Malcom X Quotes


  • “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.”
  • “People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.”
  • “If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success. ”
    “If someone puts their hands on you make sure they never put their hands on anybody else again.”
  • “Sometimes you have to pick the Gun up to put the Gun down”
  • “So early in my life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.”
  • “We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.”
  • “To have once been a criminal is no disgrace. To remain a criminal is the disgrace”
  • “The ability to read awoke inside of me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.”
  • “I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don’t see any American dream–I see an American nightmare.”
  • “As long as you are convinced you have never done anything, you can never do anything.”
  • “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.”
  • “Our objective is complete freedom, justice and equality by any means necessary.”
  • “The day that the black man takes an uncompromising step and realizes that he’s within his rights, when his own freedom is being jeopardized, to use any means necessary to bring about his freedom or put a halt to that injustice, I don’t think he’ll be by himself.”
  • “Without education, you’re not going anywhere in this world.”
  • “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”
  • “Look at yourselves. Some of you teenagers, students. How do you think I feel and I belong to a generation ahead of you – how do you think I feel to have to tell you, ‘We, my generation, sat around like a knot on a wall while the whole world was fighting for its hum an rights – and you’ve got to be born into a society where you still have that same fight.’ What did we do, who preceded you ? I’ll tell you what we did. Nothing. And don’t you make the same mistake we made….”
  • “The goal has always been the same, with the approaches to it as different as mine and Dr. Martin Luther King’s non-violent marching, that dramatizes the brutality and the evil of the white man against defenseless blacks. And in the racial climate of this country today, it is anybody’s guess which of the “extremes” in approach to the black man’s problems might personally meet a fatal catastrophe first — “non-violent” Dr. King, or so-called “violent” me.”
  • “Concerning nonviolence: It is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself, when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks. It is legal and lawful to own a shotgun or a rifle. We believe in obeying the law.”
  • “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 call it violence when it’s self-defense, I call it intelligence.”
  • “If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it is wrong to be violent defending black women and black children and black babies and black men, then it is 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.”
  • “I don’t mean go out and get violent; but at the same time you should never be nonviolent unless you run into some nonviolence. I’m nonviolent with those who are nonviolent with me. But when you drop that violence on me, then you’ve made me go insane, and I’m not responsible for what I do.”
  • “I don’t favor violence. If we could bring about recognition and respect of our people by peaceful means, well and good. Everybody would like to reach his objectives peacefully. But I’m also a realist. The only people in this country who are asked to be nonviolent are black people.”
  • “Last but not least, I must say this concerning the great controversy over rifles and shotguns. The only thing I’ve ever said is that in areas where the government has proven itself either unwilling or unable to defend the lives and the property of Negroes, it’s time for Negroes to defend themselves. Article number two of the Constitutional amendments provides you and me the right to own a rifle or a shotgun. It is constitutionally legal to own a shotgun or a rifle. This doesn’t mean you’re going to get a rifle and form battalions and go out looking for white folks, although you’d be within your rights – I mean, you’d be justified; but that would be illegal and we don’t do anything illegal. If the white man doesn’t want the black man buying rifles and shotguns, then let the government do its job. That’s all.”
  • “Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression.”
  • “Truth is on the side of the oppressed.”
  • “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”
  • “You don’t have to be a man to fight for freedom. All you have to do is to be an intelligent human being.”
  • “If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.”
  • “The price of freedom is death.”
  • “Respect me, or put me to death.”
  • “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.”
  • “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.”
  • “I am not a racist…. In the past I permitted myself to be used…to make sweeping indictments of all white people, the entire white race and these generalizations have caused injuries to some whites who perhaps did not deserve to be hurt. Because of the spiritual enlightenment which I was blessed to receive as a result of my recent pilgrimage to the Holy city of Mecca, I no longer subscribe to sweeping indictments of any one race. I am now striving to live the life of a true…Muslim. I must repeat that I am not a racist nor do I subscribe to the tenants of racism. I can state in all sincerity that I wish nothing but freedom, justice and equality, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all people.”
  • “I am not a racist in any form whatsoever. I don’t believe in any form of discrimination or segregation.”
  • “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.”
  • “Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy. We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free humans in this society.”
  • “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.”
  • “When you go to a church and you see the pastor of that church with a philosophy and a program that’s designed to bring black people together and elevate black people, join that church! If you see where the NAACP is preaching and practising that which is designed to make black nationalism materialize, join the NAACP. Join any kind of organization–civic, religious, fraternal, political or otherwise–that’s based on lifting… the black man up and making him master of his own community.”
  • “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.”
  • “We black men have a hard enough time in our own struggle for justice, and already have enough enemies as it is, to make the drastic mistake of attacking each other and adding more weight to an already unbearable load.”
  • “There can be no black-white unity until there is first some black unity…. We cannot think of uniting with others, until after we have first united among ourselves. We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.”
  • “Who ever heard of angry revolutionists all harmonizing ‘We shall overcome … Suum Day…’ while tripping and swaying along arm-in-arm with the very people they were supposed to be angrily revolting against ? Who ever heard of angry revolutionists swinging their bare feet together with their oppressor in lily-pad park pools, with gospels and guitars and ‘I have a dream’ speeches? And the black masses in America were–and still are–having a nightmare.”
  • “The white man knows what a revolution is. He knows that the Black Revolution is worldwide in scope and in nature. The Black Revolution is sweeping Asia, is sweeping Africa, is rearing its head in Latin America. The Cuban Revolution – that’s a revolution. They overturned the system. Revolution is in Asia, revolution is in Africa, and the white man is screaming because he sees revolution in Latin America. How do you think he’ll react to you when you learn what a real revolution is?”
  • “It is incorrect to classify the revolt of the Negro as simply a radical conflict of black against white or as a purely American problem. Rather, we are today seeing a global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiter.”
  • “The same rebellion, the same impatience, the same anger that exists in the hearts of the dark people in Africa and Asia is existing in the hearts and minds of 20 million black people in this country who have been just as thoroughly colonized as the people in Africa and Asia.”
  • “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.”
  • ” 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 zionist argument to justify Israel’s present occupation of Arab Palestine has no intelligent or legal basis in history.”
  • “It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, the capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.”
  • “I might point out here that colonialism or imperialism, as the slave system of the West is called, is not something that is just confined to England or France or the United States. The interests in this country are in cahoots with the interests in France and the interests in Britain. It’s one huge complex or combine, and it creates what’s known not as the American power structure or the French power structure, but an international power structure. This international power structure is used to suppress the masses of dark-skinned people all over the world and exploit them of their natural resources.”
  • “I think that an objective analysis of events that are taking place on this earth today points towards some type of ultimate showdown. You can call it political showdown, or even a showdown between the economic systems that exist on this earth which almost boil down along racial lines. I do believe that there will be a clash between East and West. I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation.”
  • “A new world order is in the making, and it is up to us to prepare ourselves that we may take our rightful place in it.”
  • “A ballot is like a bullet. You don’t throw your ballots until you see a target, and if that target is not in reach, keep your ballot in your pocket.”
  • “We, the Black masses, don’t want these leaders who seek our support coming to us representing a certain political party. They must come to us today as Black Leaders representing the welfare of Black people. We won’t follow any leader today who comes on the basis of political party. Both parties (Democrat and Republican) are controlled by the same people who have abused our rights, and who have deceived us with false promises every time an election rolls around.”
  • “They don’t stand for anything different in South Africa than America stands for. The only difference is over there they preach as well as practice apartheid. America preaches freedom and practices slavery.”
  • “I would like to point something out so that we’ll understand each other better. I don’t want you to think in the statements I made that I’m being disrespectful towards you as white people. I’m being frank. And I think that my statements will give you a better insight on the mind of a black man than most statements you get from most people who call themselves Negroes, who usually tell you what they want you to hear with the hope…that will make them draw closer to you and create a better possibility of getting from you some of the crumbs that you might let fall from your table. Well, I’m not looking for crumbs so I’m not trying to delude you.”
  • “You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or who says it.”
  • “If you are in a country that is progressive, the woman is progressive. If you’re in a country that reflects the consciousness toward the importance of education, it’s because the woman is aware of the importance of education. But in every backward country you’ll find the women are backward, and in every country where education is not stressed its because the women don’t have education.”
  • “I believe in human rights for everyone, and none of us is qualified to judge each other and that none of us should therefore have that authority.”
  • “It is not a case of our people…wanting either separation or integration. The use of these words actually clouds the real picture. The 22 million Afro-Americans don’t seek either separation or integration. They seek recognition and respect as human beings.”
  • “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.”
  • “We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for integration, nor are we fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition…for the right to live as free humans in this society.”
  • “I believe in recognizing every human being as a human being – neither white, black, brown, or red; and when you are dealing with humanity as a 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.”
  • “I’m the man you think you are…. If you want to know what I’ll do, figure out what you’ll do. I’ll do the same thing — only more of it.”
  • “I am neither a fanatic nor a dreamer. I am a black man who loves peace, and justice, and loves his people.”
  • “I believe that it would be almost impossible to find anywhere in America a black man who has lived further down in the mud of human society than I have; or a black man who has been any more ignorant than I have; or a black man who has suffered more anguish during his life than I have. But it is only after the deepest darkness that the greatest joy can come; it is only after slavery and prison that the sweetest appreciation of freedom can come.”
  • “I may say, though, that I don’t think it should ever be put upon a black man, I don’t think the burden to defend any position should ever be put upon the black man, because it is the white man collectively who has shown that he is hostile toward integration and toward intermarriage and toward those other strides toward oneness. So as a black man, and especially as a black American, any stand that I formerly took, I don’t think that I have to defend it because it’s still a reaction to the society, and it’s a reaction that was produced by the society; and I think that it is the society that produced this that should be attacked, not the reaction that develops among the people who are the victims of that negative society.”
  • “I am and always will be a Muslim. My religion is Islam.”
  • “For 12 long years I lived within the narrow-minded confines of the ‘straightjacket world’ created by my strong belief that Elijah Muhammad was a messenger direct from God Himself, and my faith in what I now see to be a pseudo-religious philosophy that he preaches…. I shall never rest until I have undone the harm I did to so many well-meaning, innocent Negroes who through my own evangelistic zeal now believe in him even more fanatically and more blindly than I did.”
  • “I had blind faith in him. My faith in Elijah Muhammad was more blind and more uncompromising than any faith that any man has ever had for another man. And so I didn’t try and see him as he actually was.”
  • “The thing that you have to understand about those of us in the Black Muslim movement was that all of us believed 100 percent in the divinity of Elijah Muhammad. We believed in him. We actually believed that God, in Detroit by the way, that God had taught him and all of that. I always believed that he believed in himself. And I was shocked when I found out that he himself didn’t believe it. And when that shock reached me, then I began to look everywhere else and try to get a better understanding of the things that confront all of us so that we can get together in some kind of way to offset them.”
  • “Before the Black Muslim movement came along, the NAACP was looked upon as radical; they were getting ready to investigate it. And then along came the Muslim movement and frightened the white man so hard that he began to say, ‘Thank God for old Uncle Roy, and Uncle Whitney, and Uncle A. Philip….’ “
  • “I think you’ll find, brother, that there are Muslims everywhere. Wherever you find militancy today among so-called Negroes, watch real closely. You’re liable to be looking at a Muslim.”
  • “I am a Muslim, because it’s a religion that teaches you an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. It teaches you to respect everybody, and treat everybody right. But it also teaches you if someone steps on your toe, chop off their foot. And I carry my religious axe with me all the time.”
  • “There is nothing in our book, the Qur’an, that teaches us to suffer peacefully. Our religion teaches us to be intelligent. Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone lays a hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”
  • “I believe in Islam. I am a Muslim and there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim, nothing wrong with the religion of Islam. It just teaches us to believe in Allah as the God. Those of you who are Christian probably believe in the same God, because I think you believe in the God Who created the universe. That’s the One we believe in, the One Who created universe–the only difference being you call Him God and we call Him Allah. The Jews call Him Jehovah. If you could understand Hebrew, you would probably call Him Jehovah too. If you could understand Arabic, you would probably call Him Allah….
  • “America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white, but the white attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all together, irrespective of their color.”
  • “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.”
  • “True Islam taught me that it takes all of the religious, political, economic, psychological, and racial ingredients, or characteristics, to make the Human Family and the Human Society complete.” 
  • “At one or another college or university, usually in the informal gatherings after I had spoken, perhaps a dozen generally white-complexioned people would come up to me, identifying themselves as Arabian, Middle Eastern or North African Muslims who happened to be visiting, studying, or living in the United States. They had said to me that, my white-indicting statements notwithstanding, they felt I was sincere in considering myself a Muslim — and they felt if I was exposed to what they always called ‘true Islam,’ I would ‘understand it, and embrace it.’ Automatically, as a follower of Elijah, I had bridled whenever this was said. But in the privacy of my own thoughts after several of these experiences, I did question myself: if one was sincere in professing a religion, why should he balk at broadening his knowledge of that religion?
    Those orthodox Muslims whom I had met, one after another, had urged me to meet and talk with a Dr. Mahmoud Youssef Shawarbi. . . . Then one day Dr. Shawarbi and I were introduced by a newspaperman. He was cordial. He said he had followed me in the press; I said I had been told of him, and we talked for fifteen or twenty minutes. We both had to leave to make appointments we had, when he dropped on me something whose logic never would get out of my head. He said, ‘No man has believed perfectly until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.’ “
  • “If we don’t stand for something, we may fall for anything.”
  • “Early in life I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.”
  • “My alma mater was books, a good library…. I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.”
  • “Anytime you see someone more successful than you are, they are doing something you aren’t.”
  • “History is a people’s memory, and without a memory, man is demoted to the lower animals.”
  • “Here I am, back in Mecca. I am still traveling, trying to broaden my mind, for I’ve seen too much of the damage narrow-mindedness can make of things, and when I return home to America, I will devote what energies I have to repairing the damage.”
  • “In my recent travels into African countries and others, I was impressed by the importance of having a working unity among all peoples, black as well as white.”
  • “For the freedom of my 22 million black brothers and sisters here in America, I do believe that I have fought the best that I know how, and the best that I could, with the shortcomings that I have had…I know that societies often have killed people who have helped to change those societies. And if I can die having brought any light, having exposed any meaningful truth that will help destroy the racist cancer that is malignant in the body of America then, all of the credit is due to Allah. Only the mistakes have been mine.”
  • “I always knew it would end like this.”
  • “All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds.”
  • “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.”
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