5 Ways Malcolm X's Legacy Lives on Today

The world remembers prominent civil rights leader Malcolm X, born on May 19, 1925. Though he is often remembered as a controversial counterpart to Martin Luther King, Jr. in the fight for equality, Malcolm X's beliefs about race continue to speak to a new generation. 

of 05

He Lived During a Transformative Time in America

Baltimore Riots

Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 1950s and ‘60s were a time of great change (and great danger) for African-Americans, with the nation at a crossroads in its discussions on race. As we all know, it’s still a turbulent time today. Headlines about and dominate the news, and remind us there is a long way to go before we can finally in the country.

of 05

He Believed Black Lives Mattered

Baltimore Protests

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

It’s tough to say exactly how Malcolm X would have responded to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, among other major news stories about race relations. But he was a powerful advocate of Black pride and empowerment during his lifetime and spoke to the values of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, long before it became a hashtag and battle cry.

of 05

He Protested Injustice

Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Marion S. Trikosko/Library of Congress

Before his life was cut short when he was assassinated in 1965 at the age of 39, Malcolm X was on a mission to create a just society. His belief in the rationalization of violence in self-defense was polarizing and in direct contrast with the non-violent beliefs of Dr. King. He wasn't afraid of conflict if it helped to further his mission and stood up for what he believed in — much like the protesters we've seen in Ferguson, MO, and Baltimore, MD.

of 05

He Embraced Change With an Open Mind

Malcolm X
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Malcolm X demanded changes in society, but he also changed his own philosophies quite a bit, too. Once at odds with the Civil Rights Movement, his early career advocated for violent measures, as well as segregation with the establishment of a separate Black community. However, Malcolm X later adjusted his opinions, which can teach us a potential lesson in being open-minded and nonjudgmental.

of 05

He Influenced Others Through His Words

Malcolm X at Rally
Bob Parent/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Malcolm X was well-known for his dynamic speeches and charisma for the causes he championed. Malcolm X shared his story with writer Alex Haley, who helped publish The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley a few months after his assassination. That book is still considered and remains influential to this day.