill as a speaker, Malcolm X had an impressive physical presence. He stood 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m) tall and weighed about 180 pounds (82 kg).[69] According to one writer, Malcolm X was "powerfully built",[70] and another described him as a "mesmerizingly handsome ... and always spotlessly well-groomed".[69] 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,[71] and that white people were a race of devils.[72] In his speeches, Malcolm X said that black people were superior to white people, and that the demise of the white race was imminent.[73] 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[74] as an interim measure until African Americans could return to Africa.[75] 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.[76] 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.[77] Many blacks felt that he articulated their complaints better than the civil rights movement did.[78][79]

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