2 Arrested in Slaying of Malcolm X’s Grandson

The younger Malcolm inherited, and then left behind, a complicated legacy.

By Jamilah King May 14, 2013

Two men have been arrested in Mexico City in the slaying of Malcolm Shabazz, the 28-year-old grandson of Malcolm X. More from the New York Times:

The men taken into custody, David Hernández Cruz and Manuel Alejandro Pérez de Jesús, worked as waiters at the Palace Club, a downtown bar where Mr. Shabazz, 28, was beaten, in what the city prosecutor called a dispute over an excessive bill.

Two other bar employees who the authorities said participated in the beating, which left Mr. Shabazz with fatal skull, jaw and rib fractures, were being sought.

The body of Mr. Shabazz, who for years had wrestled with living in the shadow of his grandfather’s fame, was still at a city morgue on Monday while American consular officials worked to have it returned to the United States. A family spokeswoman said they would have no comment, and no funeral plans have been announced.

The younger Malcolm’s death last week sent shockwaves across politically active circles in the United States and abroad. Over at the New Yorker, Jelani Cobb wrote about the complicated legacy that Shabazz shouldered, and the one that he left behind:

Read his blog and what emerges is a young man who died at a time when he was still trying to define his life and identity, both separate from and yet very much tied to his grandfather’s. The first sentence on the blog reads "Malcolm is the first male heir of Malcolm X." At twenty-eight he was literally the image of his grandfather. His March 9th post features a split screen image of him and Malcolm X, the latter in his iconic finger-to-temple pose. In an earlier post is a picture of Malcolm, fil, donning a fedora and recast as the mugshot of his ancestor during his Detroit Red days. Elsewhere he posed with a rifle, peering out a window. On one level that kind of mimicry was the most honest commentary possible. The sole directly related man in a family consisting of five aunts and an internationally recognized grandmother, Malcolm X was an identifiable male role model for him to imitate, even if it was posthumously. He was not alone in this pursuit–in his 1965 eulogy Ozzie Davis pointed to Malcolm as the working definition of black manhood, an idea that millions of young Malcolm Shabazz’s peers cosigned.

In his own writings, the younger Malcolm "given the storm of lies, and half-truths that come with being the descendant of El Hajj Malik el Shabazz…everything that I do; great or small, good or not so good, real or imagined is subject to controversy." You can read more of Malcolm Shabazz’s writings on his blog.

At least one memorial service has been scheduled. It will take place at 10am PST this Friday at the Islamic Center of Northern California in downtown Oakland.