Malcolm X Speech “The Black Revolution”
Malcolm X has been known as a brilliant leader of the 1960s, possessing radical ideas and deep-seated Muslim beliefs. He had extreme ideas on racial discrimination, which the black community had to face in the white-dominated society. His ideas about racism had developed through his experiences when he was a little child. His sentiments about the sufferings of the blacks since four hundred years in America were the main ingredient of his speech “The Black Revolution.” This paper intends to provide the reader with a summary of his captivating speech, followed by an analysis of the speech.
Malcolm starts with the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s reference toward the black revolution. He puts a question whether the American segregation system will result in an integration of the black masses into the white society, or will lead to their total separation from the white people. He calls the white race as “white wolves” (para.3) who has been feeding over the black blood for centuries, and asks how black leaders can expect the black people to mix into the white society. He says that the black man is the “lost sheep” and the American man is the “vicious and blood-thirsty wolf” (para.4). Twenty million so-called Negros and black people have been suffering at the hands of Americans. But now, black people have started recognizing their suffering, and they want complete separation rather than segregation or integration. Malcolm states that since black people belong to a religious group, there is no way they can be integrated into a non-religious society. Then, he refers to the teachings of Islam, Allah, and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He says that Islam is the religion of submission and peace; Allah is the creator; and, Muhammad (PBUH) teaches that it is truth only that leads people to freedom. It is this truth that is changing black perspective toward the whites. Truth gives blacks the strength to stand up for their rights, and recognize what the white race is doing to them. Malcolm refers to Jesus’ teachings about truth. He says that the white Americans have always known the truth, and have been hiding it from the black masses, keeping them in ignorance. Whites have been hiding all other religions except Christianity from them. He asserts that Elijah Muhammad (PBUH) has taught about one God, who will eventually create a one-brotherhood society, free of racism. To do so, God has the divine plan to bring down the white world, and this is to be done through the black revolution. White dominance will come to an end, and a system of equality and justice will prevail. As God has always destroyed the oppressors, he will destroy the American House of Bondage in the same way, freeing the black masses. When God will be the judge, America will not be able to escape. Malcolm states that blacks should be sent back to their homeland with enough financial support to make them independent, or they should be given a separate “fertile, productive land” (para.15) in the Western hemisphere where they can lead their lives independently.
An analysis of Malcolm’s speech tells us that Malcolm tried to awaken the black people so that they were able to recognize their worth and the suffering that they had been going through for four hundred years. He told the black masses to understand the importance of separation. They should never settle down on the unjust idea of integration into the same society, with some better jobs or better positions in white workplaces. The whole speech revolved around racism, and the anger and aggression with which Malcolm addressed the black nation and the so-called Negro leaders, showed that the black revolution was just about to come, to free the blacks from the slavery. Malcolm tried to reach the emotions of the audience, because he knew that once he reached their sentiments, he would be able to awaken them to listen to and accept his ideas. That is why his tone in the speech was emotional and sentimental. Through the use of rhetorical devices in the speech, Malcolm tried to convey the message that the solution to the suffering of the blacks lied in complete separation from the white society, and that too not empty-handed. He has metaphorically compared whites to the wolves, blacks to the sheep, and the American society to the den. Wolves and sheep cannot live together in one den, and in the same way white and black people cannot integrate into one society. Malcolm has backed up his arguments through prophecies in Bible, that God never let his sheep integrate with goats, then how will he let his sheep mix with wolves? “And if his sheep can’t be safely integrated with goats they certainly aren’t safe integrated with wolves” (para.3). Hence, he motivated his people to look up to God, and decide upon living in a separate land which should be fertile and productive, with enough financial support as a return for the slavery of four hundred years. We see that Malcolm has used pathos in the whole speech, to motivate his audience. Pathos is that art of rhetoric that relies on emotion rather than emotionless facts and statistics. He has used figurative speech and metaphors that have made his speech very touching. His decisions were firm, like he said, “We want no part of integration with this wicked race of devils” (para. 16). And since he knew that his audience was a religious group, he used religious references to convince them by means of something that they had already firm belief in.
To conclude, we see that Malcolm has addressed his audience in an emotional approach so that they understood his ideas in a clearer way. He used religious teachings and Biblical references because it was the best way to convince the religious group he was addressing. Malcolm has stood up against the sufferings of the black masses in America. His idea was to give complete separation to the blacks, because they would not be able to segregate or integrate into the white society. He also mentioned that he wanted full financial support for the blacks even after separation. His speech has always been remembered as a beautiful motivational subject, which has been the most important issue of blacks in America.
- Malcolm X. The Black Revolution. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr 2012. < http://www.malcolm-x.org/speeches/spc_06__63.htm>.
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