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Supreme Court justice and civil rights advocate

Malcolm X

Some of the most vocal critics of Marshall were black militants, particularly the nation of Islam and its charismatic Harlem leader, Malcolm X. The Black Muslims preached racial separation – the exact opposite of Marshall’s integrationist ideals:

Q: Did you ever meet Malcolm X?
A: Hell yes.

Q: What was that relationship like?
A: I think we called each other sons of bitches and that was all there was.

Q: How did you meet?
A: I don’t know. It was on 7th Avenue, that’s all I know.

Well I mean you listen to those speeches you see he made speeches every Friday and Saturday in front of the Teresa Hotel.

Q: Right on the street.
A: Yeah. But the police recorded them and I’d get a copy of them the next morning so I knew what he was saying about me.

Q: What was he saying about you?
A: Half-white Nigger. That kind of stuff. I’m about the same color he was.

Q: And condemning the work you were doing.
A: Oh yes. I was working with the white folks, I was hand in glove with the white folks and whatever they told me to do I’d do.

And then (New York Police Commissioner Stephen) Kennedy, I mean the commissioner got the report, said I should carry a gun. And my wife said to me you ain’t going to bring no gun in this house. And Malcolm called me up and he said hey I’ll come by, will you buy me a drink? And I said sure, come on. And he came out there about six o’clock and had a little parcel all wrapped up like a present and he said this is for you. And I said what’s this? And there was this snubnosed gun and you know the permit for it. And Kissei said uhah don’t put your damn hands on it. And I had to give it back to him.

So then he had a policeman on the corner just to make sure.

But they were a bad bunch. And Malcolm X was the ringleader.

Q: So why did he want to meet with you?
A: I don’t know. Think he was trying to convince me or something. I think that’s why he got mad with me.

Q: Was it after he came back from his trip [to Mecca] and had changed his point of view and all that?
A: I don’t believe he changed a goddamn thing. I believe he was a bum, hell he was a damned pimp. A convicted pimp – about as lowlife as you can get.

Q: But he’s now become like a folk hero. What the hell’s going on here?
A: White people.

Q: Why is it in their interests to promote him as some kind of folk hero.
A: You white journalists. You’re a journalist.

Q: Me? How am I promoting him as a hero, come on.
A: You’re a journalist.