Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘speeches’ Category

malcomxmessagetothegrassroots

“Message to the Grassroots” is one of the best speeches made by Malcolm X. He gave it in Detroit on November 10th 1963. It was his answer to Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech given just a few months before. Malcolm X says that you cannot have a revolution without violence, that what blacks in America need to fight for is not the right to sit next to a white man at a lunch counter but the right to a country of their own. It is a call for black nationalism, for black revolution.

It is also the speech where he laid out the difference between house Negroes and field Negroes, calling Martin Luther King a house Negro – one who sells out  to whites.

King was leading a Negro revolution, a revolution of turn the other cheek and singing “We Shall Overcome” – which is no revolution at all. If you look at the successful revolutions in history – the French, American, Russian and Chinese revolutions – what do you see? You see violence, you see men fighting for land.

Why is violence wrong in Mississippi and Alabama, when your churches are being bombed and your little girls are being murdered? If it is right for America to teach us how to be violent in defence of her against Hitler, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country.

We are all black people, second-class citizens, ex-slaves. You are nothing but an ex-slave. You did not come here on the Mayflower. You came here on a slave ship – in chains. As a black person you are not wanted in America.

We have a common enemy. Once we all see that we can come together as one. And what we have foremost in common is that enemy, the white man.

He is the enemy of anyone anywhere in the world who is not white. In Kenya, Algeria and China. At the Bandung conference they found that by not inviting the white man they could get along.

The march on Washington came from the grassroots. It scared the white man to death. President Kennedy called in the Negro leaders:

“Call it off.” Kennedy said, “Look, you all letting this thing go too far.”

And Old Tom said, “Boss, I can’t stop it, because I didn’t start it. I’m not even in it, much less at the head of it.”

And that old shrewd fox, he said, “Well If you all aren’t in it, I’ll put you in it. I’ll put you at the head of it. I’ll endorse it. I’ll welcome it. I’ll help it. I’ll join it.”

It was a sell-out. It was a takeover. When James Baldwin came in from Paris, they would not let him talk, because they could not make him go by the script. They controlled it so tight. It was a circus, a performance that beat anything Hollywood could ever do.

See also:

Read Full Post »

Ladies and Gentlemen – I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening. Because. . . I have some – some very sad news for all of you, and I think sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.

For those of you who are black – considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible – you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization – black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King – yeah that’s true – but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love – a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke. We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past. And we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people. Thank you very much.

(Thanks to Macon D’s blog, Stuff White People Do, for reminding me about this speech)

See also:

Read Full Post »


We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.

And I don’t mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I’m happy, tonight.

I’m not worried about anything.

I’m not fearing any man!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

See also:

Read Full Post »

In honour of Martin Luther King Day here is part of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood….

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character….

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day – this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of
Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

See also:

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: