Interview with Malcolm X by Dr. Kenneth Clark. From the WGBH show, 'The Negro and the American Promise' aired Monday, June 24, 1963.
Clark: It has been suggested also that this movement preaches a gospel of violence, that --
Malcolm X: No, the black people in this country have been the victims of violence at the hands of the white man for 400 years. And following the ignorant Negro preachers, we have thought that it was godlike to turn the other cheek to the brute that was brutalizing us. And today, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is showing black people in this country that just as the white man and every other person on this earth has god-given rights, natural rights, civil rights, any kind of rights that you can think of, when it comes to defending himself, black people should have -- we should have the right to defend ourselves also. And, because the Honorable Elijah Muhammad makes black people brave enough, men enough, to defend ourselves no matter what the odds are, the white man runs around here with the philo-- with the doctrine that we are -- Mr. Muhammad is advocating violence when he's actually telling Negroes to defend themselves against violent people.
Clark: I see. Well, Reverend Martin Luther King preaches a doctrine of non-violent insistence upon the rights of the American Negro. What is your attitude toward this philosophy?
Malcolm X: The white man pays Reverend Martin Luther King, subsidizes Reverend Martin Luther King, so that Reverend Martin Luther King can continue to teach the Negroes to be defenseless. That's what you mean by non-violent: be defenseless. Be defenseless in the face of one of the most cruel beasts that has ever taken a people into captivity. That's this American white man. And they have proved it throughout the country by the police dogs and the police clubs.
A hundred years ago they used to put on a white sheet and use a bloodhound against Negroes. Today they've taken off the white sheet and put on police uniforms, they've traded in the bloodhounds for police dogs, and they're still doing the same thing. And just as Uncle Tom, back during slavery, used to keep the Negroes from resisting the bloodhound, or resisting the Ku Klux Klan, by teaching them to love their enemy, or pray for those who use them spitefully, today Martin Luther King is just a 20th century or modern Uncle Tom, or a religious Uncle Tom, who is doing the same thing today, to keep Negroes defenseless in the face of an attack, that Uncle Tom did on the plantation to keep those Negroes defenseless in the face of the attacks of the Klan in that day.
Clark: But the goal of Dr. King is full equality --
Malcolm X: No.
Clark: ... and full rights of citizenship for Negroes.
Malcolm X: The goal of Dr. Martin Luther King is to give Negroes a chance to sit in a segregated restaurant beside the same white man who had brutalized them for 400 years. The goal of Dr. Martin Luther King is to get Negroes to forgive the people who have brutalized them for 400 years by lulling them to sleep, and making them forgetting what those whites have done to them. But the masses of black people in America today don't go for what Martin Luther King is putting down. As you said in one of your articles, it's psychologically insecure, or something of that sort -- I forget how you put it. But you didn't endorse what Martin Luther King was doing yourself.
Clark: I do not reject his goals, of full integration and full equality rights for American citizens. Do you reject these goals?
Malcolm X: If you don't think that he's walking on the right road, I'm quite sure that you don't agree that he'll get to the right place. And if you would classify his method as "psychologically unrealistic" -- I think that if a man's method is psychologically unrealistic, which means that the road or the means or the method that he's using, I think that, as a psychologist, you'd be very doubtful that he would reach the right goals.
Clark: There is one correction, Mr. Malcolm, that I'd like to make here. In that same piece that you're quoting from, I said that he -- his methods are effective. His philosophy, of love, of the oppressor, I thought was psychologically burdensome.