Political and Social Movements

Malcolm X

What does the letter X in Malcolm X‘s name stand for?

The influential but controversial African American leader, who was a staunch defendant of black rights, took the surname X in 1952, upon his release from prison. He explained that the letter stood for the unknown African name of his ancestors. Malcolm X’s family’s name, Little, was that given to his slave ancestors by their owner. By adopting X as his surname, it was at once a bitter reminder of his family’s slavery and an affirmation of his (unknown) African roots.


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