On Sunday February 21st 1965 Malcolm X, Nation of Islam minister and civil rights leader was gunned down in the Washington Heights New York Audubon Ballroom as he addressed a gathering of Muslim followers.
According to historical recording of the death of the firebrand leader he was killed by members of his own Organization.
Sure there were people within the Nation of Islam who were upset by Malcolm’s response that his spiritual leader Elijah Muhammad was having affairs with young women within his organization.
Nevertheless, there were powerful forces who wanted Malcolm gone.
His message against white supremacy, police abuse and racial injustice made him public enemy number one from many quarters opposed to black empowerment.
On Thursday April 4th 1968 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, allegedly killed by a sniper’s bullet as he stood on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tennessee.
On the occasion of the killing of Dr. King Time Magazine said this.
President Johnson’s announcement of a major peace offensive in Asia, coupled with his renunciation of another term, raised anticipation throughout the world that the long agony of VietNam might soon be ended.
Even as that hope blossomed, an older blight on the American conscience burst through with the capriciousness of a spring freeze. In Memphis, through the budding branches of trees surrounding a tawdry rooming house, a white sniper’s bullet cut down Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., pre-eminent voice of the just aspirations and long-suffering patience of black America.
Throughout America’s torrid and tortured history the list of black leaders who have been slaughtered for daring to speak out is long and in some cases unknowable.
Each and every life snuffed out had the same importance as that of King and Malcolm, we honor each and every life as we do their more well know contemporaries.
The journey to peaceful coexistence based on mutual respect and human dignity have, to this day remained an elusive dream 49 years after Martin Luther King’s light was extinguished and 52 years after the fire which was Malcolm X, was doused with cruel extinguishing bile of complicity and hatred.