“I’m like Malcolm…”

May 19th, 2010 by | Tags: ,

Malcolm X, The Ballot or the Bullet (abridged HTML, unabridged PDF) (04/1964)

The three biggest black figures for me are Richard Pryor, Muhammad Ali, and Malcolm X. I learned something important from each of them. Pryor taught perspective, Ali taught confidence, and Malcolm taught the importance of intelligence in all things.

Speak plainly, be friendly, consider your position, and if the time comes, you put the hammer down. You don’t thank someone for finally doing the right thing they should have been doing all along. You don’t accept anything less than what you deserve. Your anger should be a scalpel, not a bludgeon. Get the jelly out of your spine and keep cobwebs out of your mind. When it comes to right and wrong, there is no compromise. There is either the ballot or the bullet.

A brief quote:

“How can you thank a man for giving you what’s already yours? How then can you thank him for giving you only part of what’s already yours? You haven’t even made progress, if what’s being given to you, you should have had already. That’s not progress. And I love my Brother Lomax, the way he pointed out we’re right back where we were in 1954. We’re not even as far up as we were in 1954. We’re behind where we were in 1954. There’s more segregation now than there was in 1954. There’s more racial animosity, more racial hatred, more racial violence today in 1964, than there was in 1954. Where is the progress?

And now you’re facing a situation where the young Negroes coming up. They don’t want to hear that “turn the-other-cheek” stuff, no. In Jacksonville, those were teenagers, they were throwing Molotov cocktails. Negroes have never done that before. But it shows you there’s a new deal coming in. There’s new thinking coming in. There’s new strategy coming in. It’ll be Molotov cocktails this month, hand grenades next month, and something else next month. It’ll be ballots, or it’ll be bullets. It’ll be liberty, or it will be death.

Malcolm X would have been eighty-five years old today. Happy birthday.

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6 comments to ““I’m like Malcolm…””

  1. Love Malcolm X post-pilgrimage…. pre-pilgramage there was nothing new about his ideas, i.e., answer violence with violence hyper-masculine, ultra violent thought

  2. I think he was saying more than that, Seafire, but I agree about post-Malcolm.

  3. I’m not gonna try to speak for everybody else, but my school system did an abysmal job teaching about Malcolm X. Like you said in your old “Magneto is not Malcolm X” article, it amounted to “He didn’t like White People much.” (I still really love that one, by the way. You guys thinking of updating the contents page sometime?)

  4. I’m a huge Richard Pryor fan. He’s made a lasting impact that few people ever achieve. I hope he understood how much joy he brought to so many people. I’ve watched his movies over and over again and they never get old.

  5. I lived throught the times when all this racism was happening but where I lived (Massachusetts) it wasn’t the “in your face” hatred as it was in other areas. Excellent site.

  6. “Don’t be throwing out any ballots. A ballot is like a bullet. You don’t throw your ballots until you see a target, and if that target is not within your reach, keep your ballot in your pocket.”

    Quoted for truth.

    Thanks for the tribute to a great man.