Malcolm X, police photos
Near the end of his life, Malcolm X famously reoriented his previously Afrocentric and even racist views toward white people. After breaking with the militantly anti-white Nation of Islam, he went on a hajj to Mecca, where he underwent a deep spiritual conversion after praying amongst people of all races. He abandoned his previous stance on race relations, coming to believe that the struggle he was fighting should be for universal human rights, not only black nationalism.
His conversion to Sunni Islam famously widened the rift between him and the Nation of Islam (NOI), headed by Elijah Muhammad. After his trip to Mecca, he realized of his time as a NOI minister: "I was a zombie then … pointed in a certain direction and told to march."
Only a few years after he left the NOI, he was assassinated at a Pan-African Unity meeting in a Manhattan Ballroom by three members of the Nation of Islam.
On February 21, 1965, as Malcolm X prepared to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom, a disturbance broke out in the 400-person audience—a man yelled, “Nigger! Get your hand outta my pocket!” As Malcolm X and his bodyguards moved to quiet the disturbance, a man seated in the front row rushed forward and shot him once in the chest with a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun.Two other men charged the stage and fired semi-automatic handguns, hitting Malcolm X several times. He was pronounced dead at 3:30 pm, shortly after he arrived at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. According to the autopsy report, Malcolm X’s body had 21 gunshot wounds to his chest, left shoulder, and arms and legs; ten of the wounds were buckshot to his left chest and shoulder from the initial shotgun blast.