Gloria Hayes Richardson oral history interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier in New York, New York, 2011-07-19.
JM: Yeah. Flowing through all this history we haven’t, we haven’t, um, yet talked about Malcolm X, and I know that, um, that that’s an important part of this story and your sense of this history unfolding.
GR: I had heard about Malcolm from people who left Cambridge and went in the Army and were living in Philadelphia or Baltimore. I had not heard him myself. And I went and I didn’t think very highly of Elijah Muhammad and whatever that was. But, anyhow, I went to Chicago. Reverend [C.L.] Franklin was having this big thing with SCLC. SCLC was trying to move into the cities. And when I got there -
GR: Detroit. When I got there, several people said to me, “You’re in the wrong place.” And I said, “Well.” They said, “You know, Malcolm is going to be over at Albert Cleage’s church, [1:05:00] Reverend Cleage’s church. That’s where you should be.” And I said, “Well, who is Reverend [Albert B.] Cleage [Jr.]?” And they explained. So, I said, “Well, I really would like,” yeah, you know, I thought to myself, “I’d like to hear him speak.” So, I went over there, and then they asked me up on the stage. And then he spoke. I thought, “Oh!” I thought then he was going to leave.
JM: Nation of Islam?
GR: Nation of Islam. There was something - oh, he said, “Honorable Elijah Muhammad”, da-da-da-da - but there was something in the tone that I thought, “I don’t think he’s going to be there very long.” But, in any event, the guy from Cambridge, uh, Bob Bennett, [laughing] who had a clinic there, he almost turned his head totally around. He couldn’t get over it! And so, that was my first, uh, you know, personal meeting with Malcolm.
JM: I’m sorry. Mr. Bennett couldn’t get over what exactly?
GR: He couldn’t get over Malcolm X. He just turned his head around. This is a wealthy upper-middle-class black in Detroit, who has a medical clinic and da-da-da, that came from Cambridge, you know, just full of success. I don’t think he was arrogant or anything like that, but he just never heard this before. And he said, “My God, I’ve never -” I think he talked all the next day. And then he invited some of the SC - some of the SCLC people over to dinner.
And then, after that, I don’t remember too clearly. I think we invited him to Cambridge, but he was going to Africa, and then, uh, at ACT, because the men - we invited him there, and he came. I’m not really sure if that - because he was doing the “ballot and bullets” thing.