Interview with Cleveland Sellers

I would like to ask you again today about how you were searching for ways to introduce Malcolm to the South. Let's talk about Brown Chapel and what was going on with Malcolm and SNCC at that time.


Malcolm had come to, ah, to, to Tuskegee Institute, ah, during the same period that the Selma demonstrations were in progress. And we went up to, ah, to Tuskegee and asked Malcolm if he would come and speak to some of the youngsters in the morning. And he agreed to do that and we were able to bring him in. Our idea was to expand on Malcolm's identification with our struggle and young people in the south but at the same time to get young people to begin to appreciate the leadership and the efforts on the part of, of other leaders who were not as popular in the press. We had done that with the, ah, youngsters from Mississippi that we had taken up to Harlem in, in the early part of, in December of 1964 and we had Malcolm to talk to them about the world struggle and how Black people fit into that struggle. Ah, Malcolm also talked about his, ah, his appreciation for the efforts on the part of the civil rights workers in the deep south, primarily Mississippi, the students which he referred to SNCC people as the students. Ah, what we were able to do is join the struggle and get people to understand that because you're, in the North you were no less discriminated as if you were in the South. And that became very important to people to see themselves not in isolation. Malcolm talked about the fact that in Mississippi, the persons in Mississippi should not see their struggle independent and separate from what he was trying to do in, in, in New York and in Harlem. And that we, in Harlem and in, and in Mississippi should not see our struggle separate from in Kenya and Liberia and, and Angola and Southwest Africa and places like that. So, it became important for us to, to continue to try to raise those issues even though they might have been unpopular in the press, but it became important for us to raise those issues in our community among the young and among that group that we worked with, basically sharecroppers and, and people working on the farms in the South because that's where many of the people that we came in contact with resided. And that they needed to begin to understand that they played a role, or could play a role in shaping and changing, ah, the, their conditions.