The Ballot or the Bullet

In: English and Literature

Submitted By jmercer
Words 1615
Pages 7
The Ballot or the Bullet

“The Ballot or the Bullet”, the name itself does not leave something to the imagination. It catches our attention and makes us react without even uttering another word. Malcolm X knew this well and that’s what made him such a charismatic figure in the civil rights movement of the sixties. Malcolm X delivered this speech at the height of the civil rights movement, just one month prior Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered. X was trying to go after a different group of people within the same group (African-Americans), he knew that many people didn’t embrace the peaceful nature of Dr. King’s rallies and knew he could capitalize on the moment. Congress had done very little to further the civil rights movement with any piece of legislation, and the African-American population was growing frustrated. That frustration fueled Malcolm X to deliver “The Ballot or the Bullet”, invoking a sense of emergency amongst African-Americans to act now. 1964 was an election year and Malcolm X used this to further fuel his movement, “when all the political crooks will be right in the community, with all their false promises which they don’t intend to keep (X, 1964). Malcolm X made it very clear that he was not asking the black man to throw caution to the wind with statements such as “I’m not anti-Democrat, I’m not anti-Republican, and I’m not anti-anything. I’m just questioning their (white politicians) sincerity and some of the strategy that they’ve been using on our people by promising them promises that they don’t intend to keep (X, 1964)”. So while he wasn’t “anti-anything”, establishing a logos argument with his audience, he also said such things as, “He may be friendly, but he’s not your friend (X, 1964)”, which helped fuel the anger in the room creating pathos within the crowd. He seemed to go back and forth…...

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