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Malcolm X Describes JFK Assassination as “Chickens Coming Home to Roost”

Dec. 1, 1963 - Malcolm X, national spokesman for the Nation of Islam, today characterized the assassination of President Kennedy as an instance of “the chickens coming home to roost.” Accusing Mr. Kennedy of “twiddling his thumbs” at the killing of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, Mr. X told a Black Muslim rally at the Manhattan Center that he “never foresaw that the chickens would come home to roost so soon.” He added: “Being an old farm boy myself, chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they’ve always made me glad.” His remarks on the Kennedy assassination, which prompted loud applause and laughter from the audience, were made at a point when the auditorium was open to questions from the floor. Mr. X told the crowd that immediately after Mr. Kennedy’s assassination, the Black Muslim leadership had been asked for comments by the newspapers. He charged this was an attempt to trap the organization into a “fanatic, inflexibly dogmatic” statement. He said the press was looking for such a remark as: “Hooray, hooray! I’m glad he got it!” With this exclamation, there was more laughter and applause. Throughout his address, Mr. X repeated a previous contention that the Black Muslim movement is based on monotheistic love and tolerance of all men, including white men. However, he said that while his followers were nonviolent, they were encouraged for purposes of self-defense to study judo and karate and “learn everything else you should learn that will show you how to break a white man’s neck.” Again there was applause and laughter. The rally was closed to white men, except for members of the press, who were searched thoroughly by some of the scores of Black Muslims stationed through the hall.


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