EL Civics Home Civics Lessons ESL Lessons Life Skills Famous Americans Worksheets Website Directory

EL Civics for ESL Students

Malcolm X Lesson

U.S. History and Government

Malcolm X and News Reporters
Malcolm X and News Reporters

Malcolm X was a black political activist, speaker, and Muslim minister.

He was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 19, 1925.

His birth name was Malcolm Little.

Malcolm's family moved to Lansing, Michigan, after Klansmen threatened them.

Malcolm's father died when Malcolm was six years old. He may have been killed by a group of whites who didn't like the work he did with the UNIA, or Universal Negro Improvement Association.

In 1938, Malcolm's mother was declared insane and sent to a state mental institution. She remained there for 26 years.

Malcolm and his siblings were split up and sent to foster homes.

Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 1946, Malcolm was sentenced to prison for breaking and entering and stealing property.

While in prison he became a member of the Nation of Islam. He corresponded with the group's leader, Elijah Muhammad. Muhammad gave him spiritual advice.

After he was released from prison, Malcolm changed his last name to X.

Malcolm rose quickly in the Nation of Islam and became their main spokesman.

He gave speeches and answered questions asked by radio, TV, and newspaper reporters.

Malcolm harshly criticized whites for their treatment of blacks. He often called white people devils. He said black people should defend themselves by any means necessary.

He believed that blacks should be paid reparations for the unpaid labor of their ancestors during slavery.

Malcolm promoted black pride and black power.

Assassination Site of Malcolm X - Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, New York City
Assassination Site of Malcolm X - Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, New York City

In 1964, Malcolm broke with the Nation of Islam. He became a Sunni Muslim and made a pilgrimage to Mecca.

He started two organizations and frequently met with international political leaders from Africa, South America, and Europe.

Malcolm X was shot and killed on February 21, 1965, while giving a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City. He was 39 years old.

Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted for killing Malcolm.


1. Malcolm X was one-fourth white. His mother's father was Scottish.

2. The letter X represents the unknown and it is used by Black Muslims to symbolize the original and unknown last name of their African slave ancestors.

3. His nickname was Red when he was young because he had reddish hair.

4. In 1958, Malcolm married Betty X. They had six daughters, including a set of twins who were born after Malcolm died.

5. In 1971, Washington, D.C. was the first city to celebrate Malcolm X Day.

6. Of the three men sentenced to prison for killing Malcolm X, two of them still claim they are innocent.

Malcom X Quiz Questions

1. What was Malcom X's surname at birth?
2. When was he born?
3. What organization did he join when he was in prison?
4. Did Malcolm believe black people should defend themselves?
5. What are reparations?

Malcolm X Lesson Activities

Malcolm X Crossword Puzzle  Answer Key