“Revolution is bloody, revolution is hostile, revolution knows no compromise, revolution overturns and destroys everything that gets in its way. And you, sitting around here like a knot on the wall, saying, “I’m going to love these folks no matter how much they hate me.” No, you need a revolution. Whoever heard of a revolution where they lock arms, as Rev. Cleage was pointing out beautifully, singing “We Shall Overcome”? You don’t do that in a revolution. You don’t do any signing, you’re too busy swinging. It’s based on land. A revolutionary land so he can set up his own nation, an independent nation. These Negroes aren’t asking for any nation—they’re trying to crawl back on the plantation.
When you want a nation, that’s called nationalism. When the white man became involved in a revolution in this country against England, what was it for? He wanted this land so he could set up another white nation. That’s white nationalism. The American Revolution was white nationalism. The French Revolution was white nationalism. The Russian Revolution too—yes, it was— white nationalism. You don’t think so? Why do you think Khrushchev and Mao can’t get their heads together? White nationalism. All the revolutions that are going on in Asia and Africa are based on what?— black nationalism. A revolutionary is a black nationalist. He wants a nation. I was reading some beautiful words by Rev. Cleage, pointing out why he couldn’t get together with someone else in the city because all of them were afraid of being identified with black nationalism.”
Little, Malcolm. Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements. New York: Pathfinder, 1989.
The original speech, “A Message to the Grassroots,” was authored by Malcolm X and published by the Afro-American Broadcasting and Recording Company based in Detroit. The speech can be found anywhere on the internet, in both audio and text format. Academically, a good source for this speech is Malcolm X Speaks edited by George Breitman, https://archive.org/details/malcolmxspeaksse00xmal/page/10/mode/2up. This book includes several speeches and statements composed by Malcolm X.
George Breitman was an American-born socialist. http://www.trotskyana.net/Trotskyists/Bio-Bibliographies/bio-bibliographies.html.He became a founding member of the Socialist Workers Party after joining the Trotkyist movement. Through this party, Breitman ran as a candidate for the Senator of New Jersey. He was an editor of organization’s weekly newspaper, The Militant, before editing together a book of Malcolm’s speeches and letter in 1965. Pathfinder Press, the publisher of his book, was owned by the Social Workers Party. George Breitman also edited a book on the writing of Leon Trotsky. https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17436.George_Breitman. He also edited worked on several other books about Malcolm X, such as The Last Year of Malcolm X: The Evolution of a Revolutionary and Myths About Malcolm X: Two Views.
The book contains speeches that were never officially transcribed by Malcolm X or the Afro-American Broadcasting and Recording Company. Therefore, the speech used in this book was transcribed from the audio that was published by the Detroit company, which can now be found on YouTube. https://youtu.be/a59Kwp35Z80