On February 21, 1965, Human Rights Activist Malcolm X was assassinated, as he prepared to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom, after a disturbance broke out in the 400-person audience. As Malcolm X and his bodyguards moved to quiet the disturbance, a man seated in the front row rushed forward and shot him once in the chest with a double-barreled sawn-off shotgun. Two other men charged the stage and fired semi-automatic handguns, hitting Malcolm X several times. Born 19th May in 1925. To his admirers, he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. Detractors accused him of preaching racism, black supremacy, antisemitism, and violence. Malcolm X’s father died—killed by white supremacists, it was rumored—when he was young, and at least one of his uncles was also lynched.
When he was thirteen, his mother was placed in a mental hospital, and he was placed in a series of foster homes. In 1946, at age 20, he went to prison for breaking and entering. In prison, Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam and after his parole in 1952 he quickly rose to become one of its leaders. For a dozen years Malcolm X was the public face of the controversial group, however disillusionment with Nation of Islam head Elijah Muhammad led him to leave the Nation in March 1964. After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, he returned to the United States, where he founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
Sadly In February 1965, less than a year after leaving the Nation of Islam, he was assassinated by three members of the group. Malcolm X’s expressed beliefs changed substantially over time. As a spokesman for the Nation of Islam he taught black supremacy and advocated separation of black and white Americans—in contrast to the civil rights movement’s emphasis on integration. After breaking with the Nation of Islam in 1964—saying of his association with it, “I was a zombie then … pointed in a certain direction and told to march”—and becoming a Sunni Muslim, he disavowed racism and expressed willingness to work with civil rights leaders, though still emphasizing black self-determination and self defense.
The funeral was held on February 27 at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ in Harlem and Malcolm X was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. Malcolm X has been described as one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history and is credited with raising the self-esteem of black Americans and reconnecting them with their African heritage. He is largely responsible for the spread of Islam in the black community in the United States. Many African Americans, especially those who lived in cities in the Northern and Western United States, felt that Malcolm X articulated their complaints concerning inequality better than the mainstream civil rights movement did.