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Malcolm X Reportedly Revises View of Race Relations

May 7, 1964 - Malcolm X has informed a New York friend in a letter from Saudi Arabia that he will return to the United States in two weeks with new, positive insights on race relations.

The Black Nationalist leader said he had gained them from his religious experience in Mecca, the holy city of Islam. He said that for the first time in his life, he had felt no racial antagonism toward whites, nor had he sensed any antagonism on their part against him.

The letter from Mecca, dated April 25, described how he had arrived at his new insights on race relations while on a pilgrimage.

“There are Muslims of all colors and ranks here in Mecca from all parts of this earth,” he wrote.

“During the past seven days of this holy pilgrimage, while undergoing the rituals of the hajj [pilgrimage], I have eaten from the same plate, drank from the same glass, slept on the same bed or rug, while praying to the same God — not only with some of this earth’s most powerful kings, cabinet members, potentates and other forms of political and religious rulers — but also with fellow-Muslims whose skin was the whitest of white, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, and whose hair was the blondest of blond — yet it was the first time in my life that I didn’t see them as ‘white’ men. I could look into their faces and see that these didn’t regard themselves as ‘white.’ Their belief in the Oneness of God (Allah) had actually removed the ‘white’ from their minds, which automatically changed their attitude and behavior toward people of other colors. Their belief in the Oneness of God has actually made them so different from American whites, their outer physical characteristics played no part at all in my mind during all my close associations with them.”

Before leaving for the Middle East, Malcolm had said that he would lead his newly formed black nationalist organization into the forefront of the civil rights struggle this summer.

Malcolm recently withdrew from the Black Muslim Movement founded and led by Elijah Muhammad of Chicago because he felt its religious sectarianism had limited its scope of action.

Malcolm’s new movement does not require membership in the Black Muslim faith. It is open to Negro Christians and Black Jews, as well as to non-believers.

Malcolm’s letter said he hoped to visit Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Nigeria, Ghana, and Algeria before returning to New York by May 20.

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