Interview with Sonia Sanchez
QUESTION 7
INTERVIEWER:

What were the Black folks' reaction? Particularly in Harlem but generally Black folks' reaction to Malcolm's, ah, "Chickens coming home to roost," ah, comment after Kennedy's assassination?

SONIA SANCHEZ:

Well I think, ah, Black folk, ah, or were in agreement.

INTERVIEWER:

I'm sorry, if you could just mention--

SONIA SANCHEZ:

Okay, yeah. You know, when JFK was assassinated, you know and I know that this country had what we call, um, an oppor--made an opportunity for people to expel that horror via the television. Okay, so they said simply, "We will assassinate on television but we will also allow you an opportunity to get rid of the horror and your pain via television." So they televised everything. Then Malcolm of course made a statement about, ah, "This is just an example of chickens coming home to roost." Um, "This country also will not only kill African Americans, this country will kill its own also, too. Especially people who think they can be presidents." When certainly that is not what happens in this country; you don't run a country as president. You're just there for, ah, to be, um, um, you know artifacts. You're just there to be the heads of states, etc. Of course he was then set down. What happened then for us, many of us as we were watching that from the Harlems of America, we thought it was a very unjust thing. We thought what he had said was hip, was like "Yeah, why couldn't he say that?" We didn't have a sense of the nation at that particular time being threatened, feeling threatened by the government.

INTERVIEWER:

I'm sorry, only because if you could incorporate the "Chickens coming over the roost" comment somewhere.

SONIA SANCHEZ:

I thought I did. I said, "Chickens coming home to roost" at the beginning. I did, uh huh, uh huh, yea. I did.

SONIA SANCHEZ:

Since we were not in the Nation, okay, at that time, we didn't have a sense of like, there was a, a hierarchy involved. We saw the Nation as Malcolm. You've got to understand that. Um, although we knew that there were other people involved with the Nation, our sense of the Nation was always Malcolm. Our sense of the Nation of coming around the Nation and involving ourselves the Nation, Malcolm was indeed the person. So when someone could say we are sitting you down because of your statement, we thought, ah, the dialogue in, in the Harlems of America was simply, um, "Why?" He said, "Well that's true." And why shouldn't he say what was true because he had been a person who could always say what he wanted to say? So we began to have a dialogue among ourselves about, "There's something wrong. There must be something more than what is happening here. It is not just a statement. Perhaps there are other things involved at this particular point." So, ah, we began to watch very carefully, watch Malcolm. Watch his movements. Um, or watch his non-movements. And then all of a sudden when he announced that he was no longer part of it then we sort of said, "Well good, you know." I mean we all said, "Okay," because he was our connection. He was our lifeline. Ah, in retrospect you see, you do understand some things that were happening there. Certainly we realized now from reading... you can't do that, okay, I'm sorry, okay. So, um, you know--