Timeless Teachings: Malcolm X | Favorite Collection of Speeches

For the past few months, I’ve been listening to a shit ton of Malcolm X speeches. Growing up in American’s public school system I was taught to believe Malcolm X was an extremist who believed in violence. I was taught that Malcolm’s philosophy was racist and simply the”wrong way,” to go about change. That Malcolm X shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as Martin Luther King Jr., and that Martin Luther King Jr’s philosophy was the only one that made sense. Of course, now I know that’s all bull shit, but that’s only because I took the time to do my own research. I figured since it’s February why not share some of my favorite quotes from one of my most beloved heroes.

Afro-American History (January 24, 1964)

“And again you’ve got another trap that he maneuvers you into. If you begin to talk about what he did to you, he’ll say that’s hate, you’re teaching hate. Pick up on that. He won’t say he didn’t do it, because he can’t. But he’ll accuse you of teaching hate just because you begin to spell out what he did to you. Which is an intellectual trap – because he knows we don’t want to be accused of hate.”

“And next month they’ll come up to show you another trick. They’ll come at you and me next month with this Negro History Week, they call it. This week comes around once every year. And during this one week, they drown us with propaganda about Negro history in Georgia and Mississippi and Alabama. Never do they take us back across the water, back home. They take us down home, but they never give us a history of back home. They never give us enough information to let us know what were we doing before we ended up in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Texas, and some of those other prison states. They give us the impression with Negro History Week that we were cotton pickers all of our lives. Cotton pickers, orange growers, mammies and uncles for the white man in this country – this is our history when you talk in terms of Negro History Week. They might tell you about one or two people who took a peanut and made another white man rich. George Washington Carver – he was a scientist, but he died broke. He made Ford rich. So he wasn’t doing anything for himself and his people. He got a good name for us, but what did we get out of it? – nothing; the master got it.”

The Ballot or the Bullet” (April 12, 1964)

“The economic philosophy of black nationalism only means that we have to become involved in a program of reeducation, 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. And because these Negroes, who have been misled, misguided, are breaking their necks to take their money and spend it with the Man, the Man is becoming richer and richer, and you’re becoming poorer and poorer. And then what happens? The community in which you live becomes a slum. It becomes a ghetto. The conditions become rundown. And then you have the audacity to complain about poor housing in a rundown community, while you’re running down yourselves when you take your dollar out.

The strategy of the white man has always been divide and conquer. He keeps us divided in order to conquer us. He tells you, I’m for separation and you for integration, and keep us fighting with each other. No, I’m not for separation and you’re not for integration, what you and I are for is freedom. Only, you think that integration will get you freedom; I think that separation will get me freedom. We both got the same objective, we just got different ways of getting’ at it.”

London School of Economics (February 11, 1965)

Police Killings
Malcolm X Holding up Black Muslim Newspaper, Harlem, New York, 1963

It uses the press skillfully to feed statistics to the public to make it appear that the rate of crime in the Black community, or community of nonwhite people, is at such a high level. It gives the impression or the image that everyone in that community is criminal. And as soon as the public accepts the fact that the dark-skinned community consists largely of criminals or people who are dirty, then it makes it possible for the power structure to set up a police-state system. Which will make it permissible in the minds of even the well-meaning white public for them to come in and use all kinds of police methods to brutally suppress the struggle on the part of these people against segregation, discrimination, and other acts that are unleashed against them that are absolutely unjust. They use the press to set up this police state, and they use the press to make the white public accept whatever they do to the dark-skinned public…

Oxford Union Debate (December 3, 1964)

I don’t believe in any form of unjustified extremism. But I believe that 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’s a sinner. And I might add in my conclusion, in fact, America is one of the best examples, when you read its history, about extremism. Ol’ Patrick Henry said “liberty of death”—that’s extremism.

“That as long as a white man does it, it’s alright, a black man is supposed to have no feelings. But when a black man strikes back he’s an extremist, he’s supposed to sit passively and have no feelings, be nonviolent, and love his enemy no matter what kind of attack, verbal or otherwise, he’s supposed to take it. But if he stands up in any way and tries to defend himself, then he’s an extremist.

Malcolm X: May 19, 1925. Assassinated: February 21, 1965


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