The Nation of Islam and Malcolm X (both before and after his involvement with the
organization) were strong and vocal opponents of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
Malcolm X, who in earlier years had the complete confidence of Nation of Islam leader
Elijah Muhammad and rarely spoke outside of the accepted dogma set forth by him,
spoke out often against the Vietnam War, attaching it to a world view of oppression
against peoples throughout the world. The Nation of Islam and Malcolm X's opposition
to the war came at a relatively early time (Malcolm X was killed nearly a month previous
to Operation Rolling Thunder, the first U.S. major bombing campaign against North
Vietnam, and before the first U.S. ground combat unit arrived in Vietnam). Throughout
the 1960's, the Nation of Islam publication Muhammad Speaks is loaded with
examples of anti-Vietnam War protest, including articles, interviews, and political
cartoons. These and other resources are represented through the links found below.
As early as 1954, Malcolm X spoke out against the war in Vietnam, comparing the
situation there to the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya (tying together the colonial status
of each of those countries to the situation of blacks in America). Click above for
information on Malcolm X's position on U.S. involvement in Vietnam, including quotes,
article citations, and information on two North Vietnamese stamps (one of which depicts
a U.S. helicopter being shot down by North Vietnamese forces) that were in Malcolm X's
address book as he was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965.
The Nation of Islam
Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam was forthright in its opposition to the Vietnam War.
Years after Malcolm X was assassinated and a high profile member of the Nation of Islam
(Muhammad Ali) refused induction into the U.S. military, Elijah Muhammad responded to
a question about how Muslim's felt about the draft, "Muslims are righteous people.
They do not believe in making war on anybody — and senseless aggression against
people violates a Muslim's religious belief." Click above for article citations
from the Nation of Islam's mouthpiece newspaper, Muhammad Speaks, including
coverage of the Muhammad Ali case, an interview with Elijah Muhammad, and political
cartoons on the Vietnam War.
North Vietnamese Stamps, ca. 1965.
Malcolm X was an outspoken opponent of American involvement in the Vietnam War; however,
how these stamps were obtained, or why they were in his address book at the time of his
assassination, is not known. District Attorney New York County: Case File #871-65
[Evidence Diary]. New York City Municipal Archives. Source: Schomburg Center for
Research in Black Culture.
"It shows the real ignorance of those who control
the American power structure. If France, with all types of heavy arms,
as deeply entrenched as she was in what was called Indochina, couldn't
stay there, I don't see how anybody in their right mind can think the
U.S. can get in there — it's impossible. So it shows her ignorance,
her blindness, her lack of foresight and hindsight; and her complete
defeat in South Vietnam is only a matter of time." —
Malcolm X, 1965