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1965: Black nationalist leader shot dead

Controversial black leader Malcolm X, who once called for a "blacks-only" state in the US, has been assassinated.

He was shot several times as he began a speech to 400 of his followers at the Audubon Ballroom just outside the district of Harlem in New York.

Malcolm X, who was 39, was taken to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Two men believed to have carried out the shooting were cornered outside the ballroom by a crowd and badly beaten.


"Malcolm knew he would be killed"

Percy Sutton, Malcolm X's lawyer

It took 10 police officers several minutes to rescue them.

One of the arrested men, Thomas Hagan, 22, had a bullet wound to his leg and was taken to hospital.

It is believed the men are members of the black Muslim group, the Nation of Islam (NoI).

Malcolm X had long been tipped to take over from the NoI's ageing leader, Elijah Muhammad.

He gave up his "slave" family name of Little when he joined the black Muslim group while serving a jail term.

But he broke away from the NoI acrimoniously two years ago to set up his own organisation which he said was for "Negro intellectuals who favoured racial separation but could not accept the Muslim religion".

However, after a recent trip to Mecca he appeared to be taking a more conciliatory approach to white people.

Firebombs

Sanford Garelick, assistant chief of New York police said Malcolm X's death could most probably be put down to rivalry between the two groups.

"This is the result, it would seem, of a long-standing feud," he said.

Only last week Malcolm X and his family survived the firebombing of their home in the Queen's district of New York.

Malcolm X's lawyer, Percy Sutton, said he was aware his life was in danger.

"Malcolm knew he would be killed," Mr Sutton said.

Police said they were investigating reports that some of Malcolm X's followers were planning a revenge attack.

In Context
In March 1966 three men, two of whom admitted being members of the Nation of Islam, were found guilty of Malcolm X's murder.

They were sentenced to life imprisonment.

In May 2000 Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan appeared on television with one of Malcolm X's daughters.

He had long been blamed by Malcolm X's family and supporters for inciting his murder.

Mr Farrakhan expressed regret that "any word that I have said caused the loss of life of a human being".

However, he denied he had had any role in the actual killing.


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