Assassination Attempts: Malcolm X Black Civil Rights Leader Part 1

About the assassination of Malcolm X black civil rights leader, his history and biography including ties with the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad.

The Victim: MALCOLM X, born Malcolm Little and died John Doe, black civil rights leader and founder of the Organization of Afro-American Unity and the Muslim Mosque, Inc.

The Date: February 21, 1965.

The Event: On this Sunday afternoon Malcolm X was to speak in the Audubon Ballroom in New York City's Manhattan district. Before he made the speech, and as he approached the lectern, he was shot and killed on the stage.

The speech was to be one of a new series of Malcolm X lectures, displaying an expanded awareness in the ideology of the man. Until a few weeks before his murder, Malcolm X had been a strict segregationalist and black supremist. His former violent preachings and strong antiwhite opinions had mellowed. He felt that the time had come for blacks and whites to coexist in peace. And specifically he felt an urgent need, as he related to his friend and biographer, Alex Haley, over the telephone the night before the assassination, to tell his followers that the Black Muslims alone were not to be blamed for such harassments as Malcolm X's house being burned February 14, 1965. Malcolm X felt the malevolent source of violence was much more powerful than the Black Muslims: larger and more political.

Malcolm X had been a member of the Black Muslims, a religious sect. He was suspended as a Muslim minister on November 23, 1963, by Elijah Muhammad. On March 8, 1964, Malcolm X broke away completely from the Black Muslims to form his own religious sect eventually, Muslim Mosque, Inc., and also the politically oriented Organization of Afro-American Unity. Tension between the Black Muslims and the OAAU simmered and grew to overt acts of violence from the time Malcolm X split from the Black Muslims until after his assassination. Immediately after the assassination of Malcolm X, the police and some of the media assumed that he was killed by Black Muslims. A Muslim mosque was burned shortly after the assassination in retaliation for the killing. To the police, the media, and the public, this vengeance against the Black Muslims supported the theory of Black Muslim responsibility for the assassination. Black Muslims could indeed have assassinated Malcolm X. However, over the years more and more evidence shows that if guilty, the Black Muslims were merely unknowing tools of a larger power structure-exactly the message in Malcolm X's aborted last speech.

Pinpointing the events of February 21, 1965, has been a futile task. News reports, eyewitness accounts, grand jury testimony, and trial testimony conflict sharply. Starting with the preparations for the lecture by the New York Police Department, the media differs on the number of uniformed police officers stationed outside the ballroom that afternoon. Reports range from a single patrolman to a special detail of 20 uniformed officers.

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