Today marks the 50 year anniversary of when Malcolm X was assassinated in the Audubon Ballroom in New York City. His death elicited shocked reactions from many Civil Rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., who sent Malcolm X’s wife, Betty Shabazz, a telegram highlighted by Vox.
As you can see below, King wrote:
While we did not always see eye to eye on methods to solve the race problem, I always had a deep affection for Malcolm and felt that he had the great ability to put his finger on the existence and root of the problem.
Even though history often makes note of the difference between these two men’s approaches — King was known for his dedication to non-violent resistance, while Malcolm X’s philosophy was that people of color should obtain equal rights by “any means necessary” — the two reportedly had great respect for each other.
In a 1988 interview with Eyes on The Prize, King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, shared her thoughts on their relationship.
I think they respected each other. Martin had the greatest respect for Malcolm and he agreed with him in, and, in terms of the feeling of racial pride and the fact that Black people should believe in themselves and see themselves as, as lovable and beautiful. The fact that Martin had had a strong feeling of connectedness to Africa and so did Malcolm. Ah, I think if he had lived, and if the two had lived, I am sure that at some point they would have come closer together and would have been a very strong force in the total struggle for liberation and self determination of Black people in our society.
You can check out another telegraph sent to King from Malcolm X via the King Center’s website.