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(1965) Malcolm X, “Speech at Ford Auditorium”

On February 13, 1965, Malcolm X"s home in New York City was bombed.  He and his family were not hurt and he decided to keep a longstanding speaking commitment at Detroit, arriving the next day to give the presentation below.  This proved however to be his last public appearance.  One week later on February 21, Malcolm was killed as he began to give a presentation in Harlem.

Attorney Milton Henry, distinguished guests, brothers and sisters, ladies and gentlemen, friends and enemies:

I want to point out first that I am very happy to be here this evening and I"m thankful for the invitation to come here to Detroit this evening. I was in a house last night that was bombed, my own. It didn"t destroy all my clothes, not all, but you know what happens when fire dashes through--they get smoky. The only thing I could get my hands on before leaving was what I have on now.

It isn"t something that made me lose confidence in what I am doing, because my wife understands and I have children from this size on down, and even in their young age they understand. I think they would rather have a father or brother or whatever the situation may be who will take a stand in the face of any kind of reaction from narrow-minded people rather than to compromise and later on have to grow up in shame and in disgrace.

So I just ask you to excuse my appearance. I don"t normally come out in front of people without a shirt and a tie. I guess that"s somewhat a holdover from the "Black Muslim" movement, which I was in. That"s one of the good aspects of that movement. It teaches you to be very careful and conscious of how you look, which is a positive contribution on their part. But that positive contribution on their part is greatly offset by too many other liabilities.

Tonight we want to discuss--and by the way, also, when I came here today I was a bit--last night, the temperature was about twenty above and when this explosion took place, I was caught in what I had on, some pajamas. And in trying to get my family out of the house, none of us

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