Return to Transcripts main page


Witnessed: The Assassination of Malcolm X

Aired February 17, 2015 - 21:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's probably fair to say that few men were more admired and more hated than Malcolm X. To many, he was the voice of reason. Never afraid to speak truth to power, never afraid to challenge the wide establishment about the cruelty and injustice the black Americans faced.

To many more, though, his efforts to ended opened more wounds than they healed and no one was more aware of the tension around him and within him than the man himself.

In 1965, after a very public split with the Nation of Islam and its leader, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X was under constant threat and was being closely watched by the FBI and CIA. And he said many times, he knew his life would soon be over. And neither his faith nor his role in history was preordained.

Malcolm X story isn't just about how it ended but also about who he was and why he was killed.

EL-HAJJ MALIK EL-SHABAZZ: I don't worry, I tell you. I'm a man who believed that I died 20 years. And I live like a man who us dead already. I have no fear whatsoever of anybody or anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel as though he knew that his life was in extreme danger.

ZAHEER ALI, MALCOLM X PROJECT, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Malcolm is tired, physically exhausted. He's been on the road. He has spent a lot of time trying to hold fast to his closest supporters and loyalist to get them to go along with him on this journey of his evolving ideas on religion, on race, on revolution, on self-determination.

His families under sees. There are these skirmishes between his followers and various people from the Nation of Islam.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He foolishly acts like Lucifer, he tries to make war against me.

ALI: Here, his article is being written in the newspaper of the Muhammad speech, condemning him as a traitor suggesting that he is worthy of death for his betrayal and he would be met with death if it were not for the mercy of Elijah Muhammad.

PETER BAILEY, WORKED WITH MALCOLM X: And we were well aware that his life was in danger. ILYASAH SHABAZZ, DAUGHTER OF MALCOLM X: The media make Malcolm this shyly, angry person when in actuality he was reacting to all of the injustice around him because he was a man of great compassion of love. Someone who was clearly brilliant, clearly dedicated, impeccable integrity and who was in a rush because he knew he was going to be killed.

ALI: He said, you know, I'm probably a dead man already. He felt and saw his mortality. He felt like these days ahead of him, were going to be cut short.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is your life in danger from the Muslims and Elijah Muhammad's group?

MALCOLM X: Well, Elijah Muhammad has given the order to his followers to see that I am crippled or killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has given up these years, say information that he is (inaudible). I'm certain that if he would (inaudible) would have gotten to him a long ago instead of having time to run around and talk about it. He knew that he is guilty of things that many men have been just that (inaudible).

So his fight against the messenger is in fact a fight against God that sent the message.

ALI: The night of February 13th, Malcolm in his home in Queens with his wife and four children was awakened by an explosion. Someone had thrown a Molotov cocktail into their window.

GENE SIMPSON, FORMER REPORTER: What really irritated him was that things had descended to the level where somebody was firebombing a house with innocent sleeping children in it.

MALCOLM X: If anybody can find where I bomb my house. They can put a riffle bullets to my head. It was my children and my own life and my wife's life that was at stake.

ALI: It was a stressful time for him and he still decided to press on and so he scheduled a rally for February 21st in 1965.

BAILEY: For the first time, to me, he looked a little down and I never remember seeing him down before, you know, even in the most (inaudible) circumstances.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief, could you describe what happen here today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At about 3:15 p.m. this afternoon, there were about 400 person presents in the ballroom here representing the -- an organization known as the Afro-American Community Organization headed up by Malcolm X.

And Malcolm was addressing the audience from the speakers (inaudible).

SIMPSON: And he raised his hand the Muslim greetings, like this, his right hand. At that point, a rumbling broke out behind us. I heard somebody shout, "Kill him."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apparently, two men approached the speakers restroom and discharge shots at him from, apparently very close range.

SIMPSON: As I turn around quickly and the next thing I saw was Malcolm falling back in a dead fate.

SHABAZZ: My mother threw herself over her babies. And she yelled up, "They're killing my husband."

BETTY SHABAZZ, MALCOLM X'S WIFE: I hear shots and I saw people falling on the floor. And so I got down too. And when I was looking out, I saw someone looking amazement to the front. I knew they had shot my husband.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) one shot in the lower right chin and the other six hit him in the chest and the body.

BRAILEY: I looked out at him and I said he's going to die. I keep saying to myself "He's going to die, he's going to die."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was he dead immediately?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, he wasn't dead immediately, but expired very shortly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Malcolm is dead, this was nearly bad as -- when they assassinate the President of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The assassination of Malcolm X was an unfortunate tragedy. It reveals about sill numerous people in our nation who have to degenerated to the point of expressing decent (ph) to murder and we haven't learned, we disagree without being violently disagreeable.

EARL GRANT, WORKED WITH MALCOLM X: Malcolm was the best thing that happen to us. He gave a while bunch of a little boys. (inaudible) and colored folks, an opportunity.

ALI: In that summer of 1964, J. Edgar Hoover sent a memo to his New York office that explicitly saying "Do something about Malcolm X." We don't know what he meant by that.


MALCOLM X: If an Negro getting drunk he doesn't know the true. If a Negro taking dose, he doesn't know the true. You find a Negro lying and keeping, he doesn't know the truth. He's usually imitating the white men. Negroes get drunk because they see white people get drunk. They smoke cigarettes because they see white people smoke cigarettes.

EARL GRANT, WORKED WITH MALCOLM X: He was such an excellent speaker and he read a lot. And he (inaudible), he the fastest man ever met in my life.

MALCOLM X: They commit fornication and adultery because when they turn on the television, all they see is the white man committing fornication and adultery. So and they want to be like the white men, so they copy this immoral social habit.

ALI: Malcolm Little was born into a family of activities. His parents Earl and Louise active followers of Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association, which was in an organization that drew on the themes Pan-Africanism and Black Nationalism, promoting black pride.

CORNEL WEST, PROFESSOR AUTHOR: Marcus Garvey who said what "The world has made being black a crime, I intend to make a virtue. That the world has say it, black history is a curse, the black freedom is pipe dream, that black hope is a joke.

I. SHABAZZ: My father's father, Papa Earl was a young Garvey, he was a minister. It was during Jim Crow era and he was encouraging African-American communities to be self-reliant, to be independent, to stand up against injustice. You know, it was during the time when lynchings were prevalent to say the least.

And so my grandfather was assassinated also, ties to a -- to Charlie tracks (ph).

ALI: Malcolm's mother Louise was unable to keep the family together, so she had to breakdown social services came and split the family up and send Malcolm and his siblings to various foster homes. Malcolm went to a white foster home and attended predominate white elementary and secondary school. He was popular in school, he had charisma even as child, he's classmates voted for him to be class president.

I SHABAZZ: Most often he was the only person of color in his school. And when he was I think about 12 years old he did tell his favorite teacher Mr. Ostrowski that he wanted to be a lawyer. And Mr. Ostrowski he probably told him that Negroes can't inspired not lawyer, that he should be a carpenter and use his hands.

ALI: Malcolm kind of lost interest in school. His half sister in Boston tried to get him to visit her so she could kind of get him on track. And so, Malcolm went to visit Ella in Boston and was completely taken by urban culture.

And was attracted to Hepcat Movement, and jazz and the dancing, and the close, and the fashion, and he gradually adopted this persona that became known as Detroit Red.

And as Detroit Red, Malcolm drifted further away from the Garvey roots of his family into, you know, heavy crime.

WEST: He's a gangster, he was hustler. And so those early years did expose him to some of the darker precinct of the black condition.

Malcolm hatched a plan to engage into the series of breaking and entering. Malcolm made the error of talking some of the merchandise to a pawnshop, when went back to retrieve the watch. It was watch the police where there to arrest him. While Malcolm is in prison he's family intervenes, he's family had not given up on him. He's brother begun preaching to him and I think preach really a stridently to Malcolm, you know, we have found this teaching of Islam, they remind us of what our parents taught us in terms of black people need to do for self, need to support their own institutions, need to be morally upright.

I SHABAZZ: Elijah Muhammad almost became like a surrogate father to him. And he truly believed in a work that Elijah Muhammad was doing and it was very similar to work that his father was doing.

ELIJAH MUHAMMAD: I think a lot for you will always willing, to go anywhere that I go.

MALCOLM X: I was in prison. I was a very way word, criminal, backward, illiterate, uneducated and whatever other negative characteristics you can think of type of person until I heard the teaching of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. And because of the impact that it had upon me in giving me a desire to reform myself and rehabilitate myself for the first time I my life and also being able to see the effect that it had upon others, this is what made me accept it.

WEST: It was the love of Elijah Muhammad in that sale and no folk to transformed him from Malcolm Little the gangster into Malcolm X the greatest proof teller that we've known about the black condition in the 20th century.

MALCOLM X: Prior to hearing what he teaches. I had no interest whatsoever in anything serious or any kind of educational pursuit.

ALI: When Malcolm came out of prison in 1952. He, you know, met Elijah Muhammad. Elijah Muhammad invited him to stay with him, so Malcolm studied with him for a period of time.

There was something about Malcolm, some people just have this kind of magnetism when they walk into a room everyone starts focusing on them. So Malcolm just had this kind of charisma.

BAILEY: He did knew how to talk to people, he could speak in many way that make things very clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was easy to (inaudible) before he was saying. Because I was living it everyday.

SIMPSON: American was in the middle of the so called civil rights movement.

BAILEY: If you're going to talk about him you have to understand that very clearly.

SIMPSON: There are people being literally murdered, hunt from trees.

BAILEY: In the Southern State of this country there was terrorism going on.

SIMPSON: Shot, arrested.

BAILEY: That's the only way you can describe it, terrorism. People were being killed, bomb out of their home.

SIMPSON: Having dogs seek on him.

MALCOLM X: If a dog is biting a black man, the black man could kill the dog. When that black man is doing nothing but trying to take advantage of what the government says is supposed to be his, then that black man should kill that dog or any two-legged dog who sets the dog on him.

WEST: Malcolm X did something that was very rare in the history of black leadership.

MALCOLM X: Every mention of the word integration by whites.

WEST: He viewed white fear and securities and anxieties as after fall.

MALCOLM X: Whether it be from mouth of Kennedy.

WEST: Most black leaders have to deal white fears and securities and anxieties in order to get about.

MALCOLM X: Unbound to the mouth of the lowest (inaudible) white liberal in the street.

WEST: Malcolm viewed white fear and secure an anxiety as tertiary. What was at center was black suffering. What was at the center was a need for black awakening.

MALCOLM X: We believe that separation is the best way and the only sensible way not integrated.

WEST: That pits him radically against the mainstream and white America.

I SHABAZZ: Malcolm could speak in a way that resonated with people in those settings.

MACOLM X: There is nothing that the white man will ever do, to bring about true sincere citizenship or a civil rights recognition for black people in this country. Nothing will they ever do it. They will always talk it, but they won't practice it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your real name?

MALCOLM X: Malcolm. Malcolm X.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that your legal name?

MALCOLM X: As far as I'm concerned, it is my legal name.

BAILEY: They were just not used to a black man speaking the way he did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you been to court to establish...

Malcolm X: I didn't have to go to court to be called "Murphy" or "Jones" or "Smith."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A group of Negro dissenters is taking to street- corner step ladders, church pulpits, sports arenas, and ballroom platforms across the United States, to preach a gospel of hate that would set off a federal investigation if it were preached by Southern whites.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I refer to the popular belief that the Muslims preach their hatred for the white race, you do not subscribe this thing?

MALCOLM X: No. I've never heard the Honorable Elijah Muhammad teach or preach hatred for anyone. He preaches hatred against the evil.

ALI: Malcolm was a lightening rod because he was articulating and giving voice to in alternative political strategy.

MALCOLM X: We are for separation not segregation.

BAILEY: For me white people there is something what's they called an uppity black man. That is a black man who does not accept the position that they have decided that he should have in this country.

MALCOLM X: Segregation is (inaudible) study the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is that what is forced upon inferiors by superiors.

BAILEY: To them Brother Malcolm was an uppity black man and they (inaudible) before him.

MALCOLM X: Separation is done voluntarily by two peoples.

GRANT: Who taught us to hate ourselves was one of his favorite subject. He was talking about how what (inaudible) of the history of the world was incorrect.

MALCOLM X: Who taught you the hatred color up your skin, to such extent that you bleach to get like the white man? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet? Who taught you to hate your own kind? Who taught you to hate the race that you belong to?

BAILEY: I begin to follow him. I begin to listen. I begin to read books that said. I begin to understand and believe in and he gave me a perception on how to deal with this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seemed to me than preaching hate to meet hate?

MALCOLM X: I don't advocate any kind of hate.

I SHABAZZ: He absolutely believed in the nation of Islam. He thought that that was one organization that was helped to get black people back on their feet. MUHAMMAD: I (inaudible) brothers and sisters.

MALCOLM X: Someday the Negro's going to wake up and try and do unto whites as they whites have done unto us.

WEST: But it also put him against the mainstream and black America that's why he had so much trouble with most of the black leaders of this day.

MALCOLM X: Martin Luther King teaching Negroes to love all white people no matter what they do to you and the same whites only teaches Negroes to love, you say dogs on them, say dogs on their children, dogs on their women, and dogs on the babies.

WEST: So that when we look at America, he looks at the record, whereas most of the white mainstream and black mainstream leadership on the 40s and 50s look at America full of promise, possibility. Malcolm X is exactly the opposite. King talked about the dream in 63. Malcolm was talking about a nightmare.

MALCOLM X: The means that no matter what the Negro does he is not going to get along with whites. So I think that Mr. Muhammad's old philosophy is more intelligent than Mr. King.

ALI: He was not someone who will hold his tongue in criticizing the preacher class, right, the black religious leadership.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today's gathering is the largest in Washington's history.

ALI: He was very critical of establish black leaders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the van is Martin Luther King.

ALI: And of the strategies. And so many people shied away from him because of that.

Malcolm was very critical and dismissive at the time when people were somewhat salutatory at the success of the march on Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Later and Mr. King and the other leaders have to go to the White House where the President said everyone was be impressed with the demonstration of a throng (inaudible) and confidence in our Democratic form of government.

ALI: Malcolm came as an observer and he called it the march on Washington, an event that has been co-acted by the government that had been co-acted by labor that leaders of the civil rights movement had been essentially brought off.

MALCOLM X: I think the support reflects the desire on the part of our people in this country to try a new approach, a new analysis, a new method, a new approach to get a solution now, not 10 years from now.

WEST: But Martin's response to Malcolm was very most like many of our response to Malcolm which was, "Here is somebody who was saying in public what black people often said in private." Just how ugly and how vicious and how barbaric the treatment of black people have been.

MALCOLM X: We all want to talk that at anytime, anyone and anyway inflect or sits to inflict the violence upon us. We are within our religious rights to retaliate in self-defense to the maximum degree of our ability.

ALI: As Malcolm became popular...

MALCOLM X: These are parents that have been put in front of the Negro community.

ALI: ... in a public outside of the nation of Islam. This increase tensions...

MALCOLM X: But any means necessary.

ALI: ... inside the nation of Islam.

MALCOLM X: Try a new approach.

ALI: People in the media began identifying him as the leaders or as a leader, as the era parent.

This was threatening to full range of people in the nation of Islam who maybe wanted to be the era parent.

Theological space was widening between Malcolm and Elijah. You know Malcolm whoever he spoke Muslims will come after him and say, "No, this is not Islam. What's you're teaching is not Islam. Islam does not see race. Islam is color blind. The way that you view Elijah Muhammad as a prophetic figure is counter to Islam."

MUHAMMAD: In the name of Allah (inaudible).

ALI: And then another piece of this of course was Malcolm signing out about Elijah Muhammad's domestic life.

MUHAMMAD: Live up a (inaudible) if you don't like it. We will follow.

ALI: When Malcolm found out that Elijah Muhammad had fathered of these children outside of his marriage to Clara, many of these women were -- women who had worked for Elijah Muhammad in some capacity as a secretary or other way.

WEST: Malcolm did have a blind faith in behind Elijah Muhammad who is so fundamentally loved him, rescued him from the mock (ph) and from the mud and that blind faith was shuddered and he went into emotional shock.

ALI: This was the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak, in terms of Malcolm's faith in Elijah Muhammad as a model, as a moral leader.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His rendezvous with between destiny begins a later afternoon time. Death is less than one short hour away.

ALI: On November 22nd, 1963...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) something has wrong here. Some has terrible wrong.

ALI: ... John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the first unconfirmed the report says, the President was hit in the head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Dallas, Texas, the flash apparently official, President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time, 2:00 Eastern Standard Time.

ALI: As Malcolm felt himself growing estranged from Elijah Muhammad and from the Nation of Islam.

Malcolm and the Muslims in New York had planned a major event.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President's body is met by (inaudible)of servicemen.

ALI: Elijah Muhammad scheduled to speak.

After Kennedy's assassination, Elijah is just like, "No, I'm not doing any public speaking. I'm canceling that event." And the ministers of the Nation of Islam were instructed to not comment on Kennedy's assassination.

Malcolm gave the speech. He did not comment on the assassination.

WEST: Well as you see it was very clear that Elijah Muhammad always wanted steer clear of any confrontation.

ALI: When Malcolm opened up the question and answer, the reporter ask him, what his thoughts were on Kennedy's assassination and Malcolm, you know, he gave this really thoughtful response about violence.

I SHABAZZ: He said, when you a climate of hate, you're going to get back hate. So if we're putting out so much hate and we're teaching our children, and our nation to hate, then you're going to get all of that back.

ALI: He said this is a case of chickens coming home to roost.

JOHN ALI, NATION OF ISLAM: He was speaking for himself and not the Muslims in general, and Minister Malcolm has been suspended from public speaking for the time being.

WEST: So when he attacked the U.S. nation state in the form of, "You got violence in your history, is now come back visited on your young darling John F. Kennedy." That was the worst thing that he could have said from a (inaudible).

ALI: While this was happening, Cassius Clay was training for his upcoming championship fight with ((inaudible)). Cassius Clay had been exposed to the Nation of Islam.

He invited Malcolm to come to Miami for a vacation like he knew, like Malcolm was on his period of silence and bring your family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father was his mentor, his spiritual guide.

ALI: Cassius win the fight. Malcolm makes a few statements to the press. So he kind of violates his silence.

MALCOLM X: I ((inaudible)) silent for the pay many days because of complacent I made in sending the President of the United States which would have started.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were (inaudible).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you say to Malcolm?

MALCOLM X: Well, I said, the same thing that everybody says that his assassination was the result of the climate of hate. Only I said the chickens came home to roost, which means the same thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you did not say that you were glad that the President was killed.

MALCOLM X: No. That's what the press said.

ALI: A couple of days later, it would have been Saviour's Day which is the Nation of Islam Annual Convention.

Malcolm thought he would, you know, be allowed to come to Saviour's Day and maybe speak and this would be the period of reconciliation. He thought, I have Cassius Clay, he's ready to join publicly. He just won The World Heavyweight Championship. The world is looking at him.

Cassius Clay is invited to Saviour's Day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was the Muslim and it's (inaudible) Elijah Muhammad ...

ALI: Where he's given a prominent, you know, place in the program.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is golden in Muslim mass that was presented to me that Islamic Council of all region.

ALI: Malcolm isn't invited. Malcolm doesn't ask to speak. He pretty much feels shut out.

WEST: He would say over and over again, "Any religion that has not allowed me to be in power to speak and work on behalf for the freedom of black people, I'll let that religion go."

ALI: And basically, you know, said, you know, "I'm about to leave the Nation of Islam."

This of course was met with great anger and resentment by many in the Nation of Islam.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Muslim have ex-communicated fact (inaudible) we've done with him. Unless he wants to come into land with the teaching and the moral principles of Islam and a follow up of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

GRANT: When I found out he as out, I knew something was wrong. So I called him up the next day and then he came over and we spent the whole day talking. Once we decided we knew they wouldn't let him back. We said we have to set up our organization to do what we can for black folks.

ALI: While all this is happening, Malcolm is in need of a recentering of himself spiritually, politically and he decided to make the Pilgrimage to Mecca.

WEST: We had seen it before. There was something about 64, where he's seeing the same thing. He just seeing into through different eyes, he already seen black and white people could come together. He just was still tied o blind faith in Elijah. So didn't allow it to penetrate his soul.

ALI: He realized how much of Islam he didn't know, ritually. The actual experience of ritual was overwhelming and transformative.

MALCOLM X: Since I went to Mecca and reported that the religion of Islam is religion of brotherhood which includes all mankind. It causes the great deal of raft in the heart and mind of Elijah Muhammad, who has been teaching that the white race is race of devils.

ALI: The tensions at home are amping (ph) up with the nation of Islam in part because of some of Malcolm's word, right? And the attention he's receiving from law enforcement, from the FBI domestically, from the CIA internationally is also increasing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he also knows that Nation of Islam was very upset with him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are they threatening your life?

MALCOLM X: Well, primarily because they afraid that I will tell the real reason that they've been -- that I'm out of the Black Muslim movement, which I never told, I kept to myself. But the real reason is that Elijah Muhammad, the head of the movement, is the father of eight children by six different teenage girls, six different teenaged girls who were his private personal secretary.


MALCOLM X: We formed the group known as the Organization of Afro- American Unity. Its non-religious number one, any Negro can belong to it and the objective of that organization is to bring about a condition that will guarantee, respect and recognition of the 22 million black Americans as human beings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now this is been (inaudible) but how? MALCOLM X: Well, by any means necessary.

ALI: It was incredibly high pressure time for Malcolm. As Malcolm's mind was expanding, as his world view was expanding, the space that he was occupying was shrinking.

I SHABAZZ: Valentines Day, a Molotov cocktail is thrown into the nursery of home, my parents home where my father's four babies slept, and my mother of course is pregnant with the twins.

BAILEY: I became frighten for him and his family because this was the first time that I could recall the devil's direct attack, not only on him but on his family.

MALCOLM X: If you attack me that's one thing, I know what to do when start attacking me. But when you attack sleeping baby while you are...

I SHABAZZ: That actually with that picture of my father with the riffle came from. He couldn't get protection and he said I can't get anyone to protect me as a citizen that I have a riffle and I will protect my family.

ALI: It was stressful time for him and he still decided to press on and so, he scheduled a rally for February 1st in 1965. He was going to give the formal unfolding of the OAAU platform and plan of action.

GRANT: When he arrived near the (inaudible), he parked a car about to blocks away. He didn't let us know he was arriving. He walked a Broadway to the other bar. He just made himself a perfect target and he knew better.

BAILEY: He saw me and he said, "Peter Bradley, when you get a chance, come back stage I want to talk to you."

GRANT: I went out to check my equipment to make sure finish my set up tape and microphone up after all that. And I came back in he said he want to go and make a phone call.

BAILEY: He said "Do any of you know what reverend Melton (inaudible) look like?" And I said "I do". So he said to me he said, "Well go out, go out front and when he comes in, bring him back stage." So I said, "OK."

GRANT: He knew what I actually did, photography and recording, but he insist that go make this telephone call. And I tried to explain to him. I have to get this stuff set up. He just stopped and look right at me said "Brother Earl, I want you to go and make the phone call.

SIMPSON: I sat in front row. I think I was third from the aisle.

GRANT: He insist that that I get out of there if we go out, be out of building where the telephone booth was. And while I was in the booth, he step out there.

BRADELY: I heard brother Malcolm said "As-Salaam-Alaikum". SIMPSON: Somebody shouted get your hand out of my pocket very loud. Then a little bit tussle. And Malcolm responded by holding a hand up, something like hold on, hold on they are brothers.

GRANT: While I was on the telephone booth, I heard the shots.

BRADELY: I run into the Audubon Ballroom and people are running out by this time and they was screaming, and crying, and cursing.

I SHABAZZ: My mother put her body on top of us. She covered her babies because there was all the shooting.

SIMPSON: I don't know how many shooters are in there. I mean this is while the smell gun smoke is still in the air, I'm calling to a phone. My mind is focus on doing my job.

I am at the Audubon Ballroom, pandemonium is the only word that I can use to describe the scene here. I was sitting in the first row when Malcolm came on the stage and greeted the audience with his traditional "As-Salaam-Alaikum" a Muslim greeting. As soon as he said that, several persons, it happened so quickly, I can't describe then, stood up and fired shots.

GRANT: You can see a crowd over Malcolm up on the stage so I ran down on the left hand side of the building up on the stage. I still had my camera with me and I kept right on shooting pictures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone opened his shirt. And I saw these bullet holes in his body.

And then I'm thinking to myself, you know, he is going to do because he was guzzling (ph).

GRANT: I wish it had never happened. It was the saddest moment of my life because we failed him. I tried to help him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I started talking to everybody I could to have them reiterate from their perspective what it just happened and what they thought about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard the shots. I ran for it, I saw Malcolm hold his side hold his stomach and fell down.

SIMMONS: How do you feel now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to kill somebody. That's right, I want to kill somebody. Before the night is over, if Malcolm dies, somebody going to die.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, there was a certain noise and then the two fellows, one was a black Muslim and I don't know who the other one was because I didn't seem run and start shooting and everybody fell to the floor. Yes sir.

SIMMONS: They were black Muslims?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes sir. They were black Muslims because I recognized them.

GRANT: He save my life, had not sent me out, I would have been standing by the tape recorder with my back to the audience. When they started shooting, I would have been shot in the back.

BAILEY: Then the brothers have gone and bogarted (ph) is stretching from the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, that was right across the street. They just took a stretcher and put him on the stretcher and rolled it out Malcolm to the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only person that was caught at the scene was Talmadge Hayer.

I SHABAZZ: I believe if Hayer had not been shot in the leg and had not been beaten up by those who loves my father that he would not have ever been arrested, that we would gone through just like the rest of who the real killers were.

ALI: The evidence points to the fact that Hayer was the only person convicted for Malcolm X's assassination that had a part in it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Malcolm is the victim of some Christians. He preached well and so he became the victim of it.

ALI: Norman Bulter, Thomas Johnson Hayer initially identified them co-conspirators. He later would recant his testimony. They weren't apprehended that the scene. There is no physical evidence that connected to be assassination. It was all circumstantial. No one remembered seeing them there.

I SHABAZZ: Clearly, he post a threat to government, post the treat to the nation of Islam. He post, you know, it's just also unfortunate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do not personally feel that anyone, any member of the brotherhood Islam committed this crime?

MUHAMMAD: No. No. We don't do a thing like that.

ALI: That summer of 1964, (inaudible) sent a memo to his New York office that's explicitly stated "Do something about Malcolm X." We don't know what he meant by that. There are thousands of pages of classified FBI files that have yet to be revealed for us to know.

WEST: There is no doubt that the after life of Malcolm X has had more impact in his life. People began and they see the truths he told, the love he displayed, the courage he exemplified the visions for oneness of humanity that was he was after.

BAILEY: What was (inaudible) was a man, a black man who had thoroughly studied the system that exists in this country, who understood it very clearly and who is developing a cohesive plan to deal with.

MALCOLM X: There will come a time when black people wake up and become intellectually independent enough to think for themselves.

ALLI: His voice predicted the urban rebellions in Wallace and through out the nation in 1968. His voice predicted the growing frustrations that African-Americans would feel as the civil rights progresses slow to a hub.

He predicted the ongoing troubles with police brutality, the growing frustration of black youth who had almost given up.

I SHABAZZ: Malcolm was a young man when the world turned about him. He was just on his 20s and he was killed at 39. And, you know, this man made a significant impact all around the world in just 12 short years.

GRANT: What attracted me most me most, know we could trust him no matter where our operation went, whatever happened, he wouldn't abandon us. We came in together we were all going to go out together.