Malcolm X was born on May 19, 1925 and February 21, 1965. He was a human rights activist who was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. In February 1965, shortly after repudiating the Nation of Islam, he was assassinated by three of its members. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, published shortly after his death, is considered one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century.
Below are some video showing Malcolm X in his own voice.
Our History Was Destroyed by Slavery
Rare color footage of Malcolm X appearing on a television show in Chicago called “City Desk” on March 17, 1963.
“My father didn’t know his last name. My father got his last name from his grandfather and his grandfather got it from his grandfather who got it from the slavemaster. The real names of our people were destroyed during slavery. The last name of my forefathers was taken from them when they were brought to America and made slaves, and then the name of the slavemaster was given, which we refuse, we reject that name today and refuse it. I never acknowledge it whatsoever.”
Who Taught You To Hate Yourself?
“Who taught you to hate the color of your skin? Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet? Who taught you to hate your own kind? Who taught you to hate the race that you belong to so much so that you don’t want to be around each other? No… Before you come asking Mr. Muhammad does he teach hate, you should ask yourself who taught you to hate being what God made you.”
“You can’t get into a whiskey bottle without getting past a government seal. You can’t buy a deck of cards without getting past a government seal. Here the white man makes the whiskey then puts you in jail for getting drunk. He sells you the cards and the dice and puts you in jail when he catches you using them.”
“We will kill you for our women.”
By Any Means Necessary
“Recently when I was blessed to make a religious pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca where I met many people from all over the world, plus spent many weeks in Africa trying to broaden my own scope and get more of an open mind to look at the problem as it actually is, one of the things that I realized, and I realized this even before going over there, was that our African brothers have gained their independence faster than you and I here in America have. They’ve also gained recognition and respect as human beings much faster than you and I. Just ten years ago on the African continent, our people were colonized. They were suffering all forms of colonization, oppression, exploitation, degradation, humiliation, discrimination, and every other kind of -ation. And in a short time, they have gained more independence, more recognition, more respect as human beings than you and I have. And you and I live in a country which is supposed to be the citadel of education, freedom, justice, democracy, and all of those other pretty-sounding words. So it was our intention to try and find out what it was our African brothers were doing to get results, so that you and I could study what they had done and perhaps gain from that study or benefit from their experiences.”
Ballot or the Bullet
“The Ballot or The Bullet” was a speech by Malcolm X mostly about black nationalism delivered April 12, 1964 in Detroit, Michigan. This speech is in the public domain. Originally obtained from the Vincent Voice Library at Michigan State University.
Explaining Black Nationalism
Speaking to an audience at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights on March 29, 1964, Malcolm X explains: “If you’re interested in freedom, you need some judo, you need some karate–you need all the things that will help you fight for freedom…They can give us the back pay. Let’s join in. If this is what the negro wants, let’s join him. Let’s show him how to struggle, let’s show him how to fight. Let’s show him how to bring about a real revolution. You don’t need a debate. You don’t need a filibuster. You need some action.”
My Father Was Killed by the Ku Klux Klan
In an interview on Chicago TV with Jim Hurlbut, Malcolm X describes his early childhood and explains that his house was burned down by the Klan and that they murdered his father.
Mr. Hurlbut: You were born in Omaha, is that right?
Malcolm X: Yes, sir.
Mr. Hurlbut: And you left — your family left Omaha when you were about one year old?
Malcolm X: I imagine about a year old.
Mr. Hurlbut: And why did they leave Omaha?
Malcolm X: Well, to my understanding the Ku Klux Klan burned one of their homes in Omaha. There’s a lot of Ku Klux Klan–
Mr. Hurlbut: They made your family feel very unhappy, I’m sure.
Malcolm X: Well, insecure, if not unhappy.
Mr. Hurlbut: So you must have a somewhat prejudiced point of view — a personally prejudiced point of view. In other words, you cannot look at this in a broad, academic sort of way, really, can you?
Malcolm X: I think that’s incorrect, because despite the fact that that happened in Omaha and then when moved to Lansing, Michigan our home was burned down again — in fact, my father was killed by the Ku Klux Klan, and despite all of that, no one was more thoroughly integrated with whites than I. No one has lived more so in the society of whites than I.
Oxford Union Debate
“I read once, passingly, about a man named Shakespeare. I only read about him passingly, but I remember one thing he wrote that kind of moved me. He put it in the mouth of Hamlet, I think, it was, who said, “To be or not to be.” He was in doubt about something. Whether it was nobler in the mind of man to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, moderation, or to take up arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them. And I go for that. If you take up arms, you’ll end it, but if you sit around and wait for the one who’s in power to make up his mind that he should end it, you’ll be waiting a long time. And in my opinion, the young generation of whites, blacks, browns, whatever else there is, you’re living at a time of extremism, a time of revolution, a time when there’s got to be a change. People in power have misused it and now there has to be a change and a better world has to be built and the only way it’s going to be built is with extreme methods. And I, for one, will join in with anyone, I don’t care what color you are, as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth. Thank you.”
The Last Speech