One of the most influential African Americans in history, Malcolm X was a human rights activist and an American Muslim minister.
Due to his father’s civil rights activism, Malcolm’s family was subjected to frequent harassment that ended up tragically — his father was killed, his mother was committed to a mental institution since she never recovered from the grief over her husband and Malcolm and his brothers were placed in foster homes.
In 1946 he was arrested for larceny and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but was granted parole after serving seven years. During that time, Malcolm embraced the ideology of black nationalism.
Charismatic and a naturally gifted orator, Malcolm became an influential leader of the Nation of Islam, but decided to get out after his mentor, the leader of NOI, had deeply disappointed him by violating many of his own teachings.
The experiences he had after leaving NOI turned Malcolm X from an angry man into one who believed that peaceful resolution is the key to resolving America’s discrimination problems. Sadly, not long after his epiphany, he was assassinated.
Here are 75 Malcolm X quotes to inspire you to take control of your life:
A wise man can play the part of a clown, but a clown can’t play the part of a wise man.
Stumbling is not falling.
Every morning when I wake up, now, I regard it as having another borrowed day.
Children have a lesson adults should learn, to not be ashamed of failing, but to get up and try again.
There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time.
We all like chicken.
In fact, once he is motivated no one can change more completely than the man who has been at the bottom. I call myself the best example of that.
This was my first lesson about gambling: if you see somebody winning all the time, he isn’t gambling, he’s cheating. Later on in life, if I were continuously losing in any gambling situation, I would watch very closely.
If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made.
In all our deeds, the proper value and respect for time determines success or failure.
Truth does not change, only our awareness of it.
If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success.
Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change
I believe in the brotherhood of all men, but I don’t believe in wasting brotherhood on anyone who doesn’t want to practice it with me. Brotherhood is a two-way street.
Envy blinds men and makes it impossible for them to think clearly.
I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands, even if he’s wrong, than the one who comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil.
As long as you are convinced you have never done anything, you can never do anything.
You can’t hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree.
It is only after the deepest darkness that the greatest joy can come.
Change is only a good thing if you change in a good way. (more inspiring quotes)
I was going through the hardest thing, also the greatest thing, for any human being to do; to accept that which is already within you, and around you.
In any organization, someone must be the boss. If it’s even just one person, you’ve got to be the boss of yourself.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X Quotes
Originally published in 1965, eight months after the civil rights leader’s assassination, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” chronicles Malcolm’s life and his views, inspiring people of all stripes, still to this day. Co-authored by the prominent human rights activist and journalist, Alex Haley, the book is based on more than 50 interviews that took place over a period of nearly two years and it inspired Spike Lee’s famous 1992 film adaption, “Malcolm X”. These inspiring quotes from the famous book will have you reflecting on his unforgettable legacy.
So early in my life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.
Hence I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.
All of our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient.
I’m sorry to say that the subject I most disliked was mathematics. I have thought about it. I think the reason was that mathematics leaves no room for argument. If you made a mistake, that was all there was to it.
One day, may we all meet together in the light of understanding.
No man has believed perfectly until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.
I believe in recognizing every human being as a human being–neither white, black, brown, or red; and when you are dealing with humanity as a family there’s no question of integration or intermarriage.
Anytime you find someone more successful than you are, especially when you’re both engaged in the same business – you know they’re doing something that you aren’t.
I believe it’s a crime for anyone who is being brutalized to continue to accept that brutality without doing something to defend himself.
Any person who claims to have deep feeling for other human beings should think a long, long time before he votes to have other men kept behind bars – caged.
I don’t care how nice one is to you, the thing you must always remember is that almost never does he really see you as he sees himself, as he sees his own kind.
Malcolm X quotes on education
Malcolm X never stopped wanting to learn. In high school, he excelled academically but he quit school before graduating. In 1946, Malcolm was arrested for burglary and eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison and it was during this period that Malcolm X began the process of self-educating himself. With time on his hands, Malcolm began frequenting the prison’s library and taught himself to read and write, eventually immersing himself in the teachings of the Nation of Islam. Having understood that education, whether formal or not, is the key to freedom, Malcolm X went on to become one of the movement’s most influential leaders. Let these Malcolm X quotes on education inspire you, and remind you of how powerful of a tool learning is.
Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.
The ability to read awoke inside of me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.
Without education, you are not going anywhere in this world.
You can’t legislate good will – that comes through education.
My alma mater was books, a good library…. I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.
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.
History is not hatred.
You have to wake the people up first, then you’ll get action.
Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because he doesn’t do what you do or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today.
A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.
Education is an important element in the struggle for human rights. It is the means to help our children and thereby increase self-respect.
Who taught you to hate yourself?
History is a people’s memory, and without a memory, a man is demoted to the lower animals.
People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.
It is the process of mis-education that inhibits the full potential of a nation.
And just because you have colleges and universities doesn’t mean you have education.
Read absolutely everything you get your hands on because you’ll never know where you’ll get an idea from. (more Education quotes)
Malcolm X quotes on love
Malcolm X’s was known for his brutally honest, hard-hitting writing and speeches in favor of self-defense, but he also had a deep appreciation for love. Malcolm deeply loved black people and his passion initially drove him to advocate for racial separation in America, but as time passed his hardline approach began to soften. Before he was assassinated, Malcolm had abandoned his beliefs in violence and separation, and started to embrace a more unifying approach. His unwavering commitment to the empowerment of Black Americans continues to resonate today and these wise Malcolm X quotes on love still hold steady.
We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.
How can anyone be against love?
There can be no black-white unity until there is first some black unity. We cannot think of uniting with others, until after we have first united among ourselves. We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.
The Western ‘love’ concept, you take it apart, it really is lust. But love transcends just the physical. Love is disposition, behaviour, attitude, thoughts, likes, dislikes – these things make a beautiful woman, a beautiful wife. This is the beauty that never fades.
Malcolm X quotes on justice
Malcolm X fiercely helped advance justice for Black Americans throughout his life and his unrelenting pursuit continues to influence conversations about racial justice over half a century after his death. Like other iconic leaders of the civil rights movement, Malcolm had a way with words, and gave voice to the lived experiences and struggles of so many. Justice and equality for Black Americans were at the heart of his life’s work and these Malcolm X quotes will inspire you to stand up for what’s right in the face of injustice.
I believe in human rights for everyone, and none of us is qualified to judge each other and that none of us should therefore have that authority.
You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.
Truth is on the side of the oppressed.
I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.
The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.
We black men have a hard enough time in our own struggle for justice, and already have enough enemies as it is, to make the drastic mistake of attacking each other and adding more weight to an already unbearable load.
We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.
If something is yours by right, then fight for it or shut up.
They cripple the bird’s wing, and then condemn it for not flying as fast as they.
Malcolm X quotes on freedom
Malcolm X shared the same goal as many other activists at the time: the achievement of freedom for Black Americans. His approach was divisive and controversial until he underwent a spiritual transformation after his pilgrimage to Mecca. As a result, he taught us to first recognize that all humans, including ourselves, are worthy of being treated equally and have access to the same opportunities in all areas of life. Let these powerful Malcolm X quotes motivate you to go after a life of freedom.
If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.
You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.
You don’t have to be a man to fight for freedom. All you have to do is to be an intelligent human being.
When a person places the proper value on freedom, there is nothing under the sun that he will not do to acquire that freedom.
Dr. King wants the same thing I want. Freedom.
It is only after slavery and prison that the sweetest appreciation of freedom can come.
The price of freedom is death.
I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation.
Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny, because the power of a just cause is based on conviction, and leads to resolute and uncompromising action.
Any time you beg another man to set you free, you will never be free. Freedom is something that you have to do for yourselves.
I feel like a man who has been asleep somewhat and under someone else’s control. I feel that what I’m thinking and saying is now for myself.
You get your freedom by letting your enemy know that you’ll do anything to get it. Then you’ll get it. It’s the only way you’ll get it.