Malcolm X – “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech (April, 1964) Context (Civil Rights Movement, 1960-1965): The decade begins with a wave of lunch counter sit-ins in 1960, followed in 1961 by "Freedom Rides" challenging segregation at bus stations. Civil rights groups launch voter registration drives in the South. The court-ordered admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi in 1962 results in a bloody confrontation between federal marshals and a segregationist mob. King helps organize a protest campaign in Birmingham in 1963 during which marchers are attacked with dogs and fire hoses. President Kennedy calls racial discrimination a "moral crisis" and introduces a civil rights bill prohibiting segregation in public accommodations. The bill becomes law in 1964 as hundreds of volunteers go to Mississippi for "Freedom Summer" despite the murder of three civil rights workers by Klansmen. In 1965 the Selma-to-Montgomery march is followed by the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Source: http://reportingcivilrights.loa.org/timeline/?decade=1960
If we don't do something real soon, I think you'll have to agree that we're going to be forced either to use the ballot or the bullet. It's one or the other in 1964. It isn't that time is running out - time has run out! 1964 threatens to be the most explosive year America has ever witnessed. The most explosive year. Why? It's also a political year. It's the year when all of the white politicians will be back in the so-called Negro community jiving you and me for some votes. The year when all of the white political crooks will be right back in your and my community with their false promises, building up our hopes for a letdown, with their trickery and their treachery, with their false promises which they don't intend to keep. As they nourish these dissatisfactions, it can only lead to one thing, an explosion; and now we have the type of black man on the scene in America today -- I'm sorry, Brother Lomax --...
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