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Malcolm X Breaks with Nation of Islam

Mar. 8, 1964 - Malcolm X broke today with Elijah Muhammad’s Chicago-based Black Muslim movement and announced that he was organizing a politically oriented “black nationalist party.” He said the party would seek to convert the Negro population from nonviolence to active self-defense against white supremacists in all parts of the country.

“I remain a Muslim,” Mr. X said, “but the main emphasis of the new movement will be black nationalism as a political concept and form of social action against the oppressors. I have reached the conclusion that I can best spread Mr. Muhammad’s message by staying out of the Nation of Islam and continuing to work on my own among America’s 22 million non-Muslim Negroes.”

Mr. X has been under suspension by Mr. Muhammad as the New York leader of the separatist Black Muslim movement. He asserted tonight that that movement had “gone as far as it can” because it was too narrowly sectarian and too inhibited.

“I am prepared,” Mr. X said, “to cooperate in local civil rights actions in the South and elsewhere and shall do so because every campaign for specific objectives can only heighten the political consciousness of the Negroes and intensify their identification against white society.” He said he had accepted an invitation to help a civil rights committee in Plaquemines Parish (County), La.

“There is no use deceiving ourselves,” said Mr. X. “Good education, housing, and jobs are imperatives for the Negroes, and I shall support them in their fight to win these objectives, but I shall tell the Negroes that while these are necessary, they cannot solve the main Negro problem.”

He said Elijah Muhammad had prevented him from participating in civil rights struggles in the South although he had had many opportunities to do so.

“It is going to be different now,” said Mr. X. “I’m going to join in the fight wherever Negroes ask for my help, and I suspect my activities will be on a greater and more intensive scale than in the past. I shall also accept all important speaking engagements at colleges and universities because I find that most white students are more attuned to the times than their parents and realize that something is fundamentally wrong in this country.”

He said his popularity as a university speaker had aroused the animus and jealousy of Elijah Muhammad’s family.

“Envy,” said Mr. X, “blinds men and makes it impossible for them to think clearly. This is what happened.”



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