Malcolm X aka El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz gave this very powerful speech the same day his home in Queens was firebombed. He traveled to Detroit where he talked about why the black struggle in the United States is an international struggle, he discusses his recent trip to the Middle East and Africa and why it’s a threat to the white power structure when Africans Americans, Africans, Arabs, Asians and South Americans build coalitions and work together. He was assassinated one week later at the Audubon Ballroom in NYC.
Distinguished guests, brothers and sisters, ladies and gentlemen, friends and enemies:
I want to point out first that I am very happy to be here this evening and I’m thankful [to the Afro-American Broadcasting Company] for the invitation to come here to Detroit this evening. I was in a house last night that was bombed, my own. It didn’t destroy all my clothes, not all, but you know what happens when fire dashes through — they get smoky. The only thing I could get my hands on before leaving was what I have on now.
It isn’t something that made me lose confidence in what I am doing, because my wife understands and I have children from this size on down, and even in their young age they understand. I think they would rather have a father or brother or whatever the situation may be who will take a stand in the face of any kind of reaction from narrow-minded people rather than to compromise and later on have to grow up in shame and in disgrace.
So I just ask you to excuse my appearance. I don’t normally come out in front of people without a shirt and a tie. I guess that’s somewhat a holdover from the ‘Black Muslim’ movement, which I was in. That’s one of the good aspects of that movement. It teaches you to be very careful and conscious of how you look, which is a positive contribution on their part. But that positive contribution on their part is greatly offset by too many other liabilities.
Tonight we want to discuss — and by the way, also, when I came here today I was a bit — last night, the temperature was about twenty above and when this explosion took place, I was caught in what I had on, some pajamas. And in trying to get my family out of the house, none of us stopped for any clothes at that point — twenty-degree cold. I myself was — I had gotten them into the house of the neighbor next door. So I thought perhaps being in that condition for so long I would get pneumonia or a cold or something like that, so a doctor came today — a nice doctor too — and he shot something in my arm that naturally put me to sleep. I’ve been back there asleep ever since the program started in order to get back in shape. So if I have a tendency to stutter or slow down, it’s still the effects of that drug. I don’t know what kind it was, but it was good; it makes you sleep, and there’s nothing like sleeping through a whole lot of excitement.
Tonight one of the things that has to be stressed is that which has not only the United States very much worried but which also has France, Great Britain, and most of the powers, who formerly were known as colonial powers, worried also, and that primarily is the African revolution. They are more concerned with the revolution that’s taking place on the African continent than they are with the revolution in Asia and in Latin America. And this is because there are so many people of African ancestry within the domestic confines or jurisdiction of these various governments.
There are four different types of people in the Western Hemisphere, all of whom have Africa as a common heritage, common origin, and that’s the — those of our people in Latin America, who are Black, but who are in the Spanish-speaking areas. Many of them ofttimes migrate back to Spain, the only difference being Spain has such bad economic conditions until many of the people from Latin America don’t think it’s worthwhile to migrate back there. And then the British and the French had a great deal of control in the Caribbean, in the West Indies. And so now you have many people from the West Indies migrating to both London — rather both England and France. The people from the British West Indies go to London, and those from the French West Indies go to Paris. And it has put France and England since World War II in the precarious position of having a sort of a commonwealth structure that makes it easy for all of the people in the commonwealth territories to come into their country with no restrictions. So there’s an increasing number of dark-skinned people in England and also in France.
When I was in Africa in May, I noticed a tendency on the part of the Afro-Americans to, what I call lollygag. Everybody else who was over there had something on the ball, something they were doing, something constructive. For instance, in Ghana, just to take Ghana as an example. There would be many refugees in Ghana from South Africa. But those who were in Ghana were organized and were serving as pressure groups, some were training for military — some were being trained in how to be soldiers, but others were involved as a pressure group or lobby group to let the people of Ghana never forget what’s happening to the brother in South Africa. Also you’d have brothers there from Angola and Mozambique. But all of the Africans who were exiles from their particular country and would be in a place like Ghana or Tanganyika, now Tanzania, they would be training. Their every move would still be designed to offset what was happening to their people back home where they had left.
The only difference on the continent was the American Negro. Those who were over there weren’t even thinking about these over here. This was the basic difference. The Africans, when they escaped from their respective countries that were still colonized, they didn’t try and run away from the problem. But as soon as they got where they were going, they then began to organize into pressure groups to get governmental support at the international level against the injustices they were experiencing back home.
And as I said, the American Negro, or the Afro-American, who was in these various countries, some working for this government, some working for that government, some just in business — they were just socializing, they had turned their back on the cause over here, they were partying, you know.
And when I went through one country in particular, I heard a lot of their complaints and I didn’t make any move on them.
But when I got to another country, I found the Afro-Americans there were making the same complaints. So we sat down and talked and we organized a branch in this particular country, a branch of the OAAU, Organization of Afro-American Unity. That one was the only one in existence at that time. Then during the summer, when I went back to Africa, I was able in each country that I visited, to get the Afro-American community together and organize them and make them aware of their responsibility to those of us who are still here in the lion’s den.
They began to do this quite well, and when I got to Paris and London — there are many Afro-Americans in Paris, and many in London. And in December — no, November — we organized a group in Paris and just within a very short time they had grown into a well-organized unit. And they, in conjunction with the African community, invited me to Paris, Tuesday, to address a large gathering of Parisians and Afro-Americans and people from the Caribbean and also from Africa who were interested in our struggle in this country and the rate of progress that we have been making.
But since the French government and the British government and this government here, the United States, know that I have been almost fanatically stressing the importance of the Afro-American uniting with the African and working as a coalition, especially in areas which are of mutual benefit to all of us. And the governments in these different places were frightened because they know that the Black revolution that’s taking place on the outside of their house –
And I might point out right here that colonialism or imperialism, as the slave system of the West is called, is not something that’s just confined to England or France or the United States. But the interests in this country are in cahoots with the interests in France and the interests in Britain. It’s one huge complex or combine, and it creates what’s known as not the American power structure or the French power structure, but it’s an international power structure. And this international power structure is used to suppress the masses of dark-skinned people all over the world and exploit them of their natural resources.
So that the era in which you and I have been living during the past ten years most specifically has witnessed the upsurge on the part of the Black man in Africa against the power structure.
He wants his freedom.
Now, mind you, the power structure is international, and as such, its own domestic base is in London, in Paris, in Washington, D.C., and so forth. And the outside or external phase of the revolution, which is manifest in the attitude and action of the Africans today is troublesome enough. The revolution on the outside of the house, or the outside of the structure, is troublesome enough. But now the powers that be are beginning to see that this struggle on the outside by the Black man is affecting, infecting the Black man who is on the inside of that structure. I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.
The newly awakened people all over the world pose a problem for what’s known as Western interests, which is imperialism, colonialism, racism, and all these other negative isms or vulturistic isms. Just as the external forces pose a grave threat, they can now see that the internal forces pose an even greater threat. But the internal forces pose an even greater threat only when they have properly analyzed the situation and know what the stakes really are.
Just by advocating a coalition of Africans, Afro-Americans, Arabs, and Asians who live within the structure, it automatically has upset France, which is supposed to be one of the most liberal — heh! — countries on earth, and it made them expose their hand. England the same way. And I don’t have to tell you about this country that we are living in now.
So when you count the number of dark-skinned people in the Western Hemisphere you can see that there are probably over 100 million. When you consider Brazil has two-thirds what we call colored, or nonwhite, and Venezuela, Honduras and other Central American countries, Cuba and Jamaica, and the United States and even Canada — when you total all these people up, you have probably over 100 million. And this 100 million on the inside of the power structure today is what is causing a great deal of concern for the power structure itself.
Not a great deal of concern for all white people, but a great deal of concern for most white people. See, if I said “all white people” then they would call me a racist for giving a blanket condemnation of things.
And this is true; this is how they do it. They take one little word out of what you say, ignore all the rest, and then begin to magnify it all over the world to make you look like what you actually aren’t. And I’m very used to that.
So we saw that the first thing to do was to unite our people, not only unite us internally, but we have to be united with our brothers and sisters abroad. It was for that purpose that I spent five months in the Middle East and Africa during the summer. The trip was very enlightening, inspiring, and fruitful. I didn’t go into any African country, or any country in the Middle East for that matter, and run into any closed door, closed mind, or closed heart. I found a warm reception and an amazingly deep interest and sympathy for the Black man in this country in regards to our struggle for human rights.
While I was traveling, I had a chance to speak in Cairo, or rather Alexandria, with President [Gamal Abdel-]Nasser for about an hour and a half. He’s a very brilliant man. And I can see why they’re so afraid of him, and they are afraid of him — they know he can cut off their oil. And actually the only thing power respects is power. Whenever you find a man who’s in a position to show power against power then that man is respected. But you can take a man who has power and love him all the rest of your life, nonviolently and forgivingly and all the rest of those ofttime things, and you won’t get anything out of it.
So I also had a chance to speak to President [Julius K.] Nyerere in Tanganyika, which is now Tanzania, and also [President Jomo] Kenyata — I know that all of you know him. He was the head of the Mau Mau, which really brought freedom to many of the African countries. This is true. The Mau Mau played a major role in bringing about freedom for Kenya, and not only for Kenya but other African countries. Because what the Mau Mau did frightened the white man so much in other countries until he said, “Well I better get this thing straight before some of them pop up here.” This is good to study because you see what makes him react: Nothing loving makes him react, nothing forgiving makes him react. The only time he reacts is when he knows you can hurt him, and when you let him know you can hurt him he has to think two or three times before he tries to hurt you. But if you’re not going to do nothing but return that hurt with love — why good night! He knows you’re out of your mind.
And also I had an opportunity to speak with President [Nnamdi] Azikiwe in Nigeria, President [Kwame] Nkrumah in Ghana, and President Sekou Toure in Guinea. And in all of these people I found nothing but warmth, friendship, sympathy, and a desire to help the Black man in this country in fighting our problem. And we have a very complex problem.
Now I hope you’ll forgive me for just speaking so informally tonight, but I frankly think it’s always better to be informal. As far as I am concerned, I can speak to people better in an informal way than I can with all of this stiff formality that ends up meaning nothing. Plus, when people are informal, they’re relaxed. When they’re relaxed, their mind is more open, and they can weigh things more objectively. Whenever you and I are discussing our problems we need to be very objective, very cool, calm, collected. But that doesn’t mean we should always be. There’s a time to be cool and a time to be hot. See, you got messed up into thinking that there’s only one time for everything. There’s a time to love and a time to hate. Even Solomon said that, and he was in that Book too. You’re just taking something out of the Book that fits your cowardly nature. And when you don’t want to fight, you say, “Well, Jesus said don’t fight.” But I don’t even believe Jesus said that.
Also I am very pleased to see so many who have come out to always see for yourself, where you can hear for yourself, and then think for yourself. Then you’ll be in a better position to make an intelligent judgment for yourself. But if you form the habit of listening to what others say about something or some one or reading what someone else has written about someone, somebody can confuse you and misuse you. So as Afro-Americans or Black people here in the Western Hemisphere, you and I have to learn to weigh things for ourselves. No matter what the [white] man says, you better look into it.
And a good example of why it’s so important to look into things for yourself: I was on a plane between Algiers and Geneva and it just happened that two other Americans were sitting in the two seats next to me. None of us knew each other and the other two were white, one a male, the other a female. And after we had been flying along for about forty minutes, the lady, she says, “Could I ask you a personal question?”
I said, ‘”Yes.” She said, “Well–” she had been looking at my briefcase, and she said, “Well, what does that X–” she says, “What kind of last name could you have that begins with X?” So I said, “That’s it — X.” And she said, “Well, what does the ‘M’ stand for?” I said, “Malcolm.” So she was quiet for about ten minutes, and she turned to me and she says, “You’re not Malcolm X?”
You see, we had been riding along in a nice conversation like three human beings, you know, no hostility, no animosity, just human. And she couldn’t take this, she said, “Well you’re not who I was looking for,” you know. And she ended up telling me that she was looking for horns and all that, and for someone who was out to kill all white people, as if all white people could be killed. This was her general attitude, and this attitude had been given her — this image had been given [to] her by the press.
So before I get involved in anything nowadays, I have to straighten out my own position, which is clear. I am not a racist in any form whatsoever. I don’t believe in any form of racism. I don’t believe in any form of discrimination or segregation. I believe in Islam. I am a Muslim. And there’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim, nothing wrong with the religion of Islam. It just teaches us to believe in Allah as the God. Those of you who are Christians probably believe in the same God, because I think you believe in the God who created the universe. That’s the One we believe in, the one who created the universe, the only difference being you call Him God and I — we call Him Allah. The Jews call him Jehovah. If you could understand Hebrew, you’d probably call him Jehovah too. If you could understand Arabic, you’d probably call him Allah.
But since the white man, your “friend,” took your language away from you during slavery, the only language you know is his language. You know, your friend’s language. So you call for the same God he calls for. When he’s putting a rope around your neck, you call for God and he calls for God. [Laughter and applause.] And you wonder why the one you call on never answers you.
So that once you realize that I believe in the Supreme Being who created the universe, and believe in him as being one — I also have been taught in Islam that one God only has one religion, and that religion is called Islam, and all of the prophets who came forth taught that religion — Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, all of them. And by believing in one God and one religion and all of the prophets, it creates unity. There’s no room for argument, no need for us to be arguing with each other.
And also in that religion, of the real religion of Islam — when I was in the Black Muslim movement, I wasn’t — they didn’t have the real religion of Islam in that movement. It was something else. And the real religion of Islam doesn’t teach anyone to judge another human being by the color of his skin. The yardstick that is used by the Muslim to measure another man is not the man’s color but the man’s deeds, the man’s conscious behavior, the man’s intentions. And when you use that as a standard of measurement or judgment, you never go wrong.
But when you just judge a man because of the color of his skin, then you’re committing a crime, because that’s the worst kind of judgment. If you judged him just because he was a Jew, that’s not as bad as judging him because he’s Black. Because a Jew can hide his religion. He can say he’s something else — and which a lot of them do that, they say they’re something else. But the Black man can’t hide. When they start indicting us because of our color that means we’re indicted before we’re born, which is the worst kind of crime that can be committed. The Muslim religion has eliminated all tendencies to judge a man according to the color of his skin, but rather the judgment is based upon his deeds.
And when, prior to going into the Muslim world, I didn’t have any — Elijah Muhammad had taught us that the white man could not enter into Makkah in Arabia, and all of us who followed him, we believed it. And he said the reason he couldn’t enter was because he’s white and inherently evil, it’s impossible to change him. And the only thing that would change him is Islam, and he can’t accept Islam because by nature he’s evil. And therefore by not being able to accept Islam and become a Muslim, he could never enter Makkah. This is how he taught us, you know.
So when I got over there and went to Makkah and saw these people who were blond and blue-eyed and pale-skinned and all those things, I said, “Well!” But I watched them closely. And I noticed that though they were white, and they would call themselves white, there was a difference between them and the white one over here. And that basic difference was this: in Asia or the Arab world or in Africa, where the Muslims are, if you find one who says he’s white, all he’s doing is using an adjective to describe something that’s incidental about him, one of his incidental characteristics; so there’s nothing else to it, he’s just white.
But when you get the white man over here in America and he says he’s white, he means something else. You can listen to the sound of his voice — when he says he’s white, he means he’s a boss. That’s right. That’s what “white” means in this language. You know the expression, “free, white, and twenty-one.” He made that up. He’s letting you know all of them mean the same. “White” means free, boss. He’s up there. So that when he says he’s white he has a little different sound in his voice. I know you know what I’m talking about.
This was what I saw was missing in the Muslim world. If they said they were white, it was incidental. White, black, brown, red, yellow, doesn’t make any difference what color you are. So this was the religion that I had accepted and had gone there to get a better knowledge of it.
But despite the fact that I saw that Islam was a religion of brotherhood, I also had to face reality. And when I got back into this American society, I’m not in a society that practices brotherhood. I’m in a society that might preach it on Sunday, but they don’t practice it on no day — on any day. And so, since I could see that America itself is a society where there is no brotherhood and that this society is controlled primarily by racists and segregationists — and it is — who are in Washington, D.C., in positions of power. And from Washington, D.C., they exercise the same forms of brutal oppression against dark-skinned people in South and North Vietnam, or in the Congo, or in Cuba, or in any other place on this earth where they’re trying to exploit and oppress. This is a society whose government doesn’t hesitate to inflict the most brutal form of punishment and oppression upon dark-skinned people all over the world.
To wit, right now what’s going on in and around Saigon and Hanoi and in the Congo and elsewhere. They are violent when their interests are at stake. But all of that violence that they display at the international level, when you and I want just a little bit of freedom, we’re supposed to be nonviolent. They’re violent. They’re violent in Korea, they’re violent in Germany, they’re violent in the South Pacific, they’re violent in Cuba, they’re violent wherever they go. But when it comes time for you and me to protect ourselves against lynchings, they tell us to be nonviolent.
That’s a shame. Because we get tricked into being nonviolent, and when somebody stands up and talks like I just did, they say, “Why, he’s advocating violence!” Isn’t that what they say? Every time you pick up your newspaper, you see where one of these things has written into it that I’m advocating violence. I have never advocated any violence. I’ve only said that Black people who are the victims of organized violence perpetrated upon us by the Klan, the Citizens’ Council, and many other forms, we should defend ourselves. And when I say that we should defend ourselves against the violence of others, they use their press skillfully to make the world think that I’m calling on violence, period. I wouldn’t call on anybody to be violent without a cause. But I think the Black man in this country, above and beyond people all over the world, will be more justified when he stands up and starts to protect himself, no matter how many necks he has to break and heads he has to crack.
I saw in the paper where they — on the television where they took this Black woman down in Selma, Alabama, and knocked her right down on the ground, dragging her down the street. You saw it, you’re trying to pretend like you didn’t see it ’cause you knew you should’ve done something about it and didn’t. It showed the sheriff and his henchmen throwing this Black woman on the ground — on the ground.
And Negro men standing around doing nothing about it saying, “Well, let’s overcome them with our capacity to love.” What kind of phrase is that? “Overcome them with our capacity to love.” And then it disgraces the rest of us, because all over the world the picture is splashed showing a Black woman a with some white brutes, with their knees on her holding her down, and full-grown Black men standing around watching it. Why, you are lucky they let you stay on earth, much less stay in the country.
When I saw it I dispatched a wire to Rockwell; Rockwell was one of the agitators down there, Rockwell, this [George] Lincoln Rockwell [leader of the American Nazi Party].
And the wire said in essence that this is to warn him that I am no longer held in check from fighting white supremacists by Elijah Muhammad’s separatist ‘Black Muslim’ movement. And that if Rockwell’s presence in Alabama causes harm to come to Dr. King or any other Black person in Alabama who’s doing nothing other than trying to enjoy their rights, then Rockwell and his Ku Klux Klan friends would be met with maximum retaliation from those of us who are not handcuffed by this nonviolent philosophy. And I haven’t heard from Rockwell since.
Brothers and sisters, if you and I would just realize that once we learn to talk the language that they understand, they will then get the point. You can’t ever reach a man if you don’t speak his language. If a man speaks the language of brute force, you can’t come to him with peace. Why, good night! He’ll break you in two, as he has been doing all along. If a man speaks French, you can’t speak to him in German. If he speaks Swahili, you can’t communicate with him in Chinese. You have to find out what does this man speak. And once you know his language, learn how to speak his language, and he’ll get the point. There’ll be some dialogue, some communication, and some understanding will be developed.
You’ve been in this country long enough to know the language the Klan speaks. They only know one language. And what you and I have to start doing in 1965 — I mean that’s what you have to do, because most of us already been doing it — is start learning a new language. Learn the language that they understand. And then when they come up on our doorstep to talk, we can talk. And they will get the point. There’ll be a dialogue, there’ll be some communication, and I’m quite certain there will then be some understanding. Why? Because the Klan is a cowardly outfit. They have perfected the art of making Negroes be afraid. As long as the Negro’s afraid, the Klan is safe. But the Klan itself is cowardly. One of them will never come after one of you. They all come together. Sure, and they’re scared of you.
And you sit there when they’re putting the rope around your neck saying, “Forgive them, Lord, they know not what they do.” As long as they’ve been doing it, they’re experts at it, they know what they’re doing!
No, since they federal government has shown that it isn’t going to do anything about it but talk, it is a duty, it’s your and my duty as men, as human beings, it is our duty to our people, to organize ourselves and let the government know that if they don’t stop that Klan, we’ll stop it ourselves. And then you’ll see the government start doing something about it. But don’t ever think that they’re going to do it just on some kind of morality basis, no. So I don’t believe in violence — that’s why I want to stop it. And you can’t stop it with love, not love of those things down there, no. So, we only mean vigorous action in self-defense, and that vigorous action we feel we’re justified in initiating by any means necessary.
Now, the press, behind something like that, they call us racist and people who are “violent in reverse.” This is how they psycho you. They make you think that if you try to stop the Klan from lynching you, you’re practicing “violence in reverse.” Pick up on this, I hear a lot of you all parrot what the [white] man says. You say, “I don’t want to be a Ku Klux Klan in reverse.” Well, you – heh! — if a criminal comes around your house with his gun, brother, just because he’s got a gun and he’s robbing your house, brother, and he’s a robber, it doesn’t make you a robber because you grab your gun and run him out. No, see, the man is using some tricky logic on you. And he has absolutely got a Ku Klux Klan outfit that goes through the country frightening black people. Now, I say it is time for black people to put together the type of action, the unity, that is necessary to pull the sheet off of them so they won’t be frightening black people any longer. That’s all. And when we say this, the press calls us “racist in reverse.”
“Don’t struggle — only within the ground rules that the people you’re struggling against have laid down.” Why, this is insane. But it shows you how they can do it. With skillful manipulating of the press, they’re able to make the victim look like the criminal, and the criminal look like the victim.
Right now in New York we had a couple cases where police grabbed the brother and beat him unmercifully — and then charged him with assaulting them. They used the press to make it look like he’s the criminal and they’re the victim. This is how they do it, and if you study how they do it [t]here, then you’ll know how they do it over here. It’s the same game going all the time, and if you and I don’t awaken and see what this man is doing to us, then it’ll be too late. They may have the gas ovens already built before you realize that they’re hot.
One of the shrewd ways that they use the press to project us in the eye or image of a criminal: they take statistics. And with the press they feed these statistics to the public, primarily the white public. Because there are some well-meaning persons in the white public as well as bad-meaning persons in the white public. And whatever the government is going to do, it always wants the public on its side, whether it’s the local government, state government, federal government. So they use the press to create images. And at the local level, they’ll create an image by feeding statistics to the press — through the press showing the high crime rate in the Negro community. As soon as this high crime rate is emphasized through the press, then people begin to look upon the Negro community as a community of criminals.
And then any Negro in the community can be stopped in the street. “Put your hands up,” and they pat you down. You might be a doctor, a lawyer, a preacher, or some other kind of Uncle Tom. But despite your professional standing, you’ll find that you’re the same victim as the man who’s in the alley. Just because you’re Black and you live in a Black community, which has been projected as a community of criminals. This is done. And once the public accepts this image also, it paves the way for a police-state type of activity in the Negro community. They can use any kind of brutal methods to suppress Blacks because “they’re criminals anyway.” And what has given this image? The press again, by letting the power structure or the racist element in the power structure use them in that way.
A very good example was the riots that took place here during the summer: I was in Africa, I read about them over there. If you’ll notice, they referred to the rioters as vandals, hoodlums, thieves. They tried to make it appear that this wasn’t — they tried to make it — and they did this. They skillfully took the burden off the society for its failure to correct these negative conditions in the Black community. It took the burden completely off the society and put it right on the community by using the press to make it appear that the looting and all of this was proof that the whole act was nothing but vandals and robbers and thieves, who weren’t really interested in anything other than that which was negative. And I hear many old, dumb, brainwashed Negroes who parrot the same old party line that the man handed down in his paper.
It was not the case that they were just knocking out store windows ignorantly. In Harlem, for instance, all of the stores are owned by white people, all of the buildings are owned by white people. Black people are just there, paying rent, buying the groceries. But they don’t own the stores, clothing stores, food stores, any kind of stores; don’t even own the homes that they live in. This is all owned by outsiders. And then these run down apartment dwellings, the Black man in Harlem pays more money for it than the man down in the rich Park Avenue section. It costs us more money to live in the slum, than it costs them to live down on Park Avenue. Black people in Harlem know this. And the white merchants charge us more money for food in Harlem — and it’s the cheap food, it’s the worst food; and we have to pay more money for it than the man has to pay for it downtown. So Black people know that they’re being exploited and that their blood is being sucked and they see no way out of it.
So finally, when the thing is sparked, the white man is not there; he’s gone. The merchant is not there, the landlord is not there; the one he considers to be the enemy isn’t there. So, they knock at his property. This is what makes them knock down the store windows and set fire to things, and things of that sort.
It’s not that they’re thieves. But they try and project the image to the public that this is being done by thieves, and thieves alone. And they ignore the fact that no, it is not thievery alone. It’s a corrupt, vicious, hypocritical system that has castrated the Black man; and the only way the Black man can get back at it is to strike it in the only way he knows how.
They use the press. That doesn’t mean that all reporters are bad. Some of them are good… I suppose. But you can take their collective approach to any problem and see that they can always agree when it gets to you and me. They knew that [the Afro-American Broadcasting Company was giving] this affair — which is designed to honor outstanding Black Americans, is it not? You’d find nothing in the newspapers to give the slightest hint that this affair was going to take place. Not one hint.
Why? You see, you have many sources of news. If you don’t think that they’re in cahoots, watch! They’re all interested, or none of them are interested. It’s not a staggering thing. They’re not going to say anything in advance [about an event] that’s being given by any Black people who believe in functioning beyond the scope of the ground rules that are laid down by the “liberal” element of the power structure.
When you begin to start thinking for yourself, you frighten them, and they try and block your getting to the public, for fear that if the public listens to you, then the public won’t listen to them anymore. And they’ve got certain Negroes whom they have to keep blowing up in the papers to make them look like leaders. So that the people will keep on following them, no matter how many knocks they get on their heads following him. This is how the man does it, and if you don’t wake up and find out how he does it, I tell you, they’ll be building gas chambers and gas ovens pretty soon — I don’t mean those kind you’ve got at home in your kitchen.
Another example at the international level of how skillfully they use this trickery was in the Congo. In the Congo, airplanes were dropping bombs on African villages. African villages don’t have a defense against bombs. And the pilot can’t tell who the bomb is being dropped upon. When a bomb hits a village, everything goes. And these pilots, flying planes filled with bombs, dropping these bombs on African villages, were destroying women, were destroying children, were destroying babies. You never heard any outcry over here about that.
And it had started way back in June. They would drop bombs on African villages that would blow that village apart and everything in it — man, woman, child, and baby. No outcry, no sympathy, no support, no concern, because the press didn’t project it in such a way that it would be designed to get your sympathy. They know how to put something so that you’ll sympathize with it, and they know how to put it so you’ll be against it. I’m telling you, they are masters at it. And if you don’t develop the analytical ability to read between the lines in what they’re saying, I’m telling you again — they’ll be building gas ovens, and before you wake up you’ll be in one of them, just like the Jews ended up in gas ovens over there in Germany. You’re in a society that’s just as capable of building gas ovens for Black people as Hitler’s society was.
This was mass murder in the Congo, of women and children and babies. But there was no outcry even from the white liberals, even from your “friends.” Why? Because they made it appear that it was a humanitarian project. They said that the planes were being flown by “American-trained anti-Castro Cuban pilots.” This is propaganda, too. Soon as you hear that it’s American-trained, you say, “Oh that’s all right, that’s us.” And the anti-Castro Cubans, “Oh that’s all right too, ’cause if they’re against Castro, whoever else they’re against that’s good, ’cause Castro is a monster.” But you see how step-by-step they grab your mind?
And these pilots are hired, their salaries are paid by the United States government. They’re called mercenaries, these pilots are. And a mercenary is not someone who kills you because he’s patriotic. He kills you for blood money, he’s a hired killer. This is what a mercenary means. And they’re able to take these hired killers, put them in American planes, with American bombs, and drop them on African villages, blowing to bits Black men, Black women, Black children, Black babies, and you Black people sitting over here cool like it doesn’t even involve you. You’re a fool. They’ll do it to them today, and do it to you tomorrow. Because you and I and they are all the same.
They call it a humanitarian project and that they’re doing it in the name of freedom. And all of this, these glorious terms, are used to pave the way in your mind for what they’re going to do.
Then they take Tshombe. You’ve heard of Tshombe. He’s the worst African that was ever born. The lowest type that was ever born. He’s a murderer himself. He’s the murderer of Lumumba, the former prime minister of — the first and only rightful prime minister of the Congo. He’s an international — he’s a murderer with an international stature as a murderer. Yet the United States government went and got Tshombe in Spain, and put him as the head of the Congolese government. This is criminal! Here’s a man who’s a murderer, so the United States takes him, puts him over the Congo, and supports his government with your tax dollars. Now — they hired him to occupy the position as head of state over the Congo — a killer! He is a hired killer himself! His salary’s paid by the United States government. And he turns — his first move is to bring in South Africans, who hate everything in sight. He hires those South Africans to come and kill his own Congolese people. And the United States, again, pays their salary.
You know, it’s something to think about. How do you think you would feel right now if some Congolese brothers walked up to you — and they look just like you, don’t think you don’t look Congolese. You look as much Congolese as a Congolese does. They got all kinds of Congolese over there. How would you feel if one of them walked up to you and asked you about what your government is doing in the Congo. I was asked that when I was over there. But they don’t have to come to me like that, ’cause they know where I stand automatically. And for one time I’m thankful to the press, for letting everybody know where I stand. They — but you have no explanation. Your tongue stays in your mouth. And then you have to become — you have to go to the extreme to convince them that you don’t go along with what the United States government is doing in the Congo.
And they justify the usage of Tshombe as the present head of state by saying that he’s the only African who can unite — or bring unity to the Congo. Has he brought unity to the Congo? But, see, this is their game! And their real reason for wanting Tshombe there was so that Tshombe could invite them to come in. Now, what African head of state would have dared to invite outside powers? So they put Tshombe there, and as soon as Tshombe got there he invited them to bring paratroopers from Belgium in the United States’ transport planes to try and recapture Congo.
This is all a cold-blooded act on the part of your Western powers, namely the Western powers here in the United States — interests in the United States, in England, and France, and Belgium and so forth. They want the wealth of the Congo, plus its strategic geographic position.
The step-by-step process that was used by the press: First they fanned the flame in such a manner to create hysteria in the mind of the public. And then they shift gears and fan the flame in a manner designed to get the sympathy of the public. And once they go from hysteria to sympathy, their next step is to get the public to support them in whatever act they’re getting ready to go down with. You’re dealing with a cold calculating international machine, that’s so criminal in its objectives and motives that it has the seeds of its own destruction, right within. They use the press to emphasize that white hostages are being held by [inaudible] — imagine that — or white priests, white missionaries, white nuns — they don’t say nuns: white nuns. You know what the paper said right here in Detroit: white missionaries, not just a missionary; a white nun — as if there’s a difference between a white nun and a black nun; or a white priest and a black priest; or if the light that’s in a white skin is more valuable than a light within a black skin. This is what they’re implying! And the press — look at the press when this thing was going on — and you will see what I’m talking about. They’re vicious in their whiteness.
But still, I wouldn’t judge them just ’cause they’re white, or they’d call me a racist. [I'm] judging by their deeds, by their conscious behavior — and you know how they’ve been consciously behaving in the Congo, and how they consciously behave in Vietnam, and how they consciously behave right now in Alabama and Mississippi. So you and I got to get conscious, and start behaving in a way that we can offset this thing before it’s too late — and this is what they don’t want to hear.
One more thing concerning Tshombe, if you notice — and I must — while we were over there on the African continent, in order to give you a better understanding of what is going on right here. The next thing that is good to know about Tshombe: no Congolese troops have ever won any victories, whatsoever, for the present Congolese government. Congolese soldiers won’t even fight unless they’re forced to.
But the fighters in the Congo, or the freedom fighters — the rebels from the Oriental, eastern province — they fought with stones, and sticks, and rocks, spears, and arrows. And the only time they had a gun was when they got some soldier who had it, and they’d kill him and take his gun. But they were winning, they took over two-thirds of the Congo. [I'm] showing you, they were fighting from their hearts.
The other people, their heart wasn’t in it. And because of the fighting spirit of these people, it will be impossible for Tshombe to remain as head of state over the Congo without additional troops — white troops — being constantly brought in from South Africa or elsewhere. But sooner or later, these troops are going to give out, and then America’s going to have to increase her troops like she did in South Vietnam. She’s not at war with Vietnam yet, she’s only there “advising.” They have 20,000 “advisors,” you know, on the front lines. But it’s not a war. Just — they’re in “advisory capacity.” Why, they insult the intelligence of their own public!
And they’re going to have to end up doing the same thing in the Congo, they’ll be trapped. They’ll have to eventually send American troops to occupy the Congo. ‘Cause the African freedom fighters are going to fight — they’re not going to give up one inch without fighting back. And there’s something that you should know! That they realize now on the African continent what’s at stake, and how much — what these Western powers have in common and what they’re doing in cahoots with each other behind the closed doors.
So on the African continent they are training Africans — these soldiers — so they can invade one of these countries, and take it over, and give it [back] to the rightful people.
One of the last things I must say concerning the Congo: not only do they not intend for the Congo to fall into African hands because of its mineral wealth — and it has the greatest deposits of some of the richest elements, or minerals, of any other area on this earth. They don’t intend to give it up because of its wealth; another reason they don’t intend to give it up is if you look at the map you’ll see that it is so strategically located geographically.
Wherein, if a real genuine African government were to come in power over the Congo, then it would be possible for African troops from all countries to invade Angola — which is a Portuguese possession. And if Angola fell, and it would fall, then it would only be a matter of time before South-West Africa, Southern Rhodesia, and Butuanoland also would fall. And it would put African troops right on the border of South Africa. And that’s where they really want to get, that man down there in South Africa.
And the United States’ interests are involved in blocking this, yes! Some of these liberals who grin in your face like they’re your best friends, they have money tied up in the Congo. Some of the most powerful political figures in this country, come up and governors over states, [have] got interests in the Congo, and got interests in South Africa, and got interests all over the African continent, and go there! And as the Africans awaken and realize, they — it makes them full of the incentive to never rest until that exploiter is driven out.
So, now what effect does this have on us? Why should the Black man in America concern himself — since he’s been away from the African continent for three or four hundred years — why should we concern ourselves? What impact does what happens to them have upon us? Number one, first you have to realize that up until 1959 Africa was dominated by the colonial powers. And by the colonial powers of Europe having complete control over Africa, they projected the image of Africa negatively. They projected Africa always in a negative light: jungles, savages, cannibals, nothing civilized. Why then naturally it was so negative [that] it was negative to you and me, and you and I began to hate it. We didn’t want anybody telling us anything about Africa, much less calling us Africans. In hating Africa and in hating the Africans, we ended up hating ourselves, without even realizing it. Because you can’t hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree. You can’t hate your origin and not end up hating yourself. You can’t hate Africa and not hate yourself.
You show me one of these people over here who have been thoroughly brainwashed, who has a negative attitude toward Africa, and I’ll show you one that has a negative attitude toward himself. You can’t have a positive attitude toward yourself and a negative attitude toward Africa at the same time. To the same degree that your understanding of and attitude toward Africa becomes positive, you’ll find that your understanding of and your attitude toward yourself will also become positive. And this is what the white man knows. So they very skillfully made you and me hate our African identity, our African characteristics.
You know yourself — and we have been a people who hated our African characteristics. We hated our hair, we hated the shape of our nose — we wanted one of those long, dog-like noses, you know. Yeah. We hated the color of our skin, hated the blood of Africa that was in our veins. And in hating our features and our skin and our blood, why, we had to end up hating ourselves.
And we hated ourselves. Our color became to us a chain. We felt that it was holding us back. Our color became to us like a prison, which we felt was keeping us confined, not letting us go this way or that way. We felt that all of these restrictions were based solely upon our color. And the psychological reaction to that would have to be that as long as we felt imprisoned or chained or trapped by Black skin, Black features, and Black blood, that skin and those features and that blood that was holding us back automatically had to become hateful to us. And it became hateful to us. It made us feel inferior; it made us feel inadequate; it made us feel helpless.
And when we fell victims to this feeling of inadequacy or inferiority or helplessness, we turned to somebody else to show us the way. We didn’t have confidence in another Black man to show us the way, or Black people to show us the way. In those days we didn’t. We didn’t think a Black man could do anything but play some horn — you know, some sounds and make you happy with some songs and in that way. But in serious things, where our food, clothing, and shelter was concerned and our education was concerned, we turned to the man. We never thought in terms of bringing these things into existence for ourselves, we never thought in terms of doing things for our selves. Because we felt helpless. What made us feel helpless was our hatred for ourselves. And our hatred for ourselves stemmed from our hatred of things African.
Along about 1955 they had the Bandung Conference in Indonesia. And at that time the Africans, the Asians, the Arabs, all of the nonwhite people got together and agreed to de-emphasize their differences and emphasize what they had in common, and form a working unity. And it was the working unity — the spirit of Bandung created a working unity that made it possible for the Asians, who were oppressed, the Africans, who were oppressed, and others who were oppressed to work together toward gaining independence for these other people. And it was the spirit of Bandung that brought into existence this working unity that made it possible for nations that didn’t have a chance to become independent to come into their independence. And most of this began along in 1959.
After 1959 the spirit of African nationalism was fanned to a high flame, and we then began to witness the complete collapse of colonialism. France began to get out of French West Africa; Belgium began to make moves to get out of the Congo; Britain began to make moves to get out of Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda, Nigeria, and some of these other places. And although it looked like they were getting out, they pulled a trick that was colossal.
In that — when you’re playing basketball and they get you trapped, you don’t throw the ball away, you throw it to one of your teammates who’s in the clear. And this is what the European powers did. They were trapped on the African continent, they couldn’t stay there; they were looked upon as colonial, imperialist. So they had to pass the ball to someone whose image was different, and they passed the ball to Uncle Sam. And he picked it up and has been running it for a touchdown ever since. He was in the clear, he was not looked upon as one who had colonized the African continent. But at that time, the Africans couldn’t see that though the United States hadn’t colonized the African continent, he had colonized twenty-two million Blacks here on this continent. Because we are just as thoroughly colonized as anybody else.
When the ball was passed to the United States, it was passed at the time when John Kennedy came into power. He picked it up and helped to run it. He was one of the shrewdest backfield runners that history has ever recorded. He surrounded himself with intellectuals — highly educated, learned, and well-informed people. And their analysis told him that the government of America was confronted with a new problem. And this new problem stemmed from the fact that Africans were now awakened, they were enlightened, and they were fearless, they would fight. So this meant that the Western powers couldn’t stay there by force. And since their own economies, the European economy and the American economy, was based upon their continued influence over the African continent, they had to find some means of staying there. So they used the “friendly” approach. They switched from the old, open colonial, imperialistic approach to the benevolent approach. They came up with some benevolent colonialism, philanthropic colonialism, humanitarianism, or dollarism. Immediately everything was Peace Corps, Crossroads, “We’ve got to help our African brothers.” Pick up on that. Can’t help us in Mississippi. Can’t help us in Alabama, or Detroit, out here in Dearborn where some real Ku Klux Klan live.
They’re going to send all the way to Africa to help. I know Dearborn; you know, I’m from Detroit, I used to live out here in Inkster. And you had to go through Dearborn to get to Inkster. Just like driving through Mississippi when you go to Dearborn. Is it still that way? [From the audience: "Yes."] Well, you should straighten it out.
So, realizing that it was necessary to come up with these new approaches, Kennedy did it. He won — he created an image of him self that was skillfully designed to make the people on the African continent think that he was Jesus, the great white father, come to make things right. I’m telling you, some of these Negroes cried harder when he died than they cried for Jesus when he was crucified.
From 1954 to 1964 was the era in which we witnessed the emerging of Africa. The impact that this had upon the civil rights struggle in America has never been told, fully told.
For one reason — for one thing, one of the primary ingredients in the complete civil rights struggle was the ‘Black Muslim’ movement. The ‘Black Muslim’ movement, though it took no part in things political, civic — it didn’t take too much part in anything other than stopping people from doing this drinking, smoking, and so on. Moral reform it had, but beyond that it did nothing. But it talked such a strong talk until it put the other Negro organizations on the spot. Before the ‘Black Muslim’ movement came along, the NAACP was looked upon as radical; they were getting ready to investigate it. And then along came the ‘Muslim’ movement and frightened the white man so much he began to say, “Thank God for old Uncle Roy and Uncle Whitney and Uncle A. Philip and Uncle… — you’ve got a whole lot of uncles in there. I can’t remember their names, they’re all older than I, so I call them “uncle.” Plus, if you use the word “Uncle Tom” nowadays, I heard they’ll sue you for libel, you know. So I don’t call any of them Uncle Tom anymore. I call them Uncle Roy.
One of the things that made the ‘Black Muslim’ movement grow was its emphasis upon things African. This was the secret to the growth of the ‘Black Muslim’ movement. African blood, African origin, African culture, African ties. And you’d be surprised, we discovered that deep within the subconscious of the Black man in this country, he’s still more African than he is American. He thinks that he’s more American than African, because the man is jiving him, the man is brainwashing him every day. He’s telling him, “You’re an American, you’re an American.” Man, how could you think you’re an American and you haven’t ever had any kind of American treat over here? You have never, never!
Ten men can be sitting at a table eating, you know, dining, and I can come and sit down where they’re dining. They’re dining; I’ve got a plate in front of me, but nothing is on it. Because all of us are sitting at the same table, are all of us diners? I’m not a diner until you let me dine. Then I become a diner. Just being at the table with others who are dining doesn’t make me a diner, and this is what you’ve got to get in your head here in this country.
Just because you’re in this country doesn’t make you an American. No, you’ve got to go farther than that before you can become an American. You’ve got to enjoy the fruits of Americanism. You haven’t enjoyed those fruits. You’ve enjoyed the thorns. You’ve enjoyed the thistles. But you have not enjoyed the fruits, no sir. You have fought harder for the fruits than the white man has. You have worked harder for the fruits than the white man has, but you’ve enjoyed less. When the man put the uniform on you and sent you abroad, you fought harder than they did. Yeah, I know you — when you’re fighting for them, you can fight.
The ‘Black Muslim’ movement did make that contribution. They made the whole civil rights movement become more militant, and more acceptable to the white power structure. He would rather have them than us. In fact, I think we forced many of the civil rights leaders to be even more militant than they intended. I know some of them who get out there and “boom, boom, boom” and don’t mean it. Because they’re right on back in their corner as soon as the action comes.
John F. Kennedy also saw that it was necessary for a new approach among the American Negroes. And during his entire term in office, he specialized in how to psycho the American Negro. Now, a lot of you all don’t like my saying that, but I wouldn’t ever take a stand on that if I didn’t know what I was talking about. And I don’t — by living in this kind of society, pretty much around them — and you know what I mean when I say “them” — I learned to study them. You can think that they mean you some good ofttimes, but if you look at it a little closer you’ll see that they don’t mean you any good. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some of them who mean good. But it does mean that most of them don’t mean good.
Kennedy’s new approach was pretending to go along with us in our struggle for civil rights and different other forms of rights. But I remember the expose that Look magazine did on Meredith’s situation in Mississippi. Look magazine did an expose showing that Robert Kennedy and Governor Wallace — not Governor Wallace, Governor Barnett — had made a deal, wherein the attorney general was going to come down and try and force Meredith into school, and Barnett was going to stand at the door, you know, and say, “No, you can’t come in.” He was going to get in anyway. But it was all arranged in advance. And then Barnett was supposed to keep the support of the white racists, because that’s who he was holding up, and Kennedy would keep the support of the Negroes, because that’s who he’d be holding up. That’s — it was a cut-and-dried deal. And it’s not a secret; it was written, they write about it. But if that’s a deal and that’s a deal, how many other deals do you think go down? What you think is on the level is crookeder, brothers and sisters, than a pretzel, which is most crooked.
So in my conclusion I would like to point out that the approach that was used by the administration right on up until today — see, even the present generation — was designed skillfully to make it appear that they were trying to solve the problem when they actually weren’t. They would deal with the conditions, but never the cause. They only gave us tokenism. Tokenism benefits only a few. It never benefits the masses, and the masses are the ones who have the problem, not the few. That one who benefits from tokenism, he doesn’t want to be around us anyway — that’s why he picks up on the token.
You ever notice how some Negroes will brag, “I’m the only one out there, I’m the only one on my job.” Don’t you hear them say that? Yes, you ought to punch him in hi — no he’s your brother, you shouldn’t punch your brother. But you should really get him — you can punch him with some words.
Whenever you see a Negro bragging about “he’s the only one in his neighborhood,” he’s bragging. He’s telling you in essence, “I’m surrounded by white folks,” you know. “I love them, and they love me.” Oh yes. And on his job “I’m the only one on my job.” I’ve been listening to that stuff all my life, and the generation that’s coming up, they’re not going to be saying that. The generation that’s coming up, everybody is going to look like an Uncle Tom to them. And you and I have to learn that in time, so that we don’t pose that image when our people, when our young generation come up and begin to look at us.
The masses of our people still have bad housing, bad schooling, and inferior jobs, jobs that don’t compensate with sufficient salary for them to carry on their life in this world. So that the problem for the masses has gone absolutely unsolved. The only ones for whom it has been solved are people like Whitney Young, who’s supposed to be placed in the cabinet, so the rumors say. He’ll be one of the first Black cabinet men. And that answers where he’s at. And others who have been given jobs — Carl Rowan, who was put over the USIA, who is very skillfully trying to make Africans think that the problem of Black men in this country is all solved.
And this is the worst thing the white man can do to himself is to take one of these kind of Negroes and ask him, “How do your people feel, boy?” He’s going to tell that man that we are satisfied. That’s what they do, brothers and sisters. They get behind the door and tell the white man we’re satisfied. “Just keep on — keep me up here in front of them, boss, and I’ll keep ‘em behind you.” That’s what they talk when they’re behind closed doors. ‘Cause, see, the white man doesn’t go along with anybody who’s not for him. He doesn’t care whether you’re for right or wrong, he wants to know, are you for him. And if you’re for him, he doesn’t care what else you’re for. As long as you’re for him, then he puts you up over the Negro community. You become the spokesman.
In your struggle it’s like standing on a revolving wheel: you’re running, but you’re not going anywhere. You run faster and faster and the wheel just goes faster and faster. You don’t ever leave the spot that you’re standing in. So, it is very important for you and me to see that the only way that our problem is going to be solved, it has to be with a solution that will benefit the masses, not the upper class — so-called “upper class.”
Actually, there’s no such thing as an upper-class Negro, because he catches the same hell as the other class Negro. All of them catch the same hell, which is one of the things that’s good about this racist system — it makes us all one.
Quickly, if you’ll notice in 1963, everyone was talking about the “centennial of progress!” I think that’s what they called it. A hundred years since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and everyone is celebrating how much white and Black people have learned to love each other in America. You probably remember how they were talking in January of 1963. Well, if you had stood up in January at the same time that they were talking all this talk about a good year ahead, good things ahead, and told them that by May, Birmingham would have exploded, and Bull Connor would be known as an international thug for the brutality that he heaped upon Black people; if you would tell the people in January of ’63 that John F. Kennedy would be killed for his role in everything; if you had told them in January that Medgar Evers would be murdered and nobody able to bring his killer to justice; or if you were to have told them in January of 1963 that a church would be bombed in Birmingham, with four little Black girls blown to bits while they were praying and serving Jesus — why, they would say you’re crazy.
In 1964 they started out the same way. That was the year of promise. If you were to have told them while they were talking about this great year of promise ahead, you know, civil rights and all of that, what was coming, that before long three civil rights workers would be brutally murdered and the government unable to do anything about it. A Negro educator in Georgia brutally murdered in broad daylight and the men who did it be known, and the government not able to do anything about it. If you had said this in January of ’64, they’d say you were nuts. Now they are starting out 1965 the same way. Talking about the “Great Society,” you know, “antipoverty.”
If you tell them right now what is in store for 1965, they’ll think you’re crazy for sure. But 1965 will be the longest and hottest and bloodiest year of them all. It has to be, not because you want it to be, or I want it to be, or we want it to be, but because the conditions that created these explosions in 1963 are still here; the conditions that created explosions in ’64 are still here. You can’t say that you’re not going to have an explosion and you leave the condition, the ingredients, still here. As long as those ingredients, explosive ingredients, remain, then you’re going to have the potential for explosion on your hands.
Brothers and sisters, let me tell you, I spend my time out there in the street with people, all kind of people, listening to what they have to say. And they’re dissatisfied, they’re disillusioned, they’re fed up, they’re getting to the point of frustration where they are beginning to feel: What do they have to lose? And when you get to that point you’re the type of person who can create a very dangerously explosive atmosphere. This is what’s happening in our neighborhood, to our people. I read in a poll taken by Newsweek magazine this week, saying that Negroes are satisfied. Oh yes, poll you know, in Newsweek, supposed to be a top magazine with a top pollster, talking about how satisfied Negroes are. Maybe I haven’t met the Negroes he met. Because I know he hasn’t met the ones that I’ve met.
But this is dangerous. This is where the white man does himself the most harm. He invents statistics to create an image, thinking that that image is going to hold things in check. You know why they always say Negroes are lazy? ‘Cause they want Negroes to be lazy. They always say Negroes can’t unite because they don’t want Negroes to unite. And once they put this thing in the mind, they feel that the Negro gets that into him and he tries to fulfill their image. If you say you can’t unite him, and then you come to him to unite him, he won’t unite because it’s been said that he’s not supposed to unite. It’s a psycho that they work, and it’s the same way with these statistics.
When they think that an explosive era is coming up, then they grab their press again and begin to shower the Negro public, to make it appear that all Negroes are satisfied. Because if you know that you’re dissatisfied all by yourself and ten others aren’t, you play it cool; but you know if all ten of you are dissatisfied, you get with it. Well, this is what the man knows. The man knows that if these Negroes find out how dissatisfied they really are — and all of them, even Uncle Tom is dissatisfied, he’s just playing his part for now — this is what makes them frightened. It frightens them in France, it frightens them in England, and it frightens them in the United States.
And it is for this reason that it is so important for you and me to start organizing among ourselves, intelligently, and try to find out: What are we going to do if this happens, that happens, or the next thing happens? Don’t think that you’re going to run to the man and say, “Look, boss, this is me.” Why, when the deal goes down, you’ll look just like me in his eyesight; I’ll make it tough for you. Yes, when the deal goes down, he doesn’t look at you in any better light than he looks at me.
I was on a television program in New York last week. One of the liberals did a take-off on James Farmer. Now here’s James Farmer teaching Negroes to be nonviolent and loving and all of that — why they should be patting him on the back. And instead of them patting him on the back they want to knock at him. And it put me in a position of having to defend him, which I did; I was glad to because I wanted to crack this man’s neck anyway — mentally, rather I should say intellectually.
I point these things out, brothers and sisters, so that you and I will know the importance in 1963 of being in complete unity with each other, in harmony with each other, and not letting the man maneuver us into fighting one another. The situation I have been maneuvered into right now between me and the ‘Black Muslim’ movement, is something that I really deeply regret, because I don’t think anything is more destructive than two groups of Black people fighting each other. But it’s something that can’t be avoided because it goes deep down beneath the surface, and these things wiIl come up in the very near future.
I might say this before I sit down. If you recall, when I left the ‘Black Muslim’ movement, I stated clearly that it wasn’t my intention to even continue to be aware that they existed; but that I was going to spend my time working in the non-Muslim community. But they were fearful that if they didn’t do something that perhaps many of those who were in the mosque would leave it and follow a different direction. So they had to start doing a take-off on me, plus, they had to try and silence me because of what they know that I know.
I should think that they should know me well enough to know that they certainly can’t frighten me. But when it does come to the light — excuse me for keep coughing like that, but I got some of that smoke last night — there are some things involving the ‘Black Muslim’ movement which, when they come to light, you will be shocked. The thing that you have to understand where those of us in the Black Muslim movement were concerned: all of us believed 100 percent in the divinity of Elijah Muhammad. We believed in him. We actually believed that God had taught him — right here in Detroit by the way — that God had taught him and all of that. I always thought that he believed it himself. And I was shocked when I found out that he himself didn’t believe it. And when that shock reached me, then I began to look everywhere else and try to get a better understanding of the things that confront all of us, so that we can get together in some kind of way to offset them.
I want to thank you for coming out this afternoon — this evening. I think it’s wonderful that as many of you came out, considering the blackout on the meeting that took place. Also, [Milton Henry] and the brothers who are here in Detroit are very progressive young men, and I would advise all of you to get with them in every way that you can to try and create some kind of united effort toward common goals, common objectives. Don’t let the power structure maneuver you into a time wasting battle with others when you could be involved in something that’s constructive and getting a real job done. Probably, one thing I should’ve pointed out to you, that once we formed our new organization, once we became identified with the orthodox Muslim world, we also formed a group known as the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which is designed to fight all the negative political, economic, and social conditions that exist in our neighborhood. It’s a nonreligious organization to which anyone can belong who’s interested in direct action.
And one of our first programs is to take our problem out of the civil rights context and place it at the international level, of human rights, so that the entire world can have a voice in our struggle. If we keep it at civil rights, then the only place we can turn for allies is within the domestic confines of America. But when you make it a human rights struggle, it becomes international, and then you can open the door for all types of advice and support from our brothers in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and elsewhere. So it’s very, very important — that’s our international aim, that’s our external aim.
Our internal aim is to become immediately involved in a mass voter registration drive. But we don’t believe in voter registration without voter education. We believe that our people should be educated into the science of politics, so that they will know what a vote is for, and what a vote is supposed to produce, and also how to utilize this united voting power so that you can control the politics of your own community, and the politicians that represent that community. We’re for that.
And in that line we will work with all others, even civil rights groups, who are dedicated to increase the number of Black registered voters in the South. The only area in which we differ with them is this: we don’t believe that young students should be sent into Mississippi, Alabama, and these other places without some kind of protection. So we will join in with them in their voter registration [Applause] and help to train brothers in the arts that are necessary in this day and age to enable one to continue his existence upon this earth.
I say again that I’m not a racist, I don’t believe in any form of segregation or anything like that. I’m for the brotherhood of everybody, but I don’t believe in forcing brotherhood upon people who don’t want it. Long as we practice brotherhood among ourselves, and then others who want to practice brotherhood with us, we practice it with them also, we’re for that. But I don’t think that we should run around trying to love somebody who doesn’t love us.