Q. Malcolm X, why do you oppose integration?
A. It won’t work. It doesn’t solve the problem. Do you know what integration really means? It means intermarriage. That’s the real point behind it. You can’t have it without intermarriage. And that would result in disintegration of both races. The Negro is better off by himself, so he can develop his character and his culture in accord with his own nature.
Negro leaders in private conversation admit this. But not publicly. They are in a spot, trying to explain to the masses of Negroes what they have got out of integration. The leaders have benefited, but the people they are trying to lead haven’t got any benefit.
Q. As you see it, has the integration drive failed in this country?
A. Yes, it has failed. Schools are becoming more segregated. Housing…all phases. Job segregation is one of the worst situations. Washington D.C., is one of the best examples of how integration has failed. I know about the desegregation of the theaters and restaurants and all that in Washington. But the only Negroes who have been helped by that are the Negro bourgeoisie. They are the only Negroes who can afford to go to the theaters and the white restaurants. New York, which is supposed to be liberal, has more integration problems the Mississippi.
Q. Did you think there can ever be real integration of the black and white races in this country?
A. No. If it were possible, you could point to some examples of it. But there is not one place in this country which is really integrated. When people look for examples of integration, they look to other countries, like Brazil. But I don’t consider Brazil integrated, either. It is true that the Negroes and whites there have married. But Brazil is only mongrelized. Not one black man is prominent in Brazil. The Negroes there are still at the bottom.
Q. What do you favor to help solve the race problem in the U.S.?
A. I favor, building up living conditions, schools, jobs. That’s the heart of the problem. I want to take Negroes out of the ghetto and put them in good neighborhoods in good houses.
Q. Would that make trouble, cause property values to fall?
A. It is bound to depreciate the property of the white man living next door. The first thing that the black man has got to do is straighten out the evil conditions in New York City‘s Harlem and the other ghettos. Not only materially, but morally and spiritually. We’ve got to get rid of drunkenness, drug addiction, prostitution and all that. We need a program to educate the people of Harlem to a better sense of values.
When ghetto living seems normal, you have no shame, no privacy. You don’t realize that you don’t have these values when you’ve known nothing but ghetto moral conditions.
Q. Won’t your program lead to increased friction between the races?
A. I would say that trouble is building up. The year 1963 was a dangerous year, as everybody admits. The Negro leaders used the March on Washington as an escape valve. But the Negro masses, realized that they really got nothing. They are disenchanted. When the weather warms up, they will be in the streets demonstrating. They are tired of turning the other cheek. The whites don’t do it. Now you have the whites demonstrating against school integration. When you have these two elements coming together, you are going to have an explosion.
Q. Are you going to help produce this explosion?
A. My movement won’t promote the explosion. It would come anyway. I am not for or against violence. I am for freedom, by whatever means necessary.
Q. Are you in favor of a Negro political party?
A. Yes. The Negro should have his own party, a black party. Negro is the wrong word. It does not have any scientific meaning. I’ll form a black political party. I won’t run for any office. But I want Negroes to be politically mature. Then there will be less likelihood of their being exploited by crooked politicians.
Q. What would be the party platform?
A. Freedom, justice, equality for the black people of this country. It would teach them to vote black. This doesn’t mean it will teach them to be anti-white. We are pro-black, not anti-white.
Q. You claim that the Muslims are not a hate movement, yet you teach that the white man is a devil—
A. We are speaking of the collective guilt of the white man. The Muslims are only expressing what the Negroes as a race believe. If I can point this up, it will make the white man see the seriousness of the problem.
Q. What do you see as a real solution?
A. The only real answer if for our people to go back to Africa. But that will come much later. Right now, we need immediate relief from suffering and oppression. We don’t want welfare programs. They create laziness. We need programs by which the Negro can clean up the Negro community materially and spiritually. We need jobs. We need to own and operate our own businesses. Instead of “sitting in” we should buy in. If the Government does not let us go back to Africa, then we should have a black nation here.
Q. Which States would you want to take over for your black nation?
A. I never heard Mr. Muhammad say, I hope he has in mind Florida and California. I like it where the weather is warm.
Q. How many Black Muslims are there?
A. No one knows but Mr. Muhammad.
Q. How many do you expect to have in your organization?
A. I hope to organize the 22 million black people in America.
This story originally appeared in the March 30, 1964, issue of U.S. News & World Report