Malcolm X at Harvard Law School Forum (March 24, 1961)

Ensuring Socio-economic Justice

Malcolm X (Malik el-Shabazz)

Shawwal 22, 1389 1970-01-01

by Malcolm X (Malik el-Shabazz)

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen. We thank you for inviting us here to the Harvard Law School Forum this evening to present our views on this timely topic: The American Negro, Problems and Solutions. But to understand our views, the views of the Black Muslims, you must first realize that we are a religious group, and you must also know something about our religion, the religion of Islam.

The Creator of the Universe, whom many of you call God or Jehovah, is known to the Muslims by the name Allah. Since the Muslims believe there is but one God, and that all the prophets came from this one God, we believe also that all prophets taught the same religion, and that they themselves called that religion Islam, an Arabic word that means the complete submission and obedience to the will of Allah.

One who practices this Divine Obedience is called a Muslim (commonly known, spelled, and referred to here in the West as Moslem). There are over 725 million Muslims on this earth, predominantly in Africa and Asia, the non-white world...and we here in America who are under the Divine Leadership of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, are an integral part of the vast World of Islam that stretches from the China Seas to the sunny shores of West Africa.

A unique situation faces the 20 million ex-slaves here in America because of our unique condition, thus our acceptance of Islam, and into Islam, affects us uniquely...differently than all other Muslim “converts” anywhere else on this earth.

Mr. Elijah Muhammad is our Divine Leader and Teacher here in America. Mr. Muhammad believes in and obeys God 100 per cent, and is teaching and working among our people to fulfill God’s Divine Purpose today.

I am here at this Harvard Law School Forum this evening to represent Mr. Elijah Muhammad, the spiritual head of the fastest-growing group of Black Muslims in the Western Hemisphere.

We who follow Mr. Muhammad know that he has been divinely taught and sent to us by God Himself. We believe that the miserable plight of the 20 million black people in America is the fulfillment of divine prophecy. We believe that the serious race problem that our presence here poses for America is also the fulfillment of divine prophecy. We also believe that the presence today in America of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, his teachings among the 20 million so-called Negroes, and his naked warning to America concerning her treatment of these 20 million ex-slaves is all the fulfillment of divine prophecy.

Therefore, when Mr. Muhammad declares that the only solution to America’s serious race problem is complete separation of the two races, he is fulfilling that which was predicted by all of the biblical prophets to take place in this day.

But, because Mr. Muhammad takes this uncompromising stand, those of you who don’t understand biblical prophecy wrongly label him as a racist, a hate teacher, or of being anti-white, and of teaching black supremacy.

But, this evening, we are all here at the Harvard Law School Forum together: both races, face to face. During the next few moments we can question and examine for ourselves the wisdom or the folly of what Mr. Muhammad is teaching.

Many of you who classify yourselves as “white” express surprise and shock at this truth that Mr. Muhammad is teaching among your 20 million ex-slaves here in America, but you should be neither surprised nor shocked.

As students, scholars, professors and scientists you should be well aware that we are living in a world and at a time when great changes are taking place. New ideas are replacing the old ones. Old governments are collapsing, and new nations are being born. The entire “old system” which has held the Old World together has lost its effectiveness, and now that Old World is going out. A new system or New World must replace the Old World.

Just as the old ideas must be removed to make way for the new, God has declared to Mr. Muhammad that the evil features of this wicked Old World must be exposed, faced up to, and removed in order to make way for the New World that God Himself is getting ready to establish.

The Divine Mission of Mr. Muhammad here in America today is to prepare us for this New World of Righteousness, by delivering to us a message that will give us a better understanding of this Old World’s many defects, and then we will all agree that God must remove this wicked Old World.

We see by reports in the daily press that even many of you who are scholars and scientists think that this message of Islam that is being taught here in America among your 20 million ex-slaves is “new,” or that it is something Mr. Muhammad himself has made up.

Mr. Muhammad’s religious message is not “new.” All of the scientists and prophets of old predicted that a man such as he, with a doctrine or message such as this that Mr. Muhammad is spreading among your 20 million ex-slaves, would make his appearance among us at a time such as we are living in today.

It is also written in your own scriptures that this prophetic figure would not be raised up from the midst of the educated class, but that God would make His choice of a man from among the lowly, uneducated, downtrodden and oppressed masses, among the lowest element of America’s 20 million ex-slaves.

Just as it was in the days when God raised up Moses from among the lowly Hebrew slaves, and missioned him to separate his oppressed people from a slave master named Pharaoh, and Moses found himself opposed by the scholars and scientists of that day, who are symbolically described in the bible as “Pharaoh’s Magicians,” and just as Jesus, himself a lowly carpenter, was also missioned by God in that day to find his people...the “lost sheep”...and separate them from their Gentile enemies, and restore them back among their own people, Jesus also found himself opposed by the scholars and scientists of his day, who are symbolically described in the bible as “scribes, priests, and pharisees.”

Just as the learned class of those days disagreed and opposed both Moses and Jesus primarily because of their humble origin and status, today Mr. Elijah Muhammad is likewise being opposed by the learned, educated intellectuals from among his own kind primarily because of his humble origin and status in their eyesight, and efforts are made by these modem-day “magicians, scribes, and Pharisees” to ridicule Mr. Muhammad by magnifying the humble origin of his many followers.

Moses was raised up among his enslaved people at a time when God was planning to remove the power of the slave master and bring about a great change by placing the slaves in a land of their own where they could give birth to a “New Civilization,” completely independent of their former slave master. Pharaoh opposed God’s plan and God’s servant, so Pharaoh and his people were destroyed.

Jesus was sent among his people again at a time when God was planning to bring about a great change. The new dispensation preached by Jesus 2,000 years ago ushered in a new type of civilization, the Christian civilization, better known as the Christian world.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, came 600 years after Jesus with another dispensation that did not destroy or remove the Christian civilization, but it did put a dent in it, a wound that has lasted even until today.

Now today, God has sent Mr. Elijah Muhammad among the downtrodden and oppressed so-called American Negroes to warn us that God is again about to bring about another great change...only this time, it will be a Final Change! This is the day and the time for a Complete Change.

Mr. Muhammad is teaching that the religion of Islam is the only solution to the problems confronting our people here in America, but he also warns us that it is even more important for us to know the base or foundation of that which we must build upon tomorrow.

Therefore, the way in which Mr. Muhammad teaches us the religion of Islam, and the particular kind of Islam he teaches us, may appear to be different from that which is taught in the Old World of Islam, but the basic principles and practices are the same.

You must remember: the condition of America’s 20 million ex-slaves is uniquely pitiful. But, just as the old religious leaders in the days of Moses and Jesus refused to accept Moses and Jesus as religious reformers, today many of the religious leaders in the Old Muslim World may also refute the teachings of Mr. Elijah Muhammad, not realizing the unique condition of these 20 million ex-slaves, and by not understanding that Mr. Elijah Muhammad’s teachings are divinely prescribed to rectify the miserable condition of our oppressed people here, but as God made Pharaoh’s Magicians bow before Moses, and the Scribes and Pharisees bow before Jesus, it is God’s plan today to make all opposition, both at home and abroad, bow before this truth that is now being taught by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

We are 4,000 years from the time of that great change which took place in Moses’ day. We are 2,000 years from the time of that great change that took place in Jesus’ day, and if you will but look around you on this earth today it will be as clear as the five fingers on your hand that we are again living at the time of a great change right now.

God has come to close out the entire Old World, the Old World in which for the past 6,000 years practically the entire earth has been deceived, conquered, colonized, ruled, enslaved, oppressed and exploited by the Caucasian race.

When Pharaoh’s civilization had reached its peak, and his time to rule over the slaves was up, God appeared unto Moses and revealed to him that He had something different for his people. Likewise, God has told Mr. Muhammad that He has something different for his People, the so-called Negroes, here in America today, something that up until now has never before been revealed. Mr. Muhammad teaches us that this Old World has seen nothing yet, the real thing is yet to come.

The Black Muslims who follow Mr. Muhammad are not only making our exit out of the door of the Old World, but the door to the New World is yet to be opened and what is inside that door is yet to be revealed.

This present teaching of Mr. Muhammad among your 20 million ex-slaves is only to prepare us to walk out of this wicked Old World in as intelligent, pleasant, and peaceful a way as is possible.

This present teaching among the so-called American Negroes is designed only to show proof to us why we should give up this wicked Old House. The roof is leaking; the walls are collapsing, and we find it is no longer able to support the tremendous weight caused by our continued presence in it.

And since the knowledge of the deterioration and eventual collapse of this Old Building has come to Mr. Muhammad from Almighty God Himself, whose proper name is Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds, the Master of the Judgment Day, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is pointing these dangerous present conditions and future events out to you who have enslaved us, as well as to us.

With the proper support and guidance our people can get out of this sagging Old Building before it collapses.

But this support and guidance that we need actually consists of being taught: a thorough knowledge of the origin, history and nature of the Caucasian race, as well as a thorough knowledge of our own black nation. We must have a knowledge of the true origin and history and the white man’s Christian religion, as well as an understanding of the Islamic religion that prevails primarily among our brothers and sisters in Africa and Asia.

You will probably ask us: Why then, if this Old House is going to collapse or go up in smoke, are the Black Muslims asking for some states to be set aside for us right here in this country. It’s like asking for a chance to retain rooms in a house that you claim is doomed for total destruction?

God is giving America every opportunity to repent and atone for the crime she committed when she enslaved our people, just as God gave Pharaoh a chance to repent before He finally destroyed him because he was too proud to free his slaves and give them complete justice.

We are asking you for territory here only because of the great opposition we receive from this government in our efforts to awaken our people, unite them, separate them from their oppressors, and return them to our own land and people.

You should never make the drastic mistake of thinking that Mr. Muhammad has no place to take his followers in the World of Islam. No sir! He is not shut out there like many of you wish to believe. All who accept Islam and follow him have been offered a home in the Muslim World.

Our people have been oppressed and exploited here in America for 400 years, and now with Mr. Muhammad we can leave this wicked land of bondage, but our former slave master is yet opposing his efforts and is unjustly persecuting his followers who have left the Christian church and accepted the religion of Islam. This is further proof that our Caucasian slave master does not want us or trust us to leave him and live elsewhere on this earth, and yet if we stay here among them he continues to keep us at the very lowest level of his society. Pick up any daily paper or magazine and examine the anti-Muslim propaganda and the false charges leveled against our beloved religious leader by some of America’s leading reporters. This only points up the fact that the Caucasian race is never willing to let any black man who is not their puppet or parrot speak for our people or lead our people out of their enslaving clutches without giving him great opposition.

The Caucasian slave master has opposed all such leaders in the past, and even today he sanctions and supports only those Negro spokesmen who parrot his doctrines, his ideas or those who accept his so-called “advice” on how our people should carry on our struggle against his 400 years of tyranny.

The Christian world has failed to give the black man justice. This Christian government has failed to give 20 million ex-slaves justice for our 310 years of free slave labor. Despite this, we have been better Christians even than those who taught us Christianity. We have been America’s most faithful servants during peace time, and her bravest soldiers during war time. And still, white Christians have been unable to recognize us and accept us as fellow human beings. Today we can see that the Christian religion of the Caucasian race has failed us. Thus the black masses are turning away from the church back to the religion of Islam.

The government sends its agents among our people to tell lies: they have a well-organized all-out effort to harass them, in an effort to frighten those of our people in this country who wish to accept the religion of Islam, and unite under the spiritual guidance and divine leadership of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

Therefore, Mr. Muhammad has declared to you, and to your government, that if you don’t want your 20 million ex-slaves to leave you and return to our own land and people and since your actions have proved that the Caucasian race will not accept these 20 million ex-slaves here among them as complete equals, then let us separate ourselves from you right here, into a separate territory that we can call our own, and on which we can do something for ourselves and for our own kind.

Since we cannot live among the Caucasians in peace, and there is not enough time left for us to wait for the Caucasian race to be “re-educated” and freed of their racial prejudices, and their inbred beliefs and practices of white supremacy...I repeat: Let our people be separated from you, and give us some territory here that we can call our own, and live in peace among ourselves.

According to recent news dispatches appearing in daily papers throughout this nation: in prisons all over the country the wardens are unjustly persecuting the inmates who want to change from the Christian religion and accept the religion of Islam and follow the spiritual guidance of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

These prison wardens even admit that when the inmates change from Christianity to Islam they become model prisoners, but despite this they are being persecuted and prevented from reading the Holy Qur'an, the same Holy Book that is read daily by hundreds of millions of our darker brothers and sisters in Africa and Asia.

When the true facts about this religious persecution are made known among the 725 million Muslims in the World of Islam, that strategic area that stretches from the China Seas to the shores of West Africa, how do you think the American Caucasians will then look in the eyes of those non-white people there?

The very fact that there is a concerted effort against Islam by wardens across the country is proof that the American government is trying to stamp out the religion of Islam here in a frantic effort to keep it from spreading among her 20 million ex-slaves whom she continues to confine to the lowly role of second-class citizenship.

Further proof of this is the fact that these 20 million so-called Negroes have never even been taught about the religion of Islam during the entire 400 years since the Caucasian first brought our people here away from our African Muslim culture in chains, and despite the fact that Islam is, and always has been, the prevailing religion among our people in Africa.

Now the American Caucasian, in a last act of desperation, is accusing Mr. Muhammad of not being a true Muslim, and of not teaching true Islam. If the American Caucasian knows so much about true Islam, and has suddenly become such an authority on it, why hasn’t he taught it to his 20 million ex-slaves before now?

Also, the American Caucasian today loves to print glaring headlines saying that the orthodox Muslims don’t recognize or accept Mr. Muhammad and his Black Muslims as true Muslims.

“Divide and rule” has long been the Caucasian strategy to continue their colonization of dark people. The American Caucasian actually has colonized 20 million black people here in this country Simply by dividing us from our African brothers and sisters for 400 years, converting us to his Christian religion, and then by teaching us to call ourselves “Negroes” and telling us we were no longer African.

As hundreds of thousands of the ex-slaves here in America today refuse to attend the church of the Caucasians who enslaved us, shunning all further use of the word “Negro,” and because we are accepting Allah as our God, Islam as our religion, and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad as our religious leader and teacher, now the Americans who enslaved us are reverting back to the old trick of their fellow colonialists, “divide and rule”, by trying to separate us from the Muslim World, thinking that they can in this way alienate us from our people in Africa and Asia who also serve and follow Almighty God, Allah.

There are probably 100,000 of what you call orthodox Muslims in America, who were born in the Muslim World, and who willingly migrated here. But, despite the fact that Islam is a propagating religion, all of those foreign Muslims combined have not been successful in converting 1,000 Americans to Islam.

On the other hand, they see that Mr. Muhammad, all by himself, has hundreds of thousands of his fellow ex-slaves turning Eastward toward Mecca five times daily giving praises to the Great God Allah.

No true Muslim, in his right mind, would denounce or deny this meek and humble little black man, who was himself born in Georgia, the very worst part of this country, as a leader, a defender of the faith, a propagator of the faith, who has rekindled the light of Islam here in the West.

His Caucasian opposers have never gotten even one responsible Muslim official to criticize or denounce Mr. Muhammad. They succeed only in getting some jealous or envious little peddler or merchant who migrated here and wants to be recognized as some sort of leader himself, and who will therefore accept the Caucasian’s thirty pieces of silver to attack this man of God.

How would Mr. Muhammad ever make a trip into the forbidden areas of Arabia, and visit the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina, being welcomed and honored by its most respected religious leaders, the great Imams themselves, if he himself was not recognized as a great religious man, and a man of God, doing miraculous works by spreading Allah’s name here in the West among the 20 million ex-slaves of America?

How could Mr. Muhammad visit the capitals of the Muslim World, and be received by its respected leaders, if he too was not recognized and respected as a Muslim leader by them?

He visited Al-Azhar, the oldest Mosque and Muslim University in the world, and had tea with the Chief Imam, the Grand Sheikh Shaltuat, who kissed him on his forehead in true Muslim fashion, yet the American Caucasians, hoping to block his success among our people, continue to oppose him and say he is not a true Muslim.

Again you will say: Why then doesn’t he and his followers leave this house of bondage right now, and go and live in the Muslim World? All of the Black Muslims can live in the Muslim World tomorrow, but the Honorable Elijah Muhammad wants justice for the entire 20 million so-called Negroes.

You and your Christian government make the problem even more complicated. You don’t want your 20 million ex-slaves to leave you, yet you wont share equal justice with them right here.

Since you don’t want them to leave this country with us, and you won’t give them equal justice among your kind, then we will agree only if you let us separate ourselves from you right here.

Just give us a portion of this country that we can call our own. Put us in it. Then give us everything we need to start our own civilization here...that is, support us for 20 to 25 years, until we are able to go for ourselves. This is God’s plan. This is God’s solution. This is justice, and compensation for our 310 years of free slave labor.

Otherwise, America will reap the full fury of God’s wrath, for her crimes against our people here are many. As your bible says: “He that leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he that kills with the sword shall be killed by the sword.” This is the law of justice and this is in your own Christian scriptures.

The black masses are shaking off the drugs, or narcotic effect of the token integration promises. A cup of tea in a white restaurant is not sufficient compensation for 310 years of free slave labor. The black masses as represented by the Black Muslims will never be satisfied until we have some land that we can call our own.

Again I repeat: we are not asking for territory here because Mr. Muhammad has no place else to take us. But, to benefit the entire 20 million so-called Negroes, 20 million ex-slaves, who, despite the fact that the Emancipation Proclamation was issued 100 years ago, these oppressed people are still begging their former slave master for recognition as human beings. Therefore, Mr. Muhammad is asking this government to stop toying with our people, stop fooling them year in and year out with false promises of token integration.

Token integration will not solve our problem. This is a false solution. A “token” solution. It is a hypocritical approach to the problem, a tricky scheme devised by you, and propagated by your Negro puppets whom you yourself have appointed as our “leaders” and “spokesmen.”

Integration is not good for either side. It will destroy your race, and your government knows it will also destroy ours, and the problem will still remain unsolved.

God has declared that these 20 million ex-slaves must have a home of their own. After 400 years here among the Caucasians, we are absolutely convinced that we can never live together in peace, unless we are willing to remain subservient to our former masters, therefore, immediate and complete separation is the only solution.

NAACP Attorney Thurgood Marshall has admitted publicly that six years since the Supreme Court decision on desegregation of the schools, only 6 per cent desegregation has taken place. This is an example of integration!

A kidnapper, a robber, an enslaver, a lyncher is just another common criminal in the sight of God, and the above-mentioned criminal acts have been committed on a mass scale for 400 years by your race against America’s 20 million so-called Negroes.

It is true that today America professes to be sorry for her crimes against our people, and she says she wants to repent, and in her desire to atone or make amends she offers her 20 million ex-slaves flowery promises of “token” integration.

Many of these downtrodden victims want to forgive America; they want to forget the crimes you have committed against them, and some are even willing to accept the formula of “token integration” that you yourself have devised as the solution to correct the problems created by your criminal acts against them.

In a court of justice, the criminal can confess his crimes and throw himself on the mercy of the court if he has truly repented, but neither the criminal nor his victims have any say-so in suggesting the sentence that is to be passed upon the guilty or the price that the confessed criminal must pay. This is left in the hands of the Judge. We are living in the Day of Judgment right now. God is the Judge that our American slave master must now answer to.

God is striking this great country with tornadoes, storms, floods, rain, hail, snow and terrific earthquakes are yet to come. Your people are being afflicted with increasing epidemics of illness and disease, divine plagues that God is striking you with because of your criminal acts against the 20 million ex-slaves, and today instead of repenting and truly compensating our people for their 310 years of free slave labor that built up this great country for you, you buyout the Negro leaders with 30 pieces of silver and get them to sell our people on accepting your “token integration.”

When one uses a “token” on the bus or streetcar that “token” is a substitute for the real money. Token means “a substitute,” that which takes the place of the real thing.

Token integration takes the place of the real thing. Two black students at Georgia University is TOKEN integration. Four black children in New Orleans white schools is TOKEN integration. A handful of black students in the white schools in Little Rock is TOKEN integration. None of this is REAL integration; it is only a pacifier designed to keep these awakening black babies from crying too loud.

The white man’s violent rebellion, and relentless struggle against TOKEN integration is sufficient to prove what would happen if the Negro leaders demanded REAL INTEGRATION.

Also, according to the above-mentioned rate of speed since the desegregation decisions of the Supreme Court, it will take us another thousand years to get the white man in the South sufficiently “re-educated” to accept our people in their midst as equals, and if the rest of the truth is told, it will also take the white man here in the North, West and East just as long as his brother in the South if the frightened Uncle Tom leadership ever stops accepting his master’s “tokens” and begins to demand the real thing.

To many of you here at the Harvard Law School Forum this evening, this sounds ridiculous; to some it even sounds insane. But these 20 million black people here in America now number a nation in their own right. Do you believe a nation within another nation can be successful? Especially when they both have equal education?

Once the slave has his master’s education, the slave wants to be like his master, wants to share his master’s property, and even wants to exercise the same privileges as his master even while he is yet in his master’s house.

This is the core of America’s troubles today; and there will be no peace for America as long as 20 million so-called Negroes are here begging for the rights which America knows she will never grant us.

Even this limited education America has granted her ex-slaves has already produced great unrest and Almighty God says the only way for America to ever have any future peace or prosperity is for her 20 million ex-slaves to be separated from her...and it is for this reason that Mr. Muhammad teaches us that we must have some land of our own.

If we receive equal education, how long do you expect us to remain your passive servants, or second-class citizens? There is no such thing as a second-class citizen. We are full citizens or we are not citizens at all.

When you teach a man the science of government he wants an equal part (or position) in that government... or else he wants a government himself. He begins to demand equality with his master.

No man with equal education will serve you. The only way you can continue to rule us is with a superior knowledge, or by continuing to withhold equal education from our people.

America has not given us equal education, but she has given us enough to make us want more and to make us demand equality of opportunity, and this is causing unrest plus international embarrassment, thus the only solution is immediate separation.

As your colleges and universities turn out an ever increasing number of so-called Negro graduates with education equal to yours, they will automatically increase their demands for equality in everything else. This equal education will increase their spirit of equality and make them feel that they should have everything that you have, and their increasing demands will become a perpetual headache for you and continue to cause you international embarrassment.

In fact, the same Negro students you are turning out today will soon be demanding the same things you now hear being demanded by Mr. Muhammad and the Black Muslims. In my conclusion: I must remind you that since your own Christian Bible states that God is coming in the “last days,” or at the “end of the Old World,” and that God’s coming would bring about a great separation and since we see all sorts of signs throughout the earth that indicate that THE TIME OF GOD’S COMING is upon us, why don’t you repent while there is yet time?

Do justice by your faithful ex-slaves. Give us some land of our own right here, some SEPARATE STATES, so we can separate ourselves from you, then everyone will be satisfied, and perhaps we will all be able to then live happily ever after, as your own Christian Bible says...“every one under his own vine and fig tree.”

Otherwise: all of you who are sitting here, your government, and your entire race will be destroyed and removed from this earth by Almighty God, Allah. I thank you.

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