The Assassination of Malcolm X

Part 4 in a series on the Assassinations of the ’60s

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Of all the figures risen to the level of legends in the United States that faced an assassination in that five year stretch in the 1960s, Malcolm X would definitely qualify as the most controversial.

The man who went into prison as a convict for larceny and break and enter and came out a minister within the religion of Islam. He bore the surname to replace his actual family name which was taken from African slaves and replaced with ‘Little,’ a slavemaster’s name. And while still in the Nation of Islam, he advocated for the separation of blacks and white, that blacks are superior to whites, and to the philosophy of non-violence he promoted defense of black people “by any means necessary.”[2][3]


But Malcolm X was a powerful figure who spoke extremely well. And he was a media favorite. He attracted the attention of prominent world leaders including Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Kenneth Kaunda of the Zambian African Congress, and Ahmed Sékou Touré of Guinea. Following a visit to the United Nations General Assembly in September of 1960, even Fidel Castro expressed an interest in meeting privately with him in Cuba.[4][5][6]

The leader backed away from the previous views on racial segregation. He advocated Pan-Africanism, a world-wide movement promoting solidarity among indigenous and diaspora ethnic groups of African descent. He advocated the pursuit of racial justice. [7]

And it just so happens a number of agencies under the auspices of the government, had taken notice of him as well.

The Nation of Islam was not alone in seeking to curtail is influence.

That convergence of factors led to his murder on the stage of the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan on February 21, 1965.


  1.  Malcolm X (April 3, 1964) from the “Ballot or the Bullet” speech;
  3. Walter Dean Myers (1965), By Any Means Necessary, Random House Inc.
  4. Natambu, Kofi (2002). The Life and Work of Malcolm X. pg 231-233, Indianapolis: Alpha Books
  5.  Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention.(2011)(p. 172) New York: Viking.
  6. Lincoln, C. Eric (1961). The Black Muslims in America. Boston: Beacon Press.
  7. Walter Dean Myers (op.cit), pg 154, 155, 185