Malcolm X
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 Malcolm X
BET.com
updated 2/21/2006 3:40:19 PM ET 2006-02-21T20:40:19

On this date in 1965, Malcolm X, considered one of the most controversial figures of the 20th century, was shot and killed at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, while preparing to speak.  He was 39.

Three of the men arrested were later identified as members of the Nation of Islam.

A week earlier, his home was firebombed; his wife and children escaped unharmed. At first he publicly blamed Black Muslims for the incident, saying they were angry over his split with Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam.

In the week leading up to his death, according to some reports, Malcolm X said that the harassment had gotten too big for any organization of Blacks to accomplish on it's own, that it had to be somebody else. While his comments were an apparent reference to the FBI and the federal government, which had initiated its infamous Counterintelligence Program, he did not specify who he believed was behind the heightened harassment.

Born Malcolm Little, Malcolm X, advocated Black power and armed resistence as a response to violent White racism.

Last year, his family made plans to convert the ballroom where he was killed, into a history and educational center. Malcolm X would have been 81 years old this year.

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