Interview with Ossie Davis

He comes up to the house--


Well the meeting was for ten o'clock and ten o'clock exactly he knocks on the door and we let him in. He comes into this very room and he sits there and we talk to him. He says first of all that he, he had arrived early but because he was ahead of time he'd driven around the block a couple of times. He wanted to be exactly on time and he was. We sat and listened. We didn't have any questions we knew what the anguish was. We knew what was happening and he just seemed to need a friendly ear. So we let him talk and he talked about his time in prison. He talked about the times when he first heard of Elijah Muhammad and the change it made in his life. The things that happened. The things that he saw. The wonderful feeling when he finally found something that told him in spite of all that America had said and done to him that he was a man and he could never forget that. And he could never forget the picture of Elijah Muhammad as he came to him in prison in his imagination. This man who had lost his own father, I think, in an accident on the street car by the Ku Klux Klan or something, who needed a strong father figure and there, in the depth of his prison degradation, he comes across this one figure that reaches down and says, "Malcolm, my son, you're a man." And Elijah Muhammad remained a father figure to Malcolm. And as he sat there, it was evident that if Elijah Muhammad had just done that at that moment whatever the differences were between them, Malcolm would have been off and running. He expressed that deep hurt within him that his father had rejected him. And in describing the situation you know he went all the way back talked about revolutions talked about the American Revolution. Talked about the Russian Revolution. And he had read about the revolutions and knew the Founding Fathers and the theories. He knew what Lenin had written and all that. And he said you know to some degree, "What's happening to me and to other Black Muslims is not unlike what happened at that stage in the Russian Revolution. When the time came for it to make a change some people had to go no matter how loved and important they had been in the initial stage and, ah, now I guess its my time to go." We'd, you know, we'd never heard him quite as subjective and though he wasn't defeatist but he was philosophical. He put into perspective for us his life and his death which he prophesied and what it meant and what it should mean and, ah, we sat, we talked and sometimes we felt close to tears and other times he had us laughing. And then you know after about thirty or forty minutes we chatted on and he, he, he left. That was the last time he was, ah, at the house and it still is vivid in my mind. I, I never quite had an experience like that with a man or with anybody. Somebody so open, so vulnerable, but not helpless you know. He, he solidified his meaning to us as a son and as a brother at that time. And I've know a lot of leaders and been close to a lot of leaders but not, none, to none have I been as closely bonded as I was at that moment to Malcolm X.


Yes, cut.