A new documentary chronicling the last years of Malcolm X’s life was released on Monday on the Smithsonian Channel as part of its Lost Tapes series. Documentaries in the series break from tradition by allowing subjects to tell their own stories in their own words without commentary from experts or contemporaries.


The documentary follows Malcolm X’s rise through Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam movement and details their split, and reveals that Muhammad Ali changing his name from Cassius Clay came at a great personal cost for Malcolm, it signified the loss of any public association with Ali.

The film exposes details of Malcolm X’s changing and evolving views on white people, but most importantly his evolving views on Martin Luther King Jr, showing a clip of Malcolm directly telling whites who were in opposition to Dr. King to listen to the message and the methods of his counterpart, before more violent methods were to erupt onto the American struggle for Black rights.

It also features footage from the day of his assassination. Ilaysha Shabazz, Malcolm X’s third youngest daughter told a crowd during the screening at the National Museum of African American History and Culture that she did not remember her father holding her earlier in the day of his death or seeing her mother drape her body over his lifeless body:

My young mother was pregnant with our youngest sisters, the twins… I’m told my mother placed her entire body over my sisters and me that sunny, cold afternoon to protect us from the gunfire and make certain we could not see…So, I cherish the fun, loving and inspirational stories my mother and sisters shared, to keep our father’s memory very integral in our family’s lives.

The documentary is available from the Smithsonian Channel