The Odd Silence of Farrakhan

“Boston has not been able to establish the whereabouts of {Minister Louis X Farrakhan} on Feb. 21, beyond the fact {he} was reported to have left his {Boston} residence at 1:30 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 21, 1965, and was seen driving off in his automobile. He was not present at the services of Muhammad’s Temple of Islam {in Boston} on the afternoon of Feb. 21, 1965…” — FBI Report, Boston Field Office (1965)


For someone that has spoken extensively about Malcolm X and his assassination, isn’t it odd that Louis Farrakhan has never once recounted the actual day of Malcolm’s slaying and just how it unfolded for him as he presided over his Sunday meeting at Newark Temple #25?

In all of the many speeches and interviews that Farrakhan has given over the years and during which the subject of his relationship with Malcolm X has arisen, Farrakhan has never once told us anything about how the news of Malcolm’s killing reached him while he was ministering in Newark and just what his immediate reaction and that of his congregants was.

Almost everyone who is asked about Malcolm’s murder, whether they were present at the Audubon Ballroom or not, will always recount how they felt about the killing and what their reaction was to the loss. Everyone, that is, but the one man who was most impacted by the day’s events and whose future career was decided by what transpired that fateful Sunday afternoon.

The Road to Newark

Farrakhan has never once told us what time he awoke that day, what mood he was in or what inkling, if any, he had of what lay ahead. He tells us nothing of why it was he set off so early for Newark on the morning of 21st February 1965, with whom he travelled to New Jersey and where he went upon arriving in the city. To this day we know not whether he headed straight for Temple #25 or whether he made any detour.

With whom Farrakhan met upon his arrival at Temple #25 remains a mystery as does the whereabouts of the homicidal captain of his Boston Temple, Clarence X Gill. What Farrakhan was doing in the seven hours between his 6.00am arrival in the city and the 1.00pm commencement of afternoon services at Temple #25 has never been established nor has whether Farrakhan, upon his arrival in Newark, recovered from his lengthy road trip at the home of Temple #25’s Minister James 3X Shabazz for whom he was to substitute at the Newark temple later that afternoon.

[Indeed, the main reason for Farrakhan’s presence in Newark was to ensure a healthy turnout of visitors at Temple #25 that Sunday. This was necessitated by the reported drop-off in attendance rates that had followed the relocation of Minister Shabazz to the NOI’s temple in New York. Farrakhan’s appearance in Newark is therefore likely to have been heavily promoted in the days leading up to his 21st February sermon and there are bound to still be numerous surviving persons still resident in the city, particularly non-Muslims with no loyalty to the NOI, who visited Temple #25 that day and remember well the mood at the venue and recall Farrakhan’s behaviour and utterances. Such persons could be invaluable to a Grand Jury that was seeking to corroborate key timelines, personalities, activities and other details that Farrakhan may endeavor to falsify.]

Arrival In Newark

Did Shabazz discuss the planned assassination of Malcolm X with Farrakhan that day? We know not. Shabazz, after all, is widely believed to have been the person who assigned Temple #25 assistant secretary Robert 16X (aka Ben 2X Thomas) to recruit Talmadge X Hayer, William 25X Bradley, Willard X McQueen and Leon X Davis to carry out Malcolm’s assassination.

As to whether Farrakhan, at any point that day, crossed paths with any of Malcolm’s suspected killers remains a blank as does whether any record exists of the NOI official who assigned Farrakhan to speak in Newark. And just how often had Farrakhan lectured at Temple #25 prior to 21st February 1965 and how well acquainted with its officials was he? Silence. What time services began at Temple #25 that day and what time Farrakhan delivered his own sermon remains unknown. Was it prior to the 3.00pm time of Malcolm’s planned address at the Audubon Ballroom or subsequent to it? Zilch.

And how did news of Malcolm’s assassination reach Temple #25? What was Farrakhan’s reaction to the atrocity and what was the reaction of the Temple’s congregants? Did any of the participants in Malcolm’s killing return to the Newark Temple to recount what had just transpired at the Audubon Ballroom and/or to seek refuge from the authorities? And just when did Farrakhan himself return home to Boston and with whom did he return?

We also remain in the dark as to why the FBI found it necessary to monitor Farrakhan’s movements that morning and log his departure time and whether or not their surveillance of his activities in the days leading up to 21st February 1965 may have led them to conclude that he was a person of enough significance to Malcolm’s impending murder as to warrant their close attentions.

Farrakhan's Newark Speech

Of the countless speeches that Farrakhan has delivered down the years and that are to be found on CD, DVD, MP3, vinyl, cassette and VHS tapes the world over, there is one speech that is conspicuous by its absence, one sermon that is missing from the anthology. And that is the address that Farrakhan delivered at the Newark Mosque on the day when assassins from that same temple made their way into Manhattan to murder Malcolm. That is one speech that Farrakhan has never made available to the public or about whose content he has ever spoken. And that can only be because he has something to hide.

A recording or transcript of this sermon would be useful in gauging the degree to which its theological content and rhetorical character mirrored that of his infamous 4th December 1964 ‘worthy of death’ diatribe in the Muhammad Speaks newspaper.

More importantly the Newark speech, were it to contain statements that in any way hinted at or ‘teased’ the events that would later unfold at the Audubon, would be vital in ascertaining the extent to which Farrakhan had prior knowledge of Malcolm’s assassination and may have been complicit in the crime.

But any doubt that Farrakhan​ was jubilant over Malcolm’s murder was firmly laid to rest by the gloating display he put on for the world, five days later, while serving as the master of ceremonies at the Nation of Islam’s annual ‘Saviours Day’ convention in Chicago.

While much of Black America was in mourning over Malcolm’s death an ecstatic Farrakhan, as he prepared to introduce Elijah Muhammad, gleefully proclaimed: “Brothers and sisters, we are known for having the most peaceful meetings of any large group of people in America — and now that everything is back to order (i.e., now that Malcolm is dead and out of the way) we shall proceed!”

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Paul Bitakaramire is a freelance writer based in England who has previously been published in Britain’s Spectator magazine and has launched a petition to reopen the investigation into the Malcolm X assassination. That petition can be found here.