This year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of one of the most important figures in the Black militant struggle for freedom – Malcolm X. Fatally shot on February 21, 1965, Malcolm X’s legacy includes a bold and unwavering view of black human rights. He was a man who was constantly evolving, having spent the early years of his life as a criminal, before undergoing a personal transformation in prison. He joined the Nation of Islam, when he changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Years later, Malcolm X broke from the Nation of Islam and went on to found the Organization of Afro-American Unity, and explored Pan-Africanism. On February 21 1965, just a short while after breaking from the Nation of Islam, three of the organization’s members assassinated Malcolm X.
Ten months before he was killed Malcolm X gavehis most famous speech, “The Ballot or the Bullet”, where he advised African Americans to exercise their right to vote but also warned that members of Congress were all alike in their desire to disenfranchise Blacks. Most importantly he warned that blacks might have to take up arms if their constitutional rights were not respected. Today, courtesy of the Pacifica Radio Archives, and on the final week day of Black History month, just over 50 years after Malcolm X was killed, we present a lengthy excerpt from his speech, the Ballot or the Bullet.
To listen to this and other speeches, visit the Pacifica Radio Archives.