Malcolm X, 50 Years Gone
There was an air of excitement in the hall. A heat generated by expectation which belied the chill February wind outside.
Four hundred wooden chairs were laid out in the Audubon Ballroom high up in Manhattan, and every one of them was taken.
The weekly meetings of the Organisation of Afro American Unity were drawing large crowds, mainly to hear the group’s founder speak.
“Electrifying” and “inspirational” were words they used to describe him.
As he was introduced, the tall and slim, reddish-haired man walked forward and gave the traditional Arab greeting “salaam aleikum” [peace be upon you] and the crowd responded “aleikum salaam”.
As he prepared to speak, there was a disturbance in the predominantly black crowd, an angry shout. The speaker tried to calm things down: “Be cool now, don’t get excited”.
It was then the shooting started. A man with a shotgun rushed towards the stage.
Two others started firing pistols. The victim fell back over the chairs behind him, his hands still raised.