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The Ballot or the Bullet

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Julia Bassett

on 24 May 2013

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Transcript of The Ballot or the Bullet

King Solomon Baptist Church (Detroit, Michigan)

African American audience

2,000 supporters, some opponents The Ballot or the Bullet
Malcolm X Purpose Logical
Appeals Figurative Language Form Repetition Parallelism
"Uncle Sam, with the blood of your and mine mothers and fathers on his hands, with the blood dripping down his jaws like a bloody-jawed wolf, and still got the nerve to point his finger at other countries."

"You are going to choose to be a northern dog or a southern dog? Because either dog you choose I guarantee you'll still be in the dog house. Alliteration Emotional Appeals Diction/
Syntax Rhetorical Questions Audience "You look at the structure of the government that controls this country; it's controlled by 16 senatorial committees and 20 congressional committees. Of the 16 senatorial committees that run the government, 10 of them are in the hands of Southern segregationists. Of the 20 congressional committees that run the government, 12 of them are in the hands of Southern segregationists...you, today, are in the hands of a government of segregationists, racists, white supremacists..." Examples To stress to African
Americans that it is necessary to use the right to vote wisely, and if the government tries to take that right away,
the African American population will need to take up arms. “It’s not so good to refer to what you’re going to do as a sit-in…Think of the image of someone sitting. An old woman can sit. An old man can sit. A chump can sit. A coward can sit. Anything can sit. Well you and I been sitting long enough, and it’s time today for us to start doing some standing, and some fighting to back that up.” Black nationalism = the colonists breaking away from Great Britain

Gaining rights = countries took similar problems to the UN

This kind of fighting = revolution “Now back during the days when you were blind, deaf, and dumb, ignorant, politically immature, naturally you went along with that.” “…and you have 22 million Afro-Americans whose choices are being bound, whose little girls are being murdered, whose leaders are being shot down in broad daylight.” “He tricked you, had you marching down to Washington. Yes, had you marching back and forth between the feet of a dead man named Lincoln and another dead man named George Washington singing “We Shall Overcome.” He made a chump out of you. He made a fool out of you. He made you think you were going somewhere and you end up going nowhere but between Lincoln and Washington.” Examples " A Dixiecrat is
nothing but a Democrat."

The word filibuster

"They don't do it that way...."

"Revolutions destroy systems"

"Ballot or bullet" He repeats these words to emphasize
how the government treats the African Americans unfairly and poorly and how the government's actions make it difficult for them. "So how in the
world can the
Democratic Party in the
South actually side with
you in sincerity, when all
of its power is based in
the South?" Background 1964
Civil Rights Movement Emotionally-charged and compelling language helps to evoke passionate feelings within the audience.
This language presents the audience of African Americans as citizens who are poorly treated and are lacking full rights. These elements make the speech one that will be remembered long after the speaker is gone; it will not lose its importance or impact. Informal diction The speech is on a very formal and serious topic and yet Malcolm X chooses to use some informal diction.
Example: "Oh, I say you've been misled. You been had. You been took."

This makes the speech somewhat "conversational," building a more personal bridge between speaker and audience. Parallelism adds emphasis to the idea that the white man is brave when backed by all of man's highly specialized weapons, but does not actually need these in a survival situation. "Formal" Informative Speech encouraging action "He's brave when he's got tanks.
He's brave when he's got planes. He's brave when he's got bombs. He's brave when he's got a whole lot of company along with him, but you take that little man from Africa and Asia..." "So today, our people are disillusioned. They've become disenchanted. They've become dissatisfied."
Full transcript