February 21, 1965 – Malcolm X

February 21, 1965 – Malcolm X

On Feb. 21, 1965, one year after formally leaving the Nation of Islam, esteemed and controversial civil rights leader Malcolm X was shot dead by three gunmen before he was set to address the Organization for Afro-American Unity, which he founded. An autopsy determined he was shot 21 times.

Talmadge Hayer, now known as Mujahid Alim, was arrested at the scene of the murder. Thomas 15X Johnson, now Khalil Islam, and Norman 3X Butler, now Muhammad Abdul Aziz, were arrested days later. All three men, who have since left the Nation of Islam, were convicted of Malcolm X’s murder and sentenced to life in prison. Alim confessed to the shooting but maintained Islam and Aziz were innocent. Aziz had an alibi corroborated by his doctor.

Over the years, some have raised questions regarding the role of Nation of Islam leaders in the killing, alleging a prominent Nation of Islam member who reportedly met with Alim the night before the killing was an FBI informant.

In February 2020, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the nonprofit Innocence Project announced a review of the case.

In February 2021, members of Malcolm X’s family released a letter written by a New York City police officer that implicates the NYPD and the FBI in Malcolm X’s murder. The letter was written in 2011 by Officer Raymond A. Wood, who claimed in the letter he was instructed by the NYPD to get two of Malcolm X’s security guards to commit crimes prior to the assassination. The two men were then arrested and unavailable to guard the door at the Audubon Ballroom the day of the shooting. Furthermore, the letter states this was part of a larger plot by the NYPD and FBI to kill Malcolm X. Wood died of cancer in 2020. While he wrote the letter almost a decade earlier, he gave instructions to a cousin that he did not want it released until after his death.

Over the years, some have raised questions regarding the role of Nation of Islam leaders in the killing, alleging a prominent Nation of Islam member who reportedly met with Alim the night before the killing was an FBI informant.

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