Monday, July 28, 2014

Was Ella Collins Really Malcolm X's Sister?

(Malcolm X’s father)
Born July 29, 1891
Killed: September 28, 1931

Addendum appended: September 22, 2014

© 2014, Karl Evanzz


Evelyn Mulray: "She's my daughter".

[Gittes slaps Evelyn]

Jake Gittes: "I said I want the truth!"

Evelyn Mulray: "She's my sister..."

[Gittes slaps her again]

 Evelyn Mulray: "She's my daughter..."

 [Gittes slaps her harder]

Evelyn Mulray: "My sister, my daughter".

[Gittes slaps her repeatedly]

Jake Gittes: "I said I want the truth!"

Evelyn Mulray: "She's my sister AND my daughter!"

-- From “CHINATOWN” (1974)


   Genealogical records indicate that Malcolm X, the charismatic and controversial Pan-Africanist martyred in 1965, was misinformed about his kinship to Ella Collins, the woman uniformly cited as his half-sister.
   Born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm X was the fourth child of Early Little and Louise Norton. A Southern Baptist minister and Pan-Africanist himself, Early Little married Norton, a West Indian, in Montreal, Canada, in 1919, according to official government documents. They were there to attend a convention for Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), of which they soon became regional representatives.
  A decade before marrying Norton and while still living in his native Georgia, Early Little allegedly sired three children by Daisy Mason, a woman uniformly identified by biographers as his first wife.
   A recent review by this writer, however, revealed that there is no record of the marriage in the vital records of Georgia or in the counties of Talbot and Taylor. Early Little was born to John and Ella Little in Taylor County in July 1891. Daisy Mason was born to John and Mary Mason in nearby Talbot County in 1892.
  Additionally, no records maintained by the Mason and Little families – such as a family bible – exist to serve as secondary authentication.
   In the Decennial Census of 1910, Early Little, 19,  is listed as “single” and living at the home of his parents in Taylor County (Carsonville).

 Similarly, Daisy Mason, 18, is listed as “single” and living at home with her parents in Talbot County (Harts).

The 1920 census for Talbot County reveals that Early Little Jr., age 10, lived with his maternal grandfather, John Mason, described as widowed. Other occupants of the house include two sons: Jack Mason, 19 and Clidie L. Mason, 16. A daughter, Ella Mason Powell, 18, also lives at the residence along with Henry, her 20-year-old husband. Early’s estimated year of birth is 1910.

   The Decennial Census of 1930 for Taylor County shows that Mary Little, 13, lived with her paternal grandparents. This document does not show it, but others confirm that Early Little Sr. and Daisy Mason are her parents. Other occupants in the household of John and Ella Little include Sara, 30, Gracie, 29, and Emma, a 19-year-old granddaughter.


  There is no census listing for a child named Ella Little in either the Mason family or the Little family from 1910 to 1930.
   These two discrepancies and other significant errors are further proof that the late Manning Marable, author of Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, was untruthful about examining readily available primary records.
   Instead, Marable lifted his contention that Malcolm X’s father was a bigamist from two earlier biographies.
  The first author to accuse Early Little of bigamy was Bruce Perry in his largely discredited Malcolm: The Man Who Changed Black America. Perry’s biography, released in 1991, was favorably received by the mainstream media even though it is one of the most xenophobic and homophobic biographies in recent history. In addition to couching Malcolm X’s life in what most critics called “psychobabble,” Perry used anonymous sources and sources of dubious credibility to disparage the Little family. In the opening pages of his book, Perry states:

   Earl didn’t tell Louisa [Louise Norton of Grenada] he had walked out on his first wife and his three children. Passing himself off as a widower, he married his West Indian girlfriend shortly after they met.” (page 3)

   In the source notes, Perry cites an interview with Mary Little and one John H. Johnson, identified as a nephew of Daisy Mason. In an appendix, he lists Ella Collins (who, Perry writes, later ceased cooperating with him) and her son, Rodnell Collins, as interview subjects.
  Probative, perhaps, of  Perry’s mindset is that he requested Taylor County to check for any possible criminal arrest records regarding Malcolm X’s father, but he neglected to check the county’s vital records for marriage and divorce confirmation, raising the specter of slanted research.
   Marable used Perry’s biography as the main textbook for a course he taught at Columbia University on Malcolm X. In the first chapter of Reinvention, Marable writes: “In 1909, he [Early Little] married a local African-American woman, Daisy Mason, and in quick succession had three children: Ella, Mary, and Earl Jr.” (p. 15)
    Notably, Marable does not provide a single source authenticating a legal marriage, nor does he indicate whether he actually checked with the state or local counties to determine whether a marriage license or divorce decree existed. In addition, he gets the birth sequence wrong.
   The most logical explanation for the gaffe is that Marable copied the information from Seventh Child: A Family Memoir of Malcolm X, by Rodnell Collins (1998). The Collins book is riddled with errors and family gutter gossip. There are no footnotes, no lists of interview subjects, no genealogical lists or charts, and a negligible two-page bibliography.
   According to Collins, a “Hatfield-McCoy” type of feud “began after Earl Senior married Daisy Mason in 1909." (p. 33)  In the second chapter, Collins claims that “Earl Senior also fathered three other children by his first wife, Daisy Mason: Ma [Ella Little] (1914); Aunt Mary (1915) and Earl Junior (1917).” (p. 14)
   Note that Marable gives the same year of the marriage (1909) as Collins. Also note that Collins is completely wrong about the birth order, yet Marable uses the same sequence.  According to census data, Early Little Jr. was first child, born in 1909 or  1910 (the exact year birth is often estimated in census reports), followed by Mary Little in 1917. Again, there is no record of any child named Ella Little in the family tree.
  Collins states that Earl [sic] Little Jr. was the youngest of Early Little’s children on one page (page 14), but states two chapters later that “Earl Junior . . . was the oldest of Earl Senior’s ten children.” (page 38). Seventh Child is plagued by such errors and numerous embellishments.
  Nearly everything written about Early Jr., for example, is exaggerated. There are no photographs of him in the book, nor is there any proof of his alleged local fame as an entertainer. There are no photos, documents,  or reliable interviewees supporting his alleged tryst with the legendary Billie Holiday.

  While Collins asserts that Early Jr. was a profound influence on Malcolm Little, there is scarcely a mention of the half-brother in The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
   The clearest proof that Marable, Collins and Perry failed to check with the Georgia’s office of vital records and county offices is a reply this writer received from the Taylor County Probate Court in response to an inquiry dated March 25, 2013, about the alleged marriage of Little and Mason.
   Two weeks later, the county clerk wrote: “A thorough search was made and noting was found.”

(Signatures Obscured)

  In response to written queries, officials in both the Talbot County Probate Court and the Taylor County Probate Court replied that Georgia did not begin keeping records of births until 1927, but some counties began record-keeping in 1917. Despite the lack of state records, Ella Little would have been listed in census reports along with her alleged siblings.
   Asked by telephone and by email whether there were any family bibles or other papers documenting the marriage, Collins declined to respond. He also declined to respond when asked for anything documenting Ella Collins as the child of Malcolm X’s father.
  In interviews, A. Peter Bailey, an established biographer and journalist known by this writer since the early 1990s, said that he was not asked as co-author to vet any claims made by Collins in Seventh Child. He emphasized that he was hired for the sole purpose of whipping the manuscript into publishing form.
  When asked whether he accessed any family bibles or other documents during the writing process, Bailey replied, “No, nothing.”
   So the question remains: How did Malcolm X come to believe that he and Ella Collins shared the same lineage?
   The answer may lie in the confusion and chaos that engulfed six-year-old Malcolm Little’s family after his father’s death in 1931, followed by the mandatory institutionalization of his mother in 1939.
  Louise Little fell upon hard times after Early Little Sr.’s death. She struggled to care for her eight children, an ordeal made nearly impossible because the nation was still feeling the aftershocks of the Great Depression. She had numerous stressful encounters with social workers and Caucasian neighbors after her husband’s suspicious death.
  Her oldest child, Wilfred, was born in 1920, followed by Hilda in 1922 and Philbert in 1923. Malcolm’s birth in 1925 was followed by Reginald in 1927, Yvonne in 1929, Wesley in 1931, and Robert in 1938.
   After their mother suffered a psychotic break and had to be institutionalized, Wilfred and Hilda tried assuming custody of their younger siblings, but the Herculean task was too great. State social workers intervened and won approval for a plan placing the children in whatever foster homes available.
  When an understandably rebellious Malcolm had trouble adjusting to foster care, Ella Collins entered the picture. She lived in Boston, as did her mother and other relatives who fled North during the Great Migration. (Mary and Early Little Jr. moved to Boston in the 1920s to live temporarily with their mother.)
  Describing herself to social workers as Malcolm’s sister, Collins was swiftly granted custody. The 15-year-old moved to Boston in 1940 to live with her.
  By the time Malcolm arrived, Early Little Jr. was in prison, according to declassified FBI files and census reports. He was incarcerated in the Massachusetts Reformatory when the 1930 Decennial Census was taken. He had given his year of birth as 1913, resulting in him being sent to a juvenile facility (Line 95).

 He was in the New Bedford House of Corrections and County Jail when the 1940 census was taken (Line 43).

   Far from living the glamorous life as Malcolm had been led to believe, both Ella Collins and Early Little Jr. subsidized their employment income with the gains from petty crimes. A lack of finesse resulted in extensive criminal records for both of them.
   Before long, Malcolm was indoctrinated into their lifestyle, one that led to a string of arrests and, ultimately, state prison.

 Malcolm X spoke very highly of Collins in his autobiography. Since there was never any reason to question his familial relationship to Collins and because pertinent segments of the book have withstood contradiction, most biographers have assumed that Collins was indeed his half-sister.
   Genealogical records indicate, however, that Collins was not the daughter of Early Little and Daisy Mason. Rather, she was Mason’s younger sister.
  The Decennial Census of 1910 for Talbot County, Georgia, identifies Daisy L. Mason as the 18-year-old daughter of John and Mary Mason.  It also lists Ella Mason as Daisy’s eight-year-old sister, whose estimated birth year is 1902.

   Secondary genealogical documents further establish that Perry, Collins and Marable were mistaken about Early Little abandoning Daisy Mason when he moved North. In Seventh Child, Collins repeatedly asserts that Early Little married Louise Norton while he was still married to Daisy Mason. Based on Perry’s source notes, then, the bigamy allegation originated with Ella and Rodnell Collins and Mary Little.

   When he [Early Little Sr.] left Reynolds, Georgia, he left her [Daisy Mason] behind with three children (Ma, Mary, and Earl Junior) and no money. Under Georgia law he never officially divorced her before marrying Louise Norton. (p. 20).

   The bigamy claim is repeated on pages 23, 34, and elsewhere in the book.
   Marable interviewed Rodnell Collins and used Perry’s book as his guide, so there is little surprise when he writes on page 16: “He [Early Little] did not bother to get a legal divorce [from Daisy Mason].”
   All three biographers denigrate Malcolm X’s father with these specious allegations without proffering a scintilla of documentation.
  There is ambiguity in the 1920 Decennial Census for a Daisy Mason, an African American born in Georgia around 1892. The closest possibility is the 1920 Census for Lincoln County, Georgia, which lists a “Daisy Masin” (a typo by Family Search has "Misin") as a boarder in the home of George and Kathern Bennett. All are African American, and Masin is 28 years old, which makes her the same age as Daisy Mason.  Lincoln County is about 160 miles from Taylor County.

 In Seventh Child, Collins suggests that Malcolm X’s father was forced to leave his home in Georgia suddenly, arguing that he faced danger from Daisy Mason’s family for leaving  her to raise three children without him. (p 33-34).

   Earl Senior didn’t stop until he reached Philadelphia, where he met and married Louise Norton without officially divorcing Daisy Mason Little back in Reynolds. (p 34)

  It is true that the 1920 Census for Philadelphia shows Early and Louise Little living in Philadelphia as husband and wife.

   However, other records indicate not only that Early Little joined the Great Migration with Daisy Mason by his side, but that they were the parents of only two children.
  Early Little Sr. registered pursuant to the Selective Service Act of 1917 on June 5, 1917, in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. His draft card is important for a number of reasons.
  First, it proves that Bruce Perry distorted claims about Malcolm’s father being clumsy. According to Perry, Early Little lost sight in one of his eyes while building a home in Lansing, Michigan. The draft card shows, however, that he lost the eye much earlier, calling into question the veracity of the people interviewed by Perry on the subject.
    Early Little Sr., who describes himself as a married minister of the “Southern Baptist church,” cites partial blindness as a reason why he should be exempt from the draft.
  The draft card supports other records showing that Early Little left Georgia with Daisy Mason. This explains why one child was left with the Littles and the other with the Masons. (Historical footnote: the torn corners indicated that the registrant was African American)

    Merely stating that they were married does not make it legal, of course. Many people in common law relationships with children indicated that they were married in order to receive a “Class II” temporary exemption from conscription during the Great War.

    Married men with young children were given exemption consideration under Class II. Another case is point is Berl Champion of Georgia, who sought an exemption due to marriage and supporting five children under the age of 12.


   Note on the card that Early Little Sr. states that he has only “two children.” If Early Little Jr. was born in 1909 or 1910, Ella in 1913 or 1914, and Mary in 1917, Daisy would have been pregnant or would have given birth by June when the card was filled out.
  Collins has repeatedly declined to provide Mary Little’s month of birth or any other genealogical information. Nonetheless, it would appear that Early Little Sr. would have listed three children rather than two, particularly if his goal was an exemption.
    Moreover, the unfounded charge that Early Little Sr. abandoned Daisy Mason is refuted by Seventh Child and ancillary genealogical records.
 Ella Little allegedly left Georgia and headed to New York City in the early 1930s (page 50). After deciding that the city was too fast-paced for such a country girl, Ella moved to Everett, Massachusetts, where her mother and Early Little Jr. resided.
   Collins gets the time sequence wrong, but he inadvertently corroborates that Daisy Mason and Early Little came north together. For in addition to the draft card, the Everett City Directory for 1920 shows that Early Little Sr. lived there. Perry, Collins, and Marable ignored this information. It shows that Early Little was employed in Everett as an “elevator man” as late as 1919. The fact that both Daisy Mason and Early Little Jr. were in Everett by 1919 explains why their two children – not three – were left with grandparents in Georgia.


    In moot court, a law student might argue that the odd listing for Daisy “Masin” in the 1920 census suggests that Daisy Mason was working her way back home after her relationship with Little soured. It is the only census listing in Georgia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania for a black female with a phonetically correct name and the exact age of Daisy Mason.
  The 1920 Census for Talbot County shows that Early C. Little is the 10-year-old grandson of John and Mary Mason, the parents of Daisy Mason. Also listed is their daughter, Ella Mason Powell and her husband, Henry.

 The 1930 Census for Taylor County shows that Mary Little is the 13-year-old granddaughter of John and Ella Little, the parents of Early Little.

Collins writes in Seventh Child:

  When Grandma Daisy left Georgia, Pa John and Grandma Ella [Little] assumed responsibility for Ma, Earl Junior, and Mary a decision that was made by Pa John, not Earl Senior, after consulting with Grandma Daisy’s father, Reverend [John] Mason. Pa John decided that his daughters, Sarah and Gracie, would have the chief responsibility of looking after Ma and Aunt Mary. (page 35) (emphasis provided)
   This is contradicted by census records. More important, records show no existence of Ella Little or any grandchild between the ages of 6 and 8, again suggesting that Ella Collins was in fact Ella Mason. She was Daisy Mason’s sister, not her daughter.
   Based on this evidence, Malcolm X was not related to Ella Collins. There was never an “Ella Little” sired by Early Little Sr., and Ella Collins was born in 1902 and not 1913 or 1914 as has been publicly written for nearly a half-century.
  African American historians and some critics (including me) observed from the outset that Reinvention, despite the lavish praise and its Pulitzer Prize, contained no new information of a factual nature. It is bulked up with innuendos and gossip. Its chief selling point was a false claim that Marable had uncovered “circumstantial” evidence that Malcolm X had a homosexual affair when he was a young man.
   This claim was nothing new. Marable lifted this directly from Bruce Perry, something every mainstream reviewer ignored. One of Perry’s sources for the allegation was Rodnell Collins, who repeated it to me in the early 1990s and who mentions it again in his memoir.
   When I interviewed Collins in 2011 about the alleged homosexual relationship, he said that he had no firsthand knowledge of it and was merely repeating something that he heard from his mother. Collins wrote on page 76 that:

     Besides, she heard other interesting things about Miss Massey from Uncle Malcolm himself. According to Ma, during her prison visits, Malcolm, for the first time, filled her in on some aspects of his street life in Boston and Harlem, including a business deal he and Malcolm Jarvis had with an elderly, wealthy white millionaire named Paul Lennon, who would pay them to rub powder over his body. (emphasis added)

    Essentially, then, Ella Collins never says that Malcolm had a homosexual relationship with Lennon. It merely shows that a kinky old man paid Malcolm Little and his sidekick Malcolm Jarvis to rub powder on him. Anyone who has read the Autobiography or the books of Iceberg Slim knows that some men will pay for all types of fetishes that do not involve sexual contact. Malcolm X mentions, for instance, the case of a Caucasian male who paid to sit outside the door of a rented room and listen to a black couple make love.
  Collins is also mistaken about Lennon being a millionaire.
  Author and reporter Wil Haygood, who wrote an exuberant review of Reinvention for the Washington Post, declined an opportunity from this writer to cite five factual statements from the book that could not be found in previous works. The same request was made by email to Zaheer Ali, one of Marable’s chief researchers. He declined to respond.

   Nearly 95 percent of the verifiable data in Reinvention can be traced to seven earlier works, to wit: The Autobiography of Malcolm X; The Death and Life of Malcolm X, by Peter Goldman; Malcolm: The Man Who Changed Black America, by Perry; The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X, by Karl Evanzz; Conspiracys, by Zak Kondo; Seventh Child, by Rodnell Collins and A. Peter Bailey; and The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad, by Karl Evanzz.
   On April 12, 2012, Zaheer Ali made an interesting comment in this regard on Twitter.


  No one associated with Reinvention has offered a breakdown of what was primary research and what was lifted from others (secondary). What is interesting, however, is that a detailed timeline that was posted on “The Malcolm X Project” at Columbia University’s website was – to quote Father Divine – “invisibilized” some time before publication and has not resurfaced.
   A more accurate title for Reinvention is Rewrite. As I said in my review, it is a thinly disguised compilation of previous books. It is an affront to true scholarship and to the Pulitzer Prize.

PAPER TIGER: Manning Marable's Poison Pen 

BOOK REVIEW by Karl Evanzz

Author's Addendum: Part of the enlightenment process involves self-correction. In that spirit, I have added this note. The fact that I could not find Ella Little in the 1930 along with Early Little's other two children does not negate her being his child, of course, any more than my unsuccessful search for Daisy Mason or Daisy Little. Perhaps Ella and Daisy Mason Little were traveling at the time the census was taken and missed being counted.
  Moreover, I have always been struck by the strong physical resemblance between Ella Little and her putative father. Equally important, the news story about the death of Early Little in 1931 describes him as the father of 10 children, which would account for Ella Little being one of them. 
 This means that either the article is mistaken about the number of children, which is unlikely in this case, or that Ella Little was in fact one of his children. Perhaps at some future date someone will figure out the riddle of Ella Little and the 1930 census. Thank you.

Friday, March 21, 2014

No More Lies by Dick Gregory, Please

The Mad Hatter

    Dick Gregory and I have a shared history of sorts. We were both born in St. Louis (about 20 years apart) on the poor side of town. We both graduated from Charles Sumner High School, the oldest black secondary school west of the Mississippi and one with a distinguished history. While there, we both became activists (desegregation in his case, a push for Black Studies in mine).

  He was raised on Taylor Avenue and I lived on Pendleton. We are both authors of at least one bestseller (one for me, many for him), and we both live in the DC area now.
  Lastly, we are both male African Americans, although Gregory seems to have a masochistic fetish to be called “nigger,” as two autobiographies attest.

  Gregory is one of the few alumni of Sumner to achieve national and international renown. Former congressman William Clay is an alumnus. Others include composer and musician Oliver Nelson, opera singers Grace Bumbry and Robert “Bobby” McFerrin Sr., pop stars Billy Davis and Ron Townson of the Fifth Dimension, and rock ‘n’ roll legend Chuck Berry.

   The best-known graduate by far is Annie Mae Bullock, whose stage name is Tina Turner. She graduated in 1958.

  A longer list appears here on Wikipedia:

and here:

    Gregory, who was featured on TV One’s “Unsung Heroes” last Wednesday, is easily among the Top Five most famous graduates. The documentary noted that he jeopardized his career as a comedian (opening the way for Billy Cosby, who accepted many of Gregory’s no-shows) to fight on the front lines of the desegregation movement. He knew Medgar Evers, President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. That’s a devastating loss of friends to assassinations.
   I, like most alumni, am deeply proud of Gregory’s past accomplishments.
  Today, however, I am ashamed of him due to his total disregard for young people who trust and respect him as an educator. And I am sickened by his totally unfounded assertions about his contemporaries in the rights struggle and about recent historical events.
  He has broken his engagement to the truth. To paraphrase Howard Beale, Dick Gregory is as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

  Let me explain.
  A few months ago a radio talk show host in New York sought my opinions about Gregory’s claims regarding the assassination of Malcolm X. I confessed that I had long ago stopped listening to anything that Dick Gregory says after reading his questionable take on the Atlanta Child Murders.
   He requested that I check out Gregory’s allegations to see whether the comedian had really uncovered something new, especially as regards the CIA. To wit, Gregory claims to have declassified documents showing that the CIA rented the Audubon Ballroom two weeks before the spy agency, he contends, assassinated Malcolm X on February 21, 1965.
   Gregory has obtained the autopsy report, he says, and trajectories of the bullets suggest that the assassins fired from the balcony.


   I have the autopsy of Malcolm X. Someone threw a smoke bomb in the back of the ballroom and someone ran up to the front and shot Malcolm. The autopsy says that all the bullets in Malcolm were shot from above; they go down.


 These specious allegations, it turns out, were first made in his book, Callous on My Soul.
 He postulates further that the three gunmen firing at Malcolm X before a crowd of nearly 300 people were shooting blanks but weren’t aware of it. A team of white CIA agents was in the balcony filming the entire event and simultaneously shooting the black revolutionary at the exact same spots where the Black Muslims were aiming.

  That’s comical, since the shotgun was wrapped up in a coat that someone left near the stage, and one of the assassins dropped his handgun during his escape. Forensics experts established a nexus between the weapons and the shotgun shells found on the floor and bullet fragments removed from Malcolm X.
   I had heard the claim about someone filming the speech from the balcony, but documentary footage shows the presence of cameramen from local TV affiliates. One of only two African American reporters inside the ballroom was interviewed moments after the assassination:

 Some of the footage was used to make still frames that were later shown at the trial of the alleged assassins in March 1966, eleven months after the assassination.
  I searched the internet for more information about the autopsy report, but found nothing other than the documents published by The Smoking Gun website in 1998, which I viewed when they first were released.
  There is one color photograph of Malcolm X’s body (from the head to his chest) in the morgue that shows three buckshot holes near his heart.

 There are not, however, any autopsy illustrations showing bullet trajectories. Nor is there a CIA memo or other declassified documents about the agency renting the ballroom.
  The whole idea is preposterous. One can see it now:

    Audubon Ballroom receptionist: Hello?
    CIA: Hi, this is the CIA. We’re going to kill Malcolm X there in a couple of weeks, so we need to rent the ballroom to figure out the logistics. We’re going to tear out a wall or two on the second floor and hide behind them.
    Receptionist: Sure, no problem. Are you paying by check, money order, or cash?
   CIA: We’re paying by check and we will need a receipt that can be used later to implicate us.

   Where is the proof that the CIA rented the Audubon Ballroom? He doesn’t have any. It never happened. The Nation of Islam rented the Audubon Ballroom six weeks before the assassination. The proof? A huge ad that ran in Muhammad Speaks newspaper on January 12, 1965.
   There’s more to Gregory’s story. He claims that he and Malcolm X were such close friends that Malcolm X called him on February 20 seeking counsel. Gregory warned him to forego going to the Audubon the next day. If he did, would be killed. Malcolm X ignored his prescient advice, Gregory claims, and lost his life.
   Does Gregory have a declassified document to corroborate this, too? Did he jot down notes about the call in his daybook or write about it in his diary? Is there any corroboration at all?
   The declassified FBI files on Malcolm X include some transcripts of telephone calls. Among the names mentioned are Alex Haley, Betty Shabazz, and Martin Luther King’s attorney Clarence Jones. The Bureau has conveniently withheld the phone logs for the last day or so before the activist was murdered. However, there is no mention of any calls between Dick Gregory and Malcolm X in any of the logs from late 1964 through 1965.

   The one that really gets up my ire, though, is Gregory’s contention that The Autobiography of Malcolm X is “garbage,” and that it wasn’t even written by Malcolm X and Alex Haley, but rather “by an old white man” who edited the manuscript.
   Gregory’s evidence? Nothing but his intuition. He just “knows” these things. He brags about being “tuned in to universal consciousness.”
  He seems wholly ignorant of the fact that the original manuscript is still available for viewing. He doesn’t seem to know about Betty Shabazz’s recollections of her husband going through the manuscript with a fine tooth comb, making extensive corrections and additions.
   To suggest that Malcolm X, one of the most gifted orators of the 20th century, and Alex Haley, one of the most engaging writers of same, needed a white man to write the book is not only insulting to their intellect and legacy; it reeks of jealousy and of self-hatred. Here is a single page example of the editing by Haley and Malcolm X.    

   If Gregory wants to talk about someone having books with his own photo on the cover over someone else’s byline, he need look no further than his own bookshelf.

   Gregory has been a lifelong proponent of the racial epithet slung at African Americans since slavery. In fact, he was two biographies bearing the word: Nigger, a national bestseller first published in 1963, and Up From Nigger, a follow-up published in 1976 that was wordplay on the Frederick Douglass memoir, Up From Slavery.
   He is among a group of African Americans who believe that they can neutralize the venomous bite of “nigger” by using the word at every opportunity.
   In an interview with Manning Marable, Gregory said that he titled his book Nigger because he wanted to “defang” the word.  (around the 4 minute mark)

  Rappers can use it along with “bitch” and “ho’s” and eventually those words will lose their sting, too, by that logic.
 The one caveat by its proponents (sports writer Michael Wilbon and Oscar winner John Ridley are among them) is that Caucasians can’t use the word unless, presumably, they are card-carrying "blue-eyed soul brothers and sisters."
  Quentin Tarantino can use it as much as he wants, Gregory thinks. Ted Nugent can’t. Why? Because it’s a black racist thing; you wouldn’t understand.
  Speaking of Tarantino, who used the epithet over 110 times in a 165-minute movie, Gregory says that “Django Unchained” is the best move he ever saw. “I watched it 12 times,” he claims.
   When asked about “12 Years A Slave,” he replied that he could barely sit through it and kept praying for it to end. He “couldn’t wait to get out of there,” he said.
   The major difference between the two? Gregory described “Django” as a cathartic, liberating experience. He had never seen black men as strong cowboys before, he says, so that was new. Apparently, he slept through the blaxploitation period when Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Jim Brown, and others played positive roles in Westerns.
   The major reason he liked “Django,” he says,  is because it was a genuine love story about a black man and a black woman.
  “Never in the history of Hollywood have they made a movie that freed the inside of me,” Gregory says.
 “You’ve never seen a love story about a black man and a black woman where it wasn’t some old foul sex and foul language.”

   He laughs as an afterthought, clearly realizing that his justification for loving the movie is complete caca. On the other hand, he doesn’t consider the word “nigger” as foul.
  As a teenager, I enjoyed his first book even though I detested its title. I read the book at a time (circa 1968) when African Americans were fighting to be called “black,” instead of Negro, so Gregory’s book was seen by many as counterproductive and reactionary. So many Caucasians bought it that they made Gregory a multimillionaire.
  Another book, Code Name Zorro: The Murder of Martin Luther King Jr., is one of the most authoritative books on the subject, thanks to Mark Lane. Lane is also the author of Rush to Judgment (1966) one of the earliest and best books about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

   I assumed initially that Gregory’s prevarications were a new phenomenon. But in only two days of research, I discovered that he has been engaging in this irresponsible proclivity for the past forty years. Consider these examples:

1. The Kennedy Assassination

  In March 1975, Gregory appeared on Gerald Rivera’s popular talk show, “Good Night, America.” He claimed that eyewitnesses gave one version of what happened minutes after the assassination and gave wildly different accounts four hours later. The reason: the Secret Service had gotten to them and made them change their accounts. He told Rivera that he had videotapes and audiotapes proving this. He didn’t have them that evening, and he has never shown them to anyone.
   On the same program, Gregory said that Lee Harvey Oswald got a job at the Texas School Book Depository one week before the assassination. Based on this, Gregory says that Oswald had to know in advance that the parade route would be changed at the last minute.

Again, this is untrue. The parade route was published in the two major newspapers in Dallas on November 19th, three days before the assassination. By then, Oswald had been working at the depository for over a month, having been hired on October 16 with help from a neighbor. The job opening was posted on October 14, according to the Warren Commission report.

2. The Atlanta Child Murders

  In 1982, Dick Gregory accused the Centers for Disease Control of killing black male children in Atlanta in order to castrate them and use the "tips of their penises" [glans] to produce an especially powerful type of interferon.

    Gregory made the allegation after visiting Atlanta, at which time he visited alleged killer Wayne B. Williams in jail and interviewed him in the presence of several others. Gregory has never divulged what was said, which might have helped clear up some of the questions that remain unanswered.
  Instead, he began promoting his bizarre theory about the CDC.
  He came to this conclusion after touring an alleged site where ritual sacrifices of animals had been conducted.  Sondra O’Neal, an Emory University professor, believed that the murders were linked to occult activity. Her thesis is summarized here:

  O’Neal and authors James Baldwin and Toni Cade Bambara launched their own investigations. O'Neal's book was never published. Baldwin wrote Evidence of Things Not Seen, a short nonfiction book about his findings, and Bambara, who lived with her young daughter in fear in Atlanta at the time, wrote Those Bones Are Not My Child, a novel about the murders.

  Gregory attempted to get Baldwin’s endorsement for the CDC theory, but the writer concluded correctly that it was too far-fetched.

You can read the FBI’s declassified file on the murders here:

  You may also obtain the limited report from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation under the state’s FOIA.

   The report confirms that an offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan killed nearly all of the children. Gregory seems ignorant of the file, so here is a primer.
  In late 1980, the Atlanta Police Department received a tip from a highly reliable informant that a group of Caucasian brothers with connections to J.B. Stoner, head of the National States Rights Party (NSRP), were killing black children.
   Stoner was indicted in 1977 for his role in the 1958 bombing of Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham. He was living in Georgia at the time of the indictment and claimed that he was also in Georgia at the time of the church bombing. The bombing took the lives of four children.
   The kidnapping and murder of Atlanta's children began while Stoner was on trial. The informant said that three blood brothers were to blame. He identified them as Charles T. Sanders, Don W. Sanders, and Jerry Lee Sanders. All three were known drug dealers and avowed racists who had more than sixty arrests. Their father, Carlton Sanders, also had an extensive criminal history, including child molestation.


  Don Sanders was national secretary of the NSRP. He served as one of Stoner’s bodyguards, during which he often dressed in camouflage uniforms.

  The informant, the GBI discovered, was correct. The results of the GBI probe were furnished to the FBI. In April 1981, FBI Director William Webster said during a press interview that the Bureau was about to arrest a man for nearly a dozen of the murders.

   While Webster did not name him, the GBI report and appeals filed by attorneys for Wayne Williams identified him as Charles Sanders. Sanders worked as an exterminator.
   Days before the official announcement, Webster was persuaded by John Douglas, an FBI agent working on the case, that the killers had to be black. Douglas was adamant that no white man could have traveled in black neighborhoods without being noticed. Even though his assumptions were absurd and later proven wrong, the agent’s argument was accepted by Webster and Sanders was not arrested.
   In his book, Mindhunter, Douglas brags about how he helped prevent the FBI from making a major “mistake” by arresting Sanders.

   Ironically, the “poor guy” who stole Douglas’ heart was arrested a few weeks after Webster’s interview for trying to abduct a black child
   So the police had the main killer. The crime lab removed his semen on a magazine found near two of the children’s skeletal remains. Douglas, whose primary concern was in legitimizing his theory of “profiling,” ignored overwhelming evidence implicating one of the killers just because the suspect was Caucasian. His methodology did more to prove the fallibility of profiling than anything else. Law enforcement officials in Europe, Canada and here have documented numerous flaws in profiling. Some criminal cases in Canada involving Douglas’ profiling assistance to police have been reversed.
    Author Malcolm Gladwell has illustrated why Douglas is full of bunk. Profiling is little more than old fashioned gumshoeing with psychic impressions added into the mix.

    Wayne Williams was arrested in May 1981 while the Sanders brothers kept on killing. They were never arrested for a single murder despite overwhelming evidence of their guilt.
    “I thought everybody knew we killed Geter [a victim],” Jerry Sanders tells an informant during the GBI investigation.
   “Goddamn, right, I killed him [Geter],” Charles Sanders says to the same informant on another secret recording. “We killed a lot of those little niggers.” He told the informant that the NSRP was hoping to trigger a race war, and if one didn’t happen soon, they would stop killing kids and start killing black women to heighten the hysteria.
   The mainstream media contributed to the atmosphere which led to the conviction of Wayne Williams, but the only journalistic review in recent decades has been a one-sided report by former CNN correspondent Soledad O'Brien. No one, by the way, was ever indicted or convicted for killing any of the children. Williams was convicted of killing two adults. Police then quickly closed the cases and blamed them all on Williams without any evidence linking him to a single case.

He was convicted on hearsay and fiber evidence from an FBI lab. Recent investigations have shown that FBI labs fabricated evidence in scores of cases during that period.

The majority of the slain children's parents, by the way, believe that Wayne Williams did not kill them.

3.  The Black Panther Party

  Eldridge Cleaver and Huey P. Newton were FBI agents who used the Black Panther Party as a front for their drug dealing, Gregory says. The Black Panthers never killed a cop.

  The host tries to point out to Gregory that he is mistaken, but it’s useless. Once again, Gregory offers no corroboration. It’s all intuition.

4. Subliminal Meanings of Old Movies

(a)   “King Kong” is actually a movie about boxer Jack Johnson and his preoccupation with white women, according to Gregory.

   Jack Johnson was born in Utah and raised among the Mormons, Gregory argues. He frequently dated white women and traveled across state lines in their company.  The movie maker chose to have King Kong in New York because that’s the location of Madison Square Garden, the “boxing capital” of the world.
  Huh?  Johnson was not a Mormon, by the way, nor was he born in Utah.


 “The Wizard of Oz,” is an allegory about the Federal Reserve System, according to Gregory.
    The evidence? None.

5.  The Body Snatchers

  Gregory proffers that Kendrick Johnson, a black high school student, was killed solely for his organs. For some reason, the killer carelessly left his body in the school gymnasium. He also believes that authorities kidnapped 10,000 people from Los Angeles and took them to Gooseneck, Oregon. They were killed for their organs.

   Trayvon Martin was killed for the same reason.
  Gregory portrays Martin as a drug abuser, citing his use of marijuana and the fact that Martin bought skittles and an Arizona brand drink right before he was murdered. Gregory, by the way, does not believe that George Zimmerman killed Martin.

 According to Gregory, kids mix the Skittles with tea and cough syrup to achieve a “high” comparable to crack cocaine.
    Maybe. Some cough syrups alone will have you nodding like a junkie. But Martin had not consumed either the fruit drink (not tea, as Gregory states) nor the Skittles at the time of his death. He was not intoxicated. So what bearing does his buying the products have on his murder, and what evidence does Gregory have that someone other than Zimmerman killed Martin?
   His psychic powers, what else.
 Gregory defames Martin’s parents, implying that they committed insurance fraud. According to Gregory, the Martins applied for a life insurance policy for Trayvon on March 30, over a month after his death.
That’s a boldface lie.

From the press:
"The [neighborhood] association's insurer, Travelers Casualty and Surety Co. of America, filed suit in federal court in August, asking a judge to clarify its liability in the case, but that suit was dropped in November.
"Travelers is not a party to the settlement," the company said in a prepared statement. "The settlement would have been with other insurers of the homeowners association and/or the property managers."
The policy had a $1 million limit, according to federal-court records, and went into effect March 30, 2012, a few weeks after Trayvon was shot. Trayvon's mother filed a claim with the insurer after it went into effect, according to federal-court records.

  For those like Gregory who can not understand what the story states: The policy that the community association obtained from Travelers went into effect a month after Trayvon Martin's death, so the company attempted to deny liability. It has nothing to do with the parents.

6.  The 911 Tragedy

    Gregory once earned millions every year by speaking on college campuses. His ideas were fresh and his enthusiasm was contagious. Today, it seems that the only reason he gets invited to speak to whites is for the perverse joy of hearing his arcane conspiracy theories.
  When people in the audience snicker, he gets hostile and starts cursing. He spoke in Washington in September 2013 before a tiny crowd of people who doubt the official version of what happened on September 11, 2001. Gregory’s theories of events new and old were so bizarre that the audience seemed eager to hear anything he said just for a laugh. Someone apparently snickered at him instead of with him, at which point Gregory loses it and snares “You think you’re so f—king smart!”

  The list goes on.
* Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown died from a bullet wound to the head before his plane crashed. The killer presumably died during the crash, too.
* The Jonestown Massacre was an elaborate CIA mind-control experiment.
Yada, yada, yada.

   Opera singer Grace Bumbry left Sumner High School and never looked back. She moved to Europe decades ago and rarely returns to the US. Her most recent trip was in 2009 to receive a Kennedy Center Honors medal from President Obama.
  When she appeared on the Dick Cavett Show in 1985, she pretended to not speak English very well. Cavett asked her what are her favorite sports, and her reply went something like this.

  “I like  . . . how do you sayyy . . . be-ace-see-ball.”

   Baseball was America's favorite pastime when Bumbry was young, and the St. Louis Cardinals were all the rage. If you lived your first 20 years in St. Louis, you do not forget how to say “baseball.”
   Bumbry gives Sumner a bad name for being ashamed of her past and pretending not to be fluent in English. She is now joined by Gregory, who is too arrogant to do legitimate research and instead relies upon his intuition for the news.
  If he is not well, his family and friends should encourage him to keep quiet until he obtains professional help. If he is well, he needs to shut up before he obliterates the good he has done in the past by declaring everything a government conspiracy.
  He should, in short, live by the title of his book, No More Lies.

  I am asking everyone to boycott Dick Gregory for his mistreatment of the already suffering parents of Trayvon Martin.
  Do not patronize his public appearances, and do not extend any requests for him to address your club or organization. Do not purchase his books, multimedia products, or anything that will put one nickel into his pocket until he publicly apologizes for falsely accusing them of insurance fraud.