March 28, 1931
May 1, 1973
Age at Death:
Mr. Jamal was known as an author and activist. His wife Dorothy was also an activist.
He was born Allen Donaldson, in Roxbury, Boston. His father was an alcoholic, and his mother abandoned him when he was 6. He was a "cousin" to Malcolm X. Mr. Jamal began using controlled substances early in life. In his early 20s he spent four years in prison. His temper led to his committal to a mental asylum, after two attempted murders. He later underwent a conversion to the teachings of the Nation of Islam and renamed himself Hakim Jamal. He became a spokesman for the movement and contributed articles to various newspapers promoting Black Power. After Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam, Mr. Jamal supported his decision and was outspoken in his criticism of Elijah Muhammad. Mr. Jamal and others founded "US", an organization to promote African-American cultural unity. He had already circulated a self-produced magazine entitled "US", a pun on the phrase "us and them" and the abbreviation of "United States". This promoted the idea of black cultural unity as a distinct national identity. Mr. Jamal argued that the ideas of Malcolm X should be the main ideological model for the group. However, Mr. Jamal's views increasingly differed from some in the group, and he continued to emphasise radical politics. He eventually left "US" because of ideological disagreement to establish the Malcolm X Foundation, based in Compton, California. Mr. Jamal forged relationships with the Black Panthers and several top name, sympathetic entertainer donors - he hosted a fundraiser for his school with Hollywood’s liberal elite —Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Vanessa Redgrave, Lee Marvin, and Jane Fonda.
On May 1, 1973, Mr. Jamal was killed when five men burst into his apartment in Boston and shot him repeatedly. Police attributed the crime to a factional dispute, linked to Jamal's attacks on Elijah Muhammad. It was blamed on a Black gang group known as De Mau Maus. Five members of the group were convicted of involvement in the murder.
Was justice served?
Yes and No. A great deal of contradictory evidence was introduced. Isaac Mitchell, was convicted of actually shooting Mr. Jamal, and was set free on parole after serving about 10 years of a manslaughter conviction (he had stated it was self defense as the men were there to protect Mr. Jamal not kill him. Three other men (John Clinkscale, Efrid Brown and Abdullah Sabree, later known as William Johnson were members of De Mau Mau) received death sentences that were commuted in 1987 by Governor Michael S. Dukakis (reduced to 21 years). The commute was after overwhelming evidence that these men did not pull the trigger when Mr. Jamal was shot (they were convicted of felony murder for being present during the slaying). The fifth man present at the murder was Phillips Key, not a member of De Mau Mau and also testified against Mr. Mitchell.