‘Godfather of Harlem’: 10 Best Malcolm X Quotes

Nigel Thatch and Forest Whitaker Godfather of Harlem Collage

Godfather of Harlem’s Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch) has developed into one of the best-ever scree-portrayals of the civil rights activist. The show perfectly captures his passion and charisma, with Thatch’s deep firm voice and piecing look bringing him to life in every scene. Malcolm is brave and focused, but most importantly, gentle and caring for those around him, including Bumpy, Elise, Betty, and his children.

Despite being the exact opposite of bumpy johnson, the two have a great partnership that has brought about Harlem’s best oppression-fighting team. As you would expect, inspiring revolutionary quotes defined the real Malcolm X, and here are some of the best ones from his character in the show.

1. “When a man of your stripe gets political, that’s when everything changes. We’ll have a million-man army to fight oppression”

Malcom X and Adam Clayton Powell

This conversation transformed Bumpy into an activist in his own right, as Malcolm told him that he wielded more political power than he knew. The two discussed Bumpy’s partnership with congressman Adam Clayton Powell and how it would benefit Harlemites.


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Bumpy only saw himself as a gangster then, but Malcolm didn’t judge the criminal side of Bumpy’s affairs. He instead praised Bumpy for doing his part in fighting oppression in Harlem, and although everyone blamed Bumpy for using violent methods in the process, Malcolm didn’t really care. After that conversation, Bumpy became the shield of Harlem against some of the worst atrocities committed on the people by the mob and the government.

2. “Being an old farm boy myself. Chickens coming home to roost never made me sad”

Nigel Thatch GOH

Malcolm X’s stand on president J F Kennedy’s assassination remains controversial in the US today, but this quote is still one of his best. He described the assassination as the violence that the US government used against black people in the US and around the world coming back to haunt it.

As far as he was concerned, Kennedy getting assassinated was a form of poetic justice after his government’s many acts of violence against leaders in African countries and black people in the USA. However, his words were contradictory because J F Kennedy was pushing for the passing of the civil rights act, of which Malcolm was a big advocate.

3. “The Nation saves you from Satan but not stupidity”

Captain Jones and Sister Marny NOI

Malcom’s tone towards the NOI was finally changing as he realized that his biggest enemies were actually fellow members of the Nation of Islam and not the white people he was fighting so vehemently. He had always considered them his brothers until he heard Captain Nathan James was plotting to kill him with the approval of the NOI leader Elijah Mohammed.

He reminded Elise that he is the person that picked up Nathan James and saved his life from drugs and crime. He recalled a hilarious incident in which James went back for a pack of smokes he forgot at the robbery scene where he had just broken into a safe, which got him arrested.

4. “We have an obligation to respond not only directly but even violently to white oppression”

Mohammed Ali and Malcolm X GOH

This statement defined Malcolm X’s activism, as he told it to Cassius Clay just before Elijah Mohammed changed his name to Muhammed Ali. Malcolm had just inspired Clay to win his first big fight, and the two agreed on the need for a more proactive approach in their fight for the rights of black people.

He was calling out the leader of the Nation of Islam for his failed diplomatic approach to the liberation struggle that only benefited him alone in the end. Elijah Mohammed wasn’t interested in anyone else’s welfare, but his own, and Malcolm X was willing to leave the NOI and take a different approach.

5. “Take that to Hoover. Tell him what a good job you’re doing protecting me”

Omar Malcolm and Elijah Mohammed Godfather of Harlem 1

Malcolm said this during one of his best badass moments in the show as he stopped his would-be assassin in his tracks just as he planted a bomb in his car. The assassin was a member of Moque number Seven, where Malcolm was a minister, proving to Malcolm that his biggest enemies were actually his former followers.

The assassin got to his car, while the FBI was there more interested in getting dirt on him rather than protecting him. Hoover was the director of the FBI at the time, but he only saw Malcolm as a threat to National security which is why he didn’t care much for his safety.

6. “Freedom shouldn’t be a word in our vocabulary if we aren’t willing to die for it”

Malcom X in GOH

“This speech could get you killed, especially if you broadcast it on the radio,” Elise had said to Malcolm after reading the famous “ballots or bullets” speech that he was about to present on the radio. Elise had witnessed the attempted assassination of Malcolm by the CIA in Egypt and was worried that they would do it again if he read that speech that sounded like a call to violence. Malcolm didn’t care much about his own safety, though, and proceeded to say that he was living on borrowed time anyways and therefore didn’t care what they would do to him.


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7. “Broadcasting this speech will only provoke more violence against us. I can’t allow that for your sake or our children”

Malcolm Bumpy and Clayton Powell

“This is your path, Malcolm. It would be wrong to deny it,” Betty Shabazz replied in the first conversation in which she showed support for Malcolm’s approach to activism. Betty was happy that Malcolm had decided to leave the shadow of Elijah Mohammed and be his own man.

Malcolm was a good father, and although he knew his own life was in danger, he didn’t want it to spread to his children. Without Betty’s encouragement, Malcolm wouldn’t have given the speech, but it wouldn’t have changed anything regarding his safety anyways.

8. “…It is left to you and me to decide who will sit in the Whitehouse and who is going to be in the doghouse”

Nigel Thatch as Malcolm X 1

Malcolm was delivering his famous call to action for black people to vote wisely, saying that if they didn’t buy their freedom at the ballot box, they would have to buy it using bullets. It is one of the most controversial speeches that Malcolm ever delivered, as it was interpreted as a threat to national security.

The interesting hard truth in that speech is his conclusion about how every election ends. Whoever the poor people of Harlem voted for in the election, they would still remain in the doghouse because no president was willing to change Harlem.

9. “As much as I want to, I can’t spill a black man’s blood. Let Allah decide his fate”

epix godfather harlem forest whitaker large e1564261035628

Captain Omar was back asking for Malcolm’s forgiveness after trying to kill him, and Bumpy’s men were ready to kill him if Malcolm agreed to it. However, Malcolm was overprotective of black people and didn’t seem interested in bringing evil ones like Omar to justice. Malcolm’s stance ended badly as his fellow black men spilled his blood even after he had dedicated his entire life to fighting for their rights. It proves that an evil person is just evil regardless of their skin color.


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10. “I have been met by a man whose skin is the whitest of white, and eyes the bluest of blue, but this man regards me as a brother”

Malcolm X in Mecca in Godfather of Harlem 1

Malcolm was writing a letter to Betty about the first white man that was good to him in his entire life. Meeting Dr. Azzam on his Hajj was an eye-opener for Malcolm as he received hospitality from someone who didn’t share his skin color for the first time.

Dr. Azzam made Malcolm realize that in his quest to fight for black people’s rights, he had turned into a racist. He had even refused to pray with Azzam initially, claiming that his version of Islam didn’t allow black people to pray with whites. Azzam’s hospitality touched Malcom so deeply that he later requested him to be his guide on the Hajj.

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