Interview with Ossie Davis
QUESTION 7
MADISON DAVIS LACY:

Now when later when you got to know him, you invited him up to your home to introduce him to others because there was a lot of curiosity like your curiosity about who this was and what this was about, the kind of impact it was having on people. Can you describe to me that personality an occasion ?

OSSIE DAVIS:

Yes.

MADISON DAVIS LACY:

--

OSSIE DAVIS:

Yes. Malcolm, as I said before, had created a lot of excitement in the Black community, but also we were aware or felt that it was somewhat dangerous to be too closely associated to Malcolm. He was saying some pretty rough things, particularly about Whites. And, ah, those of us who wanted to keep peace with the White world, some of us, you know, had our jobs out in the White community. We didn't really want to get too close to Malcolm. Also you must remember that in the '50s and during the red-baiting period, everybody had learned to be a little wary of everybody else, ten-foot poles was the style of social intercourse in those days. So, ah, but I did have friends, ah, who asked me, they'd say, "Hey man, we saw a picture of you and Ruby, ah, with Malcolm X, what's that all about?" And we couldn't answer, we talked to our brother-in-law, but he didn't, you know, he wasn't a scholar, he just knew Malcolm and, and admired him greatly. And, ah, we had gone to the mosque, ah, to the restaurant at the mosque and had met him for lunch and discussed various things and were impressed with him. And we'd ask him questions and we said, "Hey a lot of people, you know, ah, want to know what you, what you really are about, but they are afraid to come to the restaurant or to the mosque, but they, they're, they're still curious." And he, he jumped at that, nothing pleased him more than going out, you know, to proselytize and to convert, he was a missionary of the first order and any opportunity he had to talk to anybody, he grabbed it. So, ah, we invited him to come out to our house in Mt. Vernon one afternoon. He came and he brought with him, ah, Herbert Muhammad who had his camera and went around taking pictures. And, ah, Sidney Poitier, he was there, John O. Killens was there, Lonnie Sattin and his wife Tina were there and a few other people. And we sat down and said, "Hey, Malcolm, now look," you know, "Brother, we understand the game." You know, "You're going around shaking the White folks. OK, we understand that, but what's your program for Black folks," you know. "What's your economic program? Is everybody going to have to become a Black Muslim in order to share in this kingdom? Are you really convinced that six or seven states in the South would be viable? I am, is that where you're really going?" You know, you know, "Come on, level. Ain't nobody listening, the cameras are not here, television is not here, come on--"

MADISON DAVIS LACY:

We got roll out we're going to have to pick that up--

OSSIE DAVIS:

OK