Today marks a tragic day in the history of the Black struggle. It is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of El-Hajj-Malik El-Shabazz, commonly known as Malcolm X. His assassination at the hands of four killers in the Audubon Ballroom located in Harlem, New York, on Feb. 21, 1965, sent shock waves throughout the world and marked a turning point in the revolutionary struggle of Blacks in America.
Much is known about Malcolm X from the book The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to author Alex Haley as well as the 1992 movie Malcolm X by Spike Lee. It is a fact that Malcolm’s life is more pertinent to the plight of not only Black America, but specifically to the struggle of the Black man in America today. From his days as a street hustler known as Detroit Red, aka Malcolm Little, to his conversion in prison to Islam, it is a tale of overcoming obstacles. The life of Malcolm X was forever changed by the teachings of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam.
Through Islam, Malcolm X found his center of spirituality and a blueprint to escape the ghetto and its traps, which any Black person can follow. Beyond his religious conversion was his ability to unite and become a formidable source of power as he led his followers. well-known for his stance on self-defense as opposed to nonviolent resistance, it was widely believed by many that he was anti-White as opposed to being just pro-Black. However, this stance was instrumental in the progression of the Civil Rights Movement under Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The White power structure realized that it would have to deal with King and his philosophy of nonviolence or deal with a radicalized Black population. It is a fact that Malcolm X communicated to Dr. King and even offered assistance when Blacks were being brutalized by the KKK in St. Augustine, Florida; a place that Dr. King called the most racist city in America. A Western Union Telegram to Dr. King from Malcolm X expresses the extent of his commitment:
The men who killed Malcolm X were caught and one barely escaped with his life. While fleeing the shooting,Talmadge Hayer, aka Talmadge Hagan, was seized by the crowd and beaten until police arrived. Hayer, today known as Mujahid Halim, was paroled in 2010. The other killers; Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson were tried and sentenced to prison. Butler, today known as Muhammad Abdul Aziz, was paroled in 1985 and became the head of the Nation’s Harlem mosque in 1998 and maintains his innocence. Johnson, who changed his name to Khalil Islam, rejected the Nation of Islam’s teachings and converted to Sunni Islam; released in 1987, and maintained his innocence until his death in August 2009.