The Shortcomings of Who Killed Malcolm X?

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The only good thing to come out of the Netflix docuseries Who Killed Malcolm X?, according to this Joseph E. Green review, was the renewed interest in the Malcolm X assassination. Unfortunately, the rest was an unholy mix of omissions, baseless theories, and shock-value fodder.

Below are some of these shortcomings in more detail.

Casting the Spotlight on Internal Conflicts

The series invites Abdur-Rahman to explore some questions while conveniently leaving out others. It fixates on the internal conflicts of the Nation of Islam (NOI), about how Malcolm rose through the ranks to a point where he threatened Elijah Muhammad’s supremacy.

The two drifted apart, with Malcolm leaving NOI soon after. However, things turned ugly when Malcolm revealed Elijah’s affairs and his illegitimate children and lost favor with many NOI members and supporters.

The Netflix documentary focuses on this bad blood at the time of Malcolm’s death. Fair play to the producers. However, it doesn’t even hint at the harassment and spying by the NYPD, FBI, and CIA that was also going on at the time of the murder.

Omitting Facts Surrounding the “Assassin”

Who Killed Malcolm X? did a decent job documenting the assassination but fell prey to more omissions. Let’s start with what it got right.

It’s established that Malcolm X was killed at the podium of New York City’s Audubon Ballroom. Everyone was distracted by a fake scuffle as Malcolm walked up, and a smoke bomb was thrown inside the room.

During this time, a man walked up to Malcolm, shot him with a shotgun, and escaped through a side door. Two more men with pistols rushed up to Malcolm, lying on the ground, shot him again, and fled through the back entrance.

One of three assassins, William X Bradley, was caught while escaping. The Netflix series documents this as some shocking and exclusive reveal even though everyone who knows about the Malcolm X assassination knows this. However, our problem lies with the docuseries’ omission of the government protecting Bradley after his capture.

 Malcolm X sitting

Ignoring the FBI-shaped Elephant in the Room

The docuseries quickly pointed out the lack of many police officers in the Audubon Ballroom that day and their reaction, or lack thereof, after Malcolm was shot. It fact-checks this point through several witnesses.

However, it fails to mention the presence of several FBI informants and infiltrators in the room. An infiltrator, John X, met with the shooters shortly before the shooting, whereas another, Eugene Roberts, was the first to reach Malcolm’s body and attempt CPR. The latter is peculiar because an FBI infiltrator was also the first to get to Martin Luther King when he was shot.

Who Really Killed Malcolm X?

Malcolm X left a controversial legacy. For the better part of his activism, he was a separationist, but that doesn’t justify his murder. Since this docuseries has drummed up interest in the Malcolm X assassination, help us take it all the way: Help us have the assassination reinvestigation. Read more reviews and articles, check out resources, and contribute in any way possible.

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