He was born Malcolm Little, the son of a Baptist minister murdered by white supremacists when Malcolm was only four years old; grew up Detroit Red, a zoot-suited, numbers-running hustler and pimp with enemies lined up from Detroit to Boston; answered to number 22843—or sometimes, maybe proudly, to the nickname “Satan”—during his six years in a Massachusetts prison; emerged as Malcolm X, a born-again Muslim follower of Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam who preached a Back-to-Africa agenda to black assemblies in impoverished Harlem; and by the time of his death 49 years ago today, was El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, a name taken upon completion of his pilgrimage to Mecca from which he returned to teach a new message of racial co-existence. Malcolm X’s continuous reinventing of himself is what kept him alive, and it’s also what got him killed.