I received a call late last night that Brother Khalil Islam, formally known as Thomas 15X Johnson, the man wrongly convicted in 1966 of murdering brother Malcolm X, passed away on Tues. Aug. 4th. He was 74. His funeral was scheduled to be held today, Aug 6th at the 96 th Street Masjid in New York.
I got to know Khalil many years after his release from prison, and he impressed me as a man committed to his religion and loyal to his leader, Imam W.D. Mohammed. Deeply spiritual, he accepted his fate as the will of Allah, and would often tell me about his days in the Nation of Islam when he sometimes acted as Malcolm’s driver. I last spoke to him in May of this year, when we were attempting to get him booked on a local NY television show (which never materialized for reason’s that are still unclear to me). From the time he left prison in 1986 he worked to get his conviction officially overturned and his name cleared. I would listen to him sympathetically but never had the heart to tell him that that was never going to happen. As far as the New York criminal justice system is concerned, the Malcolm X murder case was closed a long time ago.