Interview with John Lewis

OK, I want you to describe your meeting with Malcolm, and what came out, what was the point of all that, or what did you get out of that meeting?


We met Malcolm at the New Stanley, ah, Hotel in Nairobi, and it was by chance that we met. It was one of the most, ah, moving meetings that I ever had, ah, with Malcolm. Ah, and probably was the longest meeting, for more than two days, it was there in New Stanley, ah, we discussed not just the problems and the issues in Africa. But we spent a great deal time, ah, speaking about the problems in America. Ah, the problem of the denial of the right to vote, this is right after the Democratic convention in 1964. So the whole question of the right to participate in a Democratic process, was on the mind of Malcolm, as it was on the mind of my colleagues in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. And he kept warning us and telling us to be careful. Ah, I remember on one occasion, during a meeting in a little coffee shop at the hotel there in Nairobi, ah, he would say, ah, "Always sit with your back to the wall so you can look out and see who is watching you." He told us to be careful, but I had a feeling from my discussions in meeting with him, that Malcolm was in the process of, of becoming a changed person, a changed man, because he kept saying over and over again, that he really wanted to be helpful and be supportive of the Civil Rights Movement. And he wanted to visit the South.