Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith are the authors of Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. From their Q & A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: You write of the two men, “Theirs was an improbable relationship.” Would you describe it as an actual friendship, or more a relationship where each was somehow using or getting something from the other?--Marshal Zeringue
RR: I would describe it as something that certainly developed into a friendship, but both were a little wary of each other.
They did want to get something from each other. Malcolm wanted more from Cassius, but Cassius used Malcolm to find his voice. Malcolm would read one of his speeches, and [soon] Cassius was saying something that was just about the same thing.
Muhammad Ali was a little bit of a mimic—he did it spectacularly well. Many of his ideas were not his ideas; he was adopting many from Malcolm X, and Malcolm from Elijah Muhammad.
JS: I would echo what Randy said. It’s remarkable how we’d be reading a news story with Clay, and obviously he had come from a meeting with Malcolm in New York.
You knew [based on] what Clay was saying about the civil rights movement—he had said he was in favor of the NAACP, and a couple of days later he was saying that the NAACP was ignorant.
By 1963, Clay had embraced the message of the Nation of Islam, and the rhetoric of Malcolm X. You can see the evolution of Cassius Clay into Cassius X.
RR: If ...[read on]