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We cannot deny the fact that in the world that we exist in today, inequality is still an issue. You may not experience it first hand, but it is happening all around us. Nevertheless, some people still choose to rise above the inequality in this world, and become an inspiration to many.
Let me tell you more about a person who was a brave advocate for his people: Malcolm X.
A Legend’s Roots
On May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm Little was born. His mother, Louise Little, was a humble homemaker. His father, Earl Little, was a supporter of Marcus Garvey, an orator who founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League.
Earl Little was a self-assured man who was willing to stand up against white men. Because of this, he constantly received threats from a white supremacist organization called the Black Legion. These threats led the family to relocate to Lansing, Michigan.
In 1929, despite their efforts to remain hidden from the Legion, their home was devastatingly burned. Two years after this unfortunate event, Malcolm’s father was found dead in the municipal trolley tracks. The police ruled this out as an accident.
However, the Littles believe that this was the Legion’s doing. Malcolm’s mother experienced an emotional breakdown and was sent to a mental institution in 1937. Malcolm and the rest of the Littles were separated into different foster homes and distant family members.
Malcolm was a smart kid and he excelled in school. However, he was discouraged by one of his eighth-grade teachers who told him that instead of dreaming of becoming a lawyer, he should become a carpenter. Because of this, he lost interest in studying and left school.
Malcolm moved from a juvenile home to live with an older half-sister in the Roxbury section of Michigan. He got involved in dealing with drugs and became a leader of a gang of thieves, eventually earning the alias “Detroit Red” for his hair.
His Spiritual Journey
In 1946, he was arrested for burglary and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, he was granted parole after seven years. While serving his time, he decided to further his education. He started to focus on studying, spending time reading in the prison library.
Around this time, his brother Reginald had converted to Islam, and became a part of the Nation of Islam (NOI), a religious organization. Every time he visited Malcolm, he discussed his conversion, and eventually piqued his interest.
Malcolm began to study about the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. He began to quit gambling and smoking, and refused to eat pork. By the time he was granted his parole, Malcolm has already become a faithful devotee and changed his name to the one we know today, Malcolm X.
Malcolm X travelled to meet Elijah Muhammad to work with him in expanding the NOI’s following. He began organizing temples in cities in the south. He founded Muhammad Speaks, the Nation’s newspaper, which started in 1960. He required their men to sell the newspaper as a means of recruiting more people. He became the minister of Temples 7 and 11 and founded new temples in other areas.
Because of his intelligence and undeniable gift in oration, Malcolm X became widely known and respected, and he made a large contribution in the growth of the Nation. He was featured in a television special with Mike Wallace called “The Hate that Hate Produced” in 1959. He eventually became more famous than his very own tutor, Muhammad.
Malcolm’s faith received a harsh blow when he discovered that Elijah Muhammad had violated his own teachings, fathering several children with different women out of wedlock. Malcolm, on the other hand, had practiced celibacy until his wedding to Betty Shabazz. He then left the Nation of Islam with feelings of betrayal in 1964.
The Beginning of a Believer’s End
Malcolm X travelled to Mecca, which became a spiritual turning point in his life. He discovered Sunni Islam and altered his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. He came back to the United States renewed and with less anger in his heart.
However, when he left the nation of Islam, he angered many people. Multiple threats were made to his life. Their home was firebombed, although they were able to run into safety.
On February 21, 1965, three gunmen, who turned out to be members of the Nation of Islam, shot Malcolm X while he was on stage in the Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom. He was shot 15 times in close range. He was pronounced dead at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.
His death was mourned by many people. Fifteen hundred supporters attended his funeral in 1965, and after the ceremony, his friends buried him themselves.
Malcolm X’s life is surely a story that will be passed on from generations to generations. He will always be loved as a courageous man who stood up against white America for its wrongdoings.
Here are 75 inspiring quotes from Malcolm X:
Malcolm X Quotes
“A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.” – Malcolm X
“Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because he 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.” – Malcolm X
“We are nonviolent with people who are nonviolent with us.” – Malcolm X
“My alma mater was books, a good library… I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.” – Malcolm X
“Stumbling is not falling.” – Malcolm X
“There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time.” – Malcolm X
“They put your mind right in a bag, and take it wherever they want.” – Malcolm X
“We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us.” – Malcolm X
“Concerning nonviolence, it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.” – Malcolm X
“A race of people is like an individual man; until it uses its own talent, takes pride in its own history, expresses its own culture, affirms its own selfhood, it can never fulfil itself.” – Malcolm X
“I for one believe that if you give people a thorough understanding of what confronts them and the basic causes that produce it, they’ll create their own program, and when the people create a program, you get action.” – Malcolm X
“If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.” – Malcolm X
“It is a time for martyrs now, and if I am to be one, it will be for the cause of brotherhood. That’s the only thing that can save this country.” – Malcolm X
“Without education, you’re not going anywhere in this world.” – Malcolm X
“You don’t have to be a man to fight for freedom. All you have to do is to be an intelligent human being.” – Malcolm X
“Dr. King wants the same thing I want. Freedom.” – Malcolm X
“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.” – Malcolm X
“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.” – Malcolm X
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X
“People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.” – Malcolm X
“Sometimes you have to pick the gun up to put the Gun down.” – Malcolm X
“To me, the thing that is worse than death is betrayal. You see, I could conceive death, but I could not conceive betrayal.” – Malcolm X
“If someone puts their hands on you make sure they never put their hands on anybody else again.” – Malcolm X
“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.” – Malcolm X
“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.” – Malcolm X
“Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.” – Malcolm X
“You show me a capitalist, and I’ll show you a bloodsucker.” – Malcolm X
“We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.” – Malcolm X
“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.” – Malcolm X
“So early in my life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.” – Malcolm X
“If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success.” – Malcolm X
“Truth is on the side of the oppressed.” – Malcolm X
“Hence 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.” – Malcolm X
“We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” – Malcolm X
“The ability to read awoke inside of me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.” – Malcolm X
“The only way we’ll get freedom for ourselves is to identify ourselves with every oppressed people in the world. We are blood brothers to the people of Brazil, Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba — yes Cuba too.” – Malcolm X
“To have once been a criminal is no disgrace. To remain a criminal is the disgrace.” – Malcolm X
“A wise man can play the part of a clown, but a clown can’t play the part of a wise man.” – Malcolm X
“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?” – Malcolm 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.” – Malcolm X
“I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don’t see any American dream–I see an American nightmare.” – Malcolm X
“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.” – Malcolm X
“You can’t hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree.” – Malcolm X
“I don’t even call it violence when it’s in self defense; I call it intelligence.” – Malcolm X
“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X
“I’m sorry to say that the subject I most disliked was mathematics. I have thought about it. I think the reason was that mathematics leaves no room for argument. If you made a mistake that was all there was to it.” – Malcolm X
“In fact, once he is motivated no one can change more completely than the man who has been at the bottom. I call myself the best example of that.” – Malcolm X
“And just because you have colleges and universities doesn’t mean you have education.” – Malcolm X
“Don’t condemn if you see a person has a dirty glass of water, just show them the clean glass of water that you have. When they inspect it, you won’t have to say that yours is better.” – Malcolm X
“You get your freedom by letting your enemy know that you’ll do anything to get it. Then you’ll get it. It’s the only way you’ll get it.” – Malcolm X
“Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.” – Malcolm X
“As long as you are convinced you have never done anything, you can never do anything.” – Malcolm X
“Anytime you find someone more successful than you are, especially when you’re both engaged in the same business – you know they’re doing something that you aren’t.” – Malcolm X
“I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading has opened to me. I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today, the ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.” – Malcolm X
“There is nothing in our book, the Qur’an that teaches us to suffer peacefully. Our religion teaches us to be intelligent. Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone lays a hand on you, send him to the cemetery.” – Malcolm X
“True Islam taught me that it takes all of the religious, political, economic, psychological, and racial ingredients, or characteristics, to make the Human Family and the Human Society complete.” – Malcolm X
“I remember one night at Muzdalifa with nothing but the sky overhead I lay awake amid sleeping Muslim brothers and I learned that pilgrims from every land–every color, and class, and rank; high officials and the beggar alike–all snored in the same language.” – Malcolm X
“One day, may we all meet together in the light of understanding.” – Malcolm X
“It is only after slavery and prison that the sweetest appreciation of freedom can come.” – Malcolm X
“If you don’t stand for something you fall for everything.” – Malcolm X
“By any means necessary.” – Malcolm X
“I’ve had enough of someone else’s propaganda… 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.” – Malcolm X
“This was my first lesson about gambling: if you see somebody winning all the time, he isn’t gambling, he’s cheating. Later on in life, if I were continuously losing in any gambling situation, I would watch very closely.” – Malcolm X
“Times change so quickly that if you and I don’t keep up with the times, we’ll find ourselves with an umbrella in our hand, over our head, when the sun is out. Or we’ll find ourselves standing in the rain, with the umbrella inside the door.” – Malcolm X
“Read absolutely everything you get your hands on because you’ll never know where you’ll get an idea from…” – Malcolm X
“They cripple the bird’s wing, and then condemn it for not flying as fast as they.” – Malcolm X
“You can’t have capitalism without racism.” – Malcolm X
“We all like chicken.” – Malcolm X
“I don’t advocate violence; but if a man steps on my toes, I’ll step on his…” – Malcolm X
“I imagine that one of the biggest troubles with colleges is there are too many distractions, too much panty-raiding, fraternities, and boola-boola and all of that.” – Malcolm X
“Only the mistakes were mine.” – Malcolm X
“America’s greatest crime against the black man was not slavery or lynching, but that he was taught to wear a mask of self-hate and self-doubt.” – Malcolm X
“I was going through the hardest thing, also the greatest thing, for any human being to do; to accept that which is already within you, and around you.” – Malcolm X
“Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner, unless you eat some of what’s on that plate. Being here in America doesn’t make you an American. Being born here in America doesn’t make you an American.” – Malcolm X
“I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color.” – Malcolm X