Malcolm X, the Influential Preacher

Religion has an amazing impact upon people; it is maybe because every human being on this planet believes in something. During the Black Arts movement religious wisdom and stories people heard from their grandmothers were mixed into influential messages about the black’s rights. Black artists produced poetry, music, and literature that were written by, for and about black people. It was the things that affected the black people during that time that was expressed in the poetry, music and arts. And even if the people didn’t believe in religion, it would still make an impact on them.

Malcolm X was a very important person for the Black Arts movement. He was an African American leader and a famous person in the Nation of Islam. He spoke about the concepts of race pride and Black Nationalism in the early 1960s, which was why he became a very influential person during the Black Arts movement. Religion was very important not just because it made them believe that goodness existed but also because it was a way of gathering people, so that opinions could be spread. The black people living during the Black arts movement did not have many rights at all, but at least they had as much right as any other person on the planet to pray and believe in God. Malcolm was born in a family with six children and he was only six years old when his father died after being hit by a streetcar, quite possibly the victim of murder by whites. His father was the Rev. Earl Little, a Baptist minister and former supporter of the early Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey.

Malcolm went to a school in Lansing, but he dropped out in the eighth grade because his teacher told him that he should become a carpenter instead of a lawyer. After that Malcolm moved to Harlem, a part in New York City and got involved in criminal things. But it was when he went to prison he started becoming the Malcolm X that he is famous for. In prison he underwent a conversion that eventually led him to join the Nation of Islam, an African American movement that combined elements of Islam with Black Nationalism. When Malcolm joined he had to quit smoking and gambling and refused to eat pork in keeping with the Nation's dietary restrictions. And he started to educate himself by reading books and even memorizing a dictionary. And by following Nation tradition, he replaced his last name which was “Little,” with an “X,” which was a common name among followers of Nation of Islam.

After the conversion Malcolm X started to become the amazing influential person, who was one of the most important leaders of the Black Arts movement. He helped to lead the Nation of Islam during the period of its greatest growth and influence. He met Elijah Muhammad and began organizing temples for the Nation in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, but also in cities in southern cities. He also talked about the Nation's racial policies about the inherent evil of whites and the natural superiority of blacks. This made it possible for him to become the minister of Boston Temple No. 11, which he founded; he was later rewarded with the post of minister of Temple No. 7 in Harlem, which was the largest and most important temple in the Nation after the Chicago headquarters.

Malcolm X preached about the unexpressed anger, frustration, and bitterness of African Americans during the major phase of the civil rights movement from 1955 to 1965. He spoke on the streets of Harlem and at major universities such as Harvard University. Malcolm with his intellect, nice humor and enthusiastic intolerance made him a very good leader of American society. Malcolm also had the guts to criticize Luther King, Jr.'s when it came to central notions of integration and nonviolence. Malcolm wanted to point out that the most important issues were black identity, integrity, and independence. Through the influence of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X helped to change the terms used to refer to African Americans from “Negro” and “coloured” to “black” and “Afro-American.”

On Feb. 21, 1965, Malcolm was assassinated while delivering a lecture at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem; three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted of the murder. His leadership, ideas, and speeches contributed to the development of Black Nationalist Ideology and the Black Power movement. One month after Malcolm X's assassination, the highly respected writer LeRoi Jones, who is also known as Amiri Baraka, moved from Manhattan's Lower East Side to Harlem, where he founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre-School. At that moment, the Black Arts Movement was born.


"Malcolm X." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010. Web. 16 Feb. 2010 <>.

The Faith Project. "The Black Arts Movement; 1946-1966: from civil rights to
black power." This Far by Fair-PBS. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS),
2003. Web. 16 Feb. 2010. p_8.html>.


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