A birth and a death… yesterday in history (February 20, 1927) Sidney Poitier was born; Today in history, February 21st, 1965, Malcolm Little/Malcolm X/El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz was killed in New York City.
He was just 39 years old.
Of course, we all know of Spike Lee’s 1992 cinematic masterwork based on the life of the man – a film that currently rests among the nation’s treasures in the world’s largest archive of film, TV and sound recordings; in 2011, it was inducted for preservation in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.
It’s available on almost every home video format for those who still haven’t seen it.
But also strongly recommended is Orlando Bagwell’s excellent 2 1/2 hour 1994 documentary “Malcolm X: Make It Plain,” narrated by Alfre Woodard – a film that paints a comprehensive portrait of Malcolm X; hustler, visionary, husband and father; dynamic orator and, after spending time in prison, Minister Malcolm, the fiery, eloquent spokesman for the Nation of Islam; and finally as El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, internationally recognized leader and advocate for oppressed peoples – loved and despised, revered and feared… until he was assassinated on February 21, 1965 at just 39 years old.
The entire documentary, which aired as part of PBS’ award-winning American Experience film series in 1994, can be found online at numerous locations, like YouTube, and is strongly encouraged viewing; even if only in remembrance on this day. The full film is embedded below, so watch it now or bookmark this page to watch it later: