Interview with Ossie Davis

OK, you got the brother up at the house your talking to him about asking him what do programs for Black people tying them up into knots.


Yes, um, I think I should mention that my memory has played tricks on me. This was really in '62 not even in '62 and that becomes important as I'll explain later. But we got Malcolm to the house and we felt we had him cornered. And we asked him all the questions that we thought were pertinent. You know, "What is your program offering Black people really? Do we all have to join and become Black Muslims to participate in your kingdom? Or is there a program that you have that affects all Black folks basically on because we're Black." He never really answered that problem, that, that, that question. We learned later of course that the, ah, he the that whatever economic program they had was a rather limited one. And you know wouldn't really havve solved all of our problems. And he had some thoughts but he was very careful not to let his thoughts get ahead of what he thought was Elijah Muhammad's thoughts and policies on the question. And when we would, you know, run him into a corner he would say "Well, the honorable Elijah Muhammad says--" "Hold it brother, hold it now. We're not talking to the honorable Elijah Muhammad. We're talking to you. What do you think, Malcolm, we should do?" On one occasion he said, "Look, I am like the man who goes inside the lion's cave to rescue the brother that is supposed to be the lion's next meal. Now the brother wants to know what you going to do. And the bro- the man, you know, ah, ah, I can't tell the brother what my plans are, how I intend to rescue him because the lion is listening. So we, we have ideas we have plans but we can't tell everybody now because the enemy will find out." Well, the truth was that you know they had not really worked out a sufficiently broad economic plan. But it did indicate to us the kind of person Malcolm was. And those of us who were there became his friends 'cause we knew there was a honest, earnest, dedicated young brother. And we had seen many leaders, White and Black, and have been able to gage their integrity, their honesty, and their degree of commitment. And while we loved all the leaders and we worked for all the leaders, Malcolm was by far morally the most pure person that we ever ran across.