Malcolm’s assertion that President John F. Kennedy’s assassination amounted to “the chickens coming home to roost” led to his suspension from the Black Muslims in December 1963. A few months later, he left the organization, traveled to Mecca, and discovered that orthodox Muslims preach equality of the races, which led him to abandon the argument that whites are devils. Having returned to America as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, he remained convinced that racism had corroded the spirit of America and that only blacks could free themselves. In June 1964, he founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity and moved increasingly in the direction of socialism. More sophisticated than in his Black Muslim days and of growing moral stature, he was assassinated by a Black Muslim at a rally of his organization in New York on February 21, 1965. Malcolm X had predicted that, though he had but little time to live, he would be more important in death than in life. Foreshadowings of his martyrdom are found in The Autobiography of Malcolm X. The almost painful honesty that enabled him to find his way from degradation to devotion to his people, the modest lifestyle that kept him on the edge of poverty, and the distance he somehow managed to put between himself and racial hatred serve, in that volume, as poignant reminders of human possibility and achievement.
The Memoir also sometimes sheds light on Wittgenstein’s philosophy. For example, Malcolm reports that Wittgenstein dismissed attempts to provide a rational foundation or proof for God’s existence, believing instead in a Kierkegaardian type of view that religion is a matter of passion (1970, 59, 82). Wittgenstein referred to Kierkegaard “with something like awe in his expression” (1970, 60). Malcolm also recounts being especially struck by one remark Wittgenstein made during one of their walks that bears on his “use-conception” of meaning: “An expression has meaning only in the stream of life” (1970, 73-75).