The Killer of Malcolm X Is Set Free on Parole

Courtesy of Taylor Media Services | 5/4/2010, 2:02 p.m.

Thomas Hagan, the only man to actually admit that he participated in the assassination of Malcolm X, was set free last week approximately 45 years after the murder of the man often considered the prince of Black nationalism in America. Hagan, who was known as Talmadge X. Hayer at the time of the assassination was released on parole from a New York City prison.

Hagan, now 69, was one of three gunmen who shot Malcolm X as he began a speech at Harlem's Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965. He has maintained that the other two men convicted in the killing were not involved. Although Hagan expressed regret for his role in the assassination, he has refused to name the men who he says were actually involved.

Malcolm X rose to national prominence as a member of the Black Muslim sect known as the Nation of Islam. He had broken with the movement's founder Elijah Muhammad over alleged infidelities and financial improprieties. The break angered many of Muhammad's most devote followers and the stage was thus set of Malcolm's assassination.

Indeed, in 2008, Hagan described his role in the murder as the actions of a young man who "acted out of rage on impulse and loyalty" to Elijah Muhammad. The other two men convicted in the assassination were paroled in the 1980s and Hagan has not actually been in prison for 45 years. He was placed on work release about 20 years ago and in recent years has only spent two days a week in the prison.