“Your problems will never by fully solved until and unless ours are solved. You will never be fully respected until and unless we are also respected. You will never be recognised as free human beings until and unless we are also recognised and treated as human beings,” Malcolm X pleaded in a speech given at the OAU Summit on 17 July 1964, asking African leaders to take up the plight of the then 22 million African-American community in the USA who were experiencing racial discrimination by their own government.
The Organisation of Afro-American Unity has sent me to attend this historic African Summit Conference as an observer to represent the interests of 22 million African-Americans whose human rights are being violated daily by the racism of American imperialists.
The Organisation of Afro-American Unity has been formed by a cross-section of America’s African-American community, and is patterned after the letter and spirit of the Organisation of African Unity. Just as the Organisation of African Unity has called upon all African leaders to submerge their differences and unite on common objectives for the common good of all Africans, in America the Organisation of Afro-American Unity has called upon Afro-American leaders to submerge their differences and find areas of agreement wherein we can work in unity for the good of the entire 22 million African Americans. Since the 22 million of us were originally Africans who are now in America, not by choice but only by a cruel accident in our history, we strongly believe that African problems are our problems and our problems are African problems.
We also believe that as heads of the independent African states you are the shepherds of all African peoples everywhere, whether they are still at home here on the mother continent or have been scattered abroad. Some African leaders at this conference have implied that they have enough problems here on the mother continent to take on the problems of those who have been scattered abroad. With due respect to your esteemed positions, I must remind all of you that the Good Shepherd will leave 99 sheep who are safe at home to go to the aid of the one who is lost and fallen into the clutches of the imperialist wolf. We in America are your long-lost brothers and sisters, and I am here only to remind you that our problems are your problems. As the African-Americans “awaken” today, we find ourselves in a strange land that has rejected us and, like the prodigal son, we are turning to our elder brothers for help. We pray our pleas will not fall upon deaf ears. We were taken forcibly in chains from this mother continent and have now spent over 300 years in America, suffering the most inhuman forms of physical and psychological tortures imaginable.
During the past 10 years the entire world has witnessed our men, women and children being attacked and bitten by vicious police dogs, brutally beaten by police clubs, and washed down the sewers by high-pressure water hoses that would rip the clothes from our bodies and the flesh from our limbs. And all of these inhuman atrocities have been inflicted upon us by the American governmental authorities, the police themselves, for no reason other than that we seek the recognition and respect granted other human beings in America.
The American government is either unable or unwilling to protect the lives and property of your 22 million African-American brothers and sisters. We stand defenceless, at the mercy of American racists who murder us at will for no reason other than we are black and of African descent. Last week, an unarmed African-American educator was murdered in cold blood in Georgia; a few days before that three civil rights workers disappeared completely, perhaps murdered also, only because they were teaching our people in Mississippi how to vote and how to secure their political rights. Our problems are your problems. We have lived for over 300 years in that American den of racist wolves, in constant fear of losing life and limb. Recently three students from Kenya were mistaken for American Negroes and were brutally beaten by the New York police. Shortly after that two diplomats from Uganda were also beaten by the New York City police, who mistook them for American Negroes.
If Africans are brutally beaten while only visiting in America, imagine the physical and psychological suffering received by your brothers and sisters who have lived there for over 300 hundred years. Our problem is your problem. No matter how much independence Africans get here on the mother continent, unless you wear your national dress at all times when you visit America, you may be mistaken for one of us and suffer the same psychological and physical mutilation that is an everyday occurrence in our lives.
Your problems will never be fully solved until and unless ours are solved. You will never be fully respected until and unless we are also respected. You will never be recognised as free human beings until and unless we are also recognised and treated as human beings.
Our problem is your problem. It is not a Negro problem, nor an American problem. This is a world problem, a problem for humanity. It is not a problem of civil rights, it is a problem of human rights. We pray that our African brothers have not freed themselves of European colonialism only to be overcome and held in check now by American dollarism. Don’t let American racism be “legalised” by American dollarism.
America is worse than South Africa, because not only is America racist, but she is also deceitful and hypocritical. South Africa preaches segregation and practises segregation. She, at least, practises what she preaches. America preaches integration, and practises segregation. She preaches one thing while deceitfully practising another. South Africa is like a vicious wolf, openly hostile toward black humanity. But America is cunning like a fox, friendly and smiling, but even more vicious and deadly than the wolf.
The wolf and the fox are both enemies of humanity, both are canine, both humiliate and mutilate their victims. Both have the same objectives, but differ only in methods. If South Africa is guilty of violating the human rights of Africans here on the mother continent, then America is guilty of worse violations of the 22 million Africans on the American continent. And if South African racism is not a domestic issue, then American racism also is not a domestic issue.
We beseech independent African states to help us bring our problem before the United Nations, on the grounds that the United States government is morally incapable of protecting the lives and the property of 22 million African-Americans. And on the grounds that our deteriorating plight is definitely becoming a threat to world peace. Out of frustration and hopelessness our young people have reached the point of no return. We no longer endorse patience and turning the other cheek. We assert the right of self-defence by whatever means necessary, and reserve the right of maximum retaliation against our racist oppressors, no matter what the odds against us are.
We are well aware that our future efforts to defend ourselves by retaliating – by meeting violence with violence, eye for eye and tooth for tooth – could create the type of racial conflict in America that could easily escalate into a violent, worldwide, bloody race war. In the interests of world peace and security, we beseech the heads of the independent African states to recommend an immediate investigation into our problem by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
One last word, my beloved brothers at this African Summit: “No one knows the master better than his servant.” We have been servants in America for over 300 years. We have a thorough inside knowledge of this man who calls himself “Uncle Sam”. Therefore, you must heed our warning. Don’t escape from European colonialism only to become even more enslaved by deceitful, “friendly” American dollarism. May Allah’s blessings of good health and wisdom be upon you all.