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Malcolm X: "The Ballot or The Bullet"

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Heather Woods

on 25 June 2015

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Transcript of Malcolm X: "The Ballot or The Bullet"

Malcolm X: "The Ballot or The Bullet"
The Ballot or The Bullet: Themes
Mobilizing the black vote

"[the speech] envisioned a bloodlesss revolution led by blacks exercising their democratic voting rights." [manning marable]
"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." [malcolm x, april 3, 1964 b.o.b.]
"That's why, in 1964, it's time now for you and me to become more politically mature and realize what the ballot is for; what we're supposed to get when we cast a ballot; and that if we don't cast a ballot, it's going to end up in a situation where we're going to have to cast a ballot. It's either a ballot or a bullet." [malcolm x, april 3, 1964 b.o.b.]
Ballot or The Bullet: Themes
Black nationalism v Integration--a new interpretation
"the only effective solution to racial inequality was black economic and social separatism." [ellis, smith]
"The entire civil-rights struggle needs a new interpretation... To those of us whose philosophy is black nationalism, the only way you can get involved in the civil-rights struggle is give it a new interpretation." [malcolm x, april 3, 1964 b.o.b.]
Malcolm X
Born Malcolm Little - 1925 - Nebraska
Assassinated in 1965 - 3 NOI members convicted, jailed. potential FBI collusion.
Seminal figure in black nationalist movement
Member of Nation of Islam
Historical Context
1870—15th Amendment - voting not restricted by race, color, previous servitude
1960—Presidential Election - Kennedy v Nixon
1961—Bay of Pigs Invasion
1961—Construction of the Berlin Wall
1963—March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom, Dr. King "I Have A Dream"
1964—Malcolm X Separates from NOI
1964—"The Ballot or The Bullet"
1964—Civil Rights Act of 1964 - voting rights and desegregation
1964—Presidential Election - LBJ v Goldwater

Also: Vietnam War, Cold War

Full transcript