He began receiving death threats and his house was burned down. On February 21, 1965, Malcolm was shot dead while delivering a speech in Manhattan's Audubon Ballroom. Malcolm was shot 16 times. Three men were convicted for the shots and they were all members of the Nation of Islam.
The funeral service was attended by a very large number of people and thousands of people came to pay their respects to Malcolm's body. The great number of people that came to pay their respects shows that Malcolm managed to reach during his lifetime many lives and that there were many people that followed the same principles that Malcolm was preaching. He was clearly a representative figure of the black community in America as he was always a supporter of the rights of black people.
The death of Malcolm X left regret in the hearts of the black community, as his passion and commitment to promoting the evolution of the situation of the black people in America. However, he was not always regarded as a symbol of black movements due to his radical position and extremist discourse. He was seen as a violent extremist black activist and his methods of trying to improve the situation of the black population in America were often criticized, both by white press and personalities and by black activists. After his death, the reactions were mixed, as there were voices that claimed that his violent death was nothing more than the result of the violent speeches he delivered during his lifetime.
Malcolm X's efforts to promote civil rights were even more appreciated after his death. In 1964, short after his death, the Autobiography of Malcolm X was published, a book written by Alex Haley as told to by Malcolm himself. In this book, the intentions and desires of Malcolm X and his beliefs of the rights of the black population were presented differently and his readers got to know more about his opinions on Black unity. He began to be viewed as a revolutionary for the cause of the black people and he began to be admired for his affirmation of black pride.
Malcolm's change from promoter of racial hatred to supporter of interracial brotherhood inspired many people, both white and black, and his legacy remains that of promoter of civil rights for black people. His past of a law offender, supporter of a racial hatred religious group and vivid critique of white supremacy and the complete change he made after he left Nation of Islam are the reason for which Malcolm X remains an example of the power of transformation that lies in every individual. Malcolm X had the power to become a spiritual leader from a prisoner and he later had the power to change his destiny and his beliefs and to become one of the most significant figures in the history of the civil rights movement in America.
However, despite the dramatic transformation of his ideas, Malcolm X's name will always be linked to the period when he instigated for racial hatred, claiming that "Every time you see a white man, think about the devil you're seeing!." Such affirmations were also made out of pure conviction at the time he was part of the Nation of Islam and his hatred speech can not be overlooked, despite the efforts he made in the last year of his life to promote racial equality. He fought against segregationists and racists in both periods of his life, before and after his transformation. However, his speech was a racist one during the period he was a leading member of the Nation of Islam and it is impossible to overlook his position at the time. He did urge black people to stand up for themselves and not to accept their fate and leave themselves stepped over by racist whites, but he also urged them to hate the white people and see in all of them their enemy.
Malcolm X lived his life always in a radical manner and even after his break with the Nation of Islam he continued to present vivid supports for his ideals. His last year of life was marked by change and religious re-orientation not in a mainstream manner, but in a manner that turned him into a revolutionary and an internationalist. He addressed questions that are still available today, questions of racism and imperialism. He became a strong supporter of the anti-imperialist movement and he even met with head-of-states from various Non-Aligned Movement nations, such as Egypt, Cuba, and Kenya. The common elements between these leaders, that were vivid opponents of the imperialist policy developed by the U.S., and Malcolm X show that Malcolm supported a rather revolutionary view, opposing the differentiation made at the international level between those that have the power and their slaves. He made a parallel between the situation of black men in America and the situation of the Non-Aligned countries, stating that these cases are comparable because America's foreign policy resemblance greatly it's internal policy.
Malcolm's stands of position are viewed as those of a socialist and he is constantly associated with socialist movements. He was very critical of capitalism and he was very clear on presenting himself as a socialist, reason for which he was attentively monitored by the FBI.
He believed in racial solidarity among blacks, arguing that before there can be solidarity between whites and blacks, there must be solidarity between blacks. He also had a very strong position regarding political representation and although he believed that all black representatives were not really chosen to represent the interests of black people, he was very supportive of the blacks taking position. For this purpose, he founded the Organization of African-American Unity (OAAU). He was very determined in his speeches to realize a sort of revolution in the black community in America, urging black people to realize that they were important parts in the policy making of their country.
Despite the form in which he always presented his beliefs, Malcolm X was a firm enemy of racism and imperialism, he was dedicated to exposing the real face of U.S. democracy, and he was a committed revolutionary for the transformation of society. He firmly stood behind his beliefs and although his speech was never un-intimidating and safe, he is remembered as a revolutionary determined to fight for the changes in the American society and in the world.
Malcolm X believed in a revolutionary movement that was powered by the blacks. He believed that, if united, the blacks can generate a great change in American politics and that they could make the difference from a dominative white society to a society where equality truly existed. He believed in the revolutionary power of the blacks. His revolutionary beliefs were not only supporting black liberation and racial equality, but he was supporting social equality for all and the respect of rights for all social categories.
Malcolm X represents a great personality in the history of the United States because of his strong stand against racism and racial oppression. His views were always radical and he always supported his ideas loudly and extremely, but his contribution to improving the image of blacks and promoting solidarity among them can not be overlooked. He drew public attention on the social disadvantages that the black community was encountering and he was a vivid supporter of social equality.
The proof of the importance of the legacy of Malcolm X is that he is still seen as a representative figure of African-American movements in the 60s. Streets and schools are named after him. However, we should not forget that he was a socialist more than anything and that he was an extremist defender of the right of the blacks. He did change in the last year of his existence, but he is most known for the loudness of his speech and for taking a clear and radical stand against the exploitation of the non-white races. He urged black people to make use of their power to fight against racism and he urged nations to stand up against U.S. imperialism. His contribution remains and it will never be replaced.
Auciello, Joe, George Breitman: an incisive view of Malcolm X and revolutionary politics, June 2006, available at http://www.socialistaction.org/auciello14.htm;
Breitman, George, the Last Year of Malcolm X: The Evolution of a Revolutionary, New York: Merit Publishers, 1967;
Malcolm X: 1925-1965, October 30, 2003, available at http://www.masnet.org/prof_personality.asp?id=629;
Malcolm X, available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_X;
Malcolm X, available at http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761552252_2/Malcolm_X.html;
Novack, George, "Malcolm X, black nationalism and socialism," International Socialist Review, July-August 1967, Volume 28, No. 4, pp. 43-51;
Simon, John J., the achievement of Malcolm X, available at http://www.monthlyreview.org/0205simon.htm;
Sustar, Lee, Malcolm X: Legacy of a revolutionary, February 18, 2006, available at http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-1/531/531_06_MalcolmX.shtml.
Malcolm X, available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_X