Meeting Malcolm X

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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

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