Interview with Marian Wright Edelman

King was a portion of our lives and then this almost myth begins to emerge in the north about this man named Malcolm X. Do you remember your first feelings on hearing him and the first time you met him?


The first time I met Malcolm X was when I was a law student at Yale Law School. He had come to the Law School to speak. I was sitting in the back of the audience. He walked up to me and said, "Marian Wright, I'm Malcolm X." And I said, I, I mean, I withdraw, said, "Who, how does this man know who I am?" I then looked at some of these handsome Black men standing behind him and I recognized a number of people, ah, who were his followers from my home town. There, but he knew almost everything about me. And, wanted to sit down and talk. He spoke that night at Yale Law School's Auditorium and he was absolutely mesmerizing. He was brilliant. He was funny. He expressed the rage that all of us had, continued to feel about the slow pace of change in the country but he did it in the cleverest and the funniest and the most put down way, ah, you could imagine, ah, I mean he was, ah, I just remember laughing uncontrollably at some of the ways in which Malcolm would answer questions and put down, ah, you know, Whites who were, ah, trying to trick him at that point. So, he was a, he was a new outlet, ah, for the anger and the frustration. But he sure was smart. I also remember, I mean I saw him a number of times after that, I went down to, to his restaurant, ah, in Harlem. And, ah, I remember a meal, particularly where he chided me for eating White bread. When he told me how, how useless and nutrionless, and, ah, ah, blanched out this, this thing was. And he gave me a lecture on how one should eat more healthily, ah, in fact, it had recalled when I was a little kid, ah, I remember having dinner with Mary McLeod Bethune at Benedict College when I was little, little kid and I had never seen anybody that proud, a Black woman that proud and it was the first time I ever heard "the Blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice," ah, and that stuck in my head. But Malcolm's lecture, ah, White bread and its nutritionless content, stuck with me for many years afterwards.