Interview with Roger Wilkins

Malcolm X. What did, what was your view of his impact on people during this period?


In the early '60s, Malcolm said things that were just stunning to, for Black people to hear. He said that "You are victims, but you are great. Do not believe the lies that the society tells you about how humble you are, that you're descended from savages, that slavery was your shame. It's their shame. You have greatness within you. Stand up and face down these people who are your enemies and who are trying to take your souls and your spirits from you." It was electrifying. And he spoke in the cadences of northern urban streets rather than southern churches. So that when people like me, who were from the northern streets rather than from the South heard him, we heard something that was familiar to us. And he was, he was just electric. He was, and even very bourgeois Black people would watch Malcolm on the television and say, "He's telling them off good, he's telling them off. I wish I could tell them off like that." So he was giving a voice to the rage that powerless people felt. And he had a lot of fans in Black America.