We’ve made it through January in relatively one piece, and Black History Month is already upon us.
To kick off the month-long celebration, ABC News is airing a deep dive into the assassination of Malcolm X, one of the country’s most renowned leaders in the struggle for Black liberation. But the lens will be focused on a man wrongfully convicted of killing him.
On Thursday February 3, the news outlet is presenting a 1-hour special on the exoneration of Muhammad Abdul Aziz. The special, “Soul of a Nation Presents: X/onerated – The Murder of Malcolm X and 55 Years to Justice” will feature the first TV interview with Aziz since his exoneration, and ESSENCE has an exclusive trailer.
WATCH: “X/onerated” trailer- an exclusive first look at the ABC News special
ABC News “Nightline” co-anchor Byron Pitts will interview key figures, as the primetime documentary retraces “Malcolm X’s shocking 1965 assassination, Aziz’s decades behind bars and on parole, and the devastating impact on Aziz’s family,” according to a press statement provided to ESSENCE.
The special will also include interviews with Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz as well as the children of the late Khalil Islam, who was also wrongfully convicted, and posthumously exonerated, for Malcolm X’s assassination.
Aziz and Islam had their convictions thrown out in November 2021. As per the New York Times, “for decades, historians have cast doubt on the case against the two men…who each spent more than 20 years in prison. Their exoneration represents a remarkable acknowledgment of grave errors made in a case of towering importance: the 1965 murder of one of America’s most influential Black leaders.”
Malcolm X, who later changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in upper Manhattan. According to the Times: “A 22-month investigation conducted jointly by the Manhattan district attorney’s office and lawyers for the two men found that prosecutors and two of the nation’s premier law enforcement agencies — the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York Police Department — had withheld key evidence that, had it been turned over, would likely have led to the men’s acquittal.”
Aziz and Islam each spent over twenty years in prison and were released in the 1980s, but their names had not been cleared of the murder until last fall.
“Nobody was listening,” Aziz tells interviewer Byron Pitts at one point during the special. “But the world is listening now,” Pitts responded.
“X/onerated” airs Thursday, Feb. 3 (9:00 – 10:00 p.m. EST), on ABC.