Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, Muslim name El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz

African-American Muslim Minister, Human Rights Activist

"A person who stands for nothing will fall for anything."

"Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it. "

"I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against. "

"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."

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

"Without education, you're not going anywhere in this world."

"The day that the black man takes an uncompromising step and realizes that he's within his rights, when his own freedom is being jeopardized, to use any means necessary to bring about his freedom or put a halt to that injustice, I don't think he'll be by himself."

"I don't favor violence. If we could bring about recognition and respect of our people by peaceful means, well and good. Everybody would like to reach his objectives peacefully. But I'm also a realist. The only people in this country who are asked to be nonviolent are black people."

"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."

"Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today."

"You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom."

"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."

"I believe in human rights for everyone, and none of us is qualified to judge each other and that none of us should therefore have that authority."

"Anytime you see someone more successful than you are, they are doing something you aren't."

"We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for integration, nor are we fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition...for the right to live as free humans in this society."

"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."

"A segregated school system produces children who when they graduate, graduate with crippled minds. "

"Power never takes a back step - only in the face of more power. "

"After you get your freedom, your enemy will respect you. "

"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."

"Revolution is always based on land. Revolution is never based on begging somebody for an integrated cup of coffee. "

"We were truly all the same (brothers) - because their belief in one God had removed the “white” from their minds, the “white” from their behavior, and the “white” from their attitudes... Each hour here in the Holy Land enables me to have greater spiritual insights into what is happening in America between black and white. The American Negro never can be blamed for his racial animosities - he is only reacting to four hundred years of the conscious racism of the American whites. But as racism leads America up the suicide path, I do believe, from the experiences that I have had with them, that the whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities, will see the handwriting on the wall and many of them will turn to the spiritual path of truth - the only way left to American to ward off the disaster that racism inevitably must lead to. "

"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."

"A race of people is like an individual man; until it uses its own talent, takes pride in its own history, expresses its own culture, affirms its own selfhood, it can never fulfill itself."

"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."

"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."

"A wise man can play the part of a clown, but a clown can't play the part of a wise man."

"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."

"Allah has blessed us. He has destroyed twenty-two of our enemies."

"All I had done was to improve on their strategy, and it was the beginning of a very important lesson in life - that anytime you find someone more successful than you are, especially when you're both engaged in the same business - you know they're doing something that you aren't."

"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."

"America is subsidizing what is left of the prestige and strength of the once mighty Britain. The sun has set forever on that monocled, pith-helmeted resident colonialist, sipping tea with his delicate lady in the non-white colonies being systematically robbed of every valuable resource. Britain's superfluous royalty and nobility now exist by charging tourists to inspect the once baronial castles, and by selling memoirs, perfumes, autographs, titles, and even themselves."

"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."

"America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white, but the white attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all together, irrespective of their color."

"America?s most dangerous and threatening black man is the one who has been kept sealed up by the Northerner in the black ghettos ? the Northern white power structure?s system to keep talking democracy while keeping the black man out of sight somewhere, around the corner."

"America is the first country... that can actually have a bloodless revolution."

"America preaches integration and practices segregation."

"America's greatest crime against the black man was not slavery or lynching, but that he was taught to wear a mask of self-hate and self-doubt."

"Among all Negroes the black convict is the most perfectly preconditioned to hear the words, ?the white man is the devil.?"

"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."

"And concerning anything in this society involved in helping Negroes, the federal government shows an inability to function. But it can function in South Vietnam, in the Congo, in Berlin, and in other places where it has no business. But it can't function in Mississippi."

"An English writer telephoned me from London, asking questions. One was, ?What?s your alma mater?? I told him, ?Books."

"And because I had been a hustler, I knew better than all whites knew, and better than nearly all of the black 'leaders' knew, that actually the most dangerous black man in America was the ghetto hustler. Why do I say this? The hustler, out there in the ghetto jungles, has less respect for the white power structure than any other Negro in North America. The ghetto hustler is internally restrained by nothing. He has no religion, no concept of morality, no civic responsibility, no fear--nothing. To survive, he is out there constantly preying upon others, probing for any human weakness like a ferret. The ghetto hustler is forever frustrated, restless, and anxious for some 'action'. Whatever he undertakes, he commits himself to it fully, absolutely. What makes the ghetto hustler yet more dangerous is his 'glamour' image to the school-dropout youth in the ghetto. These ghetto teen-agers see the hell caught by their parents struggling to get somewhere, or see that they have given up struggling in the prejudiced, intolerant white man?s world. The ghetto teen-agers make up their own minds they would rather be like the hustlers whom they see dressed ?sharp? and flashing money and displaying no respect for anybody or anything. So the ghetto youth become attracted to the hustler worlds of dope, thievery, prostitution, and general crime and immorality."

"And just because you have colleges and universities doesn't mean you have education."

"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 has enjoyed the fruits of Americanism. We see America 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."

"And in the racial climate of this country today, it is anybody?s guess which of the ?extremes? in approach to the black man?s problems might personally meet a fatal catastrophe first ? ?non-violent? Dr. King, or so-called ?violent? me."

"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."

"Any person who claims to have deep feeling for other human beings should think a long, long time before he votes to have other men kept behind bars ? caged. I am not saying there shouldn?t be prisons, but there shouldn?t be bars. Behind bars, a man never reforms. He will never forget. He never will get completely over the memory of the bars."

"Any number of my former brothers felt they would make heroes of themselves in the Nation of Islam if they killed me? I knew that no one would kill you quicker than Muslim if he felt that?s what Allah wanted him to do."