Interview with Peter Bailey


You were talking about how this organization satisfied more than any others and the principles behind the OAAU and how it folded into Malcolm and his travels.


OK, by this time I had basically been following brother Malcolm for almost a year and a half. Just as we're talking now the early winter of 1964 and I had first started following him in the summer of 1962. So for a year and a half I had been kind of from a distance, ah, supporting his organization, going to rallies, you know, listening to him speak, following him on television, radio. So when he walked through that door and I saw that he was going to be part of this new organization, ah, that was very, very for me that was a tremendous opportunity for me to become involved in something that I thought was really serious and as we just set back and, the thing that amazed me is that he, you know, he responded. He, he wanted to know what, what those of us thought who were there, ah, with him in the organization. He did not come in there and say, you know, This is the organization. This is what's going to happen. And we sat down and we worked out a constitution and basically, ah, we were at different areas. We say politically that Black people should control, ah, the politics of our community. We believe in an independent Black political party. We did not believe being members of the Democratic or Republican party. Economically we talked about collective economic activities, ah, that we, you know, that we were under utilizing our economic power in this society and that we could move if we do it, did it, ah, on a collective basis. Ah, we had a program for self defense and this was always one where the press accused him of advocating violence. And basically the thrust of his policy on self defense was that in those areas where the government was either unable or unwilling to protect the lives and property of Black people then they had the right to protect themselves. Now, if you know what was going on with all those bombings and, and things, and, that were going on during that time. We considered that to be a very logical, a very logical, ah, ah, ah, position to take for an organization. And then we had policies on the social policy. We talked about, ah, the necessity for, you know, for guardianships, so that Black youngsters who got in trouble instead of them going immediately to the courts they might be patrolled off into a guardian organization, which is what other groups, you know, have done and still do consistently. And I don't think that we still not involved in any kind serious manner which keeps the kids from getting a court record very early. Those, who, some of course, can't be stopped, but some, some who can. So we talked about that as part of our social policy. But, but the one thing, and these were all different approaches from most of the other organizations that existed at that time. But if you want to understand the biggest difference that we had with them, was that I think we were the first and major organization of that time who had a foreign policy. I mean we had a foreign policy. And it was based on brother Malcolm's contention that it was to our advantage and in our best interest, I'm talking about African Americans, to have strong relationships with Black people all around the world but especially on the African continent. It was his contention that this was our, our only real, ah, ah, place, you know, where had, we would get protection. And he, an example he used which was very, very interesting to me and which I always use when I talk to students, is that he said there used to be a time when people would say, "You don't have a China man's chance." And I can remember as a kid hearing that. He said, but since China has become a force on the world scene, you don't hear anyone saying anymore, "You don't have a China man's chance." Because a strong China, a respected China is a protection for Chinese, people of Chinese descent all over the world. And he said the same, say with Jewish people. He say, Israel had a become protector. You mess with a Jewish person, no matter where in the world, you mess with somebody, you know, they had somebody who's prepared to organize, to defend them. He felt as though we had to develop that same kind of relationship with Africa. So he built the foreign, he had a foreign policy. He used to travel. We called him foreign minister and our Secretary of, our combination of foreign minister and Secretary of State. That's why shortly after the organized was formed, after the OAAU was publicly announced, he went off to attend the Organization of African Unity meeting in Cairo. This was very important because number one, it was the first time that African America had been allowed to sit in on the meeting. He did not participate. He was not allowed to speak. But he was allowed to sit in as an observer. And while there as an observer he distributed documents, ah, you know outlining his position and trying to make the Africans see where it was in their best interest to have a strong relationship with us. In was in our best interest to have a strong relationship with them and it was in their best interest to have a strong relationship with us. And if you see some of the documents from that time he outlines the reasons behind this and, ah, so we, we had a foreign policy. You know the OAAU, unlike some of the other organizations at that time, we had a foreign policy and brother Malcolm was our Secretary of State and our foreign minister. And he spent time over there and one of the results of his spending time over there was a, a statement issued by the Organization of African Unity, ah, supporting, denouncing what was happening in Mississippi because, you know, this was the summer, we now, we're talking the summer of '64, ah, the killing of Chaney and, and Goodman and Schwerner, those three kids, Black, one Black kid and two White kids were killed in Mississippi. This had happened. There had been other bombings going on, the Mississippi Free Democratic Party was being organized and trying to replace the racist Democratic Party in Mississippi that came to Atlantic City and they refused to seat them at the Democratic Convention. So all of this, ah, you know, was happening at this time. And, ah, and, for the Organization of African Unity to issue a statement recognizing what was happening at this time was a very, very important step. And it was laid, this foundation was laid by what brother Malcolm did at that OAAU meeting. Ah, I thought that was, ah that was a very significant one, and I really believe that this was his success in doing that and his success, ah, later in the summer, besides issuing that statement, when the situation broke in the Congo where some Belgium Nationals were killed in the Congo and there was a big to do over here about those terrible Africans, you know, ah, killing, ah, Europeans in the Congo. At the UN. some African diplomats for the first time in speaking for the UN. connected the situation that was happening in the Congo to the situation that was happening in Mississippi. This was, and they did this because of the foundation that brother Malcolm had laid. So, I mean, our foreign policy was beginning to connect up and I think that that was when, ah, he began to be considered a seriously, serious and dangerous. Ah, because I remember he told us that when he was in Africa at the time in Kenya, ah, at some affair that he went to, because in Africa he was treated like, you know, like he was, like he was our, our foreign minister of the African American people to Africa. And in Kenya, I think it was, the American ambassador there, some affair that he was attending that the American ambassador was present, told him that he had no right, no right to come to Africa. Ah, and mess with American's foreign policy. And brother Malcolm's response to him was, If you were not doing the things that you're doing or the things that are happening to Black people in America were not happening, then, you know, there would be nothing for me to say. So, you know, you would not have to worry about anything that I say while I'm over here in Africa. So, ah, the government began to take, you know, ah, began to look at what he was doing and began to, ah, realize that this man was very serious. He was very serious. His, what he, he ultimately was aiming for in a foreign policy level was to have the government, the U.S. government have to defend its inaction in terms of the racist attacks that were going on at that time, to defend its actions before the UN. Commission on Human Rights and take it before the World Court. Now of course, we all know that if whatever the World Court decided the American government could say, you know, we don't have to pay any attention to that, you know, we are powerful. It doesn't mean anything. But the fact that they had to go and do that would have been a tremendous propaganda loss and I think that was, they did not want that to happen.