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Racial Reverberations - The Murder of Malxolm X

Jan 30, 2008
Malcolm X was a leading figure in the movement for black liberation in the United States; a model father and a Muslim minister who spoke out about the Nation of Islam. After a stint in jail, he learned more and more about the Nation of Islam and, when he got out, he became more involved.

He rose quickly in the ranks, eventually serving as a minister in Harlem. However, he slowly grew a sensation of cognitive dissonance between the teachings of the Nation and Islam, and separated himself from the Nation of Islam. He thought some of the teachings were too extreme like the belief that white men were literally devils. He also was not fond of Elijah Muhammad, his mentor in the Nation of Islam, and his practices of adultery.

According to his autobiography, Nation of Islam officials had wanted to kill him after his dissent, and he became paranoid because of the constant threats on his life. According to undercover FBI agents, he had been marked for assassination. He responded by proclaiming his strength and will to defend himself and his family. A famous picture of him shown in Life magazine, showed him looking out of his windows holding a gun.

Tensions rose as the Nation of Islam sued him claiming his house was actually owned by the organization. It was going to go to trial when his house burned to the ground. Everyone survived and no one was charged.

However, Malcolm's luck ran out on February 21, 1965, the day he was assassinated. He was giving a speech in the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan when a disturbance broke out in the crowd. As the police tried to calm the crowd down a man stepped forward and shot Malcom X in the chest. Two other men came forward with handguns and began shooting him as well. He was shot a total of 16 times and rushed to New York's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Justice was served for Malcolm X's killers, who were tried and convicted of murder. His body was made available for public viewing and thousands upon thousands of people filed past to pay their last respects. Many questions have been raised about who exactly was responsible for his untimely death. It was announced that local drug dealers were actually responsible for his death and not the Nation of Islam. The conclusion draws suspicion in the black community. Regardless of how he came to pass, his legacy lives on; particularly his memory as a civil rights activist and an extremeist succesfully wooed by the dove of peace.
About the Author
Ian Spellfield explores the most frequently used African American names through the lens of history in his blog, Black Ghetto Baby Names.
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