When Cuba’s president travelled to the United States in 1960 and a hotel refused to accommodate him, it was the charismatic advocate of African-American rights who found him accommodation.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, on 19 May 1925, he changed his first name Malcolm Little to Malcolm X alluding to the unknown surname of the slaves. And although some US corporate media have refused to admit it, “he was one of the greatest and most influential figures in the history of my country”.
The teachings that “we inherited from him are like tools of liberation and words and deeds Malcolm X proved that men cannot be dehumanised because of the colour of their skin”.
These are the words of Rosemari Mealy, lawyer and author of the book “Fidel and Malcolm X, Memories of an Encounter” (Black Classic Press/Letras Cubanas), who in an interview with the press spoke of the need to protect Malcolm’s legacy for present and future generations.
Mealy’s book was the result of a conference organised by Cuban institution Casa de Las Americas on 22-24 May 1990.
“I was asked”, she explains, “to write it using the conference proceedings and first-hand interviews, and I tried to do so, because the text reflects the memories of those who witnessed or were involved in some way from our two countries”.
Rosemari says she never met Malcolm, but there are first-hand accounts from people who, with the exception of one or two, are no longer with us.
The book compiled in its pages the black leader’s welcome to Cuban President Fidel Castro and the Cuban delegation attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 1960.
When Fidel and his companions were refused accommodation at the Manhattan Hotel, Malcolm invited them to the Theresa, owned by an African American friend in Harlem, where -as he assured him- they would be welcomed with open arms and open hearts.
For Mealy, it was of the utmost importance to record this historical event, about which little was known, and for Cuban youth and the world to get to know a little more about the lives of two great men.
On 21 February 1965, at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, Malcolm X was speaking at a meeting of the Organisation of Afro-American Unity in New York when he was shot at least 16 times in the chest.
Despite differing accounts of where the order to eliminate him came from, the CIA’s Office of Plans, the division engaged in the overthrow and assassination of various Third World rulers, was already uneasy about Malcolm X and spied on his activities until the day of his death.
Last year, new evidence of the crime against the civil rights activist was revealed, pointing the finger at the NYPD and the FBI. (PL)