“You don’t have a turn-the-cheek revolution. There’s no such thing as a nonviolent revolution.”
Malcolm X, also known as Malcolm Little and El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was one of the most prominent civil rights leaders in American history.
Born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm X was a revolutionary black nationalist leader and spokesman for the Nation of Islam during the 1950s and ’60s. As a gifted speaker, Malcolm X urged African Americans to fight against racism “by any means necessary,” including violence.
“Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”
After breaking off from the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X went on an extensive journey throughout North Africa and the Middle East. He also made the Hajj, the traditional privilege to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. During this time, he converted to traditional Islam and became more optimistic about the possibility of a nonviolent revolution in the United States.
“The true brotherhood I had seen had influenced me to recognize that anger can blind human vision,” he said. “America is the first country … that can actually have a bloodless revolution.”
Malcolm X was assassinated soon after his return to the United States, just as he appeared to be embarking on an ideological transformation that could have greatly changed the course of the Civil Rights Movement. Although there is much controversy regarding his approach to the civil rights movement, one of his greatest, undeniable contributions to society was demonstrating the lengths a populace will endure to fight for their freedom.
“Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression, because power, real power, comes from our conviction which produces action, uncompromising action.”