I did not kill Malcolm Little. He did that himself. Yet, my hand writes this letter from Anamosa State Penitentiary, convicted of first degree murder. I have been buried in concrete and steel for eighteen years, seven months, and twenty three days with a lifetime yet to serve.
Every night in my tomb, I hear the walls slowing inching towards me, grinding forward with a determined menace, filling the air with clouds of dust. I spring up in my bed eager to catch their movement - my eyes wide in the darkness - but they fall back to their original position, just before I can catch their advance. I surrender back to my vulnerable state.
I hear a faint chuckle; Echoing laughter ensues, then the room grows still. Whispering now. Are revised battle strategies being discussed? Sanity is my unreliable cell mate. He doesn’t seem to notice anything out of the ordinary. What does he care? He’s being paroled soon anyway.
Dawn comes without visual evidence. I lay awake thinking of the sinner Malcolm Little. He had been a state prisoner, drug dealer, gambler, thief, and a prostitute before he died. He had a severe hatred for all things spiritual. The Bible, God, and religion struck up so much anger in him that convicted murderers dared to be in his presence. This was all before he took his own life. What a beautiful death it was.
I am on the yard thinking of Brother Malcolm and his last day with us. His house has just been bombed a few hours before, and despite the circumstances, appears quite calm during his speech. I am seated not even six feet from the pulpit, while he ministers to the people about his days as Malcolm Little. How he killed the sinner, in order to raise the saint. Such an eloquent speaker, every word, every inflection, flows like the waters of the Nile, and is burned into my soul.
Why do the other brothers want him dead? Has he become to powerful? Do his words of truth inflict too much damage to the nation? I must do as God and my brothers command. Malcolm must be stopped. But I loved him so. Love has turned to hate.
The planned commotion erupts behind me. Malcolm is interrupted by shouting and stops his speech mid sentence. “Get your hand outta my pocket!” a man yells. “Don’t be messin’ with my pockets!” As I rise and walk toward Malcolm, his bodyguards move to the back to quiet the disturbance.
I pull out the sawed-off shotgun and unload it into his chest. Panic ensues and the crowd stampedes through the auditorium. Two bodyguards grab me, hold me down, as a crowd gathers and begins to beat me unconscious. Malcolm is dropped from 16 bullets from at least three different shooters. He never had a chance.
I did not kill Malcolm Little. He did that when he eliminated his hatred and put on his new personality from God. He preached peace and equality “by any means necessary” but was never involved in violence himself. He disowned his given slave name and replaced it with a single letter.
I did not witness his spiritual death; although I was there the day he died physically.
I did not kill Malcolm Little. But I may have murdered Malcolm X.
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