Black History Month has been co-opted and
hijacked by government institutions and the
mainstream media. Every February they share
images and words from a series of handpicked
black leaders, stripped of any historical relevance
or any spirit of revolutionary black struggle.
Fire This Time Newspaper wants to counter
the mainstream watered down account of the
struggle for black liberation in the U.S. and
internationally. In this issue we honour the
revolutionary legacy of two black liberation
leaders that have fought for black rights and
for the rights of all oppressed people and nations
around the world.
Malcolm X (1925-1965) is a revolutionary black
liberation leader in the United States. Excerpts
from 3 speeches by Malcolm X.
November 9th, 1963
Look at the American Revolution in 1776. That revolution was for what? For land. Why did they want land? Independence. How was it carried out? Bloodshed. Number one, it was based on land, the basis of independence. And the only way they could get it was bloodshed. The French Revolution - what was it based on? The landless against the landlord. What was it for? Land. How did they get it? Bloodshed. Was no love lost, was no compromise, was no negotiation. I’m telling you - you don’t know what a revolution is. Because when you find out what it is, you’ll get back in the alley, you’ll get out of the way.
The Russian Revolution - what was it based on? Land; the landless against the landlord. How did they bring it about? Bloodshed. You haven’t got a revolution that doesn’t involve bloodshed. And you’re afraid to bleed. I said, you’re afraid to bleed.
As long as the white man sent you to Korea, you bled. He sent you to Germany, you bled. He sent you to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese, you bled. You bleed for white people, but when it comes to seeing your own churches being bombed and little black girls murdered, you haven’t got any blood. You bleed when the white man says bleed; you bite when the white man says bite; and you bark when the white man says bark. I hate to say this about us, but it’s true. How are you going to be nonviolent in Mississippi, as violent as you were in Korea? How can you justify being nonviolent in Mississippi and Alabama, when your churches are being bombed, and your little girls are being murdered, and at the same time you are going to get violent with Hitler, and Tojo, and somebody else you don’t even know?
If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it is wrong to be violent defending black ‘women and black children and black babies and black men, then it is wrong for America to draft us and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country.
So I cite these various revolutions, brothers and sisters, to show you that you don’t have a peaceful revolution. You don’t have a turn-the-othercheek revolution. There’s no such thing as a nonviolent revolution. The only kind of revolution that is nonviolent is the Negro revolution. The only revolution in which the goal is loving your enemy is the Negro revolution. It’s the only revolution in which the goal is a desegregated lunch counter, a desegregated theater, a desegregated park, and a desegregated public toilet; you can sit down next to white folks - on the toilet. That’s no revolution. Revolution is based on land. Land is the basis of all independence. Land is the basis of freedom, justice, and equality.
April 3rd, 1964 - Cleveland, Ohio, USA
When we begin to get in this area, we need new friends, we need new allies. We need to expand the civil rights struggle to a higher level—to the level of human rights. Whenever you are in a civil-rights struggle, whether you know it or not, you are confining yourself to the jurisdiction of Uncle Sam. No one from the outside world can speak out in your behalf as long as your struggle is a civil-rights struggle. Civil rights comes within the domestic affairs of this country. All of our African brothers and our Asian brothers and our Latin-American brothers cannot open their mouths and interfere in the domestic affairs of the United States. And as long as it’s civil rights, this comes under the jurisdiction of Uncle Sam.
But the United Nations has what’s known as the charter of human rights, it has a committee that deals in human rights. You may wonder why all of the atrocities that have been committed in Africa and in Hungary and in Asia and in Latin America are brought before the UN, and the Negro problem is never brought before the UN. This is part of the conspiracy. This old, tricky, blue eyed liberal who is supposed to be your and my friend, supposed to be in our corner, supposed to be subsidizing our struggle, and supposed to be acting in the capacity of an adviser, never tells you anything about human rights. They keep you wrapped up in civil rights. And you spend so much time barking up the civil-rights tree, you don’t even know there’s a human rights tree on the same floor.
When you expand the civil-rights struggle to the level of human rights, you can then take the case of the black man in this country before the nations in the UN. You can take it before the General Assembly. You can take Uncle Sam before a world court. But the only level you can do it on is the level of human rights. Civil rights keeps you under his restrictions, under his jurisdiction. Civil rights keeps you in his pocket. Civil rights means you’re asking Uncle Sam to treat you right. Human rights are some thing you were born with. Human rights are your God given rights. Human rights are the rights that are recognized by all nations of this earth. And any time any one violates your human rights, you can take them to the world court. Uncle Sam’s hands are dripping with blood, dripping with the blood of the black man in this country. He’s the earth’s number one hypocrite.
He has the audacity—yes, he has— imagine him posing as the leader of the free world. The free world! And you over here singing We Shall Overcome. Expand the civil-rights struggle to the level of human rights, take it into the United Nations, where our African brothers can throw their weight on our side, where our Asian brothers can throw their weight on our side, where our Latin-American brothers can throw their weight on our side, and where 800 million Chinamen are sitting there waiting to throw their weight on our side.
Let the world know how bloody his hands are. Let the world know the hypocrisy that’s practiced over here. Let it be the ballot or the bullet.
Let him know that it must be the ballot or the bullet. When you take your case to Washington, D.C., you’re taking it to the criminal who’s responsible; it’s like running from the wolf to the fox. They’re all in cahoots together. They all work political chicanery and make you look like a chump before the eyes of the world. Here you are walking around in America, getting ready to be drafted and sent abroad, like a tin soldier, and when you get over there, people ask you what are you fighting for, and you have to stick your tongue in your cheek. No, take Uncle Sam to court, take him before the world.
February 11th, 1965 - London School of Economics
It is only being a Muslim which keeps me from seeing people by the color of their skin. This religion teaches brotherhood, but I have to be a realist—I live in America, a society which does not believe Brute force is used by white racists to suppress nonwhites. It is a racist society ruled by segregationists...
[W]here the government fails to protect the Negro he is entitled to do it himself. He is within his rights. I have found the only white elements who do not want this advice given to undefensive Blacks are the racist liberals. They use the press to project us in the image of violence.
There is an element of whites who are nothing but cold, animalistic racists. That element is the one that controls or has strong influence in the power structure. It uses the press skillfully to feed statistics to the public to make it appear that the rate of crime in the Black community, or community of nonwhite people, is at such a high level. It gives the impression or the image that everyone in that community is criminal.
And as soon as the public accepts the fact that the dark-skinned community consists largely of criminals or people who are dirty, then it makes it possible for the power structure to set up a police-state system. Which will make it permissible in the minds of even the well-meaning white public for them to come in and use all kinds of police methods to brutally suppress the struggle on the part of these people against segregation, discrimination, and other acts that are unleashed against them that are absolutely unjust.
They use the press to set up this police state, and they use the press to make the white public accept whatever they do to the dark-skinned public... They have all kinds of negative characteristics that they project to make the white public draw back, or to make the white public be apathetic when police-state-like methods are used in these areas to suppress the people’s honest and just struggle against discrimination and other forms of segregation.
A good example of how they do it in New York: Last summer, when the Blacks were rioting—the riots, actually they weren’t riots in the first place; they were reactions against police brutality. And when the Afro-Americans reacted against the brutal measures that were executed against them by the police, the press all over the world projected them as rioters. When the store windows were broken in the Black community, immediately it was made to appear that this was being done not by people who were reacting over civil rights violations, but they gave the impression that these were hoodlums, vagrants, criminals...
But this is wrong. In America the Black community in which we live is not owned by us. The landlord is white. The merchant is white. In fact, the entire economy of the Black community in the States is controlled by someone who doesn‘t even live there. The property that we live in is owned by someone else. The store that we trade with is operated by someone else. And these are the people who suck the economic blood of our community.
And being in a position to suck the economic blood of our community, they control the radio programs that cater to us, they control the newspapers, the advertising, that cater to us. They control our minds. They end up controlling our civic organizations. They end up controlling us economically, politically, socially, mentally, and every other kind of way. They suck our blood like vultures.
And when you see the Blacks react, since the people who do this aren’t there, they react against their property. The property is the only thing that’s there. And they destroy it. And you get the impression over here that because they are destroying the property where they live, that they are destroying their own property. No. They can’t get to the man, so they get at what he owns. [Laughter] This doesn’t say it’s intelligent. But whoever heard of a sociological explosion that was done intelligently and politely? And this is what you’re trying to make the Black man do. You’re trying to drive him into a ghetto and make him the victim of every kind of unjust condition imaginable. Then when he explodes, you want him to explode politely! [Laughter] You want him to explode according to somebody’s ground rules. Why, you’re dealing with the wrong man, and you’re dealing with him at the wrong time in the wrong way.