What Happened After Malcolm X Died?

Malcolm X strode to the stage at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem on February 21, 1965. There was a large crowd there to hear the former face of the Nation of Islam speak. Despite Malcolm X receiving many death threats after leaving the Nation of Islam, security at the event was noticeably lax, according to Time. His home had even been firebombed the week before. There was a fight in the audience, which distracted the security that was there, which enabled a man to empty a shotgun into Malcolm X. There were two other people with handguns who shot him repeatedly. All in all, the controversial man who fearlessly spoke about African-Americans getting equal rights was shot 21 times. 

This act punctuated an era. The polarizing figure had preached that Black people should defend themselves rather than take the peaceful way of Martin Luther King Jr., who would himself meet a violent end by gunfire three years later in Memphis, Tennessee.

While swift action happened afterwards, the story didn't end after Malcolm X's assassination. The mystery deepened even more and it is still being explored nearly 60 years after the last shot rang out. 

The true reason for Malcolm X's assassination is unknown

The authorities did make three arrests in the early aftermath of Malcolm X's death. One was Talmadge Hayer, who had himself been shot in the leg after he shot Malcom X. The other two, who never wavered in their proclamations of innocence, were Norman Butler and Thomas Johnson. All three were members of the Nation of Islam, with whom Malcolm X had split recently due to his annoyance at a high-ranking official carrying out extramarital affairs, per Time. The three men were paroled or released over the years. One of them is dead.

Netflix aired a documentary in 2020 titled "Who Killed Malcolm X?" (trailer on YouTube) which piqued many people's interest again. This prompted Cy Vance, the New York District Attorney, to say that the case would be revisited; the children of Malcolm X were calling for the case to be re-opened, via BBC News.  Some people think that the FBI and the NYPD were involved, since they were not too fond of the message that Malcolm X was sending out about civil rights. There may never be a definitive answer, much like people who still speculate about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But Malcolm X will be remembered for many years to come.