The Man Who Didn’t Shoot Malcolm X
He spent twenty-two years in prison for an infamous murder he didn’t commit. But Khalil Islam, confined, traveled inward.
By Mark Jacobson
Khalil Islam, now 72 and stooped over but still dapper in his purple embroidered kufi and impeccably clipped silver beard, used to go to the Audubon Ballroom on Broadway and 166th Street to see the big dance bands. Those were “my dope and jazz days,” says Khalil, who never guessed his life would change forever on February 21, 1965, the cold winter afternoon Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audubon.
Forty-two years later, the events of that day remain a hotly debated topic in Harlem—even among those far from being born in 1965.