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Every few sentences were interrupted with outcries of ' Say it!' and ' Amen.' And when he was finished, people were weeping, cheering, applauding, rushing up to touch him, shake his hand, gush out their thanks."He couldn't afford to be late for a speech to 5000 teachers later that night in Memphis.But he's constitutionally incapable of brushing people off, and it was half an hour before he could make it to the door.Dazed with exhaustion after two weeks in a different city every night, he lapsed into silence and sat with his eyes closed almost all the way to the Mid-South Coliseum.And the simple fact is that I consider him the finest and most decent man I've ever known.If we have to have a spiritual leader, we could do a whole lot worse.", that they're responding to. A few weeks ago, I was talking with friends at a small party in Los Angeles, when a young black woman I'd never seen before came rushing up to me, grabbed my hand and fell to her knees, bubbling her gratitude.
If people are starting to look at me like I'm some kind of Gandhi, all I can say is: I'm not qualified for the job; and even if I were, I wouldn't want it.(One result of the "Playboy Interview" with Malcolm X was the bestselling Autobiography, which Haley wrote.) It seems especially fitting to us that Haley be on the other side of the tape recorder this month, since he seems destined to be one of the most significant black figures of the Seventies.Now 55 and living modestly in West Los Angeles, Haley is in the midst of a mammoth publicity tour for his book, but in the past several months he found time for a series of conversations with a man who also has a special place in both Playboy's and Haley's history.In that deep, down-home baritone he can pour on like honey over biscuits, he told them about his search for roots, 'a story that began right here in Henning just two blocks from where I stand.' It was a shorter, but more personal, version of the dramatic and deeply moving speech that's made him one of the most popular speakers on the lecture circuit for the past ten years—a speech he's made so often that passages from it have become almost a narrative litany of oral history.
Parts of it even turned up in his answers to my questions.
We went on to talk about that for a few minutes more, while he sat on the edge of his bed and pulled off his shoes and socks, and then I said good night.