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50 Elijah Muhammad Quotes on Race and Nation Building

It is said that hindsight is 20/20, meaning that in retrospect we can reflect and see with a more clear vision. Looking back and considering the conditions that a man like the Honorable Elijah Muhammad spawned from, it is an absolute miracle that anyone from such humble beginnings could manifest such accomplishments.

His work through the Nation of Islam resulted in a national infrastructure for economics, entrepreneurship, education, food programs, real estate, spiritual guidance, and racial pride for a people in some of the worst social conditions America had to offer.

The following quotes by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad certainly supply food for thought for anyone seeking to know more about race consciousness and the conditions of the African diaspora in America.

Elijah Muhammad quotes to make you think

1. “I give thanks first, to God.”

elijah muhammad

2. “It is very plain that my people are not educated, not qualified, has not been self respecting for a long time. You are not going to take them in your society like they are. They have to first be trained and taught the manners of general society, rules and everything for you to accept them as so. And they might not be able to get along even at that. Because we are different people, our very nature is different.”

3. “This separation we begin with is absolutely necessary, we have lived in America for the last 400 years and have served our slave masters well, before this past 100 years. Now the time has arrived, and we want something for ourselves. The natural spirit of God is moving through us and making us to think in such terms. Towards self and the doing for self, is now getting into the life for the Black man in America.”

4. “We want to go for self. We want to be ourselves. This is aroused in us by God himself. To oppose it, means death to either side. If we oppose it, it’s death to us, if others oppose it, it means death to them.”

5. “The American so-called negro especially the leading class, do not actually know themselves.”

6. “The American so-called negro has been kept in the dark of the truth of self and kind, for now, 400 years.”

7. “In the bible, Ezekiel, and prophesied by Jesus, says the dead must rise, mentally dead. So our so-called leadership is just as dumb as those they are leading, to this knowledge. Therefore they

hope they can have a place somewhere in the light of the white man of America. In his country and government. They seek that place, not that they seek some portion of the country, they only seek some sort of recognition of the white man as being a citizen of America and being his equal, and this is the wrong thing to be seeking since we have now served our prophetic term of slavery in America.”

8. “Now we have a taste of the education of our slave masters and their children. We don’t go now to the colleges and universities of the white man looking for degrees to go back to him then for a job, to work, live with him for some bread in the bread line.”

9. “This keeps him a subject and servant all the time, he is not getting an equal place with his master by seeking a job. The only thing he should seek now since he admits he is free, and he is free, he is not a subject or a slave, he is free.”

10. “The progress is only being made to the position or status of a more permanent servant. Not a servant who is equal with his master, such as owning a place on this earth that he can call his own like his master.”

Elijah Muhammad quotes about injustice

11. “His fame and fortune are not his, that is for the white man. He has achieved fame and fortune from the white man, not for his black man. All of the prominent politicians, teachers, and clergy, all have worked forward to help the white man to achieve fame for him and his race, but not him and his own race.”

12. “If the slave master gets richer and richer, he can do better by his servant, by his slave. But the slave now stands at the crossroad. He can go for himself. So why not the master teaches him to go for himself and provide him with the necessary means to go for himself and not keep petting him around his door for a better suit of clothes?”

13. “You are obligated to start us off in such a state according to your own situation of your own set up of your own civilization. It means you have set your own race up as an independent race today, not based on what you had 4 or 5 hundred years ago, but based on what you have today.”

14. “I myself have no power to bring about such change, but God is with me.”

15. “It is the end of the history that we have been in service to white people and the time that we should be separated from them.”

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16. “This is nothing but justice, to give the slaves something to go with if you have freedom. America has never done for us, our parents never had the opportunity to go for self.”

17. “The time has come that God himself will intervene to separate the so-called negro, the lost members of their people, the black nation of the earth from their white slave masters.”

18. “I will not say where I would like to have a room in your house before ever you are willing to give me a room there.”

19. “We have often been misunderstood. We know the prophecies say we should be returned to our land. If America wants to ease their troubles, this is the trouble she has been confronted with, it is the slave. The problem of America is her slaves. And the solution has been given.”

Elijah Muhammad Quotes

20. “Put the poor man over here someplace. If you have a house big enough to do so, put him over here someplace to himself. Regardless to what he says, you know the truth. You know he should be somewhere toward himself because you know you will never agree to all that he demands you of. You cannot do so unless you want to become a subject slave yourself or you want to get into the same status that your slave is in, to yield to all of his demands, that is trying to respect a once slave as your equal you cannot do that and keep your respect in the world of civilized nations.”

21. “But you can stop trying to force the idea in the slave that he is as good, he is as honored, he is as rich as the master. This cannot be accepted as truth even from the master.”

22. “By giving him a chance to sit in the house with you and talk with you, and talk with you and your family, are you going to marry your sons and daughters? That is not yet making him your equal. Or to prepare in your laboratories jobs for him, factories, give him a job, keeping him at work. That is not making him your equal yet, he is still unequal. And it’s a real ignorant thing to say “he is my equal because I give him social status with me.” This is bad on the white man’s part to even offer his slave integration and intermarriage. It only makes him look worse in the eyes of the world. And his intelligence has been lost and the decency of his society is lost just by offering his slave such an opportunity.”

23. “But if he would go and offer his slave a place for himself, allow me to use this slang, ‘boy you been a good old plow boy for me, now I’m am going to let you plow for yourself, here’s is a mule and a plow, I will furnish you a mule and a plow tool until you are able to pay for them’.”

24.” If he has made progress in the way of the civilization for the white men or in the civilization of the white man, why object then to him going and doing this for himself. Let him now make a way for himself.”

25. “When he learns the truth of himself and those of whom he is worshipping then he will go for himself, as I have gone for myself. I don’t want to be a slave for you, I don’t want you to use me

as a slaver, I want to be my independent self. I want to summon the spirit for my people like you, you came in here taking it by the knowledge and power of your own fathers from the Indian, and you made a great country out of it. Then you go back to my country and bring us to serve you here as slaves, free labor. For 300 years we have done that for you, willingly or unwillingly we did so and our fathers. Now for 100 years you say we are free, and for 100 years we are not free. We are still so blind, deaf and dumb we still look forward to you to make our clothes for us, get the cotton and the wool, go and put it through the mills and make cloth out of it, and we’re sitting looking at you do this for all of us.”

26. “It is very nice and good for America to prepare educationally for her slave that she once had in servitude. The education we have acquired from white America, it will help us to begin to survive anywhere on this earth that we may prefer to go or stay. If we are to stay here with you we must stay in a separate part of America with you, and the education is still accepted. We need all of the education, I must stop and say that. That we can make use of good education to help us to go for self.”

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27. “As far as our reaction to what we have acquired in the way of education, it doesn’t mean that we should now be satisfied to remain with you just because we have acquired more respect of self in the way of education and can do more better service for you than we have in the past.”

28. “The thing of it is that we have acquired enough to step out of the house of bondage. Where our fathers were enslaved up and put in bondage, we should go and you should now help us to go and provide the necessary means for us to continue going in the way of self this would also give you a great and a good name.”

29. “We need modern tools now we don’t need a plow and mule, we need tractors, and we need the lands certainly that will provide a living and the necessities of life otherwise, such as buildings, and other machines. We want that we can go into the earth as you have went into it, and pull out of her treasures and necessary means to build a nation for ourselves.”

30. “We think the government is obligated, we have given 400 years, and now we want to go for ourselves. How are we to go and get started for ourselves if the slave master is not willing to provide the means for us to go for ourselves?”

31. “I didn’t say the government made a mistake by saying that the kind of segregation we have lived under should be terminated. I don’t think she made any mistake there, but I do think the government is making a mistake now to try and hinder us from being separated since we have already lived under segregation for the past centuries now we would like to be separated and live over here to ourselves since we cannot get along with you in peace.”

32. “This is the time that good confronts us to the people and not evil. Your history teaches us that you have always warred. In Europe, there was once a 100-year war, 30-year war, and they have continued, a war history of your race ever since you had civilization.”

Religious Elijah Muhammad Quotes

33. “Take for an instance, Jesus he taught love of his father, and we use the name he used there. He taught that we should love the father, we should love the words and teachings of God, we should love the man that loves God and the teachings of God. This was Moses’ teachings to Israel, was to love their God with all their heart, whole might, and strength. But you were not taught to love the enemies. The nations that will not love your God and will not allow you to pass through or not allow you to settle in your own land, you should destroy that nation or God will destroy them before you. This is Moses.”

34. Then the God goes so far as to say himself, that [Cain and Abel] the two brothers that he loved one and hated the other, God was the first hater. That Jesus also seconds his father in these words, that unless you can hate your mother, brother, sister, father and pick up your cross and follow me you cannot be my disciple, you have to hate first.”

35. “Some more of Jesus’ teachings, he mentions the same two brothers, one hated and one of them loved to verify his own hatred of the evil people. He did not declare himself as being a lover of all men, he could not be the representative of God if he loved all people because some people are evil. And in times of judging and meting out sentences to the evil and the country, people of God, it is also on the page of history that these prophets put there on the page for us to read and study. That a day of judgment is set for your execution. All of this is given right there in the bible which is put there the words of Jesus.”

36. “In the very beginning when we speak of separation, God separated the sons of Adam. If God saw it more tasteful to separate these sons of Adam; brothers, these sons represent brothers, they can’t live together. We separate the very sons of Adam and give them a place on the earth and set boundaries for them that they cannot be entering in and out of the others’ country without permission, boundary meaning you must have permission to come into my part of the country. Now all of this is set in the Bible in which the Christians say we are supposed to believe!”

37. “If the Christian doesn’t believe in the sayings of his own bible, how can he preach to us to believe in it?”

38. “If the Christian doesn’t abide by the book that he represents is from the prophets of God and their sayings, again, how can he force us to believe that which he does not?”

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39. “The purpose of our organization is to reform our people in America and put them to themselves, someplace where they can go for themselves. do for themselves. While I don’t say the word that I should say, separate them, and give them a chance to do for themselves as other nations”

Elijah Muhammad Quotes on Change and Education

40. “Pardon me sir, I don’t believe in segregation, but separation. I don’t say we are trying to force that, this is just an alternative. This is just an alternative that I have referred to, a separate territory to separate us, an alternative to separate us from the white people that we cannot get along with in peace here.”

41. “Being mixed with them and trying to live, to demand respect and demand what they have, this kind of thing causes trouble, it has caused trouble for a long long time with us.”

42. “We are not your equal and we are demanding equality with you, yet we have not made ourselves equal to demand equality with you.”

43. “You are the owners and builders of your educational system, you are the makers of the law of the land. You are the complete boss. And a slave just cannot get up and say to his master that he is equal with this master until he has made himself equal. And this is causing and has caused lots of trouble with trying to get along with each other in peace.”

44. “And this is due to also the time and the way we have been taught. A child will come up and never know anyone but their parents, he follows what the parents teach him. And that will not change unless someone changes him.”

45. “Therefore we have your teachings from slavery for a hundred years, an education of yours. And now we want what you want. Your education teaches us to do something for ourselves and it teaches us in a way like yourself, that we should be independent.”

46. “Your educational systems are an independent life, because you are an independent nation. And now today we are getting a little taste of your educational system and we want what you want. Some of this earth that we can call our own and set up a government on it to our likings.”.

47. “And this is the reason why I teach separation, because no more can you deal with an uneducated slave like you did, therefore we don’t see any way out except for seperation.”

48. “I don’t say that education has not been a great help for us. This is what I just said, we have now some of your education and we think in those terms.”

49. “I don’t see no chance of living in peace and harmony with the masters of the land because we will never get equality with the owners. Therefore why should we deny ourselves of an opportunity that has been presented to us according to history for a whole hundred years of doing something for ourselves? We were supposed to be freed a hundred years ago, and why should we know, talk and continue living in the midst of our masters when we can’t hope for nothing, except for serving?”

50. “I don’t give much credit to no so-called negro, lost members of their nation, preaching such doctrines as integration. We can’t integrate with you and keep the respect of the nation, nor could you integrate with us and you keep the respect of your own nation.”

History is full of polarizing figures. Those who have evoked great change and transformation often have complicated legacies. In terms of working towards a higher quality of life for Black people, there are few who have had the impact of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. This is a man who was born into poverty as a sharecropper in Georgia only 34 years after the emancipation proclamation altered the status of enslaved Africans in America. He survived some of the most difficult eras in American history; World War I and II, the crash of Wall Street, the Great Depression, lynchings, race riots, and other forms of terrorism against Black people in the United States.

The Akan people of West Africa have a philosophy called Sankofa, which means to look back to your past as you move towards your future. Looking back at the words of leaders from the Black community from half a century ago provides us with sharp insight to their conditions and our own. Some people agree with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and his teachings, they might even feel that America’s current racial climate is more evidence that demonstrates the need for Muhammad’s alternative plan of separation. Still, others continue to hold on to the ideal that America can one day be a truly fully integrated society where all people can reap the benefits of freedom. The power to determine our future remains in the hands of the people.

Clifton Sankofa
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