When we say “our” we do not mean Muslim nor Christian, Catholic nor Protestant, Baptist nor Methodist, Democrat nor Republican, Mason nor Elk. By “our” Harlem Freedom, we mean the black people of Harlem, the black people of America, and the black people all over this earth.
One who practices this Divine Obedience is called a Muslim, commonly known, spelled, and referred to here in the West as Moslem. There are over 600 million Muslims on this earth, predominantly in Africa and Asia, and we here in America under the Divine Guidance of Mr. Elijah Muhammad are an integral part of the vast World of Islam that stretches from the China Seas to the sunny shores of West Africa.
In the past two years, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad has become the most talked about black man in America because he is having such miraculous success in getting his program over among the so-called Negro masses. Time magazine last year wrote that he has eliminated from among his followers alcohol, dope addiction, profanity—all of which stems from disrespect of self.
Well, any form of integration, forced integration, any effort to force integration upon whites is actually hypocritical. It is a form of hypocrisy involved. If a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that’s brotherhood. But if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that’s not brotherhood, that’s hypocrisy.
As students, scholars, professors and scientists you should be well aware that we are living in a world and at a time when great changes are taking place. New ideas are replacing the old ones. Old governments are collapsing, and new nations are being born. The entire “old system” which has held the Old World together has lost its effectiveness, and now that Old World is going out. A new system or New World must replace the Old World.
Yes, I think there is a new so-called Negro. We don’t recognize the term “Negro” but I really believe that there’s a new so-called Negro here in America. He not only is impatient. Not only is he dissatisfied, not only is he disillusioned, but he’s getting very angry.
The Western World finds itself today constantly engulfed in crisis after crisis. The ingredients for disaster lurk constantly on all sides...both at home and abroad. The Western World’s leading diplomats are whispering in the halls of the UN that catastrophe can come any moment, any hour, any second.
When I pointed out that there are two kinds of Negroes—some Negroes don’t want a Black man to speak for them. That type of Negro doesn’t even want to be Black. He’s ashamed of being Black. And you’ll never hear him refer to himself as Black. Now that type we don’t pretend to speak for. You can speak for him. In fact you can have him.
The brainwashed black man can never learn to stand on his own two feet until he is on his own. We must learn to become our own producers, manufacturers and traders; we must have industry of our own, to employ our own. The white man resists this because he wants to keep the black man under his thumb and jurisdiction in white society. He wants to keep the black man always dependent and begging—for jobs, food, clothes, shelter, education.
First, however, there are some questions we have to put to you. Since the black masses here in America are now in open revolt against the American system of segregation, will these same black masses turn toward integration or will they turn toward complete separation? Will these awakened black masses demand integration into the white society that enslaved them or will they demand complete separation from that cruel white society that has enslaved them?
Whether you’re educated or illiterate, whether you live on the boulevard or in the alley, you’re going to catch hell just like I am. We’re all in the same boat and we all are going to catch the same hell from the same man. He just happens to be a white man. All of us have suffered here, in this country, political oppression at the hands of the white man, economic exploitation at the hands of the white man, and social degradation at the hands of the white man.
Just ten years ago on the African continent, our people were colonized. They were suffering all forms of colonization, oppression, exploitation, degradation, humiliation, discrimination, and every other kind of -ation. And in a short time, they have gained more independence, more recognition, more respect as human beings than you and I have.1
They kidnapped us and brought us here; they deprived us of our rights; they made us slaves; they sold our people from one plantation to another, from one auction block to another. And even right now, 1963, they have to confess they are still depriving the black people here in America, not only of civil rights, but even of human rights.
We see the increase of racial animosity, the increase of racial hostility, and the increase of outright racial hatred. We see masses of Black people who have lost all confidence in the false promises of the hypocritical white politicians. We see masses of Black people who are thoroughly fed up with the deceit of the so-called white liberals, or the white so-called liberals.
Not only does America have a very serious problem, but our people have a very serious problem. America’s problem is us. We’re her problem. The only reason she has a problem is she doesn’t want us here. And every time you look at yourself, be you black, brown, red, or yellow, a so-called Negro, you represent a person who poses such a serious problem for America because you’re not wanted.
One of the reasons that this religion is the only cure is because we believe that it’s just the plain naked truth, and one of the causes of our ailments in this part of the world is our lack of exposure to truth during the 400 years that we’ve been here. We believe that most of what Negroes have been taught in America is lies, deliberately concocted lies, scientifically told lies.
White America should be asking herself: "What does God want for these twenty-two million ex-slaves?" Who will make White America know what God wants? Who will present God's plan to White America? What is God's solution to the problem caused by the presence of twenty-two million unwanted slaves here in America? And who will present God's solution?
So my experience has been that in many instances where you find Negroes always talking about being nonviolent, they’re not nonviolent with each other, and they’re not loving with each other, or patient with each other, or forgiving with each other. Usually, when they say they’re nonviolent, they mean they’re nonviolent with somebody else. I think you understand what I mean.
The people in this country who in the past have been at peace and have been peaceful were that way only because they didn't know what freedom was. They let somebody else define it for them, but today, 1965, you find those who have not had freedom, and were not in a position to define freedom, are beginning to define it for themselves.
Well, I think that the only way that two different races can get along with each other is, first, they have to understand each other. That cannot be brought about other than through communication, dialogue—and you can’t communicate with a person unless you speak his language. If the person speaks French, you can’t speak English or German.
It’s impossible for you and me to have a balanced mind in this society without going into the past, because in this particular society, as we function and fit into it right now, we’re such an underdog, we’re trampled upon, we’re looked upon as almost nothing. Now if we don’t go into the past and find out how we got this way, we will think that we were always this way.
Where 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.
Tonight one of the things that has to be stressed is that which has not only the United States very much worried but which also has France, Great Britain, and most of the powers, who formerly were known as colonial powers, worried also, and that primarily is the African revolution. They are more concerned with the revolution that's taking place on the African continent than they are with the revolution in Asia and in Latin America.
Normally I wouldn’t get excited over a few bombs, but the ones who threw these not only aimed them in rooms where there—where there was no one, but even in rooms where three of my daughters sleep. One daughter six, one daughter four, and one daughter two. And since I am, am quite certain that those who threw the bombs knew my house well enough to know where everyone was sleeping, I can’t quite bring my heart to the point where it can in any way be merciful, or from now on compromising, toward anyone who can be that low.1
And in order for you and me to know the nature of the struggle that you and I are involved in, we have to know not only the various ingredients involved at the local level and national level, but also the ingredients that are involved at the international level. And the problems of the Black man here in this country today have ceased to be a problem of just the American Negro or an American problem.
The religion of Islam itself is a religion that is based upon brotherhood and a religion in which the persons who believe in it in no way judge a man by the color of his skin. The yardstick of measurement in Islam is one’s deeds, one’s conscious behavior. And the yardstick of measurement that was used by Elijah Muhammad was based upon the color of the skin.
Because 1964 threatens to be a very explosive year on the racial front, and because I myself intend to be very active in every phase of the American Negro struggle for human rights, I have called this press conference this morning in order to clarify my own position in the struggle—especially in regard to politics and nonviolence.
Today the black people in this country have become frustrated, disenchanted, disillusioned and probably more set for action now than ever before-not the kind of action that has been set out for them in the past by some of their supposedly liberal white friends, but the kind of action that will get some kind of immediate results.
We’re anti-exploitation and in this country the Jews have been located in the so-called Negro community as merchants and businessmen for so long that they feel guilty when you mention that the exploiters of Negroes are Jews. This doesn’t mean that we are anti-Jews or anti-Semitic—we’re anti-exploitation. No. We have never been involved in any kind of violence whatsoever.
During recent years there has been much talk about a population explosion. Whenever they are speaking of the population explosion, in my opinion, they are referring to the people primarily in Asia or in Africa— the black, brown, red, and yellow people. It is seen by people of the West that, as soon as the standard of living is raised in Africa and Asia, automatically the people begin to reproduce abundantly.
We must understand the politics of our community and we must know what politics is supposed to produce. We must know what part politics play in our lives. And until we become politically mature we will always be mislead, lead astray, or deceived or maneuvered into supporting someone politically who doesn’t have the good of our community at heart.
We were truly all the same (brothers)—because their belief in one God had removed the ‘white’ from their minds, the ‘white’ from their behavior, and the ‘white’ from their attitude. I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man—and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their differences in color.
I don’t feel that I am a visitor in Ghana or in any part of Africa. I feel that I am at home. I’ve been away for four hundred years, but not of my own volition, not of my own will. Our people didn’t go to America on the Queen Mary, we didn’t go by Pan American, and we didn’t go to America on the Mayflower. We went in slave ships, we went in chains. We weren’t immigrants to America, we were cargo for purposes of a system that was bent upon making a profit.
Also it mentioned that I attacked the civil rights leaders, which I didn’t do. I didn’t attack anybody but the man who has been brutal to us. And it isn’t the civil rights leaders who have been brutal. They’ve been the victims of brutality. They have been loving you all while you all have been hating them. So I didn’t attack them. I probably questioned their intelligence in letting you beat them without fighting back. But I don’t think that we attacked them.
Our problems are your problems. We have lived for over three hundred years in that American den of racist wolves in constant fear of losing life and limb. Recently, three students from Kenya were mistaken for American Negroes and were brutally beaten by the New York police. Shortly after that two diplomats from Uganda were also beaten by the New York City police, who mistook them for American Negroes.