Malcolm X Speaks

New Socialist Magazine, January 1996

Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965. Much of the media continues to portray him as a hardline black nationalist opposed to working with whites. But these were not Malcolm's politics after his break with the Nation of Islam in November of 1963. In fact, during the last 15 months of his life, Malcolm X moved towards an internationalist and anti-imperialist perspective which was deeply sympathetic to socialism. Below we reprint passages from some of his last speeches.

Against racism, not whites
"We don't judge a man because of the color of his skin... We judge you because of what you do and what you practice... So we're not against someone because they're white. But we're against those who practice racism."

-- Not just an American problem but a world problem, February 16, 1965
On Revolution
"Revolution is never based on begging someone for an integrated cup of coffee. Revolutions are never fought by turning the other cheek... Revolutions are never compromising... Revolutions overturn systems."

-- Black Revolution, April 8, 1964
Capitalism and Racism
"You can't have capitalism without racism. And if you find a person without racism and you happen to get that person into a conversation and they have a philosophy that makes you sure they don't have this racism in their outlook, usually they're socialists or their political philosophy is socialism."

-- Remarks at Militant Labor Forum Symposium, May 29, 1964
On Militant Action
"Whenever our people are ready to take ay kind of action necessary to get results, they'll get results. They'll never get results as long as they play by the ground rules laid down by the power structure downtown. . . I'm for anything that they're involved in that gets meaningful results for the masses of our people -- but not for the benefit of a few handpicked Negroes at the top who get prestige and credit, and all the while the masses' problems remain unsolved."

-- Interview by Harry Ring, January 28, 1965
On Unity in Struggle
"We will work with anyone, with any group, no matter what their color is, as long as they are genuinely interested in taking the types of steps necessary to bring an end to the injustices that black people in this country are afflicted by."

-- Public Statement, March 12, 1964
An International Struggle
"We are living in an era of revolution, and the revolt of the merican Negro is part of the rebellion against the oppression and colonialism which has characterized this era . . . It is incorrect to classify the revolt of the Negro as simply a racial conflict of black against white, or as a purely American problem. Rather, we are today seeing a global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiter."

-- Speech at Columbia University, February 18, 1965
Freedom, Justice and Equality
"I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who do the oppressing. I believe 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. I believe there will be that kind of clash, but I don't think it will be based on the color of the skin . . ."

-- Interview with Pierre Berton, January 18, 1965