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On this day in February in 1965, an assassination took place in New York. Gunmen from the Nation of Islam stormed into the meeting hall and ran up to the podium where he was speaking and fired some 21 shots into him. In the confusion, one of the gunmen was captured while the other two were identified as members of the Nation of Islam, who were alleged to have carried out the planned assassination.
Over the years the death of Malcolm X has been shrouded in controversy. Claims of innocence by two of the three alleged assassins, and rumors of an FBI informant have begged numerous questions over the years. But the fact remained that he and Elijah Muhammed were estranged and that, on several occasions, calls for Malcolm’s assassination came from the Nation Of Islam pulpit. That he had grown disillusioned over Muhammad’s message in early 1964 and broke with the movement didn’t improve matters. And, as the result of a trip to Mecca in March of that year had a revelation over the nature and teachings of Islam and the wide diversity of people who were Muslims throughout the world.
This radio documentary from ABC Radio News, aired right after the funeral on the 27th of February and called “Malcolm X: Misfit or Messiah?” – it gives some background on the life of Malcolm X and lays out the controversy between Malcolm and Elijah Muhammed and eludes to the assassination being a Nation of Islam hit.
But whatever the issues were, or who the real figures were behind the assassination, the Civil Rights and movement and Black America lost one of its most outspoken firebrands. That he has become an iconic symbol of resistance has only reinforced that image over the years.