- 1 Quotes
- 1.1 The Ballot or the Bullet (1964)
- 1.2 Malcolm X on Zionism (1964)
- 1.3 The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965)
- 1.4 Malcolm X Speaks (1965)
- 1.5 By any means necessary: speeches, interviews, and a letter (1970)
- 2 Attributed
- 3 Misattributed
- 4 About Malcolm X
- 5 External links
- 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.
- Message to the Grass Roots (10 November 1963)
- Chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they've always made me glad.
- On the assassination of John F. Kennedy, quoted in New York Times (2 December 1963) "Malcolm X Scores U.S. and Kennedy". p. 21.
- 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.
- TV interview after 90-day moratorium (March 1964)
- There can be no black-white unity until there is first some black unity. There can be no workers' solidarity until there is first some racial solidarity. We cannot think of uniting with others, until after we have first united among ourselves. We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves. One can't unite bananas with scattered leaves.
- We are African, and we happened to be in America. We're not American. We are people who formerly were Africans who were kidnapped and brought to America. Our forefathers weren't the Pilgrims. We didn't land on Plymouth Rock. The rock was landed on us. We were brought here against our will. We were not brought here to be made citizens. We were not brought here to enjoy the constitutional gifts that they speak so beautifully about today.
- They [America] don't practice what they preach, whereas South Africa preaches and practices the same thing. I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands, even if he's wrong, than the one who comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil.
- Oxford Union Debate (3 December 1964)
- I don't believe in any form of unjustified extremism! But when a man is exercising extremism — a human being is exercising extremism — in defense of liberty for human beings it's no vice, and when one is moderate in the pursuit of justice for human beings I say he is a sinner.
- Oxford Union Debate (3 December 1964)
- The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make the criminal look like he's a the victim and make the victim look like he's the criminal. This is the press, an irresponsible press. It will make the criminal look like he's the victim and make the victim look like he's the criminal. 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.
If you aren't careful, because I've seen some of you caught in that bag, you run away hating yourself and loving the man — while you're catching hell from the man. You let the man maneuver you into thinking that it's wrong to fight him when he's fighting you. He's fighting you in the morning, fighting you in the noon, fighting you at night and fighting you all in between, and you still think it's wrong to fight him back. Why? The press. The newspapers make you look wrong.
- Speech at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem (13 December 1964), later published in Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements (1965), edited by George Breitman, p. 93
- You get freedom by letting your enemy know that you'll do anything to get your freedom; then you'll get it. It's the only way you'll get it.
- Ignorance of each other is what has made unity impossible in the past. Therefore we need enlightenment. We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity. Once we have more knowledge (light) about each other, we will stop condemning each other and a United front will be brought about.
- If Martin Luther King, Roy Wilkins or any of these compromising Negros who say exactly what the white man wants to hear is interviewed anywhere in the country you don't get anybody to offset what they say. But whenever a black man stands up and says something that white people don't like then the first thing that man does is run around to try and find somebody to say something to offset what has just been said. This is natural but it is done.
- TV Interview [date needed], also quoted in Ice Cube: Attitude (2002) by Joel McIver, p. 177
The Ballot or the Bullet (1964)
- The question tonight, as I understand it, is “The Negro Revolt, and Where Do We Go From Here?” or What Next?” In my little humble way of understanding it, it points toward either the ballot or the bullet.
- I’m not here to argue or discuss anything that we differ about, because it’s time for us to submerge our differences and realize that it is best for us to first see that we have the same problem, a common problem, a problem that will make you catch hell whether you’re a Baptist, or a Methodist, or a Muslim, or a nationalist. Whether you’re educated or illiterate, whether you live on the boulevard or in the alley, you’re going to catch hell just like I am. We’re all in the same boat and we all are going to catch the same hell from the same man. He just happens to be a white man. All of us have suffered here, in this country, political oppression at the hands of the white man, economic exploitation at the hands of the white man, and social degradation at the hands of the white man.
- Whether we are Christians or Muslims or nationalists or agnostics or atheists, we must first learn to forget our differences. If we have differences, let us differ in the closet; when we come out in front, let us not have anything to argue about until we get finished arguing with the man.
- I'm not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn't make you a diner, unless you eat some of what's on that plate. Being here in America doesn't make you an American. Being born here in America doesn't make you an American. Why, if birth made you American, you wouldn't need any legislation; you wouldn't need any amendments to the Constitution; you wouldn't be faced with civil-rights filibustering in Washington, D.C., right now.
- No, I’m not an American. I’m one of the 22 million black people who are the victims of Americanism. One of the 22 million black people who are the victims of democracy, nothing but disguised hypocrisy. So, I’m not standing here speaking to you as an American, or a patriot, or a flag-saluter, or a flag-waver—no, not I. I’m speaking as a victim of this American system. And I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don’t see any American dream; I see an American nightmare.
- What is a Dixiecrat? A Democrat. A Dixiecrat is nothing but a Democrat in disguise. [...] The Dixiecrats in Washington, D.C., control the key committees that run the government. The only reason the Dixiecrats control these committees is because they have seniority. The only reason they have seniority is because they come from states where Negroes can’t vote. This is not even a government that’s based on democracy. It is not a government that is made up of representatives of the people. Half of the people in the South can’t even vote. Eastland is not even supposed to be in Washington. Half of the senators and congressmen who occupy these key positions in Washington, D.C., are there illegally, are there unconstitutionally.
These senators and congressmen actually violate the constitutional amendments that guarantee the people of that particular state or county the right to vote. And the Constitution itself has within it the machinery to expel any representative from a state where the voting rights of the people are violated. You don’t even need new legislation. Any person in Congress right now, who is there from a state or a district where the voting rights of the people are violated, that particular person should be expelled from Congress. And when you expel him, you’ve removed one of the obstacles in the path of any real meaningful legislation in this country. In fact, when you expel them, you don’t need new legislation, because they will be replaced by black representatives from counties and districts where the black man is in the majority, not in the minority.
- A vote for a Democrat is a vote for a Dixiecrat. That’s why, in 1964, it’s time now for you and me to become more politically mature and realize what the ballot is for; what we’re supposed to get when we cast a ballot; and that if we don’t cast a ballot, it’s going to end up in a situation where we’re going to have to cast a bullet. It’s either a ballot or a bullet.
- You and I in America are faced not with a segregationist conspiracy, we’re faced with a government conspiracy. Everyone who’s filibustering is a senator—that’s the government. Everyone who’s finagling in Washington, D.C., is a congressman—that’s the government. You don’t have anybody putting blocks in your path but people who are a part of the government. The same government that you go abroad to fight for and die for is the government that is in a conspiracy to deprive you of your voting rights, deprive you of your economic opportunities, deprive you of decent housing, deprive you of decent education. You don’t need to go to the employer alone, it is the government itself, the government of America, that is responsible for the oppression and exploitation and degradation of black people in this country. And you should drop it in their lap. This government has failed the Negro. This so-called democracy has failed the Negro. And all these white liberals have definitely failed the Negro.
- How can you thank a man for giving you what's already yours? How then can you thank him for giving you only part of what's already yours?
- And now you’re facing a situation where the young Negro’s coming up. They don’t want to hear that “turn the-other-cheek” stuff, no. In Jacksonville, those were teenagers, they were throwing Molotov cocktails. Negroes have never done that before. But it shows you there’s a new deal coming in. There’s new thinking coming in. There’s new strategy coming in. It’ll be Molotov cocktails this month, hand grenades next month, and something else next month. It’ll be ballots, or it’ll be bullets. It’ll be liberty, or it will be death. The only difference about this kind of death—it’ll be reciprocal.
- I don’t usually deal with those big words because I don’t usually deal with big people. I deal with small people. I find you can get a whole lot of small people and whip hell out of a whole lot of big people. They haven’t got anything to lose, and they’ve got every thing to gain. And they’ll let you know in a minute: “It takes two to tango; when I go, you go.”
- Three hundred and ten years we worked in this country without a dime in return—I mean without a dime in return. You let the white man walk around here talking about how rich this country is, but you never stop to think how it got rich so quick. It got rich because you made it rich. [...] Not only did we give of our free labor, we gave of our blood. Every time he had a call to arms, we were the first ones in uniform. We died on every battlefield the white man had. We have made a greater sacrifice than anybody who’s standing up in America today. We have made a greater contribution and have collected less. Civil rights, for those of us whose philosophy is black nationalism, means: “Give it to us now. Don’t wait for next year. Give it to us yesterday, and that’s not fast enough.”
- Whenever you’re going after something that belongs to you, anyone who’s depriving you of the right to have it is a criminal. Understand that. Whenever you are going after something that is yours, you are within your legal rights to lay claim to it. And anyone who puts forth any effort to deprive you of that which is yours, is breaking the law, is a criminal. And this was pointed out by the Supreme Court decision. It outlawed segregation. Which means segregation is against the law. Which means a segregationist is breaking the law. A segregationist is a criminal. You can’t label him as anything other than that. And when you demonstrate against segregation, the law is on your side. The Supreme Court is on your side.
Now, who is it that opposes you in carrying out the law? The police department itself. With police dogs and clubs. Whenever you demonstrate against segregation, whether it is segregated education, segregated housing, or anything else, the law is on your side, and anyone who stands in the way is not the law any longer. They are breaking the law; they are not representatives of the law.
- I don’t mean go out and get violent; but at the same time you should never be nonviolent unless you run into some nonviolence. I’m nonviolent with those who are nonviolent with me. But when you drop that violence on me, then you’ve made me go insane, and I’m not responsible for what I do. And that’s the way every Negro should get. Any time you know you’re within the law, within your legal rights, within your moral rights, in accord with justice, then die for what you believe in. But don’t die alone. Let your dying be reciprocal. This is what is meant by equality. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
- We need to expand the civil-rights struggle to a higher level—to the level of human rights. Whenever you are in a civil-rights struggle, whether you know it or not, you are confining yourself to the jurisdiction of Uncle Sam. No one from the outside world can speak out in your behalf as long as your struggle is a civil-rights struggle. Civil rights comes within the domestic affairs of this country. All of our African brothers and our Asian brothers and our Latin-American brothers cannot open their mouths and interfere in the domestic affairs of the United States. And as long as it’s civil rights, this comes under the jurisdiction of Uncle Sam. But the United Nations has what’s known as the charter of human rights; it has a committee that deals in human rights. You may wonder why all of the atrocities that have been committed in Africa and in Hungary and in Asia, and in Latin America are brought before the UN, and the Negro problem is never brought before the UN. This is part of the conspiracy. This old, tricky blue eyed liberal who is supposed to be your and my friend, supposed to be in our corner, supposed to be subsidizing our struggle, and supposed to be acting in the capacity of an adviser, never tells you anything about human rights. They keep you wrapped up in civil rights. And you spend so much time barking up the civil-rights tree, you don’t even know there’s a human-rights tree on the same floor.
- When you expand the civil-rights struggle to the level of human rights, you can then take the case of the black man in this country before the nations in the UN. You can take it before the General Assembly. You can take Uncle Sam before a world court. But the only level you can do it on is the level of human rights. Civil rights keeps you under his restrictions, under his jurisdiction. Civil rights keeps you in his pocket. Civil rights means you’re asking Uncle Sam to treat you right. Human rights are something you were born with. Human rights are your God-given rights. Human rights are the rights that are recognized by all nations of this earth. And any time any one violates your human rights, you can take them to the world court.
- When you take your case to Washington, D.C., you’re taking it to the criminal who’s responsible; it’s like running from the wolf to the fox. They’re all in cahoots together. They all work political chicanery and make you look like a chump before the eyes of the world. Here you are walking around in America, getting ready to be drafted and sent abroad, like a tin soldier, and when you get over there, people ask you what are you fighting for, and you have to stick your tongue in your cheek. No, take Uncle Sam to court, take him before the world.
- You and I, 22 million African-Americans — that's what we are — Africans who are in America. You're nothing but Africans. Nothing but Africans. In fact, you'd get farther calling yourself African instead of Negro. Africans don't catch hell. You're the only one catching hell. They don't have to pass civil-rights bills for Africans.
- Any time Uncle Sam, with all his machinery for warfare, is held to a draw by some rice eaters, he’s lost the battle. He had to sign a truce. America’s not supposed to sign a truce. She’s supposed to be bad. But she’s not bad any more. She’s bad as long as she can use her hydrogen bomb, but she can’t use hers for fear Russia might use hers. Russia can’t use hers, for fear that Sam might use his. So, both of them are weapon-less. They can’t use the weapon because each’s weapon nullifies the other’s. So the only place where action can take place is on the ground. And the white man can’t win another war fighting on the ground. Those days are over. The black man knows it, the brown man knows it, the red man knows it, and the yellow man knows it. So they engage him in guerrilla warfare. That’s not his style. You’ve got to have heart to be a guerrilla warrior, and he hasn’t got any heart.
- It takes heart to be a guerrilla warrior because you’re on your own. In conventional warfare you have tanks and a whole lot of other people with you to back you up—planes over your head and all that kind of stuff. But a guerrilla is on his own. All you have is a rifle, some sneakers and a bowl of rice, and that’s all you need—and a lot of heart.
- The political philosophy of black nationalism means that the black man should control the politics and the politicians in his own community; no more. The black man in the black community has to be re-educated into the science of politics so he will know what politics is supposed to bring him in return. Don’t be throwing out any ballots. A ballot is like a bullet. You don’t throw your ballots until you see a target, and if that target is not within your reach, keep your ballot in your pocket.
- Black people are fed up with the dillydallying, pussyfooting, compromising approach that we’ve been using toward getting our freedom. We want freedom now, but we’re not going to get it saying “We Shall Overcome.” We’ve got to fight until we overcome.
- The philosophy of black nationalism involves a re-education program in the black community in regards to economics. Our people have to be made to see that any time you take your dollar out of your community and spend it in a community where you don’t live, the community where you live will get poorer and poorer, and the community where you spend your money will get richer and richer. [...] If we own the stores, if we operate the businesses, if we try and establish some industry in our own community, then we’re developing to the position where we are creating employment for our own kind. Once you gain control of the economy of your own community, then you don’t have to picket and boycott and beg some cracker downtown for a job in his business.
- Don’t change the white man’s mind—you can’t change his mind, and that whole thing about appealing to the moral conscience of America—America’s conscience is bankrupt. She lost all conscience a long time ago. Uncle Sam has no conscience. They don’t know what morals are. They don’t try and eliminate an evil because it’s evil, or because it’s illegal, or because it’s immoral; they eliminate it only when it threatens their existence. So you’re wasting your time appealing to the moral conscience of a bankrupt man like Uncle Sam. If he had a conscience, he’d straighten this thing out with no more pressure being put upon him. So it is not necessary to change the white man’s mind.
- If it doesn't take senators and congressmen and presidential proclamations to give freedom to the white man, it is not necessary for legislation or proclamation or Supreme Court decisions to give freedom to the Black man. You let that white man know, if this is a country of freedom, let it be a country of freedom; and if it's not a country of freedom, change it.
- A segregated school system produces children who, when they graduate, graduate with crippled minds. But this does not mean that a school is segregated because it’s all black. A segregated school means a school that is controlled by people who have no real interest in it whatsoever. Let me explain what I mean. A segregated district or community is a community in which people live, but outsiders control the politics and the economy of that community. They never refer to the white section as a segregated community. It’s the all-Negro section that’s a segregated community. Why? The white man controls his own school, his own bank, his own economy, his own politics, his own everything, his own community; but he also controls yours. When you’re under someone else’s control, you’re segregated.
- Last but not least, I must say this concerning the great controversy over rifles and shotguns. The only thing that I’ve ever said is that in areas where the government has proven itself either unwilling or unable to defend the lives and the property of Negroes, it’s time for Negroes to defend themselves. Article number two of the constitutional amendments provides you and me the right to own a rifle or a shotgun. It is constitutionally legal to own a shotgun or a rifle. This doesn’t mean you’re going to get a rifle and form battalions and go out looking for white folks, although you’d be within your rights—I mean, you’d be justified; but that would be illegal and we don’t do anything illegal. If the white man doesn’t want the black man buying rifles and shotguns, then let the government do its job. [...] If he’s not going to do his job in running the government and providing you and me with the protection that our taxes are supposed to be for, since he spends all those billions for his defense budget, he certainly can’t begrudge you and me spending $12 or $15 for a single-shot, or double-action. I hope you understand. Don’t go out shooting people, but any time—brothers and sisters, and especially the men in this audience; some of you wearing Congressional Medals of Honor, with shoulders this wide, chests this big, muscles that big—any time you and I sit around and read where they bomb a church and murder in cold blood, not some grownups, but four little girls while they were praying to the same God the white man taught them to pray to, and you and I see the government go down and can’t find who did it.
- Lyndon B. Johnson is the head of the Democratic Party. If he’s for civil rights, let him go into the Senate next week and declare himself. Let him go in there right now and declare himself. Let him go in there and denounce the Southern branch of his party. Let him go in there right now and take a moral stand—right now, not later. Tell him don’t wait until election time. If he waits too long, brothers and sisters, he will be responsible for letting a condition develop in this country which will create a climate that will bring seeds up out of the ground with vegetation on the end of them looking like something these people never dreamed of. In 1964, it’s the ballot or the bullet.
Speech in Detroit, Michigan (April 12, 1964)
- Adam Clayton Powell is a Christian minister, he’s the head of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, but at the same time, he’s more famous for his political struggling. And Dr. King is a Christian Minister, in Atlanta, Georgia, but he’s become more famous for being involved in the civil rights struggle. There’s another in New York, Reverend Galamison, I don’t know if you’ve heard of him out here. He’s a Christian Minister from Brooklyn, but has become famous for his fight against a segregated school system in Brooklyn. Reverend Clee, right here, is a Christian Minister, here in Detroit. He’s the head of the Freedom Now Party. All of these are Christian Ministers, but they don’t come to us as Christian Ministers. They come to us as fighters in some other category. I’m a Muslim minister the same as they are Christian Ministers I’m a Muslim minister. And I don’t believe in fighting today in any one front, but on all fronts. In fact, I’m a black Nationalist Freedom Fighter.
- Islam is my religion, but I believe my religion is my personal business. It governs my personal life, my personal morals. And my religious philosophy is personal between me and the God in whom I believe; just as the religious philosophy of these others is between them and the God in whom they believe. And this is best this way. Were we to come out here discussing religion, we’d have too many differences from the outstart and we could never get together. [...] If we bring up religion, we’ll be in an argument, and the best way to keep away from arguments and differences, as I said earlier, put your religion at home in the closet. Keep it between you and your God. Because if it hasn’t done anything more for you than it has, you need to forget it anyway.
- As I say, if we bring up religion we’ll have differences; we’ll have arguments; and we’ll never be able to get together.
- 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.
- The political, the economic philosophy of Black Nationalism only means that we have to become involved in a program of re-education to educate our people into the importance of knowing that when you spend your dollar out of the community in which you live, the community in which you spend your money becomes richer and richer; the community out of which you take your money becomes poorer and poorer.
- So our people not only have to be re-educated to the importance of supporting black business, but the black man himself has to be made aware of the importance of going into business. And once you and I go into business, we own and operate at least the businesses in our community. What we will be doing is developing a situation wherein we will actually be able to create employment for the people in the community. And once you can create some employment in the community where you live it will eliminate the necessity of you and me having to act ignorantly and disgracefully, boycotting and picketing some place else trying to beg him for a job. Anytime you have to rely upon your enemy for a job you’re in bad shape.
- Whether you are a Christian, or a Muslim, or a Nationalist, we all have the same problem. They don’t hang you because you’re a Baptist; they hang you ‘cause you’re black. They don’t attack me because I’m a Muslim; they attack me ‘cause I’m black. They attack all of us for the same reason -- all of us catch hell from the same enemy. We’re all in the same bag, in the same boat. We suffer political oppression, economic exploitation, and social degradation all of them from the same enemy.
- The government has failed us; you can’t deny that. Anytime you live in the twentieth century, 1964, and you’re walking around here singing “We Shall Overcome,” the government has failed us. This is part of what’s wrong with you -- you do too much singing. Today it’s time to stop singing and start swinging. You can’t sing up on freedom, but you can swing up on some freedom. Cassius Clay can sing, but singing didn’t help him to become the heavyweight champion of the world; swinging helped him become the heavyweight champion.
- Once you change your philosophy, you change your thought pattern. Once you change your thought pattern, you change your — your attitude. Once you change your attitude, it changes your behavior pattern and then you go on into some action. As long as you gotta sit-down philosophy, you’ll have a sit-down thought pattern, and as long as you think that old sit-down thought you’ll be in some kind of sit-down action.
- And 1964 looks like it might be the year of the ballot or the bullet. Why does it look like it might be the year of the ballot or the bullet? Because Negroes have listened to the trickery, and the lies, and the false promises of the white man now for too long. And they’re fed up. They’ve become disenchanted. They’ve become disillusioned. They’ve become dissatisfied, and all of this has built up frustrations in the black community that makes the black community throughout today more explosive than all of the atomic bombs the Russians can ever invent. Whenever you got a racial powder keg sitting in your lap, you’re in more trouble than if you had an atomic powder keg sitting in your lap. When a racial powder keg goes off, it doesn’t care who it knocks out the way. Understand this, it’s dangerous.
- When this country here was first being founded there were 13 colonies. The whites were colonized. They were fed up with this taxation without representation, so some of them stood up and said “Liberty or death.” Though I went to a white school over here in Mason, Michigan, the white man made the mistake of letting me read his history books. He made the mistake of teaching me that Patrick Henry was a patriot, and George Washington -- wasn’t nothing nonviolent about old Pat or George Washington. “Liberty or death” was what brought about the freedom of whites in this country from the English. They didn’t care about the odds. Why they faced the wrath of the entire British Empire. And in those days they used to say that the British Empire was so vast and so powerful when the sun would never set on them. This is how big it was, yet these 13 little, scrawny states, tired of taxation without representation, tired of being exploited and oppressed and degraded, told that big British Empire “Liberty or death.”
And here you have 22 million Afro-American black people today catching more hell than Patrick Henry ever saw. And I’m here to tell you, in case you don’t know it, that you got a new generation of black people in this country who don’t care anything whatsoever about odds. They don’t want to hear you old Uncle Tom handkerchief heads talking about the odds. No. This is a new generation. If they’re gonna draft these young black men and send them over to Korea or South Vietnam to face 800 million Chinese — if you’re not afraid of those odds, you shouldn’t be afraid of these odds.
- I’m no politician. I’m not even a student of politics. I’m not a Republican, nor a Democrat, nor an American, and got sense enough to know it. I’m one of the 22 million black victims of the Democrats, one of the 22 million black victims of the Republicans, and one of the 22 million black victims of Americanism. And when I speak, I don’t speak as a Democrat, or a Republican, or an American. I speak as a victim of America’s so-called democracy. You and I have never seen democracy; all we’ve seen is hypocrisy. When we open our eyes today and look around America, we see America not through the eyes of someone who have who has enjoyed the fruits of Americanism, we see through the eyes of someone who has been the victim of Americanism. We don’t see any American dream; we’ve experienced only the American nightmare. We haven’t benefited from Americas democracy; we’ve only suffered from America’s hypocrisy. And the generation that’s coming up now can see it and are not afraid to say it.
- A fox and a wolf are both canine, both belong to the dog family. Now you take your choice. You going to choose a Northern dog or a Southern dog? Because either dog you choose, I guarantee you’ll still be in the dog house.
This is why I say it’s the ballot or the bullet. It’s liberty or it’s death. It’s freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody.
- Historically, revolutions are bloody. Oh, yes, they are. They haven’t never had a bloodless revolution, or a nonviolent revolution. That don’t happen even in Hollywood. You don’t have a revolution in which you love your enemy, and you don’t have a revolution in which you are begging the system of exploitation to integrate you into it. Revolutions overturn systems. Revolutions destroy systems.
- A revolution is bloody, but America is in a unique position. She’s the only country in history in a position actually to become involved in a bloodless revolution. The Russian revolution was bloody, Chinese revolution was bloody, French revolution was bloody, Cuban revolution was bloody, and there was nothing more bloody then the American Revolution. But today this country can become involved in a revolution that won’t take bloodshed. All she’s got to do is give the black man in this country everything that’s due him, everything.
I hope that the white man can see this, ‘cause if he don’t see it, you’re finished. If you don’t see it you’re going to become involved in some action in which you don’t have a chance. And we don’t care anything about your atomic bomb; it’s useless because other countries have atomic bombs. When two or three different countries have atomic bombs, nobody can use them, so it means that the white man today is without a weapon. If you want some action, you gotta come on down to Earth. And there’s more black people on Earth than there are white people on Earth. The white man can never win another war on the ground. His days of war, victory, his reign, his days of ground victory are over.
- Today our people can see that we’re faced with a government conspiracy. This government has failed us. The senators who are filibustering concerning your and my rights, that’s the government. Don’t say it’s Southern senators. This is the government; this is a government filibuster. It’s not a segregationist filibuster. It’s a government filibuster. Any kind of activity that takes place on the floor of the Congress or the Senate, it’s the government. Any kind of dillydallying, that’s the government. Any kind of pussyfooting, that’s the government. Any kind of act that’s designed to delay or deprive you and me right now of getting full rights, that’s the government that’s responsible. And any time you find the government involved in a conspiracy to violate the citizenship or the civil rights of a people, then you are wasting your time going to that government expecting redress. Instead, you have to take that government to the World Court and accuse it of genocide and all of the other crimes that it is guilty of today.
- So those of us whose political, and economic, and social philosophy is black nationalism have become involved in the civil rights struggle. We have injected ourselves into the civil rights struggle, and we intend to expand it from the level of civil rights to the level of human rights. As long as you’re fighting on the level of civil rights, you’re under Uncle Sam’s jurisdiction. You’re going to his court expecting him to correct the problem. He created the problem. He’s the criminal. You don’t take your case to the criminal; you take your criminal to court.
- So our next move is to take the entire civil rights struggle problems into the United Nations, and let the world see that Uncle Sam is guilty of violating the human rights of 22 million Afro-Americans...
Uncle Sam . . . and still has the audacity or the nerve to stand up and represent himself as the leader of the free world. Not only is he a crook, he’s a hypocrite. Here he is standing up in front of other people, Uncle Sam, with the blood of your and my mothers and fathers on his hands, with the blood dripping down his jaws like a bloody-jawed wolf, and still got the nerve to point his finger at other countries. You can’t even get civil rights legislation. And this man has got the nerve to stand up and talk about South Africa, or talk about Nazi Germany, or talk about Deutschland.
- It’ll be the ballot or it’ll be the bullet. It’ll be liberty or it’ll be death. And if you’re not ready to pay that price don’t use the word freedom in your vocabulary.
Malcolm X on Zionism (1964)
- The modern 20th century weapon of neo-imperialism is "dollarism." The Zionists have mastered the science of dollarism: the ability to come posing as a friend and benefactor, bearing gifts and all other forms of economic aid and offers of technical assistance. Thus, the power and influence of Zionist Israel in many of the newly "independent" African nations has fast-become even more unshakeable than that of the 18th century European colonialists... and this new kind of Zionist colonialism differs only in form and method, but never in motive or objective.
- Zionist Israel's occupation of Arab Palestine has forced the Arab world to waste billions of precious dollars on armaments, making it impossible for these newly independent Arab nations to concentrate on strengthening the economies of their countries and elevate the living standard of their people.
- "They cripple the bird's wing, and then condemn it for not flying as fast as they."
- Did the Zionists have the legal or moral right to invade Arab Palestine, uproot its Arab citizens from their homes and seize all Arab property for themselves just based on the "religious" claim that their forefathers lived there thousands of years ago? Only a thousand years ago the Moors lived in Spain. Would this give the Moors of today the legal and moral right to invade the Iberian Peninsula, drive out its Spanish citizens, and then set up a new Moroccan nation ... where Spain used to be, as the European zionists have done to our Arab brothers and sisters in Palestine?...
The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965)
- You trust them (white Americans), and I don't. You studied what he wanted you to learn about him in schools. I studied him in the streets and in prison, where you see the truth.
- The next day I was in my car driving along the freeway when at a red light another car pulled alongside. A white woman was driving and on the passenger's side, next to me, was a white man. "Malcolm X!" he called out-and when I looked, he stuck his hand out of his car, across at me, grinning. "Do you mind shaking hands with a white man?" Imagine that! Just as the traffic light turned green, I told him, "I don't mind shaking hands with human beings. Are you one?" Pg. 418
- They call me "a teacher, a fomenter of violence." I would say point blank, "That is a lie. I'm not for wanton violence, I'm for justice." I feel that if white people were attacked by Negroes — if the forces of law prove unable, or inadequate, or reluctant to protect those whites from those Negroes — then those white people should protect and defend themselves from those Negroes, using arms if necessary. And I feel that when the law fails to protect Negroes from whites' attacks, then those Negroes should use arms if necessary to defend themselves. "Malcolm X advocates armed Negroes!" What was wrong with that? I'll tell you what's wrong. I was a black man talking about physical defense against the white man. The white man can lynch and burn and bomb and beat Negroes — that's all right: "Have patience"..."The customs are entrenched"..."Things will get better."
- To me the earth's most explosive and pernicious evil is racism, the inability of God's creatures to live as One, especially in the Western world.
- I told the Englishman that my alma mater was books, a good library. Every time I catch a plane, I have with me a book that I want to read—and that’s a lot of books these days. If I weren’t out here every day battling the white man, I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity—because you can hardly mention anything I’m not curious about.
- Any time you see someone more successful than you are, they are doing something you aren't.
- Since I learned the truth in Mecca, my dearest friends have come to include all kinds — some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists! I have friends who are called capitalists, Socialists, and Communists! Some of my friends are moderates, conservatives, extremists — some are even Uncle Toms! My friends today are black, brown, red, yellow, and white!
- p. 375
- I've had enough of someone else's propaganda. I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against. I'm a human being first and foremost, and as such I am for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.
- p. 400
- People don't realize how a man's whole life can be changed by one book.
- p. 400
- The young whites, and blacks, too, are the only hope that America has, the rest of us have always been living in a lie.
- Quoted by Alex Haley, after a college campus speech, in the epilogue to The Autobiography.
Malcolm X Speaks (1965)
- Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements (1965) edited by George Breitman
- You can't separate peace from freedom, because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.
- Speech in New York City (7 January 1965)
- 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.
- p. 8
- The field Negro was beaten from morning to night; he lived in a shack, in a hut; he wore old, castoff clothes. He hated his master. I say he hated his master. He was intelligent. That house Negro loved his master, but that field Negro — remember, they were in the majority, and they hated the master. When the house caught on fire, he didn't try to put it out; that field Negro prayed for a wind, for a breeze. When the master got sick, the field Negro prayed that he'd die. If someone came to the field Negro and said, "Let's separate, let's run," he didn't say, "Where we going?" He'd say, "Any place is better than here."
- Speech (9 November 1963). p. 11.
- Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.
- p. 12
- The political philosophy of black nationalism means: we must control the politics and the politicians of our community.
- p. 21
- The problem facing our people here in America is bigger than all other personal or organizational differences. Therefore as leaders, we must stop worrying about the threat we seem to think we pose to each other's personal prestige; and concentrate our united efforts towards solving the unending hurt that is being done daily to our people here in America.
- p. 21
- Concerning non-violence: it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.
- p. 22
- Usually, when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change. When they get angry, they aren't interested in logic, aren't interested in odds, aren't interested in consequences. When they get angry, they realize the condition that they’re in- that their suffering is unjust… and that anything they do to correct it… they’re justified.
- Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it.
- p. 111
- You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.
- p. 148
- Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression.
- p. 158
- In Asia or the Arab world or in Africa, where the Muslims are, if you find one who says he's white, all he's doing is using an adjective to describe something that is incidental about him…. There is nothing else to it. He's just white. But when you get the white man over here in America and he says he's white, he means something else. You can listen to the sound of his voice when he says he's white. He means he's boss.
- p. 163
- Usually the black racist has been produced by the white racist. In most cases where you see it, it is the reaction to white racism, and if you analyze it closely, it's not really black racism... If we react to white racism with a violent reaction, to me that's not black racism. If you come to put a rope around my neck and I hang you for it, to me that's not racism. Yours is racism, but my reaction has nothing to do with racism...
- On the difference between white racism and black racism. Harvard Law School Forum. December 16, 1964, p. 195-96
- It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it's more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody's blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It's only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely….
- March 1965, p. 199
- I do believe that there will be a clash between East and West. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don't think that it will be based upon the color of the skin….
- January 1965, p. 216
- You put the government on the spot when you even mention Vietnam. They feel embarrassed — you notice that?... It's just a trap that they let themselves get into. ... But they're trapped, they can't get out. You notice I said 'they.' They are trapped, They can't get out. If they pour more men in, they'll get deeper. If they pull the men out, it's a defeat. And they should have known that in the first place. France had about 200,000 Frenchmen over there, and the most highly mechanized modern army sitting on this earth. And those little rice farmers ate them up, and their tanks, and everything else. Yes, they did, and France was deeply entrenched, had been there a hundred or more years. Now, if she couldn't stay there and was entrenched, why, you are out of your mind if you think Sam can get in over there. But we're not supposed to say that. If we say that, we're anti-American, or we're seditious, or we're subversive…. They put Diem over there. Diem took all their money, all their war equipment and everything else, and got them trapped. Then they killed him. Yes, they killed him, murdered him in cold blood, him and his brother, Madame Nhu's husband, because they were embarrassed. They found out that they had made him strong and he was turning against them…. You know, when the puppet starts talking back to the puppeteer, the puppeteer is in bad shape….
- January 1965, p. 217
- You can't have capitalism without racism.
- There is nothing in our book, the Qur'an, 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 lays a hand on you, send him to the cemetery. That's a good religion.
- This was said before Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam and as he himself stated, before he truly understood Islam.
- Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it.
- Power never takes a back step — only in the face of more power.
- Sitting at the table doesn't make you a diner, unless you eat some of what's on that plate. Being here in America doesn't make you an American. Being born here in America doesn't make you an American.
- Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it's against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it's against the oppressor. You don't need anything else.
- Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.
- If you're afraid of black nationalism, you're afraid of revolution. And if you love revolution, you love black nationalism. To understand this, you have to go back to what the young brother here referred to as the house Negro and the field Negro back during slavery. There were two kinds of slaves, the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes — they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good because they ate his food — what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved the master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master's house — quicker than the master would. If the master said, "We got a good house here," the house Negro would say, "Yeah, we got a good house here." Whenever the master said "we," he said "we." That's how you can tell a house Negro.
- If the master's house caught on fire, the house Negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master got sick, the house Negro would say, "What's the matter, boss, we sick?" We sick! He identified himself with his master, more than his master identified with himself. And if you came to the house Negro and said, "Let's run away, let's escape, let's separate," the house Negro would look at you and say, "Man, you crazy. What you mean, separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?" That was that house Negro. In those days he was called a "house nigger." And that's what we call them today, because we've still got some house niggers running around here.
- This modern house Negro loves his master. He wants to live near him. He'll pay three times as much as the house is worth just to live near his master, and then brag about "I'm the only Negro out here." "I'm the only one on my job." "I'm the only one in this school." You're nothing but a house Negro. And if someone comes to you right now and says, "Let's separate," you say the same thing that the house Negro said on the plantation. "What you mean, separate? From America, this good white man? Where you going to get a better job than you get here?" I mean, this is what you say. "I ain't left nothing in Africa," that's what you say. Why, you left your mind in Africa.
- On that same plantation, there was the field Negro. The field Negroes — those were the masses. There were always more Negroes in the field than there were Negroes in the house. The Negro in the field caught hell. He ate leftovers. In the house they ate high up on the hog. The Negro in the field didn't get anything but what was left of the insides of the hog.
By any means necessary: speeches, interviews, and a letter (1970)
- We have formed an organization known as the Organization of Afro-American Unity which has the same aim and objective to fight whoever gets in our way, to bring about the complete independence of people of African descent here in the Western Hemisphere, and first here in the United States, and bring about the freedom of these people by any means necessary.
That's our motto. We want freedom by any means necessary. We want justice by any means necessary. We want equality by any means necessary.
- Speech at Founding Rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (28 June 1964)
- Variant: We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.
- As quoted in By Any Means Necessary (1970)
- Education is an important element in the struggle for human rights. It is the means to help our children and our people rediscover their identity and thereby increase their self respect. Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today.
- Speech at Founding Rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (28 June 1964), as quoted in By Any Means Necessary (1970)
- Armed with the knowledge of our past, we can with confidence charter a course for our future. Culture is an indispensable weapon in the freedom struggle. We must take hold of it and forge the future with the past.
- Speech at Founding Rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (28 June 1964), as quoted in By Any Means Necessary (1970)
- How can anyone be against love?
- I believe in a religion that believes in freedom. Any time I have to accept a religion that won't let me fight a battle for my people, I say to hell with that religion.
- I am not a racist. I am against every form of racism and segregation, every form of discrimination. I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color.
- Interview (January 1965?)
- If you're not ready to die for it, take the word "freedom" out of your vocabulary.
- Chicago Defender (28 November 1962)
- America has a very serious problem. Not only does America have a very serious problem, but our people have a very serious problem. America's problem is us. We're her problem. The only reason she has a problem is she doesn't want us here.
- Statement in Detroit, Michigan (10 November 1963)
- I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don't believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn't want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I'm not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn't know how to return the treatment.
- Speech, New York City (12 December 1964)
- I believe in recognizing every human being as a human being, neither white, black, brown nor red. When you are dealing with humanity as one family, there's no question of integration or intermarriage. It's just one human being marrying another human being, or one human being living around and with another human being.
- Interview for the Pierre Berton Show. Toronto, Ontario, (19 January 1965)
- This is to warn you that I am no longer held in check from fighting white supremacists by Elijah Muhammad's separatist Black Muslim movement, and that if your present racist agitation against our people there in Alabama causes physical harm to Reverend King or any other black Americans who are only attempting to enjoy their rights as free human beings, that you and your Ku Klux Klan friends will be met with maximum physical retaliation from those of us who are not hand-cuffed by the disarming philosophy of nonviolence, and who believe in asserting our right of self-defense — by any means necessary.
- Telegram sent to George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party, during Rockwell's "Hate Bus" tour of the Southern US States, 1965. Quoted in an interview on January 24, 1965 and printed in Malcolm X and George Breitman, Malcolm X Speaks: selected speeches and statements, (New York: Grove Press, 1990) 201.
- It is a time for martyrs now, and if I am to be one, it will be for the cause of brotherhood. That's the only thing that can save this country.
- Speech in New York City (19 February 1965), two days before he was assassinated.
- If a dog is biting a black man, the black man should kill the dog, whether the dog is a police dog or a hound dog or any kind of dog. If a dog is fixed on a black man when that black man is doing nothing but trying to take advantage of what the government says is supposed to be his, then that black man should kill that dog or any two-legged dog who sets the dog on him.
- "Malcolm X: Make It Plain," from The American Experience, season 6, episode 6, PBS (first aired 26 January 1994)
- In the past, yes, I have made sweeping indictments of all white people. I will never be guilty of that again — as I know now that some white people are truly sincere, that some truly are capable of being brotherly toward a black man. The true Islam has shown me that a blanket indictment of all white people is as wrong as when whites make blanket indictments against blacks.
- As quoted in Malcolm X: The Seeker of Justice (2003); also quoted at "Malcolm X - An Islamic Perspective"
- Allah has blessed us. He has destroyed twenty-two of our enemies.
- Quoted in Julius Lester, "Look Out, Whitey!" New York: Dial Press, 1968. p.138
- You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.
- Quoted by William B. Whitman, The Quotable Politician p. 197
- I want Dr. King to know that I didn't come to Selma to make his job difficult. I really did come thinking I could make it easier. If the white people realize what the alternative is, perhaps they will be more willing to hear Dr. King.
- Malcolm X, in conversation with Coretta Scott King (February 1965), as quoted in My life with MLK, Jr. (1969), page 256
- Don't be in such a hurry to condemn a person because he doesn't do what you do, or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn't know what you know today.
- Quoted by Maya Angelou (quote reproduced in James L. Conyers, Andrew P. Smallwood, Malcolm X: A Historical Reader, Carolina Academic Press, 2008, p. 181 and Elaine Slivinski Lisandrelli, Maya Angelou: More than a poet, Enslow Publishers, 1996, p. 90)
About Malcolm X
- The die is set, and Malcolm shall not escape, especially after such evil foolish talk about his benefactor, Elijah Muhammad. Such a man as Malcolm is worthy of death.
- Louis X (Louis Farrakhan) in Muhammad Speaks (4 December 1964)
- Over the years considerable thought has been given, and action taken with Bureau approval, relating to methods through which the [Nation of Islam] could be discredited in the eyes of the general black populace or through which factionalism among the leadership could be created.… Factional disputes have been developed - the most notable being MALCOLM X LITTLE.
- FBI Special Agent Marlin Johnson in memorandum "Counterintelligence Program / Black Nationalist – Hate Groups" (22 January 1969)
- CBC Television Interview
- The Official Web Site of Malcolm X
- Full audio of Malcolm X speeches
- Text and Audio of Ballot or Bullet Speech from AmericanRhetoric.com
- Text of a letter written following his Hajj is given at Wikisource.
- Interview with UC Berkeley sociologist Herman Blake, 1963 (video)
- Minister Louis Farrakhan on the murder of Malcolm X, Malcolm X College, 1990 (video)
- Ancestry of Malcolm X
- A Malcom X media page
- Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) United States Postage Stamp
- Malcolm X Gravesite
- Malcolm X Reloaded: Who Really Assassinated Malcolm X
- Malcolm X on City Desk
- Lessons from Malcolm X: Freedom By Any Means Necessary
- Malcolm X : A Research Site Abdul Alkalimat, ed. Launched May 19, 1999. University of Toledo and Twenty-first Century Books.
- malcolm-x.org. seeks to present Malcolm X within an Islamic context. Retrieved May 19, 2005.
- Malcolm X: Make It Plain. Documentary
- Malcolm X Reference Archive. Sound files of speeches The Ballot or the Bullet, Democrats are Dixiecrats, et al. Marxist Internet Archive. Retrieved May 19, 2005.
- Malcolm X Project. Project of the Center for Contemporary Black History at Columbia University. Retrieved May 19, 2005.
- Malcolm X's FBI file
- Malcolm X - An Islamic Perspective
- Malcolm X : A Profile by Det Danske Koranselskab
Articles and reports
- Frazier, Martin. Harlem celebrates Malcolm X birthday. People's Weekly World. May 26, 2005.
- Democracy Now!. Malcolm X: Make it Plain transcript. Excerpts of the documentary, "Malcolm X: Make it Plain". Segment available via streaming Real Audio, 128k streaming Real Video, or via MP3 download from Archive.org. 37:23 minutes. Hosted by Amy Goodman. Broadcast May 19, 2005.
- Waldron, Clarence. Minister Louis Farrakhan Sets The Record Straight About His Relationship With Malcolm X. Jet Magazine. Interview, June 5, 2000. Retrieved May 19, 2005.
- M, Yahyá. The name Shabazz: Where did it come from?. Revised from Islamic Studies vol. 32 no.1, Spring 1993. p. 73-76. Retrieved May 19, 2005.