Interview with Peter Bailey

September 1963 at the Jackie Robinson rally, describe the incident and what it meant to you in terms of Malcolm's power.


Well what happened was that, you know, in early 1963, kind of, in my opinion, as a response to the, to the March on Washington, which I think occurred on August 28th, ah, the church, 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed in Birmingham and four little girls were killed, ah, in that, in that bombing. So it was some time, I think, in late September of 1963, ah, there was a rally on 125th Street in Harlem in front of the then Hotel Theresa, which is where all the major rallies were held in Harlem, and it was, the person who kind of, seemed to have been, put the rally together was Jackie Robinson. Now Jackie Robinson had been my childhood hero growing up in Alabama. I remember when he broke into baseball, he was my childhood hero, and, ah, but he, I kind of forgot about that when he began to, he became, he was very hostile to brother Malcolm. And after I began to be involved with brother Malcolm I kind of switched my allegiance over to brother Malcolm. But what happened that day was that there was a rally showing our support for those little girls down in Birmingham and, ah, Jackie Robinson, I mean Malcolm X was the first speaker and he spoke. And thereabout, I guess maybe eight or nine other speakers spoke, including Eartha Kitt by the way who was at the Apollo Theatre at the time. There's another story, a whole story there. But, ah, when it was over when the last speaker spoke, ah, they, you know, Jackie Robinson thanked everyone for coming. And the crowd started yelling, "We want Malcolm X." They wanted brother Malcolm to speak again. And they kept saying, We want Malcolm X and they wouldn't leave. And Jackie Robinson kept saying, well the rally's over, you know, everybody should go home. And then the crowd started really getting belligerent. And they were jumping on cars and stopping traffic and, ah, brother Malcolm who had been kind of leaning up against the Chock Full O'Nuts which was right there at the bottom of the Hotel Theresa, got up on the platform again and kind of said to the crowd, you know, Brothers and Sisters, you know, let's don't this. You know, you know, we, the rally was for a very important cause and we, you know, we've had it and I think everyone, you know should now go home. And immediately the crowd just quieted down and moved on out. And it was, it was the, my first time witnessing, ah, the, the ability that he had to move people and how people responded to him. I mean they just faded away. There was no more, all of the, of the ruckus and this, and all the jumping and screaming and yelling, stopped and everybody just left. And within a few minutes, you know, the area was cleared. And, ah, I remember thinking to myself, you know, people really, you know, respond to him. I had never seen anything like that before. And it was my, it was an example to me of his ability and how people, you know, responded to him and his ability to move people. And he had a certain kind of integrity that people responded to and that was that and it always stayed etched in my mind. And at this time I still did not know him. I had not met him at this time. I was still just kind of, you know, following around wherever he went and I could be there I would go and listen. But, ah, because I was not a Muslim and really had no in, intentions or inclinations to become a Muslim, I was never able to get to know him before this time.