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The Ballot or the Bullet

Program #XMAL003. Recorded in Detroit, MI on April 12, 1964.

Audio sample:

Malcolm X is a singular figure in African-American history. He led an extraordinary life. He was born in an impoverished family in Omaha, NE on May 19, 1925. He recalled being “dizzy” with hunger. He said, “My whole life has been a chronology of changes.” Indeed it was. He went through a remarkable series of transformations from being a street hustler known as Detroit Red to going to jail, to converting to Islam then breaking with Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad and becoming an independent voice for black dignity, self-reliance, and economic independence. Malcolm challenged the racist white power structure and the blacks who went along with it. He was only 39 years old when he was assassinated on February 21, 1965 in New York. Maya Angelou said of him, “His aura was too bright.” He had a charismatic presence and a radiant smile. And he was an electrifying orator. At his funeral, Ossie Davis eulogized him as our “prince. Our own black shining prince.” Today, Malcolm’s autobiography continues to be read and his words continue to inspire.

Speaker(s):

Malcolm X

Malcolm X, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, is one of the greatest African Americans in history. He was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks. He indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. He was a fabulous orator. When he spoke, you listened. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, published after his assassination, is considered one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century and it continues to be read.

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