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“We appreciate and we love the civilization that we gave to the world. Thousands of years ago when the white man was a savage the Negro was the custodian of civilization. The Negro held civilization and in turn handed it to the white man to keep. You will always love your property anywhere you see it. If I have a suit of old clothes and I give it to somebody, anytime I see that suit I smile, because I loved it before I bought it. And this civilization that the white man has was not originally his. The Negro gave it to him; therefore, the Negro loves the civilization as held today by the white man, and the Negro when fighting will always fight to preserve the civilization that he gave to the white man, that is, to maintain it and keep it; but since the white man has it and claims it, we want him to understand that we are going to fight for it on condition. It is an easy thing to take away something you gave to somebody else. We do not want to take away civilization; we want to shore it up. We say to the white man, take a part of civilization and whenever your civilization is in trouble you can call on us and we will help you out of it; but the condition is, give us what is belonging to us. That is all we ask. I feel sure that there is no statesman in the world foolish enough to ignore the fighting force or power of the Negro. I cannot see where narrow-minded men get their argument from; brutalizing the Negro and legalizing it; Jim-Crowing the Negro and legalizing it, when they know that the Negro is a man and nothing can be decided in the world except the Negro is in it. {Cheers.} In the time of peace you kick down a man, you slap him in the face, and when you are in trouble you want that man to help you; are you not a fool? I trust the world will understand the new attitude of the Negro. We are not giving to you more than you give to us. Give us a kick and we return the kick; give us a smile and we return the smile—and you know nobody can smile like the Negro. {Laughter.} He smiles broadest and he fights longest.”

~ The Honorable Marcus Garvey

“I found out, therefore, that the Ku Klux Klan was purely a racial organization standing up in the interests of white folks exclusive of the interests of others. You cannot blame any group of men, whether they are Chinese, Japanese, Anglo-Saxons or Frenchmen, for standing up for their interests or for organizing in their interest.”

“The Ku Klux Klan is not an ordinary social club organized around the corner. The Ku Klux Klan is the invisible government of the United States of America. The Ku Klux Klan expresses to a great extent the feeling of every real white American. The attitude of the Ku Klux Klan is that America shall be a white man’s country at all hazards, at all costs.”

Passages from Marcus Garvey’s Speech “Interview with the Ku Klux Klan” July 15, 1922

The Ku Klux Klan to a large extent represents every white man in the United States of America. I want you to realize that. The Ku Klux Klan represents the spirit, the feeling, the attitude of every white man in the United States of America. Now, what should be the Negro’s attitude toward such an organization?

The Negro’s attitude toward such an organization should not be to stand off, not knowing its program, not understanding it and saying and writing all kinds of things against it with the intention of aggravating its program and its attitude toward the race, but the duty of the leadership of the Negro race, finding itself in such an unenviable position, is to study the thing, to understand the thing and get as much information as possible about the thing in your own interests. Aggravating the Ku Klux Klan or aggravating any organization in the world organized for the specific purpose of white supremacy is not going to help the race in America, placed at a disadvantage as it is. There is much more beneath the surface of the Ku Klux Klan than you can see on the surface.

Some of us Negro leaders and some of us Negro newspapermen get crazy because the New York World and New York American about two months ago tried to expose the activities of the Ku Klux Klan. Now, let me tell you that the World nor the American has absolutely no intention to put down the Ku Klux Klan to please Negroes. The World and the American exposed the activities of the Ku Klux Klan for their own set reason, for their own set purpose, without having in mind the good that would accrue to Negroes by the putting down of the Ku Klux Klan; and let me tell you this, that it was not so much the real intention of their exposé to put down the Ku Klux Klan.

Negro editors and Negro leaders got wild and started to lambaste the Ku Klux Klan and write all kinds of things against them. Let me tell you this: that the Ku Klux Klan is really the invisible government of the United States of America, and that there are more people identified with the Klan than you think; that there are more people in sympathy with the activities of the Ku Klux Klan than you think, and that there is more sympathy in this country for the Ku Klux Klan than the ordinary literate Negro newspaperman thinks and sees on the surface. As proof that the Ku Klux Klan is a worthy organization in the opinion of the white leaders of this country, the exposé of The New York World led to what? Led to an investigation of the activities of the Klan by the Congress of the United States; and what has happened up to now? The Ku Klux Klan is still at large, the Ku Klux Klan has grown twice as strong since the exposé as before. The exposé of the Ku Klux Klan was solely a skillful method of advertising the activities of the Klan at very little cost to the Klan. After the activities of the Ku Klux Klan were exposed, California was besieged with the Ku Klux Klan and New York itself became a stronghold of the Klan, and if I am to take the words of the acting Imperial Wizard, the Ku Klux Klan is stronger in the Northern states than it is in the Southern states of the United States of America.

Now what are you going to do about it? Stand off and refuse to investigate and refuse to understand the attitude of the Klan toward you and in that way expect to solve the problem? Our belief is that the leadership of a large group of people must be intelligent enough to be on guard in protecting the interests or the rights of the people. Because of that intention, because of that feeling, because of that attitude, I interviewed the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan to find out the Klan’s attitude toward the race. You may believe it or not—I made several statements to him, in which he said this: that the Klan is not organized for the absolute purpose of interfering with Negroes—for the purpose of suppressing Negroes, but the Klan is organized for the purpose of protecting the interests of the white race in America. Now anything that does not spell the interests of the white race in America does not come within the scope of the Ku Klux Klan.

I found out, therefore, that the Ku Klux Klan was purely a racial organization standing up in the interests of white folks exclusive of the interests of others. You cannot blame any group of men, whether they are Chinese, Japanese, Anglo-Saxons or Frenchmen, for standing up for their interests or for organizing in their interest. I am not apologizing for the Klan or endeavoring to excuse the existence of the Klan, but I want a proper understanding about the Ku Klux Klan so that there can be no friction between the Negroes in America and the Ku Klux Klan, because it is not going to help.

The Ku Klux Klan is not an ordinary social club organized around the corner. The Ku Klux Klan is the invisible government of the United States of America. The Ku Klux Klan expresses to a great extent the feeling of every real white American. The attitude of the Ku Klux Klan is that America shall be a white man’s country at all hazards, at all costs. The attitude of the Universal Negro Improvement Association is in a way similar to the Ku Klux Klan (Except the UNIA wasn’t terrorizing and murdering folks). Whilst the Ku Klux Klan desires to make America absolutely a white man’s country, the Universal Negro Improvement Association wants to make Africa absolutely a black man’s country. {Great applause.}

~ The Honorable Marcus Garvey

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