Category: hotel theresa

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Malcolm X with his wife, Betty Shabazz, and their children during a meeting at the headquarters of his Organization of Afro-American Unity at Hotel Theresa in Harlem on February 20, 1965.

Malcolm is holding his daughter Qubilah. He was assassinated the next day at the Audubon Ballroom in front of his wife and children.

(Photos by Duilio Pallottelli)

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Malcolm X with his daughter Qubilah Shabazz

in Harlem

on February 20, 1965.  

He was assassinated the next day at the Audubon Ballroom in front of his wife and children.

(Photos by Duilio Pallottelli)

Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem, March 1964.

On February 25, 1964 Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) won the World Heavyweight boxing title against Sonny Liston. Many had predicted an easy knockout for Liston but Malcolm X told the press otherwise: “Clay will win. He is the finest Negro athlete I have ever known and he will mean more to his people than Jackie Robinson. Robinson is an establishment hero. Clay will be our hero…. Not many people know the quality of mind he has in there. One forgets that though the clown never imitates the wise man, a wise man can imitate the clown.”

Fidel Castro at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem, September 1960.

After Malcolm X helped arrange his stay

in Harlem, Castro had a series of meetings held at the

Hotel Theresa.

Harlem was a more gracious host to Castro than high-society Midtown had been. Crowds gathered outside the Hotel Theresa, as the honored guest held court in his room. He received official visits from foreign leaders—like Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and New York NAACP President Joseph Overton.

When Castro was not invited to a luncheon given by Dwight D. Eisenhower for other Latin American leaders, he put together a lunch for the Hotel Theresa’s working-class black employees. The luncheon made for some great photo opportunities, giving Castro a chance to re-emphasize his preference for Harlem and its inhabitants over the fancier parts of Manhattan.

Fidel Castro meets

Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser

at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem, September 1960.

Fidel Castro and Malcolm X photographed by Carl Nesfield at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem on September 20, 1960.

Fidel Castro came to New York for the 15th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. He and his delegation were initially staying in Midtown.

Soon, tabloids were reporting that these “uncouth primitives” had “killed, plucked, and cooked chickens in their rooms at the Shelbourne and extinguished cigars on expensive carpets.” The Cuban delegation found itself temporarily homeless when the manager asked them to deposit a $20,000 security fee in cash, in order to continue their stay.

Insulted, they looked around for other lodgings, at one point threatening to pitch tents on the grounds in Central Park and the UN. Numerous hotels either refused accommodations or imposed costly deposits. Malcolm X reached out to Castro and arranged for his delegation to lodge at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem. 

Castro moved into

the Hotel Theresa

past midnight on September 20, he met with Malcolm shortly after. Malcolm told Castro, “Downtown for you, it was ice, uptown it is warm.” Castro

smiled appreciatively, “yes, we feel very warm here.” Malcolm added, “I think you will find the people in Harlem are not so addicted to the propaganda they put out downtown.” Castro responded, “I admire this. I have seen how it is possible for propaganda to make changes in people. Your people live here and are faced with this propaganda all the time and yet, they understand. This is very interesting.” “There are 20 million of us,” said Malcolm, “and we always understand.”

“Premier Castro has come out against lynching, which is more than [U.S. President] Eisenhower has done.

Castro has also taken a more open stand for civil rights for Black Cubans. He [Eisenhower] wants to see Castro as a Muslim,” Malcolm told the press after their meeting.

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Fidel Castro and Malcolm X meet at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem on September 19, 1960.

Some of us know of the welcome Malcolm gave to Cuban prime minister Fidel Castro when Fidel came to New York in September 1960 to speak for the first time before the United Nations General Assembly. After numerous mid-Manhattan hotels often used by UN delegations either refused accommodations to the Cuban delegation, or sought to impose a degrading and costly “damage deposit” on them, Castro and his comrades moved uptown to Harlem and registered at the Hotel Theresa.

Malcolm X had helped arrange the move and organized a defense guard for the delegation at the Theresa. Thousands of Harlem residents and supporters of revolutionary Cuba from around New York gathered outside the hotel for days to celebrate this act of solidarity by a visiting head of state. “Premier Castro has come out against lynching, which is more than [U.S.] President Eisenhower has done,” Malcolm told the New York press after meeting with the Cuban leader in his room. “Castro has also taken a more open stand for civil rights for Black Cubans.”

(Excerpt from Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power)

Fidel Castro and Malcolm X at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem on September 19, 1960.

Fidel came to New York

in September 1960 to speak for the first time before the United Nations General Assembly. After numerous mid-Manhattan hotels often used by UN delegations either refused accommodations to the Cuban delegation, or sought to impose a degrading and costly “damage deposit” on them, Castro and his comrades moved uptown to Harlem and registered at the Hotel Theresa.

Malcolm X had helped arrange the move and organized a defense guard for the delegation at the Theresa. Thousands of Harlem residents and supporters of revolutionary Cuba from around New York gathered outside the hotel for days to celebrate this act of solidarity by a visiting head of state. “Premier Castro has come out against lynching, which is more than [U.S.] President Eisenhower has done,” Malcolm told the New York press after meeting with the Cuban leader in his room. “Castro has also taken a more open stand for civil rights for Black Cubans.”

In December 1964, when Cuban leader Ernesto Che Guevara came to New York to address the UN, Malcolm invited him to come to the Audubon Ballroom to speak to a meeting of the OAAU [Organization of Afro-American Unity]. Che initially accepted the invitation but later concluded, as he wrote in a message that Malcolm read to the audience, that security “conditions are not good for [my participation in] this meeting.” And Che added: “Receive the warm salutations of the Cuban people and especially those of Fidel, who remembers enthusiastically his visit to Harlem a few years ago. United we will win.”

“I love a revolutionary,” Malcolm told the audience at the Audubon that night, as he prepared to read Che’s note. “And one of the most revolutionary men in this country right now was going to come out here … but he thought better of it.” Malcolm cautioned participants never to let anyone choose their friends for them. “I don’t,” Malcolm said. “And you shouldn’t… . You and I should practice the habit of weighing people and weighing situations and weighing groups and weighing governments for ourselves.”

(Excerpt from Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power)

Malcolm X with his daughter Qubilah Shabazz

in Harlem

on February 20, 1965.  

He was assassinated the next day at the Audubon Ballroom in front of his wife and children.

(Photos by Duilio Pallottelli)

Malcolm X with his wife, Betty Shabazz, and their children during a meeting at the headquarters of his Organization of Afro-American Unity at Hotel Theresa in Harlem on February 20, 1965.

Malcolm is holding his daughter Qubilah. He was assassinated the next day at the Audubon Ballroom.

Photos by Duilio Pallottelli