A regular reader contacted me via email telling me that he was waiting for the train at Metro Center when a French family of five arrived and stood next to him. They looked lost and confused, so he struck up a conversation with them. Eventually, they asked him if they were in the right place to catch the train to go to Virginia.
He told them that they were in the right place and were waiting for the right train. He said that the family walked a few feet away from him and began to talk amongst themselves in English. They began talking about the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march that took place here in D.C. and how Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a rousing speech. One of the children asked the parents if Malcolm X ever visited Washington, D.C.?
The mother said she wasn't sure, but she did know that he had visited Paris, France at one point.
So the reader asked me: Did Malcolm X ever visit the District of Columbia?
During this speech on black nationalism, he said in part:
I was in Washington a couple of weeks ago while the Senators were filibustering, and I noticed in the back of the Senate a huge map, and on this map it showed the distribution of Negroes in America, and surprisingly the same Senators that were involved in the filibuster were from the states where there were the most Negroes. Why were they filibustering the civil rights legislation? Because the civil rights legislation is supposed to guarantee voting rights to Negroes in those states, and those Senators from those states know that if the Negroes in those states can vote, those Senators are down the drain. The Representatives of those states go down the drain. And in the Constitution of this country it has a stipulation wherein whenever the rights, the voting rights, of people in a certain district are violated, then the Representative who -- who's from that particular district, according to the Constitution, is supposed to be expelled from the Congress.
Slightly a year or more earlier, on February 3, 1963, Malcolm X gave an interview at WMAL in the District, where he said Elijah Mohammed does not advocate the overthrow of the U.S. government. He further said the FBI goes beyond its duty in religious suppression of Muslims and the FBI spends 24 hours a day infiltrating or trying to infiltrate Muslims.
From April to October of the same year he serves as Interim Minister of the NOI (Nation of Islam) in Washington, D.C. During that time he spoke to audiences of varying sizes.
He also attended the historic March on Washington as a critical observer. Its widely known that Malcolm X was not a fan of the march. He referred to it as "the farce on Washington," as noted by "Timeline". Malcolm X: Make it Plain, in American Experience. PBS.
Additionally he said that he did not know why so many black people were excited about a demonstration run by whites in front of a statue of a President who has been dead for 100 years and who didn't like us when he was alive.
A year after the march, he was again inside the Beltway attending a Congressional debate on the civil rights bill. It was also on this day [March 26, 1964,] he met Martin Luther King, Jr. (it's believed to be the only time that two met in person) and the iconic photograph of the stoic men together had their picture taken.
Shortly after Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City, King sent a telegraph to Betty Shabazz, Malcolm's wife, expressing his sadness over his murder.
We did not always see eye to eye on methods to solve the race problem, but I always had a deep affection for Malcolm and felt that he had a great ability to put his finger on the existence of the root of the problem. He was in eloquent spokesman for his point of view and no one can honestly doubt that Malcolm had a great concern for the problems that we face as a race.
Malcolm X and Washington, D.C. will always be intertwined because it is largely believed that the first known celebration of Malcolm X Day took place in Washington, D.C. in 1971.
Don't be in a hurry to condemn because he doesn't do what you do or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn't know what you know today --- Malcolm X