From owner-labor-l@YORKU.CA Sun Jan 16 18:15:05 2005
Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2005 17:55:08 EST
Sender: Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Roland Sheppard <Rolandgarret@AOL.COM>
Subject: [LABOR-L] FYI: Malcolm X, MLK , The Men, The Struggle, The Legacy
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Over thirty years ago, Malcolm X (1965) and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1968) were assassinated.
In the case of Malcolm X, several members of the Nation of Islam (NOI) were convicted of the assassination.
In the case of Martin Luther King, one assassin, James Earl Ray, was convicted of the assassination and sentenced to life in prison. However, there have always been many unanswered questions about both of these murders.
According to a Memphis jury's verdict on December 8,1999, in the
wrongful death lawsuit of the King family versus Loyd Jowers
other unknown co-conspirators, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was
assassinated by a conspiracy that included agencies of the United
States government. Almost 32 years after King's murder at the
Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, l968, a court extended the
circle of responsibility for the assassination beyond the late
scapegoat James Earl Ray to the United States government. Despite the
convictions, and the ongoing campaign by the government, police
agencies, and various authors and pundits to put the assassinations to
rest, there have always been many unanswered questions about these
Since the assassinations, in the 1970's, the
disruption operations of the government against the civil rights
movement, the antiwar movement, and radicals and socialists during
that period, became public knowledge. Under
different United States spy agencies used informers, agents, and agent
provocateurs to disrupt these organizations. One of the stated
purposes of this program was to
neutralize Malcolm X, Martin
Luther King, and Elijah Muhammad, in order to prevent, the
development, in government's terms, of a
Black Messiah, who
would have the potential of uniting and leading a mass organization of
Black Americans in their quest for freedom and economic equality.
second assassination of these two leaders has been the
attempt to distort what they really stood for in their last years of
life. This is a process that Lenin described in the opening to his
book State and Revolution:
...what in the course of history, has happened repeatedly to the
theories of revolutionary thinkers and leaders of oppressed classes
fighting for emancipation. During the lifetime of great
revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them,
received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious
hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After
their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to
canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain
extent for the
consolation of the oppressed classes and with
the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the
revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge
and vulgarizing it.
As one who was politically active at that time, I believe that it is
important to tell the truth about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. To
help keep their ideas alive and prevent them from being reduced to
I witnessed Malcolm X's assassination at the Audubon Ballroom, on February 21, 1965. I am writing with the benefit of first hand knowledge of what took place that day, what Malcolm X stood for at the time of his death, and the hope for the future that inspired all who heard or knew the man.
I remember the mass media, reflecting their class hatred of Malcolm X
gloating and cheering his assassination. I also remember the response
to Malcolm X by the tens of thousands in Harlem, who, for several
days, went to view his casket and I remember the eulogy by Ossie Davis
that silenced the hyenas of the press when he said:
He (Malcolm X)
was our prince, our Black shinning prince.
In spite of all of the attacks by the mass media, Malcolm X has grown more and more popular as a martyred leader of his people and an uncompromising advocate of human rights and freedom.
In 1991, at the time Spike Lee's documentary movie on Malcolm X
was due to be released, several books were written that attempted to
camouflage Malcolm's political evolution during his last year. Two
such books were Malcolm: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America,
by Bruce Perry and Malcolm X: The Assassination, by Michael
Friedly. In my opinion, these books are
a second assassination of
Both books were written in order to reaffirm the government's position to put sole blame on the NOI for the assassination. Both books likewise discounted any possibility of government complicity or motive in the assassination. Both were polemics against two excellent books written by George Breitman: The Last Year of Malcolm X: The Evolution of a Revolutionary and The Assassination of Malcolm X. Both deny the evolution of his thinking reflecting his revolutionary development in the last year of his life.
Breitman wrote The Last Year of Malcolm X to cover the period of Malcolm's life that is absent from the autobiography. He also hoped to clear up any misconceptions that Alex Haley, who disagreed with Malcolm's ideas as they were developing, had put into the epilogue of the autobiography. Breitman's book was based on Malcolm's speeches and statements during his last year and his collaboration with the Socialist Workers Party. If one reads Malcolm X's speeches, one will clearly understand that Breitman's book is a very accurate statement of Malcolm X's political development and evolution.
Unfortunately, Spike Lee's documentary movie Malcolm X also downplayed Malcolm's thinking and accomplishments during his last year. This allows those who oppose what Malcolm had become in his last year to maintain that he had not become a threat to the capitalist establishment. This has been consciously done to make it appear that the NOI had the only motive to kill Malcolm X and to exonerate the role of the government in the assassination.
In his last year, Malcolm X came to the conclusion that it was
impossible for African Americans to be integrated into this system
because racism was profitable and an integral part of capitalism. His
words on the world wide oppression of nonwhites by white Europeans
were very similar to what Karl Marx wrote about how the original
capitalist fortunes were obtained. In Capital, Volume One, Part VIII,
Chapter 31, [the]
Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist Marx
...The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement, and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production... If money... comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek, capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.
Malcolm X was the first mass leader, in the United States, to oppose the war in Vietnam and to identify the oppression of African Americans in this country with the struggles of the oppressed throughout the world. In all probability, Malcolm X would have spoken at the first mass demonstration against the Vietnam War in 1965. His powerful oratory alone, as well as his standing among inner-city Blacks, would have given the Vietnam Antiwar Movement a far different character and the history of that period in the United States and the world would have been greatly changed.
I had the opportunity to hear Malcolm X speak at meetings in Harlem at the Audubon Ballroom and elsewhere. His power as an orator was his ability to make complex ideas simple and clear. He was not a demagogue. His speeches were always an appeal to reason.
One example of the power of his oratory was when he spoke at an
organizing rally for Hospital Workers Local 1199 in New York City
1962. The following is a famous quote from that speech:
hospital strikers have demonstrated that you don't get a job done
unless you show the Man you're not afraid... If you're not
willing to pay that price, then you don't deserve the rewards or
benefits that go along with it. He gave the best speech at the
rally, and when he finished speaking all of the workers—Black,
white, and Puerto Rican—cheered wildly. The response was the
same whether he spoke in Harlem or at Oxford University in England.
Malcolm X viewed the struggle of African Americans as an economic and social struggle for human rights and not limited to just a struggle for civil fights. He identified with the Colonial Revolution at that time in Africa and throughout the world, including the struggle of the Vietnamese people and the Cuban revolution; in direct opposition to the policies of the United States government both then and now. He had met with Che Guevara and the Cuban delegation to the United Nations in December 1964 and a firm bond was established between them. Contrary to Friedly and Perry's assertions, Malcolm had become a very real threat to the very foundations of capitalism in the United States, The truth is that the United States government had a very good motive for the assassination.
Prior to his assassination, Malcolm X told Clifton DeBerry, the presidential candidate of the Socialist Workers Party in 1964, and me that he hoped to live long enough to build a viable organization based on his current ideas — so that he would be more dangerous to the system dead than alive. Unfortunately, he did not have time to build the new organization that he had envisioned.
In his book, The Assassination of Malcolm X, George Breitman points out that the first accounts of the assassination, in the New York City newspapers, reported that two people were caught by the crowd and saved by the police. But later, the press and the police reported that only one person (Talmadge Hayer) had been caught by the crowd. No explanation has ever been given for the change in the story.
The question remains to this day: What happened to the second man? Why wasn't he brought to trial? The first police report stated that five men were involved in the assassination; yet only three were accused and convicted at the trial. Both Perry and Friedly allege that the newspapers made a normal journalistic mistake. However, Breitman puts forward the probability that the second man was an undercover agent who was quietly released.
There is no doubt that the police had plainclothes officials in the audience. Later, as a witness to the assassination, I was questioned at the Harlem police headquarters. I recognized a man there—obviously a cop, with free run of the office—whom I saw sitting in the first row at the Audubon Ballroom where Hayer said his accomplices were sitting. Perry's book basically supports the official police version of the assassination. It ignores strong evidence that it would have been virtually impossible for only three people to have carried out the assassination.
Perry also ignores Hayer's affidavit that the two other people convicted with him, Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson—who were both members of the NOI— were not even present at the meeting when Malcolm was killed. (When I was called before the Grand Jury on the assassination of Malcolm X, James Shabazz, Malcolm's primary assistant, also told me that that Butler and Johnson were well known and confirmed that they were not at the meeting nor would they have been allowed to enter the meeting.)
Friedly's book is a more sophisticated cover up. The book puts the blame solely on the NOI while, at the same time, criticizing the police investigation. It is based on Hayer's confessions at the trial and at a later parole hearing. Friedly's and Hayer's version is that five members of the NOI carried out the assassination—three people doing the shooting up front and two people creating a diversion prior to the shooting and setting off a smoke bomb in the back of the room.
Hayer's version of the logistics corresponds with my own impressions at the scene. Contrary to Friedly's contention, however, the confession by Hayer only reinforces the probable existence of a second man caught by the crowd. Hayer explains that at the time that he was shot and caught by the crowd he could see one of his accomplices running ahead of him. I was told by Malcolm's guards when I got outside the Audubon Ballroom, that two people were caught by the crowd at the same time and that one was taken to the hospital by the police and the other taken into police custody. Hayer was taken to the hospital and then booked. It is likely that the second man caught was the one running ahead of Hayer and was quite possibly an agent.
There is one glaring error in Hayer's statement. He stated that the five assassins cased one of Malcolm's meetings at the Audubon Ballroom in the winter of 1964-65 and concluded that they would have a good chance to escape. This is far from probable. There were normally 30 to 50 cops, in their blue uniforms, both inside and outside the building stationed at all the exits. Escape would not have been easy.
However, at the meeting when Malcolm was assassinated, the police were
nowhere around—even though they knew that an assassination
attempt was imminent. In order to plan Malcolm X's death, the
conspirators would have needed to know and be confident that the cops
were not going to be there on that day. Perry and Friedly assert that
the police agreed to Malcolm's request not to have police
protection. However, when the police first spoke of their
agreement, Malcolm's wife, Betty Shabazz, stated that it
was a lie that Malcolm had made the request.
Both Perry and Friedly discount any possible disruption operations by the FBI, the New York City police, or the CIA. But in a documentary aired in 1992 on Malcolm X and narrated by Dan Rather on CBS television, the FBI is shown to have acted as agent provocateurs. For example, the FBI sent provocative letters to the NOI and forged Malcolm's signature to the letters. Dan Rather revealed that the CBS television crew had not been allowed access to over 45,000 pages of documents on Malcolm X that remain in the files of the CIA and FBI.
In dramatic contrast to Perry's and Friedly's conclusions about Malcolm X's assassination, is a book by Washington Post staff writer Karl Evanzz titled, The Judas Factor (Thunder's Mouth Press, New York, 1992. 389 pp., $22.95).
In this book, Evanzz documents how the intelligence community—the CIA, the FBI, and the New York Police Bureau of Special Services (BOSSI) — using agents provocateurs and infiltrators — set the stage for the assassination of Malcolm X. It outlines the motives for their actions. Evanzz spent 15 years researching over 300,000 pages of declassified FBI and CIA documents.
In the introduction to the book, Evanzz writes:
these resources, I am convinced that Louis E. Lomax, an industrious
African-American journalist who befriended Malcolm X in the late
1950's, had practically solved the riddle of his
assassination. Lomax, who died in a mysterious automobile accident
while shooting a film in Los Angeles about the assassination, believed
that Malcolm X was betrayed by a former friend who reportedly had ties
to the intelligence community. Evanzz wrote:
In 1968, Lomax called
the suspect ‘Judas.’ This, then, is the story of The Judas
There are two major themes in the book: One is the Judas Factor and the other is the concern of the FBI and the CIA over Malcolm X's success in linking the struggle of African Americans with the national liberation struggles in Africa and throughout the Third World.
Evanzz documents that Ahmed Ben Bella, the leader of the Algerian Revolution, had invited Malcolm X — along with Che Guevara and other leaders of independence movements—-to a special conference in Bandung scheduled to begin on March 3, 1965. Malcolm X had also been able to get Ethiopia and Liberia to include human rights violations against African Americans with their petition on South African human rights violations before the International Court of Justice at The Hague. The petition was scheduled to be heard on March 12, 1965.
Part of the
Judas Factor was the FBI's attempts to
neutralize Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Elijah
Muhammad. Evanzz provides concrete evidence that Martin Luther King
was going to support Malcolm X in his project to bring the struggle of
human rights before the United Nations and had begun to also identify
with the struggles for human rights in Africa.
In light of the CIA's policies to
neutralize opponents of
the U.S. government's political and covert activities in Africa,
Evanzz explains that it was necessary to
neutralize Malcolm X
prior to the Bandung conference. Malcolm X was assassinated on
February, 21, 1965, a week and a half before the conference was to
take place. Soon after the assassination, several African government
officials who had been working with Malcolm X were also assassinated
and the Ben Bella government in Algeria was overthrown in June 1965.
From his research into FBI files, Evanzz was able to prove that the FBI had a high-level informant in the NOI. Thus, the FBI was clearly in a position to carry out a campaign to fan the flames of discontent among rising leaders of the Nation and to disrupt the organization's activities. FBI memos indicate that they maneuvered within the NOI to keep their informant in the best possible leadership position to carry out their covert activities. From the very day that Malcolm X split from the NOI, the FBI worked on a day-to-day basis with BOSSI and the CIA to infiltrate and disrupt his activities. William Sullivan (subsequently, of Watergate fame) was the FBI agent in over-all charge of both the infiltration of the NOI and Malcolm's organization, the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU).
It is clear from the book that a coordinated effort was carried out
between all government spy agencies to widen the split between Malcolm
X and Elijah Muhammad, to increase tensions between their
organizations, and to undermine their support among African
Americans. It is also safe to assume that agents, informants, and
provocateurs from these different agencies were sent into the NOI and
Malcolm X's organizations and that these agents were also present
at the Audubon Ballroom when Malcolm X was assassinated. One of police
informants, who later informed on the Black Panthers, told me as I was
going to take my normal front row seat that
you are not going to
sit there today and he had me sit in the front row on the left
side of the Ballroom. (The assassins then sat in the area where I
normally sat to hear Malcolm X speak.)
Some of Evanzz's research was based on books about the NOI by
Louis Lomax. Evanzz found in the FBI files a script for a movie on
the assassination of Malcolm X, which Lomax was working on at the time
of his death. (He died in a car accident caused by brake failure.)
Evanzz provides circumstantial evidence that John Ali, a former friend
of Malcolm X who became a national secretary of the NOI, was more than
likely an FBI agent/informer and hence the
Judas Factor. In
fact, Evanzz provides quotes from Malcolm X to Lomax indicating that
Malcolm X blamed John Ali for his expulsion from the Nation.
The most important aspect, however, is not whether Ali was the
high-level agent, but the fact that the FBI did indeed have a
high-level person in the Nation in their employ. Overall, the main
value of the book is that all of the spy agencies in the United States
were deeply involved as infiltrators and agent provocateurs (
Factors) to set the stage for Malcolm X's assassination.
The evidence provided by the book is irrefutable proof that the
government had the motive to assassinate Malcolm X and the ability,
Cointelpro spy operations, to orchestrate his
assassination. It is now time to open up all the files of the CIA and
the FBI—as well as the thousands of pages of files of the New
York City Police Department-so that the truth about the assassination
of Malcolm X can be exposed.
NeutralizeMartin Luther King
From the time of the King assassination, the many inconsistencies
in the Government's case that James Earl Ray was the sole assassin
were well publicized. When the
operations of the government against the civil rights movement, the
antiwar movement, and radicals and socialists were exposed; The United
States House of Representatives' Select Committee on
Assassinations, under pressure from these exposures and the Civil
Rights Movement, did an
investigation in 1979 with the purpose
to reconfirm the Government's case. Immediately after it released
the report—affirming that Ray was the lone assassin—this
committee sealed all of the evidence it had in its possession for 50
years (until 2029). Thus, we were left with nothing but the
integrity of the Senators to justify their
findings—rather than the facts. (The only logical reason to keep
the files secret is to protect the guilty.)
Recently, new facts on this assassination have come to light. On
Dec. 8, 1999, a jury awarded Coretta Scott King and her family $100 in
damages resulting from a conspiracy to murder her late husband, Martin
Luther King. The trial was initiated by the admission of Lloyd Jowers
on national TV in 1993 that he had hired King's assassin as a
favor to an underworld figure who was a friend. At the conclusion of
the trial, Dexter King, Dr. King's son, said,
After today, we
don't want questions like, ‘Do you believe James Earl Ray
killed your father?’ I've been hearing that all my life. No,
I don't, and this is the end of it. This was the most incredible
cover-up of the century, and now it has been exposed. Now we can
finally move on with our lives.
The King family, along with their attorney, William Pepper, plan to lobby historians and elected officials to get the official record of the assassination changed. There have always been many unanswered questions about the assassination of Martin Luther King. From the beginning it has been clear that the FBI was involved to one degree or another.
leaked the information to the Memphis press that King
was going to be staying at a
white hotel a couple of days prior
to his arrival in the city. This forced King to stay at the less
secure Lorraine Motel.
The question remains: Why would the government be part of the
conspiracy against King? Why would they want him dead? A key to
understanding the governments motive is that Martin Luther King had a
different political perspective at the time of his death than when he
made his 1963
I Have a Dream speech. His final speeches and
actions reveal that he had begun to view the struggle for equality as
an economic struggle and the capitalist economic system as the
In one of his last speeches, given at Stanford University in April
1997 and titled the
The Other America, King addressed the
problem of the rich and the poor in this country. Instead of his
dream, he talked about the nightmare of the economic condition
of Blacks. He talked about
work-starved men searching for jobs that
did not exist ; about the Black population living on a
island of poverty surrounded by an ocean of material prosperity;
and about living in a
triple ghetto of race, poverty, and human
misery. He explained that after World War II, the unemployment
rate between Blacks and whites was equal and that in the years between
then and 1967, Black unemployment had become double the rate for white
workers. He also spoke about how Black workers made half the wages of
From his experience when he started his campaign for equality in
Chicago and elsewhere in the North, King concluded in this speech that
to deal with this problem of the
Two Americas was
difficult than to get rid of legal segregation. He pointed out
that the northern liberals, who had given moral and financial support
to the struggle against Jim Crow, would not give such support to the
efforts to end economic segregation. He also polemicized against the
people should pick themselves up by their own
bootstraps. In the course of explaining the obstacles that Blacks
faced coming into this country that Europeans did not have, he stated:
It is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man to pick himself up by
his own bootstraps. Black people, he said, were
aliens in their own land.
In this speech King also opposed the war in Vietnam. He criticized the
government for spending hundreds of millions of dollars for war and
not for equality. He stated his goal
to organize and mobilize
forces to fight for economic equality. In his last letter,
requesting support for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in
1968, he wrote:
It was obdurate government callousness to misery that first stoked
the flames of rage and frustration. With unemployment a scourge in
Negro ghettos, the government still tinkers with half-hearted
measures, refuses still to become an employer of last resort. It asks
the business community to solve the problems as though its past
failures qualified it for success.
He also stated this outlook at the SCLC Convention of Aug. 1967:
We've got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We
are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life's
marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which
produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be
raised. ‘Who owns this oil? ... Who owns the iron ore?... Why is it
that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds
In another major speech in 1967, King also stated the course that he was planning to take in the fight for economic equality:
There is nothing but a lack of social vision to prevent us from paying an adequate wage to every American citizen whether he be a hospital worker, laundry worker, maid, or day laborer.
There is nothing except shortsightedness to prevent us from guaranteeing an annual minimum-and livable-income for every American family.
There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities...
The coalition of an energized section of labor, Negroes, unemployed, and welfare recipients may be the source of power that reshapes economic relationships and ushers in a breakthrough to a new level of social reform.
The total elimination of poverty, now a practical responsibility, the reality of equality in race relations and other profound structural changes in society may well begin here.
These words have even more meaning in today's world. At that time, the stock market was below 1000 points. Today, it is above 10,000 points (10 times higher) and yet conditions for Blacks are still lower than after World War II.
At the time of their assassinations, both Martin Luther King and
Malcolm X were embarking on a course in opposition to the capitalist
system. It is clear from reading and listening to their final speeches
that they had both evolved to similar conclusions of capitalism's
role in the maintenance of racism. That is why they were
neutralized. Unlike Malcolm X, who never got the opportunity
to act upon his convictions, Martin Luther King was organizing a
movement to obtain his stated goals when he was assassinated in
Memphis. He was in Memphis to build
the coalition of an energized
section of labor, Negroes, unemployed, and welfare recipients in
support of striking municipal garbage workers.
If such a force had been launched, the whole power of the antiwar and
civil rights movement in the 1960s could have transformed the labor
movement and become
the source of power that reshapes economic
relationships and ushers in a breakthrough to a new level of social
reform. Such a coalition, as King envisioned it thirty-three years
ago, is needed today. The best tribute to Martin Luther King and
Malcolm X would be to begin anew to build a movement based on the
ideas and the concepts that they had developed at the time of their