The third Sunday in May marks the celebration of Malcolm X Day. Born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925, Malcolm X became one of the most outspoken and popular leaders of the black nationalist movement in the 1960s.
Malcolm X was imprisoned in 1946 for burglary and embraced the Nation of Islam while in prison. Upon his release in 1952, he went to the Muslim headquarters in Chicago and met Elijah Muhammad. He then became a prominent speaker and was assigned to Mosque Number Seven in New York City. However, his comments following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy resulted in his suspension and Malcolm X decided to establish his own organization, the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
Malcolm X was a fervent supporter of black separatism and spoke eloquently and bitterly against white people. A trip to Mecca in 1964 caused him to modify these views and he announced that he now embraced world unity. On February 21, 1965, he was assassinated at the Audobon Ballroom in Harlem by members of a rival organization.
Playboy magazine published Alex Haley's interview with Malcolm X in May 1963. This interview led to Haley co-authoring The Autobiography of Malcolm X which was published in 1965.
Malcolm X Day is celebrated in most major American cities, including Washington, D. C. where festivities draw about 75,000 people to Anacostia Park.