Veteran news anchor Mike Wallace died Saturday at the age of 93. The longtime co-anchor of CBS’s 60 Minutes left behind a legacy of countless interviews in his signature straightforward style. Wallace came to prominence reporting on President Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal, but he also conducted landmark interviews with prominent black figures.
Wallace produced the series The Hate That Hate Produced for CBS, about the Nation of Islam in 1959. It aired in five parts with several repeat broadcasts. It was this program that catapulted Malcolm X into the spotlight as the spokesperson for NOI. In June of 1964, Wallace sat down again with Malcolm X to discuss the Nation of Islam and other black liberation movements that were rising up around the country.
In the interview, Malcolm X explained to Wallace, “Frustration itself has been sufficient; all that was necessary to make Negroes realize the importance of banning together.”
Wallace asked, “Banning together in what kinds of movements?” in his typical confrontational style.
In retrospect, many have criticized Wallace’s series, calling it clearly biased against the Nation of Islam. Both the series and his 1964 interview are critical interrogations of the organization’s beliefs. It is perhaps through Wallace’s work, however, that the NOI was able to reach a mass audience outside of the major cities where it had established its power base.
Wallace would also be on hand more than 40 years later when Malcolm X’s eldest daughter, Attallah Shabazz, met with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to discuss the circumstances surrounding her father’s death.
Follow Donovan X. Ramsey on Twitter at @idxr