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Stas’s Historical Investigation: Malcolm X

The Ballot or the Bullet


Hands shaking. Knees trembling. Head dizzy. Malcolm X got up on the podium to recite the speech that so many have been waiting for. This was his leap of faith. He had to take a chance and do the right thing. His destiny was to change the lives of thousands of African-Americans. Ever since he was just a little child he was aware of this. Looking back to the time when his family was persecuted just because of his skin colour, something inside him told him this is not fair. He had been given the one in a lifetime opportunity to avenge his family all over the world. This had to be done for them, and everyone else who needed help. "Earl, get the kids! Oh dear God, run! Everybody get out of the house! The house is burning down!" screamed Malcolm's mom, Louise. She was running around the house holding her head and praying to God. "Earl, grab all the valuables, I'll get the pictures! Oh my God!" The cause of this chaos was a fire that was beginning to consume Malcolm's house in the small town of Lansing, Michigan. As soon as Malcolm heard his mother's screams he quickly followed her orders and sprinted out into the front yard. There wasn't much time. Right away his dad screamed for help, as he needed a hand with the valuables. Quickly, Malcolm ran back in but his mother, still not acting calm but screaming her lungs out, issued him out the instant he stepped through the door of their burning home. Finally after a traumatic 10 minutes all of the Little's were out in the yard crying over their wooden farm house, the hut that cost them so much pain but was worth it. It was all in flames now. All the memories, all the hard work – gone. The living room was now blazing in orange, flickering fire. "Why??" they screamed. The answer was simple. It was the job of the Black Legion, which like the KuKlux Clan, believed that Malcolm's father's, Earl's, speeches about freedom of the African Americans, threatened white supremacy. When buying the house in this, what they thought to be, a peaceful town Earl overlooked a key clause in the contract that stated: "This land shall never be rented, leased, sold to, or occupied by persons other than those of the Caucasian race." The neighbours have already complained that having African Americans living next door lead to lowered property values. Even though he was a little kid Malcolm knew this wasn't right. He could feel it. He saw Blacks People discriminated all the time. It rebounded to his family life aswell. His mom was going crazy and his dad was beating the, “I saw… I saw 2 white males running away… with an empty gas of petrol!” exclaimed Malcolm’s dad. “2 white males? I don’t believe that? Sir, are you responsible for this?” the two policeman accused Christopher’s father. Then Malcolm’s father started to sprint away. He knew that the two white policemen wouldn’t believe him. This was his only chance. But after years of being a preacher Malcolm’s father was out of shape. In merely two minutes the policemen took him down. “You’re going down for this!” they screamed as they kicked him and punched the


already unconscious man. Malcolm looked back at that dreadful night. He knew he would never forget it. He knew that this was the moment he had to seize and he had to own it. This was the chance for he for his family to redeem themselves. He got up on the podium in Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. He looked into the eyes of hundreds of people,Dark, with lust for freedom and a leader, whom they could hold on to that would push them into a world they had never imagined. A world where the white and black man could prosper and work hard together towards a brighter future. He began to recite the speech he had worked so hard on, the speech that would influence thousands. He began "The Ballot or the Bullet". He began freedom. “Mr. Moderator, Reverend Cleage, Brother Lomax, brothers and sisters, and friends and I see some enemies. In fact, I think we’d be fooling ourselves if we had an audience this large and didn’t realize that there were some enemies present. This afternoon we want to talk about the ballot or the bullet. The ballot or the bullet explains itself. But before we get into it, since this is the year of the ballot or the bullet, I would like to clarify some things that refer to me personally - concerning my own personal position.”


Primary Source

This is a photo of Malcolm (not dated) out of his pamphlet: Why I Embraced the Nation of Islam. This pose and photograph is very famous and is the inspiration for the cover of the movie Malcolm X about Malcolm’s life (Denzel Washington, 1992). I chose this picture because it shows Malcolm X’s face and also because it is taken out of a very important thing from his life. The photo is connected to the book because it shows Malcolm X who is the main character of the book. This photo was also an inspiration to the cover of the book so that is another connection to the book.

Secondary Source This quote is about 2 very important people and their similar experience. it was stated by a Nigerian physician Philip Emeagwali.

“Nelson Mandela and Malcolm X came out of prison stronger.” Philip Emeagwali In my opinion this quote is great is about two really important people both having to do with helping people achieve liberty. It also refers to Malcolms who after coming out from prison became clean and decided to dedicate his life to something more than just selling drugs and mobbing people. This moment in his life is also the moment because it is when he joined the Nation of Islam. He truly came out of prison stronger, both physically (off drugs) and mentally (joined the Nation of Islam).


Summary/ Review The book “Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography” told about Malcolm X’s life. It was written in a very interesting way since it gave an insight to the future. For example when his house was burned down, the author said things like “Malcolm would later recall this”, and “His dad being falsely accused would influence his future”. Malcolm was born in Omaha, Nebraska. He later moved several times. When he was child his dad died and his mom was taken to a mental institute. He was forced to live in foster homes and in relatives’ houses. When he grew up he became a hustler in Harlem, New York City. He started from things like working for “pimps”, mobbing people and moved to up to become a big time drug dealer. After being caught and going to prison, he converted to the Nation of Islam and wanted to fights for the rights of African-Americans. He also travelled a lot during this time. In February 1965, less than a year after leaving the Nation of Islam, he got assassinated by 3 members of the group. I recommend this book to everyone since it shows the story of African American becoming equal with Whites from a different aspect then you are used to. In some of the speeches that are described in the book, for example the Ballot or the Bullet - his most famous speech, he propagates fighting his way to freedom. He was ready to pick up arms any moment of any day. It is also a graphic novel so its easy to read. The illustrations are amazing and even though their black and white they show the color of the world Malcolm lives in. One of my favorite ones is when the illustrator shows the streets of Harlem. It is a very beautiful drawing which shows the many aspects of Harlem at this time. From drug dealers to graffiti on the wall. From a prostitute wooing over a young man to a couple getting mugged. This all impressed the main character very much. Malcolm X next to Martin Luther King Jr. is the most important person responsible for African American and White people becoming equal and even though they were so different from each other its good to know both of their stories. That is why I recommend this book to everyone.

Works Cited Helfer, Andrew, and Randy DuBurke. Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006. Print. Malcolm X - An Islamic Perspective. N.d. Photograph. Colorado State University, Colorado. "Malcolm X." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 5 Nov. 2012. Web. 11 Nov. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_X>.

Memoir Historical Investigation Stas  

Malcolm X's memoir and info.

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