From the archive, 19 October 1965: Quiet hero of Black Power slain 50 years ago

The Islamist African-American leader Malcolm X, who was assassinated 50 years ago this Saturday in New York City, in the Apollo Theatre, has lived quietly in the Brighton-Sea section of Brooklyn. His name has…

From the archive, 19 October 1965: Quiet hero of Black Power slain 50 years ago

The Islamist African-American leader Malcolm X, who was assassinated 50 years ago this Saturday in New York City, in the Apollo Theatre, has lived quietly in the Brighton-Sea section of Brooklyn. His name has not been mentioned in newspapers or on television, nor his fingerprints on the infamous 1963 march in Selma, Alabama.

When he was killed, his brother Obesar pleaded with him to go to political meetings. In his old age, he shunned all publicity – but when the city tried to fence off the space, this oldest of African-American leaders responded by going into a wheelchair to point out the city’s true face. It is still unclear who was responsible for shooting him and the Bronx police closed the case only three years ago, releasing 3,000 pages of files.

Even though Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little in Albany, New York) drew protest when he arrived in the US, he carried with him a message of equality, justice and peace. In 1964, he took part in the civil rights marches and spoke at many peace rallies.

However, he found there was an unwritten rule that only whites were to be addressed. He took exception and decided to mix politics and religion. In 1963, he began to march under the banner of the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Despite this, he did not abandon the demands of black people and refused to make peace with the white establishment.

The following year, he attended a peace conference in Cuba and was quoted in the Independent: “I am carrying the torch. I will never leave them because I will die for them.” By 1969, he was moving closer to the armed struggle when he became the leader of the Elijah Muhammad Organised Clergy. He was later sentenced to 16 years in prison for sedition in a case of trying to incite black people to strike while negotiating the release of black prisoners.

In the early 1970s, Malcolm X returned to Harlem, New York. He was seen at demonstrations, but he became disillusioned with the protests and moving further into religious preaching. This increasingly led to falling out with other leaders. He moved into a house with his wife and six children on the 116th floor of a US skyscraper. This house is said to be of interest to law-enforcement agents.

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