Malcolm X Lecture on African-American History(1965) Part 4: Ancient Black Civilization

Now then, once you see that the condition that we’re in is directly related to our lack of knowledge concerning the history of the black man, only then can you realize the importance of knowing something about the history of the black man. The black man’s history – when you refer to him as the black man you go way back, but when you refer to him as a Negro, you can only go as far back as the Negro goes. And when you go beyond the shores of America you can’t find a Negro. So if you go beyond the shores of America in history, looking for the history of the black man, and you’re looking for him under the term Negro, you won’t find him. He doesn’t exist. So you end up thinking that you didn’t play any role in history.

But if you want to take the time to do research for yourself, I think you’ll find that on the African continent there was always, prior to the discovery of America, there was always a higher level of history, rather a higher level of culture and civilization, than that which existed in Europe at the same time. At least 5,000 years ago they had a black civilization in the Middle East called the Sumerians. Now when they show you pictures of the Sumerians they try and make you think that they were white people. But if you go and read some of the ancient manuscripts or even read between the lines of some of the current writers, you’ll find that the Su-merian civilization was a very dark-skinned civilization, and it existed prior even to the existence of the Babylonian empire, right in the same area where you find Iraq and the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers there. It was a black-skinned people who lived there, who had a high state of culture way back then.

And at a time even beyond this there was a black-skinned people in India, who were black, just as black as you and I, called Dravidians. They inhabited the sub-continent of India even before the present people that you see living there today, and they had a high state of culture. The present people of India even looked upon them as gods; most of their statues, if you’ll notice, have pronounced African features. You go right to India today – in their religion, which is called Buddhism, they give all their Buddhas the image of a black man, with his lips and his nose, and even show his hair all curled up on his head; they didn’t curl it up, he was born that way. And these people lived in that area before the present people of India lived there. The black man lived in the Middle East before the present people who are now living there. And he had a high culture and a high civilization, to say nothing about the oldest civilization of all that he had in Egypt along the banks of the Nile. And in Carthage in northwest Africa, another part of the continent, and at a later date in Mali and Ghana and Songhai and Moorish civilization – all of these civilizations existed on the African continent before America was discovered.

Now the black civilization that shook the white man up the most was the Egyptian civilization, and it was a black civilization. It was along the banks of the Nile which runs through the heart of Africa. But again this tricky white man, and he’s tricky – and mind you again, when I say this, it’s not a racist statement. Some of them might not be tricky, but all of them I’ve met are tricky. And his civilization shows his trickiness. This tricky white man was able to take the Egyptian civilization, write books about it, put pictures in those books, make movies for television and the theatre – so skillfully that he has even convinced other white people that the ancient Egyptians were white people themselves. They were African, they were as much African as you and I. And he even gave the clue away when he made this movie, “King Solomon’s Mines,” and he showed the Watusis, you know, with their black selves, and he outright admitted in there that they looked like the ancient pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Which means that the white man himself, he knows that the black man had this high civilization in Egypt, whose remains today show the black man in that area had mastered mathematics, had mastered architecture, the science of building things, had even mastered astronomy.

The pyramid, as the white scientists admit, is constructed hi such a position on this earth to show that the black people who were the architects of it had a knowledge of geography that was so vast, they knew the exact center of the earth’s land mass. Because the base of the pyramid is located in the exact center of the earth’s land mass, which could not have been so situated by its architect unless the architect in that day had known that the earth was round and knew how much land there was in all the directions from where he was standing. The pyramid was built so many thousand years ago that they don’t even know the exact time it was built, but they do know that the people who brought it into existence had mastered the science of building, had mastered the various sciences of the earth and had mastered astronomy. I read where one scientist said that the architect of the pyramid had built a shaft that went outward from the center of the pyramid, and the place it marked in the sky was the location where a star, a blue star I think, some kind of a star, made an appearance only once every 50,000 years. Now they say that this architect’s knowledge of astronomy was so vast that he evidently had access to histories or records that spotlighted the existence of a star that made its appearance at a certain spot in the sky only once every 50,000 years. Now he could not have known this unless he had records going back beyond 50,000 years. Yet the pyramid is a living witness today that the black people who were responsible for bringing it into existence had this kind of knowledge.

When you read the opinions of the white scientists about the pyramids and the building of the pyramids, they don’t make any secret at all over the fact that they marvel over the scientific ability that was in the possession of those people way back then. They had mastered chemistry to such extent that they could make paints whose color doesn’t fade right until today. When I was in Cairo in the summer, I was in King Tut’s tomb, plus, I saw that which was taken out of the tomb at the Cairo Museum, and the colors of the clothing that was worn and the colors inside the tomb are as bright and vivid and sharp today as they were when they were put there some thousands of years ago. Whereas, you know yourself, you can paint your house, and have to paint it again next year. This man hasn’t learned how to make paint yet that will last two years. And the black man in that day was such a master in these various scientific fields that he left behind evidence that his scientific findings in that day exceeded the degree to which the white man here in the West has been able to rise today. And you must know this, because if you don’t know this, you won’t really understand what there is about you that makes them so afraid of you, and makes them show that they find it imperative for them to keep you down, keep you from getting up, because if they let you up one inch, you’ve got it and gone – just one inch, you’ve got it and gone. And you should get it and go.

Just behind the pyramids is a huge statue which many of you are familiar with, called the Sphinx. The people who live over there call it Abou Al-hole, which means “father of everything.” This too was put over there so long ago they don’t know who did it, nor do they know how long ago it was done. And they marvel at it. What causes them to marvel is the fact that the black man could have been at such a high level then, and now be where he is today, at the bottom of the heap, with no outer sign that he has any scientific ability left within him. And he himself doesn’t believe that he has any of this ability within him; he thinks that he has to turn to the man for some kind of formula on even how to get his freedom or how to build his house. But the black man by nature is a builder, he is scientific by nature, he’s mathematical by nature. Rhythm is mathematics, harmony is mathematics. It’s balance. And the black man is balanced. Before you and I came over here, we were so well balanced we could toss something on our head and run with it. You can’t even run with your hat now – you can’t keep it on. Because you lost your balance. You’ve gotten away from yourself. But when you are in tune with yourself, your very nature has harmony, has rhythm, has mathematics. You can build. You don’t even need anybody to teach you how to build. You play music by ear. You dance by how you’re feeling. And you used to build the same way. You have it in you to do it. I know black brickmasons from the South who have never been to school a day in their life. They throw more bricks together and you don’t know how they learned how to do it, but they know how to do it. When you see one of those other people doing it, they’ve been to school – somebody had to teach them. But nobody teaches you always what you know how to do. It just comes to you. That’s what makes you dangerous. When you come to yourself, a whole lot of other things will start coming to you, and the man knows it.

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