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Chapter 16 Out

In nineteen sixty-one, Mr. Muhammad's condition grew suddenly worse.

  As he talked with me when I visited him, when he talked with anyone, he would unpredictably begincoughing harder, and harder, until his body was wracked and jerking in agonies that were painful towatch, and Mr. Muhammad would have to take to his bed.

  We among Mr. Muhammad's officials, and his family, kept the situation to ourselves, while we could.

  Few other Muslims became aware of Mr. Muhammad's condition until there were last-minutecancellations of long-advertised personal appearances at some big Muslim rallies. Muslims knew thatonly something really serious would ever have stopped the Messenger from keeping his promise to bewith them at their rallies. Their questions had to be answered, and the news of our leader's illnessswiftly spread through the Nation of Islam.

  Anyone not a Muslim could not conceive what the possible loss of Mr. Muhammad would have meantamong his followers. To us, the Nation of Islam was Mr. Muhammad. What bonded us into the bestorganization black Americans ever had was every Muslim's devout regard for Mr. Muhammad asblack America's moral, mental, and spiritual reformer.

  Stated another way, we Muslims regarded ourselves as moral and mental and spiritual examples forother black Americans, because we followed the personal example of Mr. Muhammad. Blackcommunities discussed with respect how Muslims were suspended if they lied, gambled, cheated, orsmoked. For moral crimes, such as fornication or adultery, Mr. Muhammad personally would meteout sentences of from one to five years of "isolation," if not complete expulsion from the Nation. AndMr. Muhammad would punish his officials more readily than the newest convert in a mosque. He saidthat any defecting official betrayed both himself and his position as a leader and example for otherMuslims. For every Muslim, in his rejection of immoral temptation, the beacon was Mr. Muhammad.

  All Muslims felt as one that without his light, we would all be in darkness.

  As I have related, doctors recommended a dry climate to ease Mr. Muhammad's condition. Quicklywe found up for sale in Phoenix the home of the saxophone player, Louis Jordan. The Nation'streasury purchased the home, and Mr. Muhammad soon moved there.

  Only by being two people could I have worked harder in the service of the Nation of Islam. I hadevery gratification that I wanted. I had helped bring about the progress and national impact such thatnone could call us liars when we called Mr. Muhammad the most powerful black man in America. Ihad helped Mr. Muhammad and his other ministers to revolutionize the American black man'sthinking, opening his eyes until he would never again look in the same fearful, worshipful way at thewhite man. I had participated in spreading the truths that had done so much to help the Americanblack man rid himself of the mirage that the white race was made up of "superior" beings. I had been apart of the tapping of something in the black secret soul.

  If I harbored any personal disappointment whatsoever, it was that privately I was convinced that ourNation of Islam could be an even greater force in the American black man's overall struggle-if weengaged in more _action_. By that, I mean I thought privately that we should have amended, orrelaxed, our general non-engagement policy. I felt that, wherever black people committed themselves,in the Little Rocks and the Birminghams and other places, militantly disciplined Muslims should alsobe there-for all the world to see, and respect, and discuss.

  It could be heard increasingly in the Negro communities: "Those Muslims _talk_ tough, but they never_do_ anything, unless somebody bothers Muslims." I moved around among outsiders more than mostother Muslim officials. I felt the very real potentiality that, considering the mercurial moods of theblack masses, this labeling of Muslims as "talk only" could see us, powerful as we were, one daysuddenly separated from the Negroes' front-line struggle.

  But beyond that single personal concern, I couldn't have asked Allah to bless my efforts any more thanhe had. Islam in New York City was growing faster than anywhere in America. From the one tinymosque to which Mr. Muhammad had originally sent me, I had now built three of the Nation's mostpowerful and aggressive mosques-Harlem's Seven-A in Manhattan, Corona's Seven-B in Queens, andMosque Seven-C in Brooklyn. And on a national basis, I had either directly established, or I hadhelped to establish, most of the one hundred or more mosques in the fifty states. I was crisscrossingNorth America sometimes as often as four times a week. Often, what sleep I got was caught in the jetplanes. I was maintaining a marathon schedule of press, radio, television, and public-speakingcommitments. The only way that I could keep up with my job for Mr. Muhammad was by flying withthe wings that he had given me.

   As far back as 1961, when Mr. Muhammad's illness took that turn for the worse, I had heard chancenegative remarks concerning me. I had heard veiled implications. I had noticed other little evidencesof the envy and of the jealousy which Mr. Muhammad had prophesied. For example, it was being said that "Minister Malcolm is trying to take over the Nation," it was being said that I was "taking credit"for Mr. Muhammad's teaching, it was being said that I was trying to "build an empire" for myself. Itwas being said that I loved playing "coast-to-coast Mr. Big Shot."When I heard these things, actually, they didn't anger me. They helped me to re-steel my inner resolvethat such lies would never become true of me. I would always remember that Mr. Muhammad hadprophesied this envy and jealousy. This would help me to ignore it, because I knew that _he_ wouldunderstand if _he_ ever should hear such talk.

  A frequent rumor among non-Muslims was "Malcolm X is making a pile of money." All Muslims atleast knew better than that. _Me_ making money? The F.B.I. and the C.I.A. and theI.R.S. all combined can't turn up a thing I got, beyond a car to drive and a seven-room house to live in.

  (And by now the Nation of Islam is jealously and greedily trying to take away even that house.) I had_access_ to money. Yes! Elijah Muhammad would authorize for me any amount that I asked for. Buthe knew, as every Muslim official knew, that every nickel and dime I ever got was used to promotethe Nation of Islam.

  My attitude toward money generated the only domestic quarrel that I have ever had with my belovedwife Betty. As our children increased in number, so did Betty's hints to me that I should put away_something_ for our family. But I refused, and finally we had this argument. I put my foot down. Iknew I had in Betty a wife who would sacrifice her life for me if such an occasion ever presented itselfto her, but still I told her that too many organizations had been destroyed by leaders who tried tobenefit personally, often goaded into it by their wives. We nearly broke up over this argument. Ifinally convinced Betty that if anything ever happened to me, the Nation of Islam would take care ofher for the rest of her life, and of our children until they were grown. I could never have been a biggerfool!

  In every radio or television appearance, in every newspaper interview, I always made it crystal clearthat I was Mr. Muhammad's _representative_. Anyone who ever heard me make a public speechduring this time knows that at least once a minute I said, "The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches-"I would refuse to talk with any person who ever tried any so-called "joke" about my constant referenceto Mr. Muhammad. Whenever anyone said, or wrote, "Malcolm X, the number two Black Muslim-" Iwould recoil. I have called up reporters and radio and television newscasters long-distance and askedthem never to use that phrasing again, explaining to them: "_All_ Muslims are number two-after Mr.

  Muhammad."My briefcase was stocked with Mr. Muhammad's photographs. I gave them to photographers whosnapped my picture. I would telephone editors asking them, "Please use Mr. Muhammad's pictureinstead of mine." When, to my joy, Mr. Muhammad agreed to grant interviews to white writers, Irarely spoke to a white writer, or a black one either, whom I didn't urge to visit Mr. Muhammad inperson in Chicago-"Get the truth from the Messenger in person"-and a number of them did go thereand meet and interview him.

   Both white people and Negroes-even including Muslims-would make me uncomfortable, alwaysgiving me so much credit for the steady progress that the Nation of Islam was making. "All praise isdue to Allah," I told everybody. "Anything creditable that I do is due to Mr. Elijah Muhammad."I believe that no man in the Nation of Islam could have gained the international prominence I gainedwith the wings Mr. Muhammad had put on me-plus having the freedom that he granted me to takeliberties and do things on my own-and still have remained as faithful and as selfless a servant to himas I was.

  I would say that it was in 1962 when I began to notice that less and less about me appeared in ourNation's _Muhammad Speaks_. I learned that Mr. Muhammad's son, Herbert, now the paper'spublisher, had instructed that as little as possible be printed about me. In fact, there was more in theMuslim paper about integrationist Negro "leaders" than there was about me. I could read more aboutmyself in the European, Asian, and African press.

  I am not griping about publicity for myself. I already had received more publicity than many worldpersonages. But I resented the fact that the Muslims' own newspaper denied them news of importantthings being done in their behalf, simply because it happened that I had done the things. I wasconducting rallies, trying to propagate Mr. Muhammad's teachings, and because of jealousy andnarrow-mindedness finally I got no coverage at all-for by now an order had been given to completelyblack me out of the newspaper. For instance, I spoke to eight thousand students at the University ofCalifornia, and the press there gave big coverage to what I said of the power and program of Mr.

  Muhammad. But when I got to Chicago, expecting at least a favorable response and some coverage, Imet only a chilly reaction. The same thing happened when, in Harlem, I staged a rally that drew seventhousand people. At that time, Chicago headquarters was even discouraging me from staging largerallies. But the next week, I held another Harlem rally that was even bigger and more successful thanthe first one-and obviously this only increased the envy of the Chicago headquarters.

  But I would put these things out of my mind, as they occurred.

  At least, as much as I humanly could, I put them out of my mind. I am not trying to make myself seemright and noble. I am telling the truth. I _loved_ the Nation, and Mr. Muhammad. I _lived for_ theNation, and for Mr. Muhammad.

  It made other Muslim officials jealous because my picture was often in the daily press. They wouldn'tremember that my picture was there because of my fervor in championing Mr. Muhammad. Theywouldn't simply reason that as vulnerable as the Nation of Islam was to distorted rumors and outrightlies, we needed nothing so little as to have our public spokesman constantly denying the rumors.

  Common sense would have told any official that certainly Mr. Muhammad couldn't be running allover the country as his own spokesman. And whoever he appointed as his spokesman couldn't avoida lot of press focus.

   Whenever I caught any resentful feelings hanging on in my mind, I would be ashamed of myself,considering it a sign of weakness in myself. I knew that at least Mr. Muhammad knew that my life wastotally dedicated to representing him.

  But during 1963,I couldn't help being very hypersensitive to my critics in high posts within ourNation. I quit selecting certain of my New York brothers and giving them money to go and laygroundwork for new mosques in other cities-because slighting remarks were being made about"Malcolm's ministers." In a time in America when it was of arch importance for a militant black voiceto reach mass audiences, _Life_ magazine wanted to do a personal story of me, and I refused. I refusedagain when a cover story was offered by _Newsweek_. I refused again when I could have been a gueston the top-rated "Meet the Press" television program. Each refusal was a general loss for the blackman, and, for the Nation of Islam, each refusal was a specific loss-and each refusal was made becauseof Chicago's attitude. There was jealousy because I had been requested to make these featuredappearances.

  When a high-powered-rifle slug tore through the back of the N.A.A.C.P. Field Secretary Medgar Eversin Mississippi, I wanted to say the blunt truths that needed to be said. When a bomb was exploded ina Negro Christian church in Birmingham, Alabama, snuffing out the lives of those four beautiful littleblack girls, I made comments-but not what should have been said about the climate of hate that theAmerican white man was generating and nourishing. The more hate was permitted to lash out whenthere were ways it could have been checked, the more bold the hate became-until at last it was flaringout at even the white man's own kind, including his own leaders. In Dallas, Texas, for instance, thethen Vice President and Mrs. Johnson were vulgarly insulted. And the U.S. Ambassador to the UnitedNations, Adlai Stevenson, was spat upon and hit on the head by a white woman picket.

  Mr. Muhammad made me the Nation's first National Minister. At a late 1963 rally in Philadelphia, Mr.

  Muhammad, embracing me, said to that audience before us, "This is my most faithful, hard-workingminister. He will follow me until he dies."He had never paid such a compliment to any Muslim. No praise from any other earthly person couldhave meant more to me.

  But this would be Mr. Muhammad's and my last public appearance together.

  Not long before, I had been on the Jerry Williams radio program in Boston, when someone handed mean item hot off the Associated Press machine. I read that a chapter of the Louisiana Citizens Councilhad just offered a $10,000 reward for my death.

  But the threat of death was much closer to me than somewhere in Louisiana.

  What I am telling you is the truth. When I discovered who else wanted me dead, I am telling you-itnearly sent me to Bellevue.

  In my twelve years as a Muslim minister, I had always taught so strongly on the moral issues thatmany Muslims accused me of being "and-woman." The very keel of my teaching, and my most bone-deep personal belief, was that Elijah Muhammad in every aspect of his existence was a symbol ofmoral, mental, and spiritual reform among the American black people. For twelve years, I had taughtthat within the entire Nation of Islam; my own transformation was the best example I knew of Mr.

  Muhammad's power to reform black men's lives. From the time I entered prison until I married, abouttwelve years later, because of Mr. Muhammad's influence upon me, I had never touched a woman.

  But around 1963, if anyone had noticed, I spoke less and less of religion. I taught social doctrine toMuslims, and current events, and politics. I stayed wholly off the subject of morality.

  And the reason for this was that my faith had been shaken in a way that I can never fully describe. ForI had discovered Muslims had been betrayed by Elijah Muhammad himself.

  I want to make this as brief as I can, only enough so that my position and my reactions will beunderstood. As to whether or not I should reveal this, there's no longer any need for any question inmy mind-for now the public knows. To make it concise, I will quote from one wire service story as itappeared in newspapers, and was reported over radio and television, across the United States:

  "Los Angeles, July 3 (UPI)-Elijah Muhammad, 67-year-old leader of the Black Muslim movement,today faced paternity suits from two former secretaries who charged he fathered their four children. . .

  . Both women are in their twenties. . . .Miss Rosary and Miss Williams charged they had intimacieswith Elijah Muhammad from 1957 until this year. Miss Rosary alleged he fathered her two childrenand said she was expecting a third child by him . . . the other plaintiff said he was the father of herdaughter. . . ."As far back as 1955, I had heard hints. But believe me when I tell you this: for me even to considerbelieving anything as insane-sounding as any slightest implication of any immoral behavior of Mr.

  Muhammad-why, the very idea made me shake with fear.

  And so my mind simply refused to accept anything so grotesque as adultery mentioned in the samebreath with Mr. Muhammad's name.

  _Adultery_! Why, any Muslim guilty of adultery was summarily ousted in disgrace. One of theNation's most closely kept scandals was that a succession of the personal secretaries of Mr.

  Muhammad had become pregnant. They were brought before Muslim courts and charged withadultery and they confessed. Humiliated before the general body, they received sentences of from oneto five years of "isolation." That meant they were to have no contact whatsoever with any otherMuslims.

   I don't think I could say anything which better testifies to my depth of faith in Mr. Muhammad thanthat I totally and absolutely rejected my own intelligence. I simply refused to believe.

  I didn't want Allah to "burn my brain" as I felt the brain of my brother Reginald had been burned forharboring evil thoughts about Mr. Elijah Muhammad. The last time I had seen Reginald, one day hewalked into the Mosque Seven restaurant. I saw him coming in the door. I went and met him. I lookedinto my own brother's eyes; I told him he wasn't welcome among Muslims, and he turned around andleft, and I haven't seen him since. I did that to my own blood brother because, years before, Mr.

  Muhammad had sentenced Reginald to "isolation" from all other Muslims-and I considered that I wasa Muslim before I was Reginald's brother.

  No one in the world could have convinced me that Mr. Muhammad would betray the reverencebestowed upon him by all of the mosques full of poor, trusting Muslims nickeling and diming up tofaithfully support the Nation of Islam-when many of these faithful were scarcely able to pay their ownrents.

  But by late 1962, I learned reliably that numerous Muslims were leaving Mosque Two in Chicago. Theugly rumor was spreading swiftly-even among non-Muslim Negroes. When I thought how the pressconstantly sought ways to discredit the Nation of Islam, I trembled to think of such a thing reachingthe ears of some newspaper reporter, either black or white.

  I actually began to have nightmares . . . I saw _headlines_.

  I was burdened with a leaden fear as I kept speaking engagements all over America. Any time areporter came anywhere near me, I could _hear_ him ask, "Is it true, Mr. Malcolm X, this report wehear, that . . ." And what was I going to say?

  There was never any specific moment when I admitted the situation to myself. In the way that thehuman mind can do, somehow I slid over admitting to myself the ugly fact, even as I began dealingwith it.

  Both in New York and Chicago, non-Muslims whom I knew began to tell me indirectly they hadheard-or they would ask me if I had heard. I would act as if I had no idea whatever of what they weretalking about-and I was grateful when they chose not to spell out what they knew. I went aroundknowing that I looked to them like a total fool. I felt like a total fool, out there every day preaching,and apparently not knowing what was going on right under my nose, in my own organization,involving the very man I was praising so. To look like a fool unearthed emotions I hadn't felt since myHarlem hustler days. The worst thing in the hustler's world was to be a dupe.

  I will give you an example. Backstage at the Apollo Theater in Harlem one day, the comedian DickGregory looked at me. "Man," he said, "Muhammad's nothing but a . . ."-I can't say the word he used.

  _Bam_! Just like that. My Muslim instincts said to attack Dick-but, instead, I felt weak and hollow. Ithink Dick sensed how upset I was and he let me get him off the subject. I knew Dick, a Chicagoan, was wise in the ways of the streets, and blunt-spoken. I wanted to plead with him not to say to anyoneelse what he had said to me-but I couldn't; it would have been my own admission.

  I can't describe the torments I went through.

  Always before, in any extremity, I had caught the first plane to Mr. Elijah Muhammad. He hadvirtually raised me from the dead. Everything I was that was creditable, he had made me. I felt that nomatter what, I could not let him down.

  There was no one I could turn to with this problem, except Mr. Muhammad himself. Ultimately thathad to be the case. But first I went to Chicago to see Mr. Muhammad's second youngest son, WallaceMuhammad. I felt that Wallace was Mr. Muhammad's most strongly spiritual son, the son with themost objective outlook. Always, Wallace and I had shared an exceptional closeness and trust.

  And Wallace knew, when he saw me, why I had come to see him. "I know," he said. I said I thoughtwe should rally to help his father. Wallace said he didn't feel that his father would welcome anyefforts to help him. I told myself that Wallace must be crazy.

  Next, I broke the rule that no Muslim is supposed to have any contact with another Muslim in the"isolated" state. I looked up, and I talked with three of the former secretaries to Mr. Muhammad. Fromtheir own mouths, I heard their stories of who had fathered their children. And from their ownmouths I heard that Elijah Muhammad had told them I was the best, the greatest minister he ever had,but that someday I would leave him, turn against him-so I was "dangerous." I learned from theseformer secretaries of Mr. Muhammad that while he was praising me to my face, he was tearing meapart behind my back.

  That deeply hurt me.

  Every day, I was meeting the microphones, cameras, press reporters, and other commitments,including the Muslims of my own Mosque Seven. I felt almost out of my mind.

  Finally, the thing crystallized for me. As long as I did nothing, I felt it was the same as being disloyal. Ifelt that as long as I sat down, I was not helping Mr. Muhammad-when somebody needed to bestanding up.

  So one night I wrote to Mr. Muhammad about the poison being spread about him. He telephoned mein New York. He said that when he saw me he would discuss it.

  I desperately wanted to find some way-some kind of a bridge-over which I was certain the Nation ofIslam could be saved from self-destruction. I had faith in the Nation: we weren't some group ofChristian Negroes, jumping and shouting and full of sins.

   I thought of one bridge that could be used if and when the shattering disclosure should becomepublic. Loyal Muslims could be taught that a man's accomplishments in his life outweigh his personal,human weaknesses. Wallace Muhammad helped me to review the Quran and the Bible fordocumentation. David's adultery with Bathsheba weighed less on history's scales, for instance, thanthe positive fact of David's killing Goliath. Thinking of Lot, we think not of incest, but of his saving thepeople from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Or, our image of Noah isn't of his gettingdrunk-but of his building the ark and teaching people to save themselves from the flood. We think ofMoses leading the Hebrews from bondage, not of Moses' adultery with the Ethiopian women. In all ofthe cases I reviewed, the positive outweighed the negative.

  I began teaching in New York Mosque Seven that a man's accomplishments in his life outweighed hispersonal, human weaknesses. I taught that a person's good deeds outweigh his bad deeds. I nevermentioned the previously familiar subjects of adultery and fornication, and I never mentionedimmoral evils.

  By some miracle, the adultery talk which was so widespread in Chicago seemed to only leak a little inBoston, Detroit, and New York. Apparently, it hadn't reached other mosques around the country atall. In Chicago, increasing numbers of Muslims were leaving Mosque Two, I heard, and many non-Muslims who had been sympathetic to the Nation were now outspokenly anti-Muslim. In February1963,I officiated at the University of Islam graduation exercises; when I introduced various membersof the Muhammad family, I could feel the cold chill toward them from the Muslims in the audience.

  Elijah Muhammad had me fly to Phoenix to see him in April, 1963.

  We embraced, as always-and almost immediately he took me outside, where we began to walk by hisswimming pool.

  He was The Messenger of Allah. When I was a foul, vicious convict, so evil that other convicts hadcalled me Satan, this man had rescued me. He was the man who had trained me, who had treated meas if I were his own flesh and blood. He was the man who had given me wings-to go places, to dothings I otherwise never would have dreamed of. We walked, with me caught up in a whirlwind ofemotions.

  "Well, son," Mr. Muhammad said, "what is on your mind?"Plainly, frankly, pulling no punches, I told Mr. Muhammad what was being said. And withoutwaiting for any response from him, I said that with his son Wallace's help I had found in the Quranand the Bible that which might be taught to Muslims-if it became necessary-as the fulfillment ofprophecy.

  "Son, I'm not surprised," Elijah Muhammad said. "You always have had such a good understanding ofprophecy, and of spiritual things. You recognize that's what all of this is-prophecy. You have the kindof understanding that only an old man has.

   "I'm David," he said. "When you read about how David took another man's wife, I'm that David. Youread about Noah, who got drunk-that's me. You read about Lot, who went and laid up with his owndaughters. I have to fulfill all of those things." I remembered that when an epidemic is about to hit somewhere, that community's people areinoculated against exposure with some of the same germs that are anticipated-and this prepares themto resist the oncoming virus.

  I decided I had better prepare six other East Coast Muslim officials whom I selected.

  I told them. And then I told them why I had told them-that I felt they should not be caught by surpriseand shock if it became their job to teach the Muslims in their mosques the "fulfillment of prophecy." Ifound then that some had already heard it; one of them, Minister Louis X of Boston, as much as sevenmonths before. They had been living with the dilemma themselves.

  I never dreamed that the Chicago Muslim officials were going to make it appear that I was throwinggasoline on the fire instead of water. I never dreamed that they were going to try to make it appearthat instead of inoculating against an epidemic, I had started it.

  The stage in Chicago even then was being set for Muslims to shift their focus off the epidemic-andonto me.

  Hating me was going to become the cause for people of shattered faith to rally around.

  Non-Muslim Negroes who knew me well, and even some of the white reporters with whom I hadsome regular contact, were telling me, almost wherever I went, "Malcolm X, you're looking tired. Youneed a rest."They didn't know a fraction of it. Since I had been a Muslim, this was the first time any white peoplereally got to me in a personal way. I could tell that some of them were really honest and sincere. Oneof these, whose name I won't call-he might lose his job-said, "Malcolm X, the whites need your voiceworse than the Negroes." I remember so well his saying this because it prefaced the first time since Ibecame a Muslim that I had ever talked with any white man at any length about anything except theNation of Islam and the American black man's struggle today.

  I can't remember how, or why, he somehow happened to mention the Dead Sea Scrolls. I came backwith something like, "Yes, those scrolls are going to take Jesus off the stained-glass windows and thefrescoes where he has been lily-white, and put Him back into the true mainstream of history whereJesus actually was non-white." The reporter was surprised, and I went on that the Dead Sea Scrollswere going to reaffirm that Jesus was a member of that brotherhood of Egyptian seers called the Essene-a fact already known from Philo, the famous Egyptian historian of Jesus' time. And thereporter and I got off on about two good hours of talking in the areas of archaeology, history, andreligion. It was so pleasant. I almost forgot the heavy worries on my mind-for that brief respite. Iremember we wound up agreeing that by the year 2000, every schoolchild will be taught the true colorof great men of antiquity.

   I've said that I expected headlines momentarily. I hadn't expected the kind which came.

  No one needs to be reminded of who got assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.

  Within hours after the assassination-I am telling nothing but the truth-every Muslim minister receivedfrom Mr. Elijah Muhammad a directive-in fact, _two_ directives. Every minister was ordered to makeno remarks at all concerning the assassination. Mr. Muhammad instructed that if pressed forcomment, we should say: "No comment."During that three-day period where there was no other news to be heard except relating to themurdered President, Mr. Muhammad had a previously scheduled speaking engagement in New Yorkat the Manhattan Center. He cancelled his coming to speak, and as we were unable to get back themoney already paid for the rental of the center, Mr. Muhammad told me to speak in his stead. And soI spoke.

  Many times since then, I've looked at the speech notes I used that day, which had been prepared atleast a week before the assassination. The tide of my speech was "God's Judgment of White America."It was on the theme, familiar to me, of "as you sow, so shall you reap," or how the hypocriticalAmerican white man was reaping what he had sowed.

  The question-and-answer period opened, I suppose inevitably, with someone asking me, "What doyou think about President Kennedy's assassination? What is your opinion?"Without a second thought, I said what I honestly felt-that it was, as I saw it, a case of "the chickenscoming home to roost." I said that the hate in white men had not stopped with the killing ofdefenseless black people, but that hate, allowed to spread unchecked, finally had struck down thiscountry's Chief of State. I said it was the same thing as had happened with Medgar Evers, with PatriceLumumba, with Madame Nhu's husband.

  The headlines and the news broadcasts promptly had it: "_Black Muslims' Malcolm X: 'Chickens ComeHome to Roost._'"It makes me feel weary to think of it all now. All over America, all over the world, some of the world'smost important personages were saying in various ways, and in far stronger ways than I did, that America's climate of hate had been responsible for the President's death. But when Malcolm X said thesame thing, it was ominous.

  My regular monthly visit to Mr. Muhammad was due the next day. Somehow, on the plane, I expectedsomething. I've always had this strong intuition.

  Mr. Muhammad and I embraced each other in greeting. I sensed some ingredient missing from hisusual amiability. And I was suddenly tense-to me also very significant. For years, I had prided myselfthat Mr. Muhammad and I were so close that I knew how he felt by how I felt. If he was nervous, Iwas nervous. If I was relaxed, then I knew he was relaxed. Now, I felt the tension. . . .

  First we talked of other things, sitting in his living room. Then he asked me, "Did you............

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