Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is a much better man than I am.
Farrakhan hasn’t filed a lawsuit for slander against the producers of the television movie “Betty and Coretta” or against executives of the Lifetime Network, but he could.
The film debuted on Lifetime last Saturday night. It repeated Sunday afternoon and twice Monday night. It airs again this Saturday night.
“Betty and Coretta” tells the story of how the widows of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. – Betty Shabazz and Coretta Scott King – coped with the deaths of their husbands.
Angela Bassett plays Coretta Scott King; singer Mary J. Blige plays Betty Shabazz. When I saw Lifetime promos for the movie, I questioned the casting of Blige as Betty Shabazz.
I dismissed Blige as a singer with little to no acting talent. But then it dawned on me that I was being unfair to the woman.
I’d never seen Blige act in anything. How, then, could I gauge her acting chops?
Fact is, I couldn’t. At least not until I saw the movie. And having seen it, I’ll concede that Mary J. didn’t do a half bad job.
Trust me, she’s no Cicely Tyson or even an Angela Bassett. But for a woman whose main profession isn’t acting, Blige was, while not great, more than adequate.
So I had no bone to pick with the movie’s producers about the casting of Blige. I DO have one to pick with them about the constant references in the film to Farrakhan being behind Malcolm’s assassination on Feb. 21, 1965.
This is REALLY old stuff, so old I’m amazed that Lifetime network honchos and the film’s producers dared to dredge it up.
Yes, it is true that in December of 1964, Farrakhan wrote a scathing denunciation of Malcolm that appeared in “Muhammad Speaks,” the Nation of Islam’s newspaper.
In his screed, Farrakhan wrote that Malcolm “was worthy of death.” But years later, Farrakhan had to concede that his words contributed to the climate of hatred, acrimony and retribution between NOI members and Malcolm’s followers that led to the assassination of Malcolm X.
Contributing to the climate of hatred is all Farrakhan has owned up to, and is probably all that he is guilty of.
From March 1964 – when Malcolm announced his break with the Nation of Islam – until his assassination, there were parties within the NOI that no doubt ordered and/or plotted his death.
All those parties were in Chicago; Farrakhan split his time as minister of various East Coast NOI mosques at the time.
Oh, but this tale, as the saying goes, gets better and better.
One of those parties in Chicago was none other than an FBI informant. According to Karl Evanzz – author of “The Judas Factor: The Plot To Kill Malcolm X” and “The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad” – by January of 1968, that informant had risen to the third most powerful position in the NOI, behind Elijah Muhammad and his son Herbert.
“According to the FBI,” Evanzz wrote in “The Judas Factor,” “Herbert was the only obstacle in the way of its high-level informant from taking over the Nation of Islam.”
And if said informant, in 1964 and 1965, was involved in either planning or ordering the assassination of Malcolm X, then the entire matter of who’s to blame for Malcolm’s death changes, doesn’t it?
It seems to me that Louis Farrakhan wasn’t behind the assassination of Malcolm X, a charge repeated throughout “Betty and Coretta.” It seems to me that the informant Evanzz mentioned in his book – and the FBI – most certainly ARE the ones behind the assassination of Malcolm X.
This matter can easily be cleared up. All the information about the rift between Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X – which the FBI took credit for – the informant and the assassination can be found in the COINTELPRO files.
The release of those files – with not one page redacted – will tell us all the ugly details of who did what, when he did it and why.
But our president – that would be one Barack Obama – has yet to tell his attorney general to order the FBI to release all the COINTELPRO files, unredacted.
What are you waiting for, Mr. President?