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Message To The Grass Roots by Malcolm X

Message To The Grass Roots

by Malcolm X


Title Details

Running Time
44 Min.
User Rating
  4.5  Stars Based on 4 ratings
In his "Message To The Grass Roots" speech Malcolm X rallies African Americans to rise up for revolution against white people and form a black nation separate from the United States. He argues against the non-violent principles of the civil rights movement and sees self-defense and violence as central to the African American struggle in the U.S. This speech shows a different side of the black struggle for human rights in the 1960s.

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Reviews & Ratings
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Wheres the content?
Reviewer rocky
 December 15, 2009
I get an error on this page and a few other Black radicals pages.Just something tp make me say Hmmmmm

Malcom X and the False Dichotomy?
Reviewer cliffwhitaker
 February 17, 2006
Malcolm X is one of the most important orators and social thinkers of the 20th century. This speech is Malcolm X at his best. President Bush should listen to this speech to learn how to clearly define whom the “enemy” is and make an effective call to action against that “enemy.” The sound quality of this speech is very good, even though it was copied from an analogue tape. Malcolm X can clearly be understood.

Malcolm X makes three main points. First, Blacks (African-Americans) have a right to self defense. This is an important point in light of when this speech is given. Malcolm X makes mention of the Birmingham Protests where the local police turned water hoses on children and where a church had been bombed, killing three little girls. Malcolm had no problem with peaceful protest, but when a black person is assaulted, he should defend himself by any means necessary. He was very critical of Black leaders (read Martin Luther King, Jr.) who preached a non-violent response. He called them “Uncle Toms”and thought they were traitors to their race. He agreed with the the Black leaders when they called for a revolution, but for Malcolm X there could not be a non-violent revolution

Second, Blacks need to unite against a common enemy, the white man. Malcolm makes note that the common problem of oppressed people around the globe was that they were being oppressed by Europeans. He mentions the revolts against colonial rule through out Africa where the rulers were white Europeans. He also notes similar revolts in the Middle East, and Asia, also against white Europeans. He then points out that the Black Man's oppressor in America was, “blond and blue eyed.” He points out in the beginning of his speech that Black People were not, “catching hell” because they were Methodist, Baptist, Masons, Elks, or Americans, but because they were Black and that White America had a problem with this.

Third, Blacks should not seek integration with Whites, but in stead should become a separate nation. The goal of the Black Revolution should be land so that they could separate from White America. Malcolm X did not go into what this Black Nation would look like or where it would be. But to Malcolm X, advancement of the Black race was tied to business and land ownership. Black people need to have ownership of the means of producing income if they were to climb out of the poverty they were in.

The problems with Malcolm X's views is that he is not seeing the whole problem Black People faced in the first half of the 20th century. Problem one, at least in the South, Blacks violently defending themselves was not an option. In many cases, you did not know who was actually committing the crimes against Blacks in the South. No one knew was responsible for the Bombing at the Church in Birmingham, or many of other murders that was going on at the time. In any case, Blacks dending themselves would have been seen by the majority of the people in America as proof that Black's had a natural tendency towards violence and lawless behavior. Additionally, Blacks laked sufficient numbers to successfully mount an armed revolt against White America. As Dr. King noted the choice was between, “non-violence and non-existence.”

Second two, that all white people was the “enemy.” What he failed to see was that, especially in the South, White people were being as oppressed as blacks in many places. Jim Crow laws kept Blacks disenfranchised, but also kept poor whites from being able gain enough political power to change their circumstances.

Third, that, in the South, blacks did own land and businesses, but were unable to work their way out of poverty, because a few White people could keep them isolated from opportunities to make money with their farms and businesses, by giving those opportunities (such as government contracts) to white people exclusively. Blacks owning their own country is not necessarily a means to economic empowerment (examples, Haiti and Liberia).

Despite the problems in the logic of his arguments, people should listen to what Malcolm X had to say in regards to the race issues of his day so that you can have a well rounded view of what was going on at the time. He is also someone you should study if you want to improve on you skills as an orator.

More Details

  • Published: 1963
  • LearnOutLoud.com Product ID: M007387