In the five or so years after the assassination of Malcolm X, the FBI continued to monitor events related to the deceased Black activist. According to declassified documents, FBI officials were especially concerned over the dissemination of Malcolm X's ideas, which they had deemed subversive and revolutionary. FBI activities were wide ranging, and according to their files, the government paid particular attention to books and articles on Malcolm X, the publication of his speeches, possible motion pictures that were in pre-production, and rallies and memorial services held in his honor. FBI documents were generally categorized under the titles of "racial matters" and "extremist matters." The ostensible reason for FBI activities was suspected communist infiltration of organizations associated with the name and legacy of Malcolm X.

Selected Malcolm X FBI Files

This selection of 62 pages of FBI documentation includes surveillance documents and reports on the dissemination of Malcolm's ideology. The final two documents of this partial collection focus on inquiries made to the Bureau about Malcolm X's assassination-a letter written by a private citizen and a request by New Jersey congressman William Hughes that the FBI look into the matter of Malcolm X's death as requested by a number of his constituents.

FBI activity with regard to Malcolm X after 1965 is a testament to his continued influence on the African American political scene and the legacy he left behind.

We would like you to examine this interesting series of documents and consider-among others you formulate-the following questions:

  • What was the FBI's motivation in continuing to monitor events within the African American community with regards to the slain Black activist?

  • How do the FBI documents reveal Malcolm X's continuing influence and popularity as a political leader among African Americans even after his death?

  • Why did Malcolm's legacy as a political revolutionary persist after his death?

    Record your findings and ideas with your word processor.

    If you would like to access other declassified FBI documents (nearly 20,000 pages of text) on Malcolm X, visit the U.S. Freedom of Information web site at: