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We'll just roll the film. -Mmhmm. Um, Mrs. Collins. Malcolm was born the way he was. He was born, in fact-- fact, we waited for Malcolm's birth. Uh, we were the, of a superstitious tribe of Africa, the Watusis. And we believe that the seventh child uh, came with certain, endowments, certain -- rights that would surpass other children of that family. So when he -- he was born, we expected great things of Malcolm. I don't know if this influenced him. The fact that his family, uh -- put him in a certain category. Uh, my father, in particular, was concerned, uh, with him after he was born because he was very fair. And he felt that this would be a hindrance to him -- us, applying ourselves to him because people at that
time put a lot of stock on black, and yellow, and colors-- you know what I mean. -Yeah. So uh, much of what Malcolm should-- would have gotten from the family had he been born black, he didn't get it. Because we didn't want to make a difference in the light child or with the black ones. -So where did he get it, say in his late teens, in his early 20s, or --? Uh, Malcolm lived with me from 12 until he went to prison. I had a chance to discipline Malcolm in prison. Malcolm was an aggr -- was an aggressive young boy. I admired it, I stimulated it. I feel -- felt that a black man, a black young man, over the period of 400 years in America, had been deprived of any aggressive, uh, thoughts even. If you show aggressive, uh, thoughts before the white man, he would, uh -- erase you. Set you
apart from the others as a villain. So-- but I felt that an-- in order for Malcolm, after my father's death-- and, uh, his mother's having gone to a hospital, I felt that it was my duty uh, to stimulate his arrogance, stimulate his impulsiveness. Let him feel that life -- with the life that God gave him belonged to him. He didn't have to pay homage to anyone, and this is how I guided him. -What kinds of influences do you think being in prison had upon him? What kind of effect? -In prison, I was able to really direct him into accepting facts as a guideline to -- to life. Not to -- an illusion of something that is dramatized. Prison is real. If a God, uh, sees fit to throw you in solitary confinement, this is for real. Malcolm was able to see this and accept life from a realistic, uh, point of view, he was --
I think all of the illusions that he may have adopted in his youth are from environment. I think he lost it in prison. I think he really saw life for real. And this was one of the most valuable, uh, assets that Malcolm did acquire in life was courage, a matter of fact, To accept life from a realistic point of view. Nothing dramatized would interest Malcolm, nothing. -He became involved with the Muslims while he was in prison. -Uh, yes, through my brother Reginald. He, um, became involved with the -- the Black Muslims. And, uh, the Black Muslim, uh -- Islam. Uh, Elijah Muhammad gave him a chance to excel. Uh, had not it been for Elijah Muhammad, I would have had to find possibly another feel to
project him through. But Islam, uh, as it was then, in a small, uh, uh -- it was a very small thing at that time. And this gave Malcolm a chance to really excel and build the Nation of Islam. Much of the Nation of Islam is Malcolm. -Do you feel that being in the Muslims had a profound effect on Malcolm? To some degree. It gave him a chance, as I said before, to recognize the needs of the masses of people. It also gave him a chance to recognize the lack of knowledge of the masses', uh, re -- uh, contain. Uh, uh -- It also, uh, gave him a chance to recognize the fact that black people are their own worst enemies.
-In what ways, uh, do you think black people are their own worst enemies? We don't realize many of us that.....we are are free. If we realize this word freedom and recognize it for what it means, and watch the other people on Earth exercise freedom, then we would not sing the song "We Shall Overcome," and walk up and down roads, and beg for this, and want poverty programs, and all this type of thing. We would know that our ability to care for another race would give us more, uh, ability to care for our own needs, and we don't provide for ourselves. -Was Malcolm nonviolent? In your estimation? No. From my, uh, estimation, no man is nonviolent, no man is violent. Malcolm believed as a man should believe, that if you strike him, it -- it was his duty as a man to strike you
back. -What kind of an effect did Malcolm have on you? On me, I believe my, uh -- the effect he had on me was to see him grow from childhood into a dynamic figure, a man, with an understanding of man in himself, and life in itself. On me-- he was, to me, like Jesus is to most Christians. The only-- I, I can imagine how the Virgin Mary felt about her Jesus. This is what Malcolm was to me. Each step that he grew, each time that he-- the changes came, I could feel them and see them. I could see them in his manner, his-- his approach to me. His respect for me. Malcolm had a great respect for womanhood. I don't know wha-- how he came by this, but possibly as I said from the tribe. Maybe this was a virtue that most men don't, uh, have, but he had it: a great respect for womanhood.
See, Malcolm made every sacrifice that-- mm, I can't know-- I don't know any other man who made these sacrifices. Malcolm made every sacrifice to make himself whole. A man worthy of saying to you, "Do something about yourself, young lady." Or saying to a young man, "Get up, and take your bed, and walk." This is how Malcolm affected me. This is how I saw him. -Was Malcolm searching, uh, when he went abroad, traveled abroad for the period of time? Yes. This is why I say he was ready. Malcolm broadened his scope. Much of what he learned abroad gave him a mature a-- approach to the black man's problem. Before, he had much, much frustration. In the Nation of Islam, there is much frustration. Malcolm had to acquire some of this frustration. On his-- on his return from Africa,
after traveling, and spending time with all of the black leaders and revolutionary leaders, Malcolm came home a man. No frustrations. No emotional problems. No desire for material gains, which is one of the greatest assets a man can acquire, is to lose that desire for material gains. Lose that value on that man's dollar. Malcolm had to cast aside all of this. He walked into my house. He told me he was going to speak at Harvard that night. He spoke at Harvard Law Form -- Forum. After he came back to the house, I gave him a diploma. Tonight, Malcolm, you're a man. From my point of view. He said, "I traveled hard, didn't I?" "Yes, you did. But you made it. You're a man."
Say Brother
Malcolm X (1969)
Raw Footage
Ella Collins interview
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WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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Episode Description
Sarah Ann Shaw interviews Ella Collins, sister of Malcolm X. Collins discusses the childhood of Malcolm X and how she had raised him from an early age until his incarceration and subsequent conversion to Islam. Topics covered include Malcolm X's attitudes toward violence; women; and at the onset how the family had great expectations of Malcolm, from the time of his birth, given he was born the "seventh son" and the significance that carried in the family's ancestral Watusi culture.
Race and Ethnicity
Public Affairs
Civil Rights; civil rights leaders; X, Malcolm, 1925-1965
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Interviewer2: Video Services
Publisher: WGBH Educational Foundation
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Identifier: e95faabf4ac1f8275b8674691a0e212bdf4485e1 (ArtesiaDAM UOI_ID)
Format: video/quicktime
Color: Color
Duration: 00:10:57;27
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Chicago: “Say Brother; Malcolm X (1969); Ella Collins interview,” 1969-02-20, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 3, 2023,
MLA: “Say Brother; Malcolm X (1969); Ella Collins interview.” 1969-02-20. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 3, 2023. <>.
APA: Say Brother; Malcolm X (1969); Ella Collins interview. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from