Archive for the ‘Malcolm X’ Category


“Message to the Grassroots” is one of the best speeches made by Malcolm X. He gave it in Detroit on November 10th 1963. It was his answer to Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech given just a few months before. Malcolm X says that you cannot have a revolution without violence, that what blacks in America need to fight for is not the right to sit next to a white man at a lunch counter but the right to a country of their own. It is a call for black nationalism, for black revolution.

It is also the speech where he laid out the difference between house Negroes and field Negroes, calling Martin Luther King a house Negro – one who sells out  to whites.

King was leading a Negro revolution, a revolution of turn the other cheek and singing “We Shall Overcome” – which is no revolution at all. If you look at the successful revolutions in history – the French, American, Russian and Chinese revolutions – what do you see? You see violence, you see men fighting for land.

Why is violence wrong in Mississippi and Alabama, when your churches are being bombed and your little girls are being murdered? If it is right for America to teach us how to be violent in defence of her against Hitler, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country.

We are all black people, second-class citizens, ex-slaves. You are nothing but an ex-slave. You did not come here on the Mayflower. You came here on a slave ship – in chains. As a black person you are not wanted in America.

We have a common enemy. Once we all see that we can come together as one. And what we have foremost in common is that enemy, the white man.

He is the enemy of anyone anywhere in the world who is not white. In Kenya, Algeria and China. At the Bandung conference they found that by not inviting the white man they could get along.

The march on Washington came from the grassroots. It scared the white man to death. President Kennedy called in the Negro leaders:

“Call it off.” Kennedy said, “Look, you all letting this thing go too far.”

And Old Tom said, “Boss, I can’t stop it, because I didn’t start it. I’m not even in it, much less at the head of it.”

And that old shrewd fox, he said, “Well If you all aren’t in it, I’ll put you in it. I’ll put you at the head of it. I’ll endorse it. I’ll welcome it. I’ll help it. I’ll join it.”

It was a sell-out. It was a takeover. When James Baldwin came in from Paris, they would not let him talk, because they could not make him go by the script. They controlled it so tight. It was a circus, a performance that beat anything Hollywood could ever do.

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house Negro

amy-holmes-7158703From Malcolm X’s speech, “Message to the Grassroots” (1963):

There was two kinds of slaves. There was the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes – they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good ’cause they ate his food – what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved their master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master’s house quicker than the master would. The house Negro, if the master said, “We got a good house here,” the house Negro would say, “Yeah, we got a good house here.” Whenever the master said “we,” he said “we.” That’s how you can tell a house Negro.

If the master’s house caught on fire, the house Negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master got sick, the house Negro would say, “What’s the matter, boss, we sick?” We sick! He identified himself with his master more than his master identified with himself. And if you came to the house Negro and said, “Let’s run away, let’s escape, let’s separate,” the house Negro would look at you and say, “Man, you crazy. What you mean, separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?” That was that house Negro. In those days he was called a “house nigger.” And that’s what we call him today, because we’ve still got some house niggers running around here.

This modern house Negro loves his master. He wants to live near him. He’ll pay three times as much as the house is worth just to live near his master, and then brag about “I’m the only Negro out here.” “I’m the only one on my job.” “I’m the only one in this school.” You’re nothing but a house Negro. And if someone comes to you right now and says, “Let’s separate,” you say the same thing that the house Negro said on the plantation. “What you mean, separate? From America? This good white man? Where you going to get a better job than you get here?”…

Just as the slavemaster of that day used Tom, the house Negro, to keep the field Negroes in check, the same old slavemaster today has Negroes who are nothing but modern Uncle Toms, 20th century Uncle Toms, to keep you and me in check, keep us under control, keep us passive and peaceful and nonviolent. That’s Tom making you nonviolent. It’s like when you go to the dentist, and the man’s going to take your tooth. You’re going to fight him when he starts pulling. So he squirts some stuff in your jaw called novocaine, to make you think they’re not doing anything to you. … Blood running all down your jaw, and you don’t know what’s happening. ‘Cause someone has taught you to suffer – peacefully.

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Mankind is one. We are all brothers and sisters no matter what our class, caste, colour, creed or country. No matter what we look like, no matter how rich or poor we are, we are all brothers and sisters.

That is true whether you believe in the Bible, the Koran or in Western science.

The Bible and the Koran – the holy books of about half of mankind – say that we all came from Adam and Eve, the first man and the first woman. The races were not created separately but come from the same root. That means we share the same human nature. And even though the Bible was written long ago, you can read it now and see that men thought and acted back then just the same way they do now. Human nature has not changed. We all have the same heart.

kallima_clarkeWestern science says that we all come from Mitochondrial Eve, a black woman who lived in Africa long ago. All of us, every single one. That means that we are all cousins – not as some nice idea we would like to believe in, but as a cold, hard fact found by men in white coats.

On Christmas Eve night in 1968 three men went to the moon, far from their families. And when they looked back they saw the earth rise above the moon, they saw the earth all alone, a jewel in the blackness of space, the home of their families, of everyone they loved, the home of all mankind.

I felt the oneness of mankind for the first time on Christmas Eve too, but not from the moon, but in a church. During midnight mass it came to me that people in North America, the Caribbean and South America were all doing the very same thing, all worshipping the same God in the same way at the same moment.

malcolmxMalcolm X experienced the same thing but more powerfully when he went to Mecca:

During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept in the same bed (or on the same rug) – while praying to the same God – with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the actions and in the deeds of the “white” Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan, and Ghana.

We were truly all the same (brothers) – because their belief in one God had removed the “white” from their minds, the ‘white’ from their behavior, and the ‘white’ from their attitude.

I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man – and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their “differences” in color.

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