This Day in DegiHistory Feb 21, 2006 12:07:18 GMT -5
Post by DrCank on Feb 21, 2006 12:07:18 GMT -5
Malcolm X is assassinated by three Black Muslim gunmen in New York City. Malcolm X had split from the Nation of Islam almost a year before and had escaped several other attempts on his life in the subsequent months. Reportedly, he was going to publicly reveal the names of the assassins who had been sent to kill him, but was killed at the Audubon Ballroom before he had the opportunity.
The break between Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam had its roots in a wide range of matters. Ironically, Malcolm X had been suspended from the group for stating that the murder of President Kennedy was a case of "chickens coming home to roost." However, the rift was probably due more to the fact that the dynamic and charismatic Malcolm X was challenging the leadership of Elijah Muhammad. His fame threatened the Nation of Islam leaders. When he officially broke from the group, they worried that he would draw away most of their supporters.
Malcolm X, constantly aware that his life was in danger, may have had particular worries on February 21. He called his wife, Betty Shabazz, and had her bring their children to the Audubon Ballroom where he was giving a speech later in the day. This was not his usual practice and he may have wanted to see his family a final time. He also declined to institute any security measures for the speech.
After he was introduced, but before he could address his supporters, three gunmen in the audience fired several shots at Malcolm X. One of the men, Tommy Hayer, was shot in the leg by one of Malcolm X's bodyguards and caught by the crowd. The other two, Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson, were caught later. Malcolm X died instantly.
Malcolm X's body was put on display at a funeral home in Harlem the following day and it is estimated that 30,000 people came to view it. Actor Ossie Davis delivered the eulogy at the funeral. In the meantime, his supporters vowed revenge against Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam. The Chicago home of Muhammad Ali, a Nation of Islam member, was burned down shortly after the assassination. However, Elijah Muhammad's rhetoric against Malcolm X continued, blaming the civil rights leader for his own death.
The feud between the factions continues to this day. In 1995, one of Malcolm X's daughters, Qubilah Shabazz, was prosecuted for attempting to hire a killer to murder Louis Farrakhan for his alleged involvement in the assassination. While Farrakhan was certainly part of the climate that caused Malcolm X's death-he wrote many articles violently denouncing him after the split-it is highly unlikely that he ever had any contact with the assassins.
-2006, Feb. 21, "This Day in History": The History Channel.com