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Epilogue Alex haley

During nineteen fifty-nine, when the public was becoming aware of the Muslims after the New Yorktelecast "The Hate That Hate Produced," I was in San Francisco, about to retire after twenty years inthe U.S. Coast Guard. A friend returned from a visit to her Detroit home and told me of a startling"black man's" religion, "The Nation of Islam," to which, to her surprise, her entire family wasconverted. I listened with incredulity to how a "mad scientist Mr. Yacub" had genetically "grafted" thewhite race from an original black people. The organization's leader was described as "The HonorableElijah Muhammad" and a "Minister Malcolm X" was apparently chief of staff.

  When I entered a civilian writing career in New York City, I collected, around Harlem, a good deal ofprovocative material and then proposed an article about the cult to the _Reader's Digest_. Visiting theMuslim restaurant in Harlem, I asked how I could meet Minister Malcolm X, who was pointed outtalking in a telephone booth right behind me. Soon he came out, a gangling, tall, reddishbrownskinned fellow, at that time thirty-five years old; when my purpose was made known, hebristled, his eyes skewering me from behind the horn-rimmed glasses. "You're another one of thewhite man's tools sent to spy!" he accused me sharply. I said I had a legitimate writing assignment andshowed him my letter from the magazine stating that an objective article was wanted, one that wouldbalance what the Muslims said of themselves and what their attackers said about them. Malcolm Xsnorted that no white man's promise was worth the paper it was on; he would need time to decide ifhe would cooperate or not. Meanwhile, he suggested that I could attend some of the Harlem Temple Number 7 meetings ("temples" have since been renamed "mosques") which were open to non-MuslimNegroes.

  Around the Muslim's restaurant, I met some of the converts, all of them neatly dressed and almostembarrassingly polite. Their manners and miens reflected the Spartan personal discipline theorganization demanded, and none of them would utter anything but Nation of Islam clich 俿. Evenexcellent weather was viewed as a blessing from Allah, with corollary credit due to "The HonorableElijah Muhammad."Finally, Minister Malcolm X told me that he would not take personal responsibility. He said that Ishould talk about an article with Mr. Muhammad personally. I expressed willingness, an appointmentwas made, and I flew to Chicago. The slightly built, shy-acting, soft-voiced Mr. Muhammad invitedme to dinner with his immediate family in his mansion. I was aware that I was being carefully sizedup while he talked primarily of F.B.I. and Internal Revenue Service close surveillance of hisorganization, and of a rumored forthcoming Congressional probe. "But I have no fear of any of them; Ihave all that I need-the truth," Mr. Muhammad said. The subject of my writing an article somehownever got raised, but Malcolm X proved far more cooperative when I returned.

  He would sit with me at a white-topped table in the Muslim restaurant and answer guardedly anyquestions I asked between constant interruptions by calls from the New York press in the telephonebooth. When I asked if I could see Muslim activities in some other cities, he arranged with otherministers for me to attend meetings at temples in Detroit, Washington, and Philadelphia.

  My article entitled "Mr. Muhammad Speaks" appeared in early 1960, and it was the first featuredmagazine notice of the phenomenon. A letter quickly came from Mr. Muhammad appreciating thatthe article kept my promise to be objective, and Malcolm X telephoned similar compliments. Aboutthis time, Dr. C. Eric Lincoln's book _The Black Muslims in America_ was published and the BlackMuslims became a subject of growing interest. During 1961 and 1962, the _Saturday Evening Post_teamed me with a white writer, Al Balk, to do an article; next I did a personal interview of Malcolm Xfor _Playboy_ magazine, which had promised to print verbatim whatever response he made to myquestions. During that interview of several days' duration, Malcolm X repeatedly exclaimed, afterparticularly blistering anti-Christian or anti-white statements: "You know that devil's not going toprint that!" He was very much taken aback when _Playboy_ kept its word.

  Malcolm X began to warm up to me somewhat. He was most aware of the national periodicals' power,and he had come to regard me, if still suspiciously, as one avenue of access. Occasionally now hebegan to telephone me advising me of some radio, television, or personal speaking appearance he wasabout to make, or he would invite me to attend some Black Muslim bazaar or other public affair.

  I was in this stage of relationship with the Malcolm X who often described himself on the air as "theangriest black man in America" when in early 1963 my agent brought me together with a publisherwhom the _Playboy_ interview had given the idea of the autobiography of Malcolm X. I was asked if Ifelt I could get the now nationally known firebrand to consent to telling the intimate details of his entire life. I said I didn't know, but I would ask him. The editor asked me if I could sketch the likelyhighlights of such a book, and as I commenced talking, I realized how little I knew about the manpersonally, despite all my interviews. I said that the question had made me aware of how carefulMalcolm X had always been to play himself down and to play up his leader Elijah Muhammad.

  All that I knew, really, I said, was that I had heard Malcolm X refer in passing to his life of crime andprison before he became a Black Muslim; that several times he had told me: "You wouldn't believe mypast," and that I had heard others say that at one time he had peddled dope and women andcommitted armed robberies.

  I knew that Malcolm X had an almost fanatical obsession about time. "I have less patience withsomeone who doesn't wear a watch than with anyone else, for this type is not time-conscious," he hadonce told me. "In all our deeds, the proper value and respect for time determines success or failure." Iknew how the Black Muslim membership was said to increase wherever Malcolm X lectured, and Iknew his pride that Negro prisoners in most prisons were discovering the Muslim religion as he hadwhen he was a convict. I knew he professed to eat only what a Black Muslim (preferably his wifeBetty) had cooked and he drank innumerable cups of coffee which he lightened with cream,commenting wryly, "Coffee is the only thing I like integrated." Over our luncheon table, I told theeditor and my agent how Malcolm X could unsettle non-Muslims-as, for instance, once when heoffered to drive me to a subway, I began to light a cigarette and he drily [sic] observed, "That wouldmake you the first person ever to smoke in this automobile." Malcolm X gave me a startled look when I asked him if he would tell his life story for publication. Itwas one of the few times I have ever seen him uncertain. "I will have to give a book a lot of thought,"he finally said. Two days later, he telephoned me to meet him again at the Black Muslim restaurant.

  He said, "I'll agree. I think my life story may help people to appreciate better how Mr. Muhammadsalvages black people. But I don't want my motives for this misinterpreted by anybody-the Nation ofIslam must get every penny that might come to me." Of course, Mr. Muhammad's agreement wouldbe necessary, and I would have to ask Mr. Muhammad myself.

  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.

   Back East, Malcolm X carefully read and then signed the publication contract, and he withdrew fromhis wallet a piece of paper filled with his sprawling longhand. "This is this book's dedication," he said.

  I read: "This book I dedicate to The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who found me here in America inthe muck and mire of the filthiest civilization and society on this earth, and pulled me out, cleaned meup, and stood me on my feet, and made me the man that I am today."The contract provided that all monies accruing to Malcolm X "shall be made payable by the agent to'Muhammad's Mosque No. 2,'" but Malcolm X felt this was insufficient. He dictated to me a letter totype for his signature, which I did: "Any and all monies representing my contracted share of thefinancial returns should be made payable by the literary agent to Muhammad's Mosque No. 2. Thesepayments should be mailed to the following address: Mr. Raymond Sharrieff, 4847 WoodlawnAvenue, Chicago 15, Illinois."Another letter was dictated, this one an agreement between him and me: "Nothing can be in thisbook's manuscript that I didn't say, and nothing can be left out that I want in it."In turn, I asked Malcolm X to sign for me a personal pledge that however busy he was, he would giveme a priority quota of his time for the planned 100,000-word "as told to" book which would detail hisentire life. And months later, in a time of strain between us, I asked for-and he gave-his permissionthat at the end of the book I could write comments of my own about him which would not be subjectto his review.

  Malcolm X promptly did begin to pay me two-and three-hour visits, parking his blue Oldsmobileoutside the working studio I then had in Greenwich Village. He always arrived around nine or ten atnight carrying his flat tan leather briefcase which along with his scholarly look gave him aresemblance to a hard-working lawyer. Inevitably, he was tired after his long busy day, andsometimes he was clearly exhausted.

  We got off to a very poor start. To use a word he liked, I think both of us were a bit "spooky." Sittingright there and staring at me was the fiery Malcolm X who could be as acid toward Negroes whoangered him as he was against whites in general. On television, in press conferences, and at Muslimrallies, I had heard him bitterly attack other Negro writers as "Uncle Toms," "yard Negroes," "blackmen in white clothes." And there I sat staring at him, proposing to spend a year plumbing hisinnermost secrets when he had developed a near phobia for secrecy during his years of crime and hisyears in the Muslim hierarchy. My twenty years in military service and my Christian religiouspersuasion didn't help, either; he often jeered publicly at these affiliations for Negroes. And althoughhe now would indirectly urge me to write for national magazines about the Muslims, he had told meseveral times, in various ways, that "you blacks with professional abilities of any kind will one of thesedays wake up and find out that you must unite under the leadership of The Honorable ElijahMuhammad for your own salvation." Malcolm X was also convinced that the F.B.I. had "bugged" mystudio; he probably suspected that it may even have been done with my cooperation. For the firstseveral weeks, he never entered the room where we worked without exclaiming, "Testing, testing-one,two, three. . . ." Tense incidents occurred. One night a white friend was in the studio when Malcolm X arrived a littleearlier than anticipated, and they passed each other in the corridor. Malcolm X's manner during all ofthat session suggested that his worst doubts had been confirmed. Another time when Malcolm X satharanguing me about the glories of the Muslim organization, he was gesturing with his passport in hishand; he saw that I was trying to read its perforated number and suddenly he thrust the passporttoward me, his neck flushed reddish: "Get the number straight, but it won't be anything the whitedevil doesn't already know. He issued me the passport."For perhaps a month I was afraid we weren't going to get any book. Malcolm X was still stifflyaddressing me as "Sir!" and my notebook contained almost nothing but Black Muslim philosophy,praise of Mr. Muhammad, and the "evils" of "the white devil." He would bristle when I tried to urgehim that the proposed book was _his_ life. I was thinking that I might have to advise the publisherthat I simply couldn't seem to get through to my subject when the first note of hope occurred. I hadnoticed that while Malcolm X was talking, he often simultaneously scribbled with his red-ink ballpoint pen on any handy paper. Sometimes it was the margin of a newspaper he brought in, sometimesit was on index cards that he carried in the back of a small, red-backed appointment book. I beganleaving two white paper napkins by him every time I served him more coffee, and the ruse workedwhen he sometimes scribbled on the napkins, which I retrieved when he left. Some examples arethese:

  "Here lies a YM, killed by a BM, fighting for the WM, who killed all the RM." (Decoding that wasn'tdifficult, knowing Malcolm X. "YM" was for yellow man, "BM" for black man, "WM" for white man,and "RM" was for red man.)"Nothing ever happened without cause. Cause BM condition WM won't face. WM obsessed withhiding his guilt.""If Christianity had asserted itself in Germany, six million Jews would have lived.""WM so quick to tell BM 'Look what I have done for you!' No! Look what you have done _to_ us!""BM dealing with WM who put our eyes out, now he condemns us because we cannot see.""Only persons really changed history those who changed men's thinking about themselves. Hitler aswell as Jesus, Stalin as well as Buddha . . . Hon. Elijah Muhammad. . . ."It was through a clue from one of the scribblings that finally I cast a bait that Malcolm X took. "Womanwho cries all the time is only because she knows she can get away with it," he had scribbled. Isomehow raised the subject of women. Suddenly, between sips of coffee and further scribbling anddoodling, he vented his criticisms and skepticisms of women. "You never can fully trust any woman,"he said. "I've got the only one I ever met whom I would trust seventy-five per cent. I've told her that,"he said. "I've told her like I tell you I've seen too many men destroyed by their wives, or their women.
 
  "I don't _completely_ trust anyone," he went on, "not even myself. I have seen too many men destroythemselves. Other people I trust from not at all to highly, like The Honorable Elijah Muhammad."Malcolm X looked squarely at me. "You I trust about twenty-five per cent."Trying to keep Malcolm X talking, I mined the woman theme for all it was worth. Triumphantly, heexclaimed, "Do you know why Benedict Arnold turned traitor-a woman!" He said, "Whatever else awoman is, I don't care who the woman is, it starts with her being vain. I'll prove it, something you cando anytime you want, and I know what I'm talking about, I've done it. You think of the hardest-looking, meanest-acting woman you know, one of those women who never smiles. Well, every dayyou see that woman you look her right in the eyes and tell her 'I think you're beautiful,' and you watchwhat happens. The first day she may curse you out, the second day, too-but you watch, you keep on,after a while one day she's going to start smiling just as soon as you come in sight."When Malcolm X left that night, I retrieved napkin scribblings that further documented how he couldbe talking about one thing and thinking of something else:

  "Negroes have too much righteousness. WM says, 'I want this piece of land, how do I get those coupleof thousand BM on it off?'""I have wife who understands, or even if she doesn't she at least pretends.""BM struggle never gets open support from abroad it needs unless BM first forms own united front.""Sit down, talk with people with brains I respect, all of us want same thing, do some brainstorming.""Would be shocking to reveal names of the BM leaders who have secretly met with THEM." (Thecapitalized letters stood for The Honorable Elijah Muhammad.)Then one night, Malcolm X arrived nearly out on his feet from fatigue. For two hours, he paced thefloor delivering a tirade against Negro leaders who were attacking Elijah Muhammad and himself. Idon't know what gave me the inspiration to say once when he paused for breath, "I wonder if you'dtell me something about your mother?"Abruptly he quit pacing, and the look he shot at me made me sense that somehow the chance questionhad hit him. When I look back at it now, I believe I must have caught him so physically weak that hisdefenses were vulnerable.

  Slowly, Malcolm X began to talk, now walking in a tight circle. "She was always standing over thestove, trying to stretch whatever we had to eat. We stayed so hungry that we were dizzy. I rememberthe color of dresses she used to wear-they were a kind of faded-out gray. . . ." And he kept on talkinguntil dawn, so tired that the big feet would often almost stumble in their pacing. From this stream-ofconsciousness reminiscing I finally got out of him the foundation for this book's beginning chapters, "Nightmare" and "Mascot." After that night, he never again hesitated to tell me even the most intimatedetails of his personal life, over the next two years. His talking about his mother triggered something.

  Malcolm X's mood ranged from somber to grim as he recalled his childhood. I remember his making agreat point of how he learned what had been a cardinal awareness of his ever since: "It's the hinge thatsqueaks that gets the grease." When his narration reached his moving to Boston to live with his half-sister Ella, Malcolm X began to laugh about how "square" he had been in the ghetto streets. "Why, I'mtelling you things I haven't thought about since then!" he would exclaim. Then it was during recallingthe early Harlem days that Malcolm X really got carried away. One night, suddenly, wildly, hejumped up from his chair and, incredibly, the fearsome black demagogue was scat-singing andpopping his fingers, "re-bop-de-bop-blap-blam-" and then grabbing a vertical pipe with one hand (asthe girl partner) he went jubilantly lindy-hopping around, his coattail and the long legs and the bigfeet flying as they had in those Harlem days. And then almost as suddenly, Malcolm X caught himselfand sat back down, and for the rest of that session he was decidedly grumpy. Later on in the Harlemnarrative, he grew somber again. "The only thing I considered wrong was what I got caught doingwrong. I had a jungle mind, I was living in a jungle, and everything I did was done by instinct tosurvive." But he stressed that he had no regrets about his crimes, "because it was all a result of whathappens to thousands upon thousands of black men in the white man's Christian world."His enjoyment resumed when the narrative entered his prison days. "Let me tell you how I'd get thosewhite devil convicts and the guards, too, to do anything I wanted. I'd whisper to them, 'If you don't,I'll start a rumor that you're really a light Negro just passing as white.' That shows you what the whitedevil thinks about the black man. He'd rather die than be thought a Negro!" He told me about thereading he had been able to do in prison: "I didn't know what I was doing, but just by instinct I likedthe books with intellectual vitamins." And another time: "In the hectic pace of the world today, there isno time for meditation, or for deep thought. A prisoner has time that he can put to good use. I'd putprison second to college as the best place for a man to go if he needs to do some thinking. If he's_motivated_, in prison he can change his life."Yet another time, Malcolm X reflected, "Once a man has been to prison, he never looks at himself or atother people the same again. The 'squares' out here whose boat has been in smooth waters all the timeturn up their noses at an ex-con. But an ex-con can keep his head up when the 'squares' sink."He scribbled that night (I kept both my notebooks and the paper napkins dated): "This WM createdand dropped A-bomb on non-whites; WM now calls 'Red' and lives in fear of other WM he knowsmay bomb us."Also: "Learn wisdom from the pupil of the eye that looks upon all things and yet to self is blind.

  Persian poet."At intervals, Malcolm X would make a great point of stressing to me, "Now, I don't want anything inthis book to make it sound that I think I'm somebody important." I would assure him that I would trynot to, and that in any event he would be checking the manuscript page by page, and ultimately the galley proofs. At other times, he would end an attack upon the white man and, watching me take thenotes, exclaim. "That devil's not going to print that, I don't care what he says!" I would point out thatthe publishers had made a binding contract and had paid a sizable sum in advance. Malcolm X wouldsay, "You trust them, and I don't. You studied what he wanted you to learn about him in schools, Istudied him in the streets and in prison, where you see the truth."Experiences which Malcolm X had had during a day could flavor his interview mood. The mostwistful, tender anecdotes generally were told on days when some incident had touched him. Once, forinstance, he told me that he had learned that a Harlem couple, not Black Muslims, had named theirnewborn son "Malcolm" after him. "What do you know about _that_?" he kept exclaiming. And thatwas the night he went back to his own boyhood again and this time recalled how he used to lie on hisback on Hector's Hill and think. That night, too: "I'll never forget the day they elected me the classpresident. A girl named Audrey Slaugh, whose father owned a car repair shop, nominated me. And aboy named James Cotton seconded the nomination. The teacher asked me to leave the room while theclass voted. When I returned I was the class president. I couldn't believe it."Any interesting book which Malcolm X had read could get him going about his love of books. "Peopledon't realize how a man's whole life can be changed by _one_ book." He came back again and again tothe books that he had studied when in prison. "Did you ever read _The Loom of Language_?" he askedme and I said I hadn't. "You should. Philology, it's a tough science-all about how words can berecognized, no matter where you find them. Now, you take 'Caesar,' it's Latin, in Latin it's pronouncedlike 'Kaiser,' with a hard C. But we anglicize it by pronouncing a soft C. The Russians say 'Czar' andmean the same thing. Another Russian dialect says 'Tsar.' Jakob Grimm was one of the foremostphilologists, I studied his 'Grimm's Law' in prison-all about consonants. Philology is related to thescience of etymology, dealing in root words. I dabbled in both of them."When I turn that page in my notebook, the next bears a note that Malcolm X had telephoned mesaying "I'm going to be out of town for a few days." I assumed that as had frequently been the casebefore, he had speaking engagements or other Muslim business to attend somewhere and I was gladfor the respite in which to get my notes separated under the chapter headings they would fit. Butwhen Malcolm X returned this time, he reported triumphantly, "I have something to tell you that willsurprise you. Ever since we discussed my mother, I've been thinking about her. I realized that I hadblocked her out of my mind-it was just unpleasant to think about her having been twenty-some yearsin that mental hospital." He said, "I don't want to take the credit. It was really my sister Yvonne whothought it might be possible to get her out. Yvonne got my brothers Wilfred, Wesley and Philberttogether, and I went out there, too. It was Philbert who really handled it.

  "It made me face something about myself," Malcolm X said. "My mind had closed about our mother. Isimply didn't feel the problem could be solved, so I had shut it out. I had built up subconsciousdefenses. The white man does this. He shuts out of his mind, and he builds up subconscious defensesagainst anything he doesn't want to face up to. I've just become aware how closed my mind was nowthat I've opened it up again.

   That's one of the characteristics I don't like about myself. If I meet a problem I feel I can't solve, I shutit out. I make believe that it doesn't exist. But it exists."It was my turn to be deeply touched. Not long afterward, he was again away for a few days. When hereturned this time, he said that at his brother Philbert's home, "we had dinner with our mother for thefirst time in all those years!" He said, "She's sixty-six, and her memory is better than mine and shelooks young and healthy. She has more of her teeth than those who were instrumental in sending herto the institution." When something had angered Malcolm X during the day, his face would be flushed redder when hevisited me, and he generally would spend much of the session lashing out bitterly. When someMuslims were shot by Los Angeles policemen, one of them being killed, Malcolm X, upon his returnfrom a trip he made there, was fairly apoplectic for a week. It had been in this mood that he had made,in Los Angeles, the statement which caused him to be heavily censured by members of both races.

  "I've just heard some good news!"-referring to a plane crash at Orly Field in Paris in which thirty-oddwhite Americans, mostly from Atlanta, Georgia, had been killed instantly. (Malcolm X never publiclyrecanted this statement, to my knowledge, but much later he said to me simply, "That's one of thethings I wish I had never said.")Anytime the name of the present Federal Judge Thurgood Marshall was raised, Malcolm X stillpractically spat fire in memory of what the judge had said years before when he was the N.A.A.C.P.

  chief attorney: "The Muslims are run by a bunch of thugs organized from prisons and jails andfinanced, I am sure, by some Arab group." The only time that I have ever heard Malcolm X use whatmight be construed as a curse word, it was a "hell" used in response to a statement that Dr. MartinLuther King made that Malcolm X's talk brought "misery upon Negroes." Malcolm X exploded to me,"How in the hell can my talk do this? It's always a Negro responsible, not what the white man does!"The "extremist" or "demagogue" accusation invariably would burn Malcolm X. "Yes, I'm an extremist.

  The black race here in North America is in extremely bad condition. You show me a black man whoisn't an extremist and I'll show you one who needs psychiatric attention!"Once when he said, "Aristotle shocked people. Charles Darwin outraged people. Aldous Huxleyscandalized millions!" Malcolm X immediately followed the statement with "Don't print that, peoplewould think I'm trying to link myself with them." Another time, when something provoked him toexclaim, "These Uncle Toms make me think about how the Prophet Jesus was criticized in his owncountry!" Malcolm X promptly got up and silently took my notebook, tore out that page and crumpledit and put it into his pocket, and he was considerably subdued during the remainder of that session.

  I remember one time we talked and he showed me a newspaper clipping reporting where a Negrobaby had been bitten by a rat. Malcolm X said, "Now, just read that, just think of that a minute!

  Suppose it was _your_ child! Where's that slumlord-on some beach in Miami!" He continued fumingthroughout our interview. I did not go with him when later that day he addressed a Negro audience in Harlem and an incident occurred which Helen Dudar reported in the _New York Post_.

  "Malcolm speaking in Harlem stared down at one of the white reporters present, the only whitesadmitted to the meeting, and went on, 'Now, there's a reporter who hasn't taken a note in half an hour,but as soon as I start talking about the Jews, he's busy taking notes to prove that I'm anti-Semitic.'

  "Behind the reporter, a male voice spoke up, 'Kill the bastard, kill them all.' The young man, in hisunease, smiled nervously and Malcolm jeered, 'Look at him laugh. He's really not laughing, he's justlaughing with his teeth.' An ugly tension curled the edges of the atmosphere. Then Malcolm went on:

  'The white man doesn't know how to laugh. He just shows his teeth. But _we_ know how to laugh. Welaugh deep down, from the bottom up.' The audience laughed, deep down, from the bottom up and,as suddenly as Malcolm had stirred it, so, skillfully and swiftly, he deflected it. It had been at once amasterful and shabby performance."I later heard somewhere, or read, that Malcolm X telephoned an apology to the reporter. But this wasthe kind of evidence which caused many close observers of the Malcolm X phenomenon to declare inabsolute seriousness that he was the onlyNegro in America who could either start a race riot-or stop one. When I once quoted this to him,tacitly inviting his comment, he told me tartly, "I don't know if I could start one. I don't know if I'dwant to stop one." It was the kind of statement he relished making.

   Over the months, I had gradually come to establish something of a telephone acquaintance withMalcolm X's wife, whom I addressed as "Sister Betty," as I had heard the Muslims do. I admired howshe ran a home, with, then, three small daughters, and still managed to take all of the calls which camefor Malcolm X, surely as many calls as would provide a job for an average switchboard operator.

  Sometimes when he was with me, he would telephone home and spend as much as five minutesrapidly jotting on a pad the various messages which had been left for him.

  Sister Betty, generally friendly enough on the phone with me, sometimes would exclaim inspontaneous indignation, "The man never gets any _sleep_!" Malcolm X rarely put in less than an 18hour workday. Often when he had left my studio at four A.M. and a 40-minute drive lay between himand home in East Elmhurst, Long Island, he had asked me to telephone him there at nine A.M.

  Usually this would be when he wanted me to accompany him somewhere, and he was going to tellme, after reviewing his commitments, when and where he wanted me to meet him. (There were timeswhen I didn't get an awful lot of sleep, myself.) He was always accompanied, either by some of hisMuslim colleagues like James 67X (the 67th man named "James" who had joined Harlem's MosqueNumber 7), or Charles 37X, or by me, but he never asked me to be with him when they were. I wentwith him to college and university lectures, to radio and television stations for his broadcasts, and topublic appearances in a variety of situations and locations.

   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.............

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