Slain activist Malcolm X called East Elmhurst home in ‘65

By The Greater Astoria Historical Society

The World’s Fair was in Queens, attracting visitors from far and wide. On Feb. 3, 1965, the Star-Journal reported that the fair “made news internationally as well as locally yesterday. The city will bring the fair into court if it fails to heed the subpoena served yesterday.”

On Feb. 6, the Star-Journal reported that “the World’s Fair ran up a deficit of $17,540,100 for its first year of operation, according to a report by its certified accountant.”

While a subpoena was being served on the Fair Corp., calling for its books and records to be produced in the office of then-city Comptroller Abe Beame, it was announced here and in London that a special tribute to Winston Churchill would be presented at the World’s Fair that season.

The Pavilion would be turned into a comprehensive Churchill Center depicting the illustrious career of Sir Winston, Fair President Robert Moses said.

“‘The Churchill Exhibit’ will tie in perfectly with the theme of the Fair — ‘Peace Through Understanding,’” said Moses.

Recreational drugs rather than recreation at the fair were on the minds of College Point residents who were concerned by recent reports of the proliferation of “goof balls” and pep pills, amphetamines described as “easy to get, but deadly.”

On Feb. 20, residents packed the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in College Point to plan their war on drugs.


Violent conflicts came closer to home Feb. 15, when the Star-Journal reported the fire-bombing the previous day at the Queens home of civil rights leader Malcolm X with the headline, “Dawn, Home Shattered — Police Guard the Fire-Scarred Home of Malcolm X — Cops Probe Bombing.”

“Police today are still searching for leads in the fire-bombing of Malcolm X’s East Elmhurst home early yesterday morning. Their basic questions are: Who tossed the Molotov cocktail at the house on 23-11 97th Street? And why? Malcolm, who aroused his wife and four daughters at 2.30 yesterday morning to escape the flames, flew to Detroit last night.

“Before leaving, Malcolm said of the bombing: ‘It doesn’t frighten me. It doesn’t quieten me down in any way or shut me up.’

“Malcolm has been fighting with the Chicago-based [Black Muslim] organization over who owns the now-gutted East Elmhurst home. The Black Muslims claim it as a rectory belonging to them. Malcolm says it is his.”

On Feb. 21, Malcolm X was shot to death while speaking at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan. The Star-Journal had full coverage of the assassination, and also reported that in Harlem, Chicago and East Elmhurst police patrols were on the streets.

“In East Elmhurst today, scores of extra police were assigned to watch over the quiet, residential neighborhood where Malcolm had lived until firebombed from his home last week. A special detail of uniformed patrolmen was on guard at the Corona home where Malcolm’s widow and children were reported staying.

On Feb. 24, the Star-Journal reported that the headquarters of the Black Muslim organization had been moved from Manhattan to Corona. And the following day, readers were informed that police were continuing to guard the Corona headquarters after a bomb scare had instigated a thorough search of the building that uncovered no bombs.

For more information, call 718-278-0700 or visit astorialic.org.

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