A birth and a death… yesterday in history, 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, I'm sure we all know of Spike Lee's 1992 epic film based on the life of the man – a film that will rest among the nation’s treasures in the world’s largest archive of film, TV and sound recordings; just over a year ago, it was inducted for preservation in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.
It's now officially on Blu-ray by the way, recently released in that format. So you can pick up a copy if you haven't yet.
I'm not aware of any film events that are scheduled to take place today to honor his death (although it doesn't mean there aren't any). I recall last year, the Brecht Forum here in NYC screened Orlando Bagwell's 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 at 39.
The entire 2 1/2 hour film is on YouTube, split up into several parts, so you can watch it all there if you haven't already.
Here are the first 10 minutes: