In this horrific 1972 tirade Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Louis Farrakhan celebrated the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X, glorifying Malcolm’s killers as “fearless men” and ridiculing what he referred to as the “cowardice” of the defenceless men, women and children at the Audubon Ballroom who had attempted to flee as the assassins bullets ricocheted around the auditorium.
What was peculiar about Farrakhan’s diatribe was his graphic, blow-by-blow characterisation of the chaotic manner in which Malcolm’s bodyguards had responded to the melee. Farrakhan, who wasn’t present at the Ballroom, vividly recounted the mayhem which unfolded inside the venue and described Malcolm’s bodyguards as “damn cowardly dogs” and “damn punks” who were “ducking and running” as the bullets flew.
To the close listener it appeared that Farrakhan was relaying a first-hand account which may have been shared with him by someone who had either witnessed or participated in the killing – and that he was doing so in the same derisory terms in which that account had itself been conveyed to him. The likeliest source of Farrakhan’s sickening narrative would appear to have been Cathcart himself since the FOI lieutenant had witnessed Malcolm’s murder from a front-row seat and would appear to have recounted what had transpired at the venue in the same disparaging vernacular in which Farrakhan later retold it to his audience. Simply put, Farrakhan appeared to be describing Malcolm’s slaying – in Cathcart’s very own words. If true, it would furnish yet more proof that Cathcart was a hostile presence at the Audubon and one who may have acted in league with the assassins.
In addition, Farrakhan’s lauding of the assassins as “fearless men” who boldly murdered Malcolm “in front of his own followers” amounted to an admission that the killers were, indeed, members of the NOI and gave the lie to the organisation’s long-standing denials of responsibility for a crime it routinely blames on ‘agents’ of the United States government.
[A recording or transcript of Farrakhan’s 21st February 1965 sermon at Newark Temple #25 has yet to surface and 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 Ballroom, 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.]
Paul Bitakaramire is a freelance writer based in Manchester who has previously been published in Britain’s Spectator magazine and has launched a petition to secure the declassification of the FBI and CIA files on the Malcolm X assassination. That petition can be found here.