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There is still much debate over who killed Malcolm X

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Although the Nation of Islam denied any involvement in the shooting, authorities focused on NOI suspects and soon apprehended Thomas 15X Johnson and Norman 3X Butler, their presence at the Audubon Ballroom allegedly confirmed by eyewitnesses. Hayer, Johnson and Butler were convicted of first-degree murder in March 1966 and were sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

However, this was hardly an open-and-shut case, as the evidence tying Johnson and Butler to the crime scene was thin. During the winter of 1977-78, Hayer signed an affidavit in which he cleared the men convicted at the trial and named four other accomplices, though a judge determined that this was not sufficient cause to reopen the case. (Johnson and Butler were granted parole the following decade, while Hayer left prison in 2010).

Over the years, more complexities emerged as declassified documents revealed the extent to which authorities were tracking Malcolm X and the mysterious lack of a police presence at the Audubon Ballroom on that fateful day. Even after the alleged primary shooter was revealed by a blogger in 2011, his name repeated in the exhaustively researched book Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention that same year, the FBI refused to reconsider the evidence for another investigation.

More than 50 years onward, the memory of Malcolm X remains tied to that of his great rival, Dr. King, their words and symbolism enduring even as the true stories behind their assassinations seemingly remain shrouded in mystery.


Malcolm X 9.jpg

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