ICYouSee A to Z:
X is for Malcolm

I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should 
                                                                                                            be respected as such, regardless of their color. --  Malcolm X, 
                                                                                                            January 18, 1965

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Quotations | Links to Other Malcolm X sites | Betty Shabazz | Times and Legacy of Malcolm X

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Quotations by Malcolm X (or Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, as he is less well known)

"Without education, you are not going anywhere." -- Militant Labor Forum, New York, May 29, 1964, recorded in By Any Means Necessary; Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X. Edited by George Breitman (Pathfinder, 1970)

"How can you thank a man for giving you what's already yours? How then can you thank him for giving you only part of what is yours?" -- from a speech (sometimes called "The Ballot or the Bullet") delivered on April 3, 1964, at the Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, recorded in The Voice of Black America. Edited by Philip S. Foner (Simon and Schuster, 1972)

"Twenty-two million African-Americans -- that's what we are -- Africans who are in America." -- from a speech (sometimes called "The Ballot or the Bullet") delivered on April 3, 1964, at the Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, recorded in The Voice of Black America. Edited by Philip S. Foner (Simon and Schuster, 1972)

"If I have a cup of coffee that is too strong for me because it is too black, I weaken it by pouring cream into it. I integrate it with cream. If I keep pouring enough cream in the coffee, pretty soon the entire flavor of the coffee is changed; the very nature of the coffee is changed. If enough cream is poured in, eventually you don't even know that I had coffee in this cup. This is what happened with the March on Washington. The whites didn't integrate it; they infiltrated it. Whites joined it; they engulfed it; they became so much a part of it, it lost its original flavor. It ceased to be a black march; it ceased to be militant; it ceased to be angry; it ceased to be impatient. In fact, it ceased to be a march." -- from a speech delivered December 4, 1963, recorded in The End of White World Supremacy: Four Speeches by Malcolm X. Edited by Benjamin Goodman (Merlin House, 1971)

"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." -- from a speech (sometimes called "The Ballot or the Bullet") delivered on April 3, 1964, at the Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, recorded in The Voice of Black America. Edited by Philip S. Foner (Simon and Schuster, 1972)

An integrated cup of coffee isn't sufficient pay for four hundred years of slave labor." -- from a speech at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City, April 8, 1964, recorded in The End of White World Supremacy: Four Speeches by Malcolm X. Edited by Benjamin Goodman (Merlin House, 1971)

"You canít separate peace from freedom, because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom." -- from a speech in New York City, January 7, 1965, recorded in Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements (Pathfinder, 1965)

"If you're not ready to die for it, put the word "freedom" out of your vocabulary." -- Chicago Defender, November 28, 1962, quoted by Peter Goldman in The Death and Life of Malcolm X. (Harper and Row, 1973)

"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." -- from a speech delivered in 1960 at a Muslim rally in Harlem, recorded in Black Nationalism in America. (Bobbs-Merrill, 1970)

"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 doen't have education." -- from an interview in Paris, November 1964, quoted in By Any Means Necessary: Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X. Edited by George Breitman (Pathfinder, 1970)

"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 the plate." -- from a speech (sometimes called "The Ballot or the Bullet") delivered on April 3, 1964, at the Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, recorded in The Voice of Black America. Edited by Philip S. Foner (Simon and Schuster, 1972)

"It's time now for our people to become conscious of the importance of controlling the economy of our community. If we own the stores, if we operate the businesses, if we try and establish some industry in our own community, then we're developing to the position where we are creating employment for our own kind. Once you control the economy of your own community, then you don't have to picket and boycott and beg some cracker downtown for a job in his business." -- from a speech (sometimes called "The Ballot or the Bullet") delivered on April 3, 1964, at the Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, recorded in The Voice of Black America. Edited by Philip S. Foner (Simon and Schuster, 1972)

"I don't get involved in politics. But it does make the black people in this country who are jobless and unemployed and standing in the welfare line very much discouraged to see a government that can't solve our problem, can't provide job opportunities for us, and at the some time not only Cubans but Hungarians and every other type of white refugee imaginable can come to this country and get everything this government has to offer." -- from a speech in Philadelphia, fall 1963, recorded in The End of White World Supremacy: Four Speeches by Malcolm X. Edited by Benjamin Goodman (Merlin House, 1971)

"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 teach us how to be 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."-- from a speech in Detroit, November 10, 1963, recorded in Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements (Pathfinder, 1965)

"My reason for believing in extremism, intelligently directed extremism, extremism in defense of liberty, is because I firmly believe in my heart that the day that the black man takes an uncompromising step and realizes that he's within his rights, when his own freedom is being jeoparized, to use any means necessary to bring about his freedom or put a hlat to that injustice, I don't think he'll be by himself." -- from the Oxford Union Society debate in which Malcolm spoke for the affirmation on a question of Barry Goldwater's statement "Extremism in the defense of library is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue," December 3, 1964, quoted in By Any Means Necessary: Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X. Edited by George Breitman (Pathfinder, 1970)

"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." -- from an interviewed with Jack Barnes and Barry Sheppard, of the Young Socialist Alliance, on January 18, 1965, quoted in By Any Means Necessary: Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X. Edited by George Breitman (Pathfinder, 1970)

"When I'm traveling around the country, I use my real Muslim name, Malik Shabazz. I make my hotel reservations under that name, and I always see the same thing I've just been telling you. I come to the desk and always see that "here-comes-a-Negro" look. It's kind of a reserved, coldly tolerant cordiality. But when I say "Malik Shabazz," their whole attitude changes: they snap to respect. They think I'm an African. People say what's in a name? There's a whole lot in a name. The American black man is seeing the African respected as a human being. The African gets respect because he has an identity and cultural roots. But most of all because the African owns some land. For these reasons he has his human rights recognized, and that makes his civil rights automatic. " -- from the Playboy interview, February 21, 1965

"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." -- from a speech (sometimes called "The Ballot or the Bullet") delivered on April 3, 1964, at the Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, recorded in The Voice of Black America. Edited by Philip S. Foner (Simon and Schuster, 1972)

"If you've studied the captives being caught by the American soldiers in South Vietnam, you'll find that these guerrillas are young people. Some of them are just children and some haven't reached their teens. Most are teenagers. It is the teenagers abroad, all over the world, who are actually involving themselves in the struggle to eliminate oppression and exploitation. In the Congo, the refugees point out that many of the Congolese revolutionaries, they shoot all the way down to seven years old -- that's been reported in the press. Because the revolutionaries are children, young people. In these countries, the young people are the ones who most quickly identify with the struggle and the necessity to eliminate the evil conditions that exist. And here in this country, it has been my own observation that when you get into a conversation on racism and discrimination and segregation, you will find young people more incensed over it -- they feel more filled with an urge to eliminate it." -- from the same Young Socialist Alliance interview, quoted in By Any Means Necessary: Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X. Edited by George Breitman (Pathfinder, 1970)

"No, I'm not an American. I'm one of the twenty-two million black people who are the victims of Americanism. One of the twenty-two million black people who are the victims of democracy -- nothing but disguised hypocrisy. So I'm not standing here speaking to you as an American, or a patriot, or a flag-saluter, or a flag-waver -- no, not I. I'm speaking as a victim of this American system. And I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don't see any American dream; I see an American nightmare." -- from a speech in Cleveland, April 3, 1964, recorded in Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements (Pathfinder, 1965)

"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....'" -- from a speech in Detroit, February 14, 1965, recorded in Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements (Pathfinder, 1965)

"I've never seen a sincere white man, not when it comes to helping black people. Usually things like this are done by white people to benefit themselves. The white man's primary interest is not to elevate the thinking of black people, or to waken black people, or white people either. The white man is interested in the black man only to the extent that the black man is of use to him. The white man's interest is to make money, to exploit." -- from the Playboy interview, February 21, 1965

"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." -- in answer to a question following a speech in Philadelphia, fall 1963, recorded in The End of White World Supremacy: Four Speeches by Malcolm X. Edited by Benjamin Goodman (Merlin House, 1971)

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Links specific to Malcolm X

'Few others could speak as effectively to the woundedness black Americans carry around with them and replace it, if only for a moment, with a sense of spiritual rigor and strength.' --Clarence Page

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A few words about Betty Shabazz

'I would like to send a valentine to the black woman.  I would like to honor those who have not been Jezebel or Sapphire or Aunt Jemima.... They have been black women trying to discover and live their inner selves without hiding from their blackness, but rather using it as a springboard to the mainstream that represents a larger world. --Clarence Page

"Betty's a good Muslim woman and wife. I don't imagine many other women might put up with the way I am. Awakening this brainwashed black man and telling this arrogant, devilish white man the truth about himself, Betty understands, is a full-time job." -- from The Autobiography of Malcolm X (Grove Press, 1965)

The story of Betty Shabazz is one of pain and triumph. She witnessed the assassination of her husband while she was holding their four-year daughter in her arms. That did not defeat her. An excellent speaker and lecturer, she traveled the country speaking out against racial injustice and encouraging African-American women to come to use their voices in the struggle for racial equality. While raising six daughters as a single parent, she finished her education, earning a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts. She held several positions at institutions of higher education in New York City and was the director of Institutional Advancement and Public Relations at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn at the time of her death. Although an educational administrator does not command the public eye that some others do, she never stopped working for civil and human rights and the advancement of all people.

Other tributes to Betty Shabazz:

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Links related to Malcolm's times and legacy

'For a people whose
self-esteem had constantly been battered by white standards of beauty,
 Malcolm's glorification of Negro features was not idle ego tripping.
 It was therapy.' --Clarence Page

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Last modified: October 30, 2000
Links last checked: October 8, 2000
Author: John Henderson, Ithaca College Library
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