Malcolm X may have cultivated contacts with others in the mainstream American press, but his polite 1961 outreach toward the Monitor could also have been one of a kind. As expected, he spoke with wit and cutting sarcasm in responding to tough inquiries. But he could also dodge uncomfortable questions, parrying with an enigmatic "Those who know don't say. And those who say don't know."
I submitted my story on the Black Muslims, which ran a week later. An editor deleted Malcolm's harsh invective, but my first Monitor story appeared otherwise intact. That pleased me. A few years later Malcolm told me at his family's vegetarian restaurant in Harlem that my story had been fair to him and his movement. I took that as outright praise.
The Harlem visit occurred after I entered military service in late 1961 as the Berlin crisis loomed. I found myself stationed at a major recruiting center in lower Manhattan, and decided one weekend to drop by Malcolm's eatery.
Malcolm greeted me with a broad smile, admitting his surprise at seeing me in an Army uniform. He even seemed glad to see me. Then a strange thing happened. The Black Muslims were holding a food bazaar that afternoon, and Malcolm planned to attend and address it.
"Hey, would you like to come along?" he asked.