Malcom X Assassinated in NYC
This was a quote from Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad in March of 1964. A month later the cartoon depicting Malcom X’s beheading appeared in Muhammad Speaks magazine. Ominous signs indeed for the former Nation of Islam icon.
He had run afoul of Elijah Muhammad after publicly leaving the Nation of Islam in early March, 1964. Now openly critical of the leader and the movement, he was marked for death. In early 1965, the Nation of Islam tried to evict Malcom from an East Elmhurst home given to him by the Nation of Islam. When Malcom and his family didn’t get out quickly enough, the house was suspiciously burnt to the ground.
Both police and FBI informants were telling their handlers that Malcom was a marked man, and the Nation of Islam hierarchy was trying to kill him. Malcom X himself was telling interviewers that they were actively trying to kill him.
On February 21, 1965, the Nation of Islam accomplished their mission. That day, Malcom X was speaking at the Audobon Ballroom at Broadway and West 165th Street in Manhattan.
As Malcom X was speaking on the stage a disturbance broke out in the crowd. As security moved in, a man rushed towards the stage and pulled out a sawed-off shotgun. The man discharged the gun directly into Malcom X’s chest. Two other males produced pistols and shot the critically injured minister eleven more times.
Malcom X was rushed to the nearby Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, but he was beyond help. He died shortly after his arrival.
Nation of Islam member Talmadge Hayer was arrested after being beaten and detained by the crowd in the ballroom. Witnesses identified the other gunmen as Nation members Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson. All three were arrested by the NYPD and convicted of the homicide by the Manhattan DA’s Office.
Hayer admitted to his role in the slaying but maintained that Butler and Johnson were not his co-conspirators. In 2020, the Manhattan DA’s Office began a review of the case. They found that evidence was withheld from the defense by the NYPD and the FBI. This information led to the November 2021 exoneration of Butler and Johnson.