This Day in History

Feb. 21, 1965: Malcolm X Assassinated

Time Periods: 1961
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Racism & Racial Identity

On Feb. 21, 1965, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) was assassinated.

Malcolm X spoke in Selma on Feb. 4, 1965 just weeks before he was murdered. He came at the invitation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to speak with young people at the Brown Chapel AME Church.

The year before, in 1964, Malcolm X stated that he wanted to bring charges against the United States at the United Nations for its treatment of African-Americans. He believed that it was “impossible for the United States government to solve the race problem” and the only way to get the United States to change its racist ways was to bring international pressure.

The American Government is either unable or unwilling to protect the lives and property of your 22 million African American brothers and sisters. We stand defenseless, at the mercy of American racists who murder us at will for no reason other than we are Black and of African descent.

In the interview below on Jan. 5, 1965, he explained.

We believe that our problem is not a violation of civil rights but a violation of human rights. Not only are we denied the right to be a citizen in the United States, we are denied the right to be a human being.

Democracy Now! aired a program on February 21, 2006, the 41st anniversary of his assassination. They played an excerpt of a speech he gave in Detroit on April 12, 1964. It is known as “The Ballot or the Bullet.”

Here are more segments about Malcolm X on Democracy Now!

Below are resources for teaching outside the textbook about Malcolm X and on the role of the FBI in COINTELPRO.