tv 1963 Interview With Malcolm X CSPAN March 1, 2015 11:10am-11:52am EST
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>> today in our discussion of minority groups, we have with us to guests. one is minister malcolm x, one of the top leaders of the nation of islam or block muslins, and we have mr. herman blake, one of the teaching assistants in the course. we will discuss today some of the goals and some of the strategies of the nation's islam -- nation of islam. i wonder if mr. blake might start off by asking mr. shbaz a question. >> minister malcolm, i the think
i thought might be good to starting it off talk about one of most pervasive beliefs in the general society about the nation of islam and that is that it is an organization dedicated to the use of violent means to attain its goals. the question i have is how true is this, and why do you think it persists in society? >> well, the muslims who have accepted the religion of islam and followed the religious guidance of the honorable elijah mohammed have never bombed any churches, have never murdered any little girls, as done was done in birmingham, have never lynched anybody, have never at any time been guilty of initiating any aggressive acts of violence during the entire 33 years or more that the honorable elijah mohammed has been teaching us. the charge of violence against
us actually stems from the guilt complex that exists in the conscious and subconscious minds of most white people in this country. they know that they have been violent in their brutality against negros and they feel that some day the negros is going to wake up and try and do unto as them as they -- do unto the whites as the whites have done unto us. we aren't a violent group. we are taught by the honorable elijah mohammed to obey the law, to respect everyone who respects us. we're taught to display courtesy, to be polite. but we're also taught that at any time anyone in any way inflicts or seeks to inflict violence upon us, we are within our religious rights to retaliate in self-defense to the maximum degree of our ability.
we never initiate any violence upon anyone but if anyone attacks us, we reserve the right to defend ourselves, so to accuse us of being violent is like accusing a man who is being lynched, who is being hung on a tree, simply because he struggles vigorously against his lyncher, the victim is accused of violence, but the lyncher is never accused of violence and i only point this out because the various racist groups that are set up in this country by whites and who have actually practiced violence against blacks for 400 years are never associated or identified or made synonomous with the term violence, but whites speak of muslims almost
synonomously with violence. whenever muslims is mentioned by them, violence is brought up but it's not connected with any other group. this is sort of a propaganda tactic or what i would call psychological warfare to in some way make the image of the muslims in this country be a violent image rather than a religious image. >> i would like to ask a question in that regard. what's interesting is that members of the nation of islam have not used violence even when black americans were attacked. how do you account for this? does this in in way contradict some of the basic premises of your movement? >> i don't know how you mean. >> well, you maintain, for example, that you will not or that you should not use violence
unless you are attacked by the white man, and i think we can note in the last several years certainly dozens and dozens and dozens of instances in which negros have been attacked, killed in some instances. >> you mean in these demonstrations? >> in the demonstrations and bombings, recently in birmingham where they killed 4 little negro girls. what is interesting to me, the nation of islam hasn't done anything to retaliate. >> i think you should be happy. >> does your lack of action contradict your principles? >> no, i will explain it. you should be happy that muslims who follow the honorable elijah mohammed don't believe in any form of integration and believe that every mention of integration by whites whether it be mouth of kennedy or the lowest white liberal in the street who is beatnik-like involving himself in these
integration efforts, if we believed in it, we would integrate and we would fight anybody who got in our way or made any effort whatsoever to stop us from integrating. if we really believed that the law of the land, the supreme court and other so-called judicial bodies were for real, when they talked about integration, we would integrate and knowing that the law was on our side and any effort that we made toward integration, why we would know the law should be on our side if it's the law of the land. if it's the law of the land, then the demonstrators are within the law, and the discriminators are against the law. but to show you the hypocrisy of the law, when negros demonstrate for integration instead of arresting the discriminators the law arrests the demonstrators, so this is a
foolish move on the part of negros. and when you foolishly get yourself involved with an enemy then whatever comes upon you that's your business. as muslims we believe that separation is the best way and the only sensible way, not integration, and -- but on the other hand, when we see our people being brutalized by white bigots, white racists, we think they are foolish to do nothing whatsoever to protect themselves. they are foolish. they should have the right to defend themselves against any attack made against them by anyone. if a dog is biting a black man the black man should kill the dog. whether the dog is a police dog or hound dog or any kind of dog. if a dog is siced on a black man when that black man is doing nothing but taking advantage of what the government says is
supposed to be his, the black man should kill the dog. or any two-legged dog. >> should other black men help that particular black person who was attacked? >> i think you'll find, sir there will come a time when black people wake up and become intellectual and independent enough to think for themselves as other humans are intellectually independent to think for themselves. then the black man will think like a black man and he will feel for other black people and this new thinking and feeling will cause black people to stick together. and then at that point you'll have a situation where when you attack one black man, you are attacking all black men, and this type of black thinking will cause all black people to stick together. and this type of thinking also will bring an end to the
brutality inflicted upon black people by white people. and it is the only thing that will bring an end to it. no federal court, state court, or city court will bring an end to it. it's something that the black man has to bring an end to himself. >> minister malcolm, let me, on the basis of your two remarks ask a double pronged question. one, is it then your assertion that the laws with respect to how negros are supposed to have equal opportunity and equal rights in this country are not meaningful or believed by whites and secondly, what then is your opinion and attitude toward the civil rights movement in general, and particularly, the reverend martin luther king and his philosophy of nonviolent direct action?
>> if the white people really passed meaningful laws, it would not be necessary to pass any more laws. there are already enough laws on the law books to protect an american citizen. you only need additional laws when you are dealing with someone who is not regarded as an american citizen. whites are so hypocritical, they don't want to admit that this black man is not a citizen, so they classify him as a second class citizen to get around making him a real citizen. if he was a real citizen, you will need no more laws or civil rights legislation. ? when you have civil rights, you have citizenship. it's automatic. white people don't need laws to protect their citizenship because they are citizens, but they want -- they don't want to tell us we're not citizens, and at the same time they don't want
to pass laws that are meaningful enough to protect us as if we were citizens, and the supreme court desegregation decision is the best example i know. that's a law from the supreme court. ten years have gone by. no desegregated schools. it hasn't been implemented beyond, i think, 9% in ten years. this shows you the hypocrisy of the american white man. they talk out of both sides of their mouth. for this reason, as muslims, we don't believe that black people will ever get any laws, get any problem with laws being passed or new persons being put in office, white liberals being put in office. there is nothing that the white man will ever do to bring about true, sincere, citizenship or civil rights recognition for black people in this country. nothing will they ever do. they will always talk it but they won't practice it, and with the supreme court, if the naacp
can tell me they want a desegregation decision for me ten years ago, but yet the schools have not been desegregated, as i say, this is a victory with no victory. it's a victory that you can talk about, but it's a victory that you can't show me. so if you represent the naacp and you are telling me about is this great victory you won for me, when i look at you, i have to conclude that either you have been duped yourself or else you are trying to dupe me and in most instances where the civil rights struggle is involved, there is no civil rights leader can point to me one concrete gain, practical gain that black people have made in the civil rights field in this country not only during the past ten years but during the past 100 years. >> now, the other part was with respect to to mr. king and the nonviolent direct action. >> well, i would let jimmy baldwin and john kilns and lou lomax, the writers, answer that.
speaking right after this church was bombed in birmingham christian church, by christians, too, mind you. these four little girls were murdered. the negro writers and actors had a meeting at the town hall in new york. it was pointed out the killings had raised doubts about the intelligence of nonviolence in the civil rights struggle. he went on to declare that he could no longer be asked to love those who persecuted and killed negros. he also, and the writer, mr. henler, who is describing this says, that it was not clear to his audience, it was clear rather to his audience that he was breaking with the doctrine of the reverend martin luther
king's philosophy that as christians negros should love their fellow man in a truly religious sense. now, james baldwin speaking on that same platform said, i was present during this entire is affair, asserted that the american people shared a collective guilt for the persecution of negros much as germans did because of their silence during the nazi persecution. he denounced president kennedy for a lack of passion during the civil rights struggle. mr. baldwin said there could no longer be a republican party for the negro people as long as it listed a barry goldwater nor a democratic party as long as it listed senator eastland for the negro people. he asserted that the federal government acted swiftly and energetically -- that unless the government acts, future slaughter would make birmingham look like a dress rehearsal.
what do i think about king's attitude? king's right-hand man, wyatt walker, at king's convention according to the "new york times" on september 26th said we "have been duped. meaning these persons involved in the civil rights struggle of which king is the symbolic leader. his right-hand man says, we have been duped or duped ourselves into believing that the chains have been broken, when in truth we have only been chained more securely. half freedom in many instances has been worse than no freedom at all." don't ask me what i think about their struggle. i can tell you what they think about their struggle and they are pointing out that it is becoming more difficult every day for the civil rights leaders to keep the masses of black people nonviolent and long suffering and patient and keep them from becoming disenchanted. i hope that answers your question. >> well, now, there's a new party which is started on the east coast called the freedom
now party, an all-black organization. would you comment upon this and also upon the possibility that the nation of islam might begin to turn some of its attention to the political arena in view of the fact that it is in the political arena that negros have not been able to in any way get justice as has been pointed out in your previous statement? >> i'm not familiar with the freedom now party. i'm not too familiar with politics period, only in the sense that white politicians have usually been very hypocritical where the so-called negros are concerned, so i'm a bit disenchanted with politicians and politics. the honorable elijah mohammed is a religious man and his teachings are religious and his solutions are religious. the freedom now party from what i understand is headed by a man named -- a lawyer named conrad lynn. i know him. he probably means well. before passing an opinion on what it is he's trying to do, i
would like to analyze it and see who is subsidizing him, who his friends are, especially who his white friends are, and after a careful analysis, if i could conclude that there was no white support, i would be inclined to have confidence in it, but if i saw him leaning too heavily upon his white liberal friends for support, then i would be suspicious of that, too. the muslims in my opinion represent an all black party and the honorable elijah mohammed pointed out before 10,000 in philadelphia on september 29th at a rally that we were having that in 1964, the black people should ban together and do something about electing -- selecting and electing representatives, black representatives politically who
have the rights and the best interests of the black people at heart and that we should also unite together and sweep out of office all the black political puppets who are used by the white power structure to continue white supremacy in our communities. >> in that regard, would you include congressman dawson, for example, from chicago and some of the people who represented him on the chicago city council? >> in which regard? >> in the area of acting as a puppet. >> i don't know what mr. mohammed's opinion is of congressman dawson. they both live right there in the city of chicago together. i don't know what his opinion is of congressman dawson. i'm suspicious of any negro, be he politician, clergyman, or
civic man. my tendency is to lean towards, who is constantly patted on the back by whites. i have a tendency to lead toward the negro politician who is condemned by the white power structure. this is my thought pattern. i am giving you an insight of it. >> you mentioned mr. lynn and you said you would like to know who his white friends are. now, i'm wondering if you didn't make a comforting trace statement in muslim terms by using white and friend in the same phrase. >> i used friend in quotes. >> in other words, a black man cannot have a white man as a friend? >> he has a white man who is friendly, but being friendly and being a friend, i think, are two different things. i think there are many whites who act friendly toward negros. a fox acts friendly toward the lamb, and usually the fox is the one who ends up with the lamb chop on his plate. the wolf doesn't act friendly and therefore the wolf has more difficulty in getting the lamb chop in his plate. >> i would like to point out though -- >> i say that though, because it is usually, if you study the
structure of the negro community, it's controlled by the white liberal who usually poses as the friend of the negro who actually differs from the white conservative in the same way the fox differs from the wolf. their appetites and motives are the same. only their mannerisms and methods differ. >> i would agree that no doubt there have been a large number of whites who have posed as liberals and that friends of the negro and who time and time again betrayed the negro. on the other hand, one could point to a large number of whites who have struggled for equality and civil rights and got little or nothing out of it other than quite a few bruises. >> give me an example. >> the large number of white students who went into the south
working for sncc and other organizations. >> not working for sncc but working for the white political machines who benefit from the voting efforts of negroes. >> ok. i'll be more specific. i would cite herbert hill as an example of the kind of person who has championed negro job rights in new york city and elsewhere the he has fought the political machine -- >> the first time i met herbert hill personally was when they were picketing to stop work on the harlem hospital. negroes for 10 years had to fight the city to get an annex built on the hospital because in harlem we need a hospital more than anything else. our people are sick, plus we do a lot of cutting and shooting of each other, though we profess to be nonviolent. herbert hill brought his forces out and stopped the work on that site. this is the first time i ever saw him. when work was brought to a halt
on a hospital in harlem. the same negroes tried to stop the work at the down state medical center in brooklyn which is predominantly white. they were out there three months during the summer, couldn't stop anything and i never saw herbert hill out there one time. now whenever it takes a stoppage of something that's going to affect the white man, you find the white liberal absent. but when it involves something that primarily will affect the best interests of black people and black people only, then that white liberal is present. herbert hill is labor secretary of the naacp and if he were interested in black people he would prepare a black man with the type of knowledge that would enable a black man to sit in the same position in the naacp. i'm suspicious of white liberals who always have be to be top in negro organizations. whites who really have the
interests of blacks at heart let them give advice on the sidelines, but don't join the organization and then get at the head of it and pose as a friend of negroes. >> well, i would defend his sincerity. and his commitment, and more than that, i would say that just because a person is a negro or a black american does not mean he's going to struggle for negro rights or for jobs or anything else. i think today you could point to a large number of negro leaders who have consistently betrayed negroes in a whole host of areas. >> they aren't really negro leaders. these are puppets put in front of the community by white liberals. these are parrots who have been put in front of the negro community by white liberals. you can't name me a negro leader who has betrayed negroes who has
not been endorsed, sanctioned, subsidized, and supported by the white liberals. >> minister malcolm, i would like to -- well, one example congressman dawson in chicago. in chicago, a large number of liberals in the hyde park district have consistently fought dawson and his betrayals of the negro and fought him on the chicago city council. >> the only negro politician i know who is constantly fought by white liberals is adam clayton powell, and they call him a racist because he speaks so bluntly on the race issue. but as i said, i'm not too familiar with dawson and his work. >> let me return to the nation of islam per se, minister, by raising a question which struck me as a result of reading some of baldwin's work. baldwin pointed out that in harlem for many years he had passed the street corners and soap boxes and heard people speaking from these platforms who were known as black nationalists and nobody was listening. he said all of a sudden he
realized that people were beginning to listen to the muslim speakers on the street corners in harlem. the message essentially was the same, but it was that now many many people were listening to what this message was and you pointed out that the nation of islam has been in the picture for about 33 years. what is it, in your judgment that has caused this tremendous amount of support that the nation of islam has garnered in the negro community in, say, the last 10 years? >> when you put a seed in the soil, it remains beneath the soil until the season changes. and when the season changes, the seasonal change automatically brings about, rather atmospheric conditions bring about a seasonal change that makes that seed come up or crop grow in its appointed time. and all over this world today,
god himself has brought about political changes, a political atmosphere, sociological atmosphere, social atmosphere, economic atmosphere, these economic and political conditions and social conditions combine to bring about a situation that is making black people in america more receptive, their minds more fertile for the seed of truth that the honorable elijah muhammad has been planting for 30-some years. this is springing up today and causing our people to see and understand now what they couldn't see and understand before. >> what is the nature of the situation which is making black people more receptive? >> well, in the past, say, 15 years, how the nations have emerged, dark nations have emerged in africa. prior to 10 years ago most negroes associated or identified
africa with a savage, jungle-like place and whenever you mentioned the word african in their mind's eye they could see the image of someone running around with a spear, with no language who would be in a , jungle running from lions or chasing lions. but then when, after the war when the united nations was set up in new york city, black people began to look at men like nkruma, men like lumumba, men like nasser, they began to see these men who could exchange intellectually with whites on an international level and in a political forum and hold their own. this made the black people in this country realize that what the honorable elijah muhammad had been teaching all the time actually had substance and they began to turn it over in their mind and see that what he was saying had more weight than what
the other negroes were saying and they began to identify themselves with the black world and black struggle more closely than the so-called white world. >> let me ask you, a question a question with respect to a statement which is quoted as being on a bulletin board in the university of islam in chicago by the honorable elijah muhammad. according to it, mr. muhammad states, up, you mighty race. you can accomplish what you will. build your future on these foundations, freedom, justice, and equality. what is the definition of freedom, justice, and equality for the black man? and where and when is it to be obtained? >> take equality first. the honorable elijah muhammad
doesn't teach us to associate equality with whites. equality has nothing to do with whites. we don't want to be equal with the white man. he is not the criteria or yardstick by which equality is measured. he's not in a position to tell us we are equal. it's not his right. it is not his to do. we want equality. we had equality before the white man was created. we had equality before the white man came into existence and we want equality whether the white man is on this earth or be. equality means the opportunity to develop all our dormant potential, all of our dormant capabilities and in developing this dormant capability, the right and the ability to stand on this earth on some land of our own and bring about a civilization and a society in which we will be completely
independent, complete freedom, to take care of the needs, to take care of the wants and the likes and dislikes of our people, to establish our own nation, our own society, our own heaven, our own future, this is what we mean by freedom, by equality. and justice means, as you sow, so shall you reap. if you do wrong, you will get wrong in return, and if you do right, you will get right in return. when you are in your own nation and own land, you are in a position to get justice. but when you are in another man's country in another man's land and under another man's flag and another man's government and under another man's court system, you have to look to that other man for justice, and you will never get it. negros in this country are probably authorities on that. >> to what extent does this formulation follow that proposed
by zionists? many zionists maintain they could never expect justice in the courts from other countries in eastern europe and so on and decided it would be wise to establish a separate state in israel. >> and all the world powers got together, the white world powers i should say, got together and helped all these white jews to establish a separate state in the heart of a dark-skinned people's territory, and if white people can get together and let other whites, help other whites to establish an independent nation right in the midst of dark-skinned people and then we don't see where white people should be so much against the honorable elijah muhammad's solution not of the setting of an independent dark nation in white people's property, but he's asking for the opportunity to set up an independent nation
on our own continent. let us leave america and go back home among our own people and set up our own independent society. all he says is this government which made us slaves should supply the transportation to get back home and give us the tools and machinery and tools to set up the system to feed and clothe our own people. our own economy. in some way become an independent people. this is intelligent. and zionists should never criticize us. >> you say then that the united states is not the black man's country? >> definitely not. no. >> american laws are not the black man's laws? >> the laws here in america were made by white people for the benefit of white people. the constitution was written by whites for the benefit of whites. it was never written for the benefit of blacks. when you read the constitution i think article article i, section 1 or article 2, they
classify black people as 3/5 of a man, subhuman. less than a human being. it relegates us to the level of cattle, hogs, chickens, cows, a commodity that could be bought and sold at the will of the master. no. it was written by whites for the benefit of whites and to the detriment of blacks, and when a black man stands up talking about his constitutional rights, he's out of his mind. >> minister malcolm, in our textbooks, which the students have red read supposedly, there is a statement, a quote to the effect that the nation of islam does not have a great deal of support in the negro community in this country by and large, and a recent national poll of american negroes found that leaders and rank and file cacording to their statistics,
according to their statistics, supported the reverend martin luther king, somewhere over 90% whereas the support and favorable rating they give minister muhammad was less than 20% and somewhere around 45% of them gave an unfavorable rating to mr. muhammad. what would your response be in terms of baldwin's statement that this is a growing thing and the kinds of evidence we have that there is much to it? >> well, that statement i made concerning the constitution, it's article i, section 2 in the constitution where it classifies us as chattel. baldwin did point out that mr. mohamed has grass-roots support and is the only one who operates or functions on a mass vehicle -- i think baldwin told dr. kenneth clark that martin luther king is at the end of his rope. concerning the poll taken by "newsweek" magazine, i think he said it's the leaders who went
with king and gave mr. muhammad around 90%. i just told you a while ago, these so-called leaders included lena horne, dick gregory comedians, comics, trumpet players, baseball players. show me in the white community where a comedian is a white leader or a singer or dancer or a trumpet player is a white leader. these aren't leaders. these are puppets and clowns that have been set up over the white community, or over the black community by the white community and has been made celebrities and usually say exactly what they know the white man wants to hear and it is an honor, actually that they endorse dr. martin luther king and were against the honorable elijah muhammad. that's actually an honor. now, when you say they also in the same "newsweek" poll, i
think the pollsters say he went into the negro community and asked about the muslims and many negroes whom he asked said i never heard of the muslims, who are they? >> this is the rank and file? >> now, when they got down to the rank-and-file, these were the answers they got. this is the equivalent, the situation in kenya during the mau-mau uprising when many frightened whites in kenya africa would go among the africans and ask them, what about the mau-mau and the african would say, "i never heard of them." the same white man who would ask the african this question and very naively believe what the african said, when he went to bed that night he would lose his head and usually the one who took his head was the same one who in the afternoon said they never heard of the mau-mau. >> except in the polls they used negro interviewers. >> you will find negroes are as much on guard around negro interviewers, who usually represent the bourgeois element
of negroes as they are on guard around whites. they know whether this negro walks through the door he's not doing something he initiated himself, but he's involved in something in which the white man is the absolute author of and he has sent him to the negro community for some information . and when they give him that information, and usually they give him the information they want him to take back to the white man because that's who he's going to take it back to. >> our time is just about up minister malcolm. perhaps you could summarize and conclude by giving us in your opinion or the opinion of mr. elijah muhammad what would be the ideal solution to the racial problem in the united states today? >> well, on thursday, october 3, the new york tribune in an editorial pointed out in boston, in an article called "the civil rights iceberg," they pointed
out how kennedy had realized that beneath the water of civil rights, the whole problem was political suicide, because in his own home town the head of the board of education, a woman named mrs. hicks, was running against the naacp philosophy and she swept aside all opposition. the whole white community supported her in opposition to the naacp's desire for integrated schools and housing and otherwise. i say that to say this. even the jewish community, which is supposed to be pro liberal, went against the naacp, or against integration in practice. but they're for it in principle. so the only solution is separation and the honorable elijah muhammad says this can be brought about simply by allowing our people to be exposed to the truth about ourselves, about the white man and our condition in this country and once we are
exposed to the complete truth about things as they actually exist in this country, the masses of black people will choose complete separation from this entire system, economic system, political system whatever other adjective you want to attach to it. let us go back home to our own people, live among our own kind and solve their own problems ourselves. if the white man doesn't want us to, since we can't get along together in peace in this country with white people, let us separate. let the government give us everything we need establish our own independent economic system in society and thereby we'll be able to solve our own problems ourselves and we'll be able to prove we're part of the human family and do for ourselves what other humans have done for themselves and then we'll be able to stop blaming the white man for what he has done and stop begging the white man to solve our problems, we'll be able to solve our problems ourselves. >> thank you very much. that's it.
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