Malcolm X on racism, capitalism and Islam

On the 57th anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination, we look at some of the activist’s most memorable quotes.

Malcolm X speaks at a news conference in the Hotel Theresa, in New York, May 21,1964.
Malcolm X speaks at a news conference at the Hotel Theresa, in New York in the United States, on May 21, 1964 [File: AP]

Malcolm X was a prominent human rights activist who rose to fame as the Nation of Islam’s chief spokesperson.

He was recognised for laying the foundation of the Black Power movement in the United States and being an advocate for Black empowerment.

The leader was assassinated while giving a lecture at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem in 1965; and he was pronounced dead at 3:30pm (20:30GMT) on February 21. He would be 96 years old, had he lived.

Below are some of Malcolm X’s most famous quotes:

On optics in the media

In his autobiography, written with Roots author Alex Haley and published after his death in 1965, Malcolm X said:

“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.”

On media he said:

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.

by Malcolm X

On learning and education:

During a speech at the founding rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity on June 28, 1964, the leader said:

“Education is an important element in the struggle for human rights. It is the means to help our children and our people rediscover their identity and thereby increase their self-respect.

Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today.

by Malcolm X

On capitalism

Malcolm X, at one of his last speeches at the Audubon Ballroom in New York, said:

“You show me a capitalist, and I’ll show you a bloodsucker.”

In his 1965 autobiography he said:

“I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalise them for not being able to stand up under the weight.”

On humanity, empathy and compassion

“I believe in recognising every human being as a human being – neither white, black, brown, or red; and when you are dealing with humanity as a family there’s no question of integration or intermarriage,” Malcolm X was quoted as saying in his autobiography.

It's just one human being marrying another human being or one human being living around and with another human being.

by Malcolm X

On Islam

According to the 1991 book Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare, Malcolm X explained why he converted to Islam.

“I am a Muslim because it’s a religion that teaches you an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. It teaches you to respect everybody, and treat everybody right. But it also teaches you if someone steps on your toe, chop off their foot. And I carry my religious axe with me all the time”

In his autobiography he is also quoted as saying:

“America needs to understand Islam because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white, but the white attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam.”

I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practised by all together, irrespective of their colour.

by Malcolm X

On speaking up

“I learned early that crying out in protest could accomplish things. My older brothers and sister had started to school when, sometimes, they would come in and ask for a buttered biscuit or something and my mother, impatiently, would tell them no.

“But I would cry out and make a fuss until I got what I wanted. I remember well how my mother asked me why I couldn’t be a nice boy like Wilfred; but I would think to myself that Wilfred, for being so nice and quiet, often stayed hungry,” Malcolm X said in his autobiography.

"So early in life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.”

by Malcolm X


Source: Al Jazeera