Interview with Sonia Sanchez

As a Black woman, what attracted you to the Nation?


What brought me, and a lot of women and men, to the Nation, was that, finally, the continuation of what had gone on before. When we began to search out how had we come into this sense of ourselves--this Blackness, this, this sense of like what it meant to be an African-American woman or man, in America. We realized that a lot had come via Malcolm--he had been a vessel--but a lot of the information had come, also, through Elijah Muhammad, in terms of his ideas. So, many of us, because of other things that had happened in the country at that time, began to go to the various temples again, and sit and listen. And, it was because of this sense of support of this Blackness. Also at that particular time, too, it was the strongest organization in America. And, so, many of us who were ah, working very hard, felt an obligation to go as, people were saying, to the source of the information that we had become familiar with. So, many of us went in. I went into the Nation, I think, in '73, and, um stayed until '75. What I saw and experienced as a person who was very much involved with ideas and, and writing books that, ah, I ended up teaching some classes and my classes were controversial. But, I taught women, um, I taught poetry. I taught also the whole idea of, you can not have twenty-five children in three years and stay sane--it's impossible. Ah, I continued to lecture. I was called, not a Muslim, but a Pan-Africanist, at that time. And people wondered why I was in the Nation. Ah, I had children. I had twin sons and I took them into the Nation, in a sense, I think, for probably, for probably protection. There was a very real atmosphere of strength in the Nation; almost the same kind of strength that emanated from Malcolm. And, so, I went into the Nation with my children, for, I suppose, surcease from a lot of turmoil that we were all very much involved in and lived, but, also to begin to study more about the Nation than I had. I had not studied the doctrines of the Nation. I had not really looked at it. I had looked very much at Malcolm and all the other information I had gone into as far as Black history and, and, and Black literature in America. So, I began that interesting look at some of the mythologies that the Nation was involved in and with. Ah, and so that's what I did.