Malcolm X Visits Columbiaedit
On April 17, 1963, Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X delivered a series of powerful addresses in Columbia. Born in 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm X emerged by the 1950s as the chief lieutenant of the Nation of Islam (N.O.I.) leader Elijah Muhammad. Invited to speak at the Township Auditorium by Thomas Shabazz, the head of local N.O.I. mosque #38, Malcolm X’s visit sparked intense debate in local newspapers and reports by the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
Elected officials tried to prevent his public address, forcing the cancellation of a contract for the Township Auditorium and an agreement to use a West Columbia Masonic lodge. Despite the opposition, Malcolm X addressed a small mosque here at 2217 Waverly Street. The minister sharply rebuked American racism, applauded student protesters, and criticized “naïve and narrow minded” black leaders who advocated token integration.