Today, Malcolm still serves strongly as an inspiration of liberation and uncompromising pride and determination within African people and all of humanity. As a result, lots of attention is paid to Malcolm's personal development. Since not even a full year elapsed between Malcolm's official break with the Nation of Islam (NOI) in March of 1964 and his assassination in February 1965, questions still resonate around Malcolm's actual direction. Was he a revolutionary Pan-Africanist when he was killed? Was a militant Black Nationalist? DId he actually just secretly wish he could return to "the good old days" within the NOI? Much has been written and said about this over the last 53 years. And the most high profile literature e.g. Manning Marable's tragic volume book on Malcolm in 2014 and some of the other garbage produced by people like Bruce Perry, etc., have said a lot about Malcolm's intentions while not supplying enough evidence to win over Judge Judy's Court room. Today, the questions about which direction Malcolm was headed in still loom large.
One of the most common theories, promoted understandably and most consistently by members of NOI, is that Malcolm really wanted back in the Nation. To support this claim, these folks point to the calls and at least one letter Malcolm wrote to Elijah Muhammad since his break asking for a conversation with "the Messenger." The logic used here is that Malcolm wanted nothing more than an audience to beg forgiveness for forsaking the Nation and had Muhammad given him that audience, Malcolm could today still be alive and still in the Nation. Although this argument has an emotional appeal for those who promote it, there isn't much concrete evidence to support this position. There is clear documentation that Malcolm did write that letter to Muhammad. And, he probably did make some calls, but none of this proves anything really. Placing the situation in 1963/64 in context, Malcolm was under an overwhelming amount of pressure. He was fighting with the Nation for the very house he and his family depended upon for shelter. He was experiencing confirmed death threats and actual attempts against his life on a regular basis. There was open hostility against him by followers of Muhammad who viewed his defection as treason. And most of all of that was secretly being facilitated and manipulated by the U.S. government. Under these adverse circumstances, Malcolm had no protection. Its seems reasonable that a logical thinker like Malcolm would surmise that a detente with the Nation would be the way to stave off this pressure. So, like the person in any relationship who knows that relationship isn't healthy, but decides to continue to exist within that environment, something that happens all the time, Malcolm could have reached out in a desperate effort to generate some peace. This certainly wouldn't mean that he was 100% ideologically in line with returning to the NOI. And, nothing about everything Malcolm was doing suggests that.
Questions that have never really been seriously explored, especially by the slate of worthless literature produced by people like Marable, is what exactly was the foundation of Malcolm's work those last eleven months? What we know is Malcolm traveled to several countries in Africa and the Middle East. One trip in 1964 he was gone for five months total. Malcolm had no job and no source of income. Who was paying for his travels? And why? Certainly not the NOI? What we know for sure is Malcolm certainly completed his religious journey during the Hajj he took to the Middle East. It seems reasonable that Muslim leaders in those countries, anxious to have a high level Islamic voice in the U.S., would underwrite Malcolm's travels for this purpose. It doesn't add up that those same sources would underwrite Malcolm's extensive travels throughout Africa. Particularly to countries like Ghana, Tanzania, and even Guinea - which although dominantly Islamic was as much Pan-Africanist and politicized in its representation to the world as anything else. We know that Malcolm had multiple meetings with Kwame Nkrumah, the then president of Ghana. Why has the content of those meetings never been seriously discussed? Lee's movie didn't even bother to address those meetings. Since his movie was based on Malcolm's autobiography this seems strange since Malcolm asserts in that book that his meetings with Nkrumah were the "highest honor of his life." That's a significant statement from someone who became literate by reading the entire dictionary. A strong compliment from someone who helped create the largest independent African organization in the U.S. at that time and since that time to the present. A solid assessment from someone who was a center piece of starting the Nation's first newspaper. From someone who debated racism at Oxford, on television, and in every corner of the world. Although I wasn't in those meetings between Malcolm and Nkrumah, a close look at Malcolm during those last few months shed light on exactly how he was moving.
When Malcolm returned to the U.S. from visiting Nkrumah, Sekou Ture, and other Pan-Africanists in Africa, the first thing he did was announce the formation of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). This was done exactly one year after Nkrumah helped found the Organization of African Unity (OAU). At that time, Nkrumah believed the OAU was going to be the vehicle that facilitated Pan-Africanism and all evidence indicates Malcolm believed the OAAU would be the U.S. branch of that OAU. Unfortunately, imperialism had different plans. Today, the OAU, which is now called the African Union, is identified as a clear structure serving neo-colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism. Nkrumah was beginning to recognize that in 1964 as his landmark book "Neo-Colonialism" illustrated that year, but like Malcolm, he was short on time. Practically one year to the day after Malcolm was assassinated, Nkrumah's government in Ghana was overthrown in a wicked imperialist planned and supported coup.
Still, the questions remain. What did Malcolm and Nkrumah discuss? Malcolm's daughter published his diary in 2016 and in there he discussed how Nkrumah warned him that Ghanaian intelligence forces had detected that the U.S. government would attempt to kill Malcolm. Malcolm admitted in his diary and Nkrumah addresses in the book of his letters ("The Conakry Years"), that Nkrumah did warn Malcolm. And, that Malcolm was invited to stay on in Ghana. What was Malcolm being invited to stay on in Ghana and do? History gives us a glimpse. Three years after Malcolm's assassination another young African revolutionary in the U.S. met with Nkrumah, who after the coup in Ghana, was then living in Guinea-Conakry under the protection of the Democratic Party of Guinea and Sekou Ture. That second African revolutionary from the U.S. was Kwame Ture (then Stokely Carmichael). We know for sure that Nkrumah asked Carmichael to stay on in Guinea and help build the All African People's Revolutionary Party which was Nkrumah's response to neo-colonialsim and imperialism in Africa.
We believe Nkrumah wanted Malcolm to stay in Ghana - at that time - and do the work that Kwame Ture ended up doing. The conditions Malcolm faced in 1064 were drastically different than those facing Kwame Ture in 1969, but Malcolm clearly left Africa committed philosophically to the vision Nkrumah articulated. The book "The Final Speeches of Malcolm X" (not to be confused with "The Last Speeches of Malcolm X") contains the last eleven speeches Malcolm gave in chronological order. Each and every one of these speeches has a clear Pan-Africanist focus and this wasn't something that Malcolm was just focused on in those last eleven months of his life. His response to the reporter about Kennedy's assassination in December 1963 - his famous "chickens coming home to roost" statement was as strong a Pan-Africanist statement as has ever been made and Malcolm made that statement while still on active duty in the NOI. Meanwhile, the Nation was issuing a statement of condolences for "the loss of our president." Its not a knock against the Nation. Its just truth that there's no way Malcolm was philosophically aligned with this organization at that point in his life. In fact, you can see this trend in Malcolm's words as early as 1960. I would explain this as human progress doesn't stand still. Although I understand the continued claim by NOI people that Muhammad produced Malcolm, that also isn't a very concrete argument. We are all produced by someone. It could be said that Marcus Garvey produced Elijah Muhammad and that Booker T. Washington produced Marcus Garvey, etc. Clearly, its not nearly as important where we came from as it is where we are going. There is little doubt in my mind that Malcolm was headed towards a solid understanding of Nkrumah's prophetic statement that no African anywhere on Earth will ever be free until Africa is free. Malcolm took this position with vigor and used his uncanny wit to make this message palatable to the masses e.g. "We are still Africans. If a cat has kittens in the oven you don't call them biscuits!" We don't believe Malcolm became even more outspoken on Pan-Africanism simply because he was more than likely receiving financial backing by Nkrumah, Ture, and others. Actually, they supported him because he was a genuine Pan-Africanist who was doing concrete work to advance the cause internationally. There is much to support this thinking and very little to refute it. Had Malcolm had more time, there's little question that all real and imagined doubt would have been completely erased.