The Ballot or the Bullet (April 12, 1964)

Mr. Moderator, Reverend Cleage, Brother Lomax, brothers and sisters, friends...and I see some enemies. In fact, I think we’d be fooling ourselves if we had an audience this large and didn’t realize that there were some enemies present.

This afternoon we want to talk about the ballot or the bullet. The ballot or the bullet explains itself. But before we get into it, since this is the year of the ballot or the bullet, I would like to clarify some things that refer to me personally concerning my own personal position.

I'm still a Muslim. That is, my religion is still Islam. My religion is still Islam. I still credit Mr. Muhammad for what I know and what I am. He’s the one who opened my eyes. At present, I'm the Minister of the newly founded Muslim Mosque, Incorporated, which has its offices in the Theresa Hotel, right in the heart of Harlem that’s the black belt in New York city. And when we realize that Adam Clayton Powell is a Christian minister, he’s the...he heads Abyssinian Baptist Church, but at the same time, he’s more famous for his political struggle. And Dr. King is a Christian Minister, in Atlanta, Georgia, but he’s become more famous for being involved in the civil rights struggle. There’s another in New York, Reverend Galamison I don’t know if you’ve heard of him out here, he’s a Christian Minister from Brooklyn, but has become famous for his fight against a segregated school system in Brooklyn. Reverend Cleage, right here, is a Christian Minister, here in Detroit. He’s the head of the “Freedom Now Party”. All of these are Christian Ministers, but they don’t come to us as Christian Ministers. They come to us as fighters in some other category. I’m a Muslim minister the same as they are Christian Ministers, I’m a Muslim minister. And I don’t believe in fighting today in any one front, but on all fronts. In fact, I’m a Black Nationalist Freedom Fighter.

Islam is my religion, but I believe my religion is my personal business. It governs my personal life, my personal morals. And my religious philosophy is personal between me and the God in whom I believe; just as the religious philosophy of these others is between them and the God in whom they believe. And this is best this way. Were we to come out here discussing religion, we’d have too many differences from the outstart and we could never get together. So today, though Islam is my religious philosophy, my political, economic, and social philosophy is Black Nationalism. You and I, as I say, if we bring up religion we’ll have differences, we’ll have arguments; and we’ll never be able to get together. But if we keep our religion at home, keep our religion in the closet, keep our religion between ourselves and our God, but when we come out here, we have a fight that’s common to all of us against an enemy who is common to all of us.

The political philosophy of Black Nationalism only means that the black man should control the politics and the politicians in his own community. The time when white people can come in our community and get us to vote for them so that they can be our political leaders and tell us what to do and what not to do is long gone. By the same token, the time when that same white man, knowing that your eyes are too far open, can send another negro into the community and get you and me to support him so he can use him to lead us astray, those days are long gone too. The political philosophy of Black Nationalism only means that if you and I are going to live in a Black community and that’s where we’re going to live, cause as soon as you move into one of their soon...as you move out of the Black community into their community, it’s mixed for a period of time, but they’re gone and you’re right there all by yourself again.

We must understand the politics of our community and we must know what politics is supposed to produce. We must know what part politics play in our lives. And until we become politically mature we will always be mislead, lead astray, or deceived or maneuvered into supporting someone politically who doesn’t have the good of our community at heart. So the political philosophy of Black Nationalism only means that we will have to carry on a program, a political program, of re-education to open our peoples eyes, make us become more politically conscious, politically mature, and then whenever we get ready to cast our ballot, that ballot will be cast for a man of the community who has the good of the community of heart. The economic philosophy of Black Nationalism only means that we should own and operate and control the economy of our community. You would never find...you can’t open up a black store in a white community. White man won’t even patronize you. And he’s not wrong. He’s got sense enough to look out for himself. You the one who don’t have sense enough to look out for yourself.

The white man is too intelligent to let someone else come and gain control of the economy of his community. But you will let anybody come in and control of the economy of your community, control the housing, control the education, control the jobs, control the businesses, under the pretext that you want to integrate. No, you outta your mind. The political...the economic philosophy of Black Nationalism only means that we have to become involved in a program of re-education to educate our people into the importance of knowing that when you spend your dollar out of the community in which you live, the community in which you spend your money becomes richer and richer; the community out which you take your money becomes poorer and poorer. And because these Negroes, who have been mislead, misguided, are breaking their necks to take their money and spend it with The Man, The Man is becoming richer and richer, and you’re becoming poorer and poorer. And then what happens? The community in which you live becomes a slum. It becomes a ghetto. The conditions become run down. And then you have the audacity to complain about poor housing in a run-down community. Why you run it down yourself when you take your dollar out.

And you and I are in a double trap, because not only do we lose by taking our money someplace else and spending it, when we try and spend it in our own community we’re trapped because we haven’t had sense enough to set up stores and control the businesses of our own community. The man who’s controlling the stores in our community is a man who doesn’t look like we do. He’s a man who doesn’t even live in the community. So you and I, even when we try and spend our money in the block where we live or the area where we live, we’re spending it with a man who, when the sun goes down, takes that basket full of money in another part of the town.

So we’re trapped, trapped, double trapped, triple trapped. Anywhere we go we find that we’re trapped. And every kind of solution that someone comes up with is just another trap. But the political and economic philosophy of Black Nationalism...the economic philosophy of Black Nationalism shows our people the importance of setting up these little stores and developing them and expanding them into larger operations.

Woolworth didn’t start out big like they are today. They started out with a dime store and expanded and expanded and then expanded until today, they’re are all over the country and all over the world, and they gettin' some of everybody’s money. Now this...what you and I...General Motors is same way. They didn’t start out like they it is. It started out just a little rat race type operation. And it expanded and it expanded until today it's where it is right now. And you and I have to make a start, and the best place to start is right in the community where we live. So our people not only have to be re-educated to the importance of supporting black business, but the black man himself has to be made aware of the importance of going into business. And once you and I go into business, we own and operate at least the businesses in our community. What we will be doing is developing a situation wherein we will actually be able to create employment for the people in the community. And once you can create some employment in the community where you live, it will eliminate the necessity of you and me having to act ignorantly and disgracefully, boycotting and picketing some cracker someplace else trying to beg him for a job. Anytime you have to rely upon your enemy for a job you’re in bad shape. When you have...he is your enemy. Let me tell you, you wouldn’t be in this country if some enemy hadn’t kidnapped you and brought you here. On the other hand, some of you think you came here on the Mayflower.

So as you can see brothers and sisters, today, this afternoon, it is not our intention to discuss religion. We’re going to forget religion. If we bring up religion, we’ll be in an argument, and the best way to keep away from arguments and differences as I said earlier put your religion at home in the closet. Keep it between you and your God. Because if it hasn’t done anything more for you than it has, you need to forget it anyway.

Whether you are a Christian, or a Muslim, or a Nationalist, we all have the same problem. They don’t hang you because you’re a Baptist, they hang you 'cause you’re black. They don’t attack me because I’m a Muslim, they attack me 'cause I’m black. They attack all of us for the same reason; all of us catch hell from the same enemy. We’re all in the same bag, in the same boat. We suffer political oppression, economic exploitation, and social degradation, all of them from the same enemy. The government has failed us, you can’t deny that. Anytime you live in the twentieth century, 1964, and you walkin' around here singing “We Shall Overcome,” the government has failed us. This is part of what’s wrong with you. You do too much singing. Today it’s time to stop singing and start swinging. You can’t sing up on freedom, but you can swing up on some freedom. Cassius Clay can sing, but singing didn’t help him to become the heavyweight champion of the world—swinging helped him become the heavyweight champion.

This government has failed us; the government itself has failed us, and the white liberals who have been posing as our friends have failed us. And once we see that all these other sources to which we’ve turned have failed, we stop turning to them and turn to ourselves. We need a self-help program, a do-it-yourself philosophy, a do-it-right-now philosophy, a it’s-already-too-late philosophy. This is what you and I need to get with, and the only way we are going to solve our problem is with a self-help program. Before we can get a self-help program started we have to have a self-help philosophy.

Black nationalism is a self-help philosophy. What's is so good about it? You can stay right in the church where you are and still take black nationalism as your philosophy. You can stay in any kind of civic organization that you belong to and still take black nationalism as your philosophy. You can be an atheist and still take black nationalism as your philosophy. This is a philosophy that eliminates the necessity for division and argument. 'Cause if you are black you should be thinking black, and if you are black and you're not thinking black at this late date, well I’m sorry for you.

Once you change your philosophy, you change your thought pattern. Once you change your thought pattern, you change your attitude. Once you change your attitude, it changes your behaviour pattern and then you go on into some action. As long as you got a sit-down philosophy, you’ll have a sit-down thought pattern, and as long as you think that old sit-down thought you’ll be in some kind of sit-down action. They’ll have you sitting in everywhere. It’s not so good to refer to what you’re going to do as a sit-in. That right there castrates you. Right there it brings you down. What goes with it? Think of the image of someone sitting. An old woman can sit. An old man can sit. A chump can sit. A coward can sit. Anything can sit. Well you and I been sitting long enough, and it’s time today for us to start doing some standing, and some fighting to back that up.

When we look like at other parts of this earth upon which we live, we find that black, brown, red, yellow people in Africa and Asia are getting their independence. They’re not getting it by singing “We Shall Overcome.” No, they’re getting it through nationalism. It is nationalism that brought about the independence of the people in Asia. Every nation in Asia gained its independence through the philosophy of nationalism. Every nation on the African continent that has gotten its independence brought it about through the philosophy of nationalism. And it will take Black Nationalism to bring about the freedom of 22 million Afro-Americans here in this country where we have suffered colonialism for the past 400 years.

America is just as much a colonial power as England ever was. America is just as much a colonial power as France ever was. In fact, America is more so a colonial power than they because she’s a hypocritical colonial power behind it. What do you call second-class citizenship? Why, that’s colonization. Second-class citizenship is nothing but 20th century slavery. How you gonna tell me you’re a second class-citizen. They don’t have second-class citizenship in any other government on this earth. They just have slaves and people who are free. Well, this country is a hypocrite. They try and make you think they set you free by calling you a second-class citizen. No, you’re nothing but a 20th century slave. Just as it took nationalism to remove colonialism from Asia and Africa, it’ll take Black Nationalism today to remove colonialism from the backs and the minds of 22 million Afro-Americans here in this country. And 1964 looks like it might be the year of the ballot or the bullet.

Why does it look like it might be the year of the ballot or the bullet? Because Negroes have listened to the trickery, and the lies, and the false promises of the white man now for too long. And they’re fed up. They’ve become disenchanted. They’ve become disillusioned. They’ve become dissatisfied, and all of this has built up frustrations in the black community that makes the black community throughout America today more explosive than all of the atomic bombs the Russians can ever invent. Whenever you got a racial powder keg sitting in your lap, you’re in more trouble than if you had an atomic powder keg sitting in your lap. When a racial powder keg goes off, it doesn’t care who it knocks out the way. Understand this, it’s dangerous. And in 1964 this seems to be the year, because what can the white man use now to fool us after he put down that march on Washington? And you see all through that now. He tricked you, had you marching down to Washington. Yes, had you marching back and forth between the feet of a dead man named Lincoln and another dead man named George Washington singing “We Shall Overcome”. He made a chump out of you. He made a fool out of you. He made you think you were going somewhere and you end up going nowhere but between Lincoln and Washington.

So today, our people are disillusioned. They’ve become disenchanted. They’ve become dissatisfied, and in their frustrations they want action. And in 1964 you’ll see this young black man, this new generation asking for the ballot or the bullet. That old Uncle Tom action is outdated. The young generation don’t want to hear anything about the odds are against us. What do we care about odds? When this country here was first being founded there were 13 colonies. The whites were colonized. They were fed up with this taxation without representation, so some of them stood up and said “liberty or death.” Though I went to a white school over here in Mason, Michigan, the white man made the mistake of letting me read his history books. He made the mistake of teaching me that Patrick Henry was a patriot, and George Washington, wasn’t nothing non-violent about old Pat or George Washington. Liberty or death was what brought about the freedom of whites in this country from the English. They didn’t care about the odds. Why they faced the wrath of the entire British Empire. And in those days they used to say that the British Empire was so vast and so powerful when the sun...the sun would never set on them. This is how big it was, yet these 13 little, scrawny states, tired of taxation without representation, tired of being exploited and oppressed and degraded, told that big British Empire “liberty or death”. And here you have 22 million Afro-American black people today catching more hell than Patrick Henry ever saw. And I’m here to tell you in case you don’t know it that you got a new generation of black people in this country who don’t care anything whatsoever about odds. They don’t want to hear you old Uncle Tom handkerchief heads talking about the odds. No. This is a new generation. If they’re gonna draft these young black men and send them over to Korea or South Vietnam to face 800 million Chinese...if you’re not afraid of those odds, you shouldn’t be afraid of these odds.

Why is America...why does this loom to be such an explosive political year? Because this is the year of politics. This is the year when all of the white politicians are going to come into the Negro community. You never see them until election time. You can’t find them until election time. They’re going to come in with false promises, and as they make these false promises they're gonna feed our frustrations and this will only serve to make matters worse. I’m no politician. I’m not even a student of politics. I’m not a Republican, nor a Democrat, nor an American, and got sense enough to know it. I’m one of the 22 million black victims of the Democrats, one of the 22 million black victims of the Republicans, and one of the 22 million black victims of Americanism. And when I speak, I don’t speak as a Democrat, or a Republican. I speak as a victim of America’s so-called democracy. You and I have never seen democracy; all we’ve seen is hypocrisy. When we open our eyes today and look around America, we see America not through the eyes of someone who has enjoyed the fruits of Americanism, we see America through the eyes of someone who has been the victim of Americanism. We don’t see any American dream; we’ve experienced only the American nightmare. We haven’t benefited from America’s democracy; we’ve only suffered from America’s hypocrisy. And the generation that’s coming up now can see it and are not afraid to say it. If you go to jail, so what? If you black, you were born in jail. If you black, you were born in jail, in the North as well as the South. Stop talking about the South. Long as you south of the Canadian border, you’re south. Don’t call Governor Wallace a Dixie governor; Romney is a Dixie governor.

Twenty-two million black victims of Americanism are waking up and they’re gaining a new political consciousness, becoming politically mature. And as they develop this political maturity, they’re able to see the recent trends in these political elections. They see that the whites are so evenly divided that every time they vote the race is so close they have to go back and count the votes all over again. And that means that any block, any minority that has a block of votes that stick together is in a strategic position. Either way you go, that’s who gets it. You’re in a position to determine who'll go to the White House, and who'll stay in the doghouse. You’ re the one who has that power. You can keep Johnson in Washington DC, or you can send him back to his Texas cotton patch.

You’re the one who sent Kennedy to Washington. You’re the one who put the present Democratic Administration in Washington DC. The whites were evenly divided. It was the fact that you threw 80% of your votes behind the Democrats that put the Democrats in the White House. When you see this, you can see that the Negro vote is the key factor. And despite the fact that you are in a position to be the determining factor, what do you get out of it? The Democrats have been in Washington DC only because of the Negro vote. They’ve been down there four years, and all other legislation they wanted to bring up they brought it up and gotten it out of the way, and now they bring up you. And now, they bring up you. You put them first, and they put you last, 'cause you’re a chump; a political chump.

You’re the one who sent Kennedy to Washington. You’ re the one who put the present Democratic Administration in Washington DC. The whites were evenly divided. It was the fact that you threw 80% of your votes behind the Democrats that put the Democrats in the White House. When you see this, you can see that the Negro vote is the key factor. And despite the fact that you are in a position to be the determining factor, what do you get out of it? The Democrats have been in Washington DC only because of the Negro vote. They’ve been down there four years, and there all other legislation they wanted to bring up they brought it up and gotten it out of the way, and now they bring up you. And now, they bring up you. You put them first, and they put you last 'cause you’re a chump, a political chump.


In Washington DC, in the House of Representatives there are 257 who are Democrats; only 177 are Republican. In the Senate there are 67 Democrats; only 33 are Republicans. The Party that you backed controls two-thirds of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and still they can’t keep their promise to you, 'cause you’re a chump.

Anytime you throw your weight behind a political party that controls two-thirds of the government, and that Party can’t keep the promise that it made to you during election time, and you’re dumb enough to walk around continuing to identify yourself with that Party, you’re not only a chump, but you’re a traitor to your race.

And what kind of alibi do they come up with? They try and pass the buck to the Dixiecrats. Now back during the days when you were blind, deaf, and dumb, ignorant, politically immature, naturally you went along with that. But today as your eyes come open, and you develop political maturity, you’re able to see and think for yourself, and you can see that a Dixiecrat is nothing but a Democrat, in disguise.

You look at the structure of the government that controls this country; it’s controlled by 16 Senatorial committees and 20 Congressional committees. Of the 16 Senatorial committees that run the government, 10 of them are in the hands of Southern segregationists. Of the 20 Congressional committees that run the government, 12 of them are in the hands of Southern segregationists. And they gonna to tell you and me that the South lost the war!

You, today, are in the hands of a government of segregationists, racists, white supremacists who belong to the Democratic party, but disguise themselves as Dixiecrats. A Dixiecrat is nothing but a Democrat. Whoever runs the Democrats is also the father of the Dixiecrats, and the father of all of them is sitting in the White House. I say and I say it again: You got a President who’s nothing but a Southern segregationist, from the state of Texas. They’ll lynch you in Texas as quick as they’ll lynch you in Mississippi. Only in Texas they lynch you with a Texas accent, in Mississippi they lynch you with a Mississippi accent. And the first thing the cracker does when he comes in power, he takes all the Negro leaders and invites them for coffee, to show that he’s alright. And those Uncle Toms can’t pass up the coffee. They come away from the coffee table telling you and me that this man is alright 'cause he’s from the South, and since he’s from the South he can deal with the South. Look at the logic that they’re using. What about Eastland? He’s from the South. Make him the President. If Johnson is a good man 'cause he’s from Texas, and being from Texas will enable him to deal with the South, Eastland can deal with the South better than Johnson. Oh, I say you’ve been misled. You been had. You been took.

I was in Washington a couple weeks ago while the Senators were filibustering, and I noticed in the back of the Senate a huge map, and on this map it showed the distribution of Negroes in America, and surprisingly the same Senators that were involved in the filibuster were from the states where there were the most Negroes. Why were they filibustering the civil rights legislation? Because the civil rights legislation is supposed to guarantee voting rights to Negroes in those states, and those senators from those states know that if the Negroes in those states can vote, those senators are down the drain. The Representatives of those states go down the drain. And in the Constitution of this country it has a stipulation wherein, whenever the rights, the voting rights, of people in a certain district are violated, then the Representative who’s from that particular district, according to the Constitution, is supposed to be expelled from the Congress. Now, if this particular aspect of the Constitution was enforced, why you wouldn’t have a cracker in Washington DC. But what would happen when you expel the Dixiecrat, you’re expelling the Democrat. When you destroy the power of the Dixiecrat, you’re destroying the power of the Democratic Party. So how in the world can the Democratic Party in the South actually side with you, in sincerity, when all of its power is based in the South?

These Northern Democrats are in cahoots with the Southern Democrats. They’re playing a giant con game, a political con game. You know how it goes. One of them comes to you and makes believe he's for you, and he’s in cahoots with the other one that’s not for you. Why? Because neither one of them is for you, but they got to make you go with one of them or the other. So this is a con game. And this is what they’ve been doing with you and me all these years. First thing Johnson got off the plane when he become President, he asked “Where’s Dicky?” You know who “Dicky” is? Dicky is old Southern cracker Richard Russell. Yes! Lyndon Johnson’s best friend is the one who is the head, who’s heading the forces that are filibustering civil rights legislation. You tell me how in the hell is he going to be Johnson’s best friend? How can Johnson be his friend, and your friend too? No, that man is too tricky. Especially if his friend is still old Dicky! Whenever the Negroes keep the Democrats in power, they’re keeping the Dixiecrats in power. Is this true? A vote for a Democrat is nothing but a vote for a Dixiecrat. I know you don’t like me saying that, but I...I’m not the kind of person who come here to say what you like. I’m going to tell you the truth, whether you like it or not.

Up here, in the North you have the same thing. The Democratic party don’t do it...they don’t do it that way. They got a thing that they call gerrymandering. They maneuver you out of power. Even though you vote, they fix it so you’re voting for nobody; they’ve got you going and coming. In the South, they’re outright political wolves. In the North, they’re political foxes. A fox and a wolf are both canine, both belong to the dog family. Now you take your choice. You going to choose a Northern dog or a Southern dog? Because either dog you choose I guarantee you you’ll still be in the dog house. This is why I say it’s the ballot or the bullet. It’s liberty or it’s death. It’s freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody.

America today finds herself in a unique situation. Historically, revolutions are bloody. Oh, yes, they are. They haven’t never had a blood-less revolution, or a non-violent revolution. That don’t happen even in Hollywood. You don’t have a revolution in which you love your enemy, and you don’t have a revolution in which you are begging the system of exploitation to integrate you into it. Revolutions overturn systems. Revolutions destroy systems. A revolution is bloody, but America is in a unique position. She’s the only country in history in a position actually to become involved in a blood-less revolution. The Russian revolution was bloody, Chinese revolution was bloody, French revolution was bloody, Cuban revolution was bloody, and there was nothing more bloody then the American Revolution. But today this country can become involved in a revolution that won’t take bloodshed. All she’s got to do is give the black man in this country everything that’s due him. Everything.

I hope that the white man can see this, 'cause if you don’t see it you’re finished. If you don’t see it you’re going to become involved in some action in which you don’t have a chance. And we don’t care anything about your atomic bomb; it's useless because other countries have atomic bombs. When two or three different countries have atomic bombs, nobody can use them, so it means that the white man today is without a weapon. If you want some action, you gotta come on down to Earth. And there's more black people on Earth than there are white people on Earth.

I only got a couple more minutes. The white man can never win another war on the ground. His days of war, victory, his days of ground victory are over. Can I prove it? Yes. Take all the action that’s going on this earth right now that he’s involved in tell me where he’s winning. Nowhere. Why some rice farmers, some rice farmers, some rice eaters ran him out of Korea. Yes, they ran him out of Korea. Rice eaters with nothing but gym shoes, and a rifle, and a bowl of rice took him and his tanks and his napalm, and all that other action he’s supposed to have and ran him across the Yalu. Why? 'Cause the day that he can win on the ground has passed. Up in French Indo-China those little peasants, rice growers, took on the might of the French army and ran all the Frenchmen...you remember Dien Bien Phu. No.

The same thing happened in Algeria, in Africa, they didn’t have anything but a rifle. The French had all these highly mechanized instruments of warfare, but they put some guerrilla action on, and a white man can’t fight a guerrilla warfare. Guerrilla action takes heart, takes nerve, and he doesn’t have that. He’s brave when he’s got tanks. He’s brave when he’s got planes. He’s brave when he’s got bombs. He’s brave when he’s got a whole lot of company along with him, but you take that little man from Africa and Asia, turn him loose in the woods with a blade that’s all he needs, all he needs is a blade and when the sun goes down and it’s dark, it’s even-steven.

So it’s the ballot or the bullet. Today our people can see that we’re faced with a government conspiracy. This government has failed us. The senators who are filibustering concerning your and my rights, that's the government. Don’t say it’s Southern senators. This is the government; this is a government filibuster. It’s not a segregationist filibuster. It’s a government filibuster. Any kind of activity that takes place on the floor of the Congress or the Senate, it’s the government. Any kind of dilly-dallying, that’s the government. Any kind of pussyfooting, that’s the government. Any kind of act that’s designed to delay or deprive you and me right now of getting full rights, that’s the government that's responsible. And any time you find the government involved in a conspiracy to violate the citizenship or the civil rights of a people, then you are wasting your time going to that government expecting redress. Instead, you have to take that government to the World Court and accuse it of genocide and all of the other crimes that it is guilty of today.

So those of us whose political, and economic, and social philosophy is black nationalism have become involved in the civil rights struggle. We have injected ourselves into the civil rights struggle, and we intend to expand it from the level of civil rights to the level of human rights. As long as you're fighting on the level of civil rights, you’re under Uncle Sam’s jurisdiction. You’re going to his court expecting him to correct the problem. He created the problem. He’s the criminal. You don’t take your case to the criminal; you take your criminal to court. When the government of South Africa began to trample upon the human rights of the people of South Africa, they were taken to the U.N. When the government of Portugal began to trample upon the rights of our brothers and sisters in Angola, it was taken before the U.N. Why even the white man took the Hungarian question to the U.N. And just this week Chief Justice Goldberg was crying over three million Jews in Russia about their human rights, charging Russia with violating the U.N. charter because of its mistreatment of the human rights of Jews in Russia. Now you tell me how can the plight of everybody on this earth reach the halls of the United Nations, and you have 22 million Afro-Americans whose churches are being bombed, whose little girls are being murdered, whose leaders are being shot down in broad daylight. Now you tell me why the leaders of this struggle have never taken it before the United Nations. So our next move is to take the entire civil rights struggle, problem, into the United Nations, and let the world see that Uncle Sam is guilty of violating the human rights of 22 million Afro-Americans.

Uncle Sam still has the audacity or the nerve to stand up and represent himself as the leader of the free world. Not only is he a crook, he’s a hypocrite. Here he is standing up in front of other people, Uncle Sam, with the blood of your and mine mothers and fathers on his hands, with the blood dripping down his jaws like a bloody-jawed wolf, and still got the nerve to point his finger at other countries. You can’t even get civil rights legislation. And this man has got the nerve to stand up and talk about South Africa, or talk about Nazi Germany, or talk about Portugal. No, no more days like those.

So, I say in my conclusion the only way we're going to solve it we’ve got to unite in unity and harmony, and black nationalism is the key. How we gonna overcome the tendency to be at each others throats that always exists in our neighbourhoods, and the reason this tendency exists, the strategy of the white man has always been divide and conquer. He keeps us divided in order to conquer us. He tells you I’m for separation and you for integration to keep us fighting with each other. No, I’m not for separation and you’re not for integration. What you and I are for is freedom. Only you think that integration would get you freedom, I think separation would get me freedom. We both got the same objective, we just got different ways of getting at it.

So I studied this man, Billy Graham, who preaches white nationalism, that’s what he preaches. I say that’s what he preaches. The whole church structure in this country is white nationalism. You go inside a white church that’s what they preaching is white nationalism. They got Jesus white, Mary white, God white, everybody white, that’s white nationalism. So what he does, the way he circumvents the jealousy and envy that he ordinarily would incur among the heads of the church, wherever you go into an area where the church already is, you going into trouble, 'cause they got that thing...what you call it...syndicated. They got a syndicate, just like the racketeers have. I’m going to say what’s on my mind 'cause the churches are, the preachers already proved to you that they got a syndicate. And when you're out in the rackets, whenever you're getting in another man’s territory, you know, they gang up on you. And that’s the same way with you ran into the same thing. So how Billy Graham gets around that, instead of going into somebody else’s territory, like he going to start up a new church, he doesn’t try to start a church. He just goes in preaching Christ. And he says everybody who believes in Him, wherever you go wherever you find him. So this helps all the churches and since it helps all the churches they don’t mind fight him.

Well, we gonna do the same thing, only our gospel is black nationalism; his gospel is white nationalism; our gospel is black nationalism. And the gospel of black nationalism, as I told you, means you should control you own, the politics of your community, the economy of your community, and all of the society in which you live should be under your control. And once you feel that this philosophy will solve your problem, go join any church where that’s preached. Don’t join a church where white nationalism is preached. Now you can go to a Negro church and be exposed to white nationalism 'cause you are, when you walk in a Negro church and there's a white Mary and some white angels, that Negro church is preaching white nationalism. But when you go to a church and you see the pastor of that church with a philosophy and a program that’s designed to bring black people together and elevate black people, join that church. Join that church. If you see where the NAACP is preaching and practicing that which is designed to make black nationalism materialize, join the NAACP. Join any kind of organization, civic, religious, fraternal, political, or otherwise that’s based on lifting the black man up and making him master of his own community.

It’ll be the ballot or it’ll be the bullet. It’ll be liberty or it’ll be death. And if you’re not ready to pay that price don’t use the word freedom in your vocabulary.

One more thing: I was on a program in Illinois recently with Senator Paul Douglas, a so-called liberal, so-called Democrat, so-called white man, at which time he told me that our African brothers were not interested in us in Africa. He said the Africans are not interested in the American Negro. I knew he was lying, but during the next two or three weeks it’s my intention and plan to make a tour of our African homeland. And I hope that when I come back, I’ll be able to come back and let you know how our African brothers and sisters feel toward us. And I know before I go there that they love us. We’re one; we’re the same; the same man who has colonized them all these years, colonized you and me too, all these years. And all we have to do now is wake up and work in unity and harmony and the battle will be over.

I want to thank the Freedom Now Party and the GOAL. I want to thank Milton and Richard Henley for inviting me here this afternoon, and also Reverend Cleage. And I want them to know that anything that I can ever do, at any time, to work with anybody in any kind of program that is sincerely designed to eliminate the political, the economic and the social evils that confront all of our people, in Detroit and elsewhere, all they got to do is give me a telephone call and I’ll be on the next jet right on into the city.

A. B. Spellman Interviews Malcolm X (March 19, 1964)

Spellman: Please answer these charges that are often raised against you: That you are as racist as Hitler and the Klan, etc. That you are anti-Semitic. That you advocate mob violence.

Malcolm X: No, we’re not racists at all. Our brotherhood is based on the fact that we are all black, brown, red, or yellow. We don’t call this racism, any more than you could refer to the European Common Market which consists of Europeans, which means that it consists of white-skin people—is not referred to as a racist coalition. It’s referred to as the European Common Market, an economic group—while our desire for unity among black, brown, red, and yellow is for brotherhood—has nothing to do with racism, has nothing to do with Hitler, has nothing to do with the Klan. In fact, the Klan in this country was designed to perpetuate an injustice upon Negroes; whereas the Muslims are designed to eliminate the injustice that has been perpetuated upon the so-called Negro.
We’re anti-exploitation and in this country the Jews have been located in the so-called Negro community as merchants and businessmen for so long that they feel guilty when you mention that the exploiters of Negroes are Jews. This doesn’t mean that we are anti-Jews or anti-Semitic—we’re anti-exploitation. No. We have never been involved in any kind of violence whatsoever. We have never initiated any violence against anyone, but we do believe that when violence is practiced against us we should be able to defend ourselves. We don’t believe in turning the other cheek.

Spellman: Why did you find it necessary to split with the Nation of Islam?

Malcolm X: Well, I did encounter opposition within the Nation of Islam. Many obstacles were placed in my path, not by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, but by others who were around him and since I believe that his analysis of the race problem is the best one and his solution is the only one, I felt that I could best circumvent these obstacles and expedite his program better by remaining out of the Nation of Islam and establishing a Muslim group that is an action group designed to eliminate the same ills that the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad have made so manifest in this country.

Spellman: What is the name of the organization that you have founded?

Malcolm X: The Muslim Mosque Inc., which means we are still Muslims—we still worship in a mosque and we’re incorporated as a religious body.

Spellman: Can other Muslims work with the Muslim Mosque Inc. without leaving the Nation of Islam?

Malcolm X: Oh yes. Yes anyone who is in the Nation of Islam who wants to work with us and remain in the Nation of Islam, is welcome. I am a follower of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad—I believe in the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The only reason I am in the Muslim Mosque Inc. is because I feel I can better expedite his program by being free of the restraint and the other obstacles that I encountered in the Nation.

Spellman: Will you have access to Muhammad Speaks?

Malcolm X: Probably not. No, I very much doubt that the same forces which forced me out would permit me access to the Muhammad Speaks newspaper as an organ although I am the founder of the paper, the originator of the paper. Few people realize it—I was the one who originated Muhammad Speaks. The initial editions were written entirely by me in my basement.

Spellman: Will you start another publication?

Malcolm X: Yes. One of the best ways to propagate any idea is with a publication of some sort and if Allah blesses us with success we will have another publication. We’ll probably name it the Flaming Crescent because we want to set the world on fire.

Spellman: How religious is the Muslim Mosque Inc.? Will it be more politically oriented?

Malcolm X: The Muslim Mosque Inc. will have as its religious base the religion of Islam which will be designed to propagate the moral reformation necessary to up the level of the so-called Negro community by eliminating the vices and other evils that destroy the moral fiber of the community—this is the religious base. But the political philosophy of the Muslim Mosque will be black nationalism, the economic philosophy will be black nationalism, and the social philosophy will be black nationalism. And by political philosophy I mean we still believe in the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s solution as complete separation. The 22,000,000 so-called Negroes should be separated completely from America and should be permitted to go back home to our African homeland which is a long-range program; so the short-range program is that we must eat while we’re still here, we must have a place to sleep, we have clothes to wear, we must have better jobs, we must have better education; so that although our long-range political philosophy is to migrate back to our African homeland, our short-range program must involve that which is necessary to enable us to live a better life while we are still here. We must be in complete control of the politics of the so-called Negro community; we must gain complete control over the politicians in the so-called Negro community, so that no outsider will have any voice in the so-called Negro community. We’ll do it ourselves.

Spellman: Whom do you hope to draw from in organizing this political movement—what kind of people?

Malcolm X: All—we’re flexible—a variety. But our accent will be upon youth. We’ve already issued a call for the students in the colleges and universities across the country to launch their own independent studies of the race problem in he country and then bring their analyses and their suggestions for a new approach back to us so that we can devise an action program geared to their thinking. The accent is on youth because the youth have less at stake in this corrupt system and therefore can look at it more objectively, whereas the adults usually have a stake in this corrupt system and they lose their ability to look at it objectively because of their stake in it.

Spellman: Do you expect to draw from the Garveyite groups?

Malcolm X: All groups—Nationalist, Christians, Muslims, Agnostics, Atheists, anything. Everybody who is interested in solving the problem is given an invitation to become actively involved with either suggestions or ideas or something.

Spellman: Will the organization be national?

Malcolm X: National? I have gotten already an amazing number of letters from student groups at college campuses across the country expressing a desire to become involved in a united front in this new idea that we have.

Spellman: What kind of coalition do you plan to make? Can whites join the Muslim Mosque Inc.?

Malcolm X: Whites can’t join us. Everything that whites join that Negroes have they end up out-joining the Negroes. The whites control all Negro organizations that they can join—they end up in control of those organizations. If whites want to help us financially we will accept their financial help, but we will never let them join us.

Spellman: Then black leadership is necessary?

Malcolm X: Absolutely black leadership.

Spellman: Will you work with the so-called “established” civil rights organizations?

Malcolm X: Well, we will work with them in any area and on any objective that doesn’t conflict with our own political, economic, and social philosophy which is black nationalism. I might add that I was invited to attend a civil rights group meeting where all of the various civil rights organizations were present and I was invited to address them in Chester, Pennsylvania. Gloria Richardson was there; Landrey, the head of the Chicago School Boycott, was there; Dick Gregory was there; many others were there; the Rochedale movement was there. Now my address to them was designed to show them that if they would expand their civil rights movement to a human rights movement it would internationalize it. Now, as a civil rights movement, it remains within the confines of American domestic policy and no African independent nations can open up their mouths on American domestic affairs, whereas if they expanded the civil rights movement to a human rights movement then they would be eligible to take the case of the Negro to the United Nations the same as the case of the Angolans is in the UN and the case of the South Africans is in the UN. Once the civil rights movement is expanded to a human rights movement our African brothers and our Asian brothers and Latin American brothers can place it on the agenda at the General Assembly that is coming up this year and Uncle Sam has no more say-so in it then. And we have friends outside the UN—700,000,000 Chinese who are ready to die for human rights.

Spellman: Do you intend to collaborate with such other groups as labor unions or socialist groups or any other groups?

Malcolm X: We will work with anybody who is sincerely interested in eliminating injustices that Negroes suffer at the hands of Uncle Sam.

Spellman: What is your evaluation of the civil rights movement at this point?

Malcolm X: It has run its—it’s at the end of its leash.

Spellman: What groups do you consider most promising?

Malcolm X: I know of no group that is promising unless it’s radical. If it’s not radical it is in no way involved effectively in the present struggle.

Spellman: Some local civil rights leaders have said they’d welcome your support, some national leaders have said they want nothing to do with you, what is your reaction?

Malcolm X: Well, the local civil rights leaders are usually involved right in the midst of the situation. They see it as it is and they realize that it takes a combination of groups to attack the problem most effectively and, also, most local civil rights leaders have more independence of action and usually they are more in tune and in touch with the people. But the national leaders of the civil rights movement are out of touch with the problem and usually they are paid leaders. The local leaders usually have a job and they lean against the local situation on the side, but the nationally known leaders are paid. They are full-time leaders, they are professional leaders and whoever pays their salary has a great say-so in what they do and what they don’t do, so naturally the ones who pay the salaries of these nationally known Negro leaders are the white liberals and white liberals are shocked and frightened whenever you mention anything about some X’s.

Spellman: What is your attitude toward Christian-Gandhian groups?

Malcolm X: Christian? Gandhian? I don’t go for anything that’s non-violent and turn-the-other-cheekish. I don’t see how any revolution—I’ve never heard of a non-violent revolution or a revolution that was brought about by turning the other cheek, and so I believe that it is a crime for anyone to teach a person who is being brutalized to continue to accept that brutality without doing something to defend himself. If this is what the Christian-Gandhian philosophy teaches then it is criminal—a criminal philosophy.

Spellman: Does the Muslim Mosque Inc. oppose integration and intermarriage?

Malcolm X: We don’t have to oppose integration because the white integrationists themselves oppose it. Proof of which, it doesn’t exist anywhere where white people say they are for it. There’s just no such thing as integration anywhere, but we do oppose intermarriage. We are as much against intermarriage as we are against all of the other injustices that our people have encountered.

Spellman: What is the program for achieving your goals of separation?

Malcolm X: A better word to use than separation is independence. This word separation is misused. The 13 colonies separated from England but they called it the Declaration of Independence; they don’t call it the Declaration of Separation, They call it the Declaration of Independence. When you’re independent of someone you can separate from them. If you can’t separate from them it means you’re not independent of them. So, your question was what?

Spellman: What is your program for achieving your goals of independence?

Malcolm X: When the black man in this country awakens, becomes intellectually mature and able to think for himself, you will then see that the only way he will become independent and recognized as a human being on the basis of equality with all other human beings, he has to have what they have and he has to be doing for himself what others are doing for themselves so the first step is to awaken him to this and that is where the religion of Islam makes him morally more able to rise above the evils and the vices of an immoral society and the political, economic, and social philosophy of black nationalism instills within him the racial dignity and the incentive and the confidence that he needs to stand on his own feet and take a stand for himself.

Spellman: Do you plan to employ any kind of mass action?

Malcolm X: Oh, yes.

Spellman: What kinds?

Malcolm X: We’d rather not say at this time, but we definitely plan to employ mass action.

Spellman: How about the vote—will the Muslim Mosque Inc. run its own candidates or support other candidates?

Malcolm X: Since the political structure is what has been used to exploit the so-called Negroes, we intend to gather together all of the brilliant minds of students, not the adult politicians who are part of the corruption but the students of political science, we intend to gather all of them together and get their findings, get their analyses, get their suggestions, and, out of these suggestions we will devise an approach that will enable us to attack the politicians and the political structure where it hurts the most, in order to get a change.

Spellman: If the Muslim Mosque Inc. joined in a demonstration sponsored by a non-violent organization, and whites countered with violence, how would your organization react?

Malcolm X: We are non-violent only with non-violent people—I’m non-violent as long as somebody else is non-violent—as soon as they get violent they nullify my non-violence.

Spellman: A lot of leaders of other organizations have said they would welcome your help but they qualify that by saying “if you follow our philosophy.” Would you work with them under these circumstances?

Malcolm X: We can work with all groups in anything but at no time will we give up our right to defend ourselves. We’ll never become involved in any kind of action that deprives us of our right to defend ourselves if we are attacked.

Spellman: How would the Muslim Mosque Inc. handle a Birmingham, Danville, or Cambridge—what do you think should have been done?

Malcolm X: In Birmingham, since the government has proven itself either unable or unwilling to step in and find those who are guilty and bring them to justice, it becomes necessary for the so-called Negro who was the victim to do this himself, and he would be upholding his constitutional rights by so doing, and Article 2 of the Constitution—it says concerning the right to bear arms in the Bill of Rights: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Negroes don’t realize this, that they are within their constitutional rights to own a rifle, to own a shotgun, and when the bigoted white supremacists realize that they are dealing with Negroes who are ready to give their lives in defense of life and property, then these bigoted whites will change their whole strategy and their whole attitude.

Spellman: You’ve said this will be the most violent year in the history of race relations in America. Elaborate.

Malcolm X: Yes. Because the Negro has already given up on non-violence. This new-thinking Negro is beginning to realize that when he demonstrates for what the government says are his rights then the law should be on his side. Anyone standing in front of him reclaiming his rights is breaking the law. Now, you’re not going to have a law-breaking element inflicting violence upon Negroes who are trying to implement the law, so that when they begin to see this, like this, they are going to strike back. In 1964 you’ll find Negroes will strike back, there never will be non-violence anymore, that has run out.

Spellman: What is your evaluation of Monroe?

Malcolm X: I’m not too up on the situation in Monroe, N.C. I do know that Robert Williams became an exile from this country simply because he was trying to get our people to defend themselves against the Klu Klux Klan and other white supremacist elements, and also May Mallory was given 20 years or something like that because she was also trying to fight the place of our people down there; so this gives you an idea of what happens in a democracy—in a so-called democracy—when people try to implement that democracy.

Spellman: You often use the word revolution, is there a revolution underway in America now?

Malcolm X: There hasn’t been. Revolution is like a forest fire. It burns everything in its path. The people who are involved in a revolution don’t become a part of the system—they destroy the system, they change the system. The genuine word for a revolution is Umw√§lzung which means a complete overturning and a complete change and the Negro Revolution is no revolution because it condemns the system and then asks the system that it has condemned to accept them into their system. That’s not a revolution—a revolution changes the system, it destroys the system and replaces it with a better one. It’s like a forest fire like I said—it burns everything in its path and the only way to stop a forest fire from burning down your house is to ignite a fire that you control and use it against the fire that is burning out of control. What the white man in America has done, he realizes that there is a Black Revolution all over the world—a non-white revolution all over the world—and he sees it sweeping down upon America and in order to hold it back he ignited an artificial fire which he has named the Negro Revolt and he is using the Negro Revolt against the real Black Revolution that is going on all over this earth.

Spellman: Can the race problem in America be solved under the existing political-economic system?

Malcolm X: No.

Spellman: Well then, what is the answer?

Malcolm X: It answers itself.

Spellman: Can there be any revolutionary change in America while the hostility between black and white working classes exists? Can Negroes do it alone?

Malcolm X: Yes. They’ll never do it with working-class whites. The history of America is that working-class whites have been just as much against not only working-class Negroes, but all Negroes, period, because all Negroes are working class within the caste system. The richest Negro is treated like a working-class Negro. There never has been any good relationship between the working-class Negro and the working-class whites. I just don’t go along with—there can be no worker solidarity until there’s first some black solidarity. There can be no white/black solidarity until there’s first some black solidarity. We have got to get our problems solved first and then if there’s anything left to work on the white man’s problems, good, but I think one of the mistakes Negroes make is this worker solidarity thing. There’s no such thing—it didn’t even work in Russia. Right now it was supposedly solved in Russia but as soon as they got their problems solved they fell out with China.

Spellman: Will the Muslim Mosque Inc. identify with non-white revolutionary movements in Africa, Asia, and Latin America?

Malcolm X: We are all brothers of oppression and today brothers of oppression are identified with each other all over the world.

Spellman: Is there anything else you want to say?

Malcolm X: No. I’ve said enough—maybe I’ve said too much.

Malcolm X at Harvard University (March 18, 1964)

Nineteen hundred sixty-four will probably be the most explosive year that America has yet witnessed on the racial front; primarily because the black people of this country during 1963 saw nothing but failure behind every effort they made to get what the country was supposedly on record for. Today the black people in this country have become frustrated, disenchanted, disillusioned and probably more set for action now than ever before-not the kind of action that has been set out for them in the past by some of their supposedly liberal white friends, but the kind of action that will get some kind of immediate results. As the moderator has pointed out, the time that we’re living in now and that we are facing now is not an era where one who is oppressed is looking toward the oppressor to give him some system or form of logic or reason. What is logical to the oppressor isn’t logical to the oppressed. And what is reason to the oppressor isn’t reason to the oppressed. The black people in this country are beginning to realize that what sounds reasonable to those who exploit us doesn’t sound reasonable to us. There just has to be a new system of reason and logic devised by us who are at the bottom, if we want to get some results in this struggle that is called “the Negro revolution.”

Not only is it going to be an explosive year on the racial front; it is going to be an explosive year on the political front. This year it will be impossible to separate one from the other. The politicking of the politicians in 1964 will probably do more to bring about racial explosion than any other factor, because this country has been under the rule of the politicians. When they want to get elected to office they come into the so-called Negro community and make a lot of promises that they don’t intend to keep. This feeds the hopes of the people in our community, and after the politicians have gotten what they are looking for, they turn their back on the people of our community. This has happened time and time again. The only difference between then and now is that there is a different element in the community; whereas in the past the people of our community were patient and polite, long-suffering and willing to listen to what you call reason, 1964 has produced an element of people who are no longer willing to listen to what you call reason. As I said, what’s reasonable to you has long since ceased to be reasonable to us. And it will be these false promises made by the politicians that will bring about the BOOM.

During the few moments that I have I hope that we can chat in an informal way, because I find that when you are discussing things that are very “touchy,” sometimes it’s best to be informal. And where white people are concerned, it has been my experience that they are extremely intelligent on most subjects until it comes to race. When you get to the racial issue in this country, the whites lose all their intelligence. They become very subjective, and they want to tell us how it should be solved. It’s like Jesse James going to tell the Marshal how he should come after him for the crime that Jesse committed.

I am not a politician. I’m not even a student of politics. I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a Republican. I don’t even consider myself an American. If I could consider myself an American, we wouldn’t even have any problem. It would be solved. Many of you get indignant when you hear a black man stand up and say, “No, I’m not an American.” I see whites who have the audacity, I should say the nerve, to think that a black man is radical and extremist, subversive and seditious if he says, “No, I’m not an American.” But at the same time, these same whites have to admit that this man has a problem.

I don’t come here tonight to speak to you as a Democrat or a Republican or an American or anything that you want me to be. I’m speaking as what I am: one of twenty-two million black people in this country who are victims of your democratic system. They’re the victims of the Democratic politicians, the victims of the Republican politicians. They’re actually the victims of what you call democracy. So I stand here tonight speaking as a victim of what you call democracy. And you can understand what I’m saying if you realize it’s being said through the mouth of a victim; the mouth of one of the oppressed, not through the mouth and eyes of the oppressor. But if you think we’re sitting in the same chair or standing on the same platform, then you won’t understand what I’m talking about. You’d expect me to stand up here and say what you would· say if you were standing up here. And I’d have to be out of my mind.

Whenever one is viewing this political system through the eyes of a victim, he sees something different. But today these twenty-two million black people who are the victims of American democracy, whether you realize it or not, are viewing your democracy with new eyes. Yesterday our people used to look upon the American system as an American dream. But the black people today are beginning to realize that it is an American nightmare. What is a dream to you is a nightmare to us. What is hope to you has long since become hopeless to our people. And as this attitude develops, not so much on Sugar Hill—although it’s there too—but in the ghetto, in the alley where the masses of our people live...there you have a new situation on your hands. There’s a new political consciousness developing among our people in this country. In the past, we weren’t conscious of the political maneuvering that goes on in this country, which exploits our people politically. We knew something was wrong, but we weren’t conscious of what it was. Today there’s a tendency on the part of this new generation of black people (who have been born and are growing up in this country) to look at the thing not as they wish it were, but as it actually is. And their ability to look at the situation as it is, is what is primarily responsible for the ever-increasing sense of frustration and hopelessness that exists in the so-called Negro community today.

Besides becoming politically conscious, you’ll find that our people are also becoming more aware of the strategic position that they occupy politically. In the past, they weren’t. Just the right to vote was considered something. But today the so-called Negroes are beginning to realize that they occupy a very strategic position. They realize what the new trends are and all of the new political tendencies.

During recent years at election time, when the Governor was running for office, there was call for a recount of votes here in Massachusetts. In Rhode Island it was the same way-in Minnesota, the same thing. Within American politics there is now such a similarity between the two parties that in elections the race is usually close enough to permit almost any single block to swing it one way or the other. Not only is this true in city, county, and state elections, but it’s also true in the national elections, as witness the close race between President Kennedy and Nixon a few years back. And everyone admits that it was the strategic vote of the so-called Negro in this country that put the Kennedy administration in Washington. The position in the political structure of the so-called Negro has become so strategic that whenever any kind of election rolls around now, the politicians are out there trying to win the Negro vote. In trying to win the Negro vote, they make a whole lot of promises and build up his hopes. But they always build him up for a letdown. By being constantly built up for a letdown, the Negro is now becoming very angry at the white man. And in his anger the Muslims come along and talk to him. Yet instead of the white man blaming himself for the anger of the Negro, he again has the audacity to blame us. When we warn you how angry the Negro is becoming, you, instead of thanking us for giving you a little warning, try to accuse us of stirring up the Negro. Don’t you know that if your house is on fire and I come to warn you that your house is burning, you shouldn’t accuse me of setting the fire! Thank me rather for letting you know what’s happening, or what’s going to happen, before it’s too late.

When these new trends develop in the so-called Negro in America, making the so-called Negro aware of his strategic position politically, he becomes aware too of what he’s not getting in return. He realizes that his vote puts the governor in office, or the mayor in office, or the president in office. But he’s beginning to see also that although his vote is the vital factor that determines who will sit in these seats, the last one those politicians try to help is the so-called Negro.

Proof of which: Everyone admits that it was the Negro vote that put Kennedy in the White House. Yet four years have passed and the present administration is just now getting around to civil rights legislation. In its fourth year of office it finally passes some kind of civil rights legislation, designed supposedly to solve the problem of the so-called Negro. Yet that voting element offered decisive support in the national election. I only cite this to show the hypocrisy on the part of the white man in America, whether he be down South or whether he be up here in the North.

Democrats, now after they’ve been in the White House awhile, use an alibi for not having kept their promise to the Negroes who voted for them. They say, “Well, we can’t get this passed or we can’t get that passed.” The present make-up of the Congress is 257 Democrats and only 177 Republicans. Now how can a party of Democrats that received practically the full support of the so-called Negroes of this country and control nearly two-thirds of the seats in Congress give the Negro an excuse for not getting some kind of legislation passed to solve the Negro problem? Where the senators are concerned, there are 67 Democrats and only 33 Republicans; yet these Democrats are going to try to pass the buck to the Republicans after the Negro has put the Democrats in office. Now I’m not siding with either Democrats or Republicans. I’m just pointing out the deceit on the part of both when it comes to dealing with the Negro. Although the Negro vote put the Democratic Party where it is, the Democratic Party gives the Negro nothing; and the Democrats offer as an excuse that the fault lies with the Dixie-crats. What do you call them Dixie-crats or Dixo-crats or Demo-Dixo-crats!

Look at the shrewd deceptive manner in which they deal with the Negro. A Dixo-crat is a Democrat. You can call them by whatever name you wish, but you have never seen a situation where the Dixie-crats kick the Democrats out of the party. Rather the Democrats kick the Dixiecrats out of their party if there is ever any cleavage. You oftentimes find the Dixie-crats “cussing out” the Democrats, but you never find the Democrats disassociating themselves from the Dixie-crats. They are together and they use this shrewd maneuvering to trick the Negro. Now there are some young Negroes appearing on the scene, and it is time for those who call themselves Democrats to realize that when the Negro looks at a Democrat, he sees a Democrat. Whether you call him a Dixo-Democrat or a Demo-Dixie-crat, he’s the same thing.

One of the reasons that these Dixie-crats occupy such a powerful position in Washington, D.C., is that they have seniority. By reason of their seniority and primarily because they have denied the local Negro his right to vote, they hold sway over key committees in Washington. You call it a system based on democracy, yet you can’t deny that the most powerful men in this government are from the South. The only reason they’re in positions of power is because the Negroes in their area are deprived of their constitutional right to vote. But the Constitution says that when at any time the people of a given area are denied their right to vote, the representatives of that area are supposed to be expelled from their seat. You don’t need any new legislation; it’s right in front of you already. The only reason the politicians want new legislation is to use it to further trick the Negro. All they have to do is to go by that thing they call the Constitution. It needs no more bills, it needs no more amendments, it needs no more anything. All it needs is a little sincere application.

As with the South, the North knows its own bypass for the Constitution, which goes by the name of “gerrymandering.” Some fellows gain control in the so-called Negro community and then change voting lines every time the Negro begins to get too powerful numerically. The technique is different from that in Mississippi. There is no denying the Negro the right to vote outright, as in Mississippi. The Northern way is more shrewd and subtle; but whether victim of the Northern way or the Southern method, the Negro ends up with no political power whatsoever. Now, I may not be putting this in language which you’re used to, but I’m quite sure that you get the point. Whenever you give the Negro in the South the right to vote, his Constitutional right to vote, it will mean an automatic change in the entire representation from the South. Were he able to exercise his right, some of the most powerful and influential figures in Washington, D.C., would not now be in the Capitol. A large Negro vote would change the foreign policy as well as the domestic policy of this government. Therefore the only valid approach toward revolutionizing American policy is to give to the Negro his right to vote. Once that is done, the entire future course of things must change.

I might say this is how we look at it—how the victims look at it, a very crude and what you might call pessimistic view. But I should rather prefer it as a realistic view. Now what is our approach towards solving this? Many of you have probably just recently read that I am no longer an active member in the Nation of Islam, although I am myself still a Muslim. My religion is still Islam, and I still credit the Honorable Elijah Muhammad with being responsible for everything I know and everything that I am. In New York we have recently founded the Muslim Mosque, Incorporated, which has as its base the religion of Islam, the religion of Islam because we have found that this religion creates more unity among our people than any other type of philosophy can do. At the same time, the religion of Islam is more successful in eliminating the vices that exist in the so-called Negro community, which destroy the moral fiber of the so-called Negro community.

So with this religious base, the difference between the Muslim Mosque, Incorporated, and the Nation of Islam is probably this: We have as our political philosophy, Black Nationalism; as our economic philosophy, Black Nationalism; and as our social philosophy, Black Nationalism. We believe that the religion of Islam combined with Black Nationalism is all that is needed to solve the problem that exists in the so-called Negro community. Why?

The only real solution to our problem, just as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad has taught us, is to go back to our homeland and to live among our own people and develop it so we’ll have an independent nation of our own. I still believe this. But that is a long- range program. And while our people are getting set to go back home, we have to live here in the meantime. So in the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s long-range program, there’s also a short-range program: the political philosophy which teaches us that the black man should control the politics of his own community. When the black man controls the politics and the politicians in his own community, he can then make them produce what is good for the community. For when a politician in the so-called Negro community is controlled by a political machine outside, seldom will that politician ever do what is necessary to bring up the standard of living or to solve the problems that exist in that community. So our political philosophy is designed to bring together the so- called Negroes and to re-educate them to the importance of politics in concrete betterment, so that they may know what they should be getting from their politicians in addition to a promise. Once the political control of the so-called Negro community is in the hands of the so- called Negro, then it is possible for us to do something towards correcting the evils and the ills that exist there.

Our economic philosophy of Black Nationalism means that instead of our spending the rest of our lives begging the white man for a job, our people should be re-educated to the science of economics and the part that it plays in our community. We should. be taught just the basic fundamentals: that whenever you take money out of the neighborhood and spend it in another neighborhood, the neighborhood in which you spend it gets richer and richer, and the neighborhood from which you take it gets poorer and poorer. This creates a ghetto, as now exists in every so-called Negro community in this country. If the Negro isn’t spending his money downtown with what we call “the man,” “the man” is himself right in the Negro community. All the stores are run by the white man, who takes the money out of the community as soon as the sun sets. We have to teach our people the importance of where to spend their dollars and the importance of establishing and owning businesses. Thereby we can create employment for ourselves, instead of having to wait to boycott your stores and businesses to demand that you give us a job. whenever the majority of our people begin to think along such lines, you’ll find that we ourselves can best solve our problems. Instead of having to wait for someone to come out of your neighborhood into our neighborhood to tackle these problems for us, we ourselves may solve them.

The social philosophy of Black Nationalism says that we must eliminate the vices and evils that exist in our society, and that we must stress the cultural roots of our forefathers, that will lend dignity and make the black man cease to be ashamed of himself. We have to teach our people something about our cultural roots. We have to teach them something of their glorious civilizations before they were kidnapped by your grandfathers and brought over to this country. Once our people are taught about the glorious civilization that existed on the African continent, they won’t any longer be ashamed of who they are. We will reach back and link ourselves to those roots, and this will make the feeling of dignity come into us; we will feel that as we lived in times gone by, we can in like manner today. If we had civilizations, cultures, societies, and nations hundreds of years ago, before you came and kidnapped us and brought us here, so we can have the same today. The restoration of our cultural roots and history will restore dignity to the black people in this country. Then we shall be satisfied in our own social circles; then we won’t be trying to force ourselves into your social circles. So the social philosophy of Black Nationalism doesn’t in any way involve any anti- anything. However, it does restore to the man who is being taunted his own self-respect. And the day that we are successful in making the black man respect himself as much as he now admires you, he will no longer be breathing down your neck every time you go buy a house somewhere to get away from him.

That is the political, social, and economic philosophy of Black Nationalism, and in order to bring it about, the program that we have in the Muslim Mosque, Incorporated, places an accent on youth. We are issuing a call for students across the country, from coast to coast, to launch a new study of the problem-not a study that is in any way guided or influenced by adults, but a study of their own. Thus we can get a new analysis of the problem, a more realistic analysis. After this new study and more realistic analysis, we are going to ask those same students (by students I mean young people, who having less of a stake to lose, are more flexible and can be more objective) for a new approach to the problem.

Already we have begun to get responses from so- called Negro students from coast to coast, who aren’t actually religiously inclined, but who are nonetheless strongly sympathetic to the approach used by Black Nationalism, whether it be social, economic, or political. And with this new approach and with these new ideas we think that we may open up a new era here in this country. As that era begins to spread, people in this country-instead of sticking under your nose or crying for civil rights-will begin to expand their civil rights plea to a plea for human rights. And once the so-called Negro in this country forgets the whole civil rights issue and begins to realize that human rights are far more important and broad than civil rights, he won’t be going to Washington, D.C., anymore, to beg Uncle Sam for civil rights. He will take his plea for human rights to the United Nations. There won’t be a violation of civil rights anymore. It will be a violation of human rights. Now at this moment, the governments that are in the United Nations can’t step in, can’t involve themselves with America’s domestic policy. But the day the black man turns from civil rights to human rights, he will take his case into the halls of the United Nations in the same manner as the people in Angola, whose human rights have been violated by the Portuguese in South Africa.

You’ll find that you are entering an era now where the black man in this country has ceased to think domestically, or within the bounds of the United States, and he’s beginning to see that this is a world-wide issue and that he needs help from outside. We need help from our brothers in Africa who have won their independence. And when we begin to show them our thinking has expanded to an international scale, they will step in and help us, and you’ll find that Uncle Sam will be in a most embarrassing position. So the only way Uncle Sam can stop us is to get some civil rights passed-right now! For if he can’t take care of his domestic dirt, it’s going to be put before the eyes of the world. Then you’ll find that you’ll have nobody on your side, whatsoever, other than, perhaps, a few of those Uncle Toms-and they’ve already out-lived their time.

* * *

Moderator: I suggest we follow this format: We will have reactions and responses to what Malcolm X has said from the members of the panel, then give Malcolm X a chance to discuss their views. The first member of the panel to address us will be Professor James Q. Wilson, who has written an important book about Negro politics in Chicago. At present, Professor Wilson is Associate Professor of Government at Harvard and also Director of the Joint Center for Urban Studies. The second speaker this evening will be Dr. Martin L. Kilson. Dr. Kilson is Lecturer on Government at Harvard, and will soon publish his first book, Political Change in a West African Slate.

[Panel members responnd.]

Moderator: Mr. X, I wonder if you’d like to reply to either Professor Wilson or Dr. Kilson.

Malcolm X: As I said in my opening statement, I’m not a student of politics nor a politician, but I did learn a lot listening to the speakers. Mr. Wilson pointed out very decisively that politics won’t solve the problem...this is what I got out of what he said...the politicians can’t do it. In fact I can see now why the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that complete separation is the only answer. For what I got from what he was saying is that Uncle Sam sees no hope within his political system of solving this problem that has become so complex that you can hardly even describe it. And this is why I said that we are issuing a call to youth, primarily, to get some new ideas and a new direction. The adults are more confused than the problem itself. It will take a whole generation of new people to approach this problem.

I would not like to leave the impression that I have ever, in any way, proposed a Negro party. Whoever entertains that thought is very much misinformed. We have never at any time advocated any kind of Negro party. The idea that I have been trying to convey is that Black Nationalism is our political philosophy. I didn’t mention “party.” By Black Nationalism I meant a political philosophy that makes the black man more conscious of the importance of his doing something to control his own destiny. The political philosophy maintained now by most black people in this country seems to me to leave their destiny in the hands of someone who doesn’t even look like them. So, you see, the political philosophy of Black Nationalism has nothing to do with party. It is designed to make the black man develop some kind of consciousness or awareness of the importance of his shaping his own future, instead of leaving it to some segregationists in Washington, D.C., who come from the North as well as from the South. In pointing out that we are putting an accent on youth, we wish to let you know that our minds are wide open. We don’t think we have the answer, but we are open-minded enough to try to seek the answer not from these old hicks, whom I think have gone astray, but from the youth. For the young may approach the problem from a new slant and perhaps come up with something that nobody else has thought of yet.

In reply to Dr. Kilson, who pointed out how Marcus Garvey failed: Marcus Garvey failed only because his movement was infiltrated by Uncle Toms, sent in by the government as well as by other bodies to maneuver him into a position wherein the government might have him sent to Atlanta, Georgia, put in a penitentiary, then deported, and his movement destroyed. But Marcus Garvey never failed. Marcus Garvey was the one who gave a sense of dignity to the black people in this country. He organized one of the largest mass movements that ever existed in this country; and his entire philosophy of organizing and attracting Negroes was based on going-back-to-Africa, which proves that the only mass movement which ever caught on in this country was designed to appeal to what the masses really felt. More of them then preferred to go back home than to stay here in this country and continue to beg the power structure for something they knew they would never get. Garvey did not fail. Indeed, it was Marcus Garvey’s philosophy that inspired the Nkrumah fight for the independence of Ghana from the colonialism that was imposed on it by England. It is also the same Black Nationalism that has been spreading throughout Africa and that has brought about the emergence of the present independent African states. Garvey never failed. Garvey planted the seed which has popped up in Africa-everywhere you look, and although they’re still trying to stamp it out in Angola, in South Africa, and in other places, you will soon be able to see for yourselves whether or not Garvey failed. He may have failed in America, but he didn’t fail in Africa; and when Africa succeeds, you’ll find that you have a new situation on your hands here in America.

I can’t abide anyone referring to Black Nationalism as any kind of racism. Whenever white people get together they don’t call it racism. The European Common Market is for Europeans; it excludes everyone else. In that case you don’t call it racism; all the numerous blocks and groups and syndicates and cliques that the Western nations have formed are never referred to as racist. But when we dark people want to form some kind of united effort to solve our problem, either you or somebody you have brainwashed comes up with “racism.” We don’t call it racism; we call it brotherhood. To note just one more small point: it is true that a large middle-class group of so-called Negroes has developed in this country, and you may think that these Negroes are satisfied or that they want to stay here because they have a “stake.” This is the popular misconception. The middle-class Negro in this country is almost more frustrated, disillusioned, and disenchanted than the Negro in the alley. Why? The Negro in the alley does not even think about integrating with you because he knows that he hasn’t enough money to go where you are in control. So it doesn’t enter his mind; he’s less frustrated when he knows it’s impossible. But this middle-class Negro, sharp as a tack with his Harvard accent and with his pocket full of your money, thinks he should be able to go everywhere. Indeed, he should be able to go everywhere, so he will try.

Moderator: I will take questions from the floor.

Question: I have a question for Mr. Malcolm X. “What is your view of the Freedom Now Party, which is certainly a third party movement? How do you feel about this alternative way of solving the Negro problem?

Malcolm X: I have met Negroes of the Freedom Now Party, all of whom seem to be very militant. They are young and militant and less likely to compromise. For these reasons it offers more hope than other alternatives being dangled in front of the so-called Negro. I couldn’t say I would endorse the Freedom Now Party, but my mind is wide open to anything that will help gain progress. In addition, members of the Freedom Now Party seem to be more flexible than members of the Democratic and Republican parties. I don’t think anything can be worse than the Democrats and Republicans.

Question: Mr. Malcolm X, do you support a bloody revolution and, if not, what kind do you have in mind, especially when the Negro is at a numerical disadvantage?

Malcolm X: Don’t tell me about a six-to-one disadvantage. I agree it is a six-to-one disadvantage when you think in terms of America. But in the world the nonwhite people have you at an eleven-to-one disadvantage. We black people consider ourselves a part of that vast body of dark people who outnumber the whites, and we don’t regard ourselves as a minority.

Question: Mr. Malcolm X, you said the type of civil rights agitation we see now has not altered the morality of white people. Could you comment on that?

Malcolm X: When exposed to the methods of civil rights groups, whites remain complacent. You couldn’t appeal to their ethical sense or their sense of legality. But, on the, other hand, when they hear the analysis of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, whites become more sharply attuned to the problem. They become more conscious of the problem. You can appeal to what intelligence whites have. Let the black man speak his mind so that the white man really knows how he feels. At the same time, let the white man speak his mind. Let everyone put his facts on the table. Once you put the facts on the table, it’s possible to arrive at a solution.

The civil rights movement has put the white man in a position where he has to take a stand contrary to his intelligence. Many whites who do not support integration are afraid to say so when face to face with a Negro for fear the Negro will call him a bigot or a racist. So that even though a white in his intelligence can see that this forced integration will never work, he’s afraid to say this to a black man; whereas if the white could speak his mind to the black man, he might wake that man up. My contention is that the approach used by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is more realistic. A white man can speak his mind to a Muslim, and a Muslim is going to speak his mind to a white man. Once you establish this honest, sincere, realistic communication, you’ll get a solution to the problem. But don’t you give me that you love me and make me do the same thinking when there’s nothing in our backgrounds nor anything around us which in any way gives either of us reason to love each other. Let’s be real!

A Declaration of Independence (March 12, 1964)

Because 1964 threatens to be a very explosive year on the racial front, and because I myself intend to be very active in every phase of the American Negro struggle for human rights, I have called this press conference this morning in order to clarify my own position in the struggle—especially in regard to politics and nonviolence.

I am and always will be a Muslim. My religion is Islam. I still believe that Mr. Muhammad’s analysis of the problem is the most realistic, and that his solution is the best one. This means that I too believe the best solution is complete separation, with our people going back home, to our own African homeland.

But separation back to Africa is still a long-range program, and while it is yet to materialize, 22 million of our people who are still here in America need better food, clothing, housing, education and jobs right now. Mr. Muhammad’s program does point us back homeward, but it also contains within it what we could and should be doing to help solve many of our own problems while we are still here.

Internal differences within the Nation of Islam forced me out of it. I did not leave of my own free will. But now that it has happened, I intend to make the most of it. Now that I have more independence of action, I intend to use a more flexible approach toward working with others to get a solution to this problem.

I do not pretend to be a divine man, but I do believe in divine guidance, divine power, and in the fulfillment of divine prophecy. I am not educated, nor am I an expert in any particular field—but I am sincere, and my sincerity is my credential.

I’m not out to fight other Negro leaders or organizations. We must find a common approach, a common solution, to a common problem. As of this minute, I’ve forgotten everything bad that the other leaders have said about me, and I pray they can also forget the many bad things I’ve said about them.

The problem facing our people here in America is bigger than all other personal or organizational differences. Therefore, as leaders, we must stop worrying about the threat that we seem to think we pose to each other’s personal prestige, and concentrate our united efforts toward solving the unending hurt that is being done daily to our people here in America.

I am going to organize and head a new mosque in New York City, known as the Muslim Mosque Incorporated. This gives us a religious base, and the spiritual force necessary to rid our people of the vices that destroy the moral fiber of our community.

Our political philosophy will be black nationalism. Our economic and social philosophy will be black nationalism. Our cultural emphasis will be black nationalism.

Many of our people aren’t religiously inclined, so the Muslim Mosque Incorporated, will be organized in such manner to provide for the active participation of all Negroes in our political, economic, and social programs, despite their religious or non-religious beliefs.

The political philosophy of black nationalism means: we must control the politics and the politicians of our community. They must no longer take orders from outside forces. We will organize, and sweep out of office all Negro politicians who are puppets for the outside forces.

Our accent will be upon youth: we need new ideas, new methods, new approaches. We will call upon young students of political science throughout the nation to help us. We will encourage these young students to launch their own independent study, and then give us their analysis and their suggestions. We are completely disenchanted with the old, adult, established politicians. We want to see some new faces—more militant faces.

Concerning the 1964 elections: we will keep our plans on this a secret until a later date—but we don’t intend for our people to be the victims of a political sellout again in 1964.

The Muslim Mosque Incorporated, will remain wide open for ideas and financial aid from all quarters. Whites can help us, but they can’t join us. There can be no black-white unity until there is first some black unity. There can be no workers’ solidarity until there is first some racial solidarity. We cannot think of uniting with others, until after we have first united among ourselves. We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves. One can’t unite bananas with scattered leaves.

Concerning nonviolence: it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks. It is legal and lawful to own a shotgun or a rifle. We believe in obeying the law.

In areas where our people are the constant victims of brutality, and the government seems unable or unwilling to protect them, we should form rifle clubs that can be used to defend our lives and our property in times of emergency, such as happened last year in Birmingham; Plaquemine, Louisiana; Cambridge, Maryland; and Danville, Virginia. When our people are being bitten by dogs, they are within their rights to kill those dogs.

We should be peaceful, law-abiding—but the time has come for the American Negro to fight back in self-defense whenever and wherever he is being unjustly and unlawfully attacked.

If the government thinks I am wrong for saying this, then let the government start doing its job.