Interview with Angela Davis

When did you hear Malcolm speak? What was that occasion?


I heard Malcolm X speak when I was a student at Brandeis University and it was one of the most enlightening, ah, moments of my life, ah. I was attending a university which was predominantly White. As a matter of fact I had spent two years in a high school that was predominantly White. And I had come to feel very alienated, ah, in a way that I could not even articulate myself because we had not yet developed the language that allowed us to talk about, ah, ah, the way racism, ah, functions in, ah, those kinds of, ah, unspoken situations. So that I had been, ah, attending, ah, this university, ah, doing well and feeling OK. But, at the same time, feeling very alienated, feeling OK in my academic life but feeling very alienated, ah. Because I didn't see myself anywhere. I didn't see myself in the, in, in the courses that I taught. I didn't see myself in the faculty members. I didn't see myself in the students. And so when, ah, Malcolm came and spoke and affirmed, ah, what, ah, it was to be Black and, and, and talked about, ah, the quest for Black equality in a very passionate and, and militant way, it made me feel good. It made me feel OK. It made me feel, ah, that as a human being, ah, I was as important as were, ah, all of the White people sitting around me. As a a matter of fact at that particular time, Malcolm, ah, spoke to the, the White audience and, ah, in a very, ah, I would say negative kind of way. He spoke, he astonished the, the, the largely White audience because he called them all kinds of names and, and ran down the list of their, ah, his, historical crimes. And, you know, while I, I, I, I wonder what good evoking guilt really does in terms of, of creating the right kind of basis for, of a movement, I can say, at that time, it made me feel good because he said a lot of the things that I probably would have wanted to say if only if I had been in possession of the language that would have allowed me to say them at that time.