Mateo Askaripour in Literary Hub:
The video clip, slightly pixelated and shot in black and white, shows two men in the throes of laughter. One, white, leans closer, holding a microphone near his companion’s mouth. The other, Black, who was laughing with his head turned away, exposing a handsome set of teeth, composes himself, facing his interviewer, yet he is unable to hide his boyish smile.
“Do you feel, however,” the interviewer says, “that we’re making progress in this coun–”
“No, no,” the Black man interjects, his smile giving way to a straight face as he shakes his head. “I will never say,” he continues, “that progress is being made. If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. The progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven’t even begun to pull the knife out, much less,” he says, his smile returning, “heal the wound.” When the interviewer attempts to ask another question, the Black man declares, “they won’t even admit the knife is there.”
This video was shot in March 1964. The Black man whose smoke-like smile frequently takes new shape is Malcolm X. And, at 13 years old, as I watched this video and countless others, I fell in love.