Malcolm X : The Ballot or the Bullet
Mr. Moderator, Reverend Cleage, Brother Lomax, brothers and sisters, and friends and I see some enemies. In fact, I think we’d be fooling ourselves if we had an audience this large and didn’t realize that there were some enemies present.
This afternoon we want to talk about the ballot or the bullet. The ballot or the bullet explains itself. But before we get into it, since this is the year of the ballot or the bullet, I would like to clarify some things that refer to me personally -- concerning my own personal position.
I'm still a Muslim. That is, my religion is still Islam. My religion is still Islam. I still credit Mr. Mohammed for what I know and what I am. He’s the one who opened my eyes. At present, I'm the Minister of the newly founded Muslim Mosque, Incorporated which has its offices in the Teresa Hotel, right in the heart of Harlem -- that’s the black belt in New York city. And when we realize that Adam Clayton Powell is a Christian minister, he’s the -- he heads Abyssinian Baptist Church, but at the same time, he’s more famous for his political struggling.
And Dr. King is a Christian Minister, in Atlanta – or from Atlanta Georgia -- or in Atlanta, Georgia, but he’s become more famous for being involved in the civil rights struggle. There’s another in New York, Reverend Galamison -- I don’t know if you’ve heard of him out here – he’s a Christian Minister from Brooklyn, but has become famous for his fight against a segregated school system in Brooklyn. Reverend Clee, right here, is a Christian Minister, here in Detroit. He’s the head of the “Freedom Now Party.”
All of these are Christian Ministers -- All of these are Christian Ministers, but they don’t come to us as Christian Ministers. They come to us as fighters in some other category. I’m a Muslim minister -- the same as they are Christian Ministers -- I’m a Muslim minister. And I don’t believe in fighting today in any one front, but on all fronts. In fact, I’m a black Nationalist Freedom Fighter.
Islam is my religion, but I believe my religion is my personal business. It governs my personal life, my personal morals. And my religious philosophy is personal between me and the God in whom I believe; just as the religious philosophy of these others is between them and the God in whom they believe.
And this is best this way. Were we to come out here discussing religion, we’d have too many differences from the outstart and we could never get together. So today, though Islam is my religious philosophy, my political, economic, and social philosophy is Black Nationalism. You and I -- As I say, if we bring up religion we’ll have differences; we’ll have arguments; and we’ll never be able to get together. But if we keep our religion at home, keep our religion in the closet, keep our religion between ourselves and our God, but when we come out here, we have a fight that’s common to all of us against a [sic] enemy who is common to all of us.
The political philosophy of Black Nationalism only means that the black man should control the politics and the politicians in his own community. The -- The time -- The time when white people can come in our community and get us to vote for them so that they can be our political leaders and tell us what to do and what not to do is long gone.
By the same token, the time when that same white man, knowing that your eyes are too far open, can send another negro into the community and get you and me to support him so he can use him to lead us astray -- those days are long gone too.
The political philosophy of Black Nationalism only means that if you and I are going to live in a Black community -- and that’s where we’re going to live, cause as soon as you move into one of their -- soon as you move out of the Black community into their community, it’s mixed for a period of time, but they’re gone and you’re right there all by yourself again.
We must -- We must understand...
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