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Malcolm X Describes the Extent of America's "Racist System"

Malcolm X delivered this speech, titled "Prospects for Freedom in 1965," to an Organization for Afro American Unity (OAAU) rally at the Militant Labor Forum in New York City on January 7, 1965. A month later he was assassinated. Inspired by the Organization of African Unity, in the summer of 1964 he founded the OAAU, which advocated for independent black institutions and black participation in electoral politics.

. . . the orthodox practice of the Islam religion in the Muslim mosque incorporated, at the same time we realized that we were black people in a white society. That we were black people in a racist society. We were black people in a society whose very political system was steeped and nourished upon racism. Whose social system was a racist system. Whose economic system was nourished with racism. We were black people who wanted to be religious. Who wanted to practice brotherhood and all of that. Who wanted to love everybody and all of that too. But at the same time, that was a dream, you know, as my good friend the doctor said. (Laughter). So wanting brotherhood and wanting peace and wanting all of these other beautiful things, we had to also face reality and realize that we were in a racist society that was controlled by racists from the federal government right on down to the local government. From the White House right on down to City Hall. Racism is what we were confronted by. So we knew that this was a problem that was beyond religion, and we founded another organization, that was non-religious, and this organization was called the Organization of Afro American Unity, or the OAAU.

Source | Malcolm X, "Prospects for Freedom 1965," address to rally at Militant Labor Forum, New York City, 7 January 1965; from Malcolm X: His Words Written and Spoken,
Creator | Malcolm X
Item Type | Speech
Cite This document | Malcolm X, “Malcolm X Describes the Extent of America's "Racist System",” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed October 27, 2021,

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