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Malcolm X
Malcolm X NYWTS 2a.jpg
Malcolm X, March 1964
Alternate name(s): Malcolm Little, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz
Date of birth: May 19, 1925(1925-05-19)
Place of birth: Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Date of death: February 21, 1965 (aged 39)
Place of death: New York City, New York, U.S.
Movement: Black nationalism, Pan-Africanism
Major organizations: Nation of Islam,
Muslim Mosque, Inc.,
Organization of Afro-American Unity
Religion: Sunni Islam
Influences Elijah Muhammad,
Marcus Garvey

Malcolm X (pronounced /ˈmælkəm ˈɛks/) (born Malcolm Little; May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965), also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz[1] (Arabic: الحاجّ مالك الشباز‎), was an African-American Muslim minister, public speaker, and human rights activist.[2][3][4][5] To his admirers, he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans.[6] His detractors accused him of preaching racism, black supremacy, antisemitism, and violence.[7][8][9][10][11] He has been described as one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.[12][13][14]

Malcolm X was born in Omaha, Nebraska. By the time he was thirteen, his father had died and his mother had been committed to a mental hospital. His childhood, including his father's lessons concerning black pride and self-reliance and his own experiences concerning race, played a significant role in Malcolm X's adult life. After living in a series of foster homes, Malcolm X became involved in hustling and other criminal activities in Boston and New York. In 1946, Malcolm X was sentenced to eight to ten years in prison.

While in prison, Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam. After his parole in 1952, he became one of the Nation's leaders and chief spokesmen. For nearly a dozen years, he was the public face of the Nation of Islam. Tension between Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad, head of the Nation of Islam, led to Malcolm X's departure from the organization in March 1964.

After leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X became a Sunni Muslim and made a pilgrimage to Mecca, after which he disavowed racism. He traveled extensively throughout Africa and the Middle East. He founded Muslim Mosque, Inc., a religious organization, and the secular, black nationalist Organization of Afro-American Unity. Less than a year after he left the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X was assassinated while giving a speech in New York.


Early years

The Little family in the 1930 U.S. Census
Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Earl Little, the father of Malcolm X, was a local leader of the UNIA.

Malcolm Little was born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Earl and Louise Little (née Louisa Norton).[15] His father was an outspoken Baptist lay speaker; he supported Pan-African activist Marcus Garvey and was a local leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).[16] Malcolm never forgot the values of black pride and self-reliance that his father and other UNIA leaders preached.[17] Malcolm X later said that three of Earl Little's brothers, one of whom was lynched, died violently at the hands of white men.[18] Because of Ku Klux Klan threats, the family relocated in 1926 to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and shortly thereafter to Lansing, Michigan.

Earl Little was dark-skinned and born in Georgia.[19] Earl's second wife was Louise, with whom he had seven children, of whom Malcolm was the fourth. Earl and Louise Little's children's names were, in order: Wilfred, Hilda, Philbert, Malcolm, Reginald, Yvonne, and Wesley. He had three children (Ella, Mary, and Earl, Jr.) from his first marriage.[20]

Louise Little had been born in Grenada. Because her father was Scottish, she was so light-skinned that she could have passed for white. Malcolm inherited his light complexion from his mother and maternal grandfather.[21] Initially he felt his light skin was a status symbol, but he later said he "hated every drop of that white rapist's blood that is in me."[22] Malcolm X later remembered feeling that his father favored him because he was the lightest-skinned child in the family; however, he thought his mother treated him harshly for the same reason.[23] One of Malcolm's nicknames, "Red", derived from the tinge of his hair. According to one biographer, at birth he had "ash-blonde hair ... tinged with cinnamon", and at age four, "reddish-blonde hair".[24] His hair darkened as he aged, yet he also resembled his paternal grandmother, whose hair "turned reddish in the summer sun."[15] The issue of skin color and skin tone took on very significant implications later in Malcolm's life.[19]

In December 1924, Louise Little was threatened by Klansmen while she was pregnant with Malcolm. She recalled that the Klansmen warned the family to leave Omaha, because Earl Little's activities with UNIA were "spreading trouble".[25]

After they moved to Lansing, their house was burned in 1929, however the family escaped without physical injury. On September 28, 1931, Earl Little was fatally struck by a streetcar in Lansing. Authorities ruled his death an accident. The police reported that Earl Little was conscious when they arrived on the scene, and he told them he had slipped and fallen under the streetcar's wheels.[26] Malcolm X later remembered that the black community disputed the cause of death, believing there was circumstantial evidence of assault. His family had frequently been harassed by the Black Legion, a white supremacist group that his father accused of burning down their home in 1929. Some blacks believed the Black Legion was responsible for Earl Little's death. As Malcolm later wrote, "How could my father bash himself in the head, then get down across the streetcar tracks to be run over?"[27]

Though Earl Little had two life insurance policies, his family received death benefits solely from the smaller policy. The insurance company of the larger policy claimed that his father had committed suicide and refused to issue the benefit.[28] Several years after her husband's death, Louise had her youngest son, Robert Little, by an unnamed partner.[29] In December 1938 Louise Little had a nervous breakdown and was declared legally insane. The Little siblings were split up and sent to different foster homes. The state formally committed Louise Little to the state mental hospital at Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she remained until Malcolm and his siblings secured her release 26 years later.[30]

Malcolm Little was one of the best students in his junior high school, but he dropped out after a white eighth-grade teacher told him that his aspirations of being a lawyer were "no realistic goal for a nigger."[31] Years later, Malcolm X would laugh about the incident, but at the time it was humiliating. It made him feel that there was no place in the white world for a career-oriented black man, no matter how smart he was.[31] After living with a series of white foster parents, Malcolm moved to Boston in February 1941 to live with his older half-sister, Ella Little Collins.[32][33]

Young adult years

Collins lived in Roxbury, a predominantly African-American middle-class neighborhood of Boston. It was the first time Little had seen so many black people. He was drawn to the cultural and social life of the neighborhood.[34]

In Boston, Little held a variety of jobs and found intermittent employment with the New Haven Railroad. Between 1943 and 1946, he drifted from city to city and job to job. He left Boston to live for a short time in Flint, Michigan. He moved to New York City in 1943. Living in Harlem, he became involved in drug dealing, gambling, racketeering, robbery, and steering prostitutes.[35] According to biographer Bruce Perry, Little occasionally engaged in sex with other men, usually though not always for money. In a Michigan boarding house, he raised rent money by sleeping with a gay transvestite.[36] Later, in New York, Little and some friends raised funds by being fellated by men at the YMCA where he lived.[36] In Boston a man paid Little to undress him, sprinkle him with talcum powder, and bring him to orgasm.[37] Perry notes that Little's motives appear to have been financial, but he could have earned money in other ways.[36]

In 1943, the U.S. draft board ordered Little to register for military service.[38] He later recalled that he put on a display to avoid the draft by telling the examining officer that he could not wait to "steal us some guns, and kill us [some] crackers."[39] Military physicians classified him as "mentally disqualified for military service". He was issued a 4-F card, relieving him of his service obligations.[38]

In late 1945, Little returned to Boston. With a group of associates, he began a series of elaborate burglaries targeting the residences of wealthy white families.[40] On January 12, 1946, Little was arrested for burglary while trying to pick up a stolen watch he had left for repairs at a jewelry shop.[41] The shop owner called the police because the watch seemed too expensive for the average Roxbury resident. Little told the police that he had a gun on his person and surrendered so the police would treat him more leniently.[42] Two days later, Little was indicted for carrying firearms. On January 16, he was charged with larceny and breaking and entering, and eventually sentenced to eight to ten years in Massachusetts State Prison.[43]

On February 27, Little began serving his sentence at the Massachusetts State Prison in Charlestown. While in prison, Little earned the nickname of "Satan" for his hostility toward religion.[44] Little met a self-educated man in prison named John Elton Bembry (referred to as "Bimbi" in The Autobiography of Malcolm X).[45] Bembry was a well-regarded prisoner at Charlestown, and Malcolm X would later describe him as "the first man I had ever seen command total respect ... with words."[46] Gradually, the two men became friends and Bembry convinced Little to educate himself.[47] Little developed a voracious appetite for reading, and he frequently read after the prison lights had been turned off.[48]

In 1948, Little's brother Philbert wrote, telling him about the Nation of Islam. Like the UNIA, the Nation preached black self-reliance and, ultimately, the unification of members of the African diaspora, free from white American and European domination.[49] Little was not interested in joining until his brother Reginald wrote, saying, "Malcolm, don't eat any more pork and don't smoke any more cigarettes. I'll show you how to get out of prison."[50] Little quit smoking, and the next time pork was served in the prison dining hall, he refused to eat it.[51]

When Reginald came to visit Little, he described the group's teachings, including the belief that white people are devils. Afterward, Little thought about all the white people he had known, and he realized that he'd never had a relationship with a white person or social institution that wasn't based on dishonesty, injustice, greed, and hatred. Little began to reconsider his dismissal of all religion and he became receptive to the message of the Nation of Islam. Other family members who had joined the Nation wrote or visited and encouraged Little to join.[52]

In February 1948, mostly through his sister's efforts, Little was transferred to an experimental prison in Norfolk, Massachusetts, a facility that had a much larger library.[53] In late 1948, he wrote a letter to Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad advised him to atone for his crimes by renouncing his past and by humbly bowing in prayer to Allah and promising never to engage in destructive behavior again. Little, who always had been rebellious and deeply skeptical, found it very difficult to bow in prayer. It took him a week to bend his knees. Finally he prayed, and he became a member of the Nation of Islam.[54] For the remainder of his incarceration, Little maintained regular correspondence with Muhammad.[55]

On August 7, 1952, Little was paroled and was released from prison.[43] He later reflected on the time he spent in prison after his conversion: "Months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I had never been so truly free in my life."[56]

Nation of Islam

Part of a series on

Nation of Islam

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Famous leaders
Wallace Fard Muhammad · Elijah Muhammad · Malcolm X · Warith Deen Mohammed · Louis Farrakhan

History and beliefs
Saviours' Day · Nation of Islam and antisemitism · Tribe of Shabazz · Yakub · Million Man March

The Final Call · How to Eat to Live · Message to the Blackman in America · Muhammad Speaks

Subsidiaries and offshoots
American Society of Muslims · Fruit of Islam · The Nation of Gods and Earths · New Black Panther Party · United Nation of Islam · Your Black Muslim Bakery

In 1952, after his release from prison, Little visited Elijah Muhammad in Chicago, Illinois.[57] Then, like many members of the Nation of Islam, he changed his surname to "X". In his autobiography, Malcolm X explained the "X": "The Muslim's 'X' symbolized the true African family name that he never could know. For me, my 'X' replaced the white slavemaster name of 'Little' which some blue-eyed devil named Little had imposed upon my paternal forebears."[58]

The FBI opened a file on Malcolm X in March 1953 after hearing from an informant that Malcolm X described himself as a Communist. Soon the FBI turned its attention from concerns about possible Communist Party association to Malcolm X's rapid ascent in the Nation of Islam.[59]

In June 1953, Malcolm X was named assistant minister of the Nation of Islam's Temple Number One[60] in Detroit.[61] By late 1953, he established Boston's Temple Number Eleven.[62] In March 1954, Malcolm X expanded Temple Number Twelve in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[63] Two months later he was selected to lead the Nation of Islam's Temple Number Seven in Harlem.[64] He rapidly expanded its membership.[65] After a 1959 television broadcast in New York City about the Nation of Islam, The Hate That Hate Produced, Malcolm X became known to a much wider audience. Representatives of the print media, radio, and television frequently asked him for comments on issues. He was also sought as a spokesman by reporters from other countries.[66]

Beside his skill as an speaker, Malcolm X had an impressive physical presence. He stood 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m) tall and weighed about 180 pounds (82 kg).[67] According to one writer, Malcolm X was "powerfully built",[68] and another described him as a "mesmerizingly handsome ... and always spotlessly well-groomed".[67]

From his adoption of the Nation of Islam in 1952 until he left the organization in 1964, Malcolm X promoted the Nation's teachings. He taught that black people were the original people of the world,[69] and that white people were a race of devils.[70] In his speeches, Malcolm X said that black people were superior to white people, and that the demise of the white race was imminent.[71]

While the civil rights movement fought against racial segregation, Malcolm X advocated the complete separation of African Americans from white people. He proposed the establishment of a separate country for black people[72] as an interim measure until African Americans could return to Africa.[73] Malcolm X also rejected the civil rights movement's strategy of nonviolence and instead advocated that black people use any necessary means of self-defense to protect themselves.[74]

Malcolm X's speeches had a powerful effect on his audiences, generally African Americans who lived in the Northern and Western cities who were tired of being told to wait for freedom, justice, equality, and respect.[75] Many blacks felt that he articulated their complaints better than the civil rights movement did.[76][77]

Many white people, and some blacks, were alarmed by Malcolm X and the things he said. He and the Nation of Islam were described as hatemongers, black segregationists, violence-seekers, and a threat to improved race relations. Civil rights organizations denounced Malcolm X and the Nation as irresponsible extremists whose views were not representative of African Americans.[78]

Malcolm X was equally critical of the civil rights movement.[79] He described its leaders as "stooges" for the white establishment and said that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a "chump".[80][81] He criticized the 1963 March on Washington, which he called "the farce on Washington".[82] He said he did not know why black people were excited over a demonstration "run by whites in front of a statue of a president who has been dead for a hundred years and who didn't like us when he was alive".[83]

Malcolm X has been widely considered the second most influential leader of the Nation of Islam after Elijah Muhammad.[84] He was largely credited with increasing membership in the Nation of Islam from 500 in 1952 to 25,000 in 1963.[85][86] He inspired the boxer Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali) to join the Nation of Islam.[87] Ali later left the Nation of Islam and became a Sunni Muslim, as did Malcolm X.[88]

Marriage and family

On January 14, 1958, Malcolm X married Betty X (née Sanders) in Lansing, Michigan.[89] The two had been friends for about a year and—although they had never discussed the subject—Betty X suspected that he was interested in marriage. One day, he called and asked her to marry him.[90]

The couple had six daughters. Their names were Attallah, born in 1958 and named after Attila the Hun;[91] Qubilah, born in 1960 and named after Kublai Khan;[92] Ilyasah, born in 1962 and named after Elijah Muhammad;[93] Gamilah Lumumba, born in 1964 and named after Patrice Lumumba;[94] and twins, Malaak and Malikah, born in 1965 after their father's assassination and named for him.[95]

Meeting Fidel Castro and other world leaders

In September 1960, Fidel Castro arrived in New York to attend the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. He and his entourage stayed at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem. Malcolm X was a prominent member of a Harlem-based welcoming committee made up of community leaders who met with Castro.[96] Castro was so impressed by Malcolm X that he requested a private meeting with him. At the end of their two-hour meeting, Castro invited Malcolm X to visit him in Cuba.[97] During the General Assembly meeting, Malcolm X was also invited to many official embassy functions sponsored by African nations, where he met heads of state and other leaders, including Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Ahmed Sékou Touré of Guinea, and Kenneth Kaunda of the Zambian African National Congress.[98]

Leaving the Nation of Islam

In early 1963, Malcolm X started collaborating with Alex Haley on The Autobiography of Malcolm X.[99] The book was not finished when he was assassinated in 1965. Haley completed it and published it later that year.[100][101]

On December 1, 1963, when he was asked for a comment about the assassination of President Kennedy, Malcolm X said that it was a case of "chickens coming home to roost". He added that "chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they've always made me glad."[102] The New York Times wrote, "in further criticism of Mr. Kennedy, the Muslim leader cited the murders of Patrice Lumumba, Congo leader, of Medgar Evers, civil rights leader, and of the Negro girls bombed earlier this year in a Birmingham church. These, he said, were instances of other 'chickens coming home to roost'."[102]

The remarks prompted a widespread public outcry. The Nation of Islam, which had issued a message of condolence to the Kennedy family and ordered its ministers not to comment on the assassination, publicly censured their former shining star.[103] Although Malcolm X retained his post and rank as minister, he was prohibited from public speaking for 90 days.[104]

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, March 26, 1964

On March 8, 1964, Malcolm X publicly announced his break from the Nation of Islam. He said that he was still a Muslim, but he felt the Nation of Islam had "gone as far as it can" because of its rigid religious teachings.[105] Malcolm X said he was going to organize a black nationalist organization that would try to "heighten the political consciousness" of African Americans.[105] He also expressed his desire to work with other civil rights leaders and said that Elijah Muhammad had prevented him from doing so in the past.[105]

One reason for the separation was growing tension between Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad because of Malcolm X's dismay about rumors of Muhammad's extramarital affairs with young secretaries. Such actions were against the teachings of the Nation. Although at first Malcolm X ignored the rumors, he spoke with Muhammad's son Wallace and the women making the accusations. He came to believe that they were true, and Muhammad confirmed the rumors in 1963. Muhammad tried to justify his actions by referring to precedents by Biblical prophets.[106]

Another reason was resentment by people within the Nation. As Malcolm X had become a favorite of the media, many in the Nation's Chicago headquarters felt that he was over-shadowing Muhammad. Louis Lomax's 1963 book about the Nation of Islam, When the Word Is Given, featured a picture of Malcolm X on its cover and included five of his speeches, but only one of Muhammad's, which greatly upset Muhammad. Muhammad was also envious that a publisher was interested in Malcolm X's autobiography.[99]

After leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X founded Muslim Mosque, Inc., a religious organization,[107][108] and the Organization of Afro-American Unity, a secular group that advocated black nationalism.[109][110] On March 26, 1964, he met Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington, D.C., after a press conference which followed both men attending the Senate to hear the debate on the Civil Rights bill. This was the only time the two men ever met; their meeting lasted only one minute, just long enough for photographers to take a picture.[111][112]

In April, Malcolm X made a speech titled "The Ballot or the Bullet" in which he advised African Americans to exercise their right to vote wisely.[113][114] Several Sunni Muslims encouraged Malcolm X to learn about Islam. Soon he converted to Sunni Islam, and decided to make his pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj).[115]

International travel

Pilgrimage to Mecca

On April 13, 1964, Malcolm X departed JFK Airport in New York for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His status as an authentic Muslim was questioned by Saudi authorities because of his United States passport and his inability to speak Arabic. Since only confessing Muslims are allowed into Mecca, he was separated from his group for about 20 hours.[116][117]

According to his autobiography, Malcolm X saw a telephone and remembered the book The Eternal Message of Muhammad by Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam, which had been presented to him with his visa approval. He called Azzam's son, who arranged for his release. At the younger Azzam's home, he met Azzam Pasha, who gave Malcolm his suite at the Jeddah Palace Hotel. The next morning, Muhammad Faisal, the son of Prince Faisal, visited and informed Malcolm X that he was to be a state guest. The deputy chief of protocol accompanied Malcolm X to the Hajj Court, where he was allowed to make his pilgrimage.[118]

On April 19, Malcolm X completed the Hajj, making the seven circuits around the Kaaba, drinking from the Zamzam Well and running between the hills of Safah and Marwah seven times.[119] Malcolm X said the trip allowed him to see Muslims of different races interacting as equals. He came to believe that Islam could be the means by which racial problems could be overcome.[120]


Malcolm X visited Africa on three separate occasions, once in 1959 and twice in 1964. During his visits, he met officials, gave interviews to newspapers, and spoke on television and radio in Egypt, Ethiopia, Tanganyika (now Tanzania), Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea, Sudan, Senegal, Liberia, Algeria, and Morocco.[121] Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, and Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria invited Malcolm X to serve in their governments.[122]

In 1959, Malcolm X traveled to Egypt (then known as the United Arab Republic), Sudan, Nigeria, and Ghana to arrange a tour for Elijah Muhammad.[123] The first of the two trips Malcolm X made to Africa in 1964 lasted from April 13 until May 21, before and after his Hajj.[124] On May 8, following his speech at the University of Ibadan, Malcolm X was made an honorary member of the Nigerian Muslim Students' Association. During this reception the students bestowed upon him the name "Omowale", which means "the son who has come home" in the Yoruba language.[125] Malcolm X wrote in his autobiography that he "had never received a more treasured honor."[126]

On July 9, 1964, Malcolm X returned to Africa.[127] On July 17, he was welcomed to the second meeting of the Organization of African Unity in Cairo as a representative of the Organization of Afro-American Unity. By the time he returned to the United States on November 24, 1964, Malcolm had met with every prominent African leader and established an international connection between Africans on the continent and those in the diaspora.[122]

France and the United Kingdom

On November 23, 1964, on his way home from Africa, Malcolm X stopped in Paris, where he spoke at the Salle de la Mutualité.[128][129] A week later, on November 30, Malcolm X flew to the United Kingdom, where he participated in a debate at the Oxford Union on December 3. The topic of the debate was "Extremism in the Defense of Liberty is No Vice; Moderation in the Pursuit of Justice is No Virtue", and Malcolm X argued the affirmative. Interest in the debate was so high that it was televised nationally by the BBC.[130][131]

On February 5, 1965, Malcolm X went to Europe again.[132] On February 8, he spoke in London, before the first meeting of the Council of African Organizations.[133] Malcolm X tried to go to France on February 9 but he was refused entry.[134] On February 12, he visited Smethwick, near Birmingham, which had become a byword for racial division after the 1964 general election, when the Conservative Party won the parliamentary seat after rumors that their candidate's supporters had used the slogan "If you want a nigger for your neighbour, vote Labour."[135]

In the United States

After leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X spoke before a wide variety of audiences in the United States. He spoke at regular meetings of Muslim Mosque, Inc., and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. He was one of the most sought-after speakers on college campuses,[136] and one of his top aides later wrote that he "welcomed every opportunity to speak to college students."[137] Malcolm X also spoke before political groups such as the Militant Labor Forum.[138]

Tensions increased between Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. As early as February 1964, a member of Temple Number Seven was given orders by the Nation of Islam to wire explosives to Malcolm X's car.[139] On March 20, 1964, Life published a photograph of Malcolm X holding an M1 Carbine and peering out a window. The photo was intended to illustrate his determination to defend himself and his family against the death threats he was receiving.[140]

Malcolm X in March 1964

The Nation of Islam and its leaders began making threats against Malcolm X both in private and in public. On March 23, 1964, Elijah Muhammad told Boston minister Louis X (later known as Louis Farrakhan) that hypocrites like Malcolm should have "their heads cut off."[141] The April 10 edition of Muhammad Speaks featured a cartoon in which his severed head was shown bouncing.[142] On July 9, John Ali, a top aide to Muhammad, answered a question about Malcolm X by saying that "anyone who opposes the Honorable Elijah Muhammad puts their life in jeopardy."[143] The December 4 issue of Muhammad Speaks included an article by Louis X that railed against Malcolm X and said that "such a man as Malcolm is worthy of death."[144]

Some threats were made anonymously. During the month of June 1964, FBI surveillance recorded two such threats. On June 8, a man called Malcolm X's home and told Betty Shabazz to "tell him he's as good as dead."[145] On June 12, an FBI informant reported getting an anonymous telephone call from somebody who said "Malcolm X is going to be bumped off."[146]

In June 1964, the Nation of Islam sued to reclaim Malcolm X's residence in Queens, New York, which they claimed to own. The suit was successful, and Malcolm X was ordered to vacate.[147] On February 14, 1965, the night before a scheduled hearing to postpone the eviction date, the house burned to the ground. Malcolm X and his family survived. No one was charged with any crime.[148]



Bullet holes in back of the stage where Malcolm X was shot (circled)

On February 21, 1965, in Manhattan's Audubon Ballroom, Malcolm X began to speak to a meeting of the Organization of Afro-American Unity when a disturbance broke out in the crowd of 400.[149] A man yelled, "Nigger! Get your hand outta my pocket!"[150][151] As Malcolm X and his bodyguards moved to quiet the disturbance,[152] a man rushed forward and shot him in the chest with a sawed-off shotgun.[153] Two other men charged the stage and fired handguns, hitting him 16 times.[151] Angry onlookers caught and beat one of the assassins as the others fled the ballroom.[154][155] Malcolm X was pronounced dead at 3:30 p.m., shortly after he arrived at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.[149]

Talmadge Hayer, a Black Muslim also known as Thomas Hagan, was arrested on the scene.[155] Eyewitnesses identified two more suspects, Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson, also members of the Nation of Islam. All three were charged in the case.[156] At first Hayer denied involvement, but during the trial he confessed to having fired shots at Malcolm X. He testified that Butler and Johnson were not present and were not involved in the assassination, but he declined to name the men who had joined him in the shooting.[157] All three men were convicted.[158]

Butler, now known as Muhammad Abdul Aziz, was paroled in 1985. He became the head of the Nation of Islam's Harlem mosque in New York in 1998. He continues to maintain his innocence.[159] Johnson, now known as Khalil Islam, was released from prison in 1987. During his time in prison, he rejected the teachings of the Nation of Islam and converted to Sunni Islam. He, too, maintains his innocence.[160] Hayer, now known as Mujahid Halim, was paroled in 1993.[161]


The number of mourners who came to the public viewing in Harlem's Unity Funeral Home from February 23 through February 26 was estimated to be between 14,000 and 30,000.[162] The funeral of Malcolm X was held on February 27 at the Faith Temple, Church of God in Christ, in Harlem. The Church was filled to capacity with more than 1,000 people.[163] Loudspeakers were set up outside the Temple so the overflowing crowd could listen[164] and a local television station broadcast the funeral live.[165]

Among the civil rights leaders in attendance were John Lewis, Bayard Rustin, James Forman, James Farmer, Jesse Gray, and Andrew Young.[163][166] Actor and activist Ossie Davis delivered the eulogy, describing Malcolm X as "our shining black prince".

There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain—and we will smile. Many will say turn away—away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man—and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate—a fanatic, a racist—who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them: Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.[167]

Malcolm X was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.[165] At the gravesite after the ceremony, friends took the shovels away from the waiting gravediggers and completed the burial themselves.[168] Actor and activist Ruby Dee (wife of Ossie Davis) and Juanita Poitier (wife of Sidney Poitier) established the Committee of Concerned Mothers to raise funds to buy a house and pay educational expenses for Malcolm X's family.[169]

Responses to assassination

Reactions to Malcolm X's assassination were varied. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sent a telegram to Betty Shabazz, expressing his sadness over "the shocking and tragic assassination of your husband."

While we did not always see eye to eye on methods to solve the race problem, I always had a deep affection for Malcolm and felt that he had a great ability to put his finger on the existence and the root of the problem. He was an eloquent spokesman for his point of view and no one can honestly doubt that Malcolm had a great concern for the problems we face as a race.[170]

Elijah Muhammad told the annual Savior's Day convention on February 26, "Malcolm X got just what he preached."[171] "We didn't want to kill Malcolm and didn't try to kill him," Muhammad said. "We know such ignorant, foolish teachings would bring him to his own end."[172]

The New York Times wrote that Malcolm X was "an extraordinary and twisted man" who "turn[ed] many true gifts to evil purpose" and that his life was "strangely and pitifully wasted".[7] The New York Post wrote that "even his sharpest critics recognized his brilliance—often wild, unpredictable and eccentric, but nevertheless possessing promise that must now remain unrealized."[173]

The international press, particularly that of Africa, was sympathetic. The Daily Times of Nigeria wrote that Malcolm X "will have a place in the palace of martyrs."[8] The Ghanaian Times likened him to John Brown and Patrice Lumumba among "a host of Africans and Americans who were martyred in freedom's cause".[174]

Guangming Daily, published in Beijing, stated that "Malcolm was murdered because he fought for freedom and equal rights."[175] In Cuba, El Mundo described the assassination as "another racist crime to eradicate by violence the struggle against discrimination".[10]

Allegations of conspiracy

Within days of the assassination, questions were raised about who bore ultimate responsibility. On February 23, James Farmer, the leader of the Congress of Racial Equality, announced at a news conference that local drug dealers, and not the Black Muslims, were to blame.[176] Others accused the New York Police Department, the FBI, or the CIA, citing the lack of police protection, the ease with which the assassins entered the Audubon Ballroom, and the failure of the police to preserve the crime scene.[177][178]

In the 1970s, the public learned about COINTELPRO and other secret FBI programs directed towards infiltrating and disrupting civil rights organizations during the 1950s and 1960s.[179] John Ali, national secretary of the Nation of Islam, was identified as an FBI undercover agent.[180] Malcolm X had confided in a reporter that Ali exacerbated tensions between him and Elijah Muhammad. He considered Ali his "archenemy" within the Nation of Islam leadership.[180] On February 20, 1965, the night before the assassination, Ali met with Talmadge Hayer, one of the men convicted of killing Malcolm X.[181]

In 1977 and 1978, Talmadge Hayer submitted two sworn affidavits re-asserting his claim that Butler and Johnson were not involved in the assassination. In his affidavits Hayer named four men, all members of the Nation of Islam's Newark Temple Number 25, as having participated with him in the crime. Hayer asserted that a man, later identified as Wilbur McKinley, shouted and threw a smoke bomb to create a diversion. Hayer said that another man, later identified as William Bradley, had a shotgun and was the first to fire on Malcolm X after the diversion. Hayer asserted that he and a man later identified as Leon David, both armed with pistols, fired on Malcolm X immediately after the shotgun blast. Hayer also said that a fifth man, later identified as Benjamin Thomas, was involved in the conspiracy.[182][183] Hayer's statements failed to convince authorities to reopen their investigation of the murder.[184]

Some, including the Shabazz family, have accused Louis Farrakhan of being involved in the plot to assassinate Malcolm X.[185][186][187][188] In a 1993 speech, Louis Farrakhan seemed to boast of the assassination:

Was Malcolm your traitor or ours? And if we dealt with him like a nation deals with a traitor, what the hell business is it of yours? A nation has to be able to deal with traitors and cutthroats and turncoats.[189][190]

In a 60 Minutes interview that aired during May 2000, Farrakhan stated that some of the things he said may have led to the assassination of Malcolm X. "I may have been complicit in words that I spoke", he said. "I acknowledge that and regret that any word that I have said caused the loss of life of a human being."[191] A few days later Farrakhan denied that he "ordered the assassination" of Malcolm X, although he again acknowledged that he "created the atmosphere that ultimately led to Malcolm X's assassination."[192] No consensus on who was responsible has been reached.[193]


Except for his autobiography, Malcolm X left no writings. His philosophy is known almost entirely from the myriad speeches and interviews he gave between 1952 until his death in 1965.[194] Many of those speeches, especially from the last year of his life, were recorded and have been published.[195]

Beliefs of the Nation of Islam

Before he left the Nation of Islam in 1964, Malcolm X taught its beliefs in his speeches. His speeches were peppered with the phrase "The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us that ...".[196] It is virtually impossible to discern whether Malcolm X's beliefs diverged from the teachings of the Nation of Islam.[197][198] Malcolm X once compared himself to a ventriloquist's dummy who could only say what Elijah Muhammad told him.[196]

Malcolm X taught that black people were the original people of the world,[69] and that white people were a race of devils who were created by an evil scientist named Yakub.[70] The Nation of Islam believed that black people were superior to white people, and that the demise of the white race was imminent.[71]

When he was questioned concerning his statements that white people were devils, Malcolm X said that "history proves the white man is a devil."[199] He enumerated some of the historical reasons that, he felt, supported his argument: "Anybody who rapes, and plunders, and enslaves, and steals, and drops hell bombs on people... anybody who does these things is nothing but a devil."[200]

Malcolm X said that Islam was the "true religion of black mankind" and that Christianity was "the white man's religion" that had been imposed upon African Americans by their slave-masters.[201] He said that the Nation of Islam followed Islam as it was practiced around the world, but the Nation's teachings varied from those of other Muslims because they were adapted to the "uniquely pitiful" condition of black people in America.[202] He taught that Wallace Fard Muhammad, the founder of the Nation, was Allah incarnate,[203] and that Elijah Muhammad was his Messenger, or prophet.[204]

While the civil rights movement fought against racial segregation, Malcolm X advocated the complete separation of African Americans from white people. The Nation of Islam proposed the establishment of a separate country for black people in the Southern[72] or Southwestern United States[205] as an interim measure until African Americans could return to Africa.[73] Malcolm X suggested the United States government owed reparations to black people for the unpaid labor of their enslaved ancestors.[206] He also rejected the civil rights movement's strategy of nonviolence and instead advocated that black people use any necessary means of self-defense to protect themselves.[74]

Independent views

Malcolm X at a 1964 press conference

After he left the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X began to articulate his own views. During the final year of his life, his philosophy was flexible, and it is difficult to categorize his views on some subjects. Some of the themes to which Malcolm X frequently returned in his speeches demonstrate a relative consistency of thought.[207]

After leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X announced his willingness to work with leaders of the civil rights movement.[105] However, he felt that the civil rights movement should change its focus to human rights. So long as the movement remained a fight for civil rights, its struggle remained a domestic issue. By framing the African American struggle for equal rights as a fight for human rights, it would become an international issue and the movement could bring its complaint before the United Nations. Malcolm X said the emerging nations of the world would add their support to the cause of African Americans.[208]

Malcolm X continued to hold the view that African Americans were right to defend themselves from aggressors, arguing that if the government was unwilling or unable to protect black people, they should protect themselves "by whatever means necessary".[209] He also continued to reject nonviolence as the only means for securing equality, declaring that he and the other members of the Organization of Afro-American Unity were determined to win freedom, justice, and equality "by any means necessary".[210]

Malcolm X stressed the global perspective he gained from his international travels. He emphasized the "direct connection" between the domestic struggle of African Americans for equal rights with the liberation struggles of Third World nations.[211] He said that African Americans were wrong when they thought of themselves as a minority; in a global context, black people were a majority, not a minority.[212]

In his speeches at the Militant Labor Forum, which was sponsored by the Socialist Workers Party, Malcolm X criticized capitalism.[138] After one such speech, when he was asked what political and economic system he wanted, he said he didn't know, but that it was no coincidence the newly liberated countries in the Third World were turning toward socialism.[213] Malcolm X still was concerned primarily with the freedom struggle of African Americans. When a reporter asked him what he thought about socialism, Malcolm X asked whether it was good for black people. When the reporter told him it seemed to be, Malcolm X told him, "Then I'm for it."[213][214]

Although he no longer called for the separation of black people from white people, Malcolm X continued to advocate black nationalism, which he defined as self-determination for the African-American community.[215] In the last months of his life, however, Malcolm X began to reconsider his support of black nationalism after meeting northern African revolutionaries who, to all appearances, were white.[216]

After his Hajj, Malcolm X articulated a view of white people and racism that represented a deep change from the philosophy he articulated as a minister of the Nation of Islam. In a famous letter from Mecca, he wrote that the white people he met during his pilgrimage forced him to "rearrange" his thinking about race and "toss aside some of [his] previous conclusions".[217]

In a 1965 conversation with Gordon Parks, two days before his assassination, Malcolm said:

[L]istening to leaders like Nasser, Ben Bella, and Nkrumah awakened me to the dangers of racism. I realized racism isn't just a black and white problem. It's brought bloodbaths to about every nation on earth at one time or another.

Brother, remember the time that white college girl came into the restaurant—the one who wanted to help the [Black] Muslims and the whites get together—and I told her there wasn't a ghost of a chance and she went away crying? Well, I've lived to regret that incident. In many parts of the African continent I saw white students helping black people. Something like this kills a lot of argument. I did many things as a [Black] Muslim that I'm sorry for now. I was a zombie then—like all [Black] Muslims—I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march. Well, I guess a man's entitled to make a fool of himself if he's ready to pay the cost. It cost me 12 years.

That was a bad scene, brother. The sickness and madness of those days—I'm glad to be free of them.[218]


Malcolm X in 1964

Malcolm X has been described as one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.[12][13][14] He is credited with raising the self-esteem of black Americans and reconnecting them with their African heritage.[219] He is largely responsible for the spread of Islam in the black community in the United States.[220][221][222]

Many African Americans, especially those who lived in cities in the Northern and Western United States, felt that Malcolm X articulated their complaints concerning inequality better than the mainstream civil rights movement did.[76][77] One biographer says that by giving expression to their frustration, Malcolm X "made clear the price that white America would have to pay if it did not accede to black America's legitimate demands."[223]

In the late 1960s, as black activists became more radical, Malcolm X and his teachings were part of the foundation on which they built their movements. The Black Power movement,[67][224] the Black Arts Movement,[67][225] and the widespread adoption of the slogan "Black is beautiful"[226] can all trace their roots to Malcolm X.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a resurgence of interest in Malcolm X among young people fueled, in part, by his use as an icon by hip hop groups such as Public Enemy.[227][228] Images of Malcolm X could be found on T-shirts and jackets.[229] Pictures of him were on display in hundreds of thousands of homes, offices, and schools.[230] This wave peaked in 1992 with the release of Malcolm X, a much-anticipated film adaptation of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.[231]

Portrayals in film and on stage

The 1992 film Malcolm X was directed by Spike Lee and based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X. It starred Denzel Washington, with Angela Bassett as Betty Shabazz and Al Freeman, Jr., as Elijah Muhammad.[232] Critic Roger Ebert and director Martin Scorsese both named the film one of the ten best of the 1990s.[233]

Washington had previously played the part of Malcolm X in the 1981 Off Broadway play When the Chickens Came Home to Roost.[234] Other actors who have portrayed Malcolm X include:

Memorials and tributes

The Malcolm X House Site, at 3448 Pinkney Street in North Omaha, Nebraska, marks the place where Malcolm Little first lived with his family. The house where the Little family lived was torn down in 1965 by owners who did not know of its connection with Malcolm X.[244] The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and a historic marker identifies the site because of the importance of Malcolm X to American history and national culture.[245][246] In 1987 the site was added to the Nebraska register of historic sites and marked with a state plaque.[247]

Lansing, Michigan, where Malcolm Little spent his early, formative years, is home to a Michigan Historical Marker erected in 1975 marking his homesite.[248] The city is also home to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz Academy, a public charter school with an Afrocentric focus. The Academy is located in the building where Little attended elementary school.[249]

Malcolm X Boulevard in New York City

In cities around the world, Malcolm X's birthday (May 19) is commemorated as Malcolm X Day. The first known celebration of Malcolm X Day took place in Washington, D.C., in 1971.[250] The city of Berkeley, California has recognized Malcolm X's birthday as a citywide holiday since 1979.[251]

There have been dozens of schools named after Malcolm X, including Malcolm X Shabazz High School in Newark, New Jersey,[252] Malcolm Shabazz City High School in Madison, Wisconsin,[253] and Malcolm X College in Chicago, Illinois.[254]

Many cities have renamed streets after Malcolm X. In New York City, Lenox Avenue was renamed Malcolm X Boulevard in the late 1980s.[255] The name of Reid Street in Brooklyn, New York, was changed to Malcolm X Boulevard in 1985.[256] In 1997, Oakland Avenue in Dallas, Texas, was renamed Malcolm X Boulevard.[257]

The U.S. Postal Service issued a Malcolm X postage stamp in 1999.[258] In 2005, Columbia University announced the opening of the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. The memorial is located in the Audubon Ballroom, where Malcolm X was assassinated.[259]

See also

Published works

  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X. With the assistance of Alex Haley. New York: Grove Press, 1965. OCLC 219493184
  • By Any Means Necessary: Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X. George Breitman, ed. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970. OCLC 249307
  • The End of White World Supremacy: Four Speeches by Malcolm X. Benjamin Karim, ed. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971. OCLC 149849
  • February 1965: The Final Speeches. Steve Clark, ed. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1992. ISBN 0873487494 OCLC 47632957
  • The Last Speeches. Bruce Perry, ed. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1989. ISBN 0873485432 OCLC 123180752
  • Malcolm X on Afro-American History. New York: Merit Publishers, 1967. OCLC 78155009
  • Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements. George Breitman, ed. New York: Merit Publishers, 1965. OCLC 256095445
  • Malcolm X Talks to Young People. New York: Young Socialist Alliance, 1965. OCLC 81990227
  • Malcolm X Talks to Young People: Speeches in the United States, Britain, and Africa. Steve Clark, ed. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1991. ISBN 0873486315 OCLC 23096901
  • The Speeches of Malcolm X at Harvard. Archie Epps, ed. New York: Morrow, 1968. OCLC 185901618
  • Two Speeches by Malcolm X. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1965. OCLC 19464959


  1. ^ This name includes the honorific El-Hajj, which is given to a Muslim who has completed the Hajj to Mecca. Malise Ruthven (1997). Islam: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-19-285389-9. 
  2. ^ Baldwin, Lewis V.; Al-Hadid, Amiri YaSin. Between Cross and Crescent: Christian and Muslim Perspectives on Malcolm and Martin. Gainesville, Fla.: University Press of Florida. p. 135. ISBN 0-8130-2457-9. 
  3. ^ Dyson, pp. 13–14.
  4. ^ Khan, Ali (1994). "Lessons from Malcolm X: Freedom by Any Means Necessary". Howard Law Journal 38: 80. Retrieved August 2, 2009. 
  5. ^ Morris, Jerome E. (Summer 2001). "Malcolm X's Critique of the Education of Black People". The Western Journal of Black Studies 25 (2). Retrieved August 2, 2009. 
  6. ^ Cone, pp. 99–100, 251–252, 310–311.
  7. ^ a b "Malcolm X". The New York Times. February 22, 1965. Retrieved August 2, 2008. 
  8. ^ a b Evanzz, p. 305.
  9. ^ Lomax, When the Word Is Given, p. 172.
  10. ^ a b Rickford, p. 248.
  11. ^ "The Black Supremacists". Time. August 10, 1959.,9171,811191-1,00.html. Retrieved July 28, 2009. 
  12. ^ a b Asante, Molefi Kete (2002). 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Amhert, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. p. 333. ISBN 1-57392-963-8. 
  13. ^ a b Marable, Manning; Nishani Frazier, John Campbell McMillian (2003). Freedom on My Mind: The Columbia Documentary History of the African American Experience. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 251. ISBN 0-231-10890-7. 
  14. ^ a b Salley, Columbus (1999). The Black 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential African-Americans, Past and Present. New York: Citadel Press. p. 88. ISBN 0-8065-2048-5. 
  15. ^ a b Perry, p. 2.
  16. ^ Perry, p. 3.
  17. ^ Natambu, p. 7.
  18. ^ Malcolm X, Autobiography, pp. 3–4. There have been many editions of The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Page numbers cited in the notes refer to the One World trade paperback edition (1992).
  19. ^ a b Natambu, p. 6.
  20. ^ Perry, pp. 3–4.
  21. ^ Perry, pp. 2–3.
  22. ^ Malcolm X, Autobiography, p. 5.
  23. ^ Malcolm X, Autobiography, pp. 7, 10–11.
  24. ^ Perry, pp. 2, 4.
  25. ^ Natambu, p. 1.
  26. ^ Perry, p. 12.
  27. ^ Malcolm X, Autobiography, p. 14.
  28. ^ Natambu, p. 10.
  29. ^ Perry, p. 24.
  30. ^ Perry, pp. 33–34, 331.
  31. ^ a b Perry, p. 42.
  32. ^ Natambu, pp. 21–29.
  33. ^ Perry, pp. 32–48.
  34. ^ Natambu, pp. 30–31.
  35. ^ Perry, pp. 58–81.
  36. ^ a b c Perry, p. 77.
  37. ^ Perry, pp. 82–83.
  38. ^ a b Carson, p. 108.
  39. ^ Malcolm X, Autobiography, p. 124.
  40. ^ Helfer, p. 37.
  41. ^ Perry, p. 99.
  42. ^ Helfer, p. 40.
  43. ^ a b Carson, p. 99.
  44. ^ Perry, pp. 104–106.
  45. ^ Natambu, p. 121.
  46. ^ Malcolm X, Autobiography, p. 178; ellipsis in original.
  47. ^ Perry, pp. 108–110.
  48. ^ Perry, p. 118.
  49. ^ Natambu, pp. 127–128.
  50. ^ Natambu, p. 128.
  51. ^ Perry, p. 113.
  52. ^ Natambu, pp. 132–138.
  53. ^ Perry, pp. 113–114.
  54. ^ Natambu, pp. 138–139.
  55. ^ Perry, p. 116.
  56. ^ Malcolm X, Autobiography, p. 199.
  57. ^ Perry, pp. 142, 144–145.
  58. ^ Malcolm X, Autobiography, p. 229.
  59. ^ Carson, p. 95.
  60. ^ The Nation of Islam numbered its Temples according to the order in which they were established. Perry, pp. 141–142.
  61. ^ Natambu, p. 168.
  62. ^ Perry, p. 147.
  63. ^ Perry, p. 152.
  64. ^ Perry, p. 153.
  65. ^ Perry, pp. 161–164.
  66. ^ Perry, pp. 174–179.
  67. ^ a b c d Marable, p. 301.
  68. ^ Lincoln, p. 189.
  69. ^ a b Lomax, When the Word Is Given, p. 55.
  70. ^ a b Perry, p. 115.
  71. ^ a b Lomax, When the Word Is Given, p. 57.
  72. ^ a b Lomax, When the Word Is Given, pp. 149–152.
  73. ^ a b Malcolm X, End of White World Supremacy, p. 78.
  74. ^ a b Lomax, When the Word Is Given, pp. 173–174.
  75. ^ Natambu, p. 182.
  76. ^ a b Cone, pp. 99–100.
  77. ^ a b West, Cornel (1984). "The Paradox of the Afro-American Rebellion". in Sayres, Sohnya; Stephanson, Anders; Aronowitz, Stanley et al.. The 60s Without Apology. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. p. 51. ISBN 0-8166-1336-2. 
  78. ^ Natambu, pp. 215–216.
  79. ^ Lomax, When the Word Is Given, pp. 79–80.
  80. ^ Perry, p. 203.
  81. ^ King expressed mixed feelings toward Malcolm X. "He is very articulate, ... but I totally disagree with many of his political and philosophical views.... I don't want to seem to sound self-righteous, ... or that I think I have the only truth, the only way. Maybe he does have some of the answer.... I have often wished that he would talk less of violence, because violence is not going to solve our problem. And in his litany of articulating the despair of the Negro without offering any positive, creative alternative, I feel that Malcolm has done himself and our people a great disservice.... [U]rging Negroes to arm themselves and prepare to engage in violence, as he has done, can reap nothing but grief." Haley, Alex (January 1965). "The Playboy Interview: Martin Luther King". Playboy. Retrieved February 2, 2009. 
  82. ^ Cone, p. 113.
  83. ^ "Timeline". Malcolm X: Make It Plain, American Experience. PBS. May 19, 2005. Retrieved July 27, 2008. 
  84. ^ Cone, p. 91.
  85. ^ Lomax. When the Word Is Given. pp. 15–16. "Estimates of the Black Muslim membership vary from a quarter of a million down to fifty thousand. Available evidence indicates that about one hundred thousand Negroes have joined the movement at one time or another, but few objective observers believe that the Black Muslims can muster more than twenty or twenty-five thousand active temple people." 
  86. ^ Clegg. p. 115. "The common response of Malcolm X to questions about numbers—'Those who know aren't saying, and those who say don't know'—was typical of the attitude of the leadership." 
  87. ^ Natambu, pp. 296–297.
  88. ^ Ali, Muhammad (2004). The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey. with Hana Yasmeen Ali. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 61. ISBN 0-7432-5569-0. 
  89. ^ Rickford, pp. 73–74.
  90. ^ Betty Shabazz, "Malcolm X as a Husband and Father", Clarke, pp. 132–134.
  91. ^ Rickford, pp. 109–110.
  92. ^ Rickford, p. 122.
  93. ^ Rickford, p. 123.
  94. ^ Rickford, p. 197.
  95. ^ Rickford, p. 286.
  96. ^ Natambu, pp. 230–232.
  97. ^ Lincoln, p. 18.
  98. ^ Natambu, pp. 231–233.
  99. ^ a b Perry, p. 214.
  100. ^ Perry, p. 375.
  101. ^ In 1964, Malcolm told Haley, "If I'm alive when this book comes out, it will be a miracle." Haley, "Epilogue", Autobiography, p. 471.
  102. ^ a b "Malcolm X Scores U.S. and Kennedy". The New York Times. December 2, 1963. p. 21. Retrieved July 28, 2008. 
  103. ^ Natambu, pp. 288–290.
  104. ^ Perry, p. 242.
  105. ^ a b c d Handler, M. S. (March 9, 1964). "Malcolm X Splits with Muhammad". The New York Times. Retrieved August 1, 2008. 
  106. ^ Perry, pp. 230–234
  107. ^ Perry, pp. 251–252.
  108. ^ Malcolm X, Malcolm X Speaks, pp. 18–22.
  109. ^ Perry, pp. 294–296.
  110. ^ Malcolm X, By Any Means Necessary, pp. 33–67.
  111. ^ Cone. p. 2. "There was no time for substantive discussions between the two. They were photographed greeting each other warmly, smiling and shaking hands." 
  112. ^ Perry. p. 255. "Camera shutters clicked. The next day, the Chicago Sun-Times, the New York World Telegram and Sun, and other dailies carried a picture of Malcolm and Martin shaking hands." 
  113. ^ Perry, pp. 257–259.
  114. ^ Malcolm X, Malcolm X Speaks, pp. 23–44.
  115. ^ Perry, p. 261.
  116. ^ Perry, pp. 262–263.
  117. ^ DeCaro, p. 204.
  118. ^ Perry, pp. 263–265.
  119. ^ Perry, pp. 265–266.
  120. ^ Malcolm X, Autobiography, pp. 388–393.
  121. ^ Natambu, pp. 304–305.
  122. ^ a b Natambu, p. 308.
  123. ^ Lomax, When the Word Is Given, p. 62.
  124. ^ Natambu, p. 303.
  125. ^ Perry, p. 269.
  126. ^ Malcolm X, Autobiography, p. 403.
  127. ^ Carson, p. 305.
  128. ^ Lebert Bethune, "Malcolm X in Europe", Clarke, pp. 226–231.
  129. ^ Malcolm X, By Any Means Necessary, pp. 113–126.
  130. ^ Bethune, "Malcolm X in Europe", Clarke, pp. 231–233.
  131. ^ Malcolm X (December 3, 1964). "Malcolm X Oxford Debate". Malcolm X: A Research Site. Retrieved July 30, 2008. 
  132. ^ Carson, p. 349.
  133. ^ Perry, p. 351.
  134. ^ Natambu, p. 312.
  135. ^ Kundnani, Arun (February 10, 2005). "Black British History: Remembering Malcolm's Visit to Smethwick". Independent Race and Refugee News Network. Institute of Race Relations. Retrieved July 30, 2008. 
  136. ^ Terrill, p. 9.
  137. ^ Karim, p. 128.
  138. ^ a b Perry, pp. 277–278.
  139. ^ Karim, pp. 159–160.
  140. ^ Crawford, Marc (March 20, 1964). "The Ominous Malcolm X Exits from the Muslims". Life. 
  141. ^ Kondo, p. 170.
  142. ^ Majied, Eugene (April 10, 1964). "On My Own". Muhammad Speaks. Nation of Islam. Retrieved August 1, 2008. 
  143. ^ Evanzz, p. 248.
  144. ^ Evanzz, p. 264.
  145. ^ Carson, p. 473.
  146. ^ Carson, p. 324.
  147. ^ Perry, pp. 290–292.
  148. ^ Perry, pp. 352–356.
  149. ^ a b Kihss, Peter (February 22, 1965). "Malcolm X Shot to Death at Rally Here". The New York Times. Retrieved August 1, 2008. 
  150. ^ Karim, p. 191.
  151. ^ a b Evanzz, p. 295.
  152. ^ In his Epilogue to The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Alex Haley wrote that Malcolm said, "Hold it! Hold it! Don't get excited. Let's cool it brothers." (p. 499.) According to a transcription of a recording of the shooting, Malcolm's only words were, "Hold it!", which he repeated 10 times. (DeCaro, p. 274.)
  153. ^ Perry, p. 366.
  154. ^ Perry, pp. 366–367.
  155. ^ a b Talese, Gay (February 22, 1965). "Police Save Suspect From the Crowd". The New York Times. Retrieved August 1, 2008. 
  156. ^ Kondo, p. 97.
  157. ^ Kondo, p. 110.
  158. ^ Rickford, p. 289.
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  161. ^ Rickford, p. 489
  162. ^ Perry, p. 374. Alex Haley, in his Epilogue to The Autobiography of Malcolm X, says 22,000 (p. 519).
  163. ^ a b Rickford, p. 252.
  164. ^ DeCaro, p. 291.
  165. ^ a b Arnold, Martin (February 28, 1965). "Harlem Is Quiet as Crowds Watch Malcolm X Rites". The New York Times. Retrieved August 2, 2008. 
  166. ^ DeCaro, p. 290.
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  168. ^ Rickford, p. 255.
  169. ^ Rickford, pp. 261–262.
  170. ^ Martin Luther King, Jr., Telegram to Betty Shabazz, Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., February 26, 1965.
  171. ^ Evanzz, p. 301.
  172. ^ Clegg, p. 232.
  173. ^ Rickford, p. 247.
  174. ^ Kenworthy, E. W. (February 26, 1965). "Malcolm Called a Martyr Abroad". The New York Times. Retrieved August 2, 2008. 
  175. ^ Evanzz, p. 306.
  176. ^ Perry, p. 371.
  177. ^ Marable, pp. 305–306.
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  179. ^ Kondo, pp. 7–39.
  180. ^ a b Lomax, To Kill a Black Man, p. 198.
  181. ^ Evanzz, p. 294.
  182. ^ Bush, Roderick (1999). We Are Not What We Seem: Black Nationalism and Class Struggle in the American Century. New York: New York University Press. p. 179. ISBN 0-8147-1317-3. 
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  184. ^ Gardell, Mattias (1996). In the Name of Elijah Muhammad: Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. Durham, N. C.: Duke University Press. p. 81. ISBN 0-8223-1845-8. 
  185. ^ Rickford, pp. 439, 492–495.
  186. ^ Evanzz, pp. 298–299.
  187. ^ Kondo, pp. 182–183, 193–194.
  188. ^ Marable, p. 305.
  189. ^ Rickford, p. 492.
  190. ^ Wartofsky, Alona (February 17, 1995). "'Brother Minister: The Martyrdom of Malcolm X'". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 1, 2008. 
  191. ^ "Farrakhan Admission On Malcolm X". 60 Minutes. CBS News. May 14, 2000. Retrieved August 2, 2008. 
  192. ^ "Farrakhan Responds to Media Attacks". The Final Call. May 15, 2000. Retrieved August 2, 2008. 
  193. ^ Natambu, pp. 315–316.
  194. ^ Kelley, Robin D. G. (1999). "Malcolm X". Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. New York: Basic Civitas Books. p. 1233. 
  195. ^ Terrill, pp. 15–16.
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  197. ^ Terrill, p. 184.
  198. ^ Lomax. When the Word Is Given. p. 91. "'I'll be honest with you,' Malcolm X said to me. 'Everybody is talking about differences between the Messenger and me. It is absolutely impossible for us to differ.'" 
  199. ^ Lomax, When the Word Is Given, p. 67.
  200. ^ Lomax, When the Word Is Given, p. 171.
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  226. ^ Cone, p. 291.
  227. ^ Marable, pp. 301–302.
  228. ^ Sales, p. 5.
  229. ^ Sales, p. 3.
  230. ^ Marable, p. 302.
  231. ^ Sales, p. 4.
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  • Carson, Clayborne (1991). Malcolm X: The FBI File. New York: Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-88184-758-5. 
  • Clarke, John Henrik, ed. (1990) [1969]. Malcolm X: The Man and His Times. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press. ISBN 0-86543-201-5. 
  • Clegg III, Claude Andrew (1997). An Original Man: The Life and Times of Elijah Muhammad. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-18153-1. 
  • Cone, James H. (1991). Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books. ISBN 0-88344-721-5. 
  • DeCaro, Jr., Louis A. (1996). On the Side of My People: A Religious Life of Malcolm X. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-1864-7. 
  • Dyson, Michael Eric (1995). Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509235-X. 
  • Evanzz, Karl (1992). The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 1-56025-049-6. 
  • Helfer, Andrew; Randy DuBurke (2006). Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography. New York: Hill and Wang. ISBN 0-8090-9504-1. 
  • Karim, Benjamin (1992). Remembering Malcolm. with Peter Skutches and David Gallen. New York: Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-88184-881-6. 
  • Kondo, Zak A. (1993). Conspiracys: Unravelling the Assassination of Malcolm X. Washington, D.C.: Nubia Press. ISBN 0-9618815-1-13. 
  • Lincoln, C. Eric (1961). The Black Muslims in America. Boston: Beacon Press. OCLC 422580. 
  • Lomax, Louis E. (1987) [1968]. To Kill a Black Man. Los Angeles: Holloway House. ISBN 0-87067-731-4. 
  • Lomax, Louis E. (1963). When the Word Is Given. Cleveland: World Publishing. OCLC 1071204. 
  • Malcolm X (1992) [1965]. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. with the assistance of Alex Haley. New York: One World. ISBN 0-345-37671-4. 
  • Malcolm X (1989) [1970]. By Any Means Necessary: Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X. George Breitman, ed. New York: Pathfinder Press. ISBN 0-87348-150-X. 
  • Malcolm X (1989) [1971]. The End of White World Supremacy: Four Speeches by Malcolm X. Benjamin Karim, ed. New York: Arcade. ISBN 1-55970-006-8. 
  • Malcolm X (1990) [1965]. Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements. George Breitman, ed. New York: Grove Weidenfeld. ISBN 0-8021-3213-8. 
  • Malcolm X (1991) [1968]. The Speeches of Malcolm X at Harvard. Archie Epps, ed. New York: Paragon House. ISBN 1-55778-479-5. 
  • Marable, Manning (2009). "Rediscovering Malcolm's Life: A Historian's Adventures in Living History". in Marable, Manning; Aidi, Hishaam D. Black Routes to Islam. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-8400-X. 
  • Natambu, Kofi (2002). The Life and Work of Malcolm X. Indianapolis: Alpha Books. ISBN 0-02-864218-X. 
  • Perry, Bruce (1991). Malcolm: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America. Barrytown, N.Y.: Station Hill. ISBN 0-88268-103-6. 
  • Rickford, Russell J. (2003). Betty Shabazz: A Remarkable Story of Survival and Faith Before and After Malcolm X. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks. ISBN 1-4022-0171-0. 
  • Sales, William W. (1994). From Civil Rights to Black Liberation: Malcolm X and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Boston: South End Press. ISBN 0-89608-480-9. 
  • Terrill, Robert (2004). Malcolm X: Inventing Radical Judgment. Lansing, Mich.: Michigan State University Press. ISBN 0-87013-730-1. 

Further reading

  • Alkalimat, Abdul. Malcolm X for Beginners. New York: Writers and Readers, 1990.
  • Asante, Molefi K. Malcolm X as Cultural Hero: and Other Afrocentric Essays. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1993.
  • Baldwin, James. One Day, When I Was Lost: A Scenario Based On Alex Haley's "The Autobiography Of Malcolm X". New York: Dell, 1992.
  • Breitman, George. The Last Year of Malcolm X: The Evolution of a Revolutionary. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1967.
  • Breitman, George, and Herman Porter. The Assassination of Malcolm X. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1976.
  • Carew, Jan. Ghosts In Our Blood: With Malcolm X in Africa, England, and the Caribbean. Chicago: Lawrence Hill, 1994.
  • Cleage, Albert B., and George Breitman. Myths About Malcolm X: Two Views. New York: Merit, 1968.
  • Collins, Rodney P. The Seventh Child. New York: Dafina; London: Turnaround, 2002.
  • Davis, Thulani. Malcolm X: The Great Photographs. New York: Stewart, Tabon and Chang, 1992.
  • DeCaro, Louis A. Malcolm and the Cross: The Nation of Islam, Malcolm X, and Christianity. New York: New York University, 1998.
  • Doctor, Bernard Aquina. Malcolm X for Beginners. New York: Writers and Readers, 1992.
  • Friedly, Michael. The Assassination of Malcolm X. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1992.
  • Gallen, David, ed. Malcolm A to Z: The Man and His Ideas. New York: Carroll and Graf, 1992.
  • Gallen, David, ed. Malcolm X: As They Knew Him. New York: Carroll and Graf, 1992.
  • Goldman, Peter. The Death and Life of Malcolm X. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1979.
  • Jamal, Hakim A. From The Dead Level: Malcolm X and Me. New York: Random House, 1972.
  • Jenkins, Robert L. The Malcolm X Encyclopedia. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.
  • Kly, Yussuf Naim, ed. The Black Book: The True Political Philosophy of Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik El Shabazz). Atlanta: Clarity Press, 1986.
  • Leader, Edward Roland. Understanding Malcolm X: The Controversial Changes in His Political Philosophy. New York: Vantage Press, 1993.
  • Lee, Spike with Ralph Wiley. By Any Means Necessary: The Trials and Tribulations of The Making Of Malcolm X. New York, N.Y.: Hyperion, 1992.
  • Maglangbayan, Shawna. Garvey, Lumumba, and Malcolm: National-Separatists. Chicago, Third World Press 1972.
  • Marable, Manning. On Malcolm X: His Message & Meaning. Westfield, N.J.: Open Media, 1992.
  • Myers, Walter Dean. Malcolm X By Any Means Necessary. New York: Scholastic, 1993.
  • Shabazz, Ilyasah. Growing Up X. New York: One World, 2002.
  • Strickland, William, et al.. Malcolm X: Make It Plain. Penguin Books, 1994.
  • T'Shaka, Oba. The Political Legacy of Malcolm X. Richmond, California: Pan Afrikan Publications, 1983.
  • Wolfenstein, Eugene Victor. The Victims of Democracy: Malcolm X and the Black Revolution. London: Free Association Books, 1989.
  • Wood, Joe, ed. Malcolm X: In Our Own Image. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.

External links

Other links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be 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.

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, or Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little (19 May 192521 February 1965) was an American black nationalist leader.



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.
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.

The Bullet or the Ballot (1964)

Speech at Cory Methodist Church, Cleveland, Ohio (3 April 1964)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • I don't see any American dream; I see an American nightmare.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Speech in Detroit, Michigan (12 April 1964)
  • 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 — 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.
  • The government has failed us; you can’t deny that. Anytime you live in the twentieth century, 1964, and you walkin' 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.
  • 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.
  • When I speak, I don’t speak as a Democrat, or a Republican... 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 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. We haven’t benefited from America’s 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.

Malcolm X on Zionism (1964)

Taken from the Egyptian Gazette (17 September 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?"
  • 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.""
  • 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.
  • 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
  • The only true world solution today is governments guided by true religion — of the spirit.
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 (1964-06-28)
    • 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)
  • 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?)
  • I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color.


  • We are African, and we happened to be in America. We are 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.
  • 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 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 (December 3, 1964)
  • 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 (December 3, 1964)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • You can't drive a knife into a man's back nine inches, pull it out six inches, and call it progress.
    • From a radio talk show in 1963
  • 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


  • I think there are plenty of good people in America, but there are also plenty of bad people in America and the bad ones are the ones who seem to have all the power and be in these positions to block things that you and I need. Because this is the situation, you and I have to preserve the right to do what is necessary to bring an end to that situation, and it doesn't mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don't even call it violence when it's self-defense, I call it intelligence.
  • I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who 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 system of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash but I don't think it will be based on the color of the skin.
  • 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.
  • The economic philosophy of black nationalism only means that our people need to be re-educated into the importance of controlling the economy of the community in which we live, which means that we won't have to constantly be involved in picketing and boycotting other people in other communities in order to get jobs.
  • Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.
  • 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 .
  • 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.
  • This religion recognizes all men as brothers. It accepts all human beings as equals before God, and as equal members in the Human Family of Mankind. I totally reject Elijah Muhammad's racist philosophy, which he has labeled 'Islam' only to fool and misuse gullible people as he fooled and misused me. But I blame only myself, and no one else for the fool that I was, and the harm that my evangelical foolishness on his behalf has done to others.
  • It's a crime, it's a crime what people don't know about their history. And we have not only to learn history, but I invite you to that other excitement, the excitement of unlearning history, unlearning the history that you learned.


These need some further sorting as well as sourcing
  • We declare our right on this earth to be a man, 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.
  • It is only after the deepest darkness that the greatest light can come; it is only after extreme grief that the greatest joy can come; it is only after slavery and prison that the greatest appreciation of freedom can come. — 1965
  • Yes, I'm an extremist. The black race here in North America is in extremely bad condition. You show me a black man who isn't an extremist and I'll show you one who needs psychiatric attention! — Cited in The Autobiography.
  • I've had enough of somebody else's propaganda. I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole. — From 1965, The Autobiography.
  • I remember one night at Muzdalifa with nothing but the sky overhead, I lay awake amid sleeping Muslim brothers and I learned that pilgrims from every land — every colour, and class, and rank; high officials and the beggar alike — all snored in the same language.
  • America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. — From a letter Malcolm X wrote to his wife and, concurrently, Muslim Mosque, Inc., toward the end of his pilgrimage to Mecca; cited in The Autobiography.
  • They called me the 'angriest Negro in America'. I wouldn't deny that charge.
  • Whites can help us, but they can't join us. There can be no black/white unity, until there is first some black unity. — From the press conference at which he announced the formation of Muslim Mosque, Inc.; cited in The Autobiography.
  • The price of freedom is death. — NYC, June 1964
  • The only way we'll get freedom for ourselves is to identify ourselves with every oppressed people in the world. We are blood brothers to the people of Brazil, Venezuela, Haiti,...Cuba — yes, Cuba too. June 10, 1964.
  • Anytime you beg another man to set you free, you will never be free. Freedom is something that you have to do for yourself.
  • I did many things as a [Black] Muslim that I'm sorry for now. I was a zombie then — like all [Black] Muslims — I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march. Well, I guess a man's entitled to make a fool of himself if he's ready to pay the cost.


  • A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.
  • "When I was born, I was black. When I grow up, I'm black. When I'm ill, I'm black. When I die, I'm black. But you - When you're born, you're pink. When you grow up, you're white. When you're ill, you're green. When you go out in the sun, you go red. When you're cold, you go blue. When you die, you're purple. And you have the nerve to call me Colored?

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Malcolm X (born on May 19, 1925) was an African American nationalist and civil rights activist. Before he became Malcolm X, his name was "Malcolm Little." Malcolm X's mother was white, and his father was a black Baptist minister. At first, his actions and speeches were mostly inspired by the beliefs and teachings of the Nation of Islam. Once he learned that the leader of the Nation of Islam was in many relationships with women, he changed his religion to Sunni Islam. At this point, his opinions of white people got better, and he began to believe that white people can be good people, too. Malcolm X was shot dead in New York City on February 21, 1965, on the first day of the National Brotherhood Week. Most people think that the Nation of Islam had a part in his murder. Malcolm X believed that the ends justified the means, so he believed violence was a necessary part in the fight for equality.

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