by Malcolm X (Malik el-Shabazz)
Mr. Moderator, students and faculty here at the University of California, brothers and sisters, friends and enemies. The bell up there took so long to stop ringing, I began to suspect that it was probably being manipulated by an integrationist!
Recently the state of California, the Supreme Court here, denied Negro inmates who had become converted to the religion of Islam while serving time in these penal institutions of this state, denied them the right to receive qualified Muslim religious instructors from the outside on the ground that the Muslims who follow the Honorable Elijah Muhammad are not an authentic religious group.
At the same time, the state’s esteemed body of educators here at the University of California barred me from speaking on this campus on the grounds that we do represent an authentic religious group. It meant that your top judicial body deprives us of our religious rights by saying we aren’t a bona fide religious group, and your top body of educators—I think that’s what they’d be called—deprive us of our religious rights by saying we are a bona fide religious group.
Well, I’m happy and thankful to our God, Allah, for enabling them to come to some kind of conclusion as to what we actually are. Because it confused us to see how two important branches of your state government could logically come to opposite conclusions on the same subject.
Or is it that in this state you are permitted the type of intellectual flexibility that enables your state government to speak out of both sides of its mouth in this manner at the same time? And to make certain that there’d be no clarification of the misunderstanding about our religion, I read in the—I think the San Francisco Chronicle, or one of your papers, yesterday—that I was permitted to speak here as long as I didn’t get into religion, or stuck to what they call secular matters.
So it’s not my intention to discuss the Muslim religious group today nor the Muslim religion, but I am a Muslim. But I intend to stick to secular problems. It’s like inviting a Catholic priest or bishop here to speak but forbidding him to mention Catholicism or the pope. Or inviting Billy Graham and telling him not to mention Christ. Or a member of the Kennedy family and expecting him not to mention politics.
It boils down to inviting a Muslim minister to speak on what you call secular problems but denying him the right to speak religiously or from a religious point of view. It’s like telling a bird to fly without his wings. Or a race horse to run without his legs. Then you condemn that bird that you have crippled yourself and condemn the horse that you’ve also crippled because it can’t keep up. This is very hypocritical. But tomorrow, or Sunday, rather, it’s our intention to hold a meeting at the Civic Center in Richmond, at 1:00 p.m. at which time we intend to spell out our religious beliefs, our religious motives, and our religious objectives.
Today during the time that we have, we would like to point out that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us that America is faced with her gravest crisis since the Civil War. Wherever we look today, whether it be in the South, the North, the East, or the West, we see ever-increasing racial tensions.
We see the increase of racial animosity, the increase of racial hostility, and the increase of outright racial hatred. We see masses of Black people who have lost all confidence in the false promises of the hypocritical white politicians. We see masses of Black people who are thoroughly fed up with the deceit of the so-called white liberals, or the white so-called liberals. White liberals who have posed as our friends, white liberals who have been eager to point out what the white man in the South is doing to our people there, while they themselves are doing the same thing to us here in the North.
They have been making a great fuss over the South only to blind us to what is happening here in the North. And now that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad has opened the eyes of America’s 20 million Blacks, we can easily see that this white fox here in the North is even more cruel and more vicious than the white wolf in the South. The southern wolves always let you know where you stand. But these northern foxes pose as white liberals. They pose as your friend, as your benefactor, as your employer, as your landlord, as your neighborhood merchant, as your lawyer. They use integration for infiltration. They infiltrate all your organizations, and in this manner, by joining you, they strangle your militant efforts toward true freedom.
Throughout America, here in the North, as well as the South, masses of Black people are demonstrating against the oppression and exploitation of the American white man. Our people have lost all fear of the white man. They have ceased to waste their love on the white man, and they have ceased turning their nonviolent cheek to the violent white man. And because of this new fearless, more militant attitude on the part of our people, we see the increase of violence and bloodshed between the white oppressor and the oppressed, the white exploiter and the exploited, the white former slavemaster and his 20 million ex-slaves.
The question that is asked, where will all of this end? I repeat, America is faced with her worst domestic crisis since the Civil War. The worst crisis since the Revolutionary War. For America now faces a race war. The entire country is on the verge of erupting into racial violence and bloodshed simply because 20 million ex-slaves here in America are demanding freedom, justice, and equality from their former slavemasters.
Twenty million so-called Negroes, second-class citizens, seeking nothing but human dignity and human rights, the right to live in dignity as a human being. And rather than give genuine sincere respect to your cry for human rights, the American white man answers your nonviolence with violence. He answers your prayers and freedom songs with false promises, deceitful maneuvers, and outright bloodshed.
According to what we were taught from the white man’s textbooks in school, the Revolutionary War and the Civil War were two wars fought on American soil supposedly for freedom and democracy. But if these two wars were really fought for freedom and human dignity of all men, why are 20 million of our people still confined and enslaved here in America by second-class citizenship? The truth is that the Revolutionary War was fought on American soil to free the American white man from the English white man. The Revolutionary War was never fought to provide freedom and a democracy in this white country for the Black man. Our people remained slaves here in America even after the Declaration of Independence was signed. In fact most of the white Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence were slave owners themselves.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us that it is sheer ignorance, insanity, for our people to celebrate the Fourth of July as Independence Day, while white America denies us the first-class citizenship that goes with independence. And it is nothing but hypocrisy on the part of the American white man to pretend that the Revolutionary War was truly a war of independence as long as 20 million Black people here in America are denied the privileges of an independent people.
The Civil War was fought on this continent, but not to free the Black slaves as is commonly taught in the white man’s schools. The Civil War was actually fought to preserve the Union, to keep the country intact for white people.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us that in essence this means the American white man fought the Revolutionary War to get this country for himself. He then fought the Civil War to keep this country intact for himself. And today he will now fight a race war to keep from having to share this country on an equal basis with anyone else but himself. Especially on an equal basis with his 20 million former slaves.
So again I ask, where will these demonstrations end? And who dares to say that our people are not justified in demonstrating our resentment over the injustice and mistreatment that our people have suffered these 400 years at the hands of this cruel, inhuman American white man?
The Black masses are crying out, “What have we to lose but our chains? What have we to lose but the hell that we experience every day living in these rat-filled slums that we’re relegated to?” The worst housing conditions in America always exist in the so-called Negro community. Yet the white liberals, who own these run-down houses, force us to pay the highest rent. Faced with this high overhead, we are forced to take in roomers in order to help make up our rent. Our apartments are filled with both relatives and strangers. Our communities soon become overcrowded. These overcrowded conditions under which our people are forced to live eliminate all chances for a normal life, a clean life, or a healthy life.
Because our children grow up in this overcrowded atmosphere, the lack of much-needed privacy destroys their sense of shame. It lowers their moral standards and leaves them exposed to every form of indecency and vice imaginable. Our young girls, our daughters, our baby sisters become unwed mothers before they are hardly out of their teens. Our community has thousands of unmarried mothers, mothers who have no hope of ever getting a husband. And our community has tens of thousands of little babies who have no father to act as their provider or protector. In fact the only provider any of our children know is the white welfare agent or the white social worker. Many of our children actually mistake the welfare agent or the white social worker for their father.
And oftentimes this is true.
The overcrowded homes of our community force us to live under some of the worst sanitary conditions imaginable. It becomes almost impossible to practice the rules of good hygiene. And therefore tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhea, and other destructive social diseases are on the rampage throughout our community.
Our people in the Negro community are trapped in a vicious cycle of ignorance, poverty, disease, sickness, and death. There seems to be no way out. No way of escape. The wealthy, educated Black bourgeoisie, those uppity Negroes who do escape, never reach back and pull the rest of our people out with them. The Black masses remain trapped in the slums.
And because there seems to be no hope or no other escape, we turn to wine, we turn to whiskey, and we turn to reefers, marijuana, and even to the dreadful needle—heroin, morphine, cocaine, opium—seeking an escape.
Many of us turn to crime, stealing, gambling, prostitution. And some of us are used by the white overlords downtown to push dope in the Negro community among our own people. Unemployment and poverty have forced many of our people into a life of crime. But the real criminal is in the City Hall downtown, in the State House, and in the White House in Washington, D.C. The real criminal is the white liberal, the political hypocrite. And it is these legal crooks who pose as our friends, force us into a life of crime, and then use us to spread the white man’s evil vices in our community among our own people.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us that our people are scientifically maneuvered by the white man into a life of poverty. Because we are forced to live in the poorest sections of the city, we attend inferior schools. We have inferior teachers and we get an inferior education. The white power structure downtown makes certain that by the time our people do graduate, we won’t be equipped or qualified for anything but the dirtiest, heaviest, poorest-paying jobs. Jobs that no one else wants.
We are trapped in a vicious cycle of economic, intellectual, social, and political death. Inferior jobs, inferior housing, inferior education which in turn again leads to inferior jobs. We spend a lifetime in this vicious circle. Or in this vicious cycle going in circles. Giving birth to children who see no hope or future but to follow in our miserable footsteps.
So we thank God for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. We who are Muslims saw no way out until we accepted the religion of Islam and the spiritual guidance of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. We saw no solution to our problems. We saw no real leader among our people.
But today the whole world is talking about the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the divine solution he received from the God of our forefathers. Not your God but from the God of our forefathers. Not a temporary solution which will benefit only the handpicked upper-class Negroes, but a solution divinely designed to solve the plight of the Black masses in this country permanently and forever.
The government does not want our people to listen and understand the solution that God has given the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The government is against Mr. Muhammad because the government is against our God. In order to trick our people away from God’s true solutions, the government is trying to deceive our people with a false solution, a phony solution, a deceitful solution called token integration. I may add, whenever you get on the bus or the subway or the streetcar and you have to use a token, that token is not the real thing but it is a substitute for the real thing. And wherever you have a token, you have a substitute. And wherever you have token integration, you don’t have anything but a substitute for integration and there’s no real integration anywhere in North America—North, South, East, or West, not even in San Francisco, Oakland, or Berkeley.
Has the government effort to bribe our people with token integration made our plight better, or has it made it worse? When you tried to integrate the white community in search of better housing, the whites there fled to the suburbs. And the community that you thought would be integrated soon deteriorated into another all-Black slum. What happened to the liberal whites? Why did they flee? We thought that they were supposed to be our friends. And why did the neighborhood deteriorate only after our people moved in?
It is the tricky real estate agents posing as white liberal friends who encourage our people to force their way into white communities, and then they themselves sell these integrated houses at such high prices that our people again are forced to take in roomers to offset the high house notes. This creates in the new area the same overcrowded conditions, and the new community soon deteriorates into the same slum conditions from which we thought we had escaped. The only one who has benefited is the white real estate agent who poses as our friend, as a liberal, and who sells us the house in a community destined by his own greedy schemes to become nothing but a high-priced slum area.
Today our people can see that integrated housing has not solved our problems. At best it was only a temporary solution. One in which only the wealthy, handpicked Negroes found temporary benefit.
After the 1954 Supreme Court desegregation decision, the same thing happened when our people tried to integrate the schools. All the white students disappeared into the suburbs. Now the caliber of what our people thought was to be an integrated school has fallen to the same level of the slum school from which we thought we had escaped. Just as efforts to integrate housing failed miserably, efforts to integrate schools have been an even more miserable failure.
Having failed to get integrated housing and failed to get integrated schools, now the Negro leaders are demanding integrated jobs. That is they are demanding a certain quota, or percentage, of white people’s jobs.
First the Negro leadership demanded the white man’s house, and the whites vacated their run-down houses for us and built new homes for themselves out in the suburbs. Then the Negro leaders demanded seats for our children in the white man’s schools. The whites evacuated the schools as our children moved in and they built modern schools for themselves in the suburbs. But now the Negro leadership is demanding the white man’s job. Can the whites vacate their jobs like they did their homes and their schools and move to the suburbs and create more jobs? No. Not without violence and bloodshed. The same white liberals who used to praise our people for their patient nonviolent approach have now become openly impatient and violent themselves in defense of their own jobs. Not only in the South but also in the North, even here in the Bay Area.
For thirty-three years the Honorable Elijah Muhammad has been warning us that the time would come when the white man would not have enough jobs for himself much less enough jobs for our people. So the present demand of our people for more of the white man’s jobs must lead to violence and bloodshed. It may even lead to a race war—a bloody race war. And it is the government itself that is now pressing the people of this country into a racial bloodbath.
But the white man is misjudging the times and he is underestimating the American so-called Negro because we’re living in a new day. Our people are now a new people. That old Uncle Tom—type Negro is dead. Our people have no more fear of anyone, no more fear of anything. We are not afraid to go to jail. We are not afraid to give our very life itself. And we’re not afraid to take the lives of those who try to take our lives. We believe in a fair exchange. We believe in a fair exchange. An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. A head for a head and life for a life. If this is the price of freedom, we won’t hesitate to pay the price.
By trying to oppose the divine solution that God has given to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the American government will actually provoke another Civil War. That is, this government—and especially that present administration in Washington, D.C.—will provoke a civil war among whites by trying to force them to give up their jobs and homes and schools to our people. And our people will provoke a race war by trying to take the white man’s jobs and his schools and his home away from him.
This racial dilemma poses a serious problem for white America. Civil war between whites on the one hand, a race war between the whites and their 20 million ex-slaves on the other hand. And the entire dark world is watching, waiting to see what the American government will do to solve this problem once and for all.
We must have a permanent solution. A temporary solution won’t do. Tokenism will no longer suffice. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad has the only permanent solution. Twenty million ex-slaves must be permanently separated from our former slavemaster and placed on some land that we can call our own. Then we can create our own jobs. Control our own economy. Solve our own problems instead of waiting on the American white man to solve our problems for us.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us that on our own land we can set up farms, factories, businesses. We can establish our own government and become an independent nation. And once we become separated from the jurisdiction of this white nation, we can then enter into trade and commerce for ourselves with other independent nations. This is the only solution.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad says that in our own land we can establish our own agricultural system. We can grow food to feed our own people. We can raise cattle and use the hides, the leather, and the wool to clothe our people. We can dig the clay from the earth and make bricks to build homes for our people. We can turn the trees into lumber and furnish the homes for our own people. He says that we can dig the natural resources from the earth once we are in our own land. Land is the basis of all economic security. Land is essential to freedom, justice, and equality. Land is essential to true independence. And the Honorable Elijah Muhammad says we must be separated from the American white man, returned to our own land where we can live among our own people. This is the only true solution.
For just as the biblical government of Egypt under Pharaoh was against Moses because Moses had been directed by God to separate the Hebrew slaves from Pharaoh and lead them out of the house of bondage to a land of their own, today this modern house of bondage under the authority of the American government opposes this modern Moses. Opposes the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s efforts to separate our people, who have been made slaves here in this country, and lead us to a land of our own.
The government opposes the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s efforts to wake us up, clean us up, and stand us on our own feet so we can follow him out of this house of bondage to our own land where we can live among our own people. Just as the government of biblical Egypt was against the God of the Hebrew slaves, today the American government is against the God of her Negro slaves, the God of our forefathers. And just as that Pharaoh tried to trick the Hebrew slaves into rejecting the offers of salvation from their God by deceiving them with false promises through hired magicians and carefully staged demonstrations like the recent ridiculous march on Washington, today this government is paying certain elements of the Negro leadership to deceive our people into thinking that we’re going to get accepted soon into the mainstream of American life.
The government is deceiving our people with false promises so we won’t want to return to our own land and people. The government is saying, “Stay here, don’t listen to this Muhammad, we will desegregate the lunch counters and the theaters and the parks and the toilets”—meaning this public accommodation thing where you can sit on a toilet with a white person or in a toilet with a white person. “We’ll give you more civil rights bills. We won’t give you civil rights, but we’ll give you civil rights bills.” The government promises our people this only to keep you from listening to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and to stop us from waking up. They know that if we listen to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad long enough, we will begin to do our own thinking. He’ll make us see, hear, think, and able to speak for ourselves.
Whenever you become fed up in this country with the white man’s brutality and you get set to take matters in your own hands in order to defend yourself and your people, the same government—and again I repeat, especially that Catholic administration in Washington, D.C.—tries to pacify our people with deceitful promises of tricky civil rights legislation that is never designed to be a true solution to our problem. Civil rights legislation will never solve our problems. The white liberals are nothing but political hypocrites who use our people as political footballs only to get bills passed that will increase their own power.
The present proposed civil rights legislation will give the present administration dictatorial powers and make America a legal police state, but still won’t solve the race problem. The present administration is only using civil rights as a political football to gain more legislation and power for itself. Our people are being used as pawns in the game of power politics by political hypocrites. They don’t want our people to listen to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad because they know he will make them—make us see them as they really are.
So I say in my conclusion, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s message and solution is simple. He says: “Since we are not wanted in this country, let’s pack our bags and go back home to our own people, to our own land.” The propaganda of the American government is skillfully designed to make our people think that our people back home don’t want us. Government propagandists tell us constantly, “Africa is a jungle. Africans are savage and backward. They have no modern conveniences and you’re too much like us white folks. How could you live comfortably back there?”
This propaganda is government strategy against the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, realizing that his mission is to teach our people the truth about our own kind, clean us up, and then return us to our own land and unite us with our own people. The American government turns us against our own kind in order to keep us from making a mass exodus out of this country where we can live at home among our own people.
Therefore, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad says, American propaganda is designed to make us think that no matter how much hell we catch here, we’re still better off in America than we’d be anywhere else. They want us to think we have no place else to go. And many of our so-called intellectuals who pose as our leaders and spokesmen actually believe that we have no place else to go. So their solution to our problem is that we stay here and continue to catch hell from the American white man.
But the only permanent solution is complete separation or some land of our own in a country of our own. All other courses will lead to violence and bloodshed. It will lead to the destruction of America, and it will also lead to the destruction of our people who fall for it. So his message is flee for your lives and save yourselves. And I thank you.
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Question: In the last issue of Muhammad Speaks there was an article telling of the elimination of racial discrimination in Cuba; telling how Afro- and Latin- Cubans lived in harmony. How does this jibe with the devil concept of the white man and that the idea that freedom can only be achieved through separation?
Malcolm X: The Cubans don’t refer to themselves either as white people or Black people. They refer to themselves as people. You find the American white man is the one who has laid such stress on being white or being black. When you become a Muslim, you don’t look at a man as being black, brown, red, or yellow. You look upon him as being a man. And this is something that is foreign to the American concept.
I don’t know anything about Cuba. The article was written by Howard, a UN correspondent who spent time in Cuba along with the son of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad when all of the students went. And they did say that they found a great deal of equality, freedom, and justice among the people of Cuba. So I think that in that direction Castro has made a great accomplishment and contribution, but I haven’t been there myself.
Now, when you try and bring the same thing about between the American white man and the American Black man, you’re dealing with a man who used to have as total possession over the Black people in this country as a farmer has possession over his cow, his chickens, his horse. And this has created an attitude among American whites that they themselves find almost impossible to eliminate. And unless it is eliminated and until it is eliminated the problem will get worse instead of better. I personally don’t think it will ever be eliminated.
Question: How do you intend to gain possession of this land that you want and how do you intend to get there?
Malcolm X: That’s a good question. Number one, we didn’t have any trouble getting to America because the white man...by that I mean we weren’t Pilgrims. We didn’t come on the Mayflower, and we didn’t come from Europe, and we didn’t come of our own volition. We were brought here in chains at the bottom of a slave ship. And since we didn’t pay transportation here, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad says that the contribution that the Black man made in this country, which amounts to 310 years of slave labor for which we have never been given a dime or a cent, places a burden upon the American white man today for which the government should pay. And he says that our people should be allowed to go back to our own homeland, that the government itself should supply us with the transportation.
And that they should supply us with the machinery and the tools necessary that will enable us to dig the soil and develop our own agricultural system and feed ourselves for the next twenty to twenty-five years until we are in a position to be completely independent and stand on our own feet. And he says that if the government does not want a mass exodus of Black people from this country back to our own homeland, since we cannot live in peace, together, mixed up on this continent, the alternative to that solution is to divide a separate part of this country into which our people can migrate.
For your clarification, because this has been brought up, some people say, “Well, why should the government do this?” If this government can send billions of dollars to Communist countries like Poland and Yugoslavia and to neutralist countries in Asia and Africa, who have never made any contribution whatsoever to the sum, net worth of this economy and country, and at the same time, this government feels that it is too much to set about something real to solve the problem for the slaves who made a greater contribution than even your people did, why the government doesn’t even deserve to continue to function as a government.
Question: You mentioned again, just now, land set aside for your people, sir. What land is available that’s not already possessed by others?
Malcolm X: When you came to this country the land was inhabited by the Indians and you didn’t have any problem then.
Question: Actually, I have two questions. The first one I would like to ask you: Do you believe in Islam just because it gives you dignity as a Black man living in America? Or do you believe in Islam as a whole? So, if you believe in Islam as a whole, you know that Islam believes in socialism rather than capitalism. This is the first question. The second question: You said that Muhammad taught you that you should have your own land so you can find all, to do what you want in it. Will you please give me one statement either from the Quran or from Muhammad’s speeches which says, you know, asks for this situation?
Malcolm X: If I understood my Muslim brother correctly, I hope that he’s aware of the fact that my opening statement pointed out that the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle, I think it was, told me that the only way I could come here and speak was to speak on secular matters rather than religious, and for that reason I pointed out at the outset that I wasn’t going to get onto the religion of Islam. Since you, as a student I imagine, brought it up, it does open the door for me to reply and I thank you for it. Number one, Islam is a word which means in Arabic complete submission to the will of God. Complete obedience to the will of God. And this means—and the Jews referred to this God as Jehovah. They’re monotheistic. The Christians referred to him, I think, as Christ. Only they’re polytheistic, and it’s difficult to give one name to their many gods.
So that in Islam, since we believe that there is one God, we believe that all of the prophets who came forth on this earth taught the same religion. Abraham was a Muslim; Moses was a Muslim; Jesus was a Muslim. And as Black men in America, we accept the religion of Islam because we recognize it as the true religion of God. This is why I’m a Muslim. I am a Muslim because the Honorable Elijah Muhammad has taught me that Islam is God’s only religion. And it does say in the Holy Qur'an that this religion will overcome all other religions.
We believe that we’re living in the day and the time and at the hour when God intends to make this religion, Islam, overcome all other religions. This is why we’re Muslims. And we want to separate ourselves from America, because we believe that when God comes to establish the religion of Islam or the kingdom of Islam or the world of Islam, he can’t do so without first destroying all other religions, governments, nations and worlds that stand in his way. All governments that won’t accept one religion and practice the principles of brotherhood, freedom, justice, and equality among all people, regardless of color, regardless of race or anything else involved, we believe that they’ll be destroyed today, and we don’t think that you can get the American people to accept the religion of Islam. I have no knowledge of socialism. That’s something else.
Question: Sir, you seem to interchange the term white liberal with hypocritical politician. I don’t believe this is true. I don’t believe that our white liberals are in office. They are, by the way, investigating—
Moderator: Do you have a question please?
Question: I just wondered why you interchanged these terms when they’re so evidently not interchangeable.
Malcolm X: Historically in America, the white liberal has been the one always supposedly who has the solution to the race problem. An example: the leading white liberal in American history was supposed to be Abraham Lincoln. He’s the one who has been dangled in front of our people as a God who brought us out of slavery into the promised land of freedom. Martin Luther King last year was begging President Kennedy to issue another Emancipation Proclamation. If the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln was authentic and produced the results that it was supposed to and if it had been sincere, it would have gotten results. Then Martin Luther King wouldn’t have to be begging for another proclamation of emancipation today.
And other times—the white liberals supposedly fought the Civil War to free the slaves, and our people are still slaves, still begging for freedom. Some more white liberals came along with the so-called Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and other amendments to the Constitution supposedly to solve our problem. The Constitution has been amended and the problem is still here. Nine white liberals on the Supreme Court bench came up with a desegregation decision in 1954 supposedly to desegregate the schools, and the schools haven’t been desegregated yet. Kennedy ran on a platform as a white liberal three years ago and said all he had to do was take out his fountain pen and put his name on some paper and our problem would be solved, and it was three years in office before he found where his fountain pen was, and the problem isn’t solved yet.
Question: I’m a second-generation American, and my people came over in the bottom of ships. And they had second-class citizenship in Europe, and they lived in ghettos and things of this sort, and they got out of them. How come I have attitudes toward Negroes that may be prejudiced? Where did I get these attitudes, if they weren’t from the Negro people? None of my people ever owned slaves, or anything of this sort. How did I get my prejudices?
Malcolm X: If you didn’t steal the property, you can be held responsible today for being in possession of stolen goods. The book says that the sins of the fathers will be visited upon the heads of the children even unto the seventh generation. And although there are many whites who came here from Europe after 1865, they fit right into the whole, overall pattern of exploitation, of modern slavery, that still exists in this country today. Because it’s only a modern form of slavery that our people experience today, and white liberals, again, encourage us to join groups that they set up that they call the National Advance—National Association for the Advancement of Some Colored People, from ancient slavery to modern slavery. If I may add, your mention of white immigrants just coming here proves the inability of Negroes to solve this problem by the present course, or the past course that they’ve been taking. It’s true, Italians, French, Spanish, and others came here as immigrants, uneducated, poverty-stricken. And their parents were able to open up stores. Little stores. They lived in the back, sent their children to school. Their children studied business and came back and expanded the businesses, and most businesses in the white community are called so-and-so brothers, so-and-so and son, and so forth. This is how you established what you call the American economy, somewhat—speaking on the run.
Negroes have been here, free, since 1865, so-called, have a purchasing power of $20 billion per year, have more education than any group, any minority group on this earth. You can’t go in the Negro community anywhere in the Bay Area and find five businesses owned by Negroes, so-and-so and son or so-and-so brothers.
The mistake that we made differs from the mistake you didn’t make. Your parents solved your problems economically, of their own volition, with their own ingenuity. Our leaders have done nothing to teach us how to go in business. They have done nothing to teach us how to elevate the level of our schools. They’ve done nothing to teach us how to keep up the standard of our community.
It is not some masses of Black people who are at fault for this. It’s this Negro puppet that the white liberal has set over the Negro community to act as our leader and act as our spokesman who has failed to show us how to solve our own problems. So we remain crippled, and accept to follow the advice of this white liberal who does nothing but continue to exploit us instead of trying to help us solve the problem. Hope I didn’t answer you too long.
Moderator: We have time for only one more question, I’m afraid, and I recognize this gentleman.
Question: I’d like to ask Mr. X simply, why cannot a Negro infiltrate the political machine and use power politics to his own end?
Malcolm X: If he studies the science of politics, he probably would. Most Negroes don’t. They become involved politically from an emotional point of view rather than a scientific point of view. You show me a Negro politician, and I’ll show you one who’s controlled by the white political machine. And if you show me one who isn’t controlled by the white political machine, I’ll show you one whom the white political machine has labeled as a racist, an extremist.
Adam Powell is one of the best examples of it. Anyone that they endorse, who will do what they want him to do, he’s all right. But when you become politically independent in this country, the white media, they label you as a racist. The reason for this is, the only way you can become politically independent of the white political machine is to have the support of the Black masses. The only way you can get the support of the Black masses is to say how they think and how they feel. And when you begin to speak to the Black masses, how they feel and think, then the whites call you a racist. Because you have to talk in the context of the intense degree of dissatisfaction that exists in the Negro community.
Whites don’t want to hear this. They want to be told that the problem is being solved. You’re not solving the problem for anybody but a few handpicked, Uncle Tom Negroes who benefit from your token integration. And as long as you deal with that, you’re going to be adding more powder to a keg that’s inside your house that can blow you higher, that could explode, higher than a million-megaton bomb. So when you go down here and find how the masses of Black people really feel, you’re too intelligent to act as you are, if you know how they really feel. And the only Black man who will tell you exactly how a Black man feels is the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The rest of them are going to talk to you out of the corner of their mouth. Try and make friends with you.