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“By Any Means Necessary”: Watch Malcolm X’s Speech on Racism & Self-Defense at Audubon Ballroom

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Malcolm X was born 98 years ago today, on May 19, 1925, and assassinated at age 39 on February 21, 1965, as he spoke before a packed audience in the Audubon Ballroom in New York City. We end today’s show remembering his life and legacy with an excerpt of a speech Malcolm X gave at the Audubon Ballroom about half a year earlier called “By Any Means Necessary.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We end today’s show with Malcolm X in his own words, speaking in 1964.

MALCOLM X: One of the first things that the independent African nations did was to form an organization called the Organization of African Unity. … The purpose of our … Organization of Afro-American Unity, which has the same aim and objective to fight whoever gets in our way, to bring about the complete independence of people of African descent here in the Western Hemisphere, and first here in the United States, and bring about the freedom of these people by any means necessary. That’s our motto. …

The purpose of our organization is to start right here in Harlem, which has the largest concentration of people of African descent that exists anywhere on this Earth. There are more Africans here in Harlem than exist in any city on the African continent, because that’s what you and I are: Africans. …

The Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights are the principles in which we believe, and that these documents, if put into practice, represent the essence of mankind’s hopes and good intentions; desirous that all Afro-American people and organizations should henceforth unite so that the welfare and well-being of our people will be assured; we are resolved to reinforce the common bond of purpose between our people by submerging all of our differences and establishing nonsectarian, constructive programs for human rights; we hereby present this charter:

I. The Establishment.

The Organization of Afro-American Unity shall include all people of African descent in the Western Hemisphere. … In essence what it is saying, instead of you and me running around here seeking allies in our struggle for freedom in the Irish neighborhood or the Jewish neighborhood or the Italian neighborhood, we need to seek some allies among people who look something like we do. And once we get their allies. It’s time now for you and me to stop running away from the wolf right into the arms of the fox, looking for some kind of help. That’s a drag.

II. Self-Defense.

Since self-preservation is the first law of nature, we assert the Afro-American’s right to self-defense.

The Constitution of the United States of America clearly affirms the right of every American citizen to bear arms. And as Americans, we will not give up a single right guaranteed under the Constitution. The history of unpunished violence against our people clearly indicates that we must be prepared to defend ourselves, or we will continue to be a defenseless people at the mercy of a ruthless and violent, racist mob.

AMY GOODMAN: Malcolm X, speaking in 1964. He was born 98 years ago today, on May 19th, 1925. Go to democracynow.org to see the full event with Dr. Angela Davis, Ben Crump, Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz and many others at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, the site of the Audubon Ballroom in New York City, where Malcolm X was gunned down February 21st, 1965.

And that does it for our show. A very happy birthday to Simin Farkhondeh, Eli Putnam and Tey-Marie Astudillo! I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for joining us.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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