By Gregory Crofton
Malcolm X’s home was firebombed a week before he was shot to death in Manhattan on Feb. 21, 1965.
Metal pellets from a sawed-off shotgun blast pierced his heart and caused his death. The shooting involved five men and took place just as the iconic black leader began to address a crowd at Audubon Ballroom, a theater on the Upper West Side.
“Malcolm was the primary articulator of our cause and our case against America, against white supremacy in the United States,” said Jelani Cobb, a staff writer for The New Yorker, interviewed in “Who Killed Malcolm X?” “Is that different 53 years after his death? Not really.”
“Who Killed Malcolm X?” is a six-part documentary series that premiered Feb. 7th on Netflix. The series first aired on Fusion TV and was executive produced in part by Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Malcolm X’s murder took place a little less than a year after he broke from the Nation of Islam, a group he helped establish in the United States by working alongside his mentor Elijah Muhammad.
The focus of this docuseries, which consists of six episodes, each 43 minutes, is a Washington D.C. tour guide and muslim activist named Abdur-Rahman Muhammad. He is a follower of Malcolm X and obsessed with publicly outing the man who fired the shot that killed the heroic black leader. He thinks it is an important thing to do, and he’s right.
The release of “Who Killed Malcolm X?” has made a real impact. The Manhattan district attorney’s office just recently announced it’s in the process of taking a new look at the case.
Really what’s most fascinating about this documentary is what it reveals about the lock-step culture that’s present, even today, with some members of the Nation of Islam — that it’s best to not talk about the murder of Malcolm X, instead, they say, let the past stay the past. It reminded me of the aggressive tight-lipped culture embraced by white Mississippians during the days that surrounded the 1964 murders of three civil right workers in Neshoba County.
Every day in America the news makes clear that blacks still struggle for equal rights. This documentary left me with a deep sense of sadness and frustration to know that Malcolm X, was murdered in cold blood, in public, and still the white officials in power didn’t care enough to solve his murder case properly by conducting a real investigation and putting the right men in prison for the crime.
I’m sure Malcolm X might have predicted his own murder would be handled with such disrespect.