On February 2nd , the Civil Rights Act of 1946 was passed, banning many forms of racial segregation and admitting African Americans the right to vote. On April 12th , just 2 months later, Malcolm X gave his encouraging “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech , reassuring African Americans that there is a conspiracy within the government to block the progress dealing with pursuit of freedom and equal opportunity , so black nationalists or should do anything and everything it take to stop segregation , in the end would be the ballot or the bullet.
Malcolm X spoke to his audience as a plea for action against their white oppressors. He makes a strong statement of the civil rights movements , stating that “They keep you wrapped up in civil rights. And you spend so much time barking up the civil-rights tree , you don’t even know there’s a human rights tree on the same floor . When you expand the civil- rights struggle to the level of human rights , you can then take the case of the black man in this country before the nations in the UN.” (pg. 7 )
This excerpt from the speech suggests that there is a plot within the government and Malcolm feels that if they take the civil-rights issue further and expand it into a human rights issue , his listeners will succeed in banning segregation . He believes that the civil rights are in the hands of the government and Uncle Sam , and they keep the black nationalists under their restrictions and jurisdiction but natural rights are something everyone was born with .
Also , he mentions that all those years , African Americans worked day and night and didn’t receive a penny , and now , the government is a puppeteer pulling their strings and controlling everything , African Americans still weren’t considered Americans , he argued “ Well, I am one who doesn’t believe in deluding myself. I’m not going to sit at your table and watch you eat , with nothing on my plate , and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner , unless you eat some of what’s on that plate. Being here in America doesn’t make you an American” (pg. 2)
The government was camouflaging what they really were , they were behind the curtains , keeping the African Americans from being able to vote. Moreover , Malcolm X supports the idea of a government plot against African Americans by introducing Dixiecrats .
The Dixiecrats control the key committees that run the government . They run these committees because they have importance due to the fact that they come from states where African- Americans can’t vote. “.. in the back of the room where the Senate meets ; there’s a huge map , it shows the location of Negroes throughout the country. And it shows that the southern section of the country , the states that are most heavily concentrated with Negroes , are the ones that senators and congressmen standing up filibustering and doing all kinds of trickery to keep the Negroes from being able to vote “ (pg. 4)
Malcolm X uses the word “filibustering” often in this speech , and it usually means – blockage in a congress. He suggests that some senators and congressmen are violating the constitutional amendments that guarantee individuals the right to vote . Furthermore , Malcolm X’s answer to this issues is the remove the Democrats , then finally the Dixiecrats .
Making a statement to urge his audience , “A vote for a Democrat is a vote for a Dixiecrat . 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 if we don’t cast a ballot . it’s going to end up in a situation where we’re going to have the cast a bullet .” (Pages 4 ,5) .
In other words , African Americans need to educate themselves more , regarding candidates and political actions . They should realize the power of their vote and take full advantage of it . At last , Malcolm X states the true issue by relating his argument to his audience’s daily lives. Instead of approaching the issue like other civil- rights leaders ; he encourages the separation of black and white population . He teaches his audience pride , to take pride in their culture and race . He argues , “A segregated district or community is a community in which people live , but outsiders control the politics and economy of that community .
They never refer to the white section as a segregated community . It’s the all-Negroe section that’s a segregated community. The white man controls his own school , his own bank , his own economy , his own politics , his own everything , his own community ; but he also controls your. They’ll always give you the lowest or the worst that there is to offer.. You’ve got to control your own.” (pg. 12 )
In this sense , segregation becomes a whole new solution which Malcolm X has the answer to. Instead of fighting to blend two races , this statement fights for the separation of two. The key to ending segregation is fighting for what you deserve , and what you were born with. Malcolm X encourages his listeners and audience to do so ; to realize the power of their vote and to take full advantage of it. In 1964 , it was the ballot or the bullet .