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The Ballot or the Bullet

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Jessie Schnaible

on 9 October 2013

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Transcript of The Ballot or the Bullet

The Ballot or the Bullet
Malcolm X
April 3, 1964
Cleveland, Ohio
The Ballot or the Bullet
Malcolm's Argument:

The Seven P's
"Uncle Sam's hands are dripping with blood, dripping with the blood of the black man in this country."
Basis of Truth
"You let the white man walk around here talking about how rich this country is, but you never stop to think how it got rich so quick. It got rich because you made it rich."
There is a conspiracy in Washington D.C.
"Your and my mother and father, who didn't work an eight-hour shift, but worked from "can't see" in the morning until "can't see" at night, and investment. This is our contribution, our blood."
Jessie Schnaible & Allison Corser
The Ballot or the Bullet
Rhetorical Situation
Ranked 7th in the top 100 American speeches of the 20th century by 137 leading scholars of American public address
Problem Solving &
The Negro community does not know that they are being cheated and once they "wake up" they will feel empowered.
Civil rights Act of 1964
Malcolm X: former spokesman for Nation of Islam
"So it's time to wake up. And let THEM know you -- something else that's wide open too. It's got to be the ballot or the bullet. The ballot or the bullet. If you're afraid to use an expression like that, you should get on out of the country; you should get back in the cotton patch; you should get back in the alley."
"No, I'm not an American. I'm one of the 22 million black people who are victims of Americanism. One of the 22 million black people who are victims of democracy....I am speaking as a vitim of this American system. And I see America through the eyes of a victim."
"Lyndon B. Johnson is the head of the Democratic Party. If he's for civil rights, let him go into the Senate next week and ... denounce the Southern branch of his party. Let him go in there right now and take a moral stand — right now, not later. Tell him, don't wait until election time. If he waits too long ... he will be responsible for letting a condition develop in this country which will create a climate that will bring seeds up out of the ground with vegetation on the end of them looking like something these people never dreamed of. In 1964, it's the ballot or the bullet."

"If you don't take this kind of stand, your little children will grow up and look at you and think 'shame.' If you don't take an uncompromising stand, I don't mean go out and get violent; but at the same time you should never be nonviolent unless you run into some nonviolence."
"Don't let anybody tell you anything about the ods are against you. If they draft you, they send you to Korea and make you face 800 million Chinese. If we can be brave over there. you can be brave right here. These odds aren't as great as those odds. And if you fight here, you will at least know what you're fighting for."
"The Constitution itself has within it the machinery to expel any representative from a state where the voting rights of the people are violated. You don't even need new legislation. Any person in Congress right now, who is there from a state or a district where the voting rights of the people are violated, that particular person should be expelled from Congress."
"So we're giving a new interpretation to the civil-rights struggle, an interpretation that will enable us to come into it, take part in it."
"I'm speaking as a victim of this American system. I don't see any American dream; I see an American nightmare."
"Let the world know how bloody his hands are. Let the world know the hypocrisy that's practiced"
"Mr. Moderator, Brother Lomax, brothers and sisters, friends and enemies."
The 1964 Election,The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Dixiecrats, Oppression of Negroes

Negroes are uneducated, orthodox methods might not work, Muslim background
Our Argument:
to minimize dissension from within the freedom movement (not necessarily without)
Negroes should use their voting rights or they "should get back in the cotton patch; [they] should get back to the alley."
Negroes should try to improve their own communities instead of trying to integrate into the white communities.
"Modern warfare today won't work.This is the day of the guerrilla...Nowhere on this earth does the white man win in guerrilla warfare."
"It is not necessary to change the white man's mind....We have to change our own mind. We have to come together with warmth so we can develop unity and harmony that's necessary to get this problem solved ourselves... Join any organization that has a gospel that's for the uplift of the black man."
"In 1964, it's the battle or the bullet."
"Don't be throwing out any ballots. A ballot is like a bullet. You don't throw your ballots until you see a target, and if that target is not within your reach, keep your ballot in your pocket."
People are still quoting Malcolm X and this speech to this day, exemplifies its impact and success.
As a former spokesman for the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X used to preach the differences between the Islam and Christianity. This is one of Malcolm's strongest speeches because he uses powerful language to unify and empower the African-American community.
His framework carries on in later black empowerment movements. Including the Trey Vaughn case in recent history.
Black nationalism: Malcolm uses strong "us v.s. them" language as opposed to MLK
"This is not even a government that's based on democracy. It is not a government that is made up of representative of the people. Half of the people in the South can't even vote. Half of the senators and congressmen who occupy these key positions in Washington, DC, are there illegally, are there unconstitutionally."
"It is best for us to first see that we have the same problem, a common problem, a problem that will make you catch hell whether you're a Baptist, or a Methodist, or a Muslim, or a nationalist."
" When you take your case to Washington D.C., you're taking it to the criminal who's responsible; it's like running from the wolf to the fox. They're all in cahoots together."
" ...the white political crooks will be right back in your and my community with
false promises, building up our hopes for a let down, with
trickery and
treachery, with
false promises which
don't intend to keep."
"How can you thank a man for giving you something that's already yours? "
" Not only did we give of our free labor, we gave of our blood. Every time he had a call to arms, we were the first ones in uniform. We died on every battlefield the white man had. We have made a greater sacrifice than anybody who's standing up in America today."
Black vote is the swing vote
"Well, what does this mean? It means that when the white people are evenly divided, and black people have a bloc of votes of their own, it is left up to them to determine who's going to sit in the White House and who's going to be in the dog house."
Challenges commonly held attitude that blacks need to integrate into white society.
Full transcript