Based on the autobiography by Malcolm X and Alex Haley and directed by Spike Lee, Malcolm changes from a small-time criminal in prison to a black Muslim who becomes an influential speaker for black liberation and spirituality.
The minister Malcolm X (Denzel Washington) is heard speaking to an enthusiastic gathering. He charges the white man with being the greatest murderer and kidnapper on Earth. Wherever he has gone he has brought havoc and destruction. Malcolm and his listeners are the victims of that truth. He says they are not Americans but black people. They have not seen democracy but only hypocrisy in the American nightmare.
In Boston during World War II in a barbershop Shorty (Spike Lee) gives young Malcolm a treatment that straightens his Afro hair.
Shorty and Malcolm with wide-brim hats stroll on the street to the rhythm.
Malcolm tells how when his mother was pregnant with him the Ku Klux Klan raid their house in Omaha, Nebraska and shout for his father to come out. His mother Louise Little (Lonette McKee) comes out and says he is in Milwaukee preaching. The hooded clansmen break all the windows with rifle butts.
Malcolm says that his father Earl Little (Tommy Hollis) was not afraid of white men and agreed with Marcus Garvey that black men could never find freedom in America and should return to Africa. Three of his father’s brothers had been killed by white men. Malcolm’s mother was intelligent and well educated. She was light-skinned because her mother had been raped by a white man. She married his father because he was dark. Malcolm believes that black man resent the rape of black women and so want to get white women.
At Roseland a black orchestra plays as black people dance. A big woman sees Shorty and dances with him. Malcolm dances with Laura (Theresa Randle). Malcolm tells Shorty that she is a church girl so he does not know what he will do. A blonde woman asks Malcolm to dance a slow one. He says they call him Red. Her name is Sophia (Kate Vernon).
Malcolm walks Laura to her door and says he has to work early in the morning. She doubts he will call her because she is not white. Her mother comes to the door, and she goes in.
In the backseat of a Cadillac Malcolm and Sophia are making out. She asks if she is the first white woman he has been with, and he says he has had plenty. He kisses her, and she tells him to take his time. He tells her not to talk too much.
Shorty and Malcolm play around in a park.
A black man is run over by a train. In an office Malcolm’s mother asks if an insurance man is going to pay; but he says no because it was suicide. She says he was hit in the back of the head.
Malcolm lays on a bed in his shorts, and Sophia in her slip brings him a tray of food. He asks her story, asking if she cannot get enough from black men. He has her kiss his foot and feed him. He asks when she will holler rape, and she laughs. He wishes her mother and father could see her now. She wishes Laura could see them.
On a beach Malcolm walks with his arm around Laura. He kisses her as they lie on the wet sand in nice clothes. She says he is running around town with a white woman, and she asks if his mother is still alive. He says she is.
A social worker tells Mrs. Little that they question whether she can raise her children without her late husband. The social worker says her children are delinquent and that Malcolm is a thief. Mrs. Little tells her to get out, and she goes out.
Malcolm says they were parceled out, an agency destroying their family. He lived in a detention home in the house of Mrs. Swerlin. He was the only colored kid in his class and was often called “nigger.” A teacher tells the boy that a “nigger” cannot become a lawyer. The teacher advises him to work with his hands and become a carpenter.
Malcolm works on a train and listens to a fight and roots for Joe Louis who wins. Charlie Cooper comes in and tells the black cooks to get to work. He reprimands Malcolm for calling him “Charlie.” The other workers get angry at Malcolm and call him a fool. He turns the radio back on. Malcolm delivers coffee and food to customers, fantasizing rubbing pie on a sailor’s face.
In Harlem in a colorful suit Malcolm strolls in the street by the Apollo where black people cheer for the champion Joe Louis.
In a red suit Malcolm goes to the Paradise Cabaret. He bumps into a man who calls him an old country “nigger,” and he asks if he is going home to his mother. Malcolm breaks a bottle on the man’s face and tells him never to say anything bad about his mother. Malcolm is given a whiskey, and the bartender says Archie paid for it. Archie invites him to sit with them. Malcolm says working on the train keeps him out of the army. He says he heard Archie is a good man to know. They believe in reputations. He says his mama is West Indian from Grenada. They ask where he got his bright clothes. Archie says he will get ahold of him and tells him never to write anything down. Malcolm admits that he just conned him. Archie likes his style, and Malcolm says he just gave up his train job. Archie says he will take him shopping.
Malcolm tries on a light gray suit, and Archie asks him to frisk him. Malcolm finds nothing, and Archie pulls a gun from his belt in back. He gives it to Malcolm and tells him to wear it. Malcolm says he is ready to tackle the streets.
In a church Malcolm listens to a sermon, takes a note, and walks out. Blacks play the numbers, and Malcolm takes their bets; but Archie tells him he never wrote a number down.
Inside with Sophia and Archie, Malcolm tries sniffing cocaine. Sophia takes some and laughs. Archie asks if he is ready to kill, and he takes out his gun and pretends to shoot Archie. Malcolm bets on the numbers 821 and tosses dollar bills on the floor. Archie pretends to shoot him with his fingers.
Malcolm goes into Smalls Bar and asks for cigarettes and cognac. Daniel comes in, kisses Laura, and asks her for $5. A woman asks Malcolm if he knows that chick, and he asks her about Laura. He threatens her, and Archie tells him to sit down. Archie gives her money to buy something for herself, and she leaves. Archie sits down, and Malcolm says he owes him six big ones for 821. Archie says he didn’t have it, and they argue. Sophia reminds Archie who puts money on the table, refusing to drink with Malcolm and leaving. Archie’s friend tells Malcolm that he never knew Archie to forget a number in 22 years and warns him if he is lying, he is dead.
Malcolm is sitting in a club with Sophia, and Archie comes in and tells Malcolm never to sit with his back to the door. He sits down and says Malcolm and Sophia are liars. Malcolm offers to give him the $600, but Archie does not want his money. Malcolm sees two friends of Archie’s with guns. Archie tells him to walk, and the two leave together, followed by the other two. Malcolm runs out and hides in an alley.
Men in black hoods get out of a car and light torches. Inside Earl Little is in bed and says someone is out there. As the house is burning he and his wife get the kids and go outside. The white Klansmen warn him about his Garvey preaching and tell him to leave town. Earl shoots at them, and they get in the car and leave. Louise says she knows he is a better shot than that. He says he just wanted to scare them. The train is about to run over Earl.
In a car Shorty advises Sophia and Malcolm to lay low for a while. Malcolm says he was trapped like a hustler. He was afraid of a job, a bust, and jail.
Inside Malcolm tells Sophia, Shorty, Peg, and Rudy (Roger Guenveur Smith) that they are going to rob that town blind. Rudy caters on Beacon Hill and knows Baldy and tells them how rich he is. Rudy says he has fences in this town and asks why Malcolm is in charge. Rudy wants to be the leader, and Malcolm suggests they flip for it and pulls out his pistol. Malcolm stands up five bullets and seems to put one of them in the empty chamber and spins it. He says he will go first and puts it to his head and pulls the trigger. Shorty and Sophia tell him to stop playing around. Rudy refuses to try it, but Malcolm does it again to his own head and then points the gun at Rudy’s nose. He clicks the trigger again. Rudy gives in, and Malcolm tells him never to cross him again. Malcolm gives orders for the robbery and kisses Rudy on the forehead. Rudy draws the floor plan while Shorty asks Malcolm if he palmed that bullet. Malcolm shows him the bullet and laughs.
At night Malcolm unlocks a door and whispers to Shorty, and they go in. Sophia watches outside. They see an elderly couple sleeping in bed. Malcolm removes a ring from his finger, and they go out.
Shorty gives Malcolm the hair treatment in a nice apartment. They find the water is off, and Malcolm is so desperate that he puts his head in the toilet. Two policeman are there and arrest Shorty and Malcolm.
Malcolm says Sophia and Peg got two years for a first conviction of burglary. He and Shorty should have got the same, but he says for sleeping with white women the judge sentenced them to 8-10 years on 14 counts to run concurrently. In February 1946 they face a minimum of ten years.
At the Charlestown state prison in cellblock A Malcolm refuses to say his number, saying he forgot it. The guards drag him away.
In the dark Malcolm says they are not going to break him. A small opening lets in light as a guard asks him to state his number. He refuses and gets ten more days. A chaplain hands him a cigarette and says he has a friend in Jesus. Malcolm asks what he has done for him and says nothing.
Malcolm sobs, groans, and moans. The door opens, and a guard finds him lying on the floor. He refuses to state his number and is dragged out.
Malcolm has taken a shower, and the prisoner Baines (Albert Hall) brings him nutmeg to take in water. He says he can show Malcolm how to get out of prison. He asks him to use his sense. He says if he busts out, he will still be in prison. He asks why he uses poison on his hair, and Malcolm says he does not want to look nappy. Baines says he is trying to be white. He says the white man laughs at him. He asks who he is and says he is lost in the darkness. He says that Elijah Muhammad has come to bring him out of the darkness into the light.
During work Baines preaches to prisoners, and a guard tells them to break it up. Baines tells Malcolm he gave him his last fix. Malcolm says he acts like no one else in that prison, and he knows he has an angle. Baines says not to con him..
Baines tells Malcolm to read and study and stop taking the white man’s poisons into his body like cigarettes, liquor, and white women. Malcolm asks what happens if he gives those things up. Baines tells him that God is black. He says they taught him that black is a curse. He shows him what a dictionary says about the word “black.” Then he looks up “white,” and Malcolm reads the definitions. Baines says it is written by white folk. He says he must take what the white man says and use it against him. He urges him to study the dictionary from the beginning. He tells him to take a step toward Allah who will then take two toward him.
In his cell at night Malcolm reads.
While inmates play baseball, a black man tells them that the Brooklyn Dodgers have put Jackie Robinson in the major leagues. Baines tells the history of black people, a race of kings in ancient times. He says his name Malcolm Little is a slave name. He asks who he is. Malcolm says he does not know. Baines says they are a nation lost in the wilderness of North America. He says Allah sent them the messenger Elijah Muhammad. He teaches that all white men are devils. He asks if he ever met a white man who was not evil.
Malcolm tells Baines that he will not touch the white man’s liquor. He will not fornicate, lie, cheat, or steal. Baines kneels and says the key to Islam is submission, and he must pray five times a day with knees bent. Malcolm says he only knelt to pick a lock, and Baines asks him to tell Allah that.
Malcolm receives a letter from Elijah Muhammad (Al Freeman Jr.) and reads it. Malcolm sees him in his cell and describes him. Elijah says the most dangerous creation is a man with nothing to lose. Suddenly he is gone, and Malcolm kneels and prays.
Malcolm reads a letter from a black Muslim and tells the inmate in the barbershop to take off all his hair.
Malcolm writes to his friends and Shorty in prison. He sends a message to Elijah that he has dedicated his life to peace. He has copied out the entire dictionary.
Chaplain Gill (Christopher Plummer) preaches to prisoners and asks for questions. He refers to Malcolm as Satan, and he asks what color were the disciples and Hebrews. Gill says he does not know. Malcolm says Jesus may not have been white and that Elijah Muhammad taught him that Jesus did not have white skin and blue eyes.
Malcolm in a suit with glasses is taken up stairs to a room where he meets Elijah Muhammad who welcomes him with open arms. He tells Malcolm that the world is still full of temptation. He believes that Malcolm will remain faithful.
In white shirts and ties Malcolm works with other brothers. Malcolm preaches on a sidewalk as they pass out literature. Other black men preach too. Malcolm asks them to read the black man’s truth. He says white Christians are hanging black Christians. He tells women that black is beautiful. He says they are on an auction block.
Inside Malcolm preaches with men on one side and women on the other. He sees Shorty in the back, and he says they used to have the slave mind. He has Shorty stand up and hugs him.
While drinking coffee Shorty tells Malcolm that was the best preaching he has heard. Malcolm says he has been clean for eight years. Shorty says he loves pigs’ feet and white women too much to be a Muslim. Malcolm says he is lost. He asks about the old gang. Shorty says Sammy died while having sex with a white chick. Shorty says Cadillac is hooked on heroin; Sophia is still married to a rich white man; and Archie is living in the Bronx.
Malcolm knocks on am apartment door and goes in. Archie is sitting and slurs his words. Malcolm thanks him for saving his life. Archie says all he had was his rep. Malcolm says he does not remember about the number. He helps Archie with his arm.
Malcolm sees prostitutes on the street in the day time while his preaching about them is heard.
Malcolm is preaching, and many women wear veils. He says it is time to stand up after 400 years. Some people come forward while others applaud. Malcolm shakes hands with a line of people and asks brother Baines if they can set up a loud speaker outside. He says they can. Malcolm meets sister Betty Shabazz (Angela Bassett), and she asks if he knows that sister Harriet Tubman ate. She walks off.
At a lunch counter Betty asks Malcolm to speak to her class, but he says he is hard on the women.
Elijah tells Malcolm about the women as he eats at a table.
Malcolm tells Betty that the building of the new nation begins with the women.
Elijah warns Malcolm that a woman can ruin him.
Malcolm tells Betty he is not against marriage.
Elijah says a woman should support the strength of a man.
Betty says he has no time for marriage.
In a museum Malcolm and Betty talk. She asks if they can sit down.
They are eating ice cream sodas, and Malcolm asks Betty how old she is. She says women are vain, but she has set her mind to being a good Muslim, a good nurse, and a good wife. A man comes in and says brother Johnson was attacked by the police.
Black men outside are angry, and black people ask what the Muslims are going to do about it.
Malcolm and two others go to the police station and ask to see brother Johnson. He is told to go outside. Malcolm suggests the official look outside, and he sees black men lined up in the street. Malcolm is a minister and says they are brothers of Johnson. They say he can not see him because he is not a lawyer. Malcolm says that until they can see whether he has received medical care, no one will move.
Malcolm looks at the bloody Johnson and demands that the police get an ambulance now. Johnson is taken out on a stretcher that is put in an ambulance. A policeman tells Malcolm to break it up, but he leads a march down the street to the hospital. Others join them on the way. The large crowd stops in front of the hospital. A police car arrives, and an officer tells Malcolm that the people must move from there. A doctor comes out and tells Malcolm that he will live and that he is getting their best care. The officer tells the mob to disperse. People are chanting, “We want justice.” Malcolm raises his hands, and they stop. He leads a march back the way they came. One young man remains, and the police officer says that is too much power for one man.
At a coffee shop two men argue with Malcolm that they need to act, but he says they have to listen to Chicago. The young man comes in and sits down. He says his name is Benjamin, and he saw what he did. He tells Mr. X that he wants to be a Muslim because he never saw a black man talk to police like that. Malcolm asks if he knows what that means, and he should not join unless he knows what it is about. He suggests he come by the temple at 8. Benjamin says he will and goes out happily.
Elijah tells Malcolm that he will introduce him as his national minister. He assigns him to build temples all over the nation, and he warns him about the cameras which are a narcotic. He advises him to go slowly. He tells him not to offer them dirty water, but they will prefer the pure water of Islam. He says Islam is the only way out especially in the slums and ghettoes. Malcolm says he gave him the truth, and he was the first man he ever feared. He pledged himself to him.
From a pay phone Malcolm calls Betty and says he is in Detroit. He asks her to marry him, and she says yes. He laughs and says he has been eating.
Inside Malcolm tells Betty he will be traveling a lot. She says the first time she saw him she felt sorry for him because he should not be so serious. She wants to have many babies with him and says she loves him.
Baines blesses their fruitful marriage as Malcolm and Betty cut the wedding cake.
Malcolm speaks from a platform by Herberts Diamond to a crowd which has signs that read “We must have justice.” Malcolm says he is not there as a politician nor as a Christian or a Jew nor even as an American. He stands there as a black man. Before all those other things they were black people. He says the white people pacify them with drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, and gambling. He says they have been hoodwinked and led astray.
In an auditorium Malcolm preaches under the banner “There is no God but Allah. Muhammad is His apostle.” He says this is not hate but love. He says he has learned everything from this divine man.
Betty takes care of a baby.
Malcolm says that Elijah has been accused of being a black supremacist because he is trying to lift up his people. He says Jews hide their guilt by calling him anti-Semitic because he says they should own their own businesses. Black people have been victims of white violence for 400 years. He says they used to wear white sheets, but now they use police uniforms.
Malcolm sees on television Martin Luther King preaching about nonviolence.
Malcolm says there are Uncle Toms and chickens that say they ought to love their enemies who kill them and rape their women and children. He says that is not intelligent. Black men have the right to protect themselves just as white men do.
In a television studio Malcolm is asked about hate-mongers and his name X. Malcolm explains that slave masters gave Negroes names after themselves. He says Elijah suggested they take the name X for their unknown names. A black Christian asks Malcolm why he teaches hate. Malcolm says this is like asking the sheep how he feels about the wolf. He explains that there were house slaves and field slaves. He says the house slave loved his master. Another slave might say we should run away, but the house slave would refuse.
Baines tells Elijah that some think Malcolm is getting too much press. Elijah says that Malcolm is benefiting the nation.
Reporters ask Malcolm if he thinks white people are devils, and he says yes. They say he is anti-white, but he does not answer. A white woman asks him what she could do to help him. He says nothing and walks on.
Malcolm lectures to white people in Boston about his life there. He stole and used drugs and committed adultery. He says Elijah Muhammad saved him from death. He says when Negroes get on God’s side, they will get away from crime and welfare. He says father means taking care of your children. He preaches responsibility.
In an auditorium Malcolm preaches to black Muslims. He said if they followed the Supreme Court, they would not have a race problem. He says Elijah predicted what is coming to pass. He says there is about to be a racial explosion which is more dangerous than an atomic explosion. He says black people are dissatisfied. It’s a powder keg that will explode and may destroy the house. He says they must get the powder keg out of the house. He says let the black man have his own house. He is warning that this may bring down the white man’s house. He says Elijah’s only solution is complete separation between the black and white races. People stand up and applaud. Elijah Muhammad stands up and comes to the podium.
As Malcolm and others are coming down stairs, a black man asks if he is Elijah’s pimp. Malcolm asks what he is saying, and the man feels sorry for him. Followers carry the man out, and Malcolm says the man is hungry for knowledge, and he wants to get something to eat.
At home Malcolm tells Betty it was a long night, and she says he is in trouble. She says she will not break, and he says he wants peace in his house. She asks if they ever fought, and he says never. She says he has to talk about it. She shows him a news article about two paternity suits against Elijah Muhammad. He says it is a devil newspaper and throws it down. He says he is aware of the lies. She asks if he is his friend and if he has blinded himself. She tells him to ask why Baines is the new editor of the newspaper Muhammad Speaks that he founded and why his name never appears in it anymore. He says Baines saved his life when he was in prison. She says that was a long time ago. He tells her not to raise her voice. She calms down and tells him to ask Baines about the new cars and furniture. She asks what they have. He says he will get her some new clothes. She asks about the children. He says if anything happens to him, that the Nation of Islam will take care of them. She asks if he is sure. He says he has work to do. He asks her what she wants him to do. She says his family needs him. She says he never thinks of betrayal.
Malcolm goes to visit a Muslim woman who has a baby. She says she believed in Elijah Muhammad. He visits another Muslim woman with a child who is pregnant. Malcolm says that he heard the truth from them that Elijah fathered their children and that he said Malcolm was the best minister he ever had but that someday he would leave him. The second woman says she only wants Elijah to provide for her children. He says Allah will provide.
In his home Baines asks Malcolm what he is talking about. He says they are growing, and people want their leaders to be prosperous. Malcolm reminds him what he said about hustling in prison. Baines asks if he wants a new car. Malcolm says they tell the world they are moral leaders. Baines says they are human beings. He mentions David, Noah, and Solomon. He asks who needs the nutmeg now, and Baines warns him to be careful. Malcolm gets up and goes out.
Elijah tells Malcolm that he is not surprised. He says he has built the nation guided by Allah. He says he must plant his seed in fertile soil.
Malcolm says his faith was shattered, but he could not conceive of betrayal. He says he would have been executed in Elijah’s place.
Betty asks Malcolm what he said, and he says he has a lot of work to do. He says Solomon had 700 wives. A man’s good deeds outweigh other things.
On the national day of mourning after President Kennedy’s assassination Malcolm says that the evil are punished according to their works. He says the white men have planted the seeds of violence. He says those weeds have choked others, and that is justice.
Reporters ask Malcolm if he feels no remorse or sadness, and Malcolm says the devil’s chickens have come home to roost. He mentions Lumumba in Africa and others who were murdered. When chickens come home to roost, he is glad.
Elijah coughs and asks Malcolm if he read the newspaper today. He says that was a bad statement he made. He says they must dissociate themselves from his terrible blunder. He tells Malcolm not to speak to the press nor at any temple for ninety days. Malcolm says he submits, and others come in. Malcolm looks at Baines who closes the curtain as Malcolm goes out.
Betty answers the phone at home and tells them to stop calling there. Malcolm comes in and takes the phone and hangs up. She says they keep calling and cries on his shoulder. He tells the children to go to bed. Betty takes the children. A fellow black Muslim tells Malcolm that they gave him the mission to wire his car with explosives so that they would go off when he turned the ignition on; but he could not do it. The ministers are saying that he is spreading untruths about Elijah and that he is the greatest hypocrite. They say his tongue should be cut out. He says he is with Malcolm even if it means death. Malcolm tells him to go home and orders him not to come back.
In 1964 at a press conference Malcolm says internal conflicts have forced him out of the Nation of Islam. From now on he speaks his own words and does his own actions. He forgets the bad things others have said about him. He is starting a new mosque in New York with the philosophy of black nationalism. He says whites can help but cannot join. They must first unite among themselves. He is going on a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Malcolm gets off a plane and walks in the streets. He meets and talks to Muslims. He asks to go to a pyramid. Malcolm rides on a camel to the pyramids. He writes to Betty and says their struggle is known worldwide. He has noticed two white men following him around.
Thousands of Muslims pray in Mecca. Malcolm says he made his seven circuits around the Kaaba. He stood before the creator of all and felt like a human being for the first time.
Malcolm prays in a tent and says he has eaten with white Muslims too. He says the American Negro can never be blamed for his racial animosity, but racism is a suicidal path. He says young people will turn to the spiritual path of truth. He says, like in prison, the truth has come to him.
Betty reads about his spiritual rebirth. He no longer subscribes to sweeping indictments of a race. He is not a racist. He wishes only for freedom, justice, and equality, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people. He believes that practicing Islam can remove the cancer of racism from all Americans. He gives credit to Allah.
Malcolm prays on his knees in Arabic in an empty mosque.
On a plane thinks he of what he will say about his trip to Mecca.
Malcolm speaks about the practice of Islam, and he says now he has friends of all races. A reporter asks if he will go to the United Nations and ask for charges to be made against Americans for their treatment of Negroes, and he says yes. People applaud, and he says nations are hypocritical when they criticize South Africa but say nothing about America. He is willing to work with other groups working for civil rights. He is asked about his new beard, and he says he is throwing off old shackles. He affirms his bond with his brothers in Africa. A reporter asks about his call for blacks to get rifles, and he says that is intelligent for self-defense. A black man shouts that he should get his hand out of his pocket, and he stalks out.
At home Malcolm holds a rifle as he looks out the window. He gets a call threatening that his days are numbered. He goes to Betty who is in bed and kisses her. She asks if he is sorry. He promises he will never take another long trip without her. He promises they will be together, and she says she loves him. They kiss. He says they had the best black organization ever, but they ruined it.
In bed Malcolm cocks a pistol and wakes up Betty. A fire-bomb is thrown through a window, and Malcolm tells the children to get out of the house, carrying two himself. They run out, and he asks someone to call the fire department. Later as the house burns, he tells reporters what happened. He says it was an attempt by the Nation of Islam ordered by Elijah Muhammad. Some men arrive in a car, and Malcolm instructs them to look around.
In a room black men sitting around a table are loading pistols.
Malcolm calls brother Earl who asks where he is. Malcolm says he is in a hotel. Earl suggests they frisk people going into the Audubon ballroom, but he says no; they have to change their way of thinking and make people feel comfortable. Earl says they need to be armed. Malcolm says they don’t want black people killing each other.
In the Audubon ballroom black people are dancing. Two men in suits ask if Malcolm X is registered there. Malcolm answers the phone and puts it down.
Betty answers the phone and hears a threat.
Malcolm answers the phone and is told to wake up. Malcolm and Betty talk to each other on the phone, and she cries because she is terrified. He tells her not to touch the phone. She asks if they can come to the meeting tomorrow, and he says it is too dangerous. He says he is going to stop saying that the Nation of Islam is behind this. He says they are not working alone but are getting a lot of help.
Two white men are listening to their conversation as it is being recorded.
Betty and her children ride in the back of a car. In another car Malcolm alone is driving. Betty and the children arrive at the ballroom early. Malcolm parks on the street. A woman asks if he is okay and tells him to keep on doing what he is doing. She says Jesus will protect him.
Malcolm comes into a dressing-room and asks if the charter is ready. They say they will have it next week. He learns that the minister is not coming, and he complains they don’t have an opening speaker either. Most of them go out, and he sits in front of a mirror and says it is time for martyrs. He feels he should not go out there today, and the assistant says they can cancel it. Malcolm says his wife and children are there. Malcolm tells him to call the minister, but he says he should be guarding him. Malcolm persuades him, and they hug before he goes out.
A policeman with a radio walks up carpeted stairs.
A woman comes in and hands Malcolm some papers. Malcolm apologizes for raising his voice earlier.
A young man introduces Malcolm, and people applaud. A man shouts, “Get your hand out of my pocket,” and a smoke bomb is set off. A man with a short rifle shoots Malcolm twice, knocking him down. Two men with pistols approach him, and they each shoot him several times. People are running in fear, and men with pistols shoot others. Men grab a man and carry him outside. Two policemen try to intervene to protect the man on the ground.
Betty is crying, and about a dozen policemen come into the ballroom.
Malcolm’s body is on a stretcher on wheels that is pulled by men.
A man comes out of a building and announces that Malcolm X is no more. On television Martin Luther King says this is a tragedy which reveals that many have degenerated into expressing dissent with violence.
At the funeral Ossie Davis speaks about Malcolm as a gallant champion who is still unconquered. He calls him an Afro-American because Negro became too small of a word. He wanted all his people to become Afro-Americans too. He talks about what some people would say about him, and he would ask if they ever talked with him. He asks if he was ever associated with violence or public disturbance. He says Malcolm was their manhood. He says they may differ with him; but he says they are planting a seed, and they will know him as a prince who did not hesitate to die because he loved them.
A teacher explains why they celebrate Malcolm X’s birthday on May 19. Various children declare that they are Malcolm X. Nelson Mandela tells children about the rights of a human being. A news clip shows Malcolm saying, “By any means necessary.”
This biopic portrays an intelligent man who changed his life, spoke the truth as he saw it about the long oppression of Africans in America, urged black people to take control over their lives, and developed his spiritual qualities by practicing the religion of Islam.