February 21, 1965, New York City, NY. Malcolm X Assassinated.


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I miss this man terribly. In light of the lack one single worthwhile Black leaders in today’s racial climate, we need Minister Malcolm X more than ever, his wisdom and his guidance.

Malcolm X Assassinated. February 21, 1965, New York City, NY.

 

In New York City, Malcolm X, an African American nationalist and religious leader, is assassinated by rival Black Muslims while addressing his Organization of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights.

 

Born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1925, Malcolm was the son of James Earl Little, a Baptist preacher who advocated the black nationalist ideals of Marcus Garvey. Threats from the Ku Klux Klan forced the family to move to Lansing, Michigan, where his father continued to preach his controversial sermons despite continuing threats. In 1931, Malcolm’s father was brutally murdered by the white supremacist Black Legion, and Michigan authorities refused to prosecute those responsible. In 1937, Malcolm was taken from his family by welfare caseworkers. By the time he reached high school age, he had dropped out of school and moved to Boston, where he became increasingly involved in criminal activities.

 

In 1946, at the age of 21, Malcolm was sent to prison on a burglary conviction. It was there he encountered the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam, whose members are popularly known as Black Muslims. The Nation of Islam advocated black nationalism and racial separatism and condemned Americans of European descent as immoral “devils.” Muhammad’s teachings had a strong effect on Malcolm, who entered into an intense program of self-education and took the last name “X” to symbolize his stolen African identity.

 

After six years, Malcolm was released from prison and became a loyal and effective minister of the Nation of Islam in Harlem, New York. In contrast with civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X advocated self-defense and the liberation of African Americans “by any means necessary.” A fiery orator, Malcolm was admired by the African American community in New York and around the country.

 

In the early 1960s, he began to develop a more outspoken philosophy than that of Elijah Muhammad, whom he felt did not sufficiently support the civil rights movement. In late 1963, Malcolm’s suggestion that President John F. Kennedy‘s assassination was a matter of the “chickens coming home to roost” provided Elijah Muhammad, who believed that Malcolm had become too powerful, with a convenient opportunity to suspend him from the Nation of Islam.

 

A few months later, Malcolm formally left the organization and made a Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, where he was profoundly affected by the lack of racial discord among orthodox Muslims. He returned to America as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and in June 1964 founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which advocated black identity and held that racism, not the white race, was the greatest foe of the African American. Malcolm’s new movement steadily gained followers, and his more moderate philosophy became increasingly influential in the civil rights movement, especially among the leaders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.

 

On February 21, 1965, one week after his home was firebombed, Malcolm X was shot to death by Nation of Islam members while speaking at a rally of his organization in New York City.

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Malcolm X

Malcolm X (/ˈmælkəm ˈɛks/; May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965), born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Arabic: الحاجّ مالك الشباز‎), was an African-American Muslim minister and a human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans; detractors accused him of preaching racism and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.

 

Malcolm X was effectively orphaned early in life. His father was killed when he was six and his mother was placed in a mental hospital when he was thirteen, after which he lived in a series of foster homes.

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In 1946, at age 20, he went to prison for larceny and breaking and entering. While in prison he became a member of the Nation of Islam, and after his parole in 1952 quickly rose to become one of its leaders. For a dozen years he was the public face of the controversial group; in keeping with the Nation’s teachings he espoused black supremacy, advocated the separation of black and white Americans and scoffed at the civil rights movement’s emphasis on integration.

 

By March 1964, Malcolm X had grown disillusioned with the Nation of Islam and its leader Elijah Muhammad. He ultimately repudiated the Nation and its teachings and embraced Sunni Islam. After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, he returned to the United States to found Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. While continuing to emphasize Pan-Africanism, black self-determination, and black self-defense, he disavowed racism, saying, “I did many things as a [Black] Muslim that I’m sorry for now. I was a zombie then … pointed in a certain direction and told to march”.

 

In February 1965, shortly after repudiating the Nation of Islam, he was assassinated by three of its members. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, published shortly after his death, is considered one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century.

 

Assassination

On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was preparing to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom when someone in the 400-person audience yelled, “Nigger! Get your hand outta my pocket!” As Malcolm X and his bodyguards tried to quell the disturbance, a man rushed forward and shot him once in the chest with a sawed-off shotgun; two other men charged the stage firing semi-automatic handguns. Malcolm X was pronounced dead at 3:30 pm, shortly after arriving at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. The autopsy identified 21 gunshot wounds to the chest, left shoulder, arms and legs, including ten buckshot wounds from the initial shotgun blast.

Malcolm X stands on guard, ready to protect his family, in this iconic photo.

Malcolm X stands on guard, ready to protect his family, in this iconic photo.

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One gunman, Nation of Islam member Talmadge Hayer (also known as Thomas Hagan) was beaten by the crowd before police arrived; witnesses identified the others as Nation members Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson. All three were convicted in March 1966 and sentenced to life in prison. (At trial Hayer confessed, but refused to identify the other assailants except to assert that they were not Butler and Johnson; in 1977 and 1978 he reasserted their innocence and named four other Nation members as participants in the murder or its planning.)

 

Butler, today known as Muhammad Abdul Aziz, was paroled in 1985 and became the head of the Nation’s Harlem mosque in 1998; he maintains his innocence. In prison Johnson, who changed his name to Khalil Islam, rejected the Nation’s teachings and converted to Sunni Islam; released in 1987, he maintained his innocence until his death in August 2009. Hayer, today known as Mujahid Halim, was paroled in 2010.

 

Funeral

The public viewing, February 23–26 at Unity Funeral Home in Harlem, was attended by some 14,000 to 30,000 mourners. For the funeral on February 27, loudspeakers were set up for the overflow crowd outside Harlem’s thousand-seat Faith Temple of the Church of God in Christ, and a local television station carried the service live.

 

Among the civil rights leaders attending were John Lewis, Bayard Rustin, James Forman, James Farmer, Jesse Gray, and Andrew Young. Actor and activist Ossie Davis delivered the eulogy, describing Malcolm X as “our shining black prince”:

 

There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain—​and we will smile. Many will say turn away—​away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man—​and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate—​a fanatic, a racist—​who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them: Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.

 

Malcolm X was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. Friends used the gravediggers’ shovels to complete the burial themselves.

 

Actor and activist Ruby Dee and Juanita Poitier (wife of Sidney Poitier) established the Committee of Concerned Mothers to raise money toward a home for the family and for the children’s educations.

 

Allegations of conspiracy

 

A man in a bow-tie and suit is smiling

Within days, the question of who bore ultimate responsibility for the assassination was being publicly debated. On February 23, James Farmer, the leader of the Congress of Racial Equality, announced at a news conference that local drug dealers, and not the Nation of Islam, were to blame. Others accused the NYPD, the FBI, or the CIA, citing the lack of police protection, the ease with which the assassins entered the Audubon Ballroom, and the failure of the police to preserve the crime scene.

 

In the 1970s, the public learned about COINTELPRO and other secret FBI programs established to infiltrate and disrupt civil rights organizations during the 1950s and 1960s. John Ali, national secretary of the Nation of Islam, was identified as an FBI undercover agent. Malcolm X had confided to a reporter that Ali exacerbated tensions between him and Elijah Muhammad, and that he considered Ali his “archenemy” within the Nation of Islam leadership. Ali had a meeting with Talmadge Hayer, one of the men convicted of killing Malcolm X, the night before the assassination.

 

Some, including the Shabazz family, have accused Louis Farrakhan of involvement in Malcolm X’s assassination, and in a 1993 speech Farrakhan seemed to acknowledge the possibility that the Nation of Islam was responsible:

 

Was Malcolm your traitor or ours? And if we dealt with him like a nation deals with a traitor, what the hell business is it of yours? A nation has to be able to deal with traitors and cutthroats and turncoats.

 

In a 60 Minutes interview that aired during May 2000, Farrakhan stated that some things he said may have led to the assassination of Malcolm X. “I may have been complicit in words that I spoke”, he said. “I acknowledge that and regret that any word that I have said caused the loss of life of a human being.”[202] A few days later Farrakhan denied that he “ordered the assassination” of Malcolm X, although he again acknowledged that he “created the atmosphere that ultimately led to Malcolm X’s assassination.”

 

No consensus on who was responsible has been reached.

Farrakhan admits to Malcolm X assassination

 

Malcolm X’s Daughter Exposes Farrakhan (The Extended Clip)

Uploaded on Jan 9, 2012

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan admits in a 60 Minutes interview and reported on CBS Evening News that his incendiary rhetoric played a role in the 1965 assassination of civil rights leader Malcolm X.

 

 

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published in 1965, the result of a collaboration between human rights activist Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley. Haley coauthored the autobiography based on a series of in-depth interviews he conducted between 1963 and Malcolm X’s 1965 assassination. The Autobiography is a spiritual conversion narrative that outlines Malcolm X’s philosophy of black pride, black nationalism, and pan-Africanism. After the leader was killed, Haley wrote the book’s epilogue. He described their collaborative process and the events at the end of Malcolm X’s life.

 

While Malcolm X and scholars contemporary to the book’s publication regarded Haley as the book’s ghostwriter, modern scholars tend to regard him as an essential collaborator. They say he intentionally muted his authorial voice to create the effect of Malcolm X speaking directly to readers. Haley influenced some of Malcolm X’s literary choices. For example, Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam during the period when he was working on the book with Haley. Rather than rewriting earlier chapters as a polemic against the Nation which Malcolm X had rejected, Haley persuaded him to favor a style of “suspense and drama.” Haley’s proactive censorship of the manuscript’s antisemitic material significantly influenced the ideological tone of the Autobiography.

 

When the Autobiography was published, the New York Times reviewer described it as a “brilliant, painful, important book”. In 1967, historian John William Ward wrote that it would become a classic American autobiography. In 1998, Time named The Autobiography of Malcolm X as one of ten “required reading” nonfiction books. James Baldwin and Arnold Perl adapted the book as a film; their screenplay provided the source material for Spike Lee‘s 1992 film Malcolm X.

 

The Autobiography of Malcolm X
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First edition
Author Malcolm X withAlex Haley
Country United States
Genre Autobiography
Published 1965 (Grove Press)
Media type Print
OCLC 219493184

 

Summary

The Autobiography of Malcolm X is an account of the life of Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little (1925–1965), who became a human rights activist. Beginning with his mother’s pregnancy, the book describes Little’s childhood in Michigan, the death of his father under questionable circumstances, and his mother’s deteriorating mental health that resulted in her commitment to a psychiatric hospital. Little’s young adulthood in Boston and New York City is covered, as well as his involvement in organized crime. This led to his arrest and subsequent eight- to ten-year prison sentence, of which he served six-and-a-half years (1946–1952). The book addresses his ministry with Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam (1952–1963) and his emergence as the organization’s national spokesman. It documents his disillusionment with and departure from the Nation of Islam in March 1964, his conversion to orthodox Sunni Islam, his pilgrimage to Mecca, and his travels in Africa. Malcolm X was assassinated in New York’s Audubon Ballroom in February 1965, before they finished the book. His co-author, journalist Alex Haley, summarizes the last days of Malcolm X’s life, and describes in detail their working agreement, including Haley’s personal views on his subject, in the Autobiography’s epilogue.

 

Leaving the Nation of Islam

On December 1, 1963, when he was asked for a comment about the assassination of President Kennedy, Malcolm X said that it was a case of “chickens coming home to roost“. He added that “chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they’ve always made me glad.” The New York Times wrote, “in further criticism of Mr. Kennedy, the Muslim leader cited the murders of Patrice Lumumba, Congo leader, of Medgar Evers, civil rights leader, and of the Negro girls bombed earlier this year in a Birmingham church. These, he said, were instances of other ‘chickens coming home to roost’.” The remarks prompted a widespread public outcry. The Nation of Islam, which had sent a message of condolence to the Kennedy family and ordered its ministers not to comment on the assassination, publicly censured their former shining star. Although Malcolm X retained his post and rank as minister, he was prohibited from public speaking for 90 days.

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Another source of tension had appeared between Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad. There were rumors that Muhammad was conducting extramarital affairs with young Nation secretaries—​which would constitute a serious violation of Nation teachings. After first discounting the rumors, Malcolm X came to believe them after he spoke with Muhammad’s son Wallace and with the women making the accusations. Muhammad confirmed the rumors in 1963, attempting to justify his behavior by referring to precedents set by Biblical prophets.

 

Malcolm X had by now become a media favorite, and some Nation members were seeing him as a threat to Muhammad’s leadership. Publishers had shown interest in Malcolm X’s autobiography, and when Louis Lomax wrote his 1963 book about the Nation, When the Word Is Given, he used a photograph of Malcolm X on the cover and reproduced five of his speeches, but featured only one of Muhammad’s—​all of which greatly upset Muhammad and made him envious.

 

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 Malcolm X’s only meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., March 26, 1964

 

On March 8, 1964, Malcolm X publicly announced his break from the Nation of Islam. He was still a Muslim, he said, but felt that the Nation had “gone as far as it can” because of its rigid teachings. He planned to organize a black nationalist organization to “heighten the political consciousness” of African Americans; he also expressed a desire to work with other civil rights leaders, saying that Elijah Muhammad had prevented him from doing so in the past.

 

Becoming a Sunni Muslim

At this time, several Sunni Muslims encouraged Malcolm X to learn about their faith, and soon he became a convert to Sunni Islam.

 

Pilgrimage to Mecca

A 38-year-old man with a goatee

 Malcolm X in 1964

In April 1964, with financial help from his half-sister Ella Little-Collins, Malcolm X flew to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as the start of his Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca obligatory for every Muslim who is able to do so. However, he was delayed in Jeddah when his U.S. citizenship and inability to speak Arabic caused his status as a Muslim to be questioned. He had received Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam‘s book The Eternal Message of Muhammad with his visa approval, and now he contacted the author. Azzam’s son arranged for his release and lent him his personal hotel suite. The next morning he learned that Prince Faisal had designated him a state guest, and several days later, after completing the Hajj rituals, Malcolm X had an audience with the prince.

 

Malcolm X later said that seeing Muslims of “all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans” interacting as equals led him to see Islam as a means by which racial problems could be overcome.

 

Africa

Malcolm X had already visited the United Arab Republic, Sudan, Nigeria, and Ghana in 1959 to make arrangements for a tour of Africa by Elijah Muhammad, and after his journey to Mecca, in 1964, he visited Africa a second time. He returned to the United States in late May and flew to Africa again in July. During these visits he met officials, gave interviews, and spoke on radio and television in Egypt, Ethiopia, Tanganyika, Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea, Sudan, Senegal, Liberia, Algeria, and Morocco. In Cairo, he attended the second meeting of the Organization of African Unity as a representative of the Organization of Afro-American Unity. By the end of this third visit he had met with essentially all of Africa’s prominent leaders, and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, and Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria had all invited Malcolm X to serve in their governments. After he spoke at the University of Ibadan, the Nigerian Muslim Students Association bestowed on him the honorary Yoruba name Omowale (“the son who has come home”). He later called this his most treasured honor.

 

France and United Kingdom

On November 23, 1964, on his way home from Africa, Malcolm X stopped in Paris, where he spoke at the Salle de la Mutualité. A week later, on November 30, Malcolm X flew to the United Kingdom, and on December 3 took part in a debate at the Oxford Union Society. The motion was: “Extremism in the Defense of Liberty is No Vice; Moderation in the Pursuit of Justice is No Virtue”. Malcolm X argued for the affirmative, and interest in the debate was so high that it was televised nationally by the BBC.

 

On February 5, 1965, Malcolm X flew to Britain again, and on February 8 he addressed the first meeting of the Council of African Organizations in London. The next day he tried to travel to France, but was refused entry.

 

On February 12, he visited Smethwick, near Birmingham, where the Conservative Party had won the parliamentary seat in the 1964 general election. The town had become a byword for racial division after Conservative supporters used the slogan “If you want a nigger for your neighbour, vote Labour.” In Smethwick he compared the treatment of colored residents with the treatment of Jews under Hitler, saying: “I would not wait for the fascist element in Smethwick to erect gas ovens.”

 

Return to United States

After leaving the Nation of Islam and traveling internationally, Malcolm X addressed a wide variety of audiences in the United States. He spoke regularly at meetings held by Muslim Mosque, Inc., and the Organization of Afro-American Unity, and was one of the most sought-after speakers on college campuses.[137] One of his top aides later wrote that he “welcomed every opportunity to speak to college students.” He also addressed public meetings of the Socialist Workers Party, speaking at their Militant Labor Forum.

Malcolm X Boulevard in New York City

Malcolm X Boulevard in New York City

Philosophy

Except for his autobiography, Malcolm X left no published writings. His philosophy is known almost entirely from the many speeches and interviews he gave from 1952 until his death.[205] Many of those speeches, especially from the last year of his life, were recorded and have been published.

 

Beliefs of the Nation of Islam

Before he left the Nation of Islam in 1964, Malcolm X taught its beliefs. His speeches were peppered with the phrase “The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us that…”. It is virtually impossible to discern whether Malcolm X’s personal beliefs at the time diverged from the teachings of the Nation of Islam. He later compared himself to a ventriloquist’s dummy who could only say what Elijah Muhammad told him.

 

Malcolm X taught that black people were the original people of the world, and that white people were a race of devils who were created by an evil scientist named Yakub. The Nation of Islam believed that black people were superior to white people, and that the demise of the white race was imminent. When questioned concerning his statements that white people were devils, Malcolm X said: “history proves the white man is a devil.” “Anybody who rapes, and plunders, and enslaves, and steals, and drops hell bombs on people… anybody who does these things is nothing but a devil.”

 

Malcolm X said that Islam was the “true religion of black mankind” and that Christianity was “the white man’s religion” that had been imposed upon African Americans by their slave-masters. He said that the Nation of Islam followed Islam as it was practiced around the world, but the Nation’s teachings varied from those of other Muslims because they were adapted to the “uniquely pitiful” condition of black people in America. He taught that Wallace Fard Muhammad, the founder of the Nation, was Allah incarnate, and that Elijah Muhammad was his Messenger, or Prophet.

 

While the civil rights movement fought against racial segregation, Malcolm X advocated the complete separation of blacks from whites. The Nation of Islam proposed the establishment of a separate country for African Americans in the southern or southwestern United States as an interim measure until African Americans could return to Africa. Malcolm X suggested the United States government owed reparations to black people for the unpaid labor of their ancestors. He also rejected the civil rights movement’s strategy of nonviolence, instead advocating that black people should defend themselves

 

Independent views

After leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X announced his willingness to work with leaders of the civil rights movement, though he advocated some changes to their policies. He felt that calling the movement a struggle for civil rights would keep the issue within the United States, while changing the focus to human rights would make it an international concern. The movement could then bring its complaints before the United Nations, where Malcolm X said the emerging nations of the world would add their support.

 

Malcolm X argued that if the government was unwilling or unable to protect black people, they should protect themselves, and said that he and the other members of the Organization of Afro-American Unity were determined to defend themselves from aggressors, and to secure freedom, justice and equality “by whatever means necessary”.

 

Malcolm X stressed the global perspective he gained from his international travels. He emphasized the “direct connection” between the domestic struggle of African Americans for equal rights with the independence struggles of Third World nations. He said that African Americans were wrong when they thought of themselves as a minority; globally, black people were the majority.

 

In his speeches at the Militant Labor Forum, which was sponsored by the Socialist Workers Party, Malcolm X criticized capitalism. After one such speech, when he was asked what political and economic system he wanted, he said he didn’t know, but that it was no coincidence the newly independent countries in the Third World were turning toward socialism. When a reporter asked him what he thought about socialism, Malcolm X asked whether it was good for black people. When the reporter told him it seemed to be, Malcolm X told him, “Then I’m for it.”

 

Although he no longer called for the separation of black people from white people, Malcolm X continued to advocate black nationalism, which he defined as self-determination for the African-American community. In the last months of his life, however, Malcolm X began to reconsider his support for black nationalism after meeting northern African revolutionaries who, to all appearances, were white.

 

After his Hajj, Malcolm X articulated a view of white people and racism that represented a deep change from the philosophy he had supported as a minister of the Nation of Islam. In a famous letter from Mecca, he wrote that his experiences with white people during his pilgrimage convinced him to “rearrange” his thinking about race and “toss aside some of [his] previous conclusions”. In a conversation with Gordon Parks, two days before his assassination, Malcolm said:

 

Listening to leaders like Nasser, Ben Bella, and Nkrumah awakened me to the dangers of racism. I realized racism isn’t just a black and white problem. It’s brought bloodbaths to about every nation on earth at one time or another.
Brother, remember the time that white college girl came into the restaurant—​the one who wanted to help the [Black] Muslims and the whites get together—​and I told her there wasn’t a ghost of a chance and she went away crying? Well, I’ve lived to regret that incident. In many parts of the African continent I saw white students helping black people. Something like this kills a lot of argument. I did many things as a Black Muslim that I’m sorry for now. I was a zombie then—​like all [Black] Muslims—​I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march. Well, I guess a man’s entitled to make a fool of himself if he’s ready to pay the cost. It cost me 12 years.
That was a bad scene, brother. The sickness and madness of those days—​I’m glad to be free of them.

Up until one week before his death, Malcolm X continued to publicly advocate that black people should achieve advancement “by any means necessary”.

 

Mural on the wall of row houses in Philadelphia

Mural on the wall of row houses in Philadelphia

Legacy

Malcolm X has been described as one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history. He is credited with raising the self-esteem of black Americans and reconnecting them with their African heritage. He is largely responsible for the spread of Islam in the black community in the United States. Many African Americans, especially those who lived in cities in the Northern and Western United States, felt that Malcolm X articulated their complaints concerning inequality better than the mainstream civil rights movement did. One biographer says that by giving expression to their frustration, Malcolm X “made clear the price that white America would have to pay if it did not accede to black America’s legitimate demands.”

 

In the late 1960s, increasingly radical black activists based their movements largely on Malcolm X and his teachings. The Black Power movement, the Black Arts Movement, and the widespread adoption of the slogan “Black is beautiful” can all trace their roots to Malcolm X.

 

In 1963 Malcolm X began a collaboration with Alex Haley on his life story, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. He told Haley, “If I’m alive when this book comes out, it will be a miracle”, and indeed, Haley completed and published it some months after the assassination.

 

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a resurgence of interest in his life among young people. Hip-hop groups such as Public Enemy adopted Malcolm X as an icon, and his image was displayed in hundreds of thousands of homes, offices, and schools as well as on T-shirts and jackets. This wave peaked in 1992 with the release of the film Malcolm X, an adaptation of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

 

In 1998 TIME named The Autobiography of Malcolm X one of the ten most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century.

 

Malcolm X Assassin – Pt. 1

 

 

Malcolm X Assassin – Pt. 2

 

 

Malcolm X Assassin – Pt. 3

 

 

WHO KILLED MALCOLM X?

 

 

MALCOLM X: WHY I LEFT THE NATION OF ISLAM

 

 

MALCOLM X: WE DIDN’T LAND ON PLYMOUTH ROCK

 

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Malcolm El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz X (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965)


 

By Jueseppi B.

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Malcolm X

 

Malcolm X (/ˈmælkəm ˈɛks/; May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965), born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Arabic: الحاجّ مالك الشباز‎), was an African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans; detractors accused him of preaching racism and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.

 

Malcolm X’s father died—killed by white supremacists, it was rumored—when he was young, and at least one of his uncles was lynched. After his mother was placed in a mental hospital when he was 13, he lived in a series of foster homes. In 1946, at age 20, he went to prison for breaking and entering.

 

While in prison Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam, and after his parole in 1952 quickly rose to become one of its leaders. For a dozen years he was the public face of the controversial group; in keeping with the Nation’s teachings he espoused black supremacy, advocated the separation of black and white Americans and scoffed at the civil rights movement’s emphasis on integration.

 

By March 1964 Malcolm X had grown disillusioned with the Nation of Islam and its head Elijah Muhammad, and ultimately repudiated the Nation and its teachings. He embraced Sunni Islam and, after a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, returned to the United States to found Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Though continuing to emphasize Pan-Africanism, black self-determination, and black self-defense, he disavowed racism, saying, “I did many things as a [Black] Muslim that I’m sorry for now. I was a zombie then … pointed in a certain direction and told to march”.

 

In February 1965, shortly after repudiating the Nation of Islam, he was assassinated by three of its members.

 

 

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Malcolm X: Make It Plain (Full PBS Documentary)

 

Uploaded on Jan 8, 2012

The 1994 PBS documentary on the life of Malcolm X

 

 

 

 

Malcolm X: Speeches and Interviews (1960-65)

 

Uploaded on Jul 9, 2011

A compilation of Malcolm X interviews and speeches 1960-1965.

 

 

 

 

Malcolm X – Explains True Black History (After returning from Mecca)

 

Uploaded on Feb 6, 2011

Malcolm X – Explains True Black History.

 

 

 

Malcolm1

 

 

RARE MALCOLM X LECTURE – On Women, Marriage, Leadership & Study

 

 

 

 

 

MALCOLM X: AN AMERICAN NIGHTMARE

 

 

 

 

 

MALCOLM X: THE BALLOT OR THE BULLET (April 12, 1964)

 

 

 

 

 

Make no mistake racism exist for one reason and one reason only; to give caucasians a good standard of living with little to no effort. A very large segment, very large segment of the caucasian population live a parasitic lifestyle afforded to them off the manipulation of Blacks. Collegiate/professional sport organizations and their derivatives, Law Enforcement and their derivatives, the Music industry and their derivatives. And if Blacks were to disappear today the caucasian standard of living drops…precipitously.

 

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Black History Moment: Minister Malcolm X aka Malcolm Little. Assassinated This Day In 1965


 

By Jueseppi B.

 

 

malcolm-x2

 

Beautiful artwork by the artist Alex M. Bustillo at  alexmbustillo

 

 

Malcolm X is one of the very few men I idolize, one of the very few humans I admire for his life’s work, but mainly I admire Mr. X for his evolution as a human being.

 

Malcolm X (/ˈmælkəm ˈɛks/; May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965), born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Arabic: الحاجّ مالك الشباز‎), was an African American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers, he was a courageous advocate for the rights ofAfrican Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. Detractors accused him of preaching racism, black supremacyantisemitism, and violence.

 

He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.

 

Malcolm X’s father died—killed by white supremacists, it was rumored—when he was young, and at least one of his uncles was lynched. When he was thirteen, his mother was placed in a mental hospital, and he was placed in a series of foster homes. In 1946, at age 20, he went to prison for breaking and entering.

 

In prison, Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam and after his parole in 1952 he quickly rose to become one of its leaders. For a dozen years Malcolm X was the public face of the controversial group, but disillusionment with Nation of Islam head Elijah Muhammad led him to leave the Nation in March 1964.

 

After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, he returned to the United States, where he founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. In February 1965, less than a year after leaving the Nation of Islam, he was assassinated by three members of the group.

 

Malcolm X’s expressed beliefs changed substantially over time. As a spokesman for the Nation of Islam he taught black supremacy and advocated separation of black and white Americans—in contrast to the civil rights movement‘s emphasis on integration.

 

After breaking with the Nation of Islam in 1964—saying of his association with it, “I was a zombie then … pointed in a certain direction and told to march”—and becoming a Sunni Muslim, he disavowed racism and expressed willingness to work with civil rights leaders, though still emphasizing black self-determination and self defense.

 

Malcolm Little was born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, the fourth of seven children to Earl Little and Louise Norton. His father was an outspoken Baptist lay speaker. He supported Pan-African activist Marcus Garvey and was a local leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).

 

 

Malcolm X: Speeches and Interviews (1960-65)

 

Uploaded on Jul 9, 2011

A compilation of Malcolm X interviews and speeches 1960-1965.

 

 

 

 

 

Malcolm never forgot the values of black pride and self-reliance that his father and other UNIA leaders preached. Malcolm X later said that three of Earl Little’s brothers, one of whom was lynched, died violently at the hands of white men. Because of Ku Klux Klan threats, the family relocated in 1926 to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and shortly thereafter to Lansing, Michigan.

 

Earl Little, who was dark-skinned, was born in Reynolds, Georgia. He had three children from his first marriage: Ella, Mary, and Earl Jr.—and seven with his second wife, Louise: Wilfred, Hilda, Philbert, Malcolm, Reginald, Yvonne, and Wesley. Louise Norton Little was born in Grenada. Because her father was Scottish, she was so light-skinned that she could have passed for white.

 

Malcolm inherited his light complexion from his mother and maternal grandfather. Initially he felt his light skin was a status symbol, but he later said he “hated every drop of that white rapist’s blood that is in me.” Malcolm X later remembered feeling that his father favored him because he was the lightest-skinned child in the family; however, he thought his mother treated him harshly for the same reason.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of Malcolm’s nicknames, “Red”, derived from the tinge of his hair. According to one biographer, at birth he had “ash-blonde hair … tinged with cinnamon”, and at age four, “reddish-blonde hair”. His hair darkened as he aged, yet he also resembled his paternal grandmother, whose hair “turned reddish in the summer sun.” The issue of skin and hair color took on very significant implications later in Malcolm’s life.

 

In December 1924, Louise Little was threatened by klansmen while she was pregnant with Malcolm. She recalled that the klansmen warned the family to leave Omaha, because Earl Little’s activities with UNIA were “spreading trouble”. After they moved to Lansing, their house was burned in 1929; however, the family escaped without physical injury.

 

On September 8, 1931, Earl Little was fatally struck by a streetcar in Lansing. Authorities ruled his death an accident. The police reported that Earl Little was conscious when they arrived on the scene, and he told them he had slipped and fallen under the streetcar’s wheels.

 

 

Malcolm X – Ballot or Bullet

 

Uploaded on Nov 23, 2006

“The Ballot or The Bullet” was a speech by Malcolm X mostly about black nationalism delivered April 12, 1964 in Detroit, Michigan. This speech is in the public domain. Originally obtained from the Vincent Voice Library at Michigan State University.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The black community in Lansing disputed the cause of death, believing there was circumstantial evidence of assault. His family had frequently been harassed by the Black Legion, a white supremacist group that his father accused of burning down their home in 1929. Some blacks believed the Black Legion was responsible for Earl Little’s death. One of the adults at the funeral told eight-year-old Philbert Little that his father had been hit from behind and shoved under the streetcar.

 

Though Earl Little had two life insurance policies, his family received death benefits solely from the smaller policy. The insurance company of the larger policy claimed that his father had committed suicide and refused to issue the benefit. The payout from the insurance policy was $1,000 (comparable to about $15,000 in 2010 dollars), and the probate court awarded Louise Little a monthly “widow’s allowance” of $18. She rented space in the garden to raise more money, and her sons would hunt game for supper.

 

In 1935 or 1936, Louise Little began dating an African-American man. A marriage proposal seemed a possibility, but the man disappeared from their lives when Louise became pregnant with his child in late 1937. In December 1938, Louise Little had a nervous breakdown and was declared legally insane.

 

The Little siblings were split up and sent to different foster homes. The state formally committed Louise Little to the state mental hospital at Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she remained until Malcolm and his siblings secured her release 24 years later.

 

Malcolm Little was one of the best students in his junior high school, but he dropped out after a white eighth-grade teacher told him that his aspirations of being a lawyer were “no realistic goal for a nigger.” Years later, Malcolm X would laugh about the incident, but at the time it was humiliating. It made him feel that there was no place in the white world for a career-oriented black man, no matter how smart he was. After living with a series of foster parents, Malcolm moved to Boston in February 1941 to live with his older half-sister, Ella Little Collins.

 

In Boston, Little held a variety of jobs and found intermittent employment with the New Haven Railroad. Between 1943 and 1946, he drifted from city to city and job to job. He left Boston to live for a short time in Flint, Michigan. He moved to New York City in 1943. Living in Harlem, he became involved in drug dealing, gambling, racketeering, robbery, and pimping.During this period, Little became known as “Detroit Red” because he came from Michigan and because of the reddish color of his hair.

 

In 1943, the U.S. draft board ordered Little to register for military service. He later recalled that he put on a display to avoid the draft by telling the examining officer that he could not wait to “steal us some guns, and kill us [some] crackers.” Military physicians classified him as “mentally disqualified for military service”. He was issued a 4-F card, relieving him of his service obligations.

 

In late 1945, Little returned to Boston. With a group of associates, he began a series of elaborate burglaries targeting the residences of wealthy white families. On January 12, 1946, Little was arrested for burglary while trying to pick up a stolen watch he had left for repairs at a jewelry shop. The shop owner called the police because the watch was very expensive, and the police had alerted all Boston jewelers that it had been stolen.

 

Little told the police that he had a gun on his person and surrendered so the police would treat him more leniently. Three days later, Little was indicted for carrying firearms. On January 16, he was charged with larceny and breaking and entering, and eventually sentenced to eight to ten years in prison.

 

On February 27, Little began serving his sentence at the Charlestown State Prison in Charlestown, Boston. While in prison, Little earned the nickname of “Satan” for his hostility toward religion. Little met a self-educated man in prison named John Elton Bembry (referred to as “Bimbi” in The Autobiography of Malcolm X).

 

Bembry was a well-regarded prisoner at Charlestown, and Malcolm X would later describe him as “the first man I had ever seen command total respect … with words.” Gradually, the two men became friends and Bembry convinced Little to educate himself. Little developed a voracious appetite for reading, and he frequently read after the prison lights had been turned off.

 

In 1948, Little’s brother Philbert wrote, telling him about the Nation of Islam. Like the UNIA, the Nation preached black self-reliance and, ultimately, the unification of members of the African diaspora, free from white American and European domination.

 

Little was not interested in joining until his brother Reginald wrote, saying, “Malcolm, don’t eat any more pork and don’t smoke any more cigarettes. I’ll show you how to get out of prison.” Little quit smoking, and the next time pork was served in the prison dining hall, he refused to eat it.

 

When Reginald came to visit Little, he described the group’s teachings, including the belief that white people are devils. Afterward, Little thought about all the white people he had known, and he realized that he’d never had a relationship with a white person or social institution that wasn’t based on dishonesty, injustice, greed, and hatred. Little began to reconsider his dismissal of all religion and he became receptive to the message of the Nation of Islam.

 

Other family members who had joined the Nation wrote or visited and encouraged Little to join. In February 1948, mostly through his sister’s efforts, Little was transferred to the Norfolk Prison Colony, an experimental prison in Norfolk, Massachusetts, that had a much larger library. In late 1948, he wrote a letter to Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad advised him to atone for his crimes by renouncing his past and by humbly bowing in prayer to Allah and promising never to engage in destructive behavior again.

 

Little, who always had been rebellious and deeply skeptical, found it very difficult to bow in prayer. It took him a week to bend his knees. Finally he prayed, and he became a member of the Nation of Islam. For the remainder of his incarceration, Little maintained regular correspondence with Muhammad.

 

On August 7, 1952, Little was paroled and was released from prison. He later reflected on the time he spent in prison after his conversion: “Between Mr. Muhammad’s teachings, my correspondence, my visitors—usually Ella and Reginald—and my reading of books, months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I had never been so truly free in my life.”

 

 

 

 

When Little was released from prison in 1952, he had more than a new religion. He also had a new name. In a December 1950 letter to his brother Philbert, Little signed his name as Malcolm X for the first time. In his autobiography, he explained why: “The Muslim’s ‘X’ symbolized the true African family name that he never could know. For me, my ‘X’ replaced the white slavemaster name of ‘Little’ which some blue-eyed devil named Little had imposed upon my paternal forebears.”

 

Shortly after his release from prison, Malcolm X visited Elijah Muhammad in Chicago, Illinois. In June 1953, Malcolm X was named assistant minister of the Nation of Islam’s Temple Number One in Detroit. Soon, he became a full-time minister. By late 1953, Malcolm X established Boston’s Temple Number 11. In March 1954, he expanded Temple Number 12 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Two months later Malcolm X was selected to lead Temple Number Seven in Harlem, and he rapidly expanded its membership.

 

The FBI had opened a file on Malcolm X in 1950 after he wrote a letter to President Truman stating his opposition to the Korean War and declaring himself to be a communist. It began surveillance of him in 1953, and soon the FBI turned its attention from concerns about possible Communist Party association to Malcolm X’s rapid ascent in the Nation of Islam.

 

During 1955, Malcolm X continued his successful recruitment efforts on behalf of the organization. He established temples in Springfield, Massachusetts (Number 13); Hartford, Connecticut (Number 14); and AtlantaGeorgia (Number 15). Hundreds of African Americans were joining the Nation of Islam every month. Beside his skill as a speaker, Malcolm X had an impressive physical presence. He stood 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m) tall and weighed about 180 pounds (82 kg). One writer described him as “powerfully built”, and another as “mesmerizingly handsome … and always spotlessly well-groomed”.

 

Malcolm X first came to the attention of the general public after the police beating of a Nation of Islam member named Johnson Hinton. On April 26, 1957, two police officers were beating an African-American man with their nightsticks when three passersby who belonged to the Nation of Islam tried to intervene. They shouted: “You’re not in Alabama or Georgia. This is New York!” One of the officers began to beat one of the passersby, Johnson Hinton. The blows were so severe, a surgeon later determined, that they caused brain contusions, subdural hemorrhaging, and scalp lacerations. All four men were arrested and taken to the police station.

 

A woman who had seen the assault ran to the Nation of Islam’s restaurant. Within a few hours, Malcolm X and a small group of Muslims went to the police station and demanded to see Hinton. The police captain initially said no Muslims were being held there, but as the crowd grew to about 500, he allowed Malcolm X to speak with Hinton. After a short talk, Malcolm X demanded that Hinton be taken to the hospital, so an ambulance was called and Hinton was taken to Harlem Hospital.

 

Hinton was treated and released into the custody of the police, who returned him to the police station. By this point, about 4,000 people had gathered; the police realized there was the potential for a riot and called for backup. Malcolm X went back into the police station with an attorney and made bail arrangements for the other two Muslims. The police said Hinton could not go back to the hospital until he was arraigned the following day.

 

 

Malcolm X:Field Negro speech

 

Uploaded on Aug 19, 2009

Malcolm X tells the difference between the house negro and the field negro.

 

 

 

 

 

Malcolm X realized things were at a stalemate. He stepped outside the station house and gave a hand signal. The Nation of Islam members in the crowd silently walked away. The rest of the crowd dispersed minutes later. One police officer told the editor of the New York Amsterdam News: “No one man should have that much power.”

 

 

 

 

The following month, the Bureau of Special Services and Investigation of the New York Police Department (NYPD) began its surveillance of Malcolm X. The NYPD’s Chief Inspector asked for information from the police department in every city where Malcolm X had lived, and from the prisons where he had served his sentence. In October, when a grand jury declined to indict the officers who had beaten Hinton, Malcolm X wrote an angry telegram to the police commissioner. In response, undercover NYPD officers were placed inside the Nation of Islam.

 

Malcolm X met Betty Sanders in 1955. She had been invited to listen to his lecture, and she was very impressed by him. They met again at a dinner party. Soon Sanders was attending all of Malcolm X’s lectures at Temple Number Seven. In mid 1956, she joined the Nation of Islam.

 

Malcolm X and Betty X did not have a conventional courtship. One-on-one dates were contrary to the teachings of the Nation of Islam. Instead, the couple shared their “dates” with dozens, or even hundreds of other members. Malcolm X frequently took groups to visit New York’s museums and libraries, and he always invited Betty X.

 

Although they had never discussed the subject, Betty X suspected that Malcolm X was interested in marriage. On January 12, 1958, he called from Detroit and asked her to marry him, and they were married two days later in Lansing, Michigan.

 

The couple had six daughters. Their names were Attallah, born in 1958 and named after Attila the HunQubilah, born in 1960 and named afterKublai KhanIlyasah, born in 1962 and named after Elijah Muhammad; Gamilah Lumumba, born in 1964 and named after Patrice Lumumba; and twins, Malikah and Malaak, born in 1965 after their father’s assassination and named for him.

 

After a 1959 television broadcast in New York City about the Nation of Islam, The Hate That Hate Produced, Malcolm X became known to white Americans. Representatives of the print media, radio, and television frequently asked him for comments on issues. By the late 1950s, Malcolm X had acquired a new name, Malcolm Shabazz or Malik el-Shabazz, although he was still widely referred to as Malcolm X.

 

In September 1960, Fidel Castro arrived in New York to attend the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. He and his entourage stayed at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem. Malcolm X was a prominent member of a Harlem-based welcoming committee made up of community leaders who met with Castro. Castro was so impressed by Malcolm X that he requested a private meeting with him. At the end of their two-hour meeting, Castro invited Malcolm X to visit him in Cuba.

 

During the General Assembly meeting, Malcolm X was also invited to many official embassy functions sponsored by African nations, where he met heads of state and other leaders, including Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Ahmed Sékou Touré of Guinea, and Kenneth Kaunda of the Zambian African National Congress.

 

From his adoption of the Nation of Islam in 1952 until he broke with it in 1964, Malcolm X promoted the Nation’s teachings, including that black people are the original people of the world, that white people are “devils”, that blacks are superior to whites, and that the demise of the white race is imminent. While the civil rights movement fought against racial segregation, Malcolm X advocated the complete separation of African Americans from white people.

 

He proposed the establishment of a separate country for black people as an interim measure until African Americans could return to Africa. Malcolm X also rejected the civil rights movement’s strategy of nonviolence, and instead advocated that black people use any necessary means of self-defense to protect themselves. Malcolm X’s speeches had a powerful effect on his audiences, generally African Americans who lived in the Northern and Western cities, who were tired of being told to wait for freedom, justice, equality and respect. Many blacks felt that he articulated their complaints better than the civil rights movement did.

 

Malcolm X has been widely considered the second most influential leader of the Nation of Islam after Elijah Muhammad. He was largely credited with the group’s dramatic increase in membership between the early 1950s and early 1960s (from 500 to 25,000 by one author’s estimate, or from 1,200 to 50,000 or 75,000 by another’s). He inspired the boxer Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali) to join the Nation of Islam. (though like Malcolm X himself, Ali later left the group to become a Sunni Muslim).

 

Many white people, and even some blacks, were alarmed by Malcolm X and the things he said. He and the Nation of Islam were described as hatemongers, black supremacists, violence-seekers, and a threat to improved race relations. Civil rights organizations denounced Malcolm X and the Nation as irresponsible extremists whose views were not representative of African Americans. Malcolm X was accused of being antisemitic.

 

Malcolm X was equally critical of the civil rights movement. He described its leaders as “stooges” for the white establishment, and he once described Martin Luther King, Jr. as a “chump”. He criticized the 1963 March on Washington, which he called “the farce on Washington”. He said he did not know why black people were excited over a demonstration “run by whites in front of a statue of a president who has been dead for a hundred years and who didn’t like us when he was alive”.

 

On December 1, 1963, when he was asked for a comment about the assassination of President Kennedy, Malcolm X said that it was a case of “chickens coming home to roost“. He added that “chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they’ve always made me glad.” The New York Times wrote, “in further criticism of Mr. Kennedy, the Muslim leader cited the murders of Patrice Lumumba, Congo leader, of Medgar Evers, civil rights leader, and of the Negro girls bombed earlier this year in a Birmingham church. These, he said, were instances of other ‘chickens coming home to roost’.”

 

The remarks prompted a widespread public outcry. The Nation of Islam, which had issued a message of condolence to the Kennedy family and ordered its ministers not to comment on the assassination, publicly censured their former shining star. Although Malcolm X retained his post and rank as minister, he was prohibited from public speaking for 90 days.

 

On March 8, 1964, Malcolm X publicly announced his break from the Nation of Islam. He said that he was still a Muslim, but he felt the Nation of Islam had “gone as far as it can” because of its rigid religious teachings. Malcolm X said he was going to organize a black nationalist organization that would try to “heighten the political consciousness” of African Americans. He also expressed his desire to work with other civil rights leaders and said that Elijah Muhammad had prevented him from doing so in the past.

 

One reason for the separation was growing tension between Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad because of Malcolm X’s dismay about rumors of Muhammad’s extramarital affairs with young secretaries, actions that were against the teachings of the Nation. Although at first Malcolm X had ignored the rumors, after speaking with Muhammad’s son Wallace and the women making the accusations, he came to believe that they were true.

 

Muhammad confirmed the rumors in 1963 but tried to justify his actions by reference to precedents set by Biblical prophets. Another reason for the separation was growing resentment by people within the Nation. As Malcolm X had become a favorite of the media, many in the Nation’s Chicago headquarters felt that he was over-shadowing Muhammad.

 

Louis Lomax‘s 1963 book about the Nation of Islam, When the Word Is Given, featured a picture of Malcolm X on its cover and included five of his speeches, but only one of Muhammad’s, which greatly upset Muhammad. Muhammad was also envious that a publisher was interested in Malcolm X’s autobiography. After leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X founded Muslim Mosque, Inc., a religious organization, and the Organization of Afro-American Unity, a secular group that advocated Pan-Africanism.

 

 

 

 

On March 26, 1964, he met Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington, D.C., after a press conference held when both men attended the Senate to hear the debate on the Civil Rights bill. This was the only time the two men ever met and their meeting lasted only one minute—just long enough for photographers to take a picture. In April, Malcolm X made a speech titled “The Ballot or the Bullet” in which he advised African Americans to exercise their right to vote wisely. Several Sunni Muslims encouraged Malcolm X to learn about Islam. Soon he converted to Sunni Islam, and decided to make his pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj)

 

On April 13, 1964, Malcolm X departed JFK Airport in New York for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His status as an authentic Muslim was questioned by Saudi authorities because of his United States passport and his inability to speak Arabic. Since only confessing Muslims are allowed into Mecca, he was separated from his group for about 20 hours.

 

According to his autobiography, Malcolm X saw a telephone and remembered the book The Eternal Message of Muhammad by Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam, which had been presented to him with his visa approval. He called Azzam’s son, who arranged for his release. At the younger Azzam’s home, he met Azzam Pasha, who gave Malcolm his suite at the Jeddah Palace Hotel. The next morning, Muhammad Faisal, the son of Prince Faisal, visited and informed Malcolm X that he was to be a state guest. The deputy chief of protocol accompanied Malcolm X to the Hajj Court, where he was allowed to make his pilgrimage.

 

On April 19, Malcolm X completed the Hajj, making the seven circuits around the Kaaba, drinking from the Zamzam Well, and running between the hills of Safah and Marwah seven times. After completing the Hajj, he was granted an audience with Prince Faisal. Malcolm X said the trip allowed him to see Muslims of different races interacting as equals. He came to believe that Islam could be the means by which racial problems could be overcome.

 

On February 21, 1965, as Malcolm X prepared to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom, a disturbance broke out in the 400-person audience—a man yelled, “Nigger! Get your hand outta my pocket!” As Malcolm X and his bodyguards moved to quiet the disturbance, a man rushed forward and shot him in the chest with a sawed-off shotgun.

 

Two other men charged the stage and fired semi-automatic handguns, hitting Malcolm X several times. He was pronounced dead at 3:30 pm, shortly after he arrived at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. According to the autopsy report, Malcolm X’s body had 21 gunshot wounds, ten of them from the initial shotgun blast.

 

One gunman, Nation of Islam member Talmadge Hayer (also known as Thomas Hagan) was seized and beaten by the crowd before the police arrived minutes later; witnesses identified the others as Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson, also Nation members. Hayer confessed at trial to have been one of the handgun shooters, but refused to identify the other assailants except to assert that they were not Butler and Johnson. All three were convicted.

 

Butler, now known as Muhammad Abdul Aziz, was paroled in 1985 and became the head of the Nation’s Harlem mosque in 1998. He continues to maintain his innocence. Johnson, who changed his name to Khalil Islam, rejected the Nation’s teachings while in prison and converted to Sunni Islam. Released in 1987, he maintained his innocence until his death in August 2009. Hayer, now known as Mujahid Halim, was paroled in 2010.

 

A public viewing was held at Harlem’s Unity Funeral Home from February 23 through February 26, and it was estimated that between 14,000 and 30,000 mourners attended. The funeral was held on February 27 at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ in Harlem. The church was filled to capacity with more than 1,000 people. Loudspeakers were set up outside the Temple so the overflowing crowd could listen and a local television station broadcast the funeral live.

 

Among the civil rights leaders attending were John LewisBayard RustinJames FormanJames FarmerJesse Gray, and Andrew Young. Actor and activist Ossie Davis delivered the eulogy, describing Malcolm X as “our shining black prince”.

There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain—and we will smile. Many will say turn away—away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man—and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate—a fanatic, a racist—who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them: Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.

 

Malcolm X was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. At the gravesite after the ceremony, friends took the shovels from the waiting gravediggers and completed the burial themselves. Actor and activist Ruby Dee (wife of Ossie Davis) and Juanita Poitier (wife of Sidney Poitier) established the Committee of Concerned Mothers to raise funds to buy a house and pay educational expenses for Malcolm X’s family.

 

Malcolm X has been described as one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history. He is credited with raising the self-esteem of black Americans and reconnecting them with their African heritage. He is largely responsible for the spread of Islam in the black community in the United States.

 

Many African Americans, especially those who lived in cities in the Northern and Western United States, felt that Malcolm X articulated their complaints concerning inequality better than the mainstream civil rights movement did. One biographer says that by giving expression to their frustration, Malcolm X “made clear the price that white America would have to pay if it did not accede to black America’s legitimate demands.”

 

In the late 1960s, as black activists became more radical, Malcolm X and his teachings were part of the foundation on which they built their movements. The Black Power movement, the Black Arts Movement, and the widespread adoption of the slogan “Black is beautiful“ can all trace their roots to Malcolm X.

 

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a resurgence of interest in Malcolm X among young people, fueled in part by use of him as an icon by hip hop groups such as Public Enemy. His image was on display in hundreds of thousands of homes, offices, and schools, as well as on T-shirts and jackets.

 

This wave peaked in 1992 with the release of the film Malcolm X, an adaptation of the The Autobiography of Malcolm X which Malcolm X began in 1963 in collaboration with Alex Haley on The Autobiography of Malcolm X. (Malcolm X had told Haley, “If I’m alive when this book comes out, it will be a miracle”; indeed Haley completed and published it some months after the assassination). In 1998 Time named The Autobiography of Malcolm X one of the ten most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century.

 

 

 

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“One A Day” Black History Month Series ~ Mr. Malcolm X


By Jueseppi B.

 

 

 

 

Twenty-Sixth in The “One A Day” Black History Month Series….Mr. Malcolm Little, aka Malcolm X.

 

 

Malcolm X is one of the very few men I idolize, one of the very few humans I admire for his life’s work, but mainly I admire Mr. X for his evolution as a human being.

 

Malcolm X (/ˈmælkəm ˈɛks/; May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965), born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Arabic: الحاجّ مالك الشباز‎), was an African American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers, he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. Detractors accused him of preaching racism, black supremacyantisemitism, and violence.

 

He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.

 

Malcolm X’s father died—killed by white supremacists, it was rumored—when he was young, and at least one of his uncles was lynched. When he was thirteen, his mother was placed in a mental hospital, and he was placed in a series of foster homes. In 1946, at age 20, he went to prison for breaking and entering.

 

In prison, Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam and after his parole in 1952 he quickly rose to become one of its leaders. For a dozen years Malcolm X was the public face of the controversial group, but disillusionment with Nation of Islam head Elijah Muhammad led him to leave the Nation in March 1964.

 

After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, he returned to the United States, where he founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. In February 1965, less than a year after leaving the Nation of Islam, he was assassinated by three members of the group.

 

Malcolm X’s expressed beliefs changed substantially over time. As a spokesman for the Nation of Islam he taught black supremacy and advocated separation of black and white Americans—in contrast to the civil rights movement‘s emphasis on integration.

 

After breaking with the Nation of Islam in 1964—saying of his association with it, “I was a zombie then … pointed in a certain direction and told to march”—and becoming a Sunni Muslim, he disavowed racism and expressed willingness to work with civil rights leaders, though still emphasizing black self-determination and self defense.

 

Malcolm Little was born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, the fourth of seven children to Earl Little and Louise Norton. His father was an outspoken Baptist lay speaker. He supported Pan-African activist Marcus Garvey and was a local leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).

 

Malcolm never forgot the values of black pride and self-reliance that his father and other UNIA leaders preached. Malcolm X later said that three of Earl Little’s brothers, one of whom was lynched, died violently at the hands of white men. Because of Ku Klux Klan threats, the family relocated in 1926 to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and shortly thereafter to Lansing, Michigan.

 

Earl Little, who was dark-skinned, was born in Reynolds, Georgia. He had three children from his first marriage: Ella, Mary, and Earl Jr.—and seven with his second wife, Louise: Wilfred, Hilda, Philbert, Malcolm, Reginald, Yvonne, and Wesley. Louise Norton Little was born in Grenada. Because her father was Scottish, she was so light-skinned that she could have passed for white.

 

Malcolm inherited his light complexion from his mother and maternal grandfather. Initially he felt his light skin was a status symbol, but he later said he “hated every drop of that white rapist’s blood that is in me.” Malcolm X later remembered feeling that his father favored him because he was the lightest-skinned child in the family; however, he thought his mother treated him harshly for the same reason.

 

 

 

One of Malcolm’s nicknames, “Red”, derived from the tinge of his hair. According to one biographer, at birth he had “ash-blonde hair … tinged with cinnamon”, and at age four, “reddish-blonde hair”. His hair darkened as he aged, yet he also resembled his paternal grandmother, whose hair “turned reddish in the summer sun.” The issue of skin and hair color took on very significant implications later in Malcolm’s life.

 

In December 1924, Louise Little was threatened by klansmen while she was pregnant with Malcolm. She recalled that the klansmen warned the family to leave Omaha, because Earl Little’s activities with UNIA were “spreading trouble”. After they moved to Lansing, their house was burned in 1929; however, the family escaped without physical injury.

 

On September 8, 1931, Earl Little was fatally struck by a streetcar in Lansing. Authorities ruled his death an accident. The police reported that Earl Little was conscious when they arrived on the scene, and he told them he had slipped and fallen under the streetcar’s wheels.

 

The black community in Lansing disputed the cause of death, believing there was circumstantial evidence of assault. His family had frequently been harassed by the Black Legion, a white supremacist group that his father accused of burning down their home in 1929. Some blacks believed the Black Legion was responsible for Earl Little’s death. One of the adults at the funeral told eight-year-old Philbert Little that his father had been hit from behind and shoved under the streetcar.

 

Though Earl Little had two life insurance policies, his family received death benefits solely from the smaller policy. The insurance company of the larger policy claimed that his father had committed suicide and refused to issue the benefit. The payout from the insurance policy was $1,000 (comparable to about $15,000 in 2010 dollars), and the probate court awarded Louise Little a monthly “widow’s allowance” of $18. She rented space in the garden to raise more money, and her sons would hunt game for supper.

 

In 1935 or 1936, Louise Little began dating an African-American man. A marriage proposal seemed a possibility, but the man disappeared from their lives when Louise became pregnant with his child in late 1937. In December 1938, Louise Little had a nervous breakdown and was declared legally insane.

 

The Little siblings were split up and sent to different foster homes. The state formally committed Louise Little to the state mental hospital at Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she remained until Malcolm and his siblings secured her release 24 years later.

 

Malcolm Little was one of the best students in his junior high school, but he dropped out after a white eighth-grade teacher told him that his aspirations of being a lawyer were “no realistic goal for a nigger.” Years later, Malcolm X would laugh about the incident, but at the time it was humiliating. It made him feel that there was no place in the white world for a career-oriented black man, no matter how smart he was. After living with a series of foster parents, Malcolm moved to Boston in February 1941 to live with his older half-sister, Ella Little Collins.

 

In Boston, Little held a variety of jobs and found intermittent employment with the New Haven Railroad. Between 1943 and 1946, he drifted from city to city and job to job. He left Boston to live for a short time in Flint, Michigan. He moved to New York City in 1943. Living in Harlem, he became involved in drug dealing, gambling, racketeering, robbery, and pimping.During this period, Little became known as “Detroit Red” because he came from Michigan and because of the reddish color of his hair.

 

In 1943, the U.S. draft board ordered Little to register for military service. He later recalled that he put on a display to avoid the draft by telling the examining officer that he could not wait to “steal us some guns, and kill us [some] crackers.” Military physicians classified him as “mentally disqualified for military service”. He was issued a 4-F card, relieving him of his service obligations.

 

In late 1945, Little returned to Boston. With a group of associates, he began a series of elaborate burglaries targeting the residences of wealthy white families. On January 12, 1946, Little was arrested for burglary while trying to pick up a stolen watch he had left for repairs at a jewelry shop. The shop owner called the police because the watch was very expensive, and the police had alerted all Boston jewelers that it had been stolen.

 

Little told the police that he had a gun on his person and surrendered so the police would treat him more leniently. Three days later, Little was indicted for carrying firearms. On January 16, he was charged with larceny and breaking and entering, and eventually sentenced to eight to ten years in prison.

 

On February 27, Little began serving his sentence at the Charlestown State Prison in Charlestown, Boston. While in prison, Little earned the nickname of “Satan” for his hostility toward religion. Little met a self-educated man in prison named John Elton Bembry (referred to as “Bimbi” in The Autobiography of Malcolm X).

 

Bembry was a well-regarded prisoner at Charlestown, and Malcolm X would later describe him as “the first man I had ever seen command total respect … with words.” Gradually, the two men became friends and Bembry convinced Little to educate himself. Little developed a voracious appetite for reading, and he frequently read after the prison lights had been turned off.

 

In 1948, Little’s brother Philbert wrote, telling him about the Nation of Islam. Like the UNIA, the Nation preached black self-reliance and, ultimately, the unification of members of the African diaspora, free from white American and European domination.

 

Little was not interested in joining until his brother Reginald wrote, saying, “Malcolm, don’t eat any more pork and don’t smoke any more cigarettes. I’ll show you how to get out of prison.” Little quit smoking, and the next time pork was served in the prison dining hall, he refused to eat it.

 

When Reginald came to visit Little, he described the group’s teachings, including the belief that white people are devils. Afterward, Little thought about all the white people he had known, and he realized that he’d never had a relationship with a white person or social institution that wasn’t based on dishonesty, injustice, greed, and hatred. Little began to reconsider his dismissal of all religion and he became receptive to the message of the Nation of Islam.

 

Other family members who had joined the Nation wrote or visited and encouraged Little to join. In February 1948, mostly through his sister’s efforts, Little was transferred to the Norfolk Prison Colony, an experimental prison in Norfolk, Massachusetts, that had a much larger library. In late 1948, he wrote a letter to Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad advised him to atone for his crimes by renouncing his past and by humbly bowing in prayer to Allah and promising never to engage in destructive behavior again.

 

Little, who always had been rebellious and deeply skeptical, found it very difficult to bow in prayer. It took him a week to bend his knees. Finally he prayed, and he became a member of the Nation of Islam. For the remainder of his incarceration, Little maintained regular correspondence with Muhammad.

 

On August 7, 1952, Little was paroled and was released from prison. He later reflected on the time he spent in prison after his conversion: “Between Mr. Muhammad’s teachings, my correspondence, my visitors—usually Ella and Reginald—and my reading of books, months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I had never been so truly free in my life.”

 

 

When Little was released from prison in 1952, he had more than a new religion. He also had a new name. In a December 1950 letter to his brother Philbert, Little signed his name as Malcolm X for the first time. In his autobiography, he explained why: “The Muslim’s ‘X’ symbolized the true African family name that he never could know. For me, my ‘X’ replaced the white slavemaster name of ‘Little’ which some blue-eyed devil named Little had imposed upon my paternal forebears.”

 

Shortly after his release from prison, Malcolm X visited Elijah Muhammad in Chicago, Illinois. In June 1953, Malcolm X was named assistant minister of the Nation of Islam’s Temple Number One in Detroit. Soon, he became a full-time minister. By late 1953, Malcolm X established Boston’s Temple Number 11. In March 1954, he expanded Temple Number 12 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Two months later Malcolm X was selected to lead Temple Number Seven in Harlem, and he rapidly expanded its membership.

 

The FBI had opened a file on Malcolm X in 1950 after he wrote a letter to President Truman stating his opposition to the Korean War and declaring himself to be a communist. It began surveillance of him in 1953, and soon the FBI turned its attention from concerns about possible Communist Party association to Malcolm X’s rapid ascent in the Nation of Islam.

 

During 1955, Malcolm X continued his successful recruitment efforts on behalf of the organization. He established temples in Springfield, Massachusetts (Number 13); Hartford, Connecticut (Number 14); and AtlantaGeorgia (Number 15). Hundreds of African Americans were joining the Nation of Islam every month. Beside his skill as a speaker, Malcolm X had an impressive physical presence. He stood 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m) tall and weighed about 180 pounds (82 kg). One writer described him as “powerfully built”, and another as “mesmerizingly handsome … and always spotlessly well-groomed”.

 

Malcolm X first came to the attention of the general public after the police beating of a Nation of Islam member named Johnson Hinton. On April 26, 1957, two police officers were beating an African-American man with their nightsticks when three passersby who belonged to the Nation of Islam tried to intervene. They shouted: “You’re not in Alabama or Georgia. This is New York!” One of the officers began to beat one of the passersby, Johnson Hinton. The blows were so severe, a surgeon later determined, that they caused brain contusions, subdural hemorrhaging, and scalp lacerations. All four men were arrested and taken to the police station.

 

A woman who had seen the assault ran to the Nation of Islam’s restaurant. Within a few hours, Malcolm X and a small group of Muslims went to the police station and demanded to see Hinton. The police captain initially said no Muslims were being held there, but as the crowd grew to about 500, he allowed Malcolm X to speak with Hinton. After a short talk, Malcolm X demanded that Hinton be taken to the hospital, so an ambulance was called and Hinton was taken to Harlem Hospital.

 

Hinton was treated and released into the custody of the police, who returned him to the police station. By this point, about 4,000 people had gathered; the police realized there was the potential for a riot and called for backup. Malcolm X went back into the police station with an attorney and made bail arrangements for the other two Muslims. The police said Hinton could not go back to the hospital until he was arraigned the following day.

 

Malcolm X realized things were at a stalemate. He stepped outside the station house and gave a hand signal. The Nation of Islam members in the crowd silently walked away. The rest of the crowd dispersed minutes later. One police officer told the editor of the New York Amsterdam News: “No one man should have that much power.”

 

 

The following month, the Bureau of Special Services and Investigation of the New York Police Department (NYPD) began its surveillance of Malcolm X. The NYPD’s Chief Inspector asked for information from the police department in every city where Malcolm X had lived, and from the prisons where he had served his sentence. In October, when a grand jury declined to indict the officers who had beaten Hinton, Malcolm X wrote an angry telegram to the police commissioner. In response, undercover NYPD officers were placed inside the Nation of Islam.

 

Malcolm X met Betty Sanders in 1955. She had been invited to listen to his lecture, and she was very impressed by him. They met again at a dinner party. Soon Sanders was attending all of Malcolm X’s lectures at Temple Number Seven. In mid 1956, she joined the Nation of Islam.

 

Malcolm X and Betty X did not have a conventional courtship. One-on-one dates were contrary to the teachings of the Nation of Islam. Instead, the couple shared their “dates” with dozens, or even hundreds of other members. Malcolm X frequently took groups to visit New York’s museums and libraries, and he always invited Betty X.

 

Although they had never discussed the subject, Betty X suspected that Malcolm X was interested in marriage. On January 12, 1958, he called from Detroit and asked her to marry him, and they were married two days later in Lansing, Michigan.

 

The couple had six daughters. Their names were Attallah, born in 1958 and named after Attila the HunQubilah, born in 1960 and named afterKublai KhanIlyasah, born in 1962 and named after Elijah Muhammad; Gamilah Lumumba, born in 1964 and named after Patrice Lumumba; and twins, Malikah and Malaak, born in 1965 after their father’s assassination and named for him.

 

After a 1959 television broadcast in New York City about the Nation of Islam, The Hate That Hate Produced, Malcolm X became known to white Americans. Representatives of the print media, radio, and television frequently asked him for comments on issues. By the late 1950s, Malcolm X had acquired a new name, Malcolm Shabazz or Malik el-Shabazz, although he was still widely referred to as Malcolm X.

 

In September 1960, Fidel Castro arrived in New York to attend the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. He and his entourage stayed at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem. Malcolm X was a prominent member of a Harlem-based welcoming committee made up of community leaders who met with Castro. Castro was so impressed by Malcolm X that he requested a private meeting with him. At the end of their two-hour meeting, Castro invited Malcolm X to visit him in Cuba.

 

During the General Assembly meeting, Malcolm X was also invited to many official embassy functions sponsored by African nations, where he met heads of state and other leaders, including Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Ahmed Sékou Touré of Guinea, and Kenneth Kaunda of the Zambian African National Congress.

 

From his adoption of the Nation of Islam in 1952 until he broke with it in 1964, Malcolm X promoted the Nation’s teachings, including that black people are the original people of the world, that white people are “devils”, that blacks are superior to whites, and that the demise of the white race is imminent. While the civil rights movement fought against racial segregation, Malcolm X advocated the complete separation of African Americans from white people.

 

He proposed the establishment of a separate country for black people as an interim measure until African Americans could return to Africa. Malcolm X also rejected the civil rights movement’s strategy of nonviolence, and instead advocated that black people use any necessary means of self-defense to protect themselves. Malcolm X’s speeches had a powerful effect on his audiences, generally African Americans who lived in the Northern and Western cities, who were tired of being told to wait for freedom, justice, equality and respect. Many blacks felt that he articulated their complaints better than the civil rights movement did.

 

Malcolm X has been widely considered the second most influential leader of the Nation of Islam after Elijah Muhammad. He was largely credited with the group’s dramatic increase in membership between the early 1950s and early 1960s (from 500 to 25,000 by one author’s estimate, or from 1,200 to 50,000 or 75,000 by another’s). He inspired the boxer Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali) to join the Nation of Islam. (though like Malcolm X himself, Ali later left the group to become a Sunni Muslim).

 

Many white people, and even some blacks, were alarmed by Malcolm X and the things he said. He and the Nation of Islam were described as hatemongers, black supremacists, violence-seekers, and a threat to improved race relations. Civil rights organizations denounced Malcolm X and the Nation as irresponsible extremists whose views were not representative of African Americans. Malcolm X was accused of being antisemitic.

 

Malcolm X was equally critical of the civil rights movement. He described its leaders as “stooges” for the white establishment, and he once described Martin Luther King, Jr. as a “chump”. He criticized the 1963 March on Washington, which he called “the farce on Washington”. He said he did not know why black people were excited over a demonstration “run by whites in front of a statue of a president who has been dead for a hundred years and who didn’t like us when he was alive”.

 

On December 1, 1963, when he was asked for a comment about the assassination of President Kennedy, Malcolm X said that it was a case of “chickens coming home to roost“. He added that “chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they’ve always made me glad.” The New York Times wrote, “in further criticism of Mr. Kennedy, the Muslim leader cited the murders of Patrice Lumumba, Congo leader, of Medgar Evers, civil rights leader, and of the Negro girls bombed earlier this year in a Birmingham church. These, he said, were instances of other ‘chickens coming home to roost’.”

 

The remarks prompted a widespread public outcry. The Nation of Islam, which had issued a message of condolence to the Kennedy family and ordered its ministers not to comment on the assassination, publicly censured their former shining star. Although Malcolm X retained his post and rank as minister, he was prohibited from public speaking for 90 days.

 

On March 8, 1964, Malcolm X publicly announced his break from the Nation of Islam. He said that he was still a Muslim, but he felt the Nation of Islam had “gone as far as it can” because of its rigid religious teachings. Malcolm X said he was going to organize a black nationalist organization that would try to “heighten the political consciousness” of African Americans. He also expressed his desire to work with other civil rights leaders and said that Elijah Muhammad had prevented him from doing so in the past.

 

One reason for the separation was growing tension between Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad because of Malcolm X’s dismay about rumors of Muhammad’s extramarital affairs with young secretaries, actions that were against the teachings of the Nation. Although at first Malcolm X had ignored the rumors, after speaking with Muhammad’s son Wallace and the women making the accusations, he came to believe that they were true.

 

Muhammad confirmed the rumors in 1963 but tried to justify his actions by reference to precedents set by Biblical prophets. Another reason for the separation was growing resentment by people within the Nation. As Malcolm X had become a favorite of the media, many in the Nation’s Chicago headquarters felt that he was over-shadowing Muhammad.

 

Louis Lomax‘s 1963 book about the Nation of Islam, When the Word Is Given, featured a picture of Malcolm X on its cover and included five of his speeches, but only one of Muhammad’s, which greatly upset Muhammad. Muhammad was also envious that a publisher was interested in Malcolm X’s autobiography. After leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X founded Muslim Mosque, Inc., a religious organization, and the Organization of Afro-American Unity, a secular group that advocated Pan-Africanism.

 

 

On March 26, 1964, he met Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington, D.C., after a press conference held when both men attended the Senate to hear the debate on the Civil Rights bill. This was the only time the two men ever met and their meeting lasted only one minute—just long enough for photographers to take a picture. In April, Malcolm X made a speech titled “The Ballot or the Bullet” in which he advised African Americans to exercise their right to vote wisely. Several Sunni Muslims encouraged Malcolm X to learn about Islam. Soon he converted to Sunni Islam, and decided to make his pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj)

 

On April 13, 1964, Malcolm X departed JFK Airport in New York for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His status as an authentic Muslim was questioned by Saudi authorities because of his United States passport and his inability to speak Arabic. Since only confessing Muslims are allowed into Mecca, he was separated from his group for about 20 hours.

 

According to his autobiography, Malcolm X saw a telephone and remembered the book The Eternal Message of Muhammad by Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam, which had been presented to him with his visa approval. He called Azzam’s son, who arranged for his release. At the younger Azzam’s home, he met Azzam Pasha, who gave Malcolm his suite at the Jeddah Palace Hotel. The next morning, Muhammad Faisal, the son of Prince Faisal, visited and informed Malcolm X that he was to be a state guest. The deputy chief of protocol accompanied Malcolm X to the Hajj Court, where he was allowed to make his pilgrimage.

 

On April 19, Malcolm X completed the Hajj, making the seven circuits around the Kaaba, drinking from the Zamzam Well, and running between the hills of Safah and Marwah seven times. After completing the Hajj, he was granted an audience with Prince Faisal. Malcolm X said the trip allowed him to see Muslims of different races interacting as equals. He came to believe that Islam could be the means by which racial problems could be overcome.

 

On February 21, 1965, as Malcolm X prepared to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom, a disturbance broke out in the 400-person audience—a man yelled, “Nigger! Get your hand outta my pocket!” As Malcolm X and his bodyguards moved to quiet the disturbance, a man rushed forward and shot him in the chest with a sawed-off shotgun.

 

Two other men charged the stage and fired semi-automatic handguns, hitting Malcolm X several times. He was pronounced dead at 3:30 pm, shortly after he arrived at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. According to the autopsy report, Malcolm X’s body had 21 gunshot wounds, ten of them from the initial shotgun blast.

 

One gunman, Nation of Islam member Talmadge Hayer (also known as Thomas Hagan) was seized and beaten by the crowd before the police arrived minutes later; witnesses identified the others as Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson, also Nation members. Hayer confessed at trial to have been one of the handgun shooters, but refused to identify the other assailants except to assert that they were not Butler and Johnson. All three were convicted.

 

Butler, now known as Muhammad Abdul Aziz, was paroled in 1985 and became the head of the Nation’s Harlem mosque in 1998. He continues to maintain his innocence. Johnson, who changed his name to Khalil Islam, rejected the Nation’s teachings while in prison and converted to Sunni Islam. Released in 1987, he maintained his innocence until his death in August 2009. Hayer, now known as Mujahid Halim, was paroled in 2010.

 

A public viewing was held at Harlem’s Unity Funeral Home from February 23 through February 26, and it was estimated that between 14,000 and 30,000 mourners attended. The funeral was held on February 27 at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ in Harlem. The church was filled to capacity with more than 1,000 people. Loudspeakers were set up outside the Temple so the overflowing crowd could listen and a local television station broadcast the funeral live.

 

Among the civil rights leaders attending were John LewisBayard RustinJames FormanJames FarmerJesse Gray, and Andrew Young. Actor and activist Ossie Davis delivered the eulogy, describing Malcolm X as “our shining black prince”.

There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain—and we will smile. Many will say turn away—away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man—and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate—a fanatic, a racist—who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them: Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.

 

Malcolm X was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. At the gravesite after the ceremony, friends took the shovels from the waiting gravediggers and completed the burial themselves. Actor and activist Ruby Dee (wife of Ossie Davis) and Juanita Poitier (wife of Sidney Poitier) established the Committee of Concerned Mothers to raise funds to buy a house and pay educational expenses for Malcolm X’s family.

 

Malcolm X has been described as one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history. He is credited with raising the self-esteem of black Americans and reconnecting them with their African heritage. He is largely responsible for the spread of Islam in the black community in the United States.

 

Many African Americans, especially those who lived in cities in the Northern and Western United States, felt that Malcolm X articulated their complaints concerning inequality better than the mainstream civil rights movement did. One biographer says that by giving expression to their frustration, Malcolm X “made clear the price that white America would have to pay if it did not accede to black America’s legitimate demands.”

 

In the late 1960s, as black activists became more radical, Malcolm X and his teachings were part of the foundation on which they built their movements. The Black Power movement, the Black Arts Movement, and the widespread adoption of the slogan “Black is beautiful” can all trace their roots to Malcolm X.

 

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a resurgence of interest in Malcolm X among young people, fueled in part by use of him as an icon by hip hop groups such as Public Enemy. His image was on display in hundreds of thousands of homes, offices, and schools, as well as on T-shirts and jackets.

 

This wave peaked in 1992 with the release of the film Malcolm X, an adaptation of the The Autobiography of Malcolm X which Malcolm X began in 1963 in collaboration with Alex Haley on The Autobiography of Malcolm X. (Malcolm X had told Haley, “If I’m alive when this book comes out, it will be a miracle”; indeed Haley completed and published it some months after the assassination). In 1998 Time named The Autobiography of Malcolm X one of the ten most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century.

 

Next in The “One A Day” Black History Month Series….Ms. Eartha Mae Kitt.

 

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