Malcolm X (Left) and local N.O.I. representative Thomas Shabazz (Right) exchange greetings upon his arrival at Columbia Municipal Airport on April 17, 1963. (Image courtesy of The State newspaper)
A Message to the Grassroots: Malcolm X Visits Columbia, S.C.
On April 17, 1963, Nation of Islam (N.O.I.) minister Malcolm X addressed a small mosque at 2217 Waverly Street in Columbia. Invited to speak by Thomas Shabazz, the head of local N.O.I. mosque #38, Malcolm X’s visit sparked intense debate in local media and efforts to prevent his visit by elected officials. In his address, the minister sharply rebuked American racism, applauded student protesters, and criticized “naïve and narrow minded” black leaders who advocated token integration.