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February 22, 1965
Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

February 22, 1965

On February 22, 1965, the Chicago Defender  reported on Malcolm X, who was murdered the day before in New York City. Several other black newspapers carried the story over the following week, and it is interesting to see how differently the papers presented the story. The Defender gave most of its front page to a banner headline (“Malcolm X Slain at N.Y. Rally”) and a photo of Malcolm X on a stretcher, but the top headline was about the death of Reverend Louis Boddie (“The Rock will feed his flock”), the pastor of the city’s Greater Harvest Baptist Church. The Defender also ran part 2 of a tribute to Nat King Cole, which I posted about on February 16 . The Baltimore Afro-American also featured a story about Nat King Cole above news about Malcolm X.

Malcolm X’s hometown paper, the New York Amsterdam News , featured a large picture of Malcolm X lying in state at the Unity Funeral Home and a series of “Malcolm X as I Knew Him” stories by Amsterdam News reporters. The Norfolk Journal and Guide, in contrast, ran a picture of Malcolm X holding his young daughter Ilyasah with a caption noting “Militant Nationalist leader Malcolm X does not appear too ‘militant’ in this recent picture.”

The Philadelphia Tribune ran a picture of Betty Shabazz and others gathered around Malcolm X after he was shot and several stories on the event. The Cleveland Call and Post ’s headline warned, “Malcolm’s Avengers Trigger Muslim War.” The Pittsburgh Courier  and Los Angeles Sentinel  gave less front page space to the story, and in the Sentinel the top headline was “TV Man Dies in ‘Hot Dog’ Row,” a crime story involving a television repair man.

When I searched for news coverage of the event, I expected that the front pages of other papers would have resembled the Defender ’s banner headline. Seeing the variety of news coverage of Malcolm X’s death in the black press is a useful reminder of how this iconic figure’s legacy continued to grow after his death.

To view PDF images of the newspaper front pages, click the links below:
Baltimore Afro-American
Chicago Defender
Cleveland Call and Post
Los Angeles Sentinel
New York Amsterdam News
​Norfolk Journal and Guide
Philadelphia Tribune
Pittsburgh Courier