Interview with Mustafa Khan conducted by Sharon Sekhon on July 25, 2020. This interview was done for "Shouting from the Margins: Black Leadership in Orange County, 1960 - 1979."
Mustafa Khan was born Clarence Bracken in 1950 in El Paso, Texas. In 1978, he changed his name to Mustafa Khan after he joined the New Nation of Islam. His mother's name was Mildred Fears and his father was named Sam Bracken. He grew up in Compton, California where he attended elementary school and middle school until he moved to Santa Ana. He spent much of his childhood visiting his mother in Naples, Texas and coming back to California. His maternal grandparents ran a 170 acre farm in Naples and taught him to always give to those who asked; that generosity was the hallmark of a good character. He is a former Black Panther and member of the New Nation of Islam but today is unaffiliated with either group. He is an enthusiast for cricket and created a youth oriented cricket program in Compton. He is also fighting to have the police investigate the murder of his son in Compton.
Tags: African American; Black Americans; Civil Rights; Discrimination; Activism; California; Black Panther Party; Islam; Religion; Interviews; Santa Ana; Los Angeles; Compton Violence; Domestic Violence; Police Violence; Police Profiling; 1960s; 1970s; Juvenile Hall; Mustafa Khan; Clarence Bracken
I was born Clarence Bracken. In about 1970 or 71, I accepted the Islamic faith and I changed my name to Mustafa Khan. It's, actually, I had a couple of friends who helped me and we all seemed to think that may fit me. The name Mustafa, interpreted in English means the chosen one.
I was born in 1950, April of 1950 in El Paso, Texas, I was born. Immediately. I believe my parents moved to Compton, California, where that's my earliest remembrance is in Compton. And I went to elementary school there, then went to middle school, which was Enterprise Middle School. I wasn't there that long, maybe a few months because... Well, let me backtrack a little bit. I was shipped back and forth between parents, my parents divorced early. So my mother was in Texas. My father was in Compton, and I spent a lot of time with him. And then sometimes with my mother.
A small town outside of Dallas, Texas, it's a little town called Naples. We grew up on 167 acre farm where we had to after school, I had to come in and change clothes and go to work in the fields. Everybody had to earn their keep.
Cucumber, watermelons, beans, corns. We had apple orchard, pear orchard, plum orchard, peach orchard, persimmon orchard. And then we had chickens, turkeys, cows, pigs, pretty much everything.
I have no clue. But then when I was on the farm, my grandmother and grandfather always taught me that if anyone ever asked you for anything and you have it, you're supposed to give it freely. So that's what I always remembered. When I went to a junior high school in Compton, I wasn't aware of gangs or the gang behavior. So I was at lunch and a kid came up and asked me for a dollar. And I had about three dollars, so I gave him one. And I didn't know that was the trap that the gang has sent him there to ask me for the money but when I refuse to give him more, the gang came and jumped me. So in the whole interim of fighting, getting hit in the head and the face, I kept my attention on the biggest one that I ended up hurting the guy pretty bad.
And by that time, teachers and everybody came and broke it up. But I had to leave that school because of that issue. But from there I had to go to another middle school with [inaudible 00:04:04] when I got there, I was there about three or four days and the math teacher asked me to take the exam along with the other kids. So she could see pretty much where I was at. As far as math, I took the math test and I gotta be on it. And to my surprise, the guys that were seated around me, they got upset and they started telling me, "We're going to kick your after school, you have the answers to the test and you didn't give them to us." Well, they failed it.
And so I started thinking, "Well, okay, so now they're saying they got to do this to me after school. I don't know anybody at the school. And I'm sure they have lots of friends." I just decided I would take my chances right there. So I got up out of my desk, put my books on the floor, picked my desk up and started hitting the guys in the head with the desk. The Teacher ran out and yelling I was crazy. Police ended up coming and that's why my father had decided to move me to Santa Ana.
By now, I'm so used to being on defensive that I'm walking through halls with white kids. Whereas before, I was at school with mostly all black kids and then Hispanic. Now walking through the halls with white kids, and they're all asking me, "Hi, how are you?" Well, when they said, "How are you?" I'm taking that as a threat, "But what do you mean how am I? Are you threatening me?" That was just my mentality. So I had to... I finally adjusted to that. I ended up having some very strong white friends that we, I mean, they were my friends. And all of this was a whole new world to me, but I still had my, I guess you call it my internal anger going all the time. And I didn't know why I would lash out like I did or why I kept to myself. I was always pretty much a quiet kid. Never really talked a lot.
Somewhat it took me years to find out where that anger was coming from. And it resulted from visiting my mother one year. She had gotten married to another man who I ended up having a sister from that relationship. But this man was beating my mother badly. So I heard it one day and I ran in the house and he's on top of her just beating her like she's another man. And I went to the kitchen and got a knife and was running toward him, then I was going to just kill him. My intention was to kill him. I don't know how it happened, but my mother got up off the floor. He didn't see me coming. My mother got up off the floor, stopped me from killing him. When he saw that, he turned around and hit me and knocked me unconscious. Well, when I did come to, I don't remember much after that. All I remember the next day is, she packing my suitcase and they're taking me to the bus station to come back to California with my father.
I had decided that I'm going to work and make enough money to buy a gun and a round trip ticket. Then I'm going back and kill this man. And strangely enough, when I did make enough money from working summer jobs and I was ready to go, my mother called me and told me that he fell dead. He just fell dead. And my response to her was, "He can't do that. Get him up. I got the right to kill him." And I was serious. I know he can't die on me like that. I've been planning this too long.
So that's where some of the anger started building up. I had, after I kept this in my system for years. And then I had no way to release it. But when it disfigured her face for life, that's [inaudible 00:09:07] when every time I look at my mother, I relive it. But at the same time, and I couldn't understand when I was on the bus, I'm trying to figure out why is she sending me away and not him? I don't understand it. So I just felt like if my mother didn't want me, nobody wanted me.
So during my time in Santa Ana, I was a very quiet, angry young man. Then when I get there, my father and I didn't get along and he put me out, told me I would never amount to anything. I would never be nothing in life. Well, I was homeless at this point. I was about maybe 15.
It was somewhere around 65, 66. Yeah. So I'm homeless and I'm trying to make it, but I never would have let anybody know I was homeless and I would refuse to appear like it. So I would stay at different friend's houses and just tell them, "Hey, I was spending one night or two nights there with them." But it's... So during that time, what I made up in my mind, this is okey-doke, because of words from my father rang out in my head all the time, "You'd never going to amount to nothing. You would never going to be anything in life." I promised myself, no matter what the odds, I'm going to finish high school. I don't care what else happens, I'm going to finish high school just to prove him wrong.
And our argument started as a result of getting into sports. I had never been into sports, but come to find out, I was a pretty decent athlete. And my father coming from the South having to work since eighth grade, he didn't see an importance of sports. So he said, "No, you're not playing sports. And if you don't like it, get out". And me and he put me out. So I made that promise to myself. So that was... I mean, I slept in a... I had a couple of gas station bathrooms I would go sleep in when I had nowhere else to go, but I use that gas station bathroom to clean up in the morning and go to school.
I did a lot of things to survive, lots of things to survive, even dealing with older women, because I was always big for my age. So I figured out quickly that, I would walk by sometimes and see these older women at a nightclub on, I think it was first street, and so I went and got an old dough raiser and started rubbing it across my face to make myself look older. I went to the salvation army and bought the oldest looking suit I could find for 50 cents. And I went in the club and I wouldn't drink because I knew I could, plus I didn't drink at the time.
So I would sit there and walk around. And I ended up meeting a lady that was, I think she was about 28 years old at the time, I was 15. And I ended up getting with her. The funny thing I was living a double life. What I was doing was living with her. And I convinced her that I was a gambler and I needed a couple of hundred dollars. She would give me a couple hundred dollars while I wouldn't spend that money. I'd hold on to it. So when it's time for me to supposedly have a payday, I give her that same 200 back. So I was living a double life, leaving her house and workloads, going down the street to my friend's house, putting on my school clothes, picking up my books and go to school.
I was tired of playing the game and I told her, and she wouldn't believe me. So my father and my paternal grandmother still lived in Santa Ana at the time. I said, "Well, if you don't believe me, I'll take you to my father and my grandmother and you ask them. So we did and we got there and they told her, and she just ended up saying, "Well, it's too late now." We've been together for about a year now.
I didn't really have a choice. I had to finish high school, I didn't care how. I did not care how I had to finish high school. I didn't care for, it was just a way to accomplish my goal. That's all it was. I think until 11th grade about something like that, about the beginning of 11th grade. And then I finally met a girl who was in high school with me and we got together, but in the meantime, I would still stay here and there because I was still wouldn't let anybody know that I had no place to stay.
I had a few friends because after I broke the ice, because when I got to Santa Ana, it wasn't the white kids that actually, wanted to fight or anything, it was the handful of black kids that wanted to fight me because I was from Compton and they wanted to try to get a reputation. And they quickly found out that wasn't the route to go to get that reputation. That one guy tried to slam his head on the concrete. So that's what's in Santa Ana.
I didn't know. It was just anger. I was always the biggest kid around anyway.
So it just had pinned up anger. My parents and I had a weird relationship. It was like laughing or joking or spending quality time together was taboo. We never did any of that. We didn't have that in our family. But I was determined, nothing was going to get in my way. Funny story is when I was in high school, as I ended up finding out, I was a pretty good athlete in a lot of sports. And so I didn't drink, I didn't deal with drugs or any of that, but in order to fit in with the crowd, I had to make it appear such because I looked older, I could walk into any liquor store and buy liquor without being questioned. So that's what I would do, After we go by, at the time, I think it was Boone's farm or get a bottle of that. And on my way there, I'd pour some in my hand or rub it around my mouth, or out on my face. And when I get to the party, I give it away.
Because now I got the smell on me and I came with a bottle and everybody thinks I'm cool. Well, one night I went to the store, went to the liquor store to get a bottle. I gave the guy a 20 and he gave me back change for a 10. And so I tried to talk to him and say, "Excuse me, I only had a 20." And so I know again, he said, "No, you gave me a 10. Get out of here. I'm not giving you anything." Well, my first response as a kid was I better just leave. And as I walk down the street, I thought about what my father told me, "Don't ever let anybody take anything from you."
And I went back to the store, the guy saw me come in and he started mouthing off. Well, I jumped across the counter and beat him, I opened the register, took out my other 10 and let him see. That's all I'm taking was the 10. And I left. But now as I walked away, I'm so angry and I'm wired up then by what I just did. And it felt good. This is just the thoughts of going through my head. It feels good to release that anger.
So I went back, I'm not finished. So I went back to the guy and he saw me coming. He backed away, said, "Look, take anything you want." And that wasn't good enough for me. So I had to beat him again. But this time, I went into the register and took all the money. And that's where my trouble started. I got arrested. But even before that incident, I was 15, a friend of mine was in a store and I'm leading up to how I met Lambert. So but... Okay, let me backtrack again, because I'm trying to recall all the stuff that my mother came out when I was in juvenile hall. I had beat up a cop at the age of 15. That was at Kmart on, was it McFadden in Bristol? It was Christmas time. So a friend of mine, we were going, looking for gifts. I didn't have any money to buy anybody anything, but it was always nice to just go look. I didn't know this my friend had stolen a pair of shoes.
So we're walking out of the store and I see my friend walking ahead of me, but so what? And I hear this guy behind me as we're walking through the parking lot, he's walking real fast and he's coming toward us. Well, I figured the guy must be in a hurry. So I stepped aside. So he could go past and he grabbed me. He never did say he was a cop, but I think what ended up happening every time he tried to identify himself, I hit him. He finally lunged at me. I ducked under, picked him up, and he slipped off of my hand and he headed to the concrete. I was put in juvenile hall for that. And I never forget the judge laughing.
He looked at the file, he looked at me and he looked at the cop and he says, "You mean to tell me you're a trained officer and this 15 year old kid did this to you?" And the cop tried to explain it away, but I ended up getting like two or three weeks in juvenile hall for it. And so I went to juvenile hall, it was right there off the freeway and my first time ever being locked up. So when it happened, I figured, "Okay, the time is up. My father is going to come get me." He never did He told him, keep him.
So my mother came out and was able to help get me out of there, but what she did, because she wasn't a resident that couldn't stay here. She had another friend, a lady that we both knew and her husband came and signed legal guardianship in order for me to get out. So that's how [crosstalk 00:21:56].
Mary Williams, Mildred Fears, F-E-A-R-S. And my father was Sam Bracken. But, while I was with that family, a lot of times, I would have to leave out and I leave out crying because they actually would sit around and tell jokes and laugh with each other and actually touch each other and hug and stuff that I wasn't used to. And so when I saw it, it drove me to tears and I'd have to... I wouldn't let anybody see me at a weak point, so I'll walk outside.
But it's something that I didn't know how to deal with it. I couldn't understand, how are they able to laugh and talk with each other? Because I never had it. So I couldn't understand how? What is that like? What is that about? And so I only stayed there a few months because I couldn't take it. They were nice people, very nice people, but I just wasn't accustomed to have it. And they would try to show me love, but I just didn't know how to deal with it.
I ended up going to see a therapist and just try to, because I've started to realize that I had a problem when hurting people felt good. When it started feeling good hurting people, then I started realizing, "Wait a minute, why is that feeling? But why am I feeling like this after I heard somebody?" And it was just something that because of my treatment had just built up. I don't think I was a bad kid. I can remember never getting a whipping for the same thing twice. Once I get that for one time, I'm done with that. I had nobody to give me a direction or advice.
As to 60 progressing or later 60s, I started becoming involved and I ended up becoming involved with the Black Panther Party. At the same time doing my other side stuff because I mean, I I had to get money and I got it, however I could get it. But I ended up getting a warrant out for my arrest and all that kind of stuff. But before that, I was playing basketball in the evenings after school because that was my way of making it appear like I've been at work all day sweating before I go to this older lady's house. So I'll go out and play basketball and it have on my supposedly work clothes and playing basketball. And then I go home, told her I had a tough day.
We were out there at the park one day and we see this cop car pull up. I think it was a plainclothes car, a plain car. And he gets out. And right away, I think I'm in a Black Panther Party at that time too. And he gets out and walks over there. And I mean, everybody's thinking, "Okay, he's the pig." And my intention was when he got on the basketball court to hurt it. But the guy was so good. He came out with a jovial smile. You couldn't sense any fear from him. He had no fear. He just came in, like he was one of the guys The guy would get on the basketball court and he's laughing, he's smiling. And his whole body seemed happy. The guy's like he's on his toes all the time. He was just like a giddy basketball player and it was never personal with him. It was just fun.
With me, basketball was a battle zone. The court was a battle zone. That's the way I interpreted. I never did find out how to really enjoy sports till I left school years after. Then I started realizing how to relax and enjoy it. Like, "Man, if I only had known this then." But Lambert started teaching me how to enjoy things. A lot of people were, I guess, somewhat afraid to approach me because of the scowl I had on my face all the time. And I was quiet. So they never knew what I was thinking.
There are a few people I remember, one guy, his name was Roy Hamilton. He got me my first job at Rocket Dine in Seal Beach. And here I was in the sixties making $10 an hour with no experience. Roy Hamilton just hired me. He said he was a supervisor and he hired me. So, I mean, there were good people I met.
Tommy Crockett. He was another Black Panther. It's hard to talk about Tommy because he was killed for no reason at all. He was a Black Panther along with us, with me, Michael, Odis Grimes, Arthur League. Tommy Crockett was, what's the word? He would dress in African dress and everything way back then before we were aware of it. And he's the one that brought the idea of the Black Panther Party to Santa Ana, but he was an employment counselor.
And so for, I still to this day, don't know why, but he was killed in the cause of the struggle, some stupid stuff like they were going to do the Lambert. And I didn't know about those plans to kill Tommy Crockett. So because he had a good job... This is the only thing I can see because he had a good job and he was, he's living a normal life basically. But then when he get with us, he taught black power. To these guys, he was suspicious because he's going to being back around white people.
That was going against the grain. See, that's why I slapped the hell out of Huey Newton one time. I was one of the Minister, Louis Farrakhan, body guards. And we went to Oakland, California for him to speak. We were at the hotel and Huey knocks on the door. I answered the door, and when Huey shows up at the door, he wanted to speak to the Minister. I said, "No, you can't come in, get the hell away from here. You're not worthy of seeing him." And he's going to insist. And I told him, I said, "Look, man, I'ma tell you one more time", and he didn't leave. So I popped him and Minister Farrakhan heard the slap.
And when I closed the door, he asked me, "What happened, who was that?" And I told him, "It was Huey Newton." He says, "Well, why didn't you let him in?" I said, "Because he betrayed us. When I was a black Panther, we were taught not to deal with white girls, white people or any of that, but yet he's laying up with a white girl and he's doing other different stuff, so no." So Minister Farrakhan was responsible as a brother. I understand. He said, "But we have to get to the point where we acknowledge each other for whatever amount of good that we have done. We got to start acknowledging each other for whatever amount of good we've done." See, says, "I'm going to ask you brother, would you please go down and get Huey if he has left and escort him back up with you?" He asked me, he gave me... Would you mind doing it? Well, what Minister Farrakhan asked me, of course, I'm going to do.
As I said, I became a member of the Nation of Islam. I worked my way up through the ranks and yeah, I don't know. I just ended up being one of the selected people, I guess because of how I dealt with things in the neighborhood. We didn't take any mess off anybody. And we tried to be civil, but when they wanted to take it to the street, I had no problem with that.
I'm still a Muslim, but I'm not a follower of any one or any personality. It's directly from the Holy Quran now.
Different things, I don't know, it's hard to describe. It's just that sometimes you have to, and I do it a lot, is I sit back by myself and analyze my myself, my surroundings and try to figure things out. And it just... When I saw different things happening to different people in the nation with their economics and with their family structure. I just like, I don't think this is for me, even though I don't have a family structure, It's not for me.
Everything he's... I like it because he told the truth. He spoke his mind. I didn't. One thing that turned me, what made create the distance was that I was part of the inner or the upper click now. And I didn't like them being a part of a clique. I was chosen to be around Minister because of certain relationships like with his son whose name is also Mustafa. And other people that were close. So I was brought into that fold, not on merit, just because I knew certain people. And I didn't think that was right. There were people who were more qualified than me who should have been there.
Yeah. So it's... But even though when he started the nation back in 1980, I was one of the four other people that he called and asked me to help him rebuild the Nation of Islam. And I did, I went out there with him, we traveled around. But going back to the Black Panther Party where we structured the Black Panther Party, I think Michael was the best choice to be quote unquote captain, because he knew everybody and everybody knew him. He just had a good relationship with everybody. I was a guy who you may see me in a room, but that's it. I'm the guy that whatever needs to be done, I do it. Yeah. Well that role fit me better though, because I'll give you a good example.
When we formed the Black Panther Party in Santa Ana, LA chapter called and said they had a shipment of guns for us to come get. And so nobody wanted. Everybody was afraid to go pick the guns up and no, then, I said, "Okay, I'll go pick them up." And I drove and picked them up. Trump loaded the guns. So when I got there, I said, "Okay, they're here. Where are we going to store them?" Well, we had no place to store. And we didn't feel like the Black Panther office was a good place to store it because police were always coming by them. We didn't know where they were coming in at night or what. So everybody was afraid to keep them at their house. I'm like, okay, "Wait a minute. You guys are the officers."
Michael is the captain. Odis was this, and then I said, " You know what, to hell with this? So I emptied one of my closets at my house at that time. And I had a closet full of guns at my house. Right. I'm like, "If you were supposed to be Black Panther, well, how you that not wanting to [crosstalk 00:36:37] yeah, I mean, I understand that. So whenever something was supposed to happen, and I knew about it except for Tommy Crockett. Now and Geronimo Pratt would come to Santa Ana quite often. And I became one of his favorite people.
Very deliberate, very military savvy person. And he didn't take any mess. He was a soldier through and through, he didn't care what it took once he got an order, that order was carried out. And the fact that I felt the same way, I think we related to each other because there was a meeting one time where something had happened that went wrong. And he had all of us sit in chairs around in a circle. And he stood in the middle of the circle. But then he called me Ogg, O-G-G. This is what Geronimo called me. He gave me that name because of my size. He says, "Ogg", and there was a bat in the office. He threw the bat to me. He says, "Next time somebody tries to talk while I'm talking, handle it."
So I walked around outside of the circle, like, "Yeah. Okay. That's going to get done." So he and I had a good relationship. A lot of things happened when the guy that wouldn't shut up 77 precinct in Los Angeles. When that happened he was brought to Santa Ana for safekeeping. He ended up staying at my house. So I mean, okay, everybody was officers and everything, but when it comes to taking care of stuff, I'm the one who did. I think I'm a protective person by nature, about my mother go through.
So I have that in my nature now. That was my role and I accepted it.
It's a good thing to have fear because it makes you cautious, it makes you think and it makes you feel with the adrenaline and to deal with an attack even harder.
So it's just a matter of how you channel that fear. And I'm a person, I'm slow to anger, but once you do anger me, or once you make me afraid, I got to get rid of, and I don't mean killing anybody, but you got to go. That anger was my driving factor.
And the anger and the fear combined would just make me attack. I'm not gonna wait on defense once you make me afraid, I'm going to wait on defense. Once you make me afraid, I'm going offense, because I'm going to choose the timing here. Not you.
Let me put it like this, Daniel wasn't behind it. That came actually from LA, from a suggestion, from people in the Sonata chapter, and that was only because Lambert was number one, black, number two, he was a black police officer. He was a pig and it was convenient because he lived in the neighborhood that he patrolled. Everybody knew where Lambert was. He was just, you know it, he's a social guy. So it was a convenient thing to do. That's why he was picked.
I didn't get to know them. I knew he had a family. I knew where he lived. We passed by his house a lot of times, but I never wanted to stop by there. And one reason was because I was in the Black Panther Party. I'm not going to associate with him to Eddies house like that. Now, when we meet on the basketball court, that's different. And I'm telling this guy, every time we played against each other, I learned something. I mean, just watching him, he didn't have to say anything. It just watching him, he was an example without saying anything.
That order came from LA. Exactly who I don't know, but it came down from LA and that was the order. Now I still don't believe Arthur League did it. Arthur league was a very good friend of mine. Even before the Black Panther Party, he was a manager at Bank of America. Arthur when he came out, he came out of prison. He came by my house, but he was a different person. He wasn't that guy who was sick. He wasn't that analytical guy, the intelligent guy that I knew that would give you the shirt off his back. He wasn't that guy anymore, prison had changed him. And he never would talk about it. But I'm thinking he took the fall knowing that he didn't do anything. But I know he was afraid to go back.
Are the legals a good example that he was a professional man. He had his own house, had his own car. He managed the bank. He was doing quite well. And then he joined the Black Panther Party along with me, and the code was, you never talk. And so I guess he stuck by that. But I, to this day, I don't believe he did it. He could have, he had the capability, but I don't think he did it. He wasn't a dummy by a long shot. Right. And then you make it out alive?
Arthur was a guy that would analyze and strategize and see a way out of something before he would get into it. And I was on the other side of the law. So I remember one time I came to Arthur with an illegal deal and Arthur didn't say no right away. He sat there and he listened to me. And after that, he started asking some questions and I didn't have the answers. And he walked away. He may have been that Arthur drove the car or was around or something had some involvement, but no, he didn't pull the trigger. No, [crosstalk 00:44:13] Arthur didn't even have a gun in his house.
They were, they called me behind the Black Panther office one one night and wanted to try to make an example out of me. And the cop hit me. And when he hit me, I looked at him and said, "I knew you." I told him this. I said, "I knew you were homosexual, because look at how hard you hit me. You don't even hit hard. I know women that hit harder. You're a straight homosexual." He got mad. And the other cops had to hold him back.
And I went to jail right before officers Saccer got killed. So I'm in jail and the cops were walking down the hallway and they would stand back and look at me and like, "Yeah." So that's supposed to be the badass Black Panther.
And, I wouldn't respond. There was nothing to respond to. We had to walk in the jail with our right shoulder on the right wall at the time. And I would have my shoulder against the wall. But that officer who was the same size would come all the way over and bump into me to try to antagonize me. It wasn't a winning situation. I couldn't let him choose when I fight. I couldn't do that. If I was going to fight, I had to figure out a way to it on my own terms. So they ended up... Something happened. I think there was a riot that I led in there or something me and this Panamanian guy, and they put us in the hole.
And so by that time, two or three officers used to come down and look through the little window and say, "Yeah, look at the badass Black Panther. But now he ain't nothing. Look at him. He's supposed to be a badass Black Panther." Well, it got so bad to where, when I knew they were coming down to the hole, Now, keep in mind, we're in a whole wheel to have blue jeans on, a pair of socks and a t-shirt. And the air conditioning was off. We're sitting on the cold concrete. So when I would hear them coming down on the elevator to come and make wise cracks toward me, I had started doing pushups to get warm. And so I had to get off the elevator. I'm warm enough to take my shirt off and lay on that cold concrete. I grit my teeth and lay on that cold concrete.
And so when they looked through the window, they were flabbergasted. They had nothing to say, so they walk away. When they get back on the elevator, my teeth were chattering. I put my shirt on, I do some more jumping jacks trying to stay warm, and they turn the air conditioner up higher. But I ended up getting a visit one time from somebody from the LA chapter of the Black Panther Party. And it came in, we were talking. And so I told him, I said, "Yeah, they keep messing with me, trying to make me fight." And there's one officer in particular, and they asked me that officer's name. And I told him, I didn't expect anything. It was just conversation to me. He asked me to call officer's name. I told you. And then we went on with the conversation. About a week later, that officer came apologize to me. "What's going on now? What kind of trick is this? Bite it from the Black Panther Party and found out some details on him and sent a message to him. So he apologized and he never bothered me again after that.
Our friendship developed on the court. We'd never actually spent a lot of time away from the court. It was just there and words that we exchanged. We knew what we had inside of ourselves for each other.
It wasn't until we all got scholarships to Southern California College. And we went out and Lambert was so excited. He says, "Wait a minute, they got to give us scholarships to continue our education and play basketball?" He says, "This is habit." So we got there, and there was a lot of mixed feelings about that because here we were with David, Jimmy, Oscar, Earl and myself. It was actually, yeah, it was five of us. And so they put us out there to play against their top team when we first got there and we just beat up, we just beat them badly.
But we were the first blacks to go to that school. They had only given two black people's scholarship. Now they'd given all of us scholarships. And so that's when we really got close, because I mean, we spent time laughing in my, I had a dorm room, but we spent time in my room laughing and talking. That was like a safe haven for us.
There at the college, right up over the, I think it was Costa Mesa police department at the time. And I was wanted for crimes. They didn't know. So it's a Christmas [inaudible 00:50:24]. But leading up to that, when I was in jail, the time I was just talking about, and I went to court, I had colleges coaches, deans from different colleges who came to court and asked the court to release me into the custody of the college. And they would give me a scholarship and they would set parameters on me just release me. So I could play basketball. The judge said, "This was confusing." He says that, "The DAS thing, how dangerous you are, and you are medicine to society, and you're dangerous, but here's all these people, even your high school principal and your high school coaches coming up saying that you'd never raise your voice at anybody."
He says that something's wrong here, he says, "I'm not understanding". When I was in court, finally came to the sentencing and the judge gave me a five to life and I didn't listen anymore. And so then my attorney says, "Congratulations." I'm like, "Wait a minute. What do you mean congratulations?" He says, "You're going home this evening." Yeah, right, "You just heard him say five to life. I got to do a minimum of five years before you can go to the board." What I didn't hear was joined suspended sentence and time served. I got out that night and I couldn't believe it. And my mother was right at the door waiting on me. She had drove out, had somebody drive her from Texas. And she was at the door waiting, and I'd never expected that. And that was, I think that was the only show of affection she ever did as far as I'm concerned. Just showing up. That was enough for me.
ID 0546. Interview with Mustafa Khan for SHOUTING from the Margins. Interview. Sharon Sekhon. 2020. The Studio for Southern California History. Accessed on the LA History Archive at https://vimeo.com/441864125/dd5757895a on Feb 28, 2024.