Page from the original typescript of Alex Haley’s 1963 interview of Malcolm X for Playboy magazine, one onionskin page, 8.5 x 11, signed "Malcolm X" in the bottom margin (with a marginal line indicating his approval of the contents). In part: "Yes, sir, I honestly believe that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad met and walked and talked with God, and that he is in communication with God today. It's why Mr. Muhammad is the most powerful black man on earth today. Other than God himself. Mr. Muhammad as God's chosen representative for the black people is protected by that all-powerful one, as his messenger." Haley then poses a follow-up question: "Did Messenger Muhammad ever tell you what God looked like when he met him. You just aid there that your leader is the most powerful black man except God. Is this to mean that God was black, too? What did he look like? Did he look like William Warfield? did he have a pointed beard?" Malcolm X responds: "This God was black, yes, sir. He didn't look like William Warfield, no, sir, and he didn't have a beard. Mr. Muhammad says that he was—I'd rather answer that this way. Mr. Muhammad is the only one who is qualified to say what Good looked like. But I can tell you that Mr. Muhammad teaches that Allah was a black man. Walter White was classified as a black man. So is Adam Powell." In fine condition.
Playboy's May 1963 interview with Malcolm X was one of the most famous of Haley’s career, and gave most readers their first in-depth look of Malcolm X’s teachings and personality. Supporters and critics viewed the Muslim minister in very different terms. Admirers saw him as a courageous advocate for the rights of African-Americans and condemned crimes against black Americans; detractors accused him of preaching racism, black supremacy, and violence. Nevertheless, he has been described as one of the greatest and most influential African-American leaders in history. Within a year of granting this interview, with America still gripped by ever-growing racial tension, the once-combative black nationalist Malcolm X had repudiated almost every stance in the interview. He had broken with the Nation of Islam movement, fallen out with its leader, Elijah Muhammad, renounced black supremacy, and embraced racial equality and human rights. He was assassinated in Harlem in 1965.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.