MALCOLM X QUOTES

African-American human rights activist (1925-1965)

We're all poor as individuals. Our weekly salary individually amounts to hardly anything. But if you take the salary of everyone in here collectively, it'll fill up a whole lot of baskets. It's a lot of wealth. If you can collect the wages of just these people right here for a year, you'll be rich -- richer than rich. When you look at it like that, think how rich Uncle Sam had to become, not with this handful, but millions of black people. Your and my mother and father, who didn't work an eight-hour shift, but worked from "can't see" in the morning until "can't see" at night, and worked for nothing, making the white man rich, making Uncle Sam rich. This is our investment. This is our contribution, our blood.

MALCOLM X, speech at Cory Methodist Church, Cleveland, Ohio, "The Ballot or the Bullet", Apr. 3, 1964

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If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there's no progress. If you pull it all the way out that's not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven't even pulled the knife out much less heal the wound. They won't even admit the knife is there.

MALCOLM X, TV interview, Mar. 1964

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We must understand the politics of our community and we must know what politics is supposed to produce. We must know what part politics play in our lives. And until we become politically mature we will always be mislead, lead astray, or deceived or maneuvered into supporting someone politically who doesn't have the good of our community at heart.

MALCOLM X, speech at the Congress for Racial Equality in Detroit, Michigan, Apr. 12, 1964

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Tags: politics


So we are all black people, so-called Negroes, second-class citizens, ex-slaves. You are nothing but an ex-slave. You don't like to be told that. But what else are you? You are ex-slaves. You didn't come here on the Mayflower. You came here on a slave ship -- in chains, like a horse, or a cow, or a chicken. And you were brought here by the people who came here on the Mayflower. You were brought here by the so-called Pilgrims, or Founding Fathers. They were the ones who brought you here.

MALCOLM X, Message to the Grass Roots, Nov. 10, 1963

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Tags: slavery


The slavemaster took Tom and dressed him well, and fed him well, and even gave him a little education -- a little education; gave him a long coat and a top hat and made all the other slaves look up to him. Then he used Tom to control them. The same strategy that was used in those days is used today, by the same white man.

MALCOLM X, Message to the Grass Roots, Nov. 10, 1963

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It's just like when you've got some coffee that's too black, which means it's too strong. What you do? You integrate it with cream; you make it weak. If you pour too much cream in, you won't even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it'll put you to sleep. This is what they did with the march on Washington. They joined it. They didn't integrate it; they infiltrated it. They joined it, became a part of it, took it over. And as they took it over, it lost its militancy. They ceased to be angry. They ceased to be hot. They ceased to be uncompromising. Why, it even ceased to be a march. It became a picnic, a circus. Nothing but a circus, with clowns and all. You had one right here in Detroit -- I saw it on television -- with clowns leading it, white clowns and black clowns. I know you don't like what I'm saying, but I'm going to tell you anyway. 'Cause I can prove what I'm saying. If you think I'm telling you wrong, you bring me Martin Luther King and A. Philip Randolph and James Farmer and those other three, and see if they'll deny it over a microphone.

MALCOLM X, Message to the Grass Roots, Nov. 10, 1963

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The only way we can bring about a change is [to] speak the language that they understand. The racialists never understands a peaceful language, the racialists never understands the nonviolent language, the racialist has spoken his type of language to us for over four hundred years. We have been the victim of his brutality, we are the ones who face his dogs, who tear the flesh from our limbs, only because we want to enforce the Supreme Court's [desegregation] decision. We are the ones who have our skulls crushed, not by the klu klux klan, but by policeman, all because we want to enforce what they call the Supreme Court decision. We are the ones upon whom water hoses are turned on, practically so hard that it rips the clothes from our back, not men, but the clothes from the backs of women and children, you've seen it yourself. All because we want to enforce what they call the law.

MALCOLM X, Oxford Union Debate, Dec. 3, 1964

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When I am dead--I say it that way because from the things I know, I do not expect to live long enough to read this book in its finished form--I want you to just watch and see if I'm not right in what I say: that the white man, in his press, is going to identify me with "hate". He will make use of me dead, as he has made use of me alive, as a convenient symbol, of "hatred"--and that will help him escape facing the truth that all I have been doing is holding up a mirror to reflect, to show, the history of unspeakable crimes that his race has committed against my race.

MALCOLM X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X

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There's nothing in our book, the Quran -- you call it "Ko-ran" -- that teaches us to suffer peacefully. Our religion teaches us to be intelligent. Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery. That's a good religion.

MALCOLM X, Message to the Grass Roots, Nov. 10, 1963

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Tags: religion


If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it's wrong to be violent defending black women and black children and black babies and black men, then it's wrong for America to draft us and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country.

MALCOLM X, Message to the Grass Roots, Nov. 10, 1963

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Tags: violence


I think the only way one can really determine whether extremism in the defense of liberty is justified, is not to approach it as an american or a european or an African or an Asian, but as a human being. If we look upon it as different types immediately we begin to think in terms of extremism being good for one and bad for another, or bad for one and good for another. But if we look upon it, if we look upon ourselves as human beings, I doubt that anyone will deny that extremism, in defense of liberty, the liberty of any human being.

MALCOLM X, Oxford Union Debate, Dec. 3, 1964

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Tags: liberty


It takes two to tango; when I go, you go.

MALCOLM X, speech at Cory Methodist Church, Cleveland, Ohio, "The Ballot or the Bullet", Apr. 3, 1964

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You're not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.

MALCOLM X, speech, Jan. 7, 1965

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Tags: patriotism


I do not pretend to be a divine man, but I do believe in divine guidance, divine power, and in the fulfillment of divine prophecy. I am not educated, nor am I an expert in any particular field -- but I am sincere, and my sincerity is my credentials.

MALCOLM X, A Declaration of Independence, Mar. 12, 1964

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Tags: sincerity


1964 threatens to be the most explosive year America has ever witnessed. The most explosive year. Why? It's also a political year. It's the year when all of the white politicians will be back in the so-called Negro community jiving you and me for some votes. The year when all of the white political crooks will be right back in your and my community with their false promises, building up our hopes for a letdown, with their trickery and their treachery, with their false promises which they don't intend to keep. As they nourish these dissatisfactions, it can only lead to one thing, an explosion; and now we have the type of black man on the scene in America today ... who just doesn't intend to turn the other cheek any longer.

MALCOLM X, speech at Cory Methodist Church, Cleveland, Ohio, "The Ballot or the Bullet", Apr. 3, 1964

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When the people who are in power want to ... create an image to justify something that's bad, they use the press. And they'll use the press to create a humanitarian image, for a devil, or a devil image for a humanitarian. They'll take a person who's a victim of the crime, and make it appear he's the criminal, and they'll take the criminal and make it appear that he's the victim of the crime.

MALCOLM X, Oxford Union Debate, Dec. 3, 1964

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In my opinion, the young generation of whites, blacks, browns, whatever else there is, you're living at a time of extremism, a time of revolution, a time when there's got to be a change, people in power have misused it, and now there has to be a change. And a better world has to be built and the only way it's going to be built is with extreme methods. And I, for one, will join in with anyone -- don't care what color you are -- as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth.

MALCOLM X, Oxford Union Debate, Dec. 3, 1964

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Tags: change


If you aren't careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.

MALCOLM X, speech at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, Dec. 13, 1964

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Tags: newspapers


Concerning nonviolence: it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks. It is legal and lawful to own a shotgun or a rifle. We believe in obeying the law.

MALCOLM X, A Declaration of Independence, Mar. 12, 1964

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I hope you don't think I'm trying to incite you. Just look here: Look at yourselves. Some of you are teenagers, students. How do you think I feel -- and I belong to a generation ahead of you -- how do you think I feel to have to tell you, "We, my generation, sat around like a knot on a wall while the whole world was fighting for its human rights -- and you've got to be born into a society where you still have the same fight." What did we do, who preceded you? I'll tell you what we did: Nothing.... Don't you make the same mistake we made.

MALCOLM X, Advice to the Youth of Mississippi, Dec. 31, 1964

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