‘Who Killed Malcolm X’: 5 Key Points From Episode Two: Straight Man In A Crooked Game

Adama Juldeh Munu
3 min readFeb 9, 2020

So this episode tracks Malcolm X’s entry into the Nation of Islam and his meteoric rise as a minister in the organisation. No doubt, he was seen as too powerful by some, and this almost certainly would have made him a target. Additionally, this episode specifically focuses on the wrongful imprisonment of two suspects earlier mentioned too. Here are key five take away points from this episode:

  1. We know that Talmadge Hayer was one of five assassins responsible and in charge of murdering Malcolm X. That’s because he says so later in an affidavit where he names four of the other killers. And works towards ensuring that the two suspects previously believed to have played a part in the assassination to be released: Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson.
  2. The relationship between Malcolm X and Nation of Islam Leader Elijah Muhammad started out as a father-and-son relationship.And one that overshadowed the relations between Elijah Muhammad and his own children. Malcolm was the only minister allowed to drive Elijah Muhammad’s car, Elijah Muhammad paid for Betty Shabbaz to go to nursing school. None of Elijah Muhammad’s children had it like that. And for that Malcolm was resented and feared by some of Elijah Muhammad’s own children.

3. We know that his speeches during the Nation of Islam are among the most prolific and fiery within the Civil Rights era. The ‘who taught you to hate your hair’ speech is perhaps among his most famous. But it’s refreshing to come across others that are not so well known. His ability to speak with eloquence and articulate messages on black pride drew large scale audiences at the rallies and meetings the NOI were known for.

Why your skin looks like gold beside his skin.”

4. When Malcolm comes out of prison in 1952, there were probably no more than several hundred nationally as members to the group. He helps it grow, establishing temples in Boston, Philadelphia and other cities, and so in effect was the key architect in branding the Nation of Islam, as opposed to its founder and leader. And this therefore becomes the real turning point in the story of Malcolm X in the Nation of Islam. We see for a time that both he and Elijah Muhammad co-exist peacefully, but we are shown in the documentary that this cannot last.

5. Abdur Rahman Muhmmad explains the importance of Newark as a key host to the Muslim community, and he believes this is where the killers may have come from. He speaks to an activist who explains that people in the community believed this as well. We are also told there’s a division in the Muslim community; he was loved and hated in Newark. An e.g James 3X Shabazz, who was head of the Newark Muslim Mosque who he described as “going too far” and who he believed was using Elijah Muhammad for fame.



Adama Juldeh Munu

Journalist with an affinity for all things ‘African Diaspora’ and Islam. You can @ me via adamaj.co.uk or twitter/@adamajmunu