© Eve Arnold, Feb 25, 1962, Three sets of hands, Black Muslim meeting held at the International Amphiteater
left to right: American Nazi, Nation of Islam member and a Nation of Islam money collector at a rally, Washington, D.C.
In 1960, LIFE magazine assigned Arnold, who died in January 2012 at the age of 99, to document the days and nights of Malcolm X, the controversial and intensely charismatic public face of the Nation of Islam. For nearly a year, she followed the thug-turned-devout Muslim and activist from Washington to New York to Chicago.
At the very first NOI rally she attended, at the Uline Arena in Washington, D.C., Arnold photographed George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party, who had formed an unlikely alliance with the Nation of Islam (and who, like Malcolm X, would be assassinated before the decade was over). Arnold wrote later that, as she raised her camera to photograph Rockwell and his brownshirt-clad henchmen, he hissed at her, “I’ll make a bar of soap out of you.”
“I hissed back, ‘As long as it isn’t a lampshade,’” Arnold wrote of the moment, “and kept photographing.” (read more)
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