UPDATED: 8:40 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021
As the world celebrates what would have been Malcolm X‘s 96th birthday on Wednesday, it’s important to remember that he was more than a prominent figure in the civil rights movement and Nation of Islam.
The dynamic activist embodied leadership, allowing him to be revered by many as he stood on the frontlines in Black America’s fight to eradicate racism and segregation. Malcolm X was assassinated in Harlem on Feb. 21, 1965, but his words have transcended through the decades since, leaving an indelible impact on Black America and the world as a whole.
Although Malcolm X’s speeches were recited years ago, they have remained eerily relevant. Topics such as freedom, equality and justice that X addressed during the ‘50s and’60s are still pertinent in 2020, which speaks to the impact and importance of his legacy.
Below are five of Malcolm X’s greatest speeches.
By Any Means Necessary
“We declare our right on this earth to be a man, 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 Addresses Police Brutality
“We are oppressed. We are exploited. We are denied not only civil rights, but human rights.”
The Ballot or the Bullet
“We ourselves have to lift the level of our community to a higher level, make our own society beautiful so that we will be satisfied in your own circles and won’t be running around here try to knock our way into a social circle where we’re not wanted.”
Prospects For Freedom
“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”
Message to the Grass Roots
“What you and I need to do is learn to forget our differences. When we come together, we don’t come together as Baptists or Methodists. You don’t catch hell because you’re a Baptist, and you don’t catch hell because you’re a Methodist. You don’t catch hell ’cause you’re a Methodist or Baptist. You don’t catch hell because you’re a Democrat or a Republican. You don’t catch hell because you’re a Mason or an Elk, and you sure don’t catch hell because you’re an American; because if you were an American, you wouldn’t catch hell. You catch hell because you’re a Black man. You catch hell, all of us catch hell, for the same reason.”