- Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965
- Zaheer Ali: Fifty years later, we still have more to learn from Malcolm X's life
Zaheer Ali served as project manager of the Malcolm X Project at Columbia University, and as a lead researcher for Manning Marable's Pulitzer Prize-winning Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. He lectures on African American history. The views expressed are his own. Tune into a CNN special report, Witnessed, The Assassination of Malcolm X, tonight at 9p ET.
(CNN)When Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965, many Americans viewed his killing as simply the result of an ongoing feud between him and the Nation of Islam. He had publicly left the Nation of Islam in March 1964, and as the months wore on the animus between Malcolm's camp and the Nation of Islam grew increasingly caustic, with bitter denunciations coming from both sides. A week before he was killed, Malcolm's home -- owned by the Nation of Islam, which was seeking to evict him -- was firebombed, and Malcolm believed members of the Nation of Islam to be responsible. For investigators and commentators alike, then, his death was an open and shut case: Muslims did it.