When looking at Malcom X quotes, the first thing you’ll likely notice is their often incendiary nature. Unlike other civil rights leaders of the 1960’s, Malcom X didn’t adhere to a pacifist approach. He was, in fact, something of a zealot for African American rights. He preached forcefully and passionately that African Americans should take their freedom, by any means necessary. And though this has drawn some considerable criticism from those who opposed his approach, there is little doubt that Malcom X’s influence was significant and far-reaching. To give you a flavor of the kind his philosophy, here are some of the most well known Malcom X quotes from his lifetime.

  1. “I don’t even call it violence when it’s in self defense. I call it intelligence.” Malcom X really demonstrates his philosophical separation from leaders like Martin Luther King with this snippet. Whereas passive resistance was the technique that ultimately won the civil rights battle of the 1960’s, Malcom X was far from afraid to stand defiantly in the face of Caucasian authority.

  2. “If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.” This Malcom X quote, when looked at from today’s frame of reference, sounds eerily militaristic. Instead of championing a nation, however, he is referencing his own oppressed race. It’s this die-hard attitude that won him such a large, dedicated following.

  3. “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” In addition to the “any means necessary” philosophy, Malcom X was also a huge proponent of education as a tool for advancement. Though he never earned a degree from an accredited university, Malcom X was generally regarded as an extremely well-read man. He often referenced the immense number of hours he spent in self-study during his time in prison, saying “My Alma mater was books, a good library”.

  4. “You show me a capitalist, and I’ll show you a bloodsucker.” Aside from revealing his personal stance on economics, this Malcom X serves as evidence for his sheer fearlessness. To criticize capitalism in the 1960’s, at the height of the Cold War, was blasphemy in the United States. But Malcom X did it repeatedly, and with gusto. Whether you agree with his stance on capitalism or not, his willingness to so forcefully go against the mainstream is worthy of respect.

  5. “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.” This Malcom X quote stands out from the others because it lacks his typical abrasiveness. If anything, this statement is a piece of wisdom that anyone can aspire to. To stand for something is one of the most virtuous actions a person can take, no matter which demographic categories he or she might be a part of.