Malcolm X was an African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist who was a popular figure during the civil rights movement. A spokesman for the Nation of Islam until 1964, he was a vocal advocate for Black empowerment and the promotion of Islam within the Black community.
Malcolm spent his adolescence living in a series of foster homes or with relatives after his father's death and his mother's hospitalization. He engaged in several illicit activities, eventually being sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1946 for larceny and breaking and entering. In prison, he joined the Nation of Islam, adopted the name Malcolm X, and quickly became one of the organization's most influential leaders after being paroled in 1952. Malcolm X then served as the public face of the organization for a dozen years, where he advocated for Black empowerment, and the separation of black and white Americans, and publicly criticized Martin Luther King Jr and the mainstream civil rights movement for its emphasis on nonviolence and racial integration. Malcolm X also expressed pride in some of the Nation's social welfare achievements, such as its free drug rehabilitation program.