Friday, February 20, 2015

 Today marks 50 years to the day that Malcolm X was assassinated. A powerful voice in the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, Malcolm Little, also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz was an undeniably controversial figure. Unlike Martin Luther King, who advocated, like Gandhi, the power of non-violent resistance, the African-American Muslim minister was not opposed to the use of violent force. Indeed, for over a decade he was an outspoken leader for the Nation of Islam, championing black supremacy and segregation as opposed to integration.

The victim of a turbulent childhood, anger was an issue that stayed with him through his adulthood. It wasn’t until his break with the Nation of Islam, however, and the beginnings of his cooperation with the leaders of the civil rights movement that he was assassinated. Aside from his autobiography, he left behind no published works, yet many of his speeches were recorded and have since been published. His philosophy was complicated, but it was not without its pearls of wisdom. Here, then, are 30 quotes that reflect the wise, passionate and controversial mind of Malcom X.

  • “Why am I as I am? To understand that of any person, his whole life, from birth must be reviewed. All of our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient.”
  • “Children have a lesson adults should learn, to not be ashamed of failing, but to get up and try again. Most of us adults are so afraid, so cautious, so ‘safe,’ and therefore so shrinking and rigid and afraid that it is why so many humans fail. Most middle-aged adults have resigned themselves to failure.”
  • “You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.”
  • “Sometimes you have to pick the gun up to put the Gun down.”
  • “Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”
  • “We declare our right on this earth…to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.”
  • “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”
  • “Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because [someone] doesn’t do what you do or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today.”
  • “You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you’re making progress … No matter how much respect, no matter how much recognition, whites show towards me, as far as I am concerned, as long as it is not shown to everyone of our people in this country, it doesn’t exist for me.”
  • “I don’t even call it violence when it’s in self defense; I call it intelligence.”
  • “The greatest mistake of the movement has been trying to organize a sleeping people around specific goals. You have to wake the people up first, then you’ll get action.”
  • “I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don’t see any American dream–I see an American nightmare.”
  • “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”
  • “People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.”
  • “I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don’t believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn’t want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I’m not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn’t know how to return the treatment”
  • “To me, the thing that is worse than death is betrayal. You see, I could conceive death, but I could not conceive betrayal.”
  • “Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.”
  • “You show me a capitalist, and I’ll show you a bloodsucker.”
  • “We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.”
  • “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”
  • “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
  • “If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success. ”
  • “Truth is on the side of the oppressed.”
  • “If you’re not ready to die for it, take the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.”
  • “We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.”
  • “I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.”
  • “How can you thank a man for giving you what’s already yours? How then can you thank him for giving you only part of what is yours?”
  • “To have once been a criminal is no disgrace. To remain a criminal is the disgrace”
  • “You don’t have to be a man to fight for freedom. All you have to do is to be an intelligent human being.”
  • “I believe that there will be ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the system of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don’t think it will be based on the color of the skin…”

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