In light of the recent Edgar Ray Killen conviction for the 1964 Chaney/Goodman/Schwerner slayings, the recent exhumation of the body of Emmett Till, the 1994 Byron De La Beckwith conviction for the 1963 Medgar Evers murder, the 1998 charging of Klan imperial wizard Sam Bowers with the 1966 firebomb attack on an NAACP activist and the 2002 conviction of another Klansman, Bobby Frank Cherry, for his role in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing (that killed, among others, a relative of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) the time has NOW come to re-open the most important of all of the civil rights-era murder cases, namely, that of Malcolm X.
It has been 40 long years since Malcolm X was gunned down, 21 February 1965, at the Audubon Ballroom by five of Elijah Muhammad’s thugs in a savage crime that remains unsolved to this day. Four of his cowardly killers ~ Benjamin Thomas, Leon Davis, Wilbur McKinley and William Bradley ~ have never been held accountable. Together with Talmadge Hayer (the only one of the original five to have served time for the crime) these individuals comprise what I will here refer to as the Newark Five ~ the “special squad” that was established by the Nation of Islam’s (NOI) New Jersey Temple No. 25 to carry out the cold-blooded murder of Malcolm X.
Between December of 1963 and February of 1965 Malcolm X was the object of multiple attempts on his life by the NOI in cities as widely scattered as Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and New York. These attempts were on a national scale and were being centrally co-ordinated from the NOI’s Chicago headquarters. This gives the lie to the notion (punted by Minister Louis Farrakhan during a series of 1990-1993 lectures on the Malcolm X assassination) that the killing was the spontaneous act of New Jersey “zealots” and unconnected to the NOI’s senior leadership.
In the wake of the 15 October ‘Millions More Movement’ it is now more imperative than ever that the single most divisive (and explosive) issue that continues to hover over the Black World be finally put to rest for once and for all: WHO killed Malcolm X and WHY have they never been brought to justice? This is made all the more urgent by the fact that the individual who convened that gathering, Minister Farrakhan, is believed by many to have played some role in the crime.
In spite of my intense and long-standing admiration for Mr. Farrakhan questions concerning his complicity in the assassination of Malcolm X have always bothered me. In particular, I have long been troubled by claims that Farrakhan was part of some “ad hoc committee” assembled to ruin Malcolm X following the latter’s 8 March 1964 break with the NOI. Equally troubling have been suggestions that the February 14, 1965 firebombing of Malcolm’s home (while he, his wife and children lay asleep inside) may have been partly carried out by members of Farrakhan’s Boston No. 11 temple. This raises the truly discomfiting spectre that when Malcolm’s daughter, Attallah Shabazz, met with journalist Mike Wallace and Farrakhan in May of 2000 (for the CBS ‘60 Minutes’ program) to discuss the latter’s complicity in her father’s murder she was unwittingly meeting with a man who may have played some role in an attempt on her own life.
Furthermore, Farrakhan’s presence at No. 25 on the very day that Malcolm was murdered by the Newark Five is something I have long found highly suspicious. His claim that he was merely part of a succession of NOI ministers who were being “rotated” in and out of that temple in order to maintain attendance rates (following the April 1964 relocation of its resident minister, James Shabazz, to New York’s No. 7 to replace Malcolm X) has never been especially convincing. In addition, reports concerning a sickening 1971 utterance by Farrakhan (during a Carbondale, Illinois speech) to the effect that Malcolm X should be “dug up and killed again” for slandering Elijah Muhammad have made it increasingly difficult for me to fully shake the suspicion that Farrakhan was, at a minimum, an unindicted co-conspirator who played a greater role in the crime than he has thus far owned up to.
As a result of all of these questions and concerns, Mr. Farrakhan finds himself in the wholly unique position of being perhaps the only personality in the entire Western world of his level of stature, prominence and (relative) respectability who is yet believed to have been personally complicit in a crime as serious as murder and has nevertheless managed to sustain, and even enhance, his national and international profile. These are concerns that only he can fully, and finally, put to sleep. Not a single call for reparations or an end to police brutality or the freeing of “political prisoners” or whatever other litany of wrongs were wailed from the Washington Mall podium this past October will ever be worth a hearing in the absence of a full and final accounting of, and “atoning” for, whatever role he and the NOI played in the savage and unforgivable murder of Malcolm X.
Malcolm X is infinitely more deserving of the energies of Black America’s (and the world’s) activists and advocates for justice than those expended on Assata Shakur, Mumia Jamal and Geronimo Pratt. Nobody in our history did more to excite us about ourselves and our possibilities than Malcolm X. He impressed us with ourselves. He exhilarated us with ourselves. And he was snatched away from us by the most depraved and demented savages the Black World ever had the misfortune to spawn: the Newark Five, their accomplices and all of those up and down the NOI chain of command through whom the assassination order was transmitted. They must now ALL be held to account.
~ The surviving four of the Newark Five ~ Benjamin Thomas, Leon Davis, Wilbur McKinley and William Bradley [aka Mustafa Shabazz] ~ must be immediately arrested and charged with the assassination of Malcolm X. (There has long been speculation about a sixth individual, a Linward X Cathcart [now known as Abdul Karriem Muhammad] of No. 25, who is believed to have played some sort of “observer” role during the killing. He, too, should be arrested and charged.) These Islamic extremists, responsible for the murder of Malcolm X, are nothing but terrorists and should be treated with the same severity as that reserved for Al Qaeda operatives
~ A sweeping legal action must be initiated against any members of the Elijah Muhammad NOI (EM-NOI), Louis Farrakhan NOI (LF-NOI) and any other Third Party that had any involvement in any attempt on the life of Malcolm X conducted between Dec. 1963 and Feb. 1965
~ A team of attorneys should be immediately engaged and a set of charges ~ including Complicity by Aiding and Abetting as well as Conspiracy to Commit Murder ~ made ready
~ Minister Louis Farrakhan must make himself available, at a time to be mutually agreed upon, to appear before a panel of the most eminent Malcolm X/NOI scholars and legal experts (to include Manning Marable, Michael Eric Dyson, Peter Goldman, Howard Dodson, Clayborne Carson, Michael Friedly, Abdul Alkalimat, Bruce Perry, Herb Boyd, Charles Rangel, Rodnell Collins, Percy Sutton, James H. Cone, Florence Hamlish Levinsohn, Zak Kondo, Louis A. DeCaro, Les Payne, Karl Evanzz, Robert Singh, Mattias Gardell and Eugene Victor Wolfenstein, among others) to be subjected to the most thorough, rigorous and methodical cross-examination about his and the N.O.I.’s role in the assassination of Malcolm X. Farrakhan must also agree to a Polygraph Examination of a number of highly dubious claims he made during his 1990-1993 series of “What Really Happened to Malcolm X?” lectures
~ The US Government (having made available to the public the Nixon, Johnson and Kennedy White House Tapes) must now declassify and release to the world the Muhammad Tapes. These important recordings will enable the world to establish the extent to which the NOI patriarch, Elijah Muhammad, and his immediate associates were personally responsible for the assassination of Malcolm X. This, in the light of FBI electronic intercepts indicating that a number of explicit orders to kill Malcolm were issued by Elijah Muhammad himself
~ A grand jury should be empanelled to look into the Malcolm X assassination and Mr. Farrakhan should offer his (and the NOI’s) full and unrestricted co-operation to said grand jury
~ A voice analysis of FBI wiretap recordings should be conducted on the interminable series of death threats that were made to Malcolm’s home telephone number, OL1-6320, between Dec. 1963 and Feb. 1965 and arrests made of any of the surviving culprits responsible
~ An investigation should also be re-opened into the Feb. 14, 1965 firebombing of his Elmhurst home in light of the grotesque “Jericho” directive issued on June 28, 1964 by Elijah Muhammad, Jr. (to a regional gathering of Fruit of Islam, or F.O.I., “soldiers”) that Malcolm’s home should be destroyed, his tongue severed by his attackers, placed in an envelope and delivered to Elijah Muhammad
~ All FBI wiretaps of (among others) Chicago No. 2, New York No. 7, Boston No. 11, Philadelphia No. 12, Newark No. 25 (together with its Jersey City, Patterson and Plainfield satellites) and Los Angeles No. 27 telephone conversations, along with clandestine recordings of speeches (covering, at least, the period 1962-1966), should be declassified and released to investigators as these “temples” were notorious for their depraved and murderous attitudes towards Malcolm X
~ A South Africa-style Truth & Reconciliation Commission ~ The Malcolm X Assassination & Atonement Commission ~ should be established to enable all of those who were in any way involved in the Malcolm X murder (both within and outside of the NOI) to come forth, confess their crimes and be reconciled with those whom they wronged
~ The NOI must accept full responsibility for the fact that two innocent men ~ Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson ~ were wrongly imprisoned for the murder of Malcolm X when the NOI could easily have spared them that fate by surrendering those whom they knew to be guilty
For over 40 long years the surviving members of the Newark Five and their associates have thumbed their noses at the memory of the man they slew while the world stood idly by and did nothing. Those days are over. Malcolm X ~ and the degree to which we work to bring his killers to justice ~ will be the final measure of our worth as a people. As the ‘Millions More Movement’ proceeds apace one thing becomes crystal clear: If we can’t find it within ourselves to do justice by Malcolm X, of all people, we ~ as a people ~ aren’t worth doing justice by.
It’s that simple.
20 October 2005
20 October 2005