By: Virgil Scott
Malcolm X was born May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. He was the fourth child out of eight total. He was a charismatic spokesman for the Nation of Islam until breaking with the group shortly before his 1965 assassination. Malcolm X attended West Junior High School, where he was the school's only black student. He excelled academically and was well liked by his classmates, who elected him as class president. He later said that he felt that his classmates treated him more like the class pet than a human being. Having been told in no uncertain terms that there was no point in a black child pursing education, Malcolm X dropped out of school the next year at the age of 15.In the immediate aftermath of Malcolm X's death, commentators largely ignored his recent spiritual and political transformation and criticized him as a violent rabble-rouser. However, Malcolm X's legacy as a civil rights hero was cemented by the posthumous publication in 1965 of The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley. At once a harrowing chronicle of American racism, an unsparing self-criticism and an inspiring spiritual journey, the book, transcribed by the acclaimed author of Roots, instantly recast Malcolm X as one of the great political and spiritual leaders of modern times.
Named by Time magazine as one of ten "required reading" nonfiction books, The Autobiography of Malcolm X has enshrined Malcolm X as a hero to subsequent generations of radicals and activists. Malcolm X's greatest contribution to society was underscoring the value of a truly free populace by demonstrating the great lengths to which human beings will go to secure their freedom."Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression, he said. "Because power, real power, comes from our conviction which produces action, uncompromising action."