X represents the same thing it does in math or algebra, the unknown.
Upon becoming a member of the Nation of Islam the member's given last name is replaced by the X symbolic of the fact that as descendants of enslaved africans that person has no knowledge of what their original family name was in Africa.
When he was younger his father was killed and his mother was later put in a mental hospital.
Before any of us in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities laud Malcolm X as our new gay icon or castigate him for being a black heterosexist nationalist on the "down low," we might need to closely examine the recent revelation that for a period in his life Malcolm X engaged in same-sex relationships. But what will come as a shock is Marable's assertions that the Malcolm X the world has come to know through Alex Haley's 1965 , based largely on Haley's book, is fictive.
Also, before any of us in the African American community flatly dismiss these assertions as part and parcel of a racist conspiratorial propaganda machine that is out to discredit our brother Malcolm, we need, at least, to hear these nagging claims. And the spin we have is in part due to Malcolm himself.
Malcolm had been encouraged to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, called Hajj in Arabic, by orthodox Muslims he met on his speaking tours, as well as by other members of the Nation of Islam.
Now, free of the doctrines of Elijah Muhammad, he was able to pursue the true faith of Islam on his own.