New York State Senator James Sanders has called for state and federal authorities to reopen the investigation into Malcolm X’s assassination, a half-century after the charismatic Muslim leader was shot dead in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City.
Sanders made the remarks during a ceremony on Saturday afternoon held at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Education Center in Washington Heights, Manhattan, to commemorate the 50th death anniversary of the civil rights leader, The Guardian reported.
More than 300 elected officials, professors, religious leaders and community organizers attended the ceremony in Harlem, where the 39-year-old Muslim leader, whose full name was El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was shot to death as he was preparing to address a large crowd on February 21, 1965.
“They thought they could get rid of him,” Sanders said, “but he’s alive today.”
“I saw him leading a march in Ferguson, I saw him in Staten Island,” said the state lawmaker, referring to the last year nationwide demonstrations over the shooting deaths of two African Americans, Michael Brown and Eric Garner. They were killed by white police officers.
Malcolm X’s was a powerful voice for racial equality in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s — a beacon of light preaching equality and self-love for African Americans in a country plagued by racial segregation.
He preached self-empowerment to African Americans first for Elijah Muhammad’s “Nation of Islam” organization, and then broadened his message to the empowerment of all oppressed peoples after turning to true Islam following his pilgrimage to Mecca.
As his audience and power grew, he also attracted the attention of US law enforcement agencies.
Malcolm X was killed while speaking in a situation that most experts now agree required the complicity of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and other law enforcement agencies.
The African American leader had been traveling extensively through Asia and Europe, speaking to African governments and trying to build coalitions and forge agreements based on commonalities.
Speaking at Saturday’s commemorative ceremony, one of Malcolm X’s six daughters, Ilyasah Shabazz, said, “They thought they could get rid of him, but he’s alive today.”
At an earlier memorial rally in Harlem, Shabazz said the martyred Muslim leader “wanted to uplift his people, re-liberate his people, he understood that they had purpose and life and had to ensure that we empowered the next generation.”
“When we understand history we understand that we can’t sit back and wait for someone to do something for us. It’s our responsibility. We have to do it,” she added.
Stephen Tuck, an Oxford University professor of world history and author of The Night Malcolm X Spoke at the Oxford Union, said the American civil rights leader had a “profound impact around the world, partly because he traveled extensively, but also because he spoke of an interconnected global struggle for human rights.”