12 Inspirational and Powerful Malcolm X Quotes You've Never Heard

12 Inspirational and Powerful Malcolm X Quotes You've Never Heard

Malcolm X 

Below are a handful of quotes in long form from Malcolm X between the years 1960 and 1965. The best quotes are long form because you get the full context of what was being said, especially if the quote comes from a speech.

1. On Why Pro-Black Is Not Anti-White

Now in speaking like this, it doesn’t mean that we’re anti-white, but it does mean we’re anti-exploitation, we’re anti-degradation, we’re anti-oppression. And if the white man doesn’t want us to be anti-him, let him stop oppressing and exploiting and degrading us. Whether we are Christians or Muslims or nationalists or agnostics or atheists, we must first learn to forget our differences.
— Malcolm X - The Ballot or the Bullet

2. On Black Group Economics

The economic philosophy of black nationalism is pure and simple. It only means that we should control the economy of our community. Why should white people be running all the stores in our community? Why should white people be running the banks of our community? Why should the economy of our community be in the hands of the white man? Why? If a black man can’t move his store into a white community, you tell me why a white man should move his store into a black community. The philosophy of black nationalism involves a re-education program in the black community in regards to economics. Our people have to be made to see that any time you take your dollar out of your community and spend it in a community where you don’t live, the community where you live will get poorer and poorer, and the community where you spend your money will get richer and richer.
— Malcolm X - The Ballot or the Bullet

3. On the Importance of Studying History

I don’t think any of you will deny the fact that it is impossible to understand the present or prepare for the future unless we have some knowledge of the past. And the thing that has kept most of us—that is, the Afro-Americans—almost crippled in this society has been our complete lack of knowledge concerning the past...It’s impossible for you and me to have a balanced mind in this society without going into the past, because in this particular society, as we function and fit into it right now, we’re such an underdog, we’re trampled upon, we’re looked upon as almost nothing. Now if we don’t go into the past and find out how we got this way, we will think that we were always this way. And if you think that you were always in the condition that you’re in right now, it’s impossible for you to have too much confidence in yourself, you become worthless, almost nothing.
— Malcolm X - On Afro-American History, 1965

4. On the Global Black Majority

And this is one of the things that is frightening the white man. As long as the Black man in America thinks of himself as a minority, as an underdog, he can’t shout but so loud; or if he does shout, he shouts loudly only to the degree that the power structure encourages him to. He never gets irresponsible. He never goes beyond what the power structure thinks is the right voice to shout in. But when you begin to connect yourself on the world stage with the whole of dark mankind, and you see that you’re the majority and this majority is waking up and rising up and becoming strong, then when you deal with this man, you don’t deal with him like he’s your boss or he’s better than you or stronger than you. You put him right where he belongs. When you realize that he’s a minority, that his time is running out, you approach him like that, you approach him like one who used to be strong but is now getting weak, who used to be in a position to retaliate against you but now is not in that position anymore.
— Malcolm X - On Afro-American History, 1965

5. On What Happened to Fannie Lou Hamer

When I listen to Mrs. Hamer, a black woman—could be my mother, my sister, my daughter—describe what they had done to her in Mississippi, I ask myself how in the world can we ever expect to be respected as men when we will allow something like that to be done to our women, and we do nothing about it? How can you and I be looked upon as men with black women being beaten and nothing being done about it, black children and black babies being beaten and nothing being done about it? No, we don’t deserve to be recognized and respected as men as long as our women can be brutalized in the manner that this woman described, and nothing being done about it, but we sit around singing “We Shall Overcome.”

— Malcolm X Introduces Fannie Lou Hamer, 1964

6. On The Old Negro vs. The New Negro (Part 1)

Now just as you have the house Negro and the field Negro a hundred years ago, in America today you have a house Negro and a field Negro. You have the modern counterpart of that slavery-time Uncle Tom, only the one today is a twentieth century Uncle Tom. He doesn’t wear a handkerchief around his head, sir. He wears a top hat. He speaks with a Harvard accent or a Howard accent. Sometimes he is a lawyer or a judge or a doctor or he is an ambassador to the UN. He represents the government in all the international conferences. He runs to the Congo and tries to settle differences there, but he can’t go to Mississippi and settle differences that his own people are confronted with in the face of these Mississippi southerners. This is the twentieth-century house Negro. He wants to live with his master. He wants to force his way into his master’s neighborhood. He wants to force his way into his master’s schools. He wants to force his way into his master’s industry. He identifies himself with his master so much that when his master says, “Our society,” he says, “Yes boss, our society.” When his master says, “Our army, our armed forces,” or “Our astronauts are floating around the earth,” he says, “Yes.” Now here is a Negro, mind you, talking about his astronauts floating around in space someplace or talking about his industry out here called General Motors or talking about his mayor in City Hall or his President in the White House. Every time the white man says, “We” that type of Negro says, “Yes, we.” Now when he hears the white man say how rich we are, that Negro runs around talking about how rich we are, how enlightened we are, how educated we are, or this is the free world or this is a free country, and at the same time he is begging the white man for civil rights and integration and all that kind of stuff he doesn’t have. He is a twentieth century Uncle Tom. He is a house Negro. He is no different from that house Negro during slavery other than that he is living in the twentieth century. But he identifies himself with the white man. He is never sick until the white man is sick. If you attack the white man, that Negro will open up his mouth to defend the white man better than the white man can defend himself.
— Malcolm X - The Old Negro vs. The New Negro - 1963

7. On The Old Negro vs. The New Negro (Part 2)

Now then, you have the masses of black people in this country who are the offshoot of the field Negro, during slavery. They are the masses. They are the ones who are jobless. They are the last hired and the first fired. They are the ones who are forced to live in the ghetto and the slum. They are the ones who are not allowed to integrate. They are not the handpicked Negroes who benefit from token integration. They are not the bourgeoisie who get the crumbs that fall from the white man’s table. They are not the ones who can slip into the White House or these big hotels when the doors are opened up. These are the ones who still are forced to live in the ghetto or forced to live in the slum or forced to get a third-rate education or forced to work in the worst form of job. They benefit in no way, shape, or form whatsoever from this thing that is called democracy.
— Malcolm X - The Old Negro vs. The New Negro - 1963

8. On The Old Negro vs. The New Negro (Part 3)

This was emphasized at the University of Pennsylvania today, to make the white people see that they are dealing with two different types of Negro. This integrationist Negro is the one who doesn’t want to be black—he is ashamed to be black—and he knows that he can’t be white. So he calls himself a Negro— an American Negro—which means he is neither black nor white. He doesn’t want to be black and can’t be white, so he is called a Negro. And since he is living in this American society he is always seeking a role for himself on the American stage. And since he knows that America is a white country and all of the economy, the politics, the civic life of America is controlled by the white man—the whole stage is controlled by the white man—whenever he sees himself on the American stage, he sees himself as a minority in the company of a white majority. So he is the underdog, and as an underdog he regards himself as a minority. He adopts the beggar role—the role of a beggar. And for everything that type of Negro seeks for himself he takes a begging attitude, a condescending attitude. So also, sir, he never looks at himself on the world stage. Usually his knowledge is limited to right here, to America, and he thinks of himself as an American in the American context which always keeps him in the role of a minority. But now when it comes to the international stage he can’t see it. He is not interested in a role on the international stage. He only wants a minority role in America.
— Malcolm X - The Old Negro vs. The New Negro - 1963

9. On The Old Negro vs. The New Negro (Part 4)

But there is another type of Negro on the scene. This type doesn’t call himself a Negro. He calls himself a black man. He doesn’t make any apology for his black skin. He doesn’t make any apology for being in America because he knows he was brought here forcibly by the white man. It’s the white man’s fault that he is here. It’s the white man who created the problem here in America that they call a race problem. This type of black man sees that. So he doesn’t apologize for being here; he doesn’t apologize for the problem that his presence confronts the white man with. He doesn’t walk around bragging that he is an American or that he wants to be a part of the American society. This particular type of black man has been exposed to the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and having been exposed to the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad his thinking is international. He sees the world. He doesn’t see America. He sees the entire world. And when he sees the world he sees that the majority of people on this earth are dark people and these dark people outnumber the whites. So he doesn’t think of himself as a minority, but he thinks of himself as part of this vast dark majority who outnumber the whites, and therefore he doesn’t have to beg the white man for anything.
— Malcolm X - The Old Negro vs. The New Negro - 1963

10. On "Benevolent" Colonial Imperialism in Africa

Why does the press of the Western powers constantly ridicule and play down the idea of a United States of Africa? They know that a divided Africa is a weak Africa, and they want to keep her a dependent target of Western “philanthropy,” or what is being increasingly described here as “benevolent” colonialism. The neocolonialists who would “woo and rule” Africa today must skillfully disguise their selfish aims within their generous offers of unlimited “economic aid, Peace Corpism or crossroadism,” all of which is nothing but the modem counterpart of the nineteenth-century “missionaryism.”

A united Africa is a strong and independent Africa, an Africa that can stand on its own feet, walk for itself, and avoid the snares and pitfalls devised by the “benevolent” imperialists to keep the mother continent divided, weak, and dependent upon the “philanthropic” West for economic “aid,” political “guidance,” and military “protection.”
— Malcolm X - Speech to the Second African Summit Conference - 1964

11. On Freedom

We are not here at this Rally because we have already gained freedom. No! We are gathered here rallying for the freedom which we have long been promised, but have as yet not received. This Rally is for that perfect freedom which up until now this government has not granted us. There would be no need to protest to the government if we were already free.

Freedom is essential to life itself. Freedom is essential to the development of the human being. If we don’t have freedom we can never expect justice and equality. Only after we have freedom do justice and equality become a reality.
 Today we are gathered at this Rally to hear from our leaders who have been acting as our spokesmen, and representing us to the white man downtown. We want to know how our leaders really think, how they talk, how they feel...and most important of all, we want them to know how we feel.
— Malcolm X - Harlem Freedom Rally - 1960

12. On Events in the Congo and Media Propaganda

A good example is the Congo. When the people who are in power want to, again, create an image to justify something that’s bad, they use the press. And they’ll use the press to create a humanitarian image, for a devil, or a devil image for a humanitarian. They’ll take a person whose a victim of the crime, and make it appear he’s the criminal, and they’ll take the criminal and make it appear that he’s the victim of the crime. And the Congo situation is one of the best examples that I can cite right now to point this out. The Congo situation is a nasty example of how a country because it is in power, can take it’s press and make the world accept something that’s absolutely criminal. They take pilots that they say are American trained, and this automatically lends respectability to them, and then they will call them anti-Castro Cubans, and that’s supposed to add to their respectability, and eliminate that fact that they’re dropping bombs on villages where they have no defense whatsoever against such planes, blowing to bits black women, Congolese women, Congolese children, Congolese babies, this is extremism, but it is never referred to as extremism because it is endorsed by the west, it is financed by America, it’s made respectable by America, and that kind of extremism is never labeled as extremism. Because it’s not extremism in defense of liberty, and if it is extremism in defense of liberty as this type just pointed out, it is extremism in defense of liberty for the wrong type of people.

I am not advocating that kind of extremism, that’s cold blooded murder. But the press is used to make that cold blooded murder appear as an act of humanitarianism.
— Malcolm X - Oxford Union Debate - 1964
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