I believe that Malcolm X was a great American, and one of the tragic figures of the Sixties. We will never know what he could have done for us if he had been allowed to live. I know that he sometimes espoused hateful words, but I don't believe that he ever spoke genuine hatred towards anyone. Faced with millions of hate-filled white Americans, was the answer always going to be "turn the other cheek"? I respect Rev Martin Luther King for saying "yes," but I also respect Malcolm X for saying, "Hell no."
Malcolm X gained fame through his allegiance with The Nation of Islam led by Elijah Mohammed (sp). However, after he personally went on a visit to Mecca, the Holy City of Islam, in 1964 he became less confrontational and began to lean towards negotiation to help African-Americans.
It has been a few years since I have read The Autobiography of Malcolm X or seen the Spike Lee directed film MALCOLM X. I think I should make time to do both of those things. If we do not actively remember, we are doomed to forget.
Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965. He was 39 years old.