Meeting Malcolm X

Transcripts available in the following languages:

He came into the court one day, and all the Black kids, I mean, they all ran down to the foyer of the courthouse—they surrounded him, they were shaking his hands, and he’s…their laughing and talking and all. But, I wasn’t Japa…I mean, I wasn’t Black so I thought, “Gee, I shouldn’t go down there.” Because I remember, one, it was in Life Magazine, was a white girl who went to where Malcolm was eating, and she said, “What can I do for you?” which is a odd thing to ask Malcolm. And he just said, “Nothing.” And she went away crying. And I thought, “Gee, I hope I don’t do that.” You know, ‘cause, it should be, maybe, just a Black thing. But, I wanted to meet him so much, and I asked the people head of the core, “You think, maybe, I could try to…” They were all a circle around Malcolm. He said, “Well, if you want to try, but he could just tell you to get away.”
--And so, well, I thought I’ll try, and I kept going closer and closer. And I thought, “If I see him look up, I’m gonna take my chances and say something.” I didn’t know what to say, but he did look up once. So, I said, “Can I shake your hand?”
--And he said, “For what?”
--And, I, I didn’t know what to say. What should I say next? Um… “To congratulate you.”
--And he said, “For what?”
--And, I said, “For what you’re doing for your people.”
--And he said, well, “What am I doing for my people?”
--And, I had to think hard to answer. I said, “You’re giving directions.”
And then, gee, all of a sudden he came out of the, you know, the group. And he put his hands out, so I ran and grabbed his hands. I mean, it was just one of those lucky moments.

Then, you know, after that, I joined his group and went to hear him every week. He is such a unusual person. I mean, you could just feel his, I don’t know, that he’s different. Whether it’s his spirituality, or his…I mean, he is just a born leader, like. And yet, he is so unassuming, unpretentious, and really, I think he’s just a, a very, very, modest kind of person.

Date: June 16, 2003
Location: California, US
Interviewer: Karen Ishizuka, Akira Boch
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum.

malcolm x

This guide will give you the fundamental knowledge you will need to conduct your own oral history interview.

Get updates

Sign up for email updates

Journal feed
Events feed
Comments feed

Support this project

Discover Nikkei

Discover Nikkei is a place to connect with others and share the Nikkei experience. To continue to sustain and grow this project, we need your help!

Ways to help >>

A project of the Japanese American National Museum

Major support by The Nippon Foundation