Interview with Peter Bailey
QUESTION 3
CARROLL BLUE:

Leading into January of '64 and what led up to your family meeting Malcolm and working with him.

PETER BAILEY:

That came about, ah, because of someone that I knew. What had happened is that, in December of 1963 brother Malcolm was suspended from the Nation of Islam.

CARROLL BLUE:

Repeat that sentence again, in December--

PETER BAILEY:

Oh, in December of 1963 brother Malcolm was suspended from the Nation of Islam. This came about as a result of, ah, statements in the press indicating or trying to imply that he had rejoiced over the assassination of President John Kennedy. You know that occurred November 22nd, 1963. And what brother, a statement that brother Malcolm had said at the time was that it was a case of the chickens coming home to roost. And now if you grew up in the South, like I did, you know, everyone knows that statement. You hear it all the time from the older people. You know something about the chickens coming home to roost. And what he was basically saying was that he had been saying all along that, that the violence, the whole violent atmosphere that had been created as a result of the movement, the bombing in Birmingham and all the other things that, that had gone on, and by the government not doing anything about this, and in this case Kennedy was the President at the time, they had created a whole atmosphere of violence and finally this violence had reached the White House. This is, this is what he was saying, ah, when he said the case of the chickens coming home to roost. Well of course the press used this and reported it as though he was rejoicing over Kennedy's assassination. And, ah, eventually, ah, he, sometime in December he was suspended by the Nation of Islam. Now, ah, in the latter part of December or early January, I'm not exactly sure of the date, a friend of mine, a young lady who I knew, ah, approached me when we were having lunch together and she said, How would you like to be part of a new organization? So, I said, Fine, I said, What kind of organization? And she gave me that, you know, some very, very brief details. I said, it sounds very interesting I would be very interested in being a part of it. So she said, I'm going to call you on Saturday morning around 8 o'clock and I'll tell you where and everything. You know, very secretive, you know it was all very secretive. So I said, OK. She called me. Told me where to meet and what time. Ah, I went over there. It was a motel in Harlem at 153rd Street and Eighth Avenue in Harlem, and, ah, when I got over there I saw John Henrick Clarke. I saw John Killens and a few other people. They were two people I definitely recognized. There were a couple of other people that I had seen around but I didn't really know that well. But I knew them. And, ah, I was, you know, my curiosity was aroused and so I'm wondering, what is going on here? And we sat around and talked for a while. And then in walks brother Malcolm. Now when he walked in I said to myself, Ah, oh, this is going to be serious. I had never, I had no idea up until he walked through that door that he was going to be involved with this new organization. And that's when I found out that he was planning on forming an organization that would, where people like myself, who were non muslims would work with his program. And, and after we sat down and we talked and we began to meet there every Saturday for about three or four weeks maybe longer. But I think in maybe five or six weeks we met there every Saturday. We discussed the organization. We developed a constitution. We got, developed a name, the Organization of African American Unity, which was after the Organization of African Unity which had been formed about the same time over in, ah, Africa. So we called ourselves the Organization of Afro American Unity. And it was out of that, I met him that day for the first time and, ah, ah, nothing significant happened. I mean I was just another one of the people there. But I remember thinking to myself, you know, ah, that I think I had finally found an organization that was beginning to appeal to the types of things that I was thinking about at that time. I had been in many organizations: NAACP, Youth Group, CORE, the Harlem Rent Strike Committee. I had been through all of these groups and eventually I would pull out because I used to get frustrated with them. But I felt, you know, this organization sounds like it's going to be very interesting. And it was my time, it was my first time, after hearing him now, ah, of actually getting a chance to speak to him and to begin to move and work with him with this organization. And we met and we announced the organization publicly, I think around June of 1964, we publicly announced the organization in early June. And, and, ah, shortly after the announcement, he went off to the organization of African Unity meeting in Cairo.