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Malcolm X holds newspaper

Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, holds up a newspaper headline that echoes his message at a Black Muslim rally on August 6, 1963.

Little, at age 21, was given a 10-year prison sentence for burglary. While in jail, he became interested in the Nation of Islam, a Muslim sect led by Elijah Muhammad, who advocated separation of the races. Paroled in 1952, Little adopted the name Malcolm X and quickly became a leader of the Black Muslim movement.

A charismatic speaker who initially rejected King’s peaceful approach to promoting civil but later recanted some of his more strident views, Malcolm X remained committed to promoting empowerment of blacks.

Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965 during a speech in New York. His was “a life cut short, way too soon, like so many others” in the civil rights and black power movements, said Barbara Andrews, curator of the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. (© AP Images)