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50. “One Day, When I was Lost,” James Baldwin

August 7, 2009 Leave a comment

The subtitle is “A Scenario Based on Alex Haley’s ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”

First, I have not been doing much reading lately.

Second, this was really good. At 268 pages and screenplay format, it is less of a commitment than is Malcolm X’s autobiography, but it made me want to read it. I’m white. I grew up in a white suburb. No one ever tried to teach me about Malcolm X and all I ever heard was that he thought it was okay to kill white people. As I got older, I heard that that wasn’t true, but this play does an eloquent job of explaining who X was and what he believed. Baldwin’s writing is immensely readable. I’m now much more interested in reading “Malcolm X”– I hope Haley is as evocative.

Luther, reflecting on witnessing his brother being lynched when he was a boy:

then I knew– that G-d had turned away from these people forever. They were trying to kill G-d because G-d was black and they knew it. (143)

One of the ministers is unjustly arrested and Malcolm gathers a crowd of ministers and temple members goes to get him out. After a long time, the police acquiesce:

(WHITE) POLICE CHIEF: I just don’t want to see any more bloodshed. Bloodshed never solved anything.
MALCOLM: It did, for you, just as long as the blood was ours. (Addressing the crowd) Brothers, sister, I want to thank you for your patience, for that patience has helped us to save a life. W have seen the brother (who was imprisoned) and we have spoken to the doctors. The brother is much better than before– before your presence forced the white devils to give him decent care. Everything that can be done is beong done, and we feel satisfied that we can end out vigil tonight and go home and get some rest for the many vigils that are coming. There will be many. I want every man, woman, and child here tonight to remember that if you hadn’t been here, our brother might be dead. But, as long as we keep doing like we did tonight, out brothers and sisters will live. (178)

Malcolm speaking at the University of Ghana:

I’m not anti-American, and I didn’t come here to condemn America– I want to make that very clear! I came here to tell the truth– and if the truth condemns America, then she stands condemned! (240)

Page count: 268
Page total: 21,704

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