Thursday, October 14, 2010

Malcolm X speech

In 1964, Malcolm X gave a speech in Harlem concerning the issues facing many African-Americans in Mississippi during that time.  Malcolm gave this speech because he felt that it not only affected the black people in Mississippi, but African-Americans throughout the nation.
This speech was made during a time in America, where many African-Americans citizens where being denied many of their civil rights.  One of the most important rights that were being denied was the right to vote.  African-Americans were threatened and sometimes even killed as a result of trying to practice their rights to vote.  When that was not done, they were made impossible to vote.
When Malcolm X delivered this speech, it was clearly directed towards African-Americans across the nation, weither they lived in Northern or Southern states. Malcolm was is trying to make people see his point of view, on this issues that they as black people are being faced with.  Malcolm X whole argument was that maybe the peaceful way isn't necessarily the most effective way to get through to racist white people.  In other words "you need to fight fire with fire", so to speak.  Malcolm states that "We will never communicate taling one language and he's talking another language.  He's talking the language of violence... let's learn his language.  If his language is with a shotgun, get a shotgun (Malcolm X  Speech. paragraph 4).
The emotions that are being conveyed in this speech is one of anger, hurt and compassion.  Anger because Malcolm X see's how many African-Americans are being treated during this time, even though they protest in peace.  Malcolm X is angry because he feels as though black men are not standing up for their black women and children. Hurt over the fact that there where so many women and children being brutalized by so many white people at that time.Compassion, because Malcolm X realizes that the issues that the People in Mississippi, aren't just an southern or one particular states problem, but an issue that black people should take personal everywhere.  Even though he lives in Harlem he understands that if he turns the other way that he is not only failing those black people in the south, but himself as well. 
I believe that this speech most likely had an profound effect on the African-american community at that time.  One can only imagine the emotions running through the crowd at that point.  The attitudes that, they just were not gonna take it anymore and sit back and watch as there fellow brothers and sisters in the south were being treated with such disrespect.

1 comment:

  1. Good close reading of the speech - it's interesting that you say that about the view that "black men are not standing up for their black women and children." Although I don't think he mentions gender specifically, this idea of what it is to be a man or woman shapes our ideas about what it is to be free. As we saw with Ella Baker and Fanny Lou Hammer, women's leadership in the movement has often been forgotten . . .