MYSTERY has surrounded Malcolm X’s accused killers and allegations of a botched investigation since his 1965 assassination.
Two of the men who have been imprisoned for decades in relation to the murder are expected to be exonerated on Thursday, November 18, 2021.
Civil rights activist Malcolm X, pictured on February 16, 1965, in Rochester, New York[/caption]
Who was Malcolm X?
Malcolm X was a powerful and gifted orator in America.
He was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska.
His mother was the national recording secretary for the Marcus Garvey Movement and his father was a Baptist minister, explains the Malcolm X website.
He rose to prominence as the national spokesman of the Nation of Islam, an African-American Muslim group that opposed integration with whites.
Malcolm X was considered alongside Martin Luther King Jr as one the most influential African Americans in history.
The crowds and controversy surrounding Malcolm made him a media magnet – amid racial tensions which ran high during the early 1960s.
His Muslim name was El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz following his pilgrimage in Mecca.
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After studying the teachings of Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Elijah Muhammad, the devoted follower chose the new surname “X” to signify his lost tribal name.
Malcolm X leapt to national prominence in the late 1950s as the leader of the Nation of Islam’s Temple Number 7 in Harlem, New York.
Although he was a charismatic and outspoken Muslim advocate of black rights, his critics said he preached racism and violence.
He was reviled and adored during his lifetime thanks to his views of black nationalism and “by any means necessary” approach to battle racial discrimination.
But, on February 21, 1965, he was assassinated while he was preparing to address several hundred followers.
Following his assassination, the civil rights advocate’s popularity was revived by hip-hop artists in the late 1980s and early 90s.
His image began appearing on clothing, college dorm posters and eventually in a Spike Lee 1992 biopic.
February 21 marks the anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X[/caption]
Who killed Malcolm X?
Over fifty years after Malcolm X was murdered, two of the men convicted for the crime are set to be exonerated on Thursday, November 18, 2021.
Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam are expected to have their convictions thrown out on Thursday, the Manhattan district attorney and lawyers for the two men said.
Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., formally apologized on behalf of law enforcement – which he said had failed the families of the two men.
According to Vance, the failures can not be taken back, “but what we can do is acknowledge the error, the severity of the error.”
Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted of Malcolm X’s 1965 murder – he had repudiated the Nation of Islam less than a year earlier.
Malcolm’s assassins, Muhammad Aziz, Mujahid Abdul Halim and Khalil Islam were convicted of first-degree murder in March 1966.
The three men were all members of the Nation of Islam.
But, questions have continued to swirl over the decades about his assassination.
Aziz and Islam have long denied they were connected to any plot to kill Malcolm X, and Halim said the two were not involved.
After repeated attempts on his life, Malcolm had rarely traveled anywhere without bodyguards.
Luckily, the family escaped physical injury.
The Malcolm X website adds: “One week later, however, Malcolm’s enemies were successful in their ruthless attempt.”
In 2020, streaming giant Netflix brought out a new series probing his death, Who Killed Malcolm X?
Marking the 55th anniversary of his killing, it raised questions surrounding his accused killers and allegations of a botched investigation.
Activist-scholar Abdur-Rahman Muhammad argues in the series that at least two of the men charged with his assassination were innocent and that the real killers got away.
And in February 2021, members of Malcolm X’s family made public what they described as a letter written by a deceased police officer stating that the New York Police Department and FBI were behind the 1965 killing.
The bombshell letter released at a news conference was attributed to a former undercover NYPD officer named Raymond Wood.
His cousin Reggie Wood joined some of Malcolm X’s daughters at the news conference.
The cop said that he had been pressured by his NYPD supervisors to lure two members of Malcolm X’s security detail into committing crimes that resulted in their arrest just days before the fatal shooting.
Those arrests kept the two men from managing door security at the ballroom and was part of conspiracy between the NYPD and FBI to have Malcolm killed, according to the letter.
Wood’s letter says: “Under the direction of my handlers, I was told to encourage leaders and members of the civil rights groups to commit felonious acts.”
How did Malcolm X die?
While Malcolm X was at a speaking engagement in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965, three gunmen rushed him onstage.
They shot him 15 times at close range while he was preparing to deliver a speech.
The 39-year-old was pronounced dead on arrival at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.
Fifteen hundred people attended Malcolm’s funeral in Harlem on February 27, 1965, at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ (now Child’s Memorial Temple Church of God in Christ).
The Malcolm X website states that after the ceremony, friends took the shovels away from the waiting gravediggers and buried Malcolm themselves.
Later that year, his widow, Betty, gave birth to their twin daughters.