Mr. Moderator, Reverend Cleage, Brother Lomax, brothers and sisters, and friends and I see some enemies. In fact, I think we’d be fooling ourselves if we had an audience this large and didn’t realize that there were some enemies present.
This afternoon we want to talk about the ballot or the bullet. The ballot or the bullet explains itself. But before we get into it, since this is the year of the ballot or the bullet, I would like to clarify some things that refer to me personally -- concerning my own personal position.
I'm still a Muslim. That is, my religion is still Islam. My religion is still Islam. I still credit Mr. Mohammed for what I know and what I am. He’s the one who opened my eyes. At present, I'm the Minister of the newly founded Muslim Mosque, Incorporated which has its offices in the Teresa Hotel, right in the heart of Harlem -- that’s the black belt in New York city. And when we realize that Adam Clayton Powell is a Christian minister, he’s the -- he heads Abyssinian Baptist Church, but at the same time, he’s more famous for his political struggling.
And Dr. King is a Christian Minister, in Atlanta – or from Atlanta Georgia -- or in Atlanta, Georgia, but he’s become more famous for being involved in the civil rights struggle. There’s another in New York, Reverend Galamison -- I don’t know if you’ve heard of him out here – he’s a Christian Minister from Brooklyn, but has become famous for his fight against a segregated school system in Brooklyn. Reverend Clee, right here, is a Christian Minister, here in Detroit. He’s the head of the "Freedom Now Party."
All of these are Christian Ministers -- All of these are Christian Ministers, but they don’t come to us as Christian Ministers. They come to us as fighters in some other category.
I’m a Muslim minister -- the same as they are Christian Ministers -- I’m a Muslim minister. And I don’t believe in fighting today in any one front, but on all fronts.
In fact, I’m a black Nationalist Freedom Fighter.
Islam is my religion, but I believe my religion is my personal business. It governs my personal life, my personal morals. And my religious philosophy is personal between me and the God in whom I believe; just as the religious philosophy of these others is between them and the God in whom they believe.
And this is best this way. Were we to come out here discussing religion, we’d have too many differences from the outstart and we could never get together. So today, though Islam is my religious philosophy, my political, economic, and social philosophy is Black Nationalism. You and I -- As I say, if we bring up religion we’ll have differences; we’ll have arguments; and we’ll never be able to get together. But if we keep our religion at home, keep our religion in the closet, keep our religion between ourselves and our God, but when we come out here, we have a fight that’s common to all of us against a [sic] enemy who is common to all of us.
The political philosophy of Black Nationalism only means that the black man should control the politics and the politicians in his own community. The -- The time -- The time when white people can come in our community and get us to vote for them so that they can be our political leaders and tell us what to do and what not to do is long gone.
By the same token, the time when that same white man, knowing that your eyes are too far open, can send another negro into the community and get you and me to support him so he can use him to lead us astray -- those days are long gone too.
The political philosophy of Black Nationalism only means that if you and I are going to live in a Black community -- and that’s where we’re going to live, cause as soon as you move into one of their -- soon as you move out of the Black community into their community, it’s mixed for a period of time, but they’re gone and you’re right there all by yourself again.
We must -- We must understand the politics of our community and we must know what politics is supposed to produce. We must know what part politics play in our lives. And until we become politically mature we will always be mislead, lead astray, or deceived or maneuvered into supporting someone politically who doesn’t have the good of our community at heart.
So the political philosophy of Black Nationalism only means that we will have to carry on a program, a political program, of re-education to open our peoples eyes, make us become more politically conscious, politically mature, and then we will -- whenever we get ready to cast our ballot that ballot, will be cast for a man of the community who has the good of the community of heart.
The economic philosophy of Black Nationalism only means that we should own and operate and control the economy of our community. You would never found -- you can’t open up a black store in a white community. White men won’t even patronize you. And he’s not wrong. He’s got sense enough to look out for himself. You the one who don’t have sense enough to look out for yourself.
The white man -- The white man is too intelligent to let someone else come and gain control of the economy of his community. But you will let anyone come in and take control of the economy of your community, control the housing, control the education, control the jobs, control the businesses, under the pre-text that you want to integrate. No, you outta your mind.
The political, the economic philosophy of Black Nationalism only means that we have to become involved in a program of reeducation to educate our people into the importance of knowing that when you spend your dollar out of the community in which you live, the community in which you spend your money becomes richer and richer; the community out which you take your money becomes poorer and poorer.
And because these Negroes, who have been mislead, misguided, are breaking their necks to take their money and spend it with The Man, The Man is becoming richer and richer, and you’re becoming poorer and poorer. And then what happens? The community in which you live becomes a slum. It becomes a ghetto. The conditions become run down. And then you have the audacity to complain about poor housing in a run-down community. Why you run it down yourself when you take your dollar out.
And you and I are in the double-track, because not only do we lose by taking our money someplace else and spending it, when we try and spend it in our own community we’re trapped because we haven’t had sense enough to set up stores and control the businesses of our own community. The man who’s controlling the stores in our community is a man who doesn’t look like we do. He’s a man who doesn’t even live in the community. So you and I, even when we try to spend our money in the block where we live or the area where we live, we’re spending it with a man who, when the sun goes down, takes that basket full of money in another part of the town.