Assassination Attempts: Malcolm X Black Civil Rights Leader Part 2

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

The Victim: MALCOLM X, black civil rights leader.

Malcolm X waited until about 3 P.M. and, assured that the scheduled previous speaker would not appear that day, went before the crowd with the words, "As-salaam alaikum! (Peace be unto you)." The room responded with "Wa-alaikum salaam! (And unto you be peace)." A disturbance broke out at that moment somewhere in the front audience as one man called to another, "Get your hands off my pockets-Don't be messin' with my pockets!"

Four of the 6 bodyguards with Malcolm X began to step forward. "Now brothers, be cool. . . ," Malcolm X began; and, as another diversion was created in the ballroom (a man's sock soaked in some flammable liquid and filled with matches was set ablaze in the back of the room), a male with a sawed-off shotgun moved forward to within 8' of Malcolm X and blasted buckshot through the plywood lectern and into Malcolm X's chest. Simultaneously, 2 other men advanced to the stage firing bullets into the prone body of Malcolm X.

A Malcolm X bodyguard, Charles Blackwell, saw one of the assailants flee into the ladies' lounge. This assailant escaped. Why Blackwell, a Malcolm bodyguard, didn't give chase was never brought out. One or 2 men-reports vary-fled to the stairway exit at the front of the ballroom. Reuben Francis, a Malcolm X bodyguard, who was never called to give witness as to what he saw, shot toward this exit, wounding Talmadge Hayer in the thigh. As Hayer fell outside, he was surrounded by members of the audience who began to beat him. Hayer was rescued from the crowd by 2 New York police officers, Patrolman Louis Angelos and Sgt. Alvin Aronoff, who arrested him and took him to Bellevue for treatment for his wound. (The .32-caliber bullet was not removed from Hayer's thigh until March 8, 1965.)

Immediate press accounts reported a 2nd man was beaten by the audience. This man was supposedly arrested by Patrolman Thomas Hoy. Jimmy Breslin reported in the New York Herald Tribune, February 22, 1965, "The other suspect was taken to the Wadsworth Avenue precinct, where the city's top policemen immediately converged and began one of the heaviest homicide investigations this city has ever seen." No further information regarding this 2nd man was made available to the press. And the press seemingly failed to follow up this fading of "the 2nd man." Ultimately, the New York police denied the arrest of a 2nd man, saying it had been a journalistic error.

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