The excerpt below is from February 1965: The Final Speeches, by Malcolm X, one of Pathfinder’s Books of the Month for February. It is from the speech “There’s a Worldwide Revolution Going On” given in Harlem, New York, Feb. 15. Malcolm X came out of the bourgeois nationalist Nation of Islam to become the outstanding leader of the Black liberation movement of the 1960s in the U.S. He was drawn to the secular revolutionary government in Algeria as well as to the internationalist example of the Cuban Revolution. He opposed both the Democrats and Republicans, the ruling parties of U.S. imperialism.
A January 1965 Young Socialist interview with Malcolm is reprinted in Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power by Jack Barnes, national secretary of the Socialist Workers Party. Malcolm became “a revolutionary leader of the working class,” Barnes said. The excerpt from Malcolm X below is reprinted as a tribute during Black History Month. Feb. 21 marks 54 years since he was assassinated, six days after giving this speech. Copyright © 1992 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.
You and I are living at a time when there’s a revolution going on. A worldwide revolution. It goes beyond Mississippi. It goes beyond Alabama. It goes beyond Harlem. There’s a worldwide revolution going on. And it’s in two phases.
Number one, what is it revolting against? The power structure. The American power structure? No. The French power structure? No. The English power structure? No. Then what power structure? An international Western power structure. An international power structure consisting of American interests, French interests, English interests, Belgian interests, European interests. These countries that formerly colonized the dark man formed into a giant international combine. A structure, a house that has ruled the world up until now. And in recent times there has been a revolution taking place in Asia and in Africa, whacking away at the strength or at the foundation of the power structure.
Now, the man was shook up enough when Africa was in revolt and when Asia was in revolt. All of this revolt was actually taking place on the outside of his house, on the outside of his base, or on the outside of his headquarters. But now he’s faced with something new. Just as the French and the British and the Americans formed one huge home or house or power structure, those brothers in Africa and Asia, although they are fighting against it, they also have some brothers on the inside of the house.
And as fast as the brothers in Africa and Asia get their independence, get freedom, get strength, begin to rise up, begin to change their image from negative to positive — this African image that has jumped from negative to positive affects the image that the Black man in the Western Hemisphere has of himself. Whereas in the West Indies and in Latin American countries and in the United States, you or I used to be ashamed of ourselves, used to look down upon ourselves, used to have no tendency whatsoever or desire whatsoever to stick together. As the African nations become independent and mold a new image — a positive image, a militant image, an upright image, the image of a man, not a boy — how has this affected the Black man in the Western Hemisphere? It has taken the Black man in the Caribbean and given him some pride. It has given pride to the Black man in Latin America and has given pride to the Black man right here in the United States. So that when the Black revolution begins to roll on the African continent, it affects the Black man in the United States and affects the relationship between the Black man and the white man in the United States.
When the Black man in the Caribbean sees the brother on the continent of Africa waking up and rising up, the Black man in the Caribbean begins to throw back his shoulders and stick out his chest and stand up. [Applause] Now, when that Black man goes to England he’s right inside the English power structure, ready to give it trouble. When the Black man from the French West Indies goes to France, why the effect upon him of the African revolution is the same as the effect upon us here in the States by the African revolution. …
So this is what you have to understand. And as the brothers on the African continent lead the way, it has an effect and an impact upon the brothers here, upon the brothers here in the Western Hemisphere. So that when you find the Afro-American community in France uniting not only with itself, but for the first time beginning to unite and work in conjunction with the African community, this frightens old de Gaulle to death, because he sees some new problems in front of him.
And when the West Indian community, which is an Afro-American community in England, begins to unite and then unite also with the African community in England and reach out and get the Asian community, it’s trouble for old John Bull. Trouble that he never foresaw before. And this is something that he has to face up to.
Likewise, here in America, with you and me. For the first time in our history here you find we have a tendency to want to come together. For the first time we have a tendency to want to work together. And, up to now, no organization on the American continent has tried to unite you and me with our brothers and sisters back home. At no time. None of them. [Applause] …
So this has been the purpose of the OAAU and also the Muslim Mosque: to give us direct links, direct contact, direct communication and cooperation with our brothers and sisters all over the earth. And once we are successful in uniting ourselves with our people all over the world, it puts us in a position where we no longer are a minority who can be abused and walked upon. We become a part of the majority. And then if this man over here plays too rough, we have some brothers who can play as rough as he. [Applause]