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Malik El Hajj Shabazz 91st Birthday

A Rhetorical Analysis of his speech; "The Ballot of the Bullet"

malcolm-xBorn Malcolm Little, better known to the world as Malcolm X, el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz would have been 91-years-old today. At a speaking engagement in the Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965, three gunmen rushed Malcolm onstage. They shot him 15 times at close range. The 39-year-old was pronounced dead on arrival at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

Near the end of his life, the Hajji let go of the past and strove for a better future, or at least one better than the world has endured. It was during the Haj, seeing Muslims of different races and from all over the world joining together, that he understood the profound need for a universal faith and universal mission. Of course, his mission was cut short when a year later he was shot and killed as he gave a speech on African-American unity in New York.

Ever wonder What would the figure whom history and Hollywood will remember as Malcolm X have thought of the world today if he had lived to see it? Malcolm X was one of the few African-Americans of his time who traveled through the Muslim world seeking to build a coalition between African-American Muslims in America and Muslims everywhere else. You could say he was ahead of his time. His larger mission was to create a fair and open political arena. Without human rights, he believed, civil rights could not be achieved.

“If I was a young adult in the 1960s, I would have been right at Mosque #7 listening to Minister Malcolm X,” Mount Vernon’s Brother Arthur Muhammad shares with BW. “He was a true example of discipline, inner strength, commitment to his people and to the cause of fighting for freedom, justice, and equality.

While much has changed since Malcolm X was alive, it’s amazing how some of his speeches cause be used to describe conditions today, like the Black Lives Matter movement marching and protesting against young black males being brutally killed by the police…

Every years during Black History Month and in January in observation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday we hear a plethora on popular speeches especially the one the love to force feed u every years about him having a dream (which is not what his speech was originally titled) but rarely does mainstream media or even our own Black media and radio play the speeches of Malcolm X. This year Black Westchester shares some of the speeches of Malcolm X for you to listen to at your leisure. While the observation of his birthday is not a national holiday, it should be looked at as important for us as a people to reflect of what Malcolm meant to us and celebrate his accomplishments.

Here’s one I suggest everyone check out titled “The Ballot or The Bullet,” a speech by Malcolm X mostly about black nationalism delivered in April 1964.

A timeless truth! A brilliant speech! Flawless delivery with perfect wit. Another exceptionally intelligent leader stopped in his tracks because of his intelligence. It is wonderful hearing this again. This is our (American) history and sadly our present day status. On April 3, 1964 Malcolm X delivered one of the most empowering speeches in American history. Two thousand people including some of his enemies turned out to hear him speak in Cleveland, Ohio. Malcolm was a black civil rights activist who played a huge role in the black community during the mid 20th century. His speech “The Ballot or the Bullet,” was about black nationalism during the current election year. At the time, blacks did not have much say in who they wanted to elect. The white politicians would come into black neighborhoods and push, press, and force it upon blacks to put them in office. What Malcolm was trying to instill into the minds of blacks was to be their own person. He wanted them to vote for who they felt was the right choice to benefit blacks. “The Ballot or the Bullet,” is discussing liberty or death. To either be free or die trying.  Liberty or death was a phrase that was used by a young patriot by name of Patrick Henry during the revolutionary war.

“The Ballot or The Bullet” by Malcolm X was a challenge to blacks to practice black nationalism. He wants black people to practice their constitutional right to vote. It makes his audience more enthusiastic about Malcolm X’s subject matter. In the speech “The Ballot or the Bullet”, Malcolm, uses pathos as an appeal and explores black nationalism as a rhetorical strategy to bring recognition to racial inequality, voting rights, and civil rights.

In his speech, he explores racial inequality covered as it pertains to black nationalism. Racial inequality is a major contributor in the fight for black nationalism in America. Voting rights is heightened in Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet,” speech. Malcolm is pushing hard for blacks to take advantage of their right to vote. 1964 was a voting year. The trend was for these white politicians to come into black communities, get the black vote, then control the black community. X explains his premise by saying,

The political philosophy of Black Nationalism only means that the black man should control the politics and the politicians in his own community. 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, Malcolm said. But now in 2016, 52 years and 14 presidential elections later, much of what Malcolm X spoke of still applies, especially how African-Americans carelessly give away their vote to the Democratic Party who takes it for grated. Take some time today on his 91st birthday, and through-out this election season to reflect on the words of Malcolm X.

“Two quotes dear to my heart, are Education is the passport to our future. Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today, and Of all our studies, history is best qualified and most attractive to reward our research,” Brother Joseph Bridgers Muhammad shares with Black Westchester. If you do not know your history you are most likely doomed to repeat it.

Black Westchester salutes the achievements and accomplishments of Malik El Hajj Shabazz and through our efforts, work to help his message alive, because we are still facing much of what he spoke of over 50 years ago.


About AJ Woodson (2395 Articles)
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company. AJ is a Father, Brother, Author, Writer, Journalism Fellow, Rapper, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian and A Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale,,, Rolling Out Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine and several others.
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