Interview with Sonia Sanchez
QUESTION 4
INTERVIEWER:

SONIA SANCHEZ:

Okay. Um hum. Malcolm began to make us understand ah how we had been denied the history of African-American people in this country. So I began to up to the Schomburg. And when he'd mention a name I'd go search the name out at the Schomburg. When he'd mention a time I would go and search out, ah, in the Schomburg what that period was. So, ah, Malcolm sent us back all to the history books. He began to make us begin to move to a point of like, "What was he talking about? Why was that period important? Who was that person he was talking about?" He sent us back to the libraries of America. Um, but above all, it was, when you watched him talk he would fire you up and you would simply respond, "Mm hm, yes sir, yes that's right, uh huh." But then also he'd turn a smile and his smile warmed us. The smile said, "I know you're lost." The smile said, "I know you don't want to hear that." The smile said, "But I will protect you with my, with my smile. I will love you above all." Above all the smile was about love. We knew that man loved us. We knew Malcolm was saying simply, "I, I can take the weight for everything that I'm saying. But I will raise up, ah, a generation, your generation, my generation. That we'll begin to talk and preach truth in this country. I will listen to you. I will even, um, send off your scowls. I will, like, ah, send off when you get, when you get angry," because we got angry quite often, because he called us names. We were the educated group don't forget, okay, we were the group that simply had come through and had been the exceptional people. So all of a sudden he was telling us that we were not so exceptional. That we were dumb probably. Ah, that we didn't know our own history. That we didn't really know what it was to be a Black person in America. As a consequence, ah, we got annoyed quite often. But we kept coming back--