Malcolm X Assassinated

U.S. #3273 – Malcolm X was the 22nd honoree in the Black Heritage Series.

On February 21, 1965, activist Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City.

Born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm X was the fourth of eight children. His father was preacher Earl Little, a member of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and a follower of Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. Malcolm’s family was frequently targeted by the Ku Klux Klan, leading his father to move them to East Lansing, Michigan.However, life in Michigan wasn’t much better for the family. Shortly after moving there in 1929, their house was set on fire and the emergency responders refused to help. After receiving frequent death threats, Malcolm’s father died unexpectedly. Shortly after, Malcolm’s mother was unable to care for him and his siblings.

Malcolm then lived with family and friends. Though he was a bright student and was elected class president, he was the only African American student in the whole school and said he felt more like the class pet than a human being. And after a teacher told him a black man had no chance of becoming a lawyer when he grew up, Malcolm decided there was no point to pursuing his education. Malcolm then moved to Boston where he entered a life of crime. in 1946 he was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in jail.

U.S. #3273 FDC – Malcolm X First Day Cover with a plate block of 4.

It was there that Malcolm wrote to Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam. Malcolm adopted his beliefs and joined the Nation of Islam. They believed that for African Americans to gain freedom, justice, and equality, they needed to separate themselves from white Americans. Muhammad’s teachings had a strong impact on Malcolm, and he became a loyal disciple of the movement. Malcolm changed his name to “Malcolm X,” to reject what the Nation of Islam called his “slave name.”

Paroled in 1952, Malcolm X became a leading spokesman for the Nation of Islam. He became a temple minister in Harlem and Boston and helped found new temples in Hartford and Philadelphia. He delivered stirring speeches and encouraged followers to demand peace by any means necessary, including violence and militant protests.

In 1963, Malcolm and Elijah Muhammad began disagreeing, and Malcolm X was suspended from the movement. He traveled to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Islam’s holy city. There he learned that orthodox Muslims preach equality. After the pilgrimage, he adopted the name El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and embraced the idea that equal rights could be attained peacefully.

To this end, Malcolm started the Organization of Afro-American Unity in 1964. However, tragedy struck before he could firmly establish the group. On February 21, 1965, Malcolm was slated to speak at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan. As he was speaking, three men rushed the stage and shot him multiple times at close range. He died before reaching the hospital at just 39 years old. The three men (two of which were Nation of Islam radicals), were given life in prison for the murder. Though Malcolm X is often remembered for his stance favoring the use of violence if necessary, his highly acclaimed posthumous autobiography (The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley) shed new light on his spiritual journey.

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  1. People develop some believes and do any thing to achieve them. Their commitment is one to be appreciated. Some choose non violence and peaceful struggle while others take the course of violence or illegal means to achieve what they believe in. Every body should pray to have noble thoughts come to their minds. What ever mind decides that is what body does.

  2. U guys do not answer queries!!!
    I will ask again; Can U supply me with ALL USA stamps with the picture of Malcolm X??

  3. Never a hero or role model for American youth. A criminal who preached violent overthrow of US government, and yet we put him on a US stamp and African American youth wear his name on hats and clothing and think of him as a martyr for civil rights. Most of them think he was killed by white policemen when the reality is that he was killed by black Muslims. We live in a strange country.

  4. How different would our history be if three young leaders had not been murdered before their time: John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, and Malcolm X?

  5. I was a junior in high school at the time of Malcolm X’s assassination and was shielded from the violence and racism of the time in a small town in northern lower Michigan, on Lake Michigan, where one seldom, if ever, saw a black person, let alone had any interaction with one. My parents were very kind people and raised us to believe that all men are equal, regardless of race or creed. When I went out into the world and into the Air Force, after high school, I made friends from all over the country who were of all different races and, together we served our country and watched with disbelief the Civil Rights movement, the riots in Detroit, and LA, the assassination of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, and the continuing murder and violence that was part of that era, especially in the South, in such areas as Alabama and Mississippi, to name the two that most readily come to mind. Malcolm X was a great man and like others of that time, taken too young, by people who were bent on having their racist and bigoted ways kept intact by brutality, even interracially and in the name of God, as those who shot and killed, Malcolm. Much has changed since those days, but racism and bigotry are still alive and well all over the planet, and, I suppose, it always will be, as it seems to be “the way of the world.” I pray that like Polio this disease of inhumanity, in the form of hatred for others, will one day be eradicated, but doubt that it will be in my lifetime or in my daughter or grandsons lifetime. Still we hope and we pray. Malcolm, you tried, but even your own brothers of color and belief, though radicalized, as with ISIS, these days, were too hardened to see the light and that the way to peace is not through the sword. You fought the good fight. Now RIP, knowing that the battle is still being fought and, hopefully, coming closer each day to being won.

    1. Thank you for your very thoughtful depiction of the Malcolm X and the struggle for racial equality in this nation. I, too, have lived through that era and believed that we as a nation had made significant progress since then. Regrettably, current conditions seem to indicate otherwise. I striking example to me of the latter is the widespread lack of respect that our present President has received from numerous members of my white community. It is one thing to disagree politically with a President (as I have done with several of hos predecessors), but quite another to question the legitimacy of his Presidency even though he was chosen by an overwhelming majority of our voters twice.

  6. I find it interesting that I am the only one to comment on this essay, so far today, and that the article rating is only 4.1, even after I gave it a 5, when usually it is or very closely approaches, 5, and that the number of readers even responding is about half of those that responded to and gave mostly fives, to articles such as the invasion of Iwo Jima. True colors are showing. Pretty sad…

  7. Malcolm was only really appreciated after his death. His idea of not giving in to unequal treatment proved to be right in the long run. Dr. King is admired for his non violent approach. Ironically both died as a result of violent attacks. I admired him more after I read of his life and his biography.

  8. Bit confused – love your history lessons and believe we make progress but activities of ISIS leave me worried about our Christian future for all races that beleive.

    In this article you say he was killed by Moslems and served time, but when I bring up the stamp you say “allegedly” killed by …

    Is there a real, true answer? I am sure the courts have made that determination, or am I?

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