Malcolm X


Who loves ya, baby?
I've just stumbled across an old BBC story about him visiting Smethwick, in the West Midlands, a few days before he was assassinated. Apparently an artist called Stephen C Page uncovered the footage in '05, but it's the first I've heard of it.

Malcolm X's visit to Smethwick remembered in pictures

The US political activist Malcolm X visited Smethwick, in the West Midlands, just nine days before he was assassinated.

The civil rights campaigner visited on 12 February 1965 because at the time Smethwick was considered a hotbed of racial tension.

The previous year, Conservative MP Peter Griffiths had won the Smethwick seat from Labour on the slogan: "If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour".

Some residents of Marshall Street were calling for the council to buy up empty houses and make them available to white families only.

Malcolm X told newspapers he was visiting because he was "disturbed by reports that coloured people in Smethwick are being treated badly".
During his visit he went to Marshall Street and a local school.

He also had a drink at a pub with Avtar Singh Jouhl, from the Indian Workers' Association, who had invited him to Smethwick.

Mr Jouhl said he wanted to make Malcolm X aware of segregation in pubs and bars.
One of those living on Marshall Street at the time was Neville Henry.

"I was only little when he came but my mum showed me plenty of pictures of it. It was back in the 60s," he said.

"My parents had just come from Jamaica and he was outside our house talking to my mum. I can't remember what they were talking about. They were a bit excited about it.

"My dad was one of the first black people to buy a house on this road. It made a difference to them - a bit of moral support, I suppose."

Footage of the little-known visit was captured by the BBC cameras.

However, the film was never screened until community artist Stephen C Page uncovered it in 2005.