Malcolm X: The Complexity Of a Man in the Jungle (Feb. 25, 1965)


“Malcolm X has three faces. One is turned toward Africa, one toward Harlem, and one toward Washington. His masks are more numerous. They are juggled by both the actor and his audience. He’s a charismatic leader. Then a cartoon figure waving a rifle. He’s a racist. Then a Black National gone white. A symbol of hope and Father Divine. An anti-semite and a preacher of brotherhood. An extremist and a man to move the Movement. In Harlem the people watch the performance. The black politicians mark the trickle of converts going through the glass doors of the Organization of Afro-American Unity he formed after the split with the Black Muslims in March, 1964. They wait to see if it signals a flood, now that the gates are open to non-Muslims, and now that a separate black state is no longer the destination. The politicians will not completely associate themselves with him. Nor will they disassociate themselves. The untested potential of Malcolm X keeps people like Adam Clayton Powell careful friends. A cross-section of Harlem comes to measure the man and his methods on Sunday nights at Audubon Ballroom. Seated on 500 wooden folding chairs are the disinherited people who never had any hope or answers and those, whether Nationalist or non-violent activist, who have run out of both. There are children looking for pride, and there are many older church-goers who, unlike Mahalia Jackson, can’t sing, ‘I found the answer, I learned to pray.’ In the bars and grills — Small’s and Jock’s and the Shalimar on Seventh Avenue, the Palm’s and Frank’s on 125th Street — the debate goes on. … Down the street from Jock’s in his Hotel Theresa headquarters, sat the subject of the debate. With his long frame hunched over a phone in his closet-like inner office, Malcolm made arrangements to speak at Harlem Hospital. He fumbled through the pockets of his dark three-button suit, through his vest and his attache case looking for his pen. Then, hanging up, he pressed his fingers against his eyes and rested. … Down the street from Jock’s in his Hotel Theresa headquarters, sat the subject of the debate. With his long frame hunched over a phone in his closet-like inner office, Malcolm made arrangements to speak at Harlem Hospital. He fumbled through the pockets of his dark three-button suit, through his vest and his attache case looking for his pen. Then, hanging up, he pressed his fingers against his eyes and rested. …”
Voice
Voice: Burying Malcolm X (March 4, 1965)

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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