A Malcolm X interview 6 weeks before his death may surprise people who think they know him

Few figures in American history have as controversial a legacy as Malcolm X. Some view the civil rights leader as the violent counterpart to Martin Luther King, Jr. Some see him as an icon of empowerment, while others view him as a dangerous radical. What people think they know of him may depend on whether they're looking at his early or later speeches, or whether they're getting information about him from a source that views him positively or negatively.

The reality is that Malcolm X's life is one marked by complexity and change, which makes defining his legacy in a nutshell nearly impossible. In an era where political polarization tempts us to place people neatly into ideological boxes— and where changing one's views is often branded as flip-flopping or wishy-washiness—Malcolm X's ever-evolving message and approach to civil rights is a reminder that no one can—or should—be confined to a soundbite.


A Canadian television interview with Malcolm X on CBC's Front Page Challenge provides a glimpse of where X's beliefs had led him prior to his death. The interview took place on January 5, 1965—about six weeks before his assassination on February 21st of that year. In the interview, he clarified his position on his "brother," MLK, Jr., explained why he left the Nation of Islam but maintained his Muslim faith and described his view on black people's right to defend their life and property "by any means necessary"—the same right all Americans share.

Malcolm X on Front Page Challenge, 1965: CBC Archives | CBC www.youtube.com

Malcolm X wasn't afraid to say what he felt. It is truly tragic that his voice was cut short just as the U.S. was making strides—at least legally, on paper—toward racial equality. As with other civil rights leaders of his time, much of what X spoke about and wrote about is still relevant today, 55 years after his death. Agree with him or not, but anyone who wants a deep, broad and rich understanding of the complexities of current race relations in the U.S. would benefit from a thorough study of his life and legacy.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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