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i didnt sign up for this

Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 15:06:05
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  I've thought about that time a lot since then. No physical move in my life has been more pivotal orprofound in its repercussions.

  I could feel him combing, straight back, first the big comb, then the fine-tooth one.

   The state people, we found out, had interviewed the Gohannas family, and the Gohannases had saidthat they would take me into their home. My mother threw a fit, though, when she heard that-and thehome wreckers took cover for a while.

   If we were driving somewhere, motorists along the highway would wave to Malcolm X, the faces ofboth whites and Negroes spontaneously aglow with the wonderment that I had seen evoked by other"celebrities." No few airline hostesses had come to know him, because he flew so much; they smiledprettily at him, he was in turn the essence of courtly gentlemanliness, and inevitably the word spreadand soon an unusual flow of bathroom traffic would develop, passing where he sat. Whenever wearrived at our destination, it became familiar to hear "There's Malcolm X!" "_Where_?" "The tall one."Passers-by of both races stared at him. A few of both races, more Negroes than whites, would speak ornod to him in greeting. A high percentage of white people were visibly uncomfortable in his presence,especially within the confines of small areas, such as in elevators. "I'm the only black man they've everbeen close to who they know speaks the _truth_ to them," Malcolm X once explained to me. "It's theirguilt that upsets them, not me." He said another time, "The white man is afraid of truth. The truthtakes the white man's breath and drains his strength-you just watch his face get red anytime you tellhim a little truth."There was something about this man when he was in a room with people. He commanded the room,whoever else was present. Even out of doors; once I remember in Harlem he sat on a speaker's standbetween Congressman Adam Clayton Powell and the former Manhattan Borough President HulanJack, and when the street rally was over the crowd focus was chiefly on Malcolm X. I rememberanother time that we had gone by railway from New York City to Philadelphia where he appeared inthe Philadelphia Convention Hall on the radio station WCAU program of Ed Harvey. "You are theman who has said 'All Negroes are angry and I am the angriest of all'; is that correct?" asked Harvey,on the air, introducing Malcolm X, and as Malcolm X said crisply, "That quote is correct!" thegathering crowd of bystanders stared at him, riveted.

  I would raise up my hand, "_As-Salaikum-Salaam-_""_Wa-Alaikum-Salaam!_" It was a roared response from the great audience's Muslim seating section.

  It was Sister Betty X. She was tall, brown-skinned-darker than I was. And she had brown eyes.

  Cocaine produces, for those who sniff its powdery white crystals, an illusion of supreme well-being,and a soaring over-confidence in both physical and mental ability. You think you could whip theheavyweight champion, and that you are smarter than anybody. There was also that feeling oftimelessness. And there were intervals of ability to recall and review things that had happened yearsback with an astonishing clarity.

  So I flew again to see Mr. Muhammad, but this time to Phoenix, Arizona, where the Nation of Islamhad bought him the house in the hot, dry climate that relieved his severe bronchial condition. He and Italked alone this time. He told me how his organization had come far with largely uneducatedMuslims and that truly giant strides for the black man could be made if his organization were aidedby some of the talents which were available in the black race. He said, "And one of our worst needs iswriters"-but he did not press me to answer. He suddenly began coughing, and rapidly grew worseand worse until I rose from my seat and went to him, alarmed, but he waved me away, gasping thathe would be all right. Between gasps, he told me he felt that "Allah approves" the book. He said,"Malcolm is one of my most outstanding ministers." After arranging for his chauffeur to return me tothe Phoenix airport, Mr. Muhammad quickly bade me good-bye and rushed from the room coughing.


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