About 300 people are expected to hear remarks Saturday from one of Malcolm X's six daughters, Ilyasah Shabazz, as well as U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel and other elected officials.
The ceremony is being held at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center in Harlem, formerly known as the Audubon Ballroom. Malcolm X was shot to death there Feb. 21, 1965, as he was preparing to address several hundred of his followers.
By the time he died, the Muslim leader had moderated his militant message of black separatism and pride but was still very much a passionate advocate of black unity, self-respect and self-reliance. Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted of murder in his death. He had repudiated the Nation of Islam less than a year earlier.
In an interview with The Associated Press on the eve of the anniversary observance, Ilyasah Shabazz said she was pleased that the site is now a place for people to get a sense of empowerment.
"One of the great things about Malcolm is that he redefined the civil rights movement to include a human rights agenda," she said. "So while we are focusing on integrating schools, integrating housing and all these other things, Malcolm said that we demand our human rights 'by any means necessary.' And that means ... that we have to address these problems. That we have to identify them, and absolutely discuss them."
At 3:10 p.m., a moment of silence will be held to commemorate the time of his shooting. Actor Delroy Lindo will also read a eulogy to Malcolm X that was written by the late actor and activist Ossie Davis.
Veteran social and political activist Ron Daniels will give the keynote address.
Malcolm X, whose full name was El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was 39 when he was killed.