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Home » Malcolm X’s Speech: The Ballot or the Bullet (Full Transcript)

Malcolm X’s Speech: The Ballot or the Bullet (Full Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Malcolm X’s speech titled “The Ballot or the Bullet” which was delivered on April 12, 1964 at King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit.

In this speech, Malcolm X emphasizes the importance of self-help and black nationalism to improve the Black community’s political and economic position. Malcolm X urges people to focus on the ballot or the bullet as a means to achieve justice and freedom and advocates for the black vote to bring about change by threatening the power structure.

Listen to the audio version here:


Mr. Moderator, Reverend Clegg, 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.

I’m still a Muslim, that is, my religion is still Islam. My religion is still Islam. I still credit Mr. Muhammad for what I know and what I am. He’s the one who opened my eyes. At present I’m the minister of the newly founded Muslim Mosque, Incorporated, which has its offices in the Teresa Hotel right in the heart of Harlem. That’s the Black Belt in New York City.

And when we realized that Adam Clayton Powell is a Christian minister, he has Abyssinia Baptist Church, but at the same time he’s more famous for his political struggling, and Dr. King is a Christian minister from Atlanta, Georgia, or in Atlanta, Georgia. But he’s become more famous for being involved in the civil rights struggle.

There’s another in New York, Reverend Galamison, I don’t know if you’ve heard of him out here. He’s a Christian minister from Brooklyn, but has become famous for his fight against the segregated school system in Brooklyn. Reverend Cleage, right here, is a Christian minister here in Detroit, he’s the head of the Freedom Now Party.

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