Black History

* Malcolm X



  Elke Moritz  
  Last updated:
  Apr.28, 1998

Malcolm X Quotes

On this page you will find a selection of Malcolm X quotes from speeches, interviews and books. At the end, there are even a few quotes concerning the relationship between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, jr.
Since this page is too long already, here are a few other resources in plain text (or postscript):

I'm the man you think you are.... If you want to know what I'll do, figure out what you'll do. I'll do the same thing--only more of it.
Malcolm X, Source unknown
Who ever heard of angry revolutionists all harmonizing "We shall overcome ... Suum Day.. ." while tripping and swaying along arm-in-arm with the very people they were supposed to be angrily revolting against ? Who ever heard of angry revolutionists swinging their bar e feet together with their oppressor in lily-pad park pools, with gospels and guitars and "I have a dream" speeches ? And the black masses in America were - and still are - having a nightmare.
Malcolm X, Source unknown
I for one believe that if you give people a thorough understanding of what confronts them and the basic causes that produce it, they'll create their own program, and when the people create a program, you get action.
Malcolm X, (taken from the essay 'Malcolm X, our revolutionary son & brother.' by Patricia Robinson)
I might point out here that colonialism or imperialism, as the slave system of the West is called, is not something that is just confined to England or France or the United States. The interests in this country are in cahoots with the interests in France and the in terests in Britain. It's one huge complex or combine, and it creates what's known not as the American power structure or the French power structure, but an international power st ructure. This international power structure is used to suppress the masses of dark-skinned people all over the world and exploit them of their natural resources.
Malcolm X, February 14, 1965 (taken from the essay 'Malcolm X, our revolutionary son & brother.' by Patricia Robinson)
If you're not ready to die for it, put the word "freedom" out of your vocabulary.
Malcolm X, Chicago Defender, 28. Nov. 1962
I feel like a man who has been asleep somewhat and under someone else's control. I feel that what I'm thinking and saying is now for myself. Before it was for and by the guidance of Elijah Muhammad. Now I think with my own mind, sir !
Malcolm X, New York Times , February 22, 1965 (taken from the essay 'Malcolm X, our revolutionary son & brother.' by Patricia Robinson)
The white man knows what a revolution is. He knows that the Black Revolution is worldwid e in scope and in nature. The Black Revolution is sweeping Asia, is sweeping Africa, is rearing its head in Latin America. The Cuban Revolution - that's a revolution. They overturned the system. Revolution is in Asia, revolution is in Africa, and the whit man is screaming because he sees revolution in Latin America. How do you think he'll react to you wh en you learn what a real revolution is ?
Malcolm X, November 9, 1963 (taken from the essay 'Malcolm X, our revolutionary son & brother.' by Patricia Robinson)
The thing that you have to understand about those of us in the Black Muslim movement was that all of us believed 100 per cent in the divinity of Elijah Muhammad. We believed in him. We actually believed that God, in Detroit by the way, that God had taught him and all of that. I always believed that he believed in himself. And I was shocked when I found out that he himself didn't believe it. And when that shock reached me, then I began t o look everywhere else and try to get a better understanding of the things that confront all of us so that we can get together in some kind of way to offset them.
Malcolm X, February 14, 1965 (taken from the essay 'Malcolm X, our revolutionary son & brother.' by Patricia Robinson)
One of the things that made the Black Muslim movement grow was its emphasis upon things African. This was the secret to the growth of the Black Muslim movement. African blood, African origin, African culture, African ties. And you'd be surprised - we discovered tha t deep within the subconscious of the black man in this country , he is still more African than he is American.
Malcolm X, February 14, 1965 (taken from the essay 'Malcolm X, our revolutionary son & brother.' by Patricia Robinson)
Look at yourselves. Some of you teen-agers, students. How do you think I feel and I belo ng to a generation ahead of you - how do you think I feel to have to tell you, "We, my ge neration, sat around like a knot on a wall while the whole world was fighting for its hum an rights - and you've got to be born into a society where you still have that same fight ." What did we do, who preceded you ? I'll tell you what we did. Nothing. And don't you m ake the same mistake we made. ...
Malcolm X, December 31, 1964 (taken from the essay 'Malcolm X, our revolutionary son & brother.' by Patricia Robinson)
I think that an objective analysis of events that are taking place on this earth today points towards some type of ultimate showdown. You can call it political showdown, or even a showdown between the economic systems that exist on this earth which almost boil down along racial lines. I do believe that there will be a clash between East and West. I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. 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.
Malcolm X, January 19, 1965 (taken from the essay 'Malcolm X, our revolutionary son & brother.' by Patricia Robinson)
He got the peace prize, we got the problem. ... If I'm following a general, and he's leading me into a battle, and the enemy tends to give him rewards, or awards, I get suspicious of him. Especially if he gets a peace award before the war is over.
Malcolm X, after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize, source unknown
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.
Malcolm X, NYC, 19 February 1965
The price of freedom is death.
Malcolm X, NYC, June 1964
Respect me, or put me to death.
Malcolm X, NYC, 5 July 1964
All of us are black first, and everything else second.
Malcolm X,"God's angry men", WO, 31 May 1958 (FBI files 105-8999-788)
He taught me that I was more than a Little Black Sambo or kinky hair or nigger.
a Harlem woman about Malcolm X, Marlene Nadle, "Burying Malcolm X", Village Voice, 4March 1965, p. 10
It is incorrect to classify the revolt of the Negro as simply a radical conflict of black against white or as a purely American problem. Rather, we are today seeing a global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiter.
Malcolm X, Columbia University, Columbia Daily Spectator, 19 Feb. 1965, p.3
What made Malcolm X Shabazz a great man, is that he had the guts to say what nine-tenths of American Negroes would like to say but don't have the guts to say.
a Chicago doctor, Militant, 19 April 1965, p.2
Without education, you're not going anywhere in this world.
Malcolm X, speech at Militant Labor Forum, NY, 29 May 1964, in By any means necessary, p. 178
If you're not ready to die for it, put the word "freedom" out of your vocabulary.
Malcolm X, Chicago Defender, 28 Nov. 1962, p.8
For 12 long years I lived within the narrow.minded confines of the "straightjacket world" created by my strong belief that Elijah Muhammad was a messenger direct from God Himself, and my faith in what I now see to be a pseudo-religious philosophy that he preaches. . . . I shall never rest until I have undone the harm I did to so many well-meaning, innocent Negroes who through my own evangelistic zeal now believe in him even more fanatically and more blindly than I did.
Malcolm X, in a letter from Mecca to a friend, NYT, 4 Oct 1964, p.59
When a person places the proper value on freedom, there is nothing under the sun that he will not do to acquire that freedom. Whenever you hear a man saying he wants freedom, but in the next breath he is going to tell you what he won't do to get it, or what he doesn't believe in doing in order to get it, he doesn't believe in freedom. A man who believes in freedom will do anything under the sun to acquire . . . or preserve his freedom.
Malcolm X, OAAU, "Homecoming" speech, 29 Nov. 1964, in By any means, p. 141
I would like to point something out so that we'll understand each other better. I d on't want you to think in the statements I made that I'm being disrespectful towards you as white people. I'm being frank. And I think that my statements will give you a better i nsight on the mind of a black man than most statements you get from most people who call themselves Negroes, who usually tell you what they want you to hear with the hope . . . that will make them draw closer to you and create a better possibility of getting from you some of the crumbs that you might let fall from your table. Well, I'm not looking for cr umbs so I'm not trying to delude you.
Malcolm X, at Boston University, 24 May 1960
You're the one that the book [Bible] is talking about who is dead : dead to the kno wledge of yourself, dead to the knowledge of your own people, dead to the knowledge of yo ur own God, dead to the knwoledge of the devil. Why, you don't even know who the devil is . You think the devil is someone inside the ground that's going to burn you after you're dead. The devil is right here on top of this earth. He's got blue eyes, brown hair, whit e skin, and he's giving you hell every day. And you're too dead to see it.
Malcolm X,"Unity Rally" speech, Harlem, 10 Aug. 1963
The same rebellion, the same impatience, the same anger that exists in the hearts of the dark people in Africa and Asia is existing in the hearts and minds of 20 million black people in this country who have been just as thoroughly colonized as the people in Af rica and Asia.
Malcolm X,"Separation or Integration", 7March 1962
The only way we'll get freedom for ourselves is to identify ourselves with every op pressed people in the world. We are blood brothers to the people of Brazil, Venezuela, Haiti, ... Cuba - yes Cuba too.
Malcolm X, Militant, 10 June 1964, p.3
You don't have to be a man to fight for freedom. All you have to do is to be an intelligent human being.
Malcolm X, NYC, 20 Dec. 1964
You show me a capitalist and I'll show you a bloodsucker.
Malcolm X, NYC, 20 Dec. 1964
Asked by an British reporter wether he would accept communist support : "Let me tell you a little story. It's like being in a wolf's den. The wolf sees someone o n the outside who is interested in freeing me from the den. The wolf doesn't like that pe rson on the outside. But I don't care who opens the door and lets me out." "Then your answer is yes?" asked the reporter. "No," Malcolm replied, grinning. "I'm talking about a wolf."
Malcolm X,National Guardian, 21 March 1964, p.4
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, the 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.
Malcolm X, "Young Socialist Interview", in By any means, pp. 165-66
Dr. King wants the same thing I want - freedom !
Malcolm X,with Louis Lomax on Cleveland television station KYW, aire d 4 April 1964, FBI, Muslim Mosque, Inc., (MMI) 100-26888
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 t his day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.
Malcolm X, 28 June 1964 at the OAAU Founding Rally, in By any means necessary, p.56
It is not a case of our people . . . wanting either separation or integration.The u se of these words actually clouds the real picture. The 22 million Afro-Americans don't seek either separation or integration. They seek recognition and respect as human beings.
Malcolm X, "Kup's Show", Channel 7, TV, Chicago, aired 23 May 1964, FBI, MMI 100-41040
I am a Muslim, because it's a religion that teaches you an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. It teaches you to respect everybody, and treat everybody right. But it also teaches you if someone steps on your toe, chop off their foot. And I carry my religious axe with me all the time.
Malcolm X, "Homecoming" speech, 29 Nov. 1964, in By any means, p. 14 0
about his father The image of him that made me proudest was his crusading and militant campaigning with th e words of Marcus Garvey. . . . I can remember hearing . . . "Africa for the Africans," "Ethiopians, Awake!" And my father would talk about how it would not be much longer before Africa would be completely run by Negroes - "by black men," was the phrase he always used. "No one knows when the hour of Africa's redemption cometh. It is in the wind. It is coming. One day, like a storm, it will be there.
Malcolm X, in Kenneth B. Clark, "King, Malcolm, Baldwin : Three Interviews", rev. ed. (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1985), pp. 33-48
Brothers and sisters, the white man has brainwashed us black people to fasten our gaze upon a blondhaired, blue-eyed Jesus! We're worshiping a Jesus that doesn't even look like us! Oh yes! Now just bear with me, listen to the teachings of the Messenger of Allah, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Now just think of this. The blond-haired, blue-eyed white man has taught you and me to worship a white Jesus, and to shout and sing and pray to this God that's his God, the white man's God. The white man has taught us to shout and sing and pray until we die, to wait until death, for some dreamy heaven-in-the-hereafter, when we're dead, while this white man his his milk and honey in the streets paved with golden dollars here on this earth!
Malcolm X, Harlem, June 1954
I, myself, being one who was lost and dead, buried here in the rubbish of the West in the thickest darkness of sin and ignorance (hoodwinked by the false teachings of the Slavemaster)- am able to stand upright today, PERPENDICULAR, on the square with my God (Allah) and my own kind... able for the first time in 400 years to see and hear. ... I bear witness that MESSENGER ELIJAH MUHAMMAD has been taught (raised) by this Great God ALLAH, and today ... is ... teaching us and raising us from the ignorant dead.
Malcolm X,"We have risen from the dead", Pittsburgh Courier, 22 Dec. 1956, magazine section, p.6
We do not condemn the preachers as an individual but we condemn what they teach. We urge that the preachers teach the truth, to teach our people the one important guiding rule of conduct - unity of purpose.
Malcolm X, in a rdio show, before 1963
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.
Malcolm X,to Harlem blacks,in By any means,p. 140
The only difference probably is that the Nation of Islam ... doesn't involve in politics in any form. ... But because of its failure to become actively involved in the struggle..., many persons ... have drifted away from it and are now becoming involved with us in an active effort toward solving the political, social, and economic evils that afflict our people.
Malcolm X, Channel 5, WMBQ-TV, Chicago, transcript of "Dateline Chicago", 31 May 1964, "Black Muslims at the Crossroads"
We're not Americans, we're Africans who happen to be in America. We were kidnapped and brought here against our will from Africa. We didn't land on Plymouth Rock - that rock landed on us.
Malcolm X, Harlem,cited in Goldman,"The Death and Life of Malcolm X", p.157
When you go to a chruch and you see the pastor of that church with a philosophy and a program that's designed to bring black people together and elevate black people, join that church! If you see where the NAACP is preaching and practising that which is designed to make black nationalism materialize, join the NAACP. Join any kind of organization - civic, religious, fraternal, political or otherwise - that's based on lifting ... the black man up and making him master of his own community.
Malcolm X,"The Ballot or the Bullet", Detroit
I had blind faith in him. My faith in Elijah Muhammad was more blind and more uncompromising than any faith that any man has ever had for another man. And so I didn't try and see him as he actually was.
Malcolm X,Audubon Speech, 15 Feb. 1965
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.
Malcolm X,after his journey,perhaps in interview 18 Jan. 1965, in By any means, p. 158
The dangers that confront the black man in America and Africa are very great and serious. These dangers cannot be fought with petty personality attacks, nor will they be fought with pretensions. The emancipation of all black people from white domination, oppression, and exploitation will be fought with revolutionary firmness, determination, dedication, honesty, and integrity. Black leaders cannot mobilize the grass roots to fight their oppression and exploitation while plagued with personal ambitions. We must submerge our past differences and create a unified black movement cutting across the United States and South America with deep roots in African soil. Africans abroad can thus through such a movement exert pressure on their governments in the formation of their foreign policies in regard to Africa. They can also form lobby groups such as other ethnic groups do in Washington to force the United States Government to accept the representation of African-Americans in all organs of government including those in charge of decisions. In short, in order that African-Americans must become free they must first reidentify themsellves with Africa as do Jews, Irish, Germans, and Italians with the respective countries of their origin." The following where his remarks regarding black scholars and their role in the liberation of the African people at home and abroad : "Very often our people have been led to believe that a black man can only be considered an intellectual or scholar if he has been to Oxford University or Harvard University. This is not true. This approach to education has only helped to produce black Europeans out of our educated people and false black scholars who have been a liability to the black race in Africa and America over the period of one hundred years. What is actually meant by theoretical or academic education ? The unity of theoretical education and the application of this wealth of knowledge to the practical requirements and demands of our liberation is a difficult challenge. In a freedom struggle such as the one that exists in Africa and America today the unity of thought and action must be the cornerstone of all of us who desire to work for the total emancipation of the black race. There is a wide superficial tendency among some of our intellectuals that reading quotations from Marx, Lenin, and Mao Tse-Tung can make them masters of revolutionary theories developed by these great men. Intellectualism in my view is not merely the recitation of Marxism, Leninism, and Mao Tse-tung theories. Anyone who goes about misusing the works of these great men or attributing to himself their progressive phrases for his own ends is committing a serious crime against the black race. A scholar in my opnion constitutes a guiding light in a revolutionary period and is the bond that unites the abstract and the concrete.
Malcolm X, Concerning the black leaders and their respective organizations. Statements of Malcolm X in Mosque No. 7, (written down by Mburumba Kerina in "Malcolm X - The Apostle of Defiance - An African View")
about MLK
I'll say nothing against him. At one time the whites in the United States called him a racialist, and extremist, and a Communist. Then the Black Muslims came along and the whites thanked the Lord for Martin Luther King.
Malcolm X, to 300 Islamic students, Manchester Guardian Weekly, 10 Dec. 1964, p.6
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 Coretta Scott King, "My life with MLK,jr.",p. 256
Martin Luther King, Jr. about Malcolm
You know, right before he was killed he came down to Selma and said some pretty passionate things against me, and that surprised me because after all it was my territory there. But afterwards he took my wife aside, and said he thought he could help me more by attacking me than praising me. He thought it would make it easier for me in the long run.
MLK, Halberstam, "Second coming of MLK", p.51