UPDATED: 8:50 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021 —
Wednesday marks what would have been Malcolm X‘s 96th birthday, and the legendary leader remains one of the most important figures of the American Civil Rights Movement. His transformation into a vocal human rights activist added to his already impressive legacy.
The man known as el-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz later in his young life came to relax some of his fiery politics that defined the earlier part of his time in the spotlight. And yet that same passion remained even as he began to embrace a comprehensive approach to racial harmony.
With the current situations across the nation regarding disparity in how police treat people of color and similar injustices, Malcolm X’s words still hold resonance in modern times. From Ferguson to Baltimore to now Columbus, Ohio, and Elizabeth City, North Carolina, African Americans are reminded that incidents in those respective cities are part of a systematic condition that renders Black people targets of various forms of mistreatment.
For his birthday, NewsOne takes a look at 20 Malcolm X quotes that maintain eerie relevance to this day.
Happy Day Of Birth, Malcolm X. May you rest peacefully forever.
1. “Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.”
2. “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.”
3. “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
4. “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”
5. “We are nonviolent with people who are nonviolent with us.”
6. “Concerning nonviolence, it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.”
7. “If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.”
8. “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.”
9. “You don’t have to be a man to fight for freedom. All you have to do is to be an intelligent human being.”
10. “Without education, you’re not going anywhere in this world.”
11. “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.”
12. “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.”
13. “Stumbling is not falling.”
14. “I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don’t believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn’t want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I’m not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn’t know how to return the treatment.”
15. “You don’t have a peaceful revolution. You don’t have a turn-the-cheek revolution. There’s no such thing as a nonviolent revolution.”
16. “America preaches integration and practices segregation.”
17. “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.”
18. “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.”
19. “If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that’s brotherhood. But if you – if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that’s not brotherhood, that’s hypocrisy.”
20. “Power never takes a back step only in the face of more power.”