Malcolm X on Human Rights, Not Civil Rights

Monday, February 21, 2011 - 10:02 pm

Malcolm X on Human Rights, Not Civil Rights

Malcolm X was assassinated on this day in 1965 in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom while speaking to a meeting of the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Weeks before his death, he appeared on the CBC’s “Front Page Challenge” and addresses questions ranging from the his departure from the Nation of Islam to his disagreements with “Uncle Martin” to his practice of Islam.
Malcolm X Praying in a Cairo MosqueIt’s near the end of the conversation that piqued my interest as I think about recent events in Egypt and an unforgettable photograph of Malcolm X praying in a mosque in Cairo:

“We are black Americans. We have a problem that goes beyond religion.”

We feel that the problem, number one, of the black man in America is beyond America’s ability to solve. It’s a human problem, not an American problem or a Negro problem. And as a human problem or a world problem, we feel that it should be taken out of the jurisdiction of the United States government and the United States courts and taken into the United Nations in the same manner that the problems of the black man in South Africa, Angola, and other parts of the world — and even the way they’re trying to bring the problems of the Jews in Russia into the United Nations because of violations of human rights.

We believe that our problem is one not one of civil rights but a violation of human rights. Not only are we denied the right to be a citizen in the United States, we are denied the right to be a human being.”

[A big thanks to The Smithian for reminding us!]

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as chief content officer and executive editor. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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