with Gordon Parks
Malcolm X, Gordon Parks (from the
Malcolm X Museum)
a conversation between Gordon Parks and Malcolm X, February 19, 1965
it really true that the Black Muslims are out to get you?" I
as true as we are standing here. They've tried it twice in the last
about police protection?"
laughed. "Brother, nobody can protect you from a [Black] Muslim
but a [Black] Muslim -- or someone trained in [Black] Muslim tactics.
I know. I invented many of those tactics."
you have any protection at all?"
laughed again. "Oh, there are hunters and there are those who
hunt the hunters. But the odds are certainly with those who are most
skilled at the game."
explained that he was now ready to provide a single, unifying platform
for all our people, free of political, religious, and economic differences.
"One big force under one banner," he called it. He was convinced
that whatever mistakes he had made after leaving Elijah Muhammad had
been in the name of brotherhood. "Now it looks like this brotherhood
I wanted so badly has got me in a jam," he said.
the last year he had sent me postcards from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait,
Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, and Tanganyika, and I thanked him
wondering why I've been going back and forth to Africa. Well, first
I went to Mecca to get closer to the orthodox religion of Islam. I
wanted firsthand views of the African leaders -- their problems are
inseparable from ours. The cords of bigotry and prejudice here can
be cut with the same blade. We have to keep that blade sharp and share
it with one another." Now he was sounding like the old Malcolm:
"Strangely enough, listening to leaders like Nasser, Ben Bella,
and Nkrumah awakened me to the dangers of racism. I realized racism
isn't just a Black and white problem. It's brought bloodbaths to about
every nation on earth at one time or another."
stopped and remained silent for a few moments. "Brother,"
he said finally, ''remember the time that white college girl came
into the restaurant -- the one who wanted to help the Muslims and
the whites get together -- and I told her there wasn't a ghost of
a chance and she went away crying?"
I've lived to regret that incident. In many parts of the African continent
I saw white students helping Black people. Something like this kills
a lot of argument. I did many things as a [Black] Muslim that I'm
sorry for now. I was a zombie then -- like all [Black] Muslims --
I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march.
Well, I guess a man's entitled to make a fool of himself if he's ready
to pay the cost. It cost me twelve years."
was a bad scene, brother. The sickness and madness of those days --
I'm glad to be free of them. It's a time for martyrs now. And if I'm
to be one, it will be in the cause of brotherhood. That's the only
thing that can save this country. I've learned it the hard way --
but I've learned it. And that's the significant thing."
we parted he laid his hand on my shoulder, looked into my eyes and
said, "As-salaam-alaikum, brother."
may peace be with you, Malcolm," I answered.