Why the U.S. Government Assassinated Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. (2014)

by Roland Sheppard

King’s ‘Dream’ is not possible under the nightmare of capitalism. Capitalism is based on the exploitation of Labor, and racism is required to divide and weaken the working class. As Malcolm X said, “Racism is profitable. If it were not profitable, it would not exist.”

– Roland Sheppard


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The previous Civil Rights Movement offers valuable lessons for today: If we don't let them divide us; if we keep our politics independent of the Republican and Democratic Parties and the Government; if we rely only upon our own power in the streets, in the schools, and at work; if we take up the struggles of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the many other heroes of the movement, we can win.

— Roland Sheppard


Print copy

ISBN: 978-0-9959854-4-5
Pages: 24
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Table of Contents



The Assassination of Malcolm X
The Government’s Motive 
The Cover-Up
The Threat to U.S. Capitalism 
The Judas Factor
The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr
The Government’s Motive 
The Struggle for Freedom Today



Malcolm X was assassinated fifty years ago, on February 21, 1965. Three years later, Martin Luther King, Jr. was also assassinated (April 4, 1968). These murders marked an escalation in the U.S. Government’s war against the Civil Rights Movement.

In the 1960s, Roland Sheppard regularly attended Malcolm X’s meetings in Harlem. Between 1964 and 1965, he was in charge of security when Malcolm X spoke at the Militant Labor Forum in New York City. He is one of the few remaining people who personally witnessed the assassination of Malcolm X in the Audubon Ballroom.

A life-long socialist, Sheppard was active in the Civil Rights Movement, the movement against the U.S. war in Vietnam, the Black Liberation Movement, the struggle for women’s liberation, for union rights, for workers democracy, and for socialism. He worked for 31 years as a union painter until his 1994 election as an official for Painters Local 4 in San Francisco.

Sheppard is often invited to speak about his experiences. One time, when he was addressing an inner-city history class, he was astonished to find that the class textbook contained only two pages on the Civil Rights Movement.

The students had a lot of questions after Sheppard’s presentation, and many stayed after school to continue the discussion. They were hungry for knowledge about their history.

Sheppard wrote this pamphlet to feed that hunger and to inspire the next generation of Freedom Fighters.



‘Why the U.S. Government Assassinated Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.’

by Roger Hollander

San Francisco Bay View, October 2, 2014
View online article

The question of who ordered the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. is a vital one, and thousands of pages have been written on the issue. Those who dismiss the notion that the United States government would engage in assassination – by characterizing those who believe this as “conspiracy nuts” – willfully ignore the 1975 Church Committee Report that exposed covert, illegal government activities and the many CIA-orchestrated assassinations and coups d’etat from Africa to Latin America.

The CIA’s experience with overseas assassinations has given it more than enough expertise to conduct domestic assassinations, with the added advantage of having control over investigating agencies at the local, state and national levels.

Deciding criminal guilt is largely based on proving means, motive and opportunity. When it comes to political assassination, the key question is motive.

Powerful government institutions possess, or can easily obtain, the means and the opportunity to conduct an assassination and divert attention to “a lone gunman” or a patsy like Lee Harvey Oswald. The mainstream media conveniently forget this fact as they rush to legitimize wacky theories that take the heat off the CIA, FBI, NSA and police.

In Why the U.S. Government Assassinated Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., Roland Sheppard exposes the U.S. government’s motive for assassinating Malcolm X in New York’s Audubon Ballroom on Feb. 21, 1965, and Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968. The fact that Sheppard is one of the few remaining eye witnesses to the assassination of Malcolm X adds a note of immediacy and authenticity to his analysis.

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