On April 24, 1963, over 700 people filled two room in what is now the University at Buffalo’s South Campus to hear Malcolm X debate the Rev. Clarence L. Hilliard, pastor of the St. Paul Baptist Church in Lackawanna, NY.
Malcolm X was invited by the U.B. Student Association. By 1963, Malcolm X was reportedly the second most sought-after speaker on college campuses. (Barry Goldwater was the first.)
Although espousing separation of races, Malcolm X denied the Muslim movement was a “hate organization.” He said “We’re not anti-you, we’re just pro-us.” (see “Black Muslims Raps School Integration” Buffalo Courier-Express, 24 April 1963)
Rev. Hilliard was born and raised in Buffalo. He received a bachelor’s degree in Bible from Houghton College in 1969 and then moved to the Chicago area. Rev. Hilliard had a long career and became a sought-after speaker in his own right. He traveled from Nigeria to Thailand carrying his message of racial reconciliation.
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Debates at UB
Black Muslim Raps School Integration
Malcolm X Little of New York, spokesman for the Negro nationalist Black Muslim movement, criticized school integration as another type of “Uncle Tom” thinking in a debate Wednesday in the University at Buffalo’s Norton Hall.
Little and the Rev. Clarence L. Hilliard, pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church, 264 Ridge Rd., Lackawanna, expressed opposing philosophies on “The Negro Problem in the United States.” The debate, heard by more than 700 persons in two rooms, was sponsored by the university’s Students’ Assn.
The Rev. Mr. Hilliard sharply criticized the Buffalo Board of Education for failing to grate more schools. In a question session following the debate, he said he opposed plans for a separate school tor troublesome pupils because “The school will wind up being all Negro, and the Supreme Court has rated that segregated schools are inherently inequal.”
Little, who criticized Negroes for trying to adopt the white man’s culture, replied: “Now you are telling little black pupils that there is something so wonderful about the white man that they are going to become much smarter just by having one or two white pupils in their classrooms. This shouldn’t be true, if white and black are equal.”
Little is a former convict who embraced the Muslim creed while serving a jail sentence. He, like other Muslims, abandoned his “slave name,” Little, for the symbolic “X.” The Muslim movement believes that Negroes and whites should be separated. The sect operates its own schools in many cities.
Says Negroes Lulled
Little was critical of both “white liberals” and Negro “Uncle Toms” who try to speak for the average Negro. He said Negroes had been lulled for 100 years waiting for— in order—the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, the 14th Amendment, and the Supreme Court school desegregation ruing to give them full civil rights.
“The white man doesn’t know how the Negro thinks and feels, doesn’t know the effect segregation has on a Negro’s mind, and can’t know as long- as he refuses to face reality,” Little said.
He said the “refusal to face reality” is by relying on Negro spokesman (“Uncle Toms”) who tell the whites what the white man wants to hear.
He said when Rep. Adam Clayton Powell (D-NY) recently criticized the National Assn. of the Advancement of Colored People for having white members, the whites interviewed their “hand-picked, tried-and-true Jackie Robinson, and asked them ‘Does Powell speak for the Negro?’”
Little said the interviewed Negroes all replied, ‘Why, boss, you know Powell is wrong.”
Although espousing separation of whites end Negroes, Little denied the Muslim movement is a “hate organization.” He said “We’re not anti-you, we’re just pro-us.”
— Buffalo Courier-Express, April 25, 1963