Fifty years ago, Malcolm X was assassinated on Feb. 21, 1965, while he was preparing to address a crowd of more than 400 guests for his new group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity, in Harlem, New York, at the Audubon Ballroom.
Before Malcolm X became a key player in the civil rights movement, he was a young boy who was born in Omaha, Nebraska, as Malcolm Little. As a child, he and his family faced severe racial adversity at the hands of the KKK and other racist groups and were forced to move to Lansing, Mich. Shortly after, his father was killed by a white supremacist group.
In 1946, Malcolm X got involved in petty crime and landed in prison for six years. It was during his incarceration that Malcolm turned his life around and found a new interest in the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad.
Throughout the civil rights movement, the NOI minister often found himself at odds with the nonviolent protesting practices of Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm advocated for self-defense and liberation of African-Americans.
Malcolm X found himself at odds with the Nation of Islam, and after he was suspended by Muhammad, he formally left the Nation. After a pilgrimage to Mecca, he started to come around to the practice of non-violent solutions to equality. In June 1964, he formed his own group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
A week before he was assassinated in 1965, his home was fire-bombed while he and his family were inside.