This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
February 21 is the 52nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 313 days remaining until the end of the year (314 in leap years).
On this day in 1965, Malcolm X, an African American nationalist and religious leader, is assassinated by rival Black Muslims while addressing his Organization of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights in New York City.
Malcolm X began to speak to a meeting of the Organization of Afro-American Unity when a disturbance broke out in the crowd of 400. A man yelled, “Nigger! Get your hand outta my pocket!” As Malcolm X and his bodyguards moved to quiet the disturbance, a man rushed forward and shot him in the chest with a sawed-off shotgun. Two other men charged the stage and fired handguns, hitting him 16 times. Furious onlookers caught and beat one of the assassins as the others fled the ballroom. Malcolm X was pronounced dead at 3:30 p.m., shortly after he arrived at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.
Talmadge Hayer, a Nation of Islam member also known as Thomas Hagan, was arrested on the scene. Eyewitnesses identified two more suspects, Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson, also members of the Nation. All three were charged in the case. At first Hayer denied involvement, but during the trial he confessed to having fired shots at Malcolm X. He testified that Butler and Johnson were not present and were not involved in the assassination, but he declined to name the men who had joined him in the shooting. All three men were convicted.
Butler, now known as Muhammad Abdul Aziz, was paroled in 1985. He became the head of the Nation of Islam’s Harlem mosque in New York in 1998. He continues to maintain his innocence. Johnson, now known as Khalil Islam, was released from prison in 1987. During his time in prison, he rejected the teachings of the Nation of Islam and converted to Sunni Islam. He, too, maintains his innocence. Hayer, now known as Mujahid Halim, was paroled in 2010.
The number of mourners who came to the public viewing in Harlem’s Unity Funeral Home from February 23 through February 26 was estimated to be between 14,000 and 30,000. The funeral of Malcolm X was held on February 27 at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ in Harlem. The Church was filled to capacity with more than 1,000 people. Loudspeakers were set up outside the Temple so the overflowing crowd could listen and a local television station broadcast the funeral live.
Among the civil rights leaders in attendance were John Lewis, Bayard Rustin, James Forman, James Farmer, Jesse Gray, and Andrew Young. Actor and activist Ossie Davis delivered the eulogy, describing Malcolm X as “our shining black prince”.
There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain-and we will smile. Many will say turn away-away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man-and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate-a fanatic, a racist-who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them: Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.
Malcolm X was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. At the gravesite after the ceremony, friends took the shovels away from the waiting gravediggers and completed the burial themselves. Actor and activist Ruby Dee (wife of Ossie Davis) and Juanita Poitier (wife of Sidney Poitier) established the Committee of Concerned Mothers to raise funds to buy a house and pay educational expenses for Malcolm X’s family.
362 – Athanasius returns to Alexandria.
1245 – Thomas, the first known Bishop of Finland, is granted resignation after having confessed to torture and forgery.
1440 – The Prussian Confederation is formed.
1543 – Battle of Wayna Daga – A combined army of Ethiopian and Portuguese troops defeats a Muslim army led by Ahmed Gragn.
1613 – Mikhail I is elected unanimously as Tsar by a national assembly, beginning the Romanov dynasty of Imperial Russia.
1804 – The first self-propelling steam locomotive makes its outing at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Wales.
1842 – John Greenough is granted the first U.S. patent for the sewing machine.
1848 – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish the The Communist Manifesto.
1862 – American Civil War: Battle of Valverde fought near Fort Craig in New Mexico Territory.
1874 – The Oakland Daily Tribune publishes its first newspaper.
1878 – The first telephone book is issued in New Haven, Connecticut.
1885 – The newly completed Washington Monument is dedicated.
1913 – Ioannina is incorporated into the Greek state after the Balkan Wars.
1916 – World War I: In France, the Battle of Verdun begins.
1918 – The last Carolina Parakeet dies in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo.
1919 – Kurt Eisner, German socialist, is assassinated. His death results in the establishment of the Bavarian Soviet Republic and parliament and government fleeing Munich, Germany.
1921 – Constituent Assembly of the Democratic Republic of Georgia adopts the country’s first constitution.
1925 – The New Yorker publishes its first issue.
1937 – Initial flight of the first successful flying car, Waldo Waterman’s Arrowbile.
1937 – The League of Nations bans foreign national “volunteers” in the Spanish Civil War.
1945 – World War II: Japanese Kamikaze planes sink the escort carrier Bismarck Sea and damage the Saratoga.
1947 – In New York City, Edwin Land demonstrates the first “instant camera”, the Polaroid Land Camera, to a meeting of the Optical Society of America.
1948 – NASCAR is incorporated.
1952 – The British government, under Winston Churchill, abolishes identity cards in the UK to “set the people free”.
1952 – In Dhaka, East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) police open fire on a procession of students that was demanding the establishment of Bengali as the official language, killing four people and starting a country-wide protest which led to the recognition of Bengali as one of the national languages of Pakistan. The day is later declared as “International Mother Language Day” by UNESCO.
1958 – The Peace symbol is designed and completed by Gerald Holtom, commissioned by Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, in protest against the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment.
1965 – Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam.
1970 – Swissair Flight 330: A mid-air bomb explosion and subsequent crash kills 38 passengers and nine crew members near Zürich, Switzerland.
1971 – The Convention on Psychotropic Substances is signed at Vienna.
1972 – President Richard Nixon visits the People’s Republic of China to normalize Sino-American relations.
1972 – The Soviet unmanned spaceship Luna 20 lands on the Moon.
1973 – Over the Sinai Desert, Israeli fighter aircraft shoot down Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 jet killing 108.
1974 – The last Israeli soldiers leave the west bank of the Suez Canal pursuant to a truce with Egypt.
1975 – Watergate scandal: Former United States Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman are sentenced to prison.
1995 – Steve Fossett lands in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada becoming the first person to make a solo flight across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon.
2004 – The first European political party organization, the European Greens, is established in Rome.
2007 – Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigns from office. His resignation is rejected by the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano.
* Christian Feast Day:
* International Mother Language Day (UNESCO)
* Language Movement Day, celebrated by Bengali speaking people for gaining right of mother tongue. (Bangladesh)
* The first day of Musikahan Festival, celebrated until February 27. (Tagum City)