by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World – Scholarship in Action
According to a recent survey conducted by YourBlackWorld.com, three out of four African Americans (76.8%) believe that the Nation of Islam was behind the assassination of Malcolm X. Additionally, two-thirds of the respondents (63.3%) believe that the government played some role in the assassination, by either being directly involved or helping someone else to kill Malcolm.
The results of the survey are interesting in light of the book written by the late Manning Marable, the Columbia University Professor who died shortly before the release of his book. Marable goes into detail about the life of Malcolm X, elaborating on the role that was allegedly played by Nation of Islam leadership.
One interesting point of the survey is that in spite of the fact that the majority of the respondents believe that the Nation of Islam played a role in Malcolm’s assassination, they still hold a relatively favorable opinion about the relevance of the Nation of Islam within black America. When asked “Do you consider the Nation of Islam to be a positive and productive component of the African American community?” over half of the respondents (57.7%) said “yes.” Only 15.8% said “no,” and the remainder said “I’m not sure.”
The survey results seem to imply that most black folks see a similar vision to the one that Spike Lee communicated in his powerful film, “Malcolm X,” made in 1992. In a 60-Minutes Interview in 2000, Louis Farrakhan said this regarding Malcolm’s assassination: "I may have been complicit in words that I spoke", he said. "I acknowledge that and regret that any word that I have said caused the loss of life of a human being."
Marable goes on to argue that there are many inaccuracies regarding exactly who shot Malcolm. He says that the man who pulled the trigger was never charged, and that one of the men who served time for the murder wasn’t even at the scene of the crime. He also says that the greatest beneficiary of Malcolm’s assassination was Louis Farrakhan, who was a disciple of Malcolm’s during his time with the organization.
There doesn’t appear to be much controversy regarding who killed Malcolm, the evidence seems to point toward the involvement of Nation of Islam leadership. The controversy is greatest when it comes to the nature of Malcolm’s life, his sexual orientation and other mysteries that may never be fully-resolved. What remains clear, however, is that the black community still has a tremendous amount of love for both the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X, and this unfortunate conflict doesn’t change that fact.