On the 30th anniversary of his assassination, friends of Malcolm X remember the charismatic and controversial man.
Remembering Malcolm X
TOM BROKAW, anchor:
It was 30 years ago today that one of the most charismatic and controversial men in America was assassinated, Malcolm X. Tonight, some who knew him well remember, in their own words.
Mr. OSSIE DAVIS: Malcolm X, eyes glowing, passion flowing and the capacity to use words like weapons.
MALCOLM X: Negroes get drunk because they see white people get drunk. They smoke cigarettes because they see white people smoke cigarettes. They commit fornication and adultery because when they turn on the television, all they see is the white man committing fornication and adultery.
Mr. DAVIS: I guess I first met Malcolm in ‘60. I was astounded, not at what he said, but at the fact that he dared say it, because I knew from experience that that kind of talk could get somebody killed pretty quickly.
MALCOLM X: Who taught you to hate your own kind? Who taught you to hate the race that you belong to? You know, before you come asking Mr. Muhammad, does he teach hate, you should ask who yourself, who taught you to hate being what God gave you.
Mr. PETER GOLDMAN: In my book, I call him the witness for the prosecution for black America. He understood that that anger first had to be surfaced and then turned into a creative force.
Mr. JOHN HENRIK CLARKE: He was teaching reclamation, get back what slavery and colonialism and oppression has taken away from you.
MALCOLM X: Be a man. Earn what you need for your own family, and then your family respects you. They’re proud to say, that’s my father.
Ms. MAYA ANGELOU: Malcolm was involved in a ongoing love affair with black Americans in particular, and Africans anywhere in the Diaspora.
MALCOLM X: We’re not American. We are a people who formerly were Africans who were kidnapped and brought to America. Let us remember that we are not brutalized because we’re Baptists, we’re not brutalized because we’re Muslims. We are brutalized because we are black people in America.
Mr. CLARKE: I miss him as a human being and I miss that magnificent energy being in the world with me.
Synopsis: Malcolm X was born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska. A prominent black nationalist leader, he served as a spokesman for the Nation of Islam during the 1950s and 1960s. Due largely to his efforts, the Nation of Islam grew from a mere 400 members in 1952, to 40,000 members by 1960. Malcolm X was an expressive, passionate and naturally gifted and inspirational speaker. He urged blacks to cast off the shackles of racism "by any means necessary," including violence. The fiery civil rights leader broke with the group shortly before his assassination on February 21, 1965. He was killed at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City, where he had been preparing to deliver a speech.