The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X & Alex Haley

Truth does not change, only our awareness of it.
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So early in life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.
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It seemed that everything to eat in our house was stamped Not To Be Sold. All Welfare food bore this stamp to keep the recipients from selling it. It’s a wonder we didn’t come to think of Not To Be Sold as a brand name.
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“Malcolm,there’s one thing I like about you. You’re no good, but you don’t try to hide it. You are not a hypocrite.”
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if you see somebody winning all the time, he isn’t gambling, he’s cheating.
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As bad as I was, as much trouble and worry as I caused my mother, I loved her.
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Negro men and women in America who are brainwashed into believing that the black people are “inferior”-and white people“superior”-that they will even violate and mutilate their God-created bodies to try to look “pretty” by white standards.
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They’re all more ridiculous than a slapstick comedy. It makes you wonder if the Negro has completely lost his sense of identity, lost touch with himself.
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Never ask a woman about other men. Either she’ll tell you a lie, and you still won’t know, or if she tells you the truth, you might not have wanted to hear it in the first place.
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We were in that world of Negroes who are both servants and psychologists, aware that white people are so obsessed with their own importance that they will pay liberally, even dearly, for the impression of being catered to and entertained.
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I was really a clown, but my ignorance made me think I was “sharp.”
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Between the way I looked and my style of talk, I made her so nervous and uncomfortable that we were both glad when I left.
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Today, all these same immigrants’ descendants are running as hard as they can to escape the descendants of the Negroes who helped to unload the immigrant ships.
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“Bad-looking women work harder.”
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Later on, it was chiefly the women who weren’t prostitutes who taught me to be very distrustful of most women; there seemed to be a higher code of ethics and sisterliness among those prostitutes than among numerous ladies of the church who have more men for kicks than the prostitutes have for pay.
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Many of the black ones in those wartime days were right in step with the white ones in having husbands fighting overseas while they were laying up with other men, even giving them their husbands’ money.
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And many women just faked as mothers and wives, while playing the field as hand as prostitutes-with their husbands and children right there in New York.
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Domineering, complaining, demanding wives who had just about psychologically castrated their husbands were responsible for the early rush. These wives were so disagreeable and had made their men so tense that they were robbed of the satisfaction of being men. To escape this tension and the chance of being ridiculed by his own wife, each of these men had gotten up early and come to a prostitute.
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The prostitutes had to make it their business to be students of men. They said that after most men passed their virile twenties, they went to bed mainly to satisfy their egos, and because a lot of women don’t understand it that way, they damage and wreck a man’s ego. No matter how little virility a man has to offer, prostitutes make him feel for a time that he is the greatest man in the world. That’s why these prostitutes had that morning rush of business. More wives could keep their husbands if they realized their greatest urge is _to be men_.
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That was my earliest experience at steering.
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I had learned: that in order to get something you had to look as though you already had something.
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the piano for Billie Holiday singing the blues.
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more sense than a lot of working hustlers
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growing operation by offering me a steerer’s
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or raincoat, with a white flower in his lapel.
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I have also read recently about groups of young white couples who gettogether, the husbands throw their house keys into a hat, then, blindfolded, the husbands draw out a key and spend the night with the wife that the house key matches. I have never heard of anything like that being done by Negroes, even Negroes who live in the worst ghettoes and alleys and gutters.
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Sophia always had given me money. Even when I had hundreds of dollars in my pocket, when she came to Harlem I would take everything she had short of her train fare back to Boston. It seems that some women love to be exploited. When they are not exploited, they exploit the man.
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A white woman might blow up at her husband and scream and yell and call him every name she can think of, and say the most vicious things in an effort to hurt him, and talk about his mother and his grandmother, too, but one thing she never will tell him herself is that she is going with a black man. That’s one automatic red murder flag to the white man, and his woman knows it.
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For that matter, all the thousands of dollars I’d handled, and _I_ had nothing. Just satisfying my cocaine habit alone cost me about twenty dollars a day. I guess another five dollars a day could have been added for reefers and plain tobacco cigarettes that I smoked; besides getting high on drugs, I chain-smoked as many as four packs a day. And, if you ask me today, I’ll tell you that tobacco, in all its forms, is just as much an addiction as any narcotic.
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Just as in New York, these were the rich, the highest society-the predominantly old men, past the age of ability to conduct any kind of ordinary sex, always hunting for new ways to be “sensitive.”
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Once a week, Rudy went to the home of this old, rich Boston blueblood, pillar-of-society aristocrat. He paid Rudy to undress them both, then pick up the old man like a baby, lay him on his bed, then stand over him and sprinkle him all over with _talcum powder_, Rudy said the old man would actually reach his climax from that.
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Rudy, I remember, spoke of one old white man who paid a black couple to let him watch them have intercourse on his bed.
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It is also important to select an area of burglary and stick to that. There are specific specialties among burglars. Some work apartments only, others houses only, others stores only, or warehouses; still others will go after only safes or strongboxes.
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trying to dispose of the loot. Finding the fence
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I can give you a very good tip if you want to keep burglars out of your house. A light on for the burglar to see is the very best single means of protection. One of the ideal things is to leave a bathroom light on all night. The bathroom is one place where somebody could be, for any length of time, at any time of the night, and he would be likely to hear the slightest strange sound. The burglar, knowing this, won’t try to enter. ‘It’s also the cheapest possible protection. The kilowatts are a lot cheaper than your valuables.
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Sometimes the victims were in their beds asleep. That may sound very daring. Actually, it was almost easy. The first thing we had to do when people were in the house was to wait, very still, and pick up the sounds of breathing. Snorers we loved; they made it real easy. In stockinged feet, we’d go right into the bedrooms. Moving swiftly, like shadows, we would lift clothes, watches, wallets, handbags, and jewelry boxes.
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Gullible women often took the girls all over their houses, just to hear them exclaiming over the finery. With the help of the girls’ drawings and a finger-beam searchlight, we went straight to the things we wanted.
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The Christmas season was Santa Claus for us; people had expensive presents lying all over their houses. And they had taken more cash than usual out of their banks.
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If the shades were drawn full, and no lights wereon, and there was no answer when one of the girls rang the bell, we would take the chance and go in.
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whites I didn’t know had killed my
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A celebrity among the Norfolk Prison Colony inmates was a rich, older fellow, a paralytic, called John. He had killed his baby, one of those “mercy” killings. He was a proud, big-shot type, always reminding everyone that he was a 33rd-degree Mason, and what powers Masons had-that only Masons ever had been U. S. Presidents, that Masons in distress could secretly signal to judges and other Masons in powerful positions.
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He said that God had 360 degrees of knowledge. He said that 360 degrees represented “the sum total of knowledge.”
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“The devil has only thirty-three degrees of knowledge-known as Masonry,”
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“The devil uses his Masonry to rule other people.”
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But for me, the answer was that Masonry, actually, is only thirty- three degrees of the religion of Islam, which is the full projection, forever denied to Masons, although they know it exists.
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“The true knowledge,” reconstructed much more briefly than I received it, was that history had been “whitened” in the white man’s history books, and thatthe black man had been “brainwashed for hundreds of years.” Original Man was black, in the continent called Africa where the human race had emerged on the planet Earth.
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In one generation, the black slave women in America had been raped by the slavemaster white man until there had begun to emerge a homemade, handmade, brainwashed race that was no longer even of its true color, that no longer even knew its true family names. The slavemaster forced his family name upon this rape-mixed race, which the slavemaster began to call “the Negro.”
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And where the religion of every other people on earth taught its believers of aGod with whom they could identify, a God who at least looked like one of their own kind, the slavemaster injected his Christian religion into this “Negro.” This “Negro” was taught to worship an alien God having the same blond hair, pale skin, and blue eyes as the slavemaster.
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This religion taught the “Negro” that black was a curse. It taught him to hate everything black, including himself. It taught him that everything white was good, to be admired, respected, and loved. It brainwashed this “Negro” to think he was superior if his complexion showed more of the white pollution of the slavemaster. This white man’s Christian religion further deceived and brainwashed this “Negro” to always turn the other cheek, and grin, and scrape, and bow, and be humble, and to sing, and to pray, and to take whatever was dished out by the devilish white man; and to look for his pie in the sky, and for his heaven in the hereafter, while right here on earth the slave-master white man enjoyed _his_ heaven.
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And she told me that key lesson of Mr. Elijah Muhammad’s teachings, which I later learned was the demonology that every religion has, called “Yacub’s History.” Elijah Muhammad teaches his followers that, first, the moon separated from the earth. Then, the first humans, Original Man, were a black people. They founded the Holy City Mecca. Among this black race were twenty-four wise scientists. One of the scientists, at odds with the rest, created the especially strong black tribe of Shabazz, from which America’s Negroes, so- called, descend. About sixty-six hundred years ago, when seventy per cent of the people were satisfied, and thirty per cent were dissatisfied, among the dissatisfied was born a “Mr. Yacub.” He was born to create trouble, to break the peace, and to kill. His head was unusually large. When he was four years old, he began school. At the age of eighteen, Yacub had finished all of his nation’s colleges and universities. He was known as “the big-head scientist.” Among many other things, he had learned how to breed races scientifically. This big-head scientist, Mr. Yacub, began preaching in the streets of Mecca, making such hosts of converts that the authorities, increasingly concerned, finally exiled him with 59, 999 followers to the island of Patmos-described in the Bible as the island where John received the message contained in Revelations in the New Testament. Though he was a black man, Mr. Yacub, embittered toward Allah now, decided, as revenge, to create upon the earth a devil race-a bleached-out, white race of people. From his studies, the big-head scientist knew that black men contained two germs, black and brown. He knew that the brown germ stayed dormant as, being the lighter of the two germs, it was the weaker. Mr. Yacub, to upset the law of nature, conceived the idea of employing what we today know as the recessive genes structure, to separate from each other the two germs, black and brown, and then grafting the brown germ to progressively lighter, weaker stages. The humans resulting, he knew, would be, as they became lighter, and weaker, progressively also more susceptible to wickedness and evil. And in this way finally he would achieve the intended bleached-out white race of devils. He knew that it would take him several total color-change stages to get from black to white. Mr. Yacub began his work by setting up a eugenics law on the island of Patmos. Among Mr. Yacub’s 59, 999 all-black followers, every third or so child that was born would show some trace of brown. As these became adult, only brown and brown, or black and brown, were permitted to marry. As their children were born, Mr. Yacub’s law dictated that, if a black child, the attending nurse, or midwife, should stick a needle into its brain and give the body to cremators. The mothers were told it had been an “angel baby,” which had gone to heaven, to prepare a place for her. But a brown child’s mother was told to take very good care of it. Others, assistants, were trained by Mr. Yacub to continue his objective. Mr. Yacub, when he died on the island at the age of one hundred and fifty-two, had left laws, and rules, for them to follow. According to the teachings of Mr. Elijah Muhammad, Mr. Yacub, except in his mind, never saw the bleached-out devil race that his procedures and laws and rules created. A two-hundred-year span was needed to eliminate on the island of Patmos allof the black people- until only brown people remained. The next two hundred years were needed to create from the brown race the red race-with no more browns left on the island. In another two hundred years, from the red race was created the yellow race. Two hundred years later-the white race had at last been created. On the island of Patmos was nothing but these blond, pale-skinned, cold-blue-eyed devils- savages, nude and shameless; hairy, like animals, they walked on all fours and they lived in trees. Six hundred more years passed before this race of people returned to the mainland, among the natural black people.
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Mr. Elijah Muhammad teaches his followers that within six months’ time, through telling lies that set the black men fighting among each other, this devil race had turned what had been a peaceful heaven on earth into a hell torn by quarreling and fighting. But finally the original black people recognized that their sudden troubles stemmed from this devil white race that Mr. Yacub had made. They rounded them up, put them in chains. With little aprons to cover their nakedness, this devil race was marched off across the Arabian desert to the caves of Europe. The lambskin and the cable-tow used in Masonry today are symbolic of how the nakedness of the white man was covered when he was chained and driven across the hot sand. Mr. Elijah Muhammad further teaches that the white devil race in Europe’scaves was savage. The animals tried to kill him. He climbed trees outside his cave, made clubs, trying to protect his family from the wild beasts outside trying to get in. When this devil race had spent two thousand years in the caves, Allah raised up Moses to civilize them, and bring them out of the caves. It was written that this devil white race would rule the world for six thousand years. The Books of Moses are missing. That’s why it is not known that he was in the caves. When Moses arrived, the first of these devils to accept his teachings, the first he led out, were those we call today the Jews. According to the teachings of this “Yacub’s History,” when the Bible says “Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” that serpent is symbolic of the devil white race Moses lifted up out of the caves of Europe, teaching them civilization. It was written that after Yacub’s bleached white race had ruled the world for six thousand years- down to our time-the black original race would give birth to one whose wisdom, knowledge, and power would be infinite. It was written that some of the original black people should be brought as slaves to North America-to learn to better understand, at first hand, the white devil’s true nature, in modem times. Elijah Muhammad teaches that the greatest and mightiest God who appeared on the earth was Master W. D. Fard. He came from the East to the West, appearing in North America at a time when the history and the prophecy that is written was coming to realization, as the non-white people all over the worldbegan to rise, and as the devil white civilization, condemned by Allah, was, through its devilish nature, destroying itself. Master W. D. Fard was half black and half white. He was made in this way to enable him to be accepted by the black people in America, and to lead them, while at the same time he was enabled to move undiscovered among the white people, so that he could understand and judge the enemy of the blacks. Master W. D. Fard, in 1931, posing as a seller of silks, met, in Detroit, Michigan, Elijah Muhammad. Master W. D. Fard gave to Elijah Muhammad Allah’s message, and Allah’s divine guidance, to save the Lost-Found Nation of Islam, the so-called Negroes, here in “this wilderness of North America.”
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I was to learn later that Elijah Muhammad’s tales, like this one of “Yacub,” infuriated the Muslims of the East. While at Mecca, I reminded them that it was their fault, since they themselves hadn’t done enough to make real Islam known in the West. Their silence left a vacuum into which any religious faker could step and mislead our people.
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I read how, entering India-half a _billion_ deeply religious brown people-the British white man, by 1759, through promises, trickery and manipulations, controlled much of India through Great Britain’s East India Company. The parasitical British administration kept tentacling out to half of the subcontinent. In 1857, some of the desperate people of India finally mutinied-and, excepting the African slave trade, nowhere has history recorded any more unnecessary bestial and ruthless human carnage than the British suppression of the non-white Indian people.
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Over 115 million African blacks-close to the 1930’s population of the United States-were murdered or enslaved during the slave trade.
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I listen today to the radio, and watch television, and read the headlines about the collective white man’s fear and tension concerning China. When the white man professes ignorance about why the Chinese hate him so, my mind can’t help flashing back to what I read, there in prison, about how the blood forebears of this same white man raped China at a time when China was trusting and helpless. Those original white “Christian traders” sent into China millions of pounds of opium. By 1839, so many of the Chinese were addicts that China’s desperate government destroyed twenty thousand chests of opium. The first Opium War was promptly declared by the white man. Imagine! Declaring _war_ upon someone who objects to being narcotized! The Chinese were severely beaten, with Chinese-invented gunpowder.
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The Treaty of Nanking made China pay the British white man for the destroyed opium; forced open China’s major ports to British trade; forced China to abandon Hong Kong; fixed China’s import tariffs so low that cheap British articles soon flooded in, maiming China’s industrial development. After a second Opium War, the Tientsin Treaties legalized the ravaging opium trade, legalized a British-French-American control of China’s customs. China tried delaying that Treaty’s ratification; Peking was looted and burned. “Kill the foreign white devils!” was the 1901 Chinese war cry in the Boxer Rebellion. Losing again, this time the Chinese were driven from Peking’s choicest areas. The vicious, arrogant white man put up the famous signs, “Chinese and dogs not allowed.”
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Red China after World War II closed its doors to the Western white world. Massive Chinese agricultural, scientific, and industrial efforts are described in a book that _Life_ magazine recently published. Some observers inside Red China have reported that the world never has known such a hate-white campaign as is now going on in this non-white country where, present birth-rates continuing, in fifty more years Chinese will be half the earth’s population. And it seems that some Chinese chickens will soon come home to roost, with China’s recent successful nuclear tests.
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The Oriental philosophers were the ones I came to prefer; finally, my impression was that most Occidental philosophy had largely been borrowed from the Oriental thinkers. Socrates, for instance, traveled in Egypt. Some sources even say that Socrates was initiated into some of the Egyptian mysteries. Obviously Socrates got some of his wisdom among the East’s wise men.
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My homemade education gave me, with every additional book that I read, a little bit more sensitivity to the deafness, dumbness, and blindness that was afflicting the black race in America.
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How is the black man going to get “civil rights” before first he wins his _human_ rights?
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What makes the black man think of himself as only an internal United States issue is just a catch-phrase, two words, “civil rights.”
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If I weren’t out here every day battling the white man, I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity-because you can hardly mention anything I’m not curious about.
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I don’t think anybody ever got more out of going to prison than I did.
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Schopenhauer, Kant, Nietzsche, naturally, I read all of those. I don’t respect them; I am just trying to remember some of those whose theories I soaked up in those years. These three, it’s said, laid the groundwork on which the Fascist and Nazi philosophy was built. I don’t respect them because it seems to me that most of their time was spent arguing about things that are not really important.They remind me of so many of the Negro “intellectuals,” so-called, with whom I have come in contact-they are always arguing about something useless.
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him because he advocated a pantheistic
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The Jews read their burial services for Spinoza,
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In a debate about whether or not Homer had ever existed, I threw into those white faces the theory that Homer only symbolized how white Europeans kidnapped black Africans, then blinded them so that they could never get back to their own people. (Homer and Omar and Moor, you see, are related terms; it’s like saying Peter, Pedro, and petra, all three of which mean rock. ) These blinded Moors the Europeans taught to sing about the Europeans’ glorious accomplishments. I made it clear that was the devilish white man’s idea of kicks. Aesop’s _Fables_-another case in point. “Aesop” was only the Greek name for an Ethiopian.
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Another hot debate I remember I was in had to do with the identity of Shakespeare. No color was involved there; I just got intrigued over the Shakespearean dilemma. The King James translation of the Bible is considered the greatestpiece of literature in English. Its language supposedly represents the ultimate in using the King’s English. Well, Shakespeare’s language and the Bible’s language are one and the same. They say that from 1604 to 1611, King James got poets to translate, to write the Bible. Well, if Shakespeare existed, he was then the top poet around. But Shakespeare is nowhere reported connected with the Bible. If he existed, why didn’t King James use him? And if he did use him, why is it one of the world’s best kept secrets? I know that many say that Francis Bacon was Shakespeare. If that is true, why would Bacon have kept it secret? Bacon wasn’t royalty, when royalty sometimes used the _nom de plume_ because it was “improper” for royalty to be artistic or theatrical. What would Bacon have had to lose? Bacon, in fact, would have had everything to gain. In the prison debates I argued for the theory that King James himself was the real poet who used the _nom de plume_ Shakespeare. King James was brilliant. He was the greatest king who ever sat on the British throne. Who else among royalty, in his time, would have had the giant talent to write Shakespeare’s works? It was he who poetically “fixed” the Bible-which in itself and its present King James version has enslaved the world.
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I would talk to him about new evidence I found to document the Muslim teachings. In either volume 43 or 44 of The Harvard Classics, I read Milton’s _Paradise Lost_. The devil, kicked out of Paradise, was trying to regain possession. He was using the forces of Europe, personified by the Popes, Charlemagne, Richard the Lionhearted, and other knights. I interpreted this to show that the Europeans were motivated and led by the devil, or the personification of the devil. So Milton and Mr. Elijah Muhammad were actually saying the same thing.
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Conducting the class was a tall, blond, blue-eyed (a perfect “devil”) Harvard Seminary student. He lectured, and then he started in a question-and-answer session. I don’t know which of us had read the Bible more, he or I, but I had to give him credit; he really was heavy on his religion. I puzzled and puzzled for a way to upset him, and to give those Negroes present something to think and talk about and circulate. Finally, I put up my hand; he nodded. He had talked about Paul. I stood up and asked, “What color was Paul?” And I kept talking, with pauses, “He had to be black. . . because he was a Hebrew. . . and the original Hebrews were black. . . weren’t they?” He had started flushing red. You know the way white people do. He said “Yes.” I wasn’t through yet. “What color was Jesus. . . he was Hebrew, too. . . wasn’t he?” Both the Negro and the white convicts had sat bolt upright. I don’t care how tough the convict, be he brainwashed black Christian, or a “devil” white Christian, neither of them is ready to hear anybody saying Jesus wasn’t white. The instructor walked around. He shouldn’t have felt bad. In all of the years since, I never have met any intelligent white man who would try to insist that Jesus was white. How could they? He said, “Jesus was brown.” I let him get away with that compromise.
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“conscientious objector”
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“We will file by now for a last look at our brother. We won’t cry-just as we don’t cry over candy. Just as this sweet candy will dissolve, so will our brother’s sweetness that we have enjoyed when he lived now dissolve into a sweetness in our memories.”
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And for anyone in any kind of a leadership position, such as I was, the worst thing in the world that he could have was the wrong woman. Even Samson, the world’s strongest man, was destroyed by the woman who slept in his arms. She was the one whose words hurt him.
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I mean, I’d had so much experience. I had talked to too many prostitutes and mistresses. They knew more about a whole lot of husbands than the wives of those husbands did. The wives always filled their husbands’ ears so full of wife complaints that it wasn’t the wives, it was the prostitutes and mistresses who heard the husbands’ innermost problems and secrets. They thought of him, and comforted him, and that included listening to him, and so he would tell them everything.
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My feeling about in-laws was that they were outlaws.
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She said, “You are present when you are away.”
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when I’d been out there in the streets as a hustler.
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“For the white man to ask the black man if he hates him is just like the rapist asking the _raped_, or the wolf asking the _sheep_, ‘Do you hate me?’ The white man is in no moral _position_ to accuse anyone else of hate!
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“Why, when all of my ancestors are snake-bitten, and I’m snake-bitten, and I warn my children to avoid snakes, what does that snake sound like accusing _me_ of hate-teaching?”
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“Well, let’s go back to the Greek, and maybe you will learn the first thing you need to know about the word ‘demagogue.’ ‘Demagogue’ means, actually, ‘teacher of the people.’ And let’s examine some demagogues. The greatest of all Greeks, Socrates, was killed as a ‘demagogue.’ Jesus Christ died on the cross because the Pharisees of His day were upholding their law, not the spirit. The modern Pharisees are trying to heap destruction upon Mr. Muhammad, calling him a demagogue, a crackpot, and fanatic. What about Gandhi? The man that Churchill called ‘a naked little fakir,’ refusing food in a British jail? But then a quarter of a billion people, a whole subcontinent, rallied behind Gandhi-and they twisted the British lion’s tail! What about Galileo, standing before his inquisitors, saying ‘The earth _does_ move!’ What about Martin Luther, nailing on a door his thesis against the all-powerful Catholic church which called him ‘heretic’? We, the followers of The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, are today inthe ghettoes as once the sect of Christianity’s followers were like termites in the catacombs and the grottoes-and they were preparing the grave of the mighty Roman Empire!”
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They would unearth Lincoln and his freeing of the slaves. I’d tell them things Lincoln said in speeches, _against_ the blacks.
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The reporters would try their utmost to raise some “good” white man whom I couldn’t refute as such. I’ll never forget how one practically lost his voice. He asked me did I feel _any_ white men had ever done anything for the black man in America. I told him, “Yes, I can think of two. Hitler, and Stalin. The black man in America couldn’t get a decent factory job until Hitler put so much pressure on the white man. And men Stalin kept up the pressure-‘
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You can hardly name a scientific problem he can’t solve. Here he is now solving the problems of sending men exploring into outer space-and returning them safely to earth. But in the arena of dealing with human beings, the white man’s working intelligence is hobbled. His intelligence will fail him altogether if the humans happen to be non-white. The white man’s emotions superseded his intelligence. He will commit against non-whites the most incredible spontaneous emotional acts, so psyche-deep is his “white superiority” complex.
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way-against even the so-called “tokenism.”
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In fact, history’s most tragic result of a mixed, therefore diluted and weakened, ethnic identity has been experienced by a white ethnic group-the Jew in Germany. He had made greater contributions to Germany than Germans themselves had. Jews had won over half of Germany’s Nobel Prizes. Every culture in Germany was led by the Jew; he published the greatest newspaper. Jews were the greatest artists, the greatest poets, composers, stage directors. But those Jews made a fatal mistake-assimilating.
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The Jew never will forget that lesson. Jewish intelligence eyes watch every neo-Nazi organization. Right after the war, the Jews’ Haganah mediating body stepped up the longtime negotiations with the British. But this time, the Stern gang was shooting the British. And this time the British acquiesced and helped them to wrest Palestine away from the Arabs, the rightful owners, and then the Jews set up Israel, their own country-the one thing that every race of man in the world respects, and understands.
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the awesomeness of my reason to revere
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Wallace Muhammad helped me to review the Quran and the Bible for documentation. David’s adultery with Bathsheba weighed less on history’s scales, for instance, than the positive fact of David’s killing Goliath. Thinking of Lot, we think not of incest, but of his saving the people from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Or, our image of Noah isn’t of his getting drunk-but of his building the ark and teaching people to save themselves from the flood. We think of Moses leading the Hebrews from bondage, not of Moses’ adultery with the Ethiopian women. In all of the cases I reviewed, the positive outweighed the negative.
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“I’m David,” he said. “When you read about how David took another man’s wife, I’m that David. You read about Noah, who got drunk-that’s me. You read about Lot, who went and laid up with his own daughters. I have to fulfill all of those things.”
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A judge’s signature on a piece of paper can grant to a couple a physical divorce-but for either of them, or maybe for both of them, if they have been a very close marriage team, to actually become _psychologically_ divorced from each other might take years.
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The thing to meworse than death was the betrayal. I could conceive death. I couldn’t conceive betrayal-not
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The first thing you know traffic was blocked in four directions by a crowd whose mood quickly grew so ugly that I really got apprehensive. I got up on top of a car and began waving my arms and yelling at them to quiet down. They did quiet, and then I asked them to disperse-and they did. This was when it began being said that I was America’s only Negro who “couldstop a race riot-or start one.”
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The black man in North America was spiritually sick because for centuries he had accepted the white man’s Christianity-which asked the black so-called Christian to expect no true Brotherhood of Man, but to endure the cruelties of the white so-called Christians. Christianity had made black men fuzzy, nebulous, confused in their thinking. It had taught the black man to think if he had no shoes, and was hungry, “we gonna get shoes and milk and honey and fish fries in Heaven.”
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For instance, annually, the black man spends over $3 billion for automobiles, but America contains hardly any franchised black automobile dealers. For instance, forty per cent of the expensive imported Scotch whisky consumed in America goes down the throats of the status-sick black man; but the only black-owned distilleries are in bathtubs, or in the woods somewhere. Or for instance-a scandalous shame-in New York City, with over a million Negroes, there aren’t twenty black-owned businesses employing over ten people. It’s because black men don’t own and control their own community’s retail establishments that they can’t stabilize their own community. The black man in North America was sickest of all politically. He let the white man divide him into such foolishness as considering himself a black “Democrat,” a black “Republican,” a black “Conservative,” or a black “Liberal” . . . when a ten-million black vote bloc could be the deciding balance of power in American politics, because the white man’s vote is almost always evenly divided. The polls are one place where every black man could fight the black man’s cause with dignity, and with the power and the tools that the white man understands, and respects, and fears, and cooperates with.
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The farmer, through his lobby, is the most government-subsidized special-interest group in America today, because a millionfarmers vote, not as Democrats, or Republicans, liberals, conservatives, but as farmers.
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U.S. politics is ruled by special-interest blocs and lobbies. What group has a more urgent special interest, what group needs a bloc, a lobby, more than the black man? Labor owns one of Washington’s largest non-government buildings-situated where they can literally watch the White House-and no political move is made that doesn’t involve how Labor feels about it. A lobby got Big Oil its depletion allowance.
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Doctors have the best lobby in Washington. Their special-interest influence successfully fights the Medicare program that’s wanted, and needed, by millions of other people.
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Twenty-two million black men! They have given America four hundred years of toil; they have bled and died in every battle since the Revolution; they were in America before the Pilgrims, and long before the mass immigrations-and they are still today at the bottom of everything!
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I knew that no one would kill you quicker than a Muslim if he felt that’s what Allah wanted him to do.
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“Ella,” I said, “I want to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.” Ella said, “How much do you need?”
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They asked me what about the Hajj had impressed me the most. One of the several who spoke English asked; they translated my answers for the others. My answer to that question was not the one they expected, but it drove home my point. I said, “The _brotherhood_!
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They asked me what about the Hajj had impressed me the most. One of the several who spoke English asked; they translated my answers for the others. My answer to that question was not the one they expected, but it drove home my point. I said, “The _brotherhood_! The people of all races, colors, from all over the world coming together as _one_! It has proved to me the power of the One God.”
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“America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered ‘white’-but the ‘white’ attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen _sincere_ and _true_ brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.
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“The people don’t know what the vote means! It is the job of the enlightened leaders to raise the people’s intellect.”
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“I’ve never _seen_ so many whites so nice to so many blacks as you white people here in Africa. In America, Afro-Americans are struggling for integration. They should come here-to Africa-and see how you grin at Africans. You’ve really got integration here. But can you tell the Africans that in America you grin at the black people? No, you can’t! And you don’t honestly like these Africans any better, either-but what you _do_ like is the _minerals_ Africa has under her soil. . . .”
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“I’m not anti-American, and I didn’t come here to _condemn_ America-I want to make that very clear!” I told them. “I came here to tell the truth-and if the _truth_ condemns America, then she stands condemned!”
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We passengers filed off the plane and toward Customs. When I saw the crowd of fifty or sixty reporters and photographers, I honestly wondered what celebrity I had been on the plane with. But I was the “villain” they had come to meet.
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New York white youth were killing victims; that was a “sociological” problem. But when black youth killed somebody, the power structure was looking to hang somebody. When black men had been lynched or otherwise murdered in cold blood, it was always said, “Things will get better. ”When whites had rifles in their homes, the Constitution gave them the right to protect their home and themselves. But when black people even spoke of having rifles in their homes, that was “ominous.”
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I knew I was back in America again, hearing the subjective, scapegoat- seeking questions of the white man.
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“In the past, yes, I have made sweeping indictments of all white people. I never will be guilty of that again-as I know now that some white people are truly sincere, that some truly are capable of being brotherly toward a black man. The true Islam has shown me that a blanket indictment of all white people is as wrong as when whites make blanket indictments against blacks.
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Many whites are even actually unaware of their own racism, until they face some test, and then their racism emerges in one form or another.
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“Listen! The white man’s racism toward the black man here in America is what has got him in such trouble all over this world, with other non-white peoples.
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And the non-white peoples of the world are sick of the condescending white man!
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On the African continent, even, the white man has maneuvered to divide the black African from the brown Arab, to divide the so-called ‘Christian African’ from the Muslim African.
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“I don’t mind shaking hands with human beings. Are you one?”
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Negroes would not rush to follow me into the orthodox Islam which had given me the insight and perspective to see that the black men and white men truly could be brothers.
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In my thirty-nine years on this earth, the Holy City of Mecca had been the first time I had ever stood before the Creator of All and felt like a complete human being.
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remembered there in the Holy World how I used to lie on the top of Hector’s Hill, and look up at the sky, at the clouds moving over me, and daydream, all kinds of things. And then, in a funny contrast of recollections, I remembered how years later, when I was in prison, I used to lie on my cell bunk-this would be especially when I was in solitary: what we convicts called “The Hole”-and
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I realized how very dangerous it is for people to hold any human being in such esteem, especially to consider anyone some sort of “divinely guided” and “protected” person.
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“I’ve had enough of someone else’s propaganda,”
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“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever andwhatever benefits humanity _as a whole_.”
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“It takes no one to stir up the sociological dynamite that stems from the unemployment, bad housing, and inferior education already in the ghettoes. This explosively criminal condition has existed for so long, it needs no fuse; it fuses itself; it spontaneously combusts from within itself.
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“I _believe_ in anger. The Bible says there is a _time_ for anger.”
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Well, I believe it’s a crime for anyone who is being brutalized to continue to accept that brutality without doing something to defend himself.
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Well, I believe it’s a crime for anyone who is being brutalized to continue to accept that brutality without doing something to defend himself. If that’s how “Christian” philosophy is interpreted, if that’s what Gandhian philosophy teaches, well, then, I will call them criminal philosophies.
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“I _am_ for violence if non-violence means we continue postponing a solution to the American black man’s problem-just to _avoid_ violence. I don’t go for non-violence if it also means a delayed solution. To me a delayed solution is a non-solution.
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If it must take violence to get the black man his human rights in this country, I’m _for_ violence exactly as you know the Irish, the Poles, or Jews would be if they were flagrantly discriminated against. I am just as they would be in that case, and they would be for violence-no matter what the consequences, no matter who was hurt by the violence.”
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When the white man came into this country, he certainly wasn’t demonstrating any “non- violence.”
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During his entire advance through history, he has been waving the banner of Christianity . . . and carrying in his other hand the sword and the flintlock.
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It has brought the non-white two-thirds of the human population to rebellion. Two-thirds of the human population today is telling the one-third minority white man, “Get out!” And the white man is leaving. And as he leaves, we seethe non-white peoples returning in a rush to their original religions, which had been labeled “pagan” by the conquering white man. Only one religion-Islam- had the power to stand and fight the white man’s Christianity for a _thousand years_! Only Islam could keep white Christianity at bay.
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As the Christian Crusade once went East, now the Islamic Crusade is going West.
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With the East- Asia-closed to Christianity, with Africa rapidly being converted to Islam, with Europe rapidly becoming un-Christian, generally today it is accepted that the “Christian” civilization of America- which is propping up the white race around the world-is Christianity’s remaining strongest bastion.
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And what is the greatest single reason for this Christian church’s failure? It is its failure to combat racism. It is the old “You sow, you reap” story. The Christian church sowed racism- blasphemously; now it reaps racism.
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It is exactly as when God gave Pharaoh a chance to repent. But Pharaoh persisted in his refusal to give justice to those whom he oppressed. And, we know, God finally destroyed Pharaoh.
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I told him then right to his face he was a fool, that he didn’t know me, or what I stood for, so that made him one of those people who let somebody else do their thinking; and that no matter what job a man had, at least he ought to be able to think for himself.
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and it burned me up to be so often called “anti- Semitic” when I spoke things I knew to be the absolute truth about Jews.
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“Conservatism” in America’s politics means “Let’s keep the niggers in their place.” And “liberalism” means “Let’s keep the _knee_-grows in their place-but tell them we’ll treat them a little better; let’s fool them more, with more promises.” With these choices, I felt that the American black man only needed to choose which one to be eaten by, the “liberal” fox or the “conservative” wolf-because both of them would eat him.
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How would some sheriff sound, declaring himself so against bank robbery-and Jesse James his best friend?
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The Negroes aren’t the racists. Where the really sincere white people have got to do their “proving” of themselves is not among the black _victims_, but out on the battle lines of where America’s racism really _is_-and that’s in their own home communities; America’s racism is among their own fellow whites. That’s where the sincere whites who really mean to accomplish something have got to work.
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have these very deep feelings that white people who want to join black organizations are really just taking the escapist way tosalve their consciences. By visibly hovering near us, they are “proving” that they are “with us.”
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have these very deep feelings that white people who want to join black organizations are really just taking the escapist way tosalve their consciences. By visibly hovering near us, they are “proving” that they are “with us.” But the hard truth is this _isn’t_ helping to solve America’s racist problem.
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I have these very deep feelings that white people who want to join black organizations are really just taking the escapist way tosalve their consciences. By visibly hovering near us, they are “proving” that they are “with us.” But the hard truth is this _isn’t_ helping to solve America’s racist problem.
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I mean nothing against any sincere whites when I say that as members of black organizations, generally whites’ very presence subtly renders the black organization automatically less effective.
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But, anyway, I know that every time that whites join a black organization, you watch, pretty soon the blacks will be leaning on the whites to support it, and before you know it a black may be up front with a title, but the whites, because of their money, are the real controllers.
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Working separately, the sincere white people and sincere black people actually will be working together.
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The goal has always been the same, with the approaches to it as different as mine and Dr. Martin Luther King’s non-violent marching, that dramatizes the brutality and the evil of the white man against defenseless blacks. And in the racial climate of this country today, it is anybody’s guess which of the“extremes” in approach to the black man’s problems might _personally_ meet a fatal catastrophe first-“non-violent” Dr. King, or so-called “violent” me.
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To come right down to it, if I take the kind of things in which I believe, then add to that the kind of temperament that I have, plus the one hundred per cent dedication I have to whatever I believe in-these are ingredients which make it just about impossible for me to die of old age.
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it is only after slavery and prison that the sweetest appreciation of freedom can come.
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I would try to learn Chinese, because itlooks as if Chinese will be the most powerful political language of the future.
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“I have less patience with someone who doesn’t wear a watch than with anyone else, for this type is not time-conscious,”
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“Coffee is the only thing I like integrated.”
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“You never can fully trust any woman,” he said. “I’ve got the only one I ever met whom I would trust seventy-five per cent. I’ve told her that,” he said. “I’ve told her like I tell you I’ve seen too many men destroyed by their wives, or their women.
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“Woman who cries all the time is only because she knows she can get away with it,”
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EPILOGUE ALEX HALEY
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“If Christianity had asserted itself in Germany, six million Jews would have lived.”
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“I don’t _completely_ trust anyone,”
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You think of the hardest-looking, meanest-acting woman you know, one of those women who never smiles. Well, every day you see that woman you look her right in the eyes and tell her ‘I think you’re beautiful,’ and you watch what happens. The first day she may curse you out, the second day, too-but you watch, you keep on, after a while one day she’s going to start smiling just as soon as you come in sight.”
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“I have wife who understands, or even if she doesn’t she at least pretends.”
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“Let me tell you how I’d get those white devil convicts and the guards, too, to do anything I wanted. I’d whisper to them, ‘If you don’t, I’ll start a rumor that you’re really a light Negro just passing as white.’ That shows you what the white devil thinks about the black man. He’d rather die than be thought a Negro!”
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“In the hectic pace of the world today, there is no time for meditation, or for deep thought. A prisoner has time that he can put to gooduse. I’d put prison second to college as the best place for a man to go if he needs to do some thinking. If he’s _motivated_, in prison he can change his life.”
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“Learn wisdom from the pupil of the eye that looks upon all things and yet to self is blind. Persian poet.”
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“People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by _one_ book.”
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Now, you take ‘Caesar,’ it’s Latin, in Latin it’s pronounced like ‘Kaiser,’ with a hard C. But we anglicize it by pronouncing a soft C. The Russians say ‘Czar’ and mean the same thing. Another Russian dialect says ‘Tsar.’
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“My mind had closed about our mother. I simply didn’t feel the problem could be solved, so I had shut it out. I had built up subconscious defenses. The white man does this. He shuts out of his mind, and he builds up subconscious defenses against anything he doesn’t want to face up to. I’ve just become aware how closed my mind was now that I’ve opened it up again. That’s one of the characteristics I don’t like about myself. If I meet a problem I feel I can’t solve, I shut it out. I make believe that it doesn’t exist. But it exists.”
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“She’s sixty-six, and her memory is better than mine and she looks young and healthy. She has more of her teeth than those who were instrumental in sending her to the institution.”
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The only time that I have ever heard Malcolm X use what might be construed as a curse word, it was a “hell” used in response to a statement that Dr. Martin Luther King made that Malcolm X’s talk brought “misery upon Negroes.” Malcolm X exploded to me, “How in the hell can my talk do this? It’s always a Negro responsible, not what the white man does!”
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“Yes, I’m an extremist. The black race here in North America is in extremely bad condition. You show me a black man who isn’t an extremist and I’ll show you one who needs psychiatric attention!”
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Once when he said, “Aristotle shocked people. Charles Darwin outraged people. Aldous Huxley scandalized millions!” Malcolm X immediately followed the statement with “Don’t print that, people would think I’m trying to link myself with them.”
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“These Uncle Toms make me think about how the Prophet Jesus was criticized in his own country!”
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‘The white man doesn’t know how to laugh. He just shows his teeth. But _we_ know how to laugh. We laugh deep down, from the bottom up.’
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“The white man is afraid of truth. The truth takes the white man’s breath and drains his strength-you just watch his face get red anytime you tell him a little truth.”
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“I’m the only black man they’ve ever been close to who they know speaks the _truth_ to them,” Malcolm X once explained to me. “It’s their guilt that upsets them, not me.” He said another time,
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One call that I never will forget came at close to four A.M., waking me; he must have just gotten up in Los Angeles. His voice said, “Alex Haley?” I said, sleepily, “Yes? Oh, _hey_, Malcolm!” His voice said, “I trust you seventy per cent”-and then he hung up.
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“There’s an art to listening well,” he told me. “I listen closely to the sound of a man’s voice when he’s speaking. I can hear sincerity.”
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“He’s the most genuinely unprejudiced white man I ever met,”
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“He’s the most genuinely unprejudiced white man I ever met,” Malcolm X said to me, speaking of Handler months later.
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I had objected to the immorality of the man who professed to be more moral than anybody.”
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“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action. Goethe,”
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“Children have a lesson adults should learn, to not be ashamed of failing, but to get up and try again. Most of us adults are so afraid, so cautious, so ‘safe,’ and therefore so shrinking and rigid and afraid that it is why so many humans fail. Most middle-aged adults have resigned themselves to failure.”
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“I’m _not_ a racist. I’m not condemning whites for being whites, but for their deeds. I condemn what whites collectively have done to our people collectively.”
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“I’ll explain it this way, sir. If some men are in a car, driving with a destination in mind, and you know they are going the wrong way, but they are convinced they are going the right way, then you get into the car with them, and ride with them, talking-and finally when they see they are on the wrong road, not getting where they were intending, then you tell them, and they will listen toyou _then_, what road to take.”
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And the only thing that he ever indicated that he wished had been different in his life came when he was reading the chapter “Laura.” He said, “That was a smart girl, a _good_ girl. She tried her best to make something out of me, and look what I started her into- dope and prostitution. I wrecked that girl.”
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“Only the unasked question is stupid,”
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“You know,” he said once, “why I have been able to have some effect is because I make a study of the weaknesses of this country and because the more the white man yelps, the more I know I have struck a nerve.”
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What astonished me here was that I knew that on that day, Malcolm X’s schedule had been crushing, involving both a television and radio appearance and a live speech, yet he had gone to find out something about the aardvark.
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“Whether you use bullets or ballots, you’ve got to aim well; don’t strike at the puppet, strike at the puppeteer.”
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“Anyone who wants to follow me and my movement has got to be ready to goto jail, to the hospital, and to the cemetery before he can be truly free.”
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“do you realize that some of history’s greatest leaders never were recognized until they were safely in the ground!”
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“A home is really the only thing I’ve ever provided Betty since we’ve been married,” he had told me, discussing the court’s order, “and they want to take that away. Man, I can’t keep on putting her through changes, all she’s put up with-man, I’ve _got_ to love this woman!”
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“You know,“ he said after a while, ”this isn’t something I’m proud to say, but I don’t think I’ve ever bought one gift for my children. Everything they play with, either Betty got it for them, or somebody gave it to them, never me. That’s not good, I know it. I’ve always been too _busy_.” ***
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He said “the so-called moderate” civil rights organizations avoided him as “too militant” and the “so-called militants” avoided him as “too moderate.”“They
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admission-“Haley, my nerves are shot, my brain’s tired.”
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Just a couple of days of peace and quiet, that’s what I need.”
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“I don’t advocate violence, but if a man steps on my toes, I’ll step on his.”
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But he was formally advised that he would not be permitted to speak and, moreover, that he could consider himself officially barred forever from France as “an undesirable person.”
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“There are hunters; there are also those who hunt the hunters!”
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“I’m man enough to tell you that I can’t put my finger on exactly what my philosophy is now, but I’m flexible.”
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”Brother, nobody can protect you from a Muslim but a Muslim-or someone trained in Muslim tactics. I know. I invented many of those tactics.”
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He said to a little group of his assistants that he wasn’t going to talk about his personal troubles, “I don’t want that to be the reason for anyone to come to hear me.”
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The Pakistan _Hurriyet of Karachi_ said: “A great Negro leader”; the _Pakistan Times_ said, “His death is a definite setback to the Negro movement for emancipation.”
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“A silent tongue does not betray its owner.”
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The night fell over the earthly remains of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, who had been called Malcolm X; who had been called Malcolm Little; who had been called “Big Red” and “Satan” and “Homeboy” and other names-who had been buried as a Moslem. “According to the Koran,” the _New York Times_ reported, “the bodies of the dead remain in their graves until the Last Day, the Day of Judgment. On this day of cataclysm the heavens are rent and the mountains ground to dust, the graves open and men are called to account by Allah.
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After signing the contract for this book, Malcolm X looked at me hard. “A writer is what I want, not an interpreter.” I tried to be a dispassionate chronicler. But he was the most electric personality I have ever met, and I still can’t quite conceive him dead. It still feels to me as if he has just gone into some next chapter, to be written by historians.
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OSSIE DAVIS ON MALCOLM X
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White folks do not need anybody to remind them that they are men. We do! This was his one incontrovertible benefit to his people.
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Protocol and common sense require that Negroes stand back and let the white man speak up for us, defend us, and lead us from behind the scene in our fight. This is the essence of Negro politics. But Malcolm said to hell with that! Get up off your knees and fight your own battles. That’s the way to win back your self-respect. That’s the way to make the white man respect you.
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And if he won’t let you live like a man, he certainly can’t keep you from dying like one!
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He also knew that every Negro who did not challenge on the spot every instance of racism, overt or covert, committed against him and his people, who chose instead to swallow his spit and go on smiling, was an Uncle Tom and a traitor, without balls or guts, or any other commonly accepted aspects of manhood!
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Malcolm knew that every white man in America profits directly or indirectly from his position vis-a- vis Negroes, profits from racism even though he does not practice it or believe in it.
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But Malcolm kept snatching our lies away. He kept shouting the painful truth we whites and blacks did not want to hear from all the housetops. And he wouldn’t stop for love nor money.
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He would make you angry as hell, but he would also make you proud.
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But in explaining Malcolm, let me take care not to explain him away. He had been a criminal, an addict, a pimp, and a prisoner; a racist, and a hater, he had really believed the white man was a devil. But all this had changed. Two days before his death, in commenting to Gordon Parks about his past life he said: “That was a mad scene. The sickness and madness of those days! I’m glad to be free of them.”
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And Malcolm was free. No one who knew him before and after his trip to Mecca could doubt that he had completely abandoned racism, separatism, and hatred.
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But even had Malcolm not changed, he would still have been a relevant figure on the American scene, standing in relation as he does, to the “responsible” civil rights leaders, just about where John Brown stood in relation to the “responsible abolitionists in the fight against slavery. Almost all disagreed with Brown’s mad and fanatical tactics which led him foolishly to attack a Federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, to lose two sons there, and later to be hanged for treason. Yet today the world, and especially the Negro people, proclaim Brown not a traitor, but a hero and a martyr in a noble cause So in future, I will not be surprised if men come to see that Malcolm X was, within his own limitations, and in his own inimitable style, also a martyr in that cause.
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