This election season, as we seek to hold candidates accountable for our community’s demands, the internet is awash with quotes and video clips of civil rights leaders and activists who made comments 30, 40, 50 years ago (and longer) that are still eerily accurate today.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, James Baldwin and many others are among the popular choices we see on our timelines these days.
Upworthy recently featured an article highlighting an interview that Malcolm X gave over 50 years ago titled, “An interview Malcolm X gave in 1964 is shockingly relevant in 2016.” See below for an excerpt and link to the article in its entirety.
In the 1960s New York City Police Commissioner Michael J. Murphy enacted a series of policies that put Harlem under what was effectively a police state.
It was the dawn of the modern civil rights movement and racial tensions were high. Murphy promised to be tough on “racial extremists” and even refused several times to listen to the pleas of civil rights groups who wanted an investigation into police brutality.
On July 16, 1964, New York Police Department officer Thomas Gilligan shot and killed a black teenager named James Powell on the Upper East Side. Hundreds protested in the streets, sparking the infamous Harlem riot. The officer was investigated and then cleared of any wrongdoing.
“In our estimation this is a crime problem and not a social problem,” said Commissioner Murphy.
In a 1964 interview, civil rights leader Malcolm X spoke out against Commissioner Murphy. He said Muphy’s policies and rhetoric had led to a deep distrust between the black community and the NYPD
as well as an increase in violence.
Shaun King, senior justice writer for the New York Daily News and a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, recently tweeted a video of that interview.
King noted that 52 years later, Malcolm X’s words are as “shockingly relevant” today as when they were first spoken. “This gives the police the impression that they can then go and brutalize the Negroes or suppress the Negroes or even frighten the Negroes,” Malcolm X continues in the interview. “Whenever something happens, 20 police cars converge on one area.”
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