Malcolm X played a role within the Nation of Islam until he decided to leave in 1964. Why did Malcolm X leave the Nation of Islam? Well, his departure was influenced by factors including his increasing disillusionment with the leadership of NOI, his changing political and religious beliefs, and his aspiration to establish a Black Nationalist party that could collaborate with civil rights movements to raise the political awareness of African Americans.
Malcolm X’s Early Life and Involvement with the Nation of Islam
Malcolm X originally named Malcolm Little was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1925. He grew up in a family actively engaged with the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) an organization founded by Marcus Garvey advocating for Black Nationalism.
Malcolm’s father, Earl Little was a Baptist minister and follower of Garvey. Unfortunately, Earl’s activism and outspokenness made him a target for the Ku Klux Klan which ultimately took his life when Malcolm was six years old.
With his mother Louise Little left to raise eight children she faced challenges leading to a nervous breakdown and her subsequent commitment to a mental institution when Malcolm reached thirteen years old.
As a result, Malcolm and his siblings were placed under foster care arrangements while he made the decision to discontinue education after completing grade.
He relocated to Boston where he got involved in pursuits and ultimately got apprehended and handed a prison sentence for burglary.
During his time in prison, Malcolm was introduced to the teachings of the Nation of Islam, a movement that combined Islam with Black Nationalism and specifically focused on African Americans.
According to these teachings, white individuals were considered as the embodiment of evil and were believed to have conspired to oppress people. The Nation of Islam also emphasized that African Americans were the inhabitants of the world but had been stripped off their heritage and culture due to supremacy.
Malcolm found himself deeply influenced by the teachings of the Nation of Islam and became a follower. Throughout his years in prison he maintained correspondence with Elijah Muhammad who was regarded as The Messenger within the movement.
Impressed by Malcolms dedication and remarkable intellectual and organizational skills Elijah Muhammad saw him as a father figure – filling in for Malcolms father Earl Little.
Over time this relationship evolved into one where Muhammad viewed Malcolm as both a son and a protege eventually designating him as his heir.
Malcolm X’s Rise in the Nation of Islam
Following his release from prison in 1952 Malcolm joined the ranks of ministers within the Nation of Islam. His charismatic speaking abilities and adept organizational skills contributed significantly to raising awareness about the movement.
Many African Americans found his message of pride and economic independence appealing. They were drawn to the idea that they didn’t require any assistance from America.
The Nation of Islam established its institutions as commercial establishments and dining establishments. Men were educated in history and religion while women received instruction on nutrition and raising children. The members of NOI were easily recognizable due to their discipline and unique uniforms.
Malcolm X’s Growing Disillusionment with the Nation of Islam
By the mid-1950s Malcolm had emerged as the leading recruiter and organizer for the NOI playing a role in converting numerous African Americans to embrace the teachings of NOI.
He also gained prominence as a spokesperson for the organization delivering impassioned speeches that sparked controversy due to his uncompromising rhetoric.
However, despite his achievements within the Nation of Islam Malcolm’s faith in the leadership and teachings of the organization started wavering.
He grew troubled by Elijah Muhammads conduct which included engaging in affairs and misusing funds belonging to Nation of Islam for personal gain. Malcolm became increasingly disillusioned with the Nation of Islam’s ideology since he believed it hindered their ability to bring about change for African Americans.
These doubts ultimately led Malcolm X to sever ties with the Nation of Islam in 1964. During this time he maintained correspondence with civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. advocating for a more inclusive approach towards securing African American rights.
He also started to create some distance between himself and the teachings of the NOI regarding race and he embraced mainstream Islam and its pan-Africanism that promotes inclusivity.
In March 1964, Malcolm made an announcement about his decision to leave the Nation of Islam (NOI). His intention was to establish a Black Nationalist party that would work together with civil rights movements in order to raise awareness and political consciousness among African Americans.
Malcolm’s departure wasn’t free from controversy. Elijah Muhammad the leader of NOI demanded that Malcolm give up his home and car both of which were owned by the organization. Malcolm also received death threats from NOI members.
In an interview with Ebony magazine, he stated that the Black Muslim leaders would go as far as killing him because they couldn’t afford to let him live; he knew information and threatened to disclose it if pressed.
Malcolm X’s departure from the Nation of Islam stemmed from factors including disillusionment with the Nation of Islam’s leadership changes in his religious beliefs and his aspiration to create a Black Nationalist party that would collaborate with local civil rights movements in raising political awareness among African Americans.
Despite the circumstances surrounding his exit Malcolm X remained a figure in the fight for African American rights until he was assassinated on February 21, 1965.