Louis Farrakhan has offered up his latest unprompted denial over the assassination of Malcolm X, which happened 53 years ago Wednesday. The fact that the leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI), a group Malcolm X distanced himself from under controversial circumstances, felt the need to repeat this denial more than a half century after the fatal shooting despite an arrest being made suggests the lasting uncertainty over the actual culprits behind the Black icon’s killing.
“I did not kill Malcolm X,” Farrakhan wrote alongside a video he posted to Instagram on Tuesday titled “My Last Conversation With Malcolm X.” He continued: “The enemy is so frightened that Black people listen to Farrakhan that they put it out that Farrakhan had something to do with the murder of Malcolm X.”
The popular narrative has been that Malcolm X was shot and killed by members of the NOI. Spike Lee even immortalized the moment on the big screen in 1992. But some have questioned whether those orders were given by Black Muslim leaders like Farrakhan or Elijah Muhammad, the latter being the NOI leader with whom Malcolm X had a philosophical falling out in the early 1960s.
The NOI, for its part, has a page on its website dedicated to the “Malcolm X Assassination & FBI COINTELPRO,” implicating the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program which at the time focused much of its efforts “to the activities of such groups as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Revolutionary Action Movement, the Deacons for Defense and Justice, Congress of Racial Equality, and the Nation of Islam.”
The one person who admitted to being one of the gunmen who shot Malcolm X in the Audubon Ballroom in New York City was released from prison in 2010 after serving 44 years behind bars. Thomas Hagan was on record as saying that he had “deep regrets about my participation in that. I don’t think it should ever have happened.”
Despite Hagan’s conviction, the government has remained a prime suspect to Malcolm X’s devout followers. There was even an unsuccessful online petition to compel the government to release additional information about the assassination, further stoking the flames of suspicion against national law enforcement agencies.
“Did federal government intelligence agencies play any roles of omission or commission? We’d like to have more evidence to know that definitively. It is high time we get all the information available,” Peniel Joseph, professor of history at Tufts University and founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, told the Boston Globe in 2015. “It would be important to understand and not to repeat that kind of unconstitutional surveillance state that was happening around that time.”