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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 88 inspiring quotes from Malcolm X:
Malcolm X Quotes
“A new world order is in the making, and it is up to us to prepare ourselves that we may take our rightful place in it.” – Malcolm X
“What I want to know is how the white man, with the blood of black people dripping off his fingers, can have the audacity to be asking black people [why] they hate him?” – Malcolm X
“Yes, I’m an extremist. The black race… is in extremely bad condition. You show me a black man who isn’t an extremist and I’ll show you one who needs psychiatric attention!” – 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
“I find it difficult [to believe] that… Christians accuse [Black Muslims] of teaching racial supremacy or… hatred, because their own history and… teachings are filled with it.” – 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
“The holiest and most sacred city on earth. The fountain of truth, love, peace, and brotherhood.” – Malcolm X
“I am not a racist. I am against every form of racism and segregation, every form of discrimination. I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color.” – Malcolm X
“How can anyone be against love?” – Malcolm X
“It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong, what do you do? You integrate it with cream… But if you pour too much cream in it, you won’t even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep.” – Malcolm X
“The white man is afraid of truth… I’m the only black man they’ve ever been close to who they know speaks the truth to them. Its their guilt that upsets them, not me.” – 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
“We’re not Americans, we’re Africans who happen to be in America. We were kidnapped and brought here against our will from Africa. We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock – that rock landed on us.” – 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
“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
“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” – Malcolm X
“People involved in a revolution don’t become part of the system; they destroy the system… The Negro revolution is no revolution because it condemns the system and then asks the system it has condemned to accept them…” – Malcolm X
“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 is still more African than he is American.” – Malcolm X
“The price of freedom is death.” – Malcolm X
“History is a people’s memory, and without a memory, man is demoted to the lower animals.” – Malcolm X
“Power never takes a back step – only in the face of more power. “ – Malcolm X
“Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. You don’t need anything else.” – Malcolm X
“Speaking like this doesn’t mean that we’re anti-white, but it does mean we’re anti-exploitation, we’re anti-degradation, we’re anti-oppression.” – Malcolm X
“Once I was, yes. But now I have turned my direction away from anything that’s racist.” – Malcolm X
“Early in life I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.” – Malcolm X
“We do not condemn the preachers as an individual but we condemn what they teach. We urge that the preachers teach the truth, to teach our people the one important guiding rule of conduct – unity of purpose.” – Malcolm X
“I don’t even call it violence when it’s in self defense; I call it intelligence.” – Malcolm X
“If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it is wrong to be violent defending black women and black children and black babies and black men, then it is wrong for America to draft us, and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country.” – Malcolm X
“Nonviolence is fine as long as it works.” – Malcolm X
“A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.” – Malcolm X
“I am for violence if non-violence means we continue postponing a solution to the American black man’s problem just to avoid violence.” – Malcolm X
“There can be no black-white unity until there is first some black unity. We cannot think of uniting with others, until after we have first united among ourselves. We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.” – Malcolm X
“We black men have a hard enough time in our own struggle for justice, and already have enough enemies as it is, to make the drastic mistake of attacking each other and adding more weight to an already unbearable load.” – 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
“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
“We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.” – Malcolm X
“I believe in human rights for everyone, and none of us is qualified to judge each other and that none of us should therefore have that authority.” – Malcolm X
“I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation.” – 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, Venezuelan Haiti and Cuba.” – Malcolm X
“Stumbling is not falling.” – Malcolm X
“I am neither a fanatic nor a dreamer. I am a black man who loves peace, and justice, and loves his people.” – Malcolm X
“Dr. King wants the same thing I want. Freedom.” – Malcolm X
“In all our deeds, the proper value and respect for time determines success or failure.” – Malcolm X
“The Negro revolution is controlled by foxy white liberals, by the Government itself. But the Black Revolution is controlled only by God.” – Malcolm X
“History is not hatred.” – Malcolm X
“I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading 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 in me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.” – 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 fulfill itself.” – 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
“People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.” – Malcolm X
“Envy blinds men and makes it impossible for them to think clearly.” – Malcolm X
“I want Dr. King to know that I didn’t come to Selma to make his job difficult. I really did come thinking I could make it easier. If the white people realize what the alternative is, perhaps they will be more willing to hear Dr. King.” – Malcolm X
“Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny, because the power of a just cause is based on conviction, and leads to resolute and uncompromising action.” – 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
“I believe in the brotherhood of all men, but I don’t believe in wasting brotherhood on anyone who doesn’t want to practice it with me. Brotherhood is a two-way street.” – Malcolm X
“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.” – Malcolm X
“It takes heart to be a guerrilla warrior because you’re on your own. In conventional warfare you have tanks and a whole lot of other people with you to back you up—planes over your head and all that kind of stuff. But a guerrilla is on his own. All you have is a rifle, some sneakers and a bowl of rice, and that’s all you need — and a lot of heart.” – Malcolm X
“There is nothing in our book, the Koran, 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 puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery. That’s a good religion.” – Malcolm X
“When a person places the proper value on freedom, there is nothing under the sun that he will not do to acquire that freedom. Whenever you hear a man saying he wants freedom, but in the next breath he is going to tell you what he won’t do to get it, or what he doesn’t believe in doing in order to get it, he doesn’t believe in freedom. A man who believes in freedom will do anything under the sun to acquire or preserve his freedom.” – Malcolm X
“They put your mind right in a bag, and take it wherever they want.” – Malcolm X
“If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success.” – Malcolm X
“You show me a capitalist, and I’ll show you a bloodsucker.” – 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
“The real names of our people were destroyed during slavery. The last name of my forefathers was taken from them when they were brought to America and made slaves, and then the name of the slave master was given, which we refuse, we reject that name today and refuse it. I never acknowledge it whatsoever.” – Malcolm X
“I believe in a religion that believes in freedom. Any time I have to accept a religion that won’t let me fight a battle for my people, I say to hell with that religion.” – Malcolm X
“One day, may we all meet together in the light of understanding.” – Malcolm X
“We are nonviolent with people who are nonviolent with us.” – Malcolm X
“I don’t see an American Dream, I see an American Nightmare.” – Malcolm X
“I’m the man you think you are. If you want to know what I’ll do, figure out what you’ll do. I’ll do the same thing–only more of it.” – Malcolm X
“What is a Dixiecrat? A Democrat. A Dixiecrat is nothing but a Democrat in disguise.” – Malcolm X
“Without education, you’re not going anywhere in this world.” – Malcolm X
“The day that the black man takes an uncompromising step and realizes that he’s within his rights, when his own freedom is being jeopardized, to use any means necessary to bring about his freedom or put a halt to that injustice, I don’t think he’ll be by himself.” – Malcolm X
“Being an old farm boy myself, chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they’ve always made me glad.” – 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
“I feel like a man who has been asleep somewhat and under someone else’s control. I feel that what I’m thinking and saying is now for myself. Before it was for and by the guidance of Elijah Muhammad. Now I think with my own mind, sir!” – Malcolm X
“We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.” – Malcolm X
“When ghetto living seems normal, you have no shame, no privacy.” – Malcolm X
“If you have a dog, I must have a dog. If you have a rifle, I must have a rifle. If you have a club, I must have a club. This is equality.” – 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
“You can’t hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree. You can’t hate Africa and not hate yourself.” – Malcolm X
“If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.” – Malcolm X
“To have once been a criminal is no disgrace. To remain a criminal is the disgrace.” – Malcolm X
“I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands, even if he’s wrong. Than the one who comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil.” – Malcolm X
“My black brothers and sisters – of all religious beliefs, or of no religious beliefs – we all have in common the greatest binding tie we could have. We are all black people!” – Malcolm X
“Segregation is that which is forced upon an inferior by a superior. Separation is done voluntarily by two equals.” – 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
“I just don’t believe that when people are being unjustly oppressed that they should let someone else set rules for them by which they can come out from under that oppression.” – Malcolm X
“It’s hard for anyone intelligent to be nonviolent. Everything in the universe does something when you start playing with his life, except the American Negro. He lays down and says, ‘Beat me, daddy.’“ – Malcolm X
“In the past, the greatest weapon the white man has had has been his ability to divide and conquer. If I take my hand and slap you, you don’t even feel it. It might sting you because these digits are separated. But all I have to do to put you back in your place is bring those digits together.” – Malcolm X