The Incident That Occurred With Hinton Johnson
It was in 1957 that the American public first got to know about Malcolm X. This was after a member of the Nation of Islam – Hinton Johnson – was beaten up by two officers of the New York City Police. On the 26th of April, Johnson, alongside two other members of the Nation of Islam were passing by and saw the officers beat up an African-American man. These men tried to stop the officers from beating the man and immediately, one of the officers shifted focus and battered Johnson to the extent that he suffered subdural hemorrhaging and brain contusion. The policemen even went on to arrest all four African-American men. An eye witness alerted the Nation of Islam and this caused Malcolm and some other Muslims to go to the police station. Upon arrival at the station, they asked to see Johnson and at first, the police denied the fact that they were holding any Muslims. But a crowd began to assemble outside the station. Because of the crowd, the police allowed Malcolm an audience with Johnson. After seeing Johnson, Malcolm insisted on getting an ambulance to convey Johnson to Harlem Hospital.
Johnson’s injuries were attended to and from there, he was returned to the police station. At the police station, about 4,000 people had assembled outside the station. Malcolm, alongside an attorney, secured the bail of two of the Muslims. However, the police refused to grant Johnson’s bail, neither was he allowed returning to the hospital for further treatment.
Observing a stalemate, Malcolm went outside the station and dispersed the crowd. After about one month, the New York City Police deemed it necessary to keep a close watch on Malcolm, because they believed he wielded too much power than one man should have. After a while, the police department sent clandestine officers to penetrate the Nation of Islam.
Malcolm’s Prominence Increases
Towards the end of the 1950s, Malcolm started calling himself by the name Malcolm el-Shabazz, although he was still popularly called Malcolm X. By this time, his opinions on matters relating to the state had become significant and were usually reported by media houses. In 1959, he was featured on New York City Television, on a broadcast that had to do with the Nation of Islam.
At the UN General Assembly that was held in September 1960, Malcolm received invitations to official functions of many African nations. At the UNGA, Malcolm met with Fidel Castro and Castro, after having heard much about Malcolm, invited him for a private meeting. After a meeting that lasted about two hours, Castro invited Malcolm to come to see him in Cuba.
Malcolm’s Influence Oh The Nation Of Islam
After Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X is generally accepted to be the second person who had the most influence on the Nation of Islam. He got a lot of credit for the group’s multiplication within that decade.
He even motivated the popular boxer Cassius Clay – who would later change his name to Muhammad Ali – to become a part of the nation. When Malcolm left the nation, he tried to talk Ali into converting to Sunni Islam with him, but Ali refused. This refusal was later described by Ali as one of his greatest regrets.
While he was still a part of the Nation, Malcolm mentored Louis X – who later changed his name to Louis Farrakhan, and later became the leader of the movement. Malcolm also mentored Wallace D Muhammad – who was Elijah Muhammad’s son. Wallace told Malcolm of his dissatisfaction with his father’s approach towards Islam.
Malcolm’s Eventual Departure From The Nation
With the unfolding of certain events that occurred from 1962 to 1963, Malcolm X had cause to reevaluate his relationship with the movement – and with its leader Elijah Muhammad in particular.
Towards the end of 1961, there were many confrontations between the police and members of the Nation of Islam in South Central Los Angeles which led to the arrest of many Muslims. Several issues came up which occurred in the deaths and injuries of many Muslims. During these confrontations, some Muslims were indicted but the NOI pressed no charges against the police. In Malcolm’s opinion, these events required counteractions against the police but Elijah Muhammad did not approve of Malcolm’s opinions. Malcolm also saw the need for the Nation to begin to work with civil rights associations and other religious groups, but Muhammad would rather the movement remained in isolation.
Later on, rumors began to spread about Muhammad having extramarital affairs with young female secretaries of the Nation – which was against the Nation’s teachings. This further discouraged Malcolm and he began to cease to reckon with Muhammad.
On the 1st of December, 1963, Malcolm’s comment about the death of President John F Kennedy was not in consonance with the fact that the Nation had earlier sent a condolence message to the family. The Nation had also given instruction for its ministers not to give comments about the assassination. Malcolm’s comments caused the Nation to restrict him from speaking at public events for 90 days.
By now, Malcolm had become a favorite of the media, and some members of the Nation began to see him as a threat to the leadership of Muhammad. All of these began to upset Muhammad and aroused in him the spirit of envy.
On the 8th of March, 1964, Malcolm eventually announced his departure from the Nation of Islam. He made it clear that he remained a Muslim but was no more under the auspices of the Nation.
Malcolm’s Life After He Left The Nation Of Islam
When he left the NOI, Malcolm founded a religious organization which he called Muslim Mosque, Inc. (MMI). He also founded a secular group he called the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), a group which preached Pan-Africanism. On the 26th of March, 1964, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. met for the only time. Their meeting was in Washington D.C and lasted just long enough for them to take photographs together. Their meeting was a sequel to the fact that both men were present at the debate of the Civil Rights Bill by the Senate.
In the weeks that succeeded his departure from the Nation, many Sunni Muslims encouraged Malcolm to become a part of their sect. Shortly after, he converted and became a Sunni Muslim.
In April 1964, after getting financial help from Ella Little-Collins – his half-sister – Malcolm X went on Hajj. During his visit to Hajj, Price Faisal designated him as a guest of the state and after the Hajj rituals; he got an audience with the prince. After Hajj, Malcolm traveled to several countries across Africa and Europe, where he gave a series of lectures.
Death Threats And Eventual Assassination of Malcolm X
After Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam, he received several threats from the NOI. At some point, one of the Temple leaders placed an order to have Malcolm’s car bombed. On the 8th of June, the FBI intercepted a telephone call in which the voice on the other end told Malcolm wife that Malcolm was “as good as dead”.
That same month, the Nation asked Malcolm and his family to vacate the residence. However, on the 14th of February, 1965 – on the night prior to the hearing on a postponement of the eviction – the house was mysteriously consumed by fire.
Many reactions came from different quarters which referred to Malcolm as worthy of death.
On the 19th of February, 1965, Malcolm said in an interview that the NOI was very keen on killing him.
On the 21st of February, 1965, as he was getting set to address the congregation at the OAAU in Manhattan, several shots were fired at Malcolm X after a brief disturbance. At exactly 3:30 pm, Malcolm was pronounced dead. This was not long after he was rushed to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.
After the autopsy, 21 gunshot wounds were observed in his chest, arms and legs, and left shoulder. These included several wounds from the blast of the initial gunshot.
The gunmen were identified as members of the Nation of Islam. In March 1966, the gunmen were given a life sentence, after getting murder convictions.
About 30,000 mourners attended the public viewing at the Unity Funeral Home in Harlem from the 23rd-26th of February. On the day of his funeral, there was a crowd overflow outside and loudspeakers were set up for them. Local television was also on the ground to give a live broadcast of the service.
Many civil rights leaders, actors, and activists were present to pay their last respect to Malcolm X.
On the 27th of February, 1965, Malcolm X was buried at Ferncliff Cemetry in Hartsdale. At his funeral, his friends collected the shovels from the gravediggers and completed his burial by themselves.
The Iconic Life Of Malcolm X (PART 1)
After Malcolm’s demise, Juanita Poitier (Sidney Poitier’s wife) and Ruby Dee (actor and activist) started up the Committee of Concerned Mothers; a committee which raised money to build a home for Malcolm’s family and sponsor the education of all of his children.