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Remembering Malcolm X with 10 of his most profound quotes

May, 19 marks the birthday of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz widely known as Malcolm X, born in 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. Malcolm X is regarded as one of the most preeminent and influential leaders of the black rights movement in America. We remember Malcolm X with his 10 quotes selected from speeches, debates and interviews.



Highly regarded by his admirers, Malcolm X the firebrand leader was a former Nation of Islam leader and influential Black Rights activist.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm X, who later changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, went on to become one of the most significant leaders in the struggle for promote Black Nationalism, and freedom for Black people in America. He changed his name to signify his rejection of his ‘slave’ name.

He dedicated his life to fighting racism, exploitation and injustices. Malcolm X played a critical role in educating Black people in American on racial equality, Black pride and on their African heritage. He also advanced the Pan-Africanism ideology in his teachings.

He was assassinated in New York City.


We celebrate his legacy and remember the words he left us with.

1. “Freedom is essential to life itself. Freedom is essential to the development of the human being. If we don’t have freedom we can never expect justice and equality. Only after we have freedom do justice and equality become a reality”. Harlem Freedom Rally (1960).

2. “The cry of the black man in Africa for the return of his own land is so widespread, so unrelenting, so uncompromising” Yale Law School (October 20, 1962).

3. “…the “black bourgeois.” they aren’t suffering the extreme pain that the masses of black people are. And it is the masses of black people today, I think you’ll find, who are the most impatient, the most angry, because they’re the ones that are suffering the most”. Open Mind Roundtable (October 15, 1961).

4. “The African gets respect because he has an identity and cultural roots. But most of all because the African owns some land. For these reasons he has his human rights recognized, and that makes his civil rights automatic”. Alex Haley Interviews Malcolm X (May, 1963).


5. “Lincoln said that if he could save the Union without freeing the slaves, he would…As for the Emancipation Proclamation, sir, it was an empty document. If it freed the slaves, why, a century later, are we still battling for civil rights?” Alex Haley Interviews Malcolm X (May, 1963).

Read: Remembering Malcolm X through quotes about the black rights activist

Undated picture of Malcolm X (C), the leader of the Organization for the Afro-American Unity. Photo: ANP

6. “We are trapped in a vicious cycle of economic, intellectual, social, and political death. Inferior jobs, inferior housing, inferior education which in turn again leads to inferior jobs”. Malcolm X at UC Berkeley (October 11, 1963)

7. “The wealthy, educated Black bourgeoisie, those uppity Negroes who do escape, never reach back and pull the rest of our people out with them. The Black masses remain trapped in the slums”. Malcolm X at UC Berkeley (October 11, 1963)

8. “Revolution is based on land. Land is the basis of all independence. Land is the basis of freedom, justice, and equality”. A Message to the Grassroots (November 10, 1963)

9. “To me the earth’s most explosive and pernicious evil is racism, the inability of God’s creatures to live as One, especially in the Western world”. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, 1965.


10. “That’s our motto. We want freedom by any means necessary. We want justice by any means necessary. We want equality by any means necessary”. Speech at the Founding Rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, 1964.