Voting Rights for African Americans

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Alexis Augustin
AAA S Malcolm X
Survey Essay

A Vote for a Better Future

Black Americans of today need to register to vote and make use of their voting rights if they want to see a change to the current state of democracy. In the contemporary world of today Americans are said to be living in the most equal nation, one where its citizens are entitled to a variety of inalienable rights, one in particular being the right to vote. However this was not always the case. From the times of the late Malcolm X, we have not made much progress in our voting affairs. We have the choice and ability to vote, but are we as a people (the black community) utilizing these rights to the utmost? Have we been using our votes to our advantage, or making use of our votes at all? Statistics and I say no. We did not always have choice or say in how things were governed and now that we do, I would hope to see all Black Americans jumping at the chance to be a part of the decision making. Think back to not even a half century ago when this privilege was not ours, and there were many a people ready to give up all they had, their lives and more for it. Malcolm X the revolutionary in his struggle for freedom stressed the importance of Voting. He emphasized the power of the vote and the importance of being granted the right of voting, and even now not as many as need be are making use of their vote.

A good beginning is Malcolm X's speech, "The Ballot or the Bullet" delivered April 3, 1964 in Cleveland, Ohio; this speech was devoted to the voting issues of that era. The most significant ideas of that speech that I would like to discuss are exploitation of African-Americans and This struggle was not easy; it was obvious that there were individuals that disagreed with blacks having voting rights. When Malcolm spoke out in "An Appeal to African Heads of State", he discussed his dissatisfaction with the American government's willingness to protect the lives its African-American citizens from blatant racists' murder attacks. Malcolm labels the African-Americans as defenseless. He refers to three recent cases. One case there were two black bodies were found in the Mississippi River, another in Georgia where an unarmed African-American educator was brutally murdered and the last when three civil-rights leaders disappeared completely. Although it was uncertain if they were murdered, the people were lead to believe they disappeared because they were teaching the black people in Mississippi how to vote and secure their political rights. I think it is safe to say they wanted to use this to scare others from doing the same. The last case alone illustrates the influence of the vote. The National Newspaper Publishers Association also made efforts during this time to encourage greater Negro voter registration. It was quoted "We have seen men shot down in the streets as they moved to exercise the basic right of suffrage. We have seen, only recently, more than a dozen men in Mississippi lose their lives when they attempt to register to vote …" "This alone should motivate every eligible man and woman to resolve now to vote in the coming presidential election." These statements tie in with my survey question: Do you think African Americans take for granted the voting rights their ancestors fought so long for?, majority of survey takers, a good 55% either agreed strongly or moderately. On many occasions Malcolm X testifies specifically about voting in the south. In the speech "With Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer," Malcolm affirms that because the black man is denied the right to vote in the south of the forty-six committees that had control the foreign and domestic direction of the country in 1964 twenty-three were in the hands of Southern racists. Another account concerning voting in the south, Malcolm testifies "…if Negroes could vote south of the Canadian border--south South, if Negroes could vote in the southern part of the South…" Malcolm...
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