Malcolm X Assassinated - History

Malcolm X Assassinated - History

On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X, a Black nationalist and former leader of the Nation of Islam, was assassinated.

New claims surrounding Malcolm X assassination surface in letter written on former NYPD officer’s death bed

"I have carried these secrets with a heavy heart," Ray Wood wrote.

New information released regarding the death of Malcolm X

New allegations surrounding the death of Malcolm X have surfaced in a letter written by a former New York City Police Department officer on his death bed.

On Jan. 25, 2011, Ray Wood, who was serving as an undercover police officer on the day of Malcolm X's death, wrote a letter in which he admitted he "participated in actions that in hindsight were deplorable and detrimental to the advancement of my own black people."

When Wood was hired by the NYPD in 1964, his job was to "infiltrate civil rights organizations" to find evidence of criminal activity so the FBI could discredit the subjects and arrest its leaders, Wood wrote in the letter obtained by ABC News.

Wood's handler devised the arrest of two of Malcolm X's "key" security detail members in a plot to bomb the Statue of Liberty days before his 1965 assassination, Wood wrote. The plot involved three members of a Black "terrorist group" and a Canadian woman who were planning to dynamite the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell and the Washington Monument, the New York Times reported on Feb. 16, 1965.

"It was my assignment to draw the two men into a felonious federal crime, so that they could be arrested by the FBI and kept away from managing Malcolm X's door security on February 21, 1965," Wood wrote. ". At that time I was not aware that Malcolm X was the target."

Malcolm X was assassinated in Manhattan's Audubon Ballroom while addressing the Organization of Afro-American Unity on Feb. 21, 1965. Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted of his murder.

Wood alleged in the letter that "his actions on behalf of the New York City Police Department (BOSSI) were done under duress and fear," adding that he could have faced "detrimental consequences" if he did not follow the orders of his handlers.

"After witnessing repeated brutality at the hands of my coworkers (Police), I tried to resign," he wrote. "Instead I was threatened with arrest by pinning marijuana and alcohol trafficking charges on me if I did not follow through with the assignments."

Wood wrote that, as he faced failing health, he was concerned that the family of Thomas Johnson, one of the men convicted of killing Malcolm X, would not be able to exonerate him after Wood died. Johnson was arrested at the Audubon Ballroom the night Malcolm X was killed to protect Wood's cover and "the secrets of the FBI and NYPD," Wood wrote.

Wood placed his full confession into the care of his cousin, Reginald Wood Jr., and requested that the information be held until after his death.

"It is my hope that this information is received with the understanding that I have carried these secrets with a heavy heart and remorsefully regret my participation in this matter," Wood wrote.

Wood's cousin, who wrote the book "The Ray Wood Story," published earlier this month, described Wood to "Good Morning America" as a "good man that was tricked and forced to betray his own people."

"And he felt ill and remorse for that," Reggie Wood said.

Last year, the New York City district attorney's office launched another investigation into Malcolm X's death and those convicted after the documentary "Who Killed Malcolm X?" aired on Netflix.

In response to an ABC News inquiry, the Manhattan District Attorney's office stated, "Our office's review of this matter is active and ongoing."

NYPD spokeswoman Sgt. Jessica McRorie said in a statement that the NYPD has provided "all available records relevant to that case" to the district attorney's office.

The FBI did not respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump described the review into Malcolm X's death as restorative justice.

"This is the only way we can bridge this divide," Crump told "GMA." "We have to have transparency, present accountability, and that's the only way we'll ever get to trust."

Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, told "GMA" that "far too many African Americans who have stood up, who voice equality and justice in this country, have found themselves being persecuted, prosecuted or, in the case of Malcolm X, assassinated."

ABC News' Sabina Ghebremedhin, Aaron Katersky and Samara Lynn contributed to this report.


Early years and conversion to Islam

Born in Nebraska, while an infant Malcolm moved with his family to Lansing, Michigan. When Malcolm was six years old, his father, the Rev. Earl Little, a Baptist minister and former supporter of the early Black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey, died after being hit by a streetcar, quite possibly the victim of murder by whites. The surviving family was so poor that Malcolm’s mother, Louise Little, resorted to cooking dandelion greens from the street to feed her children. After she was committed to an insane asylum in 1939, Malcolm and his siblings were sent to foster homes or to live with family members.

Malcolm excelled in school, but after one of his eighth-grade teachers told him that he should become a carpenter instead of a lawyer, he lost interest and soon ended his formal education. As a rebellious youngster, Malcolm moved from the Michigan State Detention Home, a juvenile home in Mason, Michigan, to the Roxbury section of Boston to live with an older half sister, Ella, from his father’s first marriage. There he became involved in petty criminal activities in his teenage years. Known as “Detroit Red” for the reddish tinge in his hair, he developed into a street hustler, drug dealer, and leader of a gang of thieves in Roxbury and Harlem (in New York City).

While in prison for robbery from 1946 to 1952, he underwent a conversion that eventually led him to join the Nation of Islam, an African American movement that combined elements of Islam with Black nationalism. His decision to join the Nation also was influenced by discussions with his brother Reginald, who had become a member in Detroit and who was incarcerated with Malcolm in the Norfolk Prison Colony in Massachusetts in 1948. Malcolm quit smoking and gambling and refused to eat pork in keeping with the Nation’s dietary restrictions. In order to educate himself, he spent long hours reading books in the prison library, even memorizing a dictionary. He also sharpened his forensic skills by participating in debate classes. Following Nation tradition, he replaced his surname, “Little,” with an “X,” a custom among Nation of Islam followers who considered their family names to have originated with white slaveholders.


For guidance about compiling full citations consult Citing Primary Sources.

  • Rights Advisory: Publication may be restricted. For information see "New York World-Telegram & . " https://www.loc.gov/rr/print/res/076_nyw.html
  • Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-136550 (b&w film copy neg.)
  • Call Number: NYWTS - BIOG--Malcolm X--Dead--Black Muslim [item] [P&P]
  • Access Advisory: ---

Obtaining Copies

If an image is displaying, you can download it yourself. (Some images display only as thumbnails outside the Library of Congress because of rights considerations, but you have access to larger size images on site.)

Alternatively, you can purchase copies of various types through Library of Congress Duplication Services.

  1. If a digital image is displaying: The qualities of the digital image partially depend on whether it was made from the original or an intermediate such as a copy negative or transparency. If the Reproduction Number field above includes a reproduction number that starts with LC-DIG. then there is a digital image that was made directly from the original and is of sufficient resolution for most publication purposes.
  2. If there is information listed in the Reproduction Number field above: You can use the reproduction number to purchase a copy from Duplication Services. It will be made from the source listed in the parentheses after the number.

If only black-and-white ("b&w") sources are listed and you desire a copy showing color or tint (assuming the original has any), you can generally purchase a quality copy of the original in color by citing the Call Number listed above and including the catalog record ("About This Item") with your request.

Price lists, contact information, and order forms are available on the Duplication Services Web site.

Access to Originals

Please use the following steps to determine whether you need to fill out a call slip in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room to view the original item(s). In some cases, a surrogate (substitute image) is available, often in the form of a digital image, a copy print, or microfilm.

Is the item digitized? (A thumbnail (small) image will be visible on the left.)

  • Yes, the item is digitized. Please use the digital image in preference to requesting the original. All images can be viewed at a large size when you are in any reading room at the Library of Congress. In some cases, only thumbnail (small) images are available when you are outside the Library of Congress because the item is rights restricted or has not been evaluated for rights restrictions.
    As a preservation measure, we generally do not serve an original item when a digital image is available. If you have a compelling reason to see the original, consult with a reference librarian. (Sometimes, the original is simply too fragile to serve. For example, glass and film photographic negatives are particularly subject to damage. They are also easier to see online where they are presented as positive images.)
  • No, the item is not digitized. Please go to #2.

Do the Access Advisory or Call Number fields above indicate that a non-digital surrogate exists, such as microfilm or copy prints?

  • Yes, another surrogate exists. Reference staff can direct you to this surrogate.
  • No, another surrogate does not exist. Please go to #3.

To contact Reference staff in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room, please use our Ask A Librarian service or call the reading room between 8:30 and 5:00 at 202-707-6394, and Press 3.


Splitting With The Nation Of Islam

Starting in 1962, Malcolm X's relationship with the Nation of Islam became rocky.

Malcolm was shocked at Elijah Muhammad's unwillingness to take violent action against the Los Angeles Police after police officers shot and killed members of an NOI temple during a raid in April of 1962. Soon after, Malcolm discovered that Muhummad had been having extramarital affairs with NOI secretaries, which went against NOI teachings.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images Elijah Muhammad, head of the Nation of Islam, in 1960.

Muhammad had also publicly disavowed Malcolm X from the organization following the latter's controversial remarks after President John F. Kennedy's assassination. Nine days after the president was killed, Malcolm likened his slaying to "chickens coming home to roost." Their relationship dissolved as quickly as it had been built which motivated Malcolm to separate himself from NOI to start his own movement.

Malcolm X announced his split from the Nation of Islam on March 8, 1964.

"Elijah Muhammad taught his followers that the only solution was a separate state for black people," Malcolm X later said during an appearance on the CBC. "As long as I thought he genuinely believed that himself, I believed in him and believed in his solution. But when I began to doubt that he himself believed that that was feasible, and I saw no kind of action designed to bring it into existence or bring it about, then I turned in a different direction."

His renunciation of the NOI would prove to have fatal consequences.


Impact of the King Assassination

Though Black and white people alike mourned King’s passing, the killing in some ways served to widen the rift between Black and white Americans, as many Black people saw King’s assassination as a rejection of their vigorous pursuit of equality through the nonviolent resistance he had championed.

His murder, like the killing of Malcolm X in 1965, radicalized many moderate African American activists, fueling the growth of the Black Power movement and the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

King has remained the most widely known African American leader of his era, and the most public face of the civil rights movement, along with its most eloquent voice.

A campaign to establish a national holiday in his honor began almost immediately after his death, and its proponents overcame significant opposition𠅌ritics pointed to FBI surveillance files suggesting King’s adultery and his influence by Communists�ore President Ronald Reagan signed the King holiday bill into law in 1983.


History: Malcolm X assassinated

February 21, 1956: For their role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 89 African Americans were indicted under an old law prohibiting boycotts. Martin Luther King Jr. was the first one tried. As the press watched, King was ordered to pay $1,000 in fines and court costs or spend 386 days behind bars.

February 21, 1965: Malcolm X, an African-American nationalist and religious leader, was shot and killed by rival Black Muslims as he began to address his Organization of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City’s Washington Heights. He was 39.

February 22, 1898: Frazier Baker, an African American recently appointed postmaster of Lake City, South Carolina, and his infant daughter, Julia, were killed and his wife and three other daughters were maimed for life when a lynch mob set after them. Citizens of the small town of 500 residents set fire to the post office, where the Bakers lived, and shot them as they ran out. Later that year, the first nationwide civil rights organization in the U.S., the National Afro-American Council, was formed.

February 22, 1960: About 200 students, led by Frank George Pinkston and Charles Melvin Sherrod, marched from the Virginia Union University campus to downtown Richmond, shutting down the shopping district. Police arrested 34 students taking part in sit-ins and pickets at Thalhimer’s Department Store, which refused to let African Americans sit at the lunch counter. The actions of the “Richmond 34” put the city on the road to change.

February 23, 1870: Born free in North Carolina, Hiram Revels became the first African American elected as U.S. Senator, taking the Mississippi seat once held by Jefferson Davis, the former President of the Confederacy. A preacher in the AME church, he served only one year before becoming president of Oakland College, later known as Alcorn State University.

February 23, 1929: Baseball catcher Elston Gene Howard was born in St. Louis, Mo. In 1955, he became the first African-American player to sign with the New York Yankees. In 1963, the Gold-Glove catcher became the American League’s Most Valuable Player, the first black player to do so. He won four World Series as a player and two more as a coach.

February 24, 1956: U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd Sr. called for a policy of massive resistance to unite white leaders in Virginia in their campaign to preserve segregation. Virginia passed laws to deny state funds to any integrated school. After the courts ordered desegregation in a few schools, Gov. James Lindsay Almond Jr. ordered those schools closed. The courts eventually ordered the reopening of those schools.

February 25, 1946: Columbia, Tennessee, was the spot of many post-World War II “race riots.” Many African-Americans soldiers were unwilling to accept mistreatment after returning from war. In this case, after a white clerk threatened his mother, James Stephenson, a U.S. Navy veteran from the Pacific theater, wrestled with the clerk, who crashed through a department store window. He was initially arrested for disturbing the peace and then for assault with intent to murder charge. A white mob surrounded the courthouse, and after the shootings of several white officers, state highway patrolmen entered the African-American community, shooting randomly, seizing all weapons and arresting more than 100. Later, Columbia policemen shot to death two African-American prisoners. Twenty-five black men were tried for the shootings of the white officers, leading to one conviction. No one was ever tried for killing the African-American prisoners.

February 25, 1948: Martin Luther King Jr. became associate minister of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, at the age of 19. The previous summer he had delivered his first sermon.

February 26, 1870: Wyatt Outlaw, the first African-American town commissioner of Graham, North Carolina, was seized from his home and lynched by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Outlaw served as president of the Alamance County Union League of America, an anti-Klan organization, and had advocated establishing a school for African Americans. A total of 18 Klansmen were indicted for his murder, but charges were later dropped. His lynching, along with the assassination of State Senator John W. Stephens at the Caswell County Courthouse, prompted Governor William Woods Holden to declare martial law in the area.

February 27, 1853: The first African-American Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was organized in New York City and lasted through the Civil War. When the YMCA movement began in America in 1851, minorities were excluded.

February 27, 1942: Charlayne Hunter-Gault was born in Due West, South Carolina. In 1961, she became one of the first two African-American students to attend the University of Georgia. She married and became a successful journalist, winning two Emmys and a Peabody with The News Hour With Jim Lehrer. She also worked for The New York Times, CNN and National Public Radio.

February 27, 1967: Wharlest Jackson, the treasurer of the NAACP branch in Natchez, Mississippi, had just been promoted to a whites-only position at his job in Natchez, Mississippi. His civil rights activities had caused him and other African Americans to receive threats from the Ku Klux Klan. Minutes after leaving work, a bomb planted beneath his truck exploded, killing him instantly. His killers were never prosecuted. He is among 40 martyrs listed on the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.

February 27, 1988: Debi Thomas became the first African American to win an Olympic medal in figure skating. During the Olympic games, Thomas was also a full-time pre-med student at Stanford University. Thomas went on to become an orthopedic surgeon and now practices in Richlands, Virginia.


Jupiter

Malcolm’s Great Benefic, in Capricorn and in the First House, and out of sect, has much growing to do to be truly a doer of good. Amplified by being in the First House, Jupiter promises much but its focus too narrow, too exclusionary. Along with Saturn being out of sect, we get a troubling portrait of somebody too sure of himself and what he represents, not seeing that his certainty boxed him into an ideological corner he would eventually have to outgrow. It’s no accident that Elijah Muhammad and the Black Muslim movement gave him a set of values that were simple and clear and culturally conservative.

As opposed to being placed in a horary or event chart, natal positions – especially those in signs of debility or in difficult houses – have potential arcs of development, if motivation and the right circumstances are present for the native. Fortunately, this was something Malcolm X could accomplish at least in part before his death.


Civil Disobedience In On African Self-Hatred By Martin Luther King

receiving insults all happen during the civil rights movement of 1960s. The film Glory Road shows the story of Texas Western University’s journey to the NCAA Championship with a lineup of five African Americans during the civil rights controversy of the 1960s. The championship lineup includes Harry Flournoy, a colored player from Gary Indiana who helps lead the team to a national title. During this controversy colored people choose between the ideas of Malcolm X and self defense and pride in yourself


Who Killed Malcolm X? And Why?

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being first and foremost, and as such, I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole

Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, born Malcolm Little) was an influential and inspirational figure to the Afro-Americans in the United States. A powerful orator, excellent debater and willing to preach “The price of freedom is death,” led for his personality and teachings to be printed across the U.S. and the world.

There are three possible answers. Three—because each on its own isn’t satisfactory. Examining the motives behind the killing inevitably leads for more questions to be asked and before you know it, you’re in too deep.

Malcolm X’s countless speeches, debates, press conferences, letters and autobiography reveal many factors that could’ve contributed to his death. Indeed, just as he had supporters, he also had many enemies.

Malcolm X, himself, commented in the last few pages of his autobiography on his possible death:

Every morning when I wake now, I regard it as a having another borrowed day. In any city, wherever I go, making speeches, holding meetings of my organisation, or attending to other business, black men are watching every move I make, awaiting their chance to kill me, I have said publicly many times that I know that they have their orders. Anyone who chooses not to believe what I am saying doesn’t know the Muslims in the Nation of Islam.

I know, too, that I could suddenly die at the hands of some white racists. Or I could die at the hands of some Negro hired by the white man. Or it could be some brainwashed Negro acting on his own idea that by eliminating me, he would be helping out the white man because I talk about the white man the way I do.

With this in mind, the three possible answers are as follows:

One, those who were convicted for his assassination were Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson. This could imply they worked together on their own accord – no influence from outside power. However, all there were members of the Nation of Islam.

Did the Nation of Islam order his assassination? Malcolm X, during numerous press conferences claimed his life was at threat by the Nation of Islam.

He claimed that Elijah Muhammad had ordered his death simply because he had learned the truth—Elijah Muhammad was the father of eight children by four teenage personal secretaries.

The Nation of Islam had a figure in Malcolm who, judging by his speeches and expressions, truly believed in Elijah Muhammad and was willing to die for him, and represented the Nation of Islam at all times. This should have been an advantage to them considering his vocal ability. However, it was actually a disadvantage to Malcolm X—realised after his suspension from the Nation of Islam—as it created jealously and rivalry within the organisation.

After his pilgrimage to Mecca and his visits to various African nations, he began to have his own ideas on how to further the Afro-American movement. He also converted to orthodox Islam, thus, gaining him international recognition and connections with Muslim leaders abroad. But this was a direct threat to Elijah Muhammad.

Elijah Muhammad tore into Malcolm in his public speeches. “Who was he leading? Who was he teaching? He has no truth! We didn’t want to kill Malcolm! His foolish teaching would bring him to his own end!”

‘We didn’t want to kill Malcolm!’? This implies that they may not have wanted to, but they needed to and had to kill him.