[Marxism] The man who did not shoot Malcolm X

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Oct 1 07:08:58 MDT 2007

This is a long and fascinating article on Khalil Islam, who was arrested 
and found guilty along with two other men for the assassination of 
Malcolm X. It is the same person I found out about first in 1967 when I 
was a welfare worker in Harlem and became friends with one of my 
clients, Jonathan (Jo Jo) Jones Jr. Jo Jo was a drummer just like his 
father Jo Jones. Somewhere along the line, the question of Malcolm X 
came up and Jo Jo told me that his brother-in-law had been framed up. 
This was obviously Khalil Islam, as the article indicates:

According to Khalil, Thomas Johnson, his given “slave name”—he now calls 
it his “government name”—had “a really beautiful childhood,” especially 
when he lived with his grandparents near Atlantic City. “It was country, 
I ran around in the woods. My grandfather played the slide trombone and 
tuba in the sideshow of the Barnum and Bailey circus. I got my love of 
music then.” But after moving to New York, he tried dope and knew, 
“right away, I’d be doing it every day. I loved it.”

Fifteen when his father threw him out of the house for his drug use, 
Khalil spent a decade in the streets. Along with his onetime wife Jo-Ann 
Jones, daughter of Jo Jones, the nonpareil drummer in the Basie band, 
Khalil passed time in jazz clubs, digging his bop favorites like Sonny 
Rollins and Thelonious Monk. He lived in a hotel on West 44th Street 
where Sugar Ray Robinson had the penthouse. Like most junkies, he 
remembers the precise location of every place he copped dope. Driving 
past a billiard parlor on 145th Street, Khalil said, “That was one of my 
spots. We’d walk down from the Bronx. Didn’t matter if it was raining, 
soaking wet, we’d go.” Nights in “dope holes” on 117th Street were spent 
clutching “wake-up bags,” packets of heroin needed “to get your ass out 
of bed so you could go into your daily flatfoot hustle.”

full: http://nymag.com/news/features/38358/

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