A television series based on the life of civil rights activist Malcolm X is in the works and will be based on two novels written by the late icon’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz.
Shabazz co-wrote 2016’s X: A Novel with Kekla Magoon and 2021’s The Awakening of Malcolm X with Tiffany D. Jackson, and will now serve as the potential series’ executive producer.
X: A Novel follows Malcolm’s life from his childhood — including his father being lynched and his mother being institutionalised against her will — up to his imprisonment at age twenty, while The Awakening of Malcolm X follows his incarceration, during which time he converted to the Nation of Islam and assumed the name for which he became widely known.
Together with Dr Martin Luther King, Malcolm X became regarded as the face of the civil rights movement even though the two men had vastly different views on how to achieve equality for Black citizens.
Malcolm urged his fellow Black Americans to protect themselves against white aggression “by any means necessary,” a stance that was diametrically opposite to the mantras of King, who preached non-violent protests and grassroots activism such as sit-ins.
His life and legacy have been explored numerous times in films and television shows over the years, beginning with the 1972 documentary Malcolm X. In 1977 James Earl Jones portrayed Malcolm in the film The Greatest which starred his close friend, boxer Cassius Clay.
In 1981 Morgan Freeman played the activist in Death of a Prophet while Denzel Washington famously played him in the 1992 Spike Lee film Malcolm X, with Washington earning an Oscar nomination for best actor for his work.
For her part, Shabazz is also the author of 2002’s Growing Up X which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Nonfiction, as well as 2014’s Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X, and 2018’s Betty Before X which explores her mother’s childhood.
Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965, as he was about to make a speech in front of 400 people at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, New York.
Malcolm was shot 21 times by his assailants (who received life sentences in 1966) with his autopsy identifying gunshot wounds to his chest, left shoulder, arms and legs.
The Audubon Ballroom is now the location of the Malcolm X & Dr Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Centre for which Shabazz serves as co-chair.