On this day in 1965, Malcolm X – human rights activist and one of history’s most celebrated African Americans – was assassinated.
Born Malcolm Little, X was a Muslim minister during his life, as well as an icon for African-American rights.
Though he was, for a time, a member of the Nation of Islam, he came to reject their views, and subsequently became a Sunni Muslim. While he had in the past indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans, at this point he renounced the concept of racialism and expressed his desire to work with civil rights leaders for better equality for all.
He said, “The only way we’ll get freedom for ourselves is to identify ourselves with every oppressed people in the world. We are blood brothers to the people of Brazil, Venezuela, Haiti … Cuba – yes, Cuba, too.”
According to George Breitman’s book By Any Means Necessary: Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X, the FBI had opened a file on Malcolm in 1950 when he wrote a letter to then-President Truman stating his opposition to the Korean War.
In 1964, Malcolm met Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington, D.C. after they had both attended the Senate to hear the debate on the Civil Rights Act.
Malcolm became an influential figure to many African-Americans and supporters of civil rights and equality, and continues to be so today.
X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom and Theater located in the Washington Heights section of Upper Manhattan. Some years later part of the space was transformed into the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center honoring the lives and legacies of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz by continuing their work through the advancement of human rights and social justice.
The Center is located at 3940 Broadway, New York, NY 10032. The center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5p.m. Tour groups are invited to make an appointment by calling (212) 568-1341 or email email@example.com.
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In 1965, The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published. Alex Haley collaborated with Malcolm X on the book beginning in 1963 and completed it after Malcolm X’s death.
In 1992, Spike Lee’s biographical drama film Malcolm X was released. Directed and co-written by Spike Lee, the film stars Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Al Freeman, Jr., and Delroy Lindo. Lee has a supporting role as Shorty, a character based partially on real-life acquaintance Malcolm “Shorty” Jarvis, a jazz trumpeter. Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and future South Africa president Nelson Mandela have cameo appearances.
Photo: Malcolm X (front, right) meets briefly with Martin Luther King, Jr. Wikipedia