African Americans consist of people from different religions such as Muslims, Christians etc. Because of the differences in religious beliefs internal conflicts within African American community were severe at that time. American governments exploited these conflicts and differences among the black population cleverly in order to defeat their struggles and the efforts of freedom and equality. Malcolm started his speech, by mentioning these conflicts in a direct manner and stressed the importance of keeping religious beliefs away for the success of their efforts to get freedom and equality. “X told the audience that he was not there to talk about the Muslim faith or make any connection between the civil rights movement and his religion” (Drakdrium, p.3).
At the same time it should be noted that he tried to ridicule both black and White Christian leaders like Martin Luther King, Clayton Powell, Reverend Galamison, Billy Graham etc. “I have watched how Billy Graham comes into a city, spreading what he calls the gospel of Christ, which is only white nationalism. Thats what he is. Billy Graham is a white nationalist” (Malcolm).
Here, the intentions of Malcolm are quiet unclear. It is not clear why he has brought Billy Graham into the picture. Many people believe that his intention was to ridicule the Christian community and its teachings. It should be noted that during his speech, many times he tried to argue that he is not against white community; however, the above words will definitely develop doubts about his secular credentials. At the same time, he tried to prove that greater cooperation among blacks and whites is possible up to a great extent.
“Now in speaking like this, it doesnt mean that were anti-white, but it does mean were anti-exploitation, were anti-degradation, were anti-oppression” (Malcolm). Malcolm not only tried to achieve unity among fighting blacks, but also tried to remove some of the concerns of the white population. He has pointed out that the black agitations are not against a particular community, but against certain discrepancies in the society. He clearly underlined the importance of increased cooperation between black and white community citing the examples of dialogues between Kennedy and Khrushchev.
In other words, he argued that if the democratic leader Kennedy and communist leader Khrushchev can increase their cooperation, there is no point in believing that a black-white cooperation is impossible. Blacks and whites have more common elements than democracy and communism have and therefore the cooperation between blacks and whites are much easier than the cooperation between democracy and communism.
Drakdrium. “Critical Analysis: The Ballot or The Bullet”. 2010. Web. 04 August 2011. <http://socyberty.com/history/critical-analysis-the-ballot-or-the-bullet/3/>
Malcolm X. “The Ballot or the Bullet”. April 3, 1964. Web. 04 August 2011. <http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/speeches/malcolm_x_ballot.html>
Rollyson, Carl. “Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet” Speech”. Web. 04 August 2011.
Shaw, Rebecca. “Rhetorical Analysis of Malcolm X’s Ballot or the Bullet Speech”. 2007. Web. 04 August 2011. <http://www.public.iastate.edu/~rashaw/portfolio/english250h/malcolmx.pdf>