February 21 was the 53rd anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.
Two years ago, I nominated a former residence of Malcolm X for listing on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. In the statement of significance, I wrote:
Malcolm X, aka El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, is a world-renowned human rights activist and American icon whose charismatic leadership laid the foundation for the growth of orthodox Islam among African Americans in the City of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the nation. His life story is an American story. It is a “Horatio Alger” tale of a misspent youth, personal redemption and triumph in the struggle for racial equality.
During his “misspent youth,” Malcolm was known as “Detroit Red.” He was a fixture on the jazz scene in Harlem. His former residence, 2503 W. Oxford Street, was located a short walk from Philadelphia’s storied “Golden Strip.”
I also noted:
In the years since his assassination, Malcolm has become an American icon. He is the subject of countless books and academic studies, and documentaries, including PBS’ “Malcolm X: Make It Plain.” Spike Lee’s movie adaptation of The Autobiography of Malcolm X was released in 1992. “Malcolm X” featured an Oscar-nominated performance by Denzel Washington.
While the nomination was not successful, all was not lost. We raised awareness of Malcolm’s presence in Philadelphia. “The Lost Tapes: Malcolm X” will introduce a new generation to the human rights activist. The documentary premieres on the Smithsonian Channel on February 26 at 8pm EST.
The documentary traces Malcolm’s life through rare archival footage from his speeches and media interviews. In comments following a recent screening Malcolm’s daughter, Ilyasah Al-Shabazz, said:
We finally have the opportunity to hear directly from our father’s mouth. … I was overwhelmed with emotion when I first saw it and I thought that it was a great piece of work.
For more information, visit the Smithsonian Channel.