Interview with Peter Bailey

OK, The last days of his life you were talking about--


OK, well, ah, by, by the, ah, winter of 1965, there were three things that happened right in a row. He was, he was banned from France. He was, his home was fire bombed and he was assassinated. Now to me, and, and, I'm looking now as, back on this. It was like somebody had said, you know, this guy's got to go. Ah, first he landed in Paris. The French government would not let him in. They shipped him back to London. That happened. The following week he was home, his home was fire bombed, his wife and children in the house. They got out. They lost everything but they, no, no one was injured in the fire bombing. And then the next Saturday, ah, the next Sunday, I remember, ah, the next Saturday we had a meeting in our, in the OAAU and it was decided from that from then on everybody was going to be searched who came to our rallies. And we had a big rally scheduled the next day. And brother Malcolm said, no. You know, he didn't want people searched. Ah, you look back over it now, we should have told him the same that, you know, that, that they tell Reagan, you know, you have no, nothing to do about your, about your protection, you know, we make this decision. So, ah, then we went on and we went to the, to the Audubon Ballroom the next day for, for the rally. When he came in that Saturday, I had written something the day before saying we still support him and again he looked at it and he told brother Peter, you can't say this because you say it like this something, you know, get in trouble. So I put it off to the side. So when he came in the next day he called me backstage. And the reason he did that he thought that he knew that, he say, you know I know you work very hard on that and I just want you to understand why I say don't do it. I said, I do understand. I understand exactly what you're saying. Ah, we talked very briefly. There was an article about the, the Deacons for Defense and Justice in the New York Times. I showed him the clip and he say, it was about time. It's very good to see some brothers now talking self defense. This was in Louisiana, in New Orleans, in Louisiana they decided to do this. Talk, ah, about 15 or 20 minutes about different things. He told us that he was going to go to Mississippi to speak to SNCC and then he was going to come back and going to really work on forming the organization. And there was about five or six of us backstage at the time talking to him. And then, ah, we had decided that, ah, this Reverend Galamison was going to come in and make a, you know, speak to the audience about getting some clothes and supplies for his family. So he said, Does anyone here know what Galamison look like? And I said, "Yes, I do." So he sent me down front to wait on Galamison and when Galamison came in I was supposed to bring him backstage. So, I'm sitting down front, ah, waiting for this, in the little room off the main ballroom. And you know this place is like almost a football field long. So, ah, ah, I heard brother Malcolm say "Asalaikum". And the next thing I heard was shots. And I ran into the main area when I started hearing shooting. And I got down. I laid on the floor. Two people running by me. And I heard screaming and crying and shooting. When the shooting stopped I jumped up and ran down the length of the ballroom jumped upon the stage, when I got there, ah, ah, Mrs. Kochiyama was holding him in her arms and someone had pulled his shirt open and you could just see the bullet holes all, you know, in his chest, ah, ah, I kind of felt then that there was no way he was going to survive. He was kind of gagging. You know he was laying on the floor. He was kind of gagging. I remember jumping off the stage and wondering had anyone gone to get the doctors but some brothers had already gone over to, to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. No doctor from there would come over so they rolled, they took a cart and rolled it into the streets, put him on it and took him back over to the hospital. Ah, but I remember about that time that, ah, ah, there was some police there in that place. We know there was undercover cops. I remember I saw police in uniform. And they were, I, I can still see them with all this chaos. People laying on the floor, a lot of screaming and crying, this is, you know immediately afterwards. And they were walking very casually through the place just looking around. Nobody looked as though there was any kind of real serious, ah, effort being made. And I really think the only reason that there eventually was a trial because one of the brothers had, had, had, ah, disobeyed brother Malcolm who said, no weapons. And one of the brothers in our group had, ah, brought a weapon with him. I didn't know he had brought one but he, he had been able to shoot this one guy when he was running by, slowed him down and he got caught by the crowd outside. And I really think they would have stomped him to death if the police had not taken him away from him and put him away and that was the only reason I think they had a trial. I think if he had gotten away like the others did there never would have been a trial. It would have been like, Well, we're checking things out. We're investigating. But because he was caught and so many people saw him get caught. There had to be a trial. I think the assassinations, I think back over it now, was done like it was for three reasons. Because he could easily have been assassinated in some dark corner as he was going home. One, to intimidate his followers, which was success, you know we can shoot your leader down in the middle of the afternoon. Two, to cause all kind of dissension within the group, you know, whose in the group? Somebody in the group is obviously a plant with the police. Who is it? You know and three to cause a shoot out between the muslims, the Nation of Islam, and Brother Malcolm's people. That's the only part of the whole thing that did not, did not succeed because brothers in both group had cool enough heads to keep a blow up from happening. And when it did not happen immediately after the assassination, that night the mosque was burned to the ground. Now, there is no way that anybody associated with brother Malcolm could have gone to that mosque that evening and burned it to the ground the way it was. So I, and then again I think that was supposed to lead to the shoot out and, and then the shoot out still did not occur. That was the only part, I think, of the game plan that did not work that day in terms of his assassination. And with brother Malcolm being assassinated the organization which, of course, unfortunately had built around him. It, I mean instead of around his philosophy it was around him. Ah, it kind of fell apart. But when I think back over him now and I talk to people and they want to know what he was. You know what I always tell people? He was a master teacher. And there is no greater loss to a community than the loss of a master teacher. And those of us who worked with him and who learned from him, we now, have to kind of spread his ideology, his philosophical positions to, you know, to other people and some of us are still doing that. But he was a master teacher.