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Chapter 18 El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz

Prince Faisal, the absolute ruler of Arabia, had made me a guest of the State. Among the courtesiesand privileges which this brought to me, especially-shamelessly-I relished the chauffeured car whichtoured me around in Mecca with the chauffeur-guide pointing out sights of particular significance.

  Some of the Holy City looked as ancient as time itself. Other parts of it resembled a modern Miamisuburb. I cannot describe with what feelings I actually pressed my hands against the earth where thegreat Prophets had trod four thousand years before,"The Muslim from America" excited everywhere the most intense curiosity and interest. I wasmistaken time and again for Cassius Clay. A local newspaper had printed a photograph of Cassiusand me together at the United Nations. Through my chauffeur-guide-interpreter I was asked scores ofquestions about Cassius. Even children knew of him, and loved him there in the Muslim world. Bypopular demand, the cinemas throughout Africa and Asia had shown his fight. At that moment inyoung Cassius' career, he had captured the imagination and the support of the entire dark world.

  My car took me to participate in special prayers at Mt. Arafat, and at Mina. The roads offered thewildest drives that I had ever known: nightmare traffic, brakes squealing, skidding cars, and hornsblowing. (I believe that all of the driving in the Holy Land is done in the name of Allah.) I had begunto learn the prayers in Arabic; now, my biggest prayer difficulty was physical. The unaccustomedprayer posture had caused my big toe to swell, and it pained me.

  But the Muslim world's customs no longer seemed strange to me. My hands now readily plucked upfood from a common dish shared with brother Muslims; I was drinking without hesitation from thesame glass as others; I was washing from the same little pitcher of water; and sleeping with eight or ten others on a mat in the open. I remember one night at Muzdalifa with nothing but the sky overheadI lay awake amid sleeping Muslim brothers and I learned that pilgrims from every land-every color,and class, and rank; high officials and the beggar alike-all snored in the same language.

  I'll bet that in the parts of the Holy Land that I visited a million bottles of soft drinks were consumed-and ten million cigarettes must have been smoked. Particularly the Arab Muslims smoked constantly,even on the Hajj pilgrimage itself. The smoking evil wasn't invented in Prophet Muhammad's days-ifit had been, I believe he would have banned it.

  It was the largest Hajj in history, I was later told. Kasem Gulek, of the Turkish Parliament, beamingwith pride, informed me that from Turkey alone over six hundred buses-over fifty thousand Muslims-had made the pilgrimage. I told him that I dreamed to see the day when shiploads and planeloads ofAmerican Muslims would come to Mecca for the Hajj.

  There was a color pattern in the huge crowds. Once I happened to notice this, I closely observed itthereafter. Being from America made me intensely sensitive to matters of color. I saw that people wholooked alike drew together and most of the time stayed together. This was entirely voluntary; therebeing no other reason for it. But Africans were with Africans. Pakistanis were with Pakistanis. And soon. I tucked it into my mind that when I returned home I would tell Americans this observation; thatwhere true brotherhood existed among all colors, where no one felt segregated, where there was no"superiority" complex, no "inferiority" complex-then voluntarily, naturally, people of the same kindfelt drawn together by that which they had in common.

  It is my intention that by the time of my next Hajj pilgrimage, I will have at least a working vocabularyof Arabic. In my ignorant, crippled condition in the Holy Land, I had been lucky to have met patientfriends who enabled me to talk by interpreting for me. Never before in my life had I felt so deaf anddumb as during the times when no interpreter was with me to tell me what was being said around me,or about me, or even _to_ me, by other Muslims-before they learned that "the Muslim from America"knew only a few prayers in Arabic and, beyond that, he could only nod and smile.

  Behind my nods and smiles, though, I was doing some American-type thinking and reflection. I sawthat Islam's conversions around the world could double and triple if the colorfulness and the truespiritualness of the Hajj pilgrimage were properly advertised and communicated to the outside world.

  I saw that the Arabs are poor at understanding the psychology of non-Arabs and the importance ofpublic relations. The Arabs said "_insha Allah_" ("God willing")-then they waited for converts. Evenby this means, Islam was on the march, but I knew that with improved public relations methods thenumber of new converts turning to Allah could be turned into millions.

  Constantly, wherever I went, I was asked questions about America's racial discrimination. Even withmy background, I was astonished at the degree to which the major single image of America seemed tobe discrimination.

  In a hundred different conversations in the Holy Land with Muslims high and low, and from around the world-and, later, when I got to Black Africa-I don't have to tell you never once did I bite mytongue or miss a single opportunity to tell the truth about the crimes, the evils and the indignities thatare suffered by the black man in America. Through my interpreter, I lost no opportunity to advertisethe American black man's real plight. I preached it on the mountain at Arafat, I preached it in the busylobby of the Jedda Palace Hotel. I would point at one after another-to bring it closer to home; "You . . .

  you . . . you-because of your dark skin, in America you, too, would be called 'Negro.' You could bebombed and shot and cattle-prodded and fire-hosed and beaten because of your complexions."As some of the poorest pilgrims heard me preach, so did some of the Holy World's most importantpersonages. I talked at length with the blue-eyed, blond-haired Hussein Amini, Grand Mufti ofJerusalem. We were introduced on Mt. Arafat by Kasem Gulick of the Turkish Parliament. Both werelearned men; both were especially well-read on America. Kasem Gulick asked me why I had brokenwith Elijah Muhammad. I said that I preferred not to elaborate upon our differences, in the interests ofpreserving the American black man's unity. They both understood and accepted that.

  I talked with the Mayor of Mecca, Sheikh Abdullah Eraif, who when he was a journalist had criticizedthe methods of the Mecca municipality-and Prince Faisal made him the Mayor, to see if he could doany better. Everyone generally acknowledged that Sheikh Eraif was doing fine. A filmed feature "TheMuslim From America" was made by Ahmed Horyallah and his partner Essid Muhammad of Tunis'

  television station. In America once, in Chicago, Ahmed Horyallah had interviewed Elijah Muhammad.

  The lobby of the Jedda Palace Hotel offered me frequent sizable informal audiences of important menfrom many different countries who were curious to hear the "American Muslim." I met many Africanswho had either spent some time in America, or who had heard other Africans' testimony aboutAmerica's treatment of the black man. I remember how before one large audience, one cabinetminister from Black Africa (he knew more about world-wide current events than anyone else I've evermet) told of his occasionally traveling in the United States, North and South, deliberately not wearinghis national dress. Just recalling the indignities he had met as a black man seemed to expose some rawnerve in this highly educated, dignified official. His eyes blazed in his passionate anger, his handshacked the air: "Why is the American black man so complacent about being trampled upon? Whydoesn't the American black man _fight_ to be a human being?"A Sudanese high official hugged me, "You champion the American black people!" An Indian officialwept in his compassion "for my brothers in your land." I reflected many, many times to myself uponhow the American Negro has been entirely brainwashed from ever seeing or thinking of himself, as heshould, as a part of the non-white peoples of the world. The American Negro has no conception of thehundreds of millions of other non-whites' concern for him: he has no conception of their feeling ofbrotherhood for and with him.

  It was there in the Holy Land, and later in Africa, that I formed a conviction which I have had eversince-that a topmost requisite for any Negro leader in America ought to be extensive traveling in thenon-white lands on this earth, and the travel should include many conferences with the ranking menof those lands. I guarantee that any honest, open-minded Negro leader would return home with more effective thinking about alternative avenues to solutions of the American black man's problem. Aboveall, the Negro leaders would find that many non-white officials of the highest standing, especiallyAfricans, would tell them-privately-that they would be glad to throw their weight behind the Negrocause, in the United Nations, and in other ways. But these officials understandably feel that the Negroin America is so confused and divided that he doesn't himself know what his cause is. Again, it wasmainly Africans who variously expressed to me that no one would wish to be embarrassed trying tohelp a brother who shows no evidence that he wants that help-and who seems to refuse to cooperatein his own interests.

  The American black "leader's" most critical problem is lack of imagination! His thinking, his strategies,if any, are always limited, at least basically, to only that which is either advised, or approved by thewhite man. And the first thing the American power structure doesn't want any Negroes to start isthinking _internationally_.

  I think the single worst mistake of the American black organizations, and their leaders, is that theyhave failed to establish direct brotherhood lines of communication between the independent nationsof Africa and the American black people. Why, every day, the black African heads of state should bereceiving direct accounts of the latest developments in the American black man's struggles-instead ofthe U.S. State Department's releases to Africans which always imply that the American black man'sstruggle is being "solved."Two American authors, best-sellers in the Holy Land, had helped to spread and intensify the concernfor the American black man. James Baldwin's books, translated, had made a tremendous impact, ashad the book _Black Like Me_, by John Griffin. If you're unfamiliar with that book, it tells how thewhite man Griffin blackened his skin and spent two months traveling as a Negro about America; thenGriffin wrote of the experiences that he met. "A frightening experience!" I heard exclaimed many timesby people in the Holy World who had read the popular book. But I never heard it without openingtheir thinking further: "Well, if it was a frightening experience for him as nothing but a make-believeNegro for sixty days-then you think about what _real_ Negroes in America have gone through forfour hundred years."One honor that came to me, I had prayed for: His Eminence, Prince Faisal, invited me to a personalaudience with him.

  As I entered the room, tall, handsome Prince Faisal came from behind his desk. I never will forget thereflection I had at that instant, that here was one of the world's most important men, and yet with hisdignity one saw clearly his sincere humility. He indicated for me a chair opposite from his. Ourinterpreter was the Deputy Chief of Protocol, Muhammad Abdul Azziz Maged, an Egyptian-bornArab, who looked like a Harlem Negro.

  Prince Faisal impatiently gestured when I began stumbling for words trying to express my gratitudefor the great honor he had paid me in making me a guest of the State. It was only Muslim hospitalityto another Muslim, he explained, and I was an unusual Muslim from America. He asked me to understand above all that whatever he had done had been his pleasure, with no other motiveswhatever.

  A gliding servant served a choice of two kinds of tea as Prince Faisal talked. His son, MuhammadFaisal, had "met" me on American television while attending a Northern California university. PrinceFaisal had read Egyptian writers' articles about the American "Black Muslims." "If what these writerssay is true, the Black Muslims have the wrong Islam," he said. I explained my role of the previoustwelve years, of helping to organize and to build the Nation of Islam. I said that my purpose formaking the Hajj was to get an understanding of true Islam. "That is good," Prince Faisal said, pointingout that there was an abundance of English-translation literature about Islam-so that there was noexcuse for ignorance, and no reason for sincere people to allow themselves to be misled.

   The last of April, 1964, I flew to Beirut, the seaport capital of Lebanon. A part of me, I left behind in theHoly City of Mecca. And, in turn, I took away with me-forever-a part of Mecca.

  I was on my way, now, to Nigeria, then Ghana. But some friends I had made in the Holy Land hadurged and insisted that I make some stops en route and I had agreed. For example, it had beenarranged that I would first stop and address the faculty and the students at the American Universityof Beirut.

  In Beirut's Palm Beach Hotel, I luxuriated in my first long sleep since I had left America. Then, I wentwalking-fresh from weeks in the Holy Land: immediately my attention was struck by the mannerismsand attire of the Lebanese women. In the Holy Land, there had been the very modest, very feminineArabian women-and there was this sudden contrast of the half-French, half-Arab Lebanese womenwho projected in their dress and street manners more liberty, more boldness. I saw clearly the obviousEuropean influence upon the Lebanese culture. It showed me how any country's moral strength, or itsmoral weakness, is quickly measurable by the street attire and attitude of its women-especially itsyoung women. Wherever the spiritual values have been submerged, if not destroyed, by an emphasisupon the material things, invariably, the women reflect it. Witness the women, both young and old, inAmerica-where scarcely any moral values are left. There seems in most countries to be either oneextreme or the other. Truly a paradise could exist wherever material progress and spiritual valuescould be properly balanced.

  I spoke at the University of Beirut the truth of the American black man's condition. I've previouslymade the comment that any experienced public speaker can feel his audience's reactions. As I spoke, Ifelt the subjective and defensive reactions of the American white students present-but gradually theirhostilities lessened as I continued to present the unassailable facts. But the students of Africanheritage-well, I'll _never_ get over how the African displays his emotions.

  Later, with astonishment, I heard that the American press carried stories that my Beirut speech causeda "riot." What kind of a riot? I don't know how any reporter, in good conscience, could have cabled that across the ocean. The Beirut _Daily Star_ front-page report of my speech mentioned no "riot"because there was none. When I was done, the African students all but besieged me for autographs;some of them even hugged me. Never have even American Negro audiences accepted me as I havebeen accepted time and again by the less inhibited, more down-to-earth Africans.

  From Beirut, I flew back to Cairo, and there I took a train to Alexandria, Egypt. I kept my camera busyduring each brief stopover. Finally I was on a plane to Nigeria.

  During the six-hour flight, when I was not talking with the pilot (who had been a 1960 Olympicsswimmer), I sat with a passionately political African. He almost shouted in his fervor. "When peopleare in a stagnant state, and are being brought out of it, there is no _time_ for voting!" His central themewas that no new African nation, trying to decolonize itself, needed any political system that wouldpermit division and bickering. "The people don't know what the vote means! It is the job of theenlightened leaders to raise the people's intellect."In Lagos, I was greeted by Professor Essien-Udom of the Ibadan University. We were both happy tosee each other. We had met in the United States as he had researched the Nation of Islam for his book,_Black Nationalism_. At his home, that evening, a dinner was held in my honor, attended by otherprofessors and professional people. As we ate, a young doctor asked me if I knew that New YorkCity's press was highly upset about a recent killing in Harlem of a white woman-for which, accordingto the press, many were blaming me at least indirectly. An elderly white couple who owned a Harlemclothing store had been attacked by several young Negroes, and the wife was stabbed to death. Someof these young Negroes, apprehended by the police, had described themselves as belonging to anorganization they called "Blood Brothers." These youths, allegedly, had said or implied that they wereaffiliated with "Black Muslims" who had split away from the Nation of Islam to join up with me.

  I told the dinner guests that it was my first word of any of it, but that I was not surprised whenviolence happened in any of America's ghettoes where black men had been living packed like animalsand treated like lepers. I said that the charge against me was typical white man scapegoat-seeking-thatwhenever something white men disliked happened in the black community, typically white publicattention was directed not at the cause, but at a selected scapegoat.

  As for the "Blood Brothers," I said I considered all Negroes to be my blood brothers. I said that thewhite man's efforts to make my name poison actually succeeded only in making millions of blackpeople regard me like Joe Louis.

  Speaking in the Ibadan University's Trenchard Hall, I urged that Africa's independent nations neededto see the necessity of helping to bring the Afro-American's case before the United Nations. I said thatjust as the American Jew is in political, economic, and cultural harmony with world Jewry, I wasconvinced that it was time for all Afro-Americans to join the world's Pan-Africanists. I said thatphysically we Afro-Americans might remain in America, fighting for our Constitutional rights, butthat philosophically and culturally we Afro-Americans badly needed to "return" to Africa-and todevelop a working unity in the framework of Pan-Africanism.

   Young Africans asked me politically sharper questions than one hears from most American adults.

  Then an astonishing thing happened when one old West Indian stood and began attacking me-forattacking America. "Shut up! Shut up!" students yelled, booing, and hissing. The old West Indian triedto express defiance of them, and in a sudden rush a group of students sprang up and were after him.

  He barely escaped ahead of them. I never saw anything like it. Screaming at him, they ran him off thecampus. (Later, I found out that the old West Indian was married to a white woman, and he wastrying to get a job in some white-influenced agency which had put him up to challenge me. Then, Iunderstood his problem.)This wasn't the last time I'd see the Africans' almost fanatic expression of their political emotions.

  Afterward, in the Students' Union, I was plied with questions, and I was made an honorary member ofthe Nigerian Muslim Students' Society. Right here in my wallet is my card: "Alhadji Malcolm X.

  Registration No. M-138." With the membership, I was given a new name: "Omowale." It means, in theYoruba language, "the son who has come home." I meant it when I told them I had never received amore treasured honor.

  Six hundred members of the Peace Corps were in Nigeria, I learned. Some white Peace Corpsmembers who talked with me were openly embarrassed at the guilt of their race in America. Amongthe twenty Negro Peace Corpsmen I talked with, a very impressive fellow to me was Larry Jackson, aMorgan StateCollege graduate from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who had joined the Peace Corps in 1962.

  I made Nigerian radio and television program appearances. When I remember seeing black menoperating their _own_ communications agencies, a thrill still runs up my spine. The reporters whointerviewed me included an American Negro from _Newsweek_ magazine-his name was Williams.

  Traveling through Africa, he had recently interviewed Prime Minister Nkrumah.

  Talking with me privately, one group of Nigerian officials told me how skillfully the U.S. InformationAgency sought to spread among Africans the impression that American Negroes were steadilyadvancing, and that the race problem soon would be solved. One high official told me, "Our informedleaders and many, many others know otherwise." He said that behind the "diplomatic front" of everyAfrican U.N. official was recognition of the white man's gigantic duplicity and conspiracy to keep theworld's peoples of African heritage separated-both physically and ideologically-from each other.

  "In your land, how many black people think about it that South and Central and North Americacontain over _eighty million_ people of African descent?" he asked me.

  "The world's course will change the day the African-heritage peoples come together as brothers!"I never had heard that kind of global black thinking from any black man in America.

   From Lagos, Nigeria, I flew on to Accra, Ghana.

  I think that nowhere is the black continent's wealth and the natural beauty of its people richer than inGhana, which is so proudly the very fountainhead of Pan-Africanism.

  I stepped off the plane into a jarring note. A red-faced American white man recognized me; he had thenerve to come up grabbing my hand and telling me in a molasses drawl that he was from Alabama,and then he invited me to his home for dinner!

  My hotel's dining room, when I went to breakfast, was full of more of those whites-discussing Africa'suntapped wealth as though the African waiters had no ears. It nearly ruined my meal, thinking how inAmerica they sicked police dogs on black people, and threw bombs in black churches, while blockingthe doors of their white churches-and now, once again in the land where their forefathers had stolenblacks and thrown them into slavery, was that white man.

  Right there at my Ghanaian breakfast table was where I made up my mind that as long as I was inAfrica, every time I opened my mouth, I was going to make things hot for that white man, grinningthrough his teeth wanting to exploit Africa again-it had been her human wealth the last time, now hewanted Africa's mineral wealth.

  And I knew that my reacting as I did presented no conflict with the convictions of brotherhood whichI had gained in the Holy Land. The Muslims of "white" complexions who had changed my opinionswere men who had showed me that they practiced genuine brotherhood. And I knew that anyAmerican white man with a genuine brotherhood for a black man was hard to find, no matter howmuch he grinned.

  The author Julian Mayfield seemed to be the leader of Ghana's little colony of Afro-Americanexpatriates. When I telephoned Mayfield, in what seemed no time at all I was sitting in his homesurrounded by about forty black American expatriates; they had been waiting for my arrival. Therewere business and professional people, such as the militant former Brooklynites Dr. and Mrs. RobertE. Lee, both of them dentists, who had given up their United States' citizenship. Such others as AliceWindom, Maya Angelou Make, Victoria Garvin, and Leslie Lacy had even formed a "Malcolm XCommittee" to guide me through a whirlwind calendar of appearances and social events.

  In my briefcase here are some of the African press stories which had appeared when it was learnedthat I was en route:

  "Malcolm X's name is almost as familiar to Ghanaians as the Southern dogs, fire hoses, cattle prods,people sticks, and the ugly, hate-contorted white faces. . . .""Malcolm X's decision to enter the mainstream of the struggle heralds a hopeful sign on thesickeningly dismal scene of brutalized, non-violent, passive resistance. . . ." "An extremely important fact is that Malcolm X is the first Afro-American leader of national standingto make an independent trip to Africa since Dr. Du Bois came to Ghana. This may be the beginning ofa new phase in our struggle. Let's make sure we don't give it less thought than the State Department isdoubtless giving it right now."And another: "Malcolm X is one of our most significant and militant leaders. We are in a battle. Effortswill be made to m............

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