Timeless Teachings: Malcolm X Pt. II | The Ballot or the Bullet

I don’t think it’s a secret Malcolm X is by far one of my favorite mentors. It’s weird calling him a mentor since, you know, he’s dead and all. But to be honest, I consider a lot of people who are no longer with us mentors. Every single person I featured in this series is a mentor of mine.

Since it’s Primary session in America, and 2020 will be here sooner than we know it, I think it’s pretty appropriate to highlight one of Malcolm’s most famous speeches, “The Ballot or the Bullet.” This is by far one of my most favorite speeches from Malcolm and you’ll soon see why.

The Ballot or the Bullet

King Solomon Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan – April 12, 1964

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. By the same token, the time when that same white man, knowing that your eyes are too far open, can send another Negro in the community, and get you and me to support him, so that he can use him to lead us astray, those days are long gone too.

The economic philosophy of black nationalism only means that we should own and operate and control the economy of our community. You would never have found—you can’t open up a black store in a white community. White man won’t even patronize you. And he’s not wrong. He got sense enough to look out for himself. It’s you who don’t have sense enough to look out for yourself.

Our people not only have to be reeducated to the importance of supporting black business, but the black man himself has to be made aware of the importance of going into business. And once you and I go into business, we own and operate at least the businesses in our community. What we will be doing is developing a situation, wherein, we will actually be able to create employment for the people in the community. And once you can create some employment in the community where you live, it will eliminate the necessity of you and me having to act ignorantly and disgracefully, boycotting and picketing some cracker someplace else trying to beg him for a job. Anytime you have to rely upon your enemy for a job, you’re in bad shape.”

“The government itself has failed us. And the white liberals who have been posing as our friends have failed us. And once we see that all of these other sources to which we’ve turned have failed, we stop turning to them and turn to ourselves. We need a self-help program, a do-it-yourself philosophy, a do-it-right-now philosophy, a it’s-already-too-late philosophy.

“The Democratic Party don’t – they don’t do it that way. They got a thing they call gerrymandering. They maneuver you out of power. Even though you can vote they fix it so you’re voting for nobody. They got you going and coming. In the South they’re outright political wolves, in the North they’re political foxes. A fox and a wolf are both canine, both belong to the dog family. Now, you take your choice. You going to choose a northern dog or a southern dog? Because either dog you choose, I guarantee you, you’ll still be in the doghouse.

This is why I say it’s the ballot or the bullet. It’s liberty or it’s death. It’s freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody.

Anytime you find the government involved in a conspiracy to violate the citizenship or the civil rights of a people in 1964, then you are wasting your time going to that government expecting redress. Instead, you have to take that government to the world court and accuse it of genocide and all of the other crimes that it is guilty of today.

As long as you fight it on the level of civil rights, you’re under Uncle Sam’s jurisdiction. You’re going to his court expecting him to correct the problem. He created the problem. He’s the criminal! You don’t take your case to the criminal, you take your criminal to court.

“So I studied this man, Billy Graham, who preaches white nationalism. That’s what he preaches. I say that’s what he preaches. The whole church structure in this country is white nationalism, you go inside a white church – that’s what they preaching, white nationalism. They got Jesus white, Mary white, God white, everybody white – that’s white nationalism.

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Malcolm X | Born: May 19, 1925 – Assassinated: February 21, 1965

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