1959, April 15: Malcolm X Speech at the First African Liberation Day
Composite of two videos of Malcolm X at the first African Liberation Day, then known as Africa Freedom Day, at Bishop R. C. Lawson’s Refuge Temple, 2081 7th Ave. (now Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.), Harlem, April 15, 1959.
The name and date were chosen at the All-African People’s Conference (AAPC) at Ghana on Dec. 9, 1958, but changed when the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), a continental group, was founded at Ethiopia in 1963.The new date, May 25, commemorates the OAU’s birth. Malcolm X was the minister of Muhammad’s Temple of Islam [later Mosque] No. 7, Harlem, of Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam.
The videos are from “The Hate That Hate Produced,” an episode of Mike Wallace’s “News Beat” (New York: WNDT-TV, July 22, 1959), and Bill Leonard’s “Harlem: A Self Portrait” (New York: WCBS-TV, Aug. 18, 1959). No video or audio recording of the entire speech is known to exist and a portion of his remarks in the second video is obscured by narration (2:08 – 2:45).
But portions were also memorialized in a Nov. 17, 1959, FBI report and “The Los Angeles Herald-Dispatch,” April 23, 1959, set forth below with my transcript of the obscured part of the second video.Ellipses (…) were used for emphasis, not to indicate omissions.
The “African Nationalist leader” Malcolm X refers to was AAPC chair Tom Mboya of Kenya, who spoke at the American Committee on Africa’s Carnegie Hall program instead of Harlem.The Egyptian Malcolm X mentions was apparently Tahsin Bashir of Egypt’s UN delegation.
FROM THE FBI
“Elijah Muhammad is the man who has given me power to speak the way I speak. Africa is seeking its freedom. We should ask ourselves, freedom from who or freedom from what? The twenty-two million black men and women in America who are still in slavery must be freed and Africa must be freed. We need a black man who loves black men to lead us, not a black man who loves white folks. We should forget about our religion and think of ourselves as black men with one common cause and one common enemy — the white men. Mr. Muhammad is a black man and he taught us that the white man is the devil. When Mr. Muhammad exposed the devil they tried to accuse him of preaching hate.”
FROM THE “HERALD-DISPATCH”
If the people in Africa are getting their freedom, then 20 million blacks here in America, instead of shouting hallelujah over what is happening 9,000 miles from America, “should study the methods used by our darker brothers in Africa and Asia to get their freedom.”
“It has been since the Bandung Conference that all dark people of earth have been striding toward freedom, but there are 20 million blacks here in America yet suffering the worst form of enslavement…mental bondage, mentally blinded by the white man, unable now to see that America is the citadel of white colonialism, the bulwark of white imperialism…the slavemaster of slavemasters.”
The first step at Bandung was to agree that all dark people were suffering a common misery at the hands of a common enemy. “Call him, Belgian, call him, Frenchman, call him Englishman, colonialist, imperialist, or European…but they have one thing in common: ALL ARE WHITE MEN! Only after agreeing who the common enemy is could our darker Brothers unite against him and make faster strides toward freedom.”
“At Bandung they had to agree that as long as they remained divided a handful of whites would continue to rule them. But once our African [and] Asian Brothers put their religious and political differences into the background, their unity has since been [a] sufficient force to break the bonds of colonialism, imperialism, Europeanism…which are all only diplomatic terms for the same thing, WHITE SUPREMACY.
“Twenty million blacks in America are also kept divided and ruled by the same white man. Harlem has the largest concentration of blacks on earth, but Harlem is torn with so many divisions that the African Nationalist leader is brought to America by our own white slavemaster…and because of our disunity the largest concentration of blacks on earth is bypassed by this African leader.
“If these Harlem ‘leaders’ are sincere, then let us put aside all petty differences of religion and politics, and hold a Bandung Conference in Harlem. We must come together and hear each other before we can agree. We must agree before we can unite. We must unite before we can effectively face our enemy…and the enemy must first be recognized by all of us as a common enemy to all of us before we can put forth a united effort against him for the welfare of all our downtrodden people.”
“What method did she use? What method did they use? What method was used by the master to enslave her? What method was used by the master to keep the Africans in bondage? These are the things you and I want [to get with?]. One more thing: [When the white race says?] [unintelligible], when he speaks of the Egyptians, he says, ‘Egyptians.’ When he gets to the rest of Africa, he says, ‘African.'”