Stan Bernard Interviews Malcolm X (February 18, 1965)

Stan Bernard: And what is the Black Muslim movement? Is it a bona fide religion or just a terror organization? Tonight on “Stan Bernard: Contact” we’re going to have a look at the Muslims and the Black nationalists in general. And my guests tonight: Malcolm X, once the number-two man in the Black Muslims, now broken with Elijah Muhammad; he says he’s a marked man and that a number of attempts have been made on his life. And also in the studio, or we hope very shortly, Aubrey Barnette. There’s been some difficulty tonight, just before air time, and Aubrey may join us and he may not. He’s also split from the organization, and he’s written an article in this week’s Saturday Evening Post labeled simply “The Black Muslims Are a Fraud.” And here is Aubrey Barnette now. And my third guest tonight, Gordon Hall, an expert on extremist organizations. Aubrey Barnette, in your article you call the Black Muslims a fraud. Now does this just apply to the mosque’s methods of raising money or what? Do you think it’s a religious fraud as well?

Aubrey Barnette: I think the entire Black Muslim movement is a fraud. And Webster’s Dictionary defines a fraud as deceit, trickery, or a trick. The Black Muslims have deceived the public. They’ve used trickery on trying to attract the Negroes and they have outright tricked the poor Black Muslim members. That’s why I say they are a fraud.

Bernard: Now, okay, they’ve tricked them. Now this is in terms of the religion itself as well as the money raising?

Barnette: Well, as far as the religion of Islam is concerned, I might say right here that any similarity between the Black Muslims and the true religion of Islam is purely coincidental.

Bernard: Malcolm X, I said at the outset that you were once the number-two man. I think I can rightfully say that, easily you were certainly as well known as, almost as well known, or as well known as Elijah Muhammad.

Malcolm X: But I never was the number-two man.

Bernard: You never were the number-two man.

Malcolm X: The press said I was the number-two man, but there were others ahead of me.

Bernard: How do you feel about this comment from Aubrey Barnette?

Malcolm X: What he’s saying is true, especially about the first, especially about the religion. The religion of Islam itself is a religion that is based upon brotherhood and a religion in which the persons who believe in it in no way judge a man by the color of his skin. The yardstick of measurement in Islam is one’s deeds, one’s conscious behavior. And the yardstick of measurement that was used by Elijah Muhammad was based upon the color of the skin.

Bernard: Malcolm, it wasn’t too long ago that you were preaching separation, Black supremacy, you were...or separation at any rate; if not Black supremacy, it sounded like Black supremacy to a lot of people. How do you equate that now with what you’re saying today?

Malcolm X: There’s not one person who is a Muslim who believes in Elijah Muhammad today who believes in him more strongly than I did. When I was with him I believed in him 100 percent. And it was my strong belief in him that made me go along with everything he taught. And I think if you check back on my representation of him while I was with him, I represented him 100 percent.

Bernard: What is your status now, Malcolm?

Malcolm X: How do you mean?

Bernard: Right now. Have you broken...

Malcolm X: I’m a Muslim. When must understand that the Black Muslim movement, although it claimed to be a religious movement, based upon Islam, it was never acceptable to the orthodox Muslim world. Although at the same time it attracted the most militant, the most dissatisfied of the Black community into it. And by them getting into it and the movement itself not having a real action program, it comprised a number of persons who were extremely young and militant but who could not...and who were activists by nature but who couldn’t participate in things. So the inactivity of the movement caused a great deal of dissatisfaction until finally dissension broke in and division, and those of us who left regrouped into a Muslim movement based upon orthodox Islam.

Bernard: So now that you’ve broken away, let me ask you a question and this calls for numbers. You’re no longer a member. Are you in a membership fight now with Elijah Muhammad?

Malcolm X: No, no, I have never at any time involved myself in a membership fight with Elijah Muhammad. In fact, if you go back to the release that I made public at the time of my official departure, I pointed out that I was in no way trying to take away the followers of Elijah Muhammad, but that I myself was going to become a Muslim, but would work among the 22 million non-Muslim Negroes and try to establish some kind of program that would be beneficial to the Black American, period.

Bernard: There were a lot of numbers that were thrown around some time ago. I guess it was two years ago or so. The numbers said something like 100,000 Muslims across the United States. And you, in your article Aubrey Barnette, talk about these numbers. You specify quite clearly. And you ask a question at one point. You say: “How large was our membership? The most accurate estimate I ever heard of our strength in Boston came during a radio debate between Gordon Hall a specialist on extremist organizations, and Malcolm X.” And that radio debate took place on “Bob Kennedy: Contact” in Boston; our sister station WBZ held that debate between you, Gordon, and Malcolm X. And I heard the tape of that debate. It was quite heated, and it was a very good debate, it was very entertaining, and I enjoyed it. What did you do...what now, when you talk about numbers today, and you, Aubrey, mention in your article you say something like fifty-five members in all of Boston, fifty-seven in another place.

Barnette: I say...

Bernard: Small membership numbers.

Barnette: I’m speaking of the present membership of the mosque right now. In Boston they have probably fifty-five male members and Springfield probably thirty-five or forty, and Providence, Rhode Island, maybe ten or fifteen members. The membership has just about dwindled in half. And before I comment on the actual sense of the movement at its peak, I’d like to add something to what Malcolm had just said. That not only did the Black Muslim movement attract dissatisfied Negroes, it attracted Negroes who were...contrary to the popular public belief, they did attract some Negroes who were doing very well in the world but...Negroes who thought that the Black Muslims had a program for improving the condition of the Negro in America. I was one of those Negroes. I was not very much dissatisfied as an individual when I came to the Muslim movement, but I knew that there was a problem existing in the Negro community. I knew that many Negroes were suffering from discrimination, they were frustrated, and there were many problems that were besetting our communities. And I thought the Muslims, Black Muslims, had a program for economic upliftment, a program of moral upliftment. I thought the Muslims had a program for combating juvenile delinquency.

Bernard: And you saw this as a myth now, or you see it...

Barnette: I see it as a myth now.

Bernard: I see. Gordon, you have been a critic of all extremist organizations. You sort of pinpointed the strength of the Muslim organization. And you say that the strength is basically a myth, with these hundred thousand numbers. How did you arrive at your own figures?

Gordon Hall: Well, I do this work full time to begin with, and I’ve done this work for close to twenty years, and when you follow extremists around, whether they’re Negro extremists or white extremists, if you follow the Klan around the way that I did, and penetrated their movements and found out numbers, you’ll find out that they make a lot of noise all out of proportion to their numbers, just as currently the Negro nationalists in the New York area are making noise all out of proportion to their numbers. And I think the real tip-off, Stan, came when Elijah was supposed to speak at the Boston Arena a few summers ago, I think it was July of 1962, and I flew back from a speaking date in Minneapolis and told the press that they couldn’t possibly fill the Boston Arena, which seats 7,200 people, even if they brought in all of the people from the other mosques around the Eastern Seaboard: Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and so on. I also predicted that Elijah Muhammad would not show up, that he’s an incoherent old man, he does not speak well he doesn’t make any sense in his public appearances, and I felt that Malcolm probably would carry the load that day. And it worked out precisely that way. This was a prediction long before they even opened the doors in the arena. And then lo and behold, despite all the efforts to allow the white public in, plus all the sisters and brothers, and all the fiddle-faddle about the whole show, they couldn’t even fill downstairs in the arena.

Bernard: And they brought in three thousand I think was the figure, right?

Hall: Yes, something like that, and that was the clear tip-off to me that this thing was built on quicksand, that they’d never had any members, really, and this is pretty much the history of extremist movements in general, that they make noise all out of proportion to their numbers. This was based really on the reality of the situation and not listening to all the grandiose statements made by men like Malcolm X.

Malcolm X: What year was that?

Hall: I don’t have the figures with me, Malcolm. I think it was the summer of ‘62, if I remember correctly. You were the main speaker.

Bernard: [To Barnette] You mention that in your article. And you say there were three thousand there. And, Malcolm, you were the main speaker.

Hall: And there were a lot of white people there too.

Malcolm X: No, there were about two hundred, which was a lot for those days. But I think you’ll find that the Muslim movement reached its peak in strength in 1960, ‘59 and ‘60. And it began to taper off in ‘61 and ‘62.

Hall: Do you agree with Aubrey’s figures that the peak strength was about fifteen-thirteen-to-fifteen thousand? Would that be your estimate, as well, of the total Muslim movement?

Malcolm X: No, the peak in 19-, yes, the peak in 1959 and ‘60 was reached, but it began to go down after Elijah Muhammad took a trip abroad, plus became involved in other personal problems. And the movement itself began to deteriorate only after Elijah Muhammad put members of his own family in positions of authority, which weakened the structure and caused internal bickering and division and eventually the movement just petered out.

Hall: Just one more point, Stan. I think the whole point of this last discussion between Aubrey and Malcolm and myself would be to point out that the three of us agree that the peak figure of say fifteen thousand, regardless of the year, whether it was 1960 or ‘59, this is far below what the press had been estimating all over the country And fifteen thousand Muslims in any country are not very many Muslims when you figure that we have, let’s say, a Negro population of close to twenty two million. This is just a drop in the bucket.

Bernard: C. Eric Lincoln came up with a figure of 100,000.

Hall: That’s because he doesn’t study extremists. That’s why he came up with that figure.

Malcolm X: No, I have to contend with that. And I won’t go along with what you’re saying.

Bernard: In what way? Malcolm, in what way?

Malcolm X: C. Eric Lincoln is the person who was probably first to mention a number in regards to Black Muslims. But you will never find any figure given out at any time, in any way, not by me, concerning the numerical strength of the Muslims. I have never standing answer was that the best part of the tree is the root, and I never defined the extent of the tree beyond that.

Bernard: Malcolm...

Hall: I don’t quite follow what...

Malcolm X: The thing that you have to consider, Mr. Hall is, like, when you say that when you study extremist groups usually they are very small and don’t have much of an impact upon the public or drawing among the public. Whether you’re in the North, South, East, or West, here in the States, where the nationalists are concerned, usually nationalists have an “anti-press,” whereas the civil rights groups or the accepted civil rights groups, usually the press, the city government, all of the machinery that has to do with molding public opinion goes along with civil rights groups. And whenever they’re giving something, they have everything going for them toward promoting what they’re giving. But when it comes to the nationalists, usually you’ll find that they have to almost fight their way into print, in advance, if they’re going to give something. And despite those obstacles and that type of organized opposition, still you’ll find the nationalist groups, especially in the New York area, command a large following. I’ll give you an example. This coming Sunday, at two o’clock at the Audubon Ballroom, the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which I’m presently involved in, which is considered nationalist, are having a rally, and you are welcome to attend that: white, black brown, red, yellow, green, or whatever else you have. And I think you’ll find that despite the fact that we get no help whatsoever from the press, that we’re able, here in the New York area, to attract larger crowds to our rallies than any other kind of rally that’s given, and they are given the complete support of the press.

Hall: But that doesn’t prove anything, Malcolm, because Harlem is a big place. You’ll get a lot of Negroes in, you’ll get curious whites, that doesn’t...that’s not your membership.

Malcolm X: No, nobody...

Hall: Just as, just as when...

Malcolm X: Listen...

Hall: ...the Grand Dragon of the Klan speaks on campus he will outdraw the vice president.

Malcolm X: He doesn’t have to have membership to still be the influencing factor in the South. You can’t tell me that the Klan is a handful of people in Alabama and then the whole government is supposed to be behind Martin Luther King, and the handful of Klansmen are keeping Dr. King in jail and marching Negro children down the road.

Hall: I’m not saying that at all.

Malcolm X: Well then you can’t say that extremist groups are not effective and do not represent an influencing factor in this society.

Bernard: Gentlemen, I want to ask...

Hall: I’m saying the Muslims and nationalists in the Negro community are not an important factor.

Bernard: I have a question to ask at this point.

Malcolm X: But the Klan is an important factor in the white community.

Hall: It has been historically, yes.

Bernard: Malcolm, Malcolm, you say attempts have been made on your life. And that was at this afternoon’s press conference. You say five different attempts recently. How were they attempted?

Malcolm X: Yes, more than five.

Bernard: Of course, there was the bombing of the house...

Malcolm X: Yes.

Bernard: ...which we know about, that occurred Sunday.

Malcolm X: Yes. First of all, I would like to point out about that bombing of the house, because the press has also been used during the past week to imply that I bombed my own house. I would like to point out right here and now that I have no life insurance. My wife has no life insurance. I have four baby girls, none of whom have life insurance. We don’t have health insurance. We don’t have fire insurance. We have no kind of insurance whatsoever. And the only group that stood to gain anything from the bombing of that house was the Black Muslim movement in which the insurance is actually...the insurance is in their name. And I really felt hurt that the press would allow itself to be used to give the public the impression that I would throw a bomb or light a fire to a home in which my family, which my wife and family are asleep. The deputy chief fire marshal, I think his name is Vincent Canty, pointed out to me, in the presence of witnesses on that same night, that a fireman picked up a bottle of gasoline from my living room that had not exploded, and because this bottle of gasoline was in a whiskey bottle, this fireman placed that bottle on a dresser in my baby’s room, thinking that it was a bottle of whiskey. And when my wife came in and saw the bottle there she asked the fireman what was it. And the fireman said it was whiskey. And well we know that there’s no whiskey in our house, and so she touched it and said, “This isn’t whiskey, this is something inflammable.” And then they took it out. Now despite that, the deputy marshal, deputy fire chief marshal, having this knowledge, and the police having this knowledge, still this knowledge is kept back from the press. And in the vacuum that exists, then this man James down at 116th Street steps in and tries to give the impression that all of this was done by me. And I think that it is a worse injustice on the part of the press and the police and the firemen, to let such an impression be given, even than the people who threw the bombs in the house themselves.

Bernard: Aubrey, you were attacked in Boston by a group that you say were members of a Muslim goon squad. How did that come about?

Barnette: Right. Well I think that I should be angry with Malcolm, because I think in a way Malcolm was responsible for my being attacked. And the reason I was attacked was because the Black Muslim movement, losing strength, had to build an enemy. And the enemy they projected was the Black nationalists. Now because I had left the mosque and put the Black Muslim behind, they branded me as a Black nationalist, even though I had left the mosque sometime before Malcolm ever thought of leaving the mosque. I was still accused of being a follower of Malcolm, although they should have turned it around and said Malcolm was following me, because I left first.

Malcolm X: That’s right.

Barnette: Anyway, I can testify to the brutality of the Black Muslims, because I was viciously attacked by the Black Muslims and put in the hospital for a week with a fractured...rather I was hospitalized for a week and at home in bed for another week. I had a fractured rib, a fractured ankle, two fractured vertebrae, and internal injuries. And the reason I was attacked was primarily because I had the audacity to quit the Black Muslim movement. And I might point out as far as the Black Muslims’ manufacturing stories. One of the most fantastic stories I ever heard was the Black Muslims’ testimony in the trial in which they were, incidentally, were all found guilty of assault and battery on myself and the other fellow...

Bernard: You pressed charges.

Barnette: Yes sir. I was one of the first cases in the country where a Black Muslim ex-member had pressed charges against the Black Muslims for being beat up. I’m not the first one who was beat up. I’m the first one who actually took the...had the courage to take them into court. And during this trial they made some outrageous charges. First of all they charged that John Thimas and myself attacked the mosque, two men, attacked the mosque.

Bernard: You were a mighty 135 pounds.

Barnette: I weigh 130 pounds soaking wet; with all my clothes on and probably with a pair of combat boots on I don’t weigh 130 pounds. But anyway I...John Thimas and myself attacked the mosque where there may be...according to the Black Muslim members they would have you believe there’s a thousand members there, but there were only probably fifty-five, but two men against fifty-five is pretty good odds. But this is the story they gave, that I attacked the mosque and during the course of the trial...I went to...after I was attacked I was taken to the city hospital by the Boston police. I stayed there for about two hours, and then the police took me to the Beth Israel...I mean I had myself transferred to the Beth Israel Hospital. So the lawyer, during the trial, said that I got together with the Beth Israel Hospital and faked all of these injuries. I faked the X rays, showing my fractured ribs. I faked the X rays, showing...

Malcolm X: Who was the lawyer?

Barnette: The lawyer was Edward Jacko.

Malcolm X: From New York City, Harlem?

Barnette: From New York City, yes.

Malcolm X: You mean Edward Jacko came to Boston and accused you of faking these charges?

Barnette: Yes, apparently he wasn’t very familiar with the Beth Israel Hospital because it’s one of the biggest hospitals in Boston, and how I ever got together with the Beth Israel Hospital to fake these records is beyond me. And why the Beth Israel didn’t take him up on that is beyond me also. But they will fabricate any charges, make up the wildest stories.

Bernard: Gentlemen, we’re going to get to the telephones in just one moment.

Malcolm X: Can I ask him just a question?

Bernard: Yes.

Malcolm X: Was Edward Jacko retained by the Muslims in Boston or was he retained by the Chicago headquarters?

Barnette: He was retained by the Chicago headquarters; because the Black Muslims were found guilty in lower court and advised by the judge to plead guilty and pay me restitution, $2,000, for the damages that I had sustained, and he would give them suspended sentences. But they, on orders of Chicago, they appealed the sentence, and they fired the other lawyer and imported Edward Jacko from New York.

Bernard: Okay, let’s get to you have something, Gordon?

Hall: One quick comment on this general discussion of the courts and such. Aubrey took his case into the courts, placed it in the hands of what he feels is of a reasonably fair and uncorrupt courts and justices and so on, and his case has been settled. I would charge that Malcolm’s one-sided account of what actually happened in his home and everything will have to be settled by the courts through investigation and all the rest. And I warn your listeners not to simply accept this at face value, but to watch the newspapers and see what does develop in this current case.

Barnette: Hey, wait a minute. Hold it.

Malcolm X: What do you mean by that?

Barnette: The case was settled...

Hall: I mean just what I said by that.

Barnette: ...not satisfactorily. These Muslims, I must point out, were given suspended sentences...

Hall: But they were convicted.

Barnette: ...against the law. Against the laws of Massachusetts. The statutes of Massachusetts say that you cannot give a person a suspended sentence when he’s been convicted of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Bernard: Well, there’s another point. There were actual suspects in that case. And let me say this about, in terms of fair play on this station. The Muslims are going to have a chance on March 3rd to answer every single charge that has been made here tonight against them.

Malcolm X: Well actually you should have had the Muslims here tonight.

Bernard: Well there’s a little problem with that, and we are going to arrange a program for them. And they are going to be appearing, including...and by the way there’s a good chance that Elijah Muhammad may appear on the program via the telephone. And we’re looking forward to that, of course. We’re trying to arrange that now. As soon as they were apprised of the fact that you were coming on the program tonight, they asked for equal time. And although it doesn’t really come under the equal time provisions by the FCC, we are going ahead and are giving them a program. I believe it’s March 3rd or March 4th. Well let’s get to our telephones. We have an awful lot of...

Hall: That was not the point, however, that I made. My only point was this, Stan. Simply that there are charges and countercharges leveled by dissident factions within the Negro community, the small dissident factions we’re talking about tonight. But these things will be thoroughly investigated by law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and justice will be done in the end, just as the Black Liberation Front will claim that they weren’t really trying to blow up anything, but the evidence is clear that they were trying to blow up the Statue of Liberty, despite their charges now that they’re being framed.

Malcolm X: Mr. Hall today we demanded that the FBI launch an immediate investigation of the bombing of my home on Sunday morning...

Hall: Very good. And I’m confident that...

Malcolm X: ...because we were charging a conspiracy on the part of some firemen, some policemen, and some newsmen to work together to cover up the part played by Elijah’s followers in the bombing and to give the public the impression that I bombed it myself, by withholding valuable information from the public and telling half-truths through the press. We demanded the FBI investigation...

Hall: Very good, very good.

Malcolm X: ...and I pointed out that my attorney had suggested that I and my wife submit ourselves to a lie detector test and that every policeman and fireman who entered that house that night do likewise. And we also suggest to the minister of the local temple here who represents Elijah that he too submit himself to a lie detector test and Joseph, the fat one, submit himself to a lie detector test since he has implied that the bombing was done by people other than himself. So we’re not in any way, sir, ducking away from any kind of investigation. We just demand...

Hall: Very good.

Malcolm X: ...that it be done by an impartial body and that it be done immediately.

Bernard: We haven’t taken a single phone call yet, gentlemen, and I would like to very much right now. Let’s find out what’s going on out there. The WINS “Contact” number: Judson 2-6405. This is Stan Bernard “Contact” you’re on the air.

Caller: Yes, I’d like to say that there’s one thing about this business about Malcolm’s home being bombed that really bothers me. He charges that the Black Muslims did this. There’s one thing. They happen to own this home. It’s not Malcolm’s home. It’s the Black Muslims’ home. Now it seems very odd to me that the Black Muslims would want to destroy their own property. It would seem more likely to me that Malcolm X would want to destroy the Black Muslims’ property. In other words, that he would try to just throw a couple of innocuous bombs in there that aren’t going to hurt anybody. He knows they’re not going to hurt anybody. They won’t do too much damage. And he’ll have a lot of publicity for himself. And then he can charge all he wants to “I’ll take a lie detector test” because he knows the lie detector test is not admissible in court as evidence of anything.

Bernard: Malcolm, how do you answer that?

Malcolm X: I say this: that the Black Muslim movement has never had as their motive the acquiring of that home. The possession of the home itself means nothing. Elijah Muhammad lives in a $150,000 house in Phoenix, Arizona. That house is worth less than $15,000. It’s not the home itself, the material home itself, that is the object of the present court battle. There’s more to it than that. And anybody...I should think people should question the deputy fire marshal and the others who investigated the bombing out there that night, and let them give their story as to whether or not I could have set those bombs. And this is why I say I charged a conspiracy on the part of some of the firemen, and some of the police, and some of the press, to give the impression that I set it. Anybody...

Bernard: Why would they side with the Black Muslim organization against you though, Malcolm? I don’t understand that.

Malcolm X: Well...

Bernard: Why you, not them; why them, not you?

Malcolm X: Let’s answer your question this way. The press, whenever I mention that an attempt has been made on my life, they print it in such a way that I am implying that an attempt has been made. The Black Muslim movement tried to kill me in Los Angeles airport, two weeks ago, while I was in the company of the Los Angeles police. The Los Angeles police stopped the TWA airlines from taking off. They stopped the airline’s flight from taking off. They slipped me into a private room, onto the plane through the basement, because of the presence of these persons in the airport, who were completely heedless of the presence of the police. Now this airliner was held up an hour and a half. Every passenger aboard it was taken off, his luggage was searched. I was kept on the plane. My luggage was searched. And then the TW Airlines security agent flew to Chicago from Los Angeles with me. I was met at the airport in Chicago by the assistant attorney general of the state of Illinois and at least twenty different detectives. I was held in their custody for twenty-four hours. I appeared on the Kupcinet show. When I came out of the studio, officials of the Black Muslim movement in Chicago even tried to attack the police to get at me. This was...the Los Angeles incident was not reported in the press. The Chicago incident was not reported in the press. A couple days later I appeared on David Susskind’s “Hot Line” on a Tuesday night, February 2nd. Entering the studio that night, the police department had to clash with about thirty members of the local Black Muslim movement who tried to inflict physical harm upon those who were appearing on the program. None of this was mentioned in the press whatsoever.
 By this type of incident being kept from the press, then when I jump out and say that somebody is trying to kill me, the implication is given that I’m trying to do some publicity seeking, or that I’m just making these stories up. But the police department from coast to coast in this country have the Black Muslim movement well infiltrated, just as they have any other group well infiltrated. They are well aware of these plots and discussions that take place.

Bernard: Malcolm, I...

Malcolm X: They could stop them if they wanted to.

Bernard: Malcolm, as a member of the press I have to say at this point that I’ve never heard anybody say to me or to anybody else, “Do not print anything about Malcolm X.” Or do not...or suppress a story. I have never heard that happen. When your house was bombed it was handled as a lead story, all the way. And whenever anybody that I know, who is a member of the press, is apprised of anything to do with Malcolm X, you’re news.

Malcolm X: Sir, but here’s the point. I’m news as long as what the news is about is something to project me in the image of someone with horns. But when it comes to objective reporting on things...

Bernard: I have you on this program tonight. I have you on this program tonight, and I don’t think anybody is knocking you. And I don’t think anybody...I don’t want to get this kind of personality...

Malcolm X: No, I’m not saying that. I’m not dealing with your program. I’m not dealing with your program. I’m dealing with this: that the impression like this man here, who just called in, tried to imply that I bombed my own home. Now, if he were aware of the physical attempts that have been made upon my life during the past year and the number of attempts that have been made, why it wouldn’t be difficult at all for him to see the...

Hall: ...go on television the day that your home was bombed. And I too am a public lecturer who travels from state to state giving lectures before large audiences. You were smiling and you were about to board a plane to go to Detroit. On the same day that your home was bombed, you carried out a speaking engagement. If that happened in my home, I would never think of leaving my loved ones for fear that something might happen while I’m gone. You got on the plane and went to Detroit and gave a lecture.

Malcolm X: The Black Muslim movement had its origin, as you know...

Hall: But is that not true that you did that?

Malcolm X: Hold it a minute. I’m going to explain it. The Black Muslim movement, as you, an expert, supposedly knows, had its origin in Detroit, Michigan. Now those who are in the Black Muslim movement symbolically regard Detroit as the
 Mecca, the root or the focal point of the origin or beginning of Elijah Muhammad’s movement in this country. The fact that I was to appear at a rally in Detroit had been highly publicized in Detroit. My wife and I felt that one of the purposes of the bombing of the house was to keep me from going to Detroit. We discussed it. And she encouraged me not to delay my trip. I went to Detroit, made the speaking engagement, and flew right back here.

Bernard: The WINS “Contact” number: Judson 2-6405. This is Stan Bernard “Contact” you’re on the air.

Caller: Hello. Bernard: Yes.

Caller: Hello. I’d like to address my question to Malcolm X.

Bernard: Go, right ahead.

Caller: Hello, Malcolm?

Malcolm X: Yes Sir.

Caller: I don”t sound-mean to sound rude, but aren’t you kind of a hypocrite, because you went all around the country preaching for the Black Muslims.

Malcolm X: No, I think I’m quite honest, because as long as I believed in what Elijah Muhammad was teaching and what he represented, I represented him 100 percent. Now, I know how bad it makes me look to tell you today what Elijah Muhammad is doing. That does not concern me. As long as I believed in him, I represented him. But there were things about Elijah Muhammad that his followers right now know and that I know. That when he became faced with it he didn’t stand up to it as a man. And when he failed to be able to stand up to his own problem as a man, it was then that those of us who left the movement realized, not only was he not divine, but he wasn’t even a man. And it was then that we began to reexamine all of what he taught. And I was fortunate enough to be able to go into the Muslim world and discuss the whole situation with the Muslims there, and since then I have been trying to practice the orthodox religion of Islam. But despite the fact that I’m trying to practice the orthodox religion of Islam, I don’t blind myself to the fact that our people in this country still have a problem that goes above and beyond religion. So we set up another organization that is not religious in order for all of us who want to participate in the struggle against these social-economic, and political evils in this country that confront our people, participate in them. And I don’t think it’s hypocritical at all for a person to be wrong and admit that he was wrong.

Bernard: Aubrey...

Malcolm X: I think it’s hypocritical when you pretend to still believe in something when you cease believing in it.

Bernard: Aubrey, you stopped believing, too. You left the Muslim movement. You wrote this article, “The Black Muslims Are a Fraud.” What were some of the specific things you saw in the movement that drove you away from it?

Barnette: Well some of the specific things that I saw that drove me away from it was...I’ll take for example the economic myth. The Muslims in their propaganda have projected the thought that they had a vast economic empire in Chicago. This is one of the things that really attracted me to the movement. When I first became aware of the movement, I was a college student and I had graduated from...I was just in the process of graduating from Boston University and I got a degree in, a bachelor of science degree in business administration. And when I started attending meetings, they used to tell me about the big businesses they had out in Chicago. Eleven months after I joined the movement, I finally went and saw these big businesses. And they consisted of a grocery store, a barbershop, a restaurant, and a dress factory, which had three power sewing machines in it. Now I was greatly disillusioned when I saw these things and...but this was the extent of the great Muslim empire that they had been speaking about.

Bernard: Well, was it just size? I mean a lot of were...were you just disappointed in the fact that the size wasn’t everything that everybody thought it was going to be?

Barnette: I was disappointed, because they had projected this as fact in their literature they had described it as Elijah Muhammad had invented a great communal system where the people, you know, the Negroes could get together and build businesses that would employ, give employment, you know, to all Negroes who needed jobs. And when I got out there I found out that these are businesses that Negroes had been establishing all across the country without inventing any new communal system. I was very disappointed.

Malcolm X: May I say something about that economic...what he’s saying is true, but I think I can shed a little clearer light on it. The businesses that the Muslim movement had established from coast to coast, all of them operated in the red. There was only one business in the entire Muslim movement that operated in the black and that was the restaurant there on 116th Street, right here in New York. In fact, the only businesses, the only Muslims in business, who operated businesses in the black were the Muslims in the New York area. And one of the bones of contention that developed between the factions in the Black Muslim movement was the jealousy that developed in Chicago toward the New York Muslims because they were more successful than the ones there in Chicago.

Barnette: There was another business, I think that operated in the black...

Malcolm X: Which one?

Barnette: And that was the dress factory. And the reason that operated in the black was because they had a captive market. One of the things that the Black Muslim members had to do was to buy these long robes for the women to wear. Now although the Muslim movement encouraged to learn how to sew, they were also forbidden to sew their own garments so they had to buy these garments from the dress factory in Chicago which, incidentally, was owned by the daughter of Elijah Muhammad, Ethel Sharrieff. So this was a very successful business, since in order to buy all these outfits you had to spend $200 to get the complete outfit.

Bernard: Gordon.

Hall: A point of fact, I think that also should be mentioned in connection with the businesses, that most of the Muslim businesses, Stan, around the country, those advertising in the paper, and so on, were not businesses established by men who joined the mosque and then became businessmen. They were businessmen who had established businesses, who then joined the mosque, and the Muslims claimed these businesses as their own. Is that not true, Malcolm?

Malcolm X: In some, in part. I think there are instances thing the Muslim movement did do, persons who never thought in terms of business; they were taught so much business, so much talk about business was stressed that many who didn’t have any business knowledge at all would become involved in a business venture. And then that venture would fold, which actually was worse for the movement than it was good for the movement. But I want to point out that the businesses in Chicago, as Elijah Muhammad has told me from his own mouth, were such a failure that he subsidized them himself. He used to run those businesses with money out of his own pocket, so that they would serve as a front. And he always pointed out that the...none of his...especially his sons and those around him, had any business ability, and it developed within them a lot of envy and jealousy toward the New York Muslims, because the most successful businessmen among the Muslims were those right here in the New York area.

Bernard: This is Stan Bernard “Contact” you’re on the air. Go right ahead. You there? No? Let’s try the next one, Steve. This is “Contact,” you’re on the air.

Caller: I’d like to address my question to Malcolm. I’d like to know, sir, why do you still use your X? And as far as the public opinion about you, maybe it’s because of your abrupt change in the Black Muslim group, to form your own national group, that the public is sort of like, they don’t exactly know where you stand. I mean they figured, like you said before, that you were with the Black Muslims and you were definitely with Muhammad. I’m sure that some in the public feel that, now that you’re with someone else, that they’re sort of like, uh, influencing you as far as your beliefs are concerned.

Malcolm X: That’s why I’ve been very slow, since I returned From Africa, to really go all out in the formation, or rather I should say the formation of the two organizations in which I am involved. If you recall, when I was in Mecca I wrote a letter back saying that when I returned to America I wouldn’t rest until I exposed Elijah Muhammad as the religious faker that he was. I was 100 percent sincere in saying that. But when I returned, one of the reasons that I’ve avoided, that I initially avoided any kind of discussion or talk about Elijah Muhammad and the Black Muslim movement...after leaving Mecca, rather before going to Mecca, I had an hour and a half conversation with President Nasser in Egypt. After leaving Mecca I spent three hours with President Julius Nyerere in what was then Tanganyika, is now Tanzania. I spent a couple days with President Jomo Kenyatta and Prime Minister Milton Obote of Uganda, and also President Azikiwe in Nigeria, President Nkrumah in Ghana, President Sekou Toure in Guinea. And I had an opportunity to discuss the problem of Black people on the African continent, plus the plight of our people in this country. And I won’t hesitate to say that conversations with these men broadened my scope tremendously, beyond what it was before I went over there. And I felt, when I came back that many things that I had learned would be constructive, or could be used constructively by Black people in this country in our struggle for human dignity. And I felt that I would be wasting my time entering into some kind of dispute with Elijah Muhammad and his followers. And so I spent my time, when I first came back here, trying to get the Organization of Afro-American Unity consolidated, plus the Muslim Mosque, which is based upon orthodox Islam. But the Black Muslim movement was fearful that if I was ever left alone long enough to get my feet firmly planted on the ground, and get our program out here in the public, that it would be too much competition for what they had already projected or had in mind.

Bernard: Let me ask you this, Malcolm. You at one time espoused complete separation of the races.

Malcolm X: I must say this concerning what Elijah Muhammad said about separation. He didn’t espouse separation. What he said was this: that the government should...if the government can’t give complete equality right now, then the government should permit Black people to go back to Africa. He didn’t ever say back to Africa. Elijah Muhammad has never made one statement that’s pro-African. And he has never, in any of his speeches, or written or oral, said anything to his followers about Africa.

Bernard: What about a Black state in the United States?

Malcolm X: He was as anti-African as he was anti-white.

Bernard: Did you say a Black state in the United States?

Malcolm X: No. So what he said was, “We should go back to our own.” And he phrased it like that, because if he spelled it out, he would have to point to some geographic area, and he would have to have the consent of the people in that geographic area, which he knew he couldn’t get. So he just kept it elusive and said, “Let’s go back to our own.” And if the government wouldn’t let us go back to our own, then he said separation should set up right here. But at no time did he ever enter into any kind of activity or action that was designed to bring any of this into existence. And it was this lack of action that led many of the activists within the movement to become disillusioned and dissatisfied and eventually leave it.

Bernard: Let’s go right back to the phones. The WINS “Contact” number: Judson 2-6405. This is Stan Bernard “Contact,” you’re on the air.

Caller: I’d like to direct my question to Malcolm.

Bernard: Yes.

Caller: I’ve traced the Muslims’ history. I’m a student in college right now, and I’ve done some research on this, and I’ve heard a lot about the FOI, the secret police, and I’ve tried to dig up some information on it, but everywhere the information has eluded me. I wonder if Malcolm could fill me in on some of the details of the FOI.

Malcolm X: Well in this article by Aubrey in this week’s Saturday Evening Post, he points out—I think it’s pointed out beautifully for the first time, too—that the FOI was not a special group among the Muslims, but every Muslim man, when he became a registered follower of Elijah Muhammad, was an FOI. But the press got the impression that it was a special or select group within the Muslims that constituted the FOI.

Bernard: So, there’s your answer.

Malcolm X: And then I might even point out too that if you go back and examine the Muslim philosophy and its general overall temperament up until 1960, you’ll find that it was a group of people who tried to practice religion. I don’t think that the real rot set in until after 1960. This is why I was pointing out to Mr. Hall that it began to deteriorate and decline after 1960.

Bernard: What were some of the rules, Aubrey, that you came in contact with? You used to read the charges, according to your article, against people who were brought up by charges in your mosque. What kind of rules were they that were broken?

Barnette: Well the Black Muslims have their own rules and regulations that each member must follow. They have such strict rules as you can’t go to the theater, you couldn’t go to a sporting event, you couldn’t attend a Christian funeral or even a Christian wedding, even if it was a relative of yours. Now there’s a very specific reason they do this. There are two reasons. One reason is because it costs money to do these things, and the other reason is they’re teaching total dissatisfaction with the present society. So that you can do anything to gain any satisfaction whatsoever from today’s society and you’re contradicting what they are teaching. So a member would be punished he could be put out of the mosque or punished in other ways for going to a theater.

Bernard: Gordon...

Malcolm X: And for adultery or fornication. If a Muslim man or woman had anything to do whatsoever with any man or woman to whom he or she was not married, that person would be given from one to five years out of the society. That is, they would be brought in front of the Muslim body and totally humiliated, which is the worst form of psychological treatment that you can receive. Then they would be isolated into a category where they would have no intercourse whatsoever with the Muslim community for a solid year. And if they came back on probation, they’d be on probation for four years. Now in 1954 a young girl who was a secretary in Chicago became pregnant. And she was brought in front of the Muslim community. She was humiliated. She was isolated by the judge, who was Elijah Muhammad. And everyone took it for granted that the father of her child was a non-Muslim, because the other half was never brought to trial. In 1956 it happened to another young secretary in Chicago. In 1960 it happened to four more young secretaries in Chicago. And everyone at each time took it for granted that this was, that the father of these offspring was a non-Muslim.

Bernard: I know the charge you’re going to make.

Malcolm X: I’m not going to make any charge, because I know what your libel laws are. I wouldn’t say that, but here’s what I’m pointing out. Anytime you find a judge who will sit on a bench and a young girl will come before him and that young girl will be charged with adultery, and he will humiliate her, almost castigate her, and then sentence her into oblivion, solely to keep the court from knowing that he himself is the father of her children, that judge is not only unfit to be a judge, but he is not even a man, because he doesn’t even accept the fatherhood of the children which he is responsible for having brought into this world. And this type of rot is what caused the moral deterioration within the Black Muslim movement today. Formerly, if you notice, no matter what kind of criticism you had of the Muslims, they were disciplined morally. They didn’t drink. They didn’t smoke. They tried to show respect for people. And there was that force within it, which was a spiritual force, that made the rank-and-file one who believed in it capable of abstaining from many of the moral weaknesses. But after the real faith, the religious side, or the real spiritual power began to fade from the Black Muslim movement, the power that used to enable the brothers and sisters to let their higher tendencies dominate, rather than their lower tendencies, it was switched around. So that today the reason you have so much incidence of Muslim attacking Muslim is because the spiritual force that used to exist in the movement, among the rank and file is gone. So now you have an organized group of people who do not have the moral strength to rise above or contain themselves from falling victim to their own low desires.

Bernard: Gordon?

Hall: This is...this know I wish we had time. This is such a bundle of contradictions. All these words. Malcolm is the greatest one in the world for eating up the clock. He does it every time that I sit across the table from him. Now he said at the outset that Aubrey's piece, or Aubrey Barnette’s piece, is a wonderful piece, and Aubrey says that the religious emphasis in the Muslim movement was a total fraud from start to finish and...

Malcolm X: No, no, no, no, no...

Hall: And now we’re getting the story about this great uplift and the deterioration.

Malcolm X: No, no, no. The religious ingredient in the Black Muslim movement was a fraud in the sense that it identified itself as an Islamic movement, as an Islamic...of being of an Islamic nature. It was a fraud in that it had, it was diametrically opposed to Islam. It was...Elijah Muhammad himself is anti-Arab. He’s more anti-Arab than probably the Israelis are. Now when I say about the religion: the religion, sir, is belief in something. You don’t have to be of a specific persuasion...

Hall: I’m well aware of that.

Malcolm X: ...for it to be a religion.

Hall: You don’t have to define it for me.

Malcolm X: No, what the Black Muslims believe in, they believe in it religiously. We believed in Yacub. We believed in what Elijah Muhammad taught about an airplane up in the sky. We believed...

Hall: I know.

Malcolm X: some of the most fantastic things that you could ever imagine.

Hall: One of the distressing aspects of a discussion like this with limited time is that with this great outpouring of words on the part of someone like Malcolm, an average listener, both Negro and white, might get the idea that this is what life is all about in the Negro community. And this isn’t what life is all about in the Negro community. We’re still talking about a handful of Muslims and a much smaller handful of followers of Malcolm X.

Bernard: Well, I want to ask you a question though. You know we were talking about...we were talking about terror.

Hall: Yes.

Bernard: We were talking about terror. Malcolm X says that he’s in a sense terrorized. He’s not frightened.

Malcolm X: No, wait a minute.

Bernard: Well, no, no.

Malcolm X: Terrorized how?

Bernard: No, I don’t mean you’re scared. I don’t mean you’re scared. I mean...

Malcolm X: Well, I’m not terrorized either.

Bernard: Threats have been made on your life.

Malcolm X: Well, that’s still...threats are a far cry from me being terrorized.

Hall: Well, a man...

Bernard: Excuse me. Somebody can run down the street at you and he can threaten you and you can call it, you can stick a label on it, and you can say that somebody is terrorizing a community.

Malcolm X: Yes.

Bernard: And they can be, indeed, and you can say that, well they’’re not frightened. That’s okay...

Malcolm X: With all due respect to you, sir, nobody’s terrorizing me.

Bernard: Okay, you’re not terrorized, but you are being threatened.

Malcolm X: Yes.

Bernard: Let’s accept that. You are being threatened. Five times, you say, recently, and your house has been bombed. You’re an expert on extremist organizations, Gordon Hall

Hall: And I get threatened, I might add, a good deal. And the last place that I take threats on my body...and I have also been beaten up very badly, too. The last place that I take them is to the press to tell them all about it, because it gives other people ideas. I keep these things to myself. This is one of the hazards of being in the field that I am in, and I don’t go announcing to the press every chance that I get.

Bernard: That’s all your attitude. [To Malcolm X] You announce it all the time. Why?

Malcolm X: No, I have not announced it all of the time. I have answered the charges made by the Black Muslim movement on 116th Street.

Bernard: Um hm. The charges.

Malcolm X: The charges that I’m seeking publicity and pretending to be threatened.

Bernard: What did you do when you were beaten, Aubrey?

Barnette: How?

Bernard: Did you...did it get into the papers right away?

Barnette: It got in the papers but in a distorted way. The papers unfortunately accepted the Black Muslim view of what had happened. And, as I said before, that I was immediately labeled as a rival of the Black Muslims, although I had left the movement and forgotten all about them, I thought.

Malcolm X: Why were you labeled as a rival of the Black Muslims?

Barnette: I was labeled as a rival of the Black Muslims because I think the Black Muslims needed a scapegoat. They needed someone to point to as an enemy, as all mass movements do. They have to have an enemy. A mass movement can exist without a god, but it can’t exist without a devil.

Malcolm X: What I was getting at, sir, is they tried to identify you with me.

Barnette: Yes.

Malcolm X: And any time you were ident—the only time Elijah Muhammad gets favorable publicity is when it’s against me. They side with him and anything his followers do, as long as it’s against me.

Bernard: Gordon.

Hall: A cogent point, I hope, about the press. I’ve had a good deal to do with the press, too, and I’ve written a good many articles for the press. One of the reasons that the press is confused about these things is here you have people running around with phony names and initials like X on their name, with unlisted telephone numbers, engaging in all sorts of countercharges of conspiracy and counter-conspiracies. It’s little wonder that the press is confused; the members themselves of these movements are confused.

Bernard: But Gordon...

Malcolm X: No, no. The press isn’t confused.

Barnette: The press, the press...using my name, address, age, and everything else, without ever once consulting me, and labeling me as a Black nationalist, when I’ve never joined any Black nationalist organization, or any other organization after I left the Black Muslims.

Bernard: Gentlemen, we’re going to...

Malcolm X: The press is more frightened of the Black nationalists than of the Black Muslims. And if you doubt it, all you have to do is pick up any story written, that involves Black Muslims and Black nationalists, and you’ll always find the press slants it skillfully in favor of the Black Muslims, despite the fact that the Black Muslim movement teaches that every white individual that comes into the world is a devil by nature, by nature. And the Black nationalists don’t do that. The Black nationalists judge people by their behavior, by their deeds, not by their color. But still the press knows that the Black Muslim movement is a hybrid, a hybrid, political and religious hybrid that will ever do anything against the Ku Klux Klan or against the organized white elements in this society that are brutalizing Black people. But that same Black Muslim movement will give the order for Black people within it to murder and cripple other black people in the community. The Black Muslim movement has never at any time been involved in any kind of strike against the Ku Klux Klan or the Citizens’ Council. Even in the South or the North. But they give the orders to fight each other. When the brother was killed in Los Angeles, no order was given. In fact, the brothers who wanted to go into action were restrained many of them right here in New York, by little fat Joseph were restrained. But that same Joseph gives his crew orders to go out and cripple other Black persons who have left the movement through dissatisfaction over what they’ve learned.

Bernard: We ought to go right back to the telephone and see what’s doing out there, because we haven’t taken very many phone calls. I have to apologize. We’ve really been very wordy in the studio tonight and battling it out in here. This is “Contact,” you’re on the air.

Caller: Hello, may I speak with Mr. X?

Bernard: Yes.

Caller: Mr. X?

Malcolm X: Yes.

Caller: Oh, it’s just so wonderful to hear you. I’ve attended several of your meetings. And if prayer will save you and your family, there will never be any harm to you.

Malcolm X: Thank you.

Caller: And I admire you for what you’ve done for these little Black children. You’d be surprised. They are glad to be Black now.

Malcolm X: Thank you.

Caller: So, God bless you. Whatever God it may be. Any Supreme Being, protect you and your family.

Malcolm X: Thank you.

Bernard: Thank you for your call. This is “Contact” you’re on the air.

Caller: Yes, I’d like to address a question to Malcolm. I’d like to ask him why, after his suspension, then his decision to leave the Muslim movement, then he decided to tell all. Why did he not tell his people about the children, the misappropriation of funds? So what purpose is it going to serve now? And secondly, why does he think someone wants to take his life? What purpose is it going to serve?

Malcolm X: This is a very good question. When I...first, the Black Muslim movement, one thing that the Black Muslim movement did, positive, here in this country, the militancy that it projected, made the Black people in this country more militant than they had ever been. The whole civil rights struggle was affected by the general posture reflected, or projected, by the Black Muslim movement.
When I first came into the knowledge of the crisis within Elijah Muhammad’s family in Chicago and what it would mean to the Black Muslim movement if it were out, I chose myself to remain silent, because...not to save Elijah Muhammad, but I felt...I was afraid of the psychological harm it would do his followers, plus the effect it would have on the struggle that Black people are waging in this country, period. When I first left the movement, I left and took the full blame. I even made it appear that I was leaving. I never left the Black Muslim movement. I was put out. And because the law in the movement is that when a person is put out they must first be brought before the membership and given a hearing, Elijah Muhammad was afraid to bring me before the membership and give me a hearing, for fear of what I might say in my own defense. So I was put in limbo, so to speak, suspended, and the Muslims in the temple here in New York were told that I would be back in ninety days. But at the same time they were being told that I would be back in ninety days, brothers were sent out by Joseph to take my life and those brothers are with me now; the police know about it. This is a fact. It was only after I was out of the movement, and then Elijah Muhammad began to use every pulpit in every temple in the Nation to blaspheme against me, plus Muhammad Speaks newspaper, to poison the minds of his followers into thinking that I had actually committed some kind of treacherous deed against him, that I felt it necessary for me to tell his followers the real reason for which I came out of the movement. And I’ve been doing that ever since.

Bernard: Gordon, you’re a professional observer of extremist organizations, and you classify the Black nationalists, and of course the Muslims, as extremist organizations. How do you appraise this political warfare that’s going on in the Black nationalist organization?

Hall: Well to be perfectly frank with you, and I do believe in speaking frankly, I think at the moment the Muslims are a dying organization, they’re on the way out, they’ve made no impact in the Negro community nationally at any point, and even less so now. Malcolm has no place to go, which is why he’s floundering so badly. For example, he’s been breaking bread with the communists downtown...

Malcolm X: What communists, what communists have I been...

Hall: Socialist Workers Party...

Malcolm X: You are absolutely out of your mind, I have never broken bread with...

Hall: You have given several speeches which they have reprinted...

Malcolm X: Well, that’s not breaking bread. I speak anywhere, I spoke in London, England, and...

Hall: You were very glad to go back several times, and they are reprinting one of your major addresses in The Militant...

Malcolm X: I spoke in a church, I spoke in a church in Rochester a couple of nights ago. Does that make me a Methodist?

Hall: We’re not talking about churches, we’re not talking about churches, we’re talking about the Socialist Workers Party...

Malcolm X: Just because you speak somewhere doesn’t make you that. You speak to the public and you speak on any platform...

Hall: Oh, I don’t, Malcolm.

Malcolm X: ...and I speak to the public and I speak on any platform.

Hall: I’m afraid that’s not the case, Malcolm.

Malcolm X: If speaking on the socialist platform makes me a socialist, then when I speak in a Methodist church...

Hall: It was a communist platform...

Malcolm X: I was in Selma, Alabama, last week, speaking in Martin Luther King’s church. Does that make me a follower of Martin Luther King? No, your line of reasoning, sir, doesn’t fit me.

Hall: I was just saying that I was asked a question by Stan, and I think that at the moment the nationalist movement has no place to go, they’re floundering, and they’re putting out lines everywhere. And there is an alliance in the general Harlem area between some of the Peking-based communists, the Progressive Labor Movement, and some of the others, the Bill Epton crowd. Bill Epton is a self-confessed avowed communist—you’d agree to that, wouldn’t you, Malcolm?

Malcolm X: I know nothing about what Bill Epton’s political philosophy is. Bill Epton, in my opinion, is one of the militant leaders in Harlem. Now, what his political beliefs are, I think that he has a right to them.

Hall: I didn’t say he didn’t have a right, I’m just saying what he is.

Malcolm X: Well—

Hall: He has stated to me personally—

Malcolm X: Well, whatever they are—

Hall: I have interviewed him, he told me that he was an avowed communist—

Malcolm X: So whatever they are, he has a right to them.

Hall:—and he’d like to see this system of ours completely junked, as well. All I’m saying is that there’s a lot of warfare—

Malcolm X: I think you’ll find that a lot of the children that are out there in Brooklyn—

Hall: May I speak, Malcolm, may I speak—

Malcolm X:—on the rampage against the segregated school system here in New York City—

Hall: May I speak?

Malcolm X:—and King and some of his followers in Alabama right now are fighting against the same system.

Hall: You’re a great clock-killer, but you don’t let other people speak.

Malcolm X: Well, say your words.

Hall: I’m trying to...if you would be kind enough to let me speak—

Bernard: Go ahead.

Malcolm X: Go right ahead, Mr. Hall. Dr. Hall.

Hall: Well, at any rate, they’re floundering now, and there’s a lot of internecine warfare going on in the Harlem section, and most of the movements are small and splintered, and are splinters of splinters. And I suppose only the future will tell which one will emerge victorious and perhaps claim the most members. I would make a prediction, and I think we could come back a year from now, Stan, and I think you may find Malcolm preaching a completely separate doctrine, and leading some other kind of movement.

Malcolm X: Well, you know, one of the best compliments that Dr. Hall here can pay me is just the things that he says. When he begins to pat me on the back, I’ll be worried...

Hall: I’m not patting you on the back. I told you up in Boston...

Malcolm X: I said, when you begin to pat me on the back...

Hall: ...give a little time and you’d be preaching a new line, and you are.

Malcolm X: I said, when you begin to pat me on the back, I’ll be worried. When you begin, people of your profession, who make a profession out of dealing with groups in this country. When you begin to pat me on the back, then I’ll be worried, sir. Now I would advise you, if you think that nationalism has no influence whatsoever, the nationalists, the Organization of Afro-American Unity, are having a rally at the Audubon Ballroom on Broadway...

Hall: I think you mentioned it earlier, you’re getting in a couple of plugs.

Malcolm X: I’m going to mention it again. I wouldn’t come on the program and not mention it. Because one of the most difficult things for nationalists to do is to let the public know what they’re doing. So we’re having this rally at the Audubon...

Hall: The public is engaged in a vast conspiracy against you; it’s obvious from what you say...

Malcolm X: You’re going to make me mention it four or five times. We’re having this rally at the Audubon Ballroom this coming Sunday at 2 o’clock and people just like you, who consider themselves experts on nationalists, are given front-seat invitations, and I would advise you, since it’s your profession to know what nationalists and other so-called extremists are doing, to come and be our guest. Now, one thing I’d like to point out to you, Dr. Hall, whenever you find black...

Hall: You know perfectly well I’m not a doctor, Malcolm.

Malcolm X: Well, you sound like you’re an expert on something, I thought you were a doctor. Whenever you find the condition that black people are confronted by in this country, being permitted by the government to exist so long, the condition in itself is extreme—and any black man, who really feels about this situation that our people are confronted by, his feelings are extreme. You can’t take a cough syrup and cure somebody who has pneumonia. And the black people are becoming more extreme every day. I was in Alabama a couple of weeks ago, before I went to England, down there with Dr. King and some of the others, who are trying to just register and vote. Now I’ll tell you frankly, with King supposed to be the most moderate, most conservative, most loving, most endorsed, most supported—

Hall: The word is responsible, but go ahead.

Malcolm X: O.K., responsible to the white power structure. To me, when white people talk about responsible...

Hall: He’s a responsible American, that’s what he is.

Malcolm X: When people like you usually refer to Negroes as responsible, you mean Negroes who are responsible in the context of your type of thinking. So, getting right back to Dr. King, any time you find a person who goes along with the government, to the degree that Dr. King does, and still Dr. King’s followers, children, are made to run down the road by brute policemen who are nothing but Klansmen, and the federal government can step in and do nothing about it, I will guarantee you that you are producing extremists by the thousands. Now when I was down there, they wanted me to speak to the press, but didn’t want me to speak to the church, or the children or the students. It was the students themselves that insisted that I speak, that gave me the opportunity to speak.

Bernard: Malcolm, how do you think that’s going to be changed?

Malcolm X: Sir, I think that—

Bernard: How? I mean, I know you’re talking about these children being made into extremists, but how, how is the situation going to be changed? Do you think by warfare?

Malcolm X: It’s not going to be changed by making believe that it doesn’t exist to the intense degree that it exists. And it’s not going to be changed by putting out polls, like Newsweek magazine did last week, implying that Negroes are satisfied with the rate of progress. This is deluding yourself. And my contention is that white people do themselves a disservice by putting out these kinds of things to make it appear that Negroes are satisfied when the most explosive situation, racially, that has ever existed in this country, exists right now. And all of your so-called responsible leaders, when they speak about the situation, they say everything is in check. Yet every day you find Negro children becoming more explosive than ever—

Bernard: You’re not answering my question, you’re avoiding it. I asked you how is it going to change? Is it going to change through extreme behavior, let’s call it extreme reaction—in other words, you are going to react extremely to a situation that you don’t like? Now, how extreme can your reaction be?

Malcolm X: Well, sir, when Russia put missiles in Cuba, the only thing that made Russia get her missiles out of Cuba was when America pointed missiles right back at Russia.

Bernard: Are you suggesting revolution?

Malcolm X: No, I’m saying this: that when you respect the intelligence of black people in this country as being equal to that of whites, then you will realize that the reaction of the black man to oppression will be the same as the reaction of the white man to oppression. The white man will not turn the other cheek when he’s being oppressed. He will not practice any kind of love of a Klan or a Citizens Council or anyone else. But at the same time the white man is asking the black man to do this. So all I’m saying is, I absolutely believe the situation can be changed. But I don’t think it can be changed by white people taking a hypocritical approach, pretending that it is not as bad as it is, and by black leaders, so-called responsible leaders, taking a hypocritical approach, trying to make white people think that black people are patient and long-suffering and are willing to sit around here a long time, or a great deal of time longer, until the problem is made better.

Bernard: Let’s go back to the phone. The WINS Contact number: Judson 2-6405. This is Contact, you’re on the air.

Caller: Hello, Malcolm?

Malcolm X: Yes?

Caller: The Ku Klux Klan should get you.

Malcolm X: Ha-ha-ha-ha.

Bernard: Thank you very much.

Malcolm X: Let me point something out to this lady. I’m invited to Mississippi next week. I’ll be going to Mississippi next week. The Ku Klux Klan will have all the opportunity it wants to get me. I was in Alabama last week; they had an opportunity then. You don’t always have to go down South to find the Ku Klux Klan. Evidently one is your father, or you wouldn’t be able to speak as you do.

Bernard: This is Contact, you’re on the air.

Caller: I’d like to ask Mr. Barnette a question. In Louis Lomax’s book, When the Word Is Given..., he says none of the rumors about the Muslims receiving help from outside, communist or segregationist sources has proved true. Does Mr. Barnette have any information that will verify or refute that statement?

Bernard: I didn’t quite get it, but Mr. Barnette has left the room. He’s left the studio during this last part of the debate, and he’s not here to answer it.

Caller: Could Mr. Hall answer it?

Bernard: Could Mr. Hall answer it?

Hall: I didn’t quite understand your question. Could you quote that again for us?

Caller: Yes. Louis Lomax says that none of the rumors about Muslims receiving help from outside, communist or segregationist sources has proved true. And I’d like to know what they think about this.

Hall: I would agree with Mr. Lomax’s statement on that. I think that’s an actual statement. I’m not so sure that that is applicable to other militant groups in the Negro community, but I think it’s applicable to the Muslims.

Bernard: I’m not sure—

Malcolm X: They don’t get any help from outside sources?

Hall: She’s talking about outside communist or segregationist sources.

Malcolm X: Do they get any help from inside segregationist sources? You’re the expert.

Hall: I would doubt that very much. I have no evidence of that, and neither do you; and if you do, then—

Malcolm X: I’m not saying that I do.

Hall:—put up, Malcolm. You’re implying; you’re a very sly implier.

Malcolm X: Because you give me the impression, all of a sudden, that you’re a protector of the Black Muslim movement—

Hall: Not a bit, not a bit.

Malcolm X:—when it comes to rallying them against the black nationalists. Because you know that the Black Muslim movement is in a bag, and has no place to go.

Hall: I’m the one, I’m the one—just to show how faulty your logic is—let me speak. Just to show you how faulty your logic is, I arranged for the Saturday Evening Post story, which you have praised with your own mouth tonight as the best thing ever written on the Black Muslims.

Malcolm X: Not because you arranged it—

Hall: I arranged it.

Malcolm X: It’s the best, not because you arranged it. That doesn’t make it best. It’s best because Aubrey—

Bernard: Mr. Hall is saying that he arranged for it to be written because he thought it was valid and valuable.

Malcolm X: What he arranged, what he did, is immaterial to me. I’m not commenting on—

Hall: You never want to louse up an argument with facts, Malcolm.

Malcolm X: Sir, I’m not commenting on what you did; it’s immaterial to me.

Hall: But you said it was a wonderful piece.

Malcolm X: I’m saying what Aubrey did. Aubrey is the one who did the piece. You can arrange for Rockwell to write a piece.

Hall: Aubrey came to me—

Malcolm X: You can arrange for Rockwell to write a piece.

Hall:—because he knew that I could get this story told in the best fashion.

Malcolm X: You can arrange for Rockwell, you can arrange for the Klan to write a piece.

Hall: No, I could not, I could not.

Malcolm X: So what you can arrange doesn’t impress me.

Hall: Malcolm, you know perfectly well that I couldn’t. That’s just a smear.

Malcolm X: You could, sir. You’re a mercenary.

Hall (to Bernard): You can’t see the technique?

Malcolm X: No, you’re a professional, you said that yourself; that’s why I call you a doctor—

Bernard: Next call, can we go on to our next call? Now?

Hall: I like it when he talks this way, because he exposes himself.

Malcolm X: No, I’m exposing you as a mercenary, an opportunist.

Bernard: Here we go, it’s the next call time, here we go. This is Contact, you’re on the air.

Caller: I’d like to direct a question to Malcolm X.

Bernard: Go ahead.

Caller: I heard him on a newsreel say that Charlie’s enemies are his enemies, and this was supposed to refer to the white man as Charlie.

Malcolm X: Charlie is the Ku Klux Klan, and the White Citizens Council, and white people who practice discrimination and segregation against black people.

Caller: Right. Then I’d like to ask you, something which you mentioned about aid from Red China.

Malcolm X: I’ve never mentioned anything about aid from Red China. Ask Dr. Hall here, he’s an expert; I think he’ll even have to agree to that.

Caller: This man asked you if the aid to fight Charlie came from the Red Chinese, would you accept it? You said from anybody.

Malcolm X: Well, that doesn’t specify Red China. I said this, that when you’re in the den of a wolf, and a fox comes along and offers to help you, you’ll accept help from any source available against that wolf.

Bernard: Yeah, but they asked you—

Malcolm X: This doesn’t mean that you love foxes.

Bernard: Did they specify when they asked you the question whether they—

Malcolm X: I don’t think they said Communist China; if I recall, I could be wrong, but I don’t think they specified Communist China. Although let me say this about Communist China: China is a nation of 700 million people. Physically they exist; physically they exist. I don’t go along with the American reaction of pretending that 700 million Chinese don’t exist. When I was in Africa during the summer, everywhere I looked, I saw Chinese. It’s only when I get back to America that I don’t see any Chinese. I just don’t think it’s mature to pretend that 700 million people don’t exist.

Hall: That doesn’t happen to be U.S. policy, to pretend that they don’t exist, Malcolm. You just say things that aren’t so.

Malcolm X: No, but I—

Hall: The United States is well aware of Red China.

Malcolm X: She certainly is. They just detonated some nuclear bombs over there. Plus their forces have the United States soldiers tied down in Saigon. She’d have to be well aware. She has half of your forces tied up. You’d be crazy not to be aware of her existence. But at the same time you’re trying to give the public, the people over here, the impression that they don’t exist.

Hall: You’re just saying that; that’s not the case at all.

Malcolm X: They’re human beings, just the same as you and I are.

Bernard: You, of course, espouse recognition of Red China and her admission into the United Nations?

Malcolm X: Many of your senators in Washington, D.C., espouse the same thing. I think most intelligent, progressive people, who are up to date in their thinking, have finally reached intellectual and political maturity to the point where they feel that when you’ve got that many people on this earth, you’d better recognize them and deal with them as human beings, and then they will deal with you as human beings. If you say you shouldn’t deal with them because they are communist, then why deal with Russia? Or if you say you shouldn’t deal with them because they fought United Nations forces in Korea, then why deal with Tshombe? Tshombe also fought United Nations forces in Katanga. If you use the same yardstick to measure these people all the time, I think you’ll end up with better results.

Bernard: All right, let’s go on to our next call. Our WINS Contact number—Judson 2-6405. This is Stan Bernard’s Contact, you’re on the air.

Caller: Hello? Malcolm, I’d like to ask you whether you feel that the recent action of the Gaullist government in refusing you entry into France is in any way inconsistent with France’s general policy towards the Afro-Asian community and Africa in particular.

Malcolm X: Yes, I dispatched a wire to Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State here today, demanding an investigation into the reason why the French government could ban an American citizen and no reaction come from the American Embassy whatsoever. But I might point out, I was in Paris last November and was successful in organizing a good organization—another one that Dr. Hall over here can investigate in his capacity—in the American Negro community in Paris, and they have been working in conjunction with the African community. And it was the African community and the Afro-American community in Paris that invited me there to address a mass rally, and the French government permitted my entry into that country. And I might point out that it was the Communist trade-union workers in Paris that refused to let them have the hall initially, blocked their attempt to get the second hall, and eventually exercised influence in the French government to stop it. The Communist trade-union workers, one of the largest unions in that country. The reason I was in London—I had been invited there to attend the first congress that had been given by the Council of African Organizations, who had a four-day congress, and invited me to make the closing address, because they were interested in the struggle of the black man in this country in his quest for human dignity and human rights.

Bernard: O.K., we’re going to move on to our next call. This is Contact, you’re on the air.

Caller: Hello. May I speak to Malcolm X, please?

Bernard: Yes, go right ahead.

Caller: I would like to—I don’t have a question for Malcolm X. I would like to tell him that I am 100 per cent with him for whatever he goes along with toward helping the Negro. I think it’s an awful shame that anyone should throw a bomb into a house where there’s human beings, particularly children. And I don’t go along at all with the Muslims, the so-called Muslims, because to me they’re only teaching hate.

Malcolm X: Well, I confess that I was one of the leaders in projecting the Muslim movement and causing so many people to believe in the distorted version of Islam that is taught there. But at the same time I have to point out that there are some progressive elements, right-meaning persons, in the Muslim movement. All of them are not wrong. There are many in there that mean well but are just being misled by the hierarchy, many of which do not mean well. But there is a large progressive element within the movement, and usually they are the ones who come in, they stay a year and they get disillusioned, and they go back out. But I was responsible for giving the people the impression that the Black Muslim movement was more than what it is, and I take that responsibility. You can put the complete blame upon me. But at the same time that I take that responsibility, I want to point out that no white man or white group or agency can use me against Elijah Muhammad or against the Black Muslim movement. When you hear me open up my mouth against another black man, no white man can put words in my mouth, nor can any white man sic me on another black group. When I have analyzed the man and the group with my own understanding, and feel that it is detrimental to the interests of the black community, then I’m going to attack it with that same intensity.

Bernard: Gordon, you were going to say something?

Hall: Well, again, as you know, it’s more words. He began by saying that he has to confess that he was responsible for misleading so many people on the Muslim count. There were never very many Muslims. Let’s always come back to the fact that not very many people were ever misled. The white press was misled into believing there were a lot of Muslims.

Malcolm X: Dr. Hall—

Hall: There were never more than 15,000 Muslims in America, and there are only now 6,000. And we have 22 million Negroes in the United States. Keep these facts uppermost in one’s mind.

Malcolm X: Dr. Hall—

Bernard: You admitted this at the very beginning, Malcolm. You said the 15,000 figure is correct.

Hall: These are facts, Malcolm.

Malcolm X: Here’s another fact you have to keep in mind. There were never many Mau Mau. There never were. There were always more Kikuyu, more Kenyans, than Mau Mau.

Hall: What is this supposed to prove?

Malcolm X: But it was the Mau Mau who brought independence to Kenya. And the man that was regarded as an extremist and a monster, just five years ago, Jomo Kenyatta, is the president of the Republic of Kenya today; and it is this same man, who five years ago—

Hall: The situation in colonial Africa today is not like it is in the United States.

Malcolm X: Well, this is colonial. Any time you have a system, in 1965, that will take children and let them be marched down the road by not the criminal elements but—

Bernard: But in numbers you have to draw one big analogy. In the United States, the Negro is still a minority. In the United States. And when you are talking about minorities within minorities within minorities, and you start boiling it all down, you can’t really draw that analogy with a colony.

Malcolm X: I say this: The Mau Mau was also a minority, a microscopic minority, but it was the Mau Mau who not only brought independence to Kenya, but—

Bernard: Within a vast Negro majority.

Malcolm X: But it brought it—that wick. The powder keg is always larger than the wick. The smallest thing in the powder keg is the wick. You can touch the powder all day long and nothing happens. It’s the wick that you touch that sets the powder off.

Bernard: I wouldn’t want to, I think it’ll blow up.

Malcolm X: It’s the wick that you touch that sets the powder off. You go here in Harlem, and you take all these moderate Negroes that Dr. Hall here puts the stamp of approval on, and regards them as responsible— they don’t explode. It’s the wick, it’s that small element that you refer to as nationalist and other—

Hall: You’re doing all you can to encourage it, Malcolm, with your demagogic language—

Malcolm X: No, no, I don’t encourage it—

Hall: Oh, yes you do.

Malcolm X: I don’t encourage it; but I’m not going to sit here and pretend that it doesn’t exist.

Bernard: Don’t you incite, Malcolm? Don’t you incite?

Malcolm X: I don’t think so. How are you going to incite people who are living in slums and ghettos? It’s the city structure that incites. A city that continues to let people live in rat-nest dens in Harlem and pay higher rent in Harlem than they pay downtown. This is what incites it. Who lets merchants outcharge or overcharge people for their groceries and their clothing and other commodities in Harlem, while you pay less for it downtown. This is what incites it. A city that will not create some kind of employment for people who are barred from having jobs just because their skin is black. That’s what incites it. Don’t ever accuse a black man for voicing his resentment and dissatisfaction over the criminal condition of his people as being responsible for inciting the situation. You have to indict the society that allows these things to exist. And this is where I differ with Dr. Hall.

Bernard: Well, in a sense—

Hall: We differ in many places, Malcolm.

Malcolm X: This is another one of the many places where we differ, Dr. Hall.

Bernard: Well, in a sense, didn’t Hitler also talk about different points of view, didn’t he say that conditions existed, and didn’t he also incite?

Malcolm X: I don’t know anything about Hitler, I wasn’t in Germany. I’m in America.

Bernard: Don’t—don’t, please, Malcolm—

Malcolm X: I say, I wasn’t in Germany.

Bernard: You know about Hitler as well as—

Malcolm X: You can’t point to Hitler and Germany behind what’s going on here in America! Turn on the television tonight and see what’s—

Bernard: In Harlem—

Malcolm X: No, no, no—turn on the television tonight and see what they’re doing to Dr. King. 

Hall: Dr. King’s methods are not your methods. You couldn’t do in Alabama what he is doing.

Malcolm X: Sir—sir—

Hall: You could not do—

Malcolm X: Sir, you had better pray that I don’t go and try to do what he is doing. Any time Dr. King—

Hall: Oh, these are just, these are just words, Malcolm—

Malcolm X: Any time Dr. King goes along with people like you—like you—you should put forth more effort to keep him out of jail. You should put forth more effort to protect him. And you should put forth more effort to protect the people who go along with him and display this love and this patience. If you would do more for those people and spend some of your time trying to help those people instead of trying to attack me, probably this country would be a much better place in which to live. You spend too much of your time, doctor, trying to investigate—

Hall: I rarely ever mention you, Malcolm, you’re hardly worth mentioning—

Malcolm X: You spend too much of your time, doctor, running around trying to keep track of dissatisfied black people whom you label as extremists—

Hall: Hardly, hardly—

Malcolm X:—whereas if you would spend some of your time in these places where Dr. King is fighting, then you would make this country a better place to live in.

Hall: Malcolm, I lectured all over the state of Alabama, when you had nothing to do with the Muslims or anybody else.

Malcolm X: Did you have on a white sheet? Did you have on a white sheet?

Hall: See what I mean?

Bernard: Gentlemen, time. Bell—here we go— bell. O. K., that’s round 15. We’ve just had it.

Malcolm X: Dr. Hall, come up to the Audubon Sunday at 2 o’clock, and we’ll continue from there.

Hall: I have more important things to do.

Bernard: Gentlemen, we have to move on. Time has run out. I’d like to thank all of you for showing up tonight. Thank you very much, Gordon—Malcolm— and, of course, Aubrey Barnette.