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POLITICAL ASSASSINATIONS: Murder in New York: Malcolm X and the birth of Afro-Americanism

POLITICAL ASSASSINATIONS: Murder in New York: Malcolm X and the birth of Afro-Americanism


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It is in Omaha, Nebraska, that Malcolm Little is born in 1925 as the son of a Baptist minister and a West Indian mother. Malcolm is six years old when his father dies and his mother is confined to a psychiatric hospital. He grows up in different reformatories and, as a teenager, later as a young men, he very early comes into conflict with the law. In prison, he assigns himself an ambitious general education program and succeeds in catching up with the lost years. He also learns about, and is very impressed with the theses of the self-proclaimed prophet of the Islam, Elijah Muhammed, leader of the organisation “Nation of the Islam”, a then small religious group.

When he leaves prison after six years, he integrates this movement and quickly becomes its number two. Whilst in the public arena, the “Nation of Islam” is undoubtedly the best supporter of the brilliant speaker he is, but the organisation will also become his worst enemy when later on, he distances himself from the doubtful methods of the “prophet”.

In his short public career, Malcolm has given pride to the black man. Very early on, he abandons “Little” that he considers to be his slavery name and has taken the one of Malcolm “X” since, the letter X symbolising his lost African name. With this gesture, Malcolm X rejects the past and re-connects black Americans to their African roots.


In the opinion of some, more than forty years after his death, his name still stands for violent black activism - his anti-white acid and incendiary speeches are still quoted by advocates of violence.  But for many others, a large majority, his name has become the symbol for peaceful means to resolve racial issues, in particular in this period of “shock of civilisations” He now represents the fraternity of all people regardless of their race, religion or belief.  As in the case of Martin Luther King and of Gandhi, Malcolm X will remain in the pantheon of history. And, like them, he will be assassinated.

On the 21st of February 1965, whilst he delivers a speech in New York to mark the opening of the “National Week of Fraternity”, he is shot in the presence of his wife and his children. Malcolm X had just turned 39. The assassins are defenders of the “Nation of the Islam”, but who the commissioners were, has never been established. This 52 minute documentary reconstitutes the murder and looks at the serious leads casting light on his assassination. It is also the occasion to discover the key stages of the life of the fighter for the cause of the Black, and later of all oppressed people, irrespective of race and religion. It will reveal some of the important contradictions of this outstanding personality.

Directed by Michel Noll

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