Message to the Grassroots

Malcolm X


I would like to make a few comments concerning the difference between the black revolution and the Negro revolution. There's a difference... When you study the historic nature of revolutions, the motive of a revolution, the objective of a revolution, and the result of a revolution, and the methods used in a revolution, you may change words. You may devise another program. You may change your goal and you may change your mind.

Look at the American Revolution in 1776.  That revolution was for what?  For land.  Why did they want land? Independence.  How was it carried out?  Bloodshed.  Number one, it was based on land, the basis of independence.  And the only way they could get it was bloodshed.  The French Revolution--what was it based on?  The landless against the landlord. What was it for?  Land.  How did they get it?  Bloodshed.  Was no love lost, was no compromise, was no negotiation.  I'm telling you--you don't know what a revolution is.  Because when you find out what it is, you'll get back in the alley, you'll get out of the way.

        The Russian Revolution--what was it based on?  Land; the landless against the landlord.  How did they bring it about? Bloodshed.  You haven't got a revolution that doesn't involve bloodshed.  And you're afraid to bleed.  I said, you're afraid to bleed.

        As long as the white man sent you to Korea, you bled.  He sent you to Germany, you bled.  He sent you to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese, you bled.  You bleed for white people, but when it comes to seeing your own churches being bombed and little black girls murdered, you haven't got no blood...

        So I cite these various revolutions, brothers and sisters, to show you that you don't have a peaceful revolution.  You don't have a turn-the-other-cheek revolution.  There's no such thing as a non-violent revolution.  The only kind of revolution that is non-violent is the Negro revolution.  The only revolution in which the goal is loving your enemy is the Negro revolution.  It's the only revolution in which the goal is a desegregated lunch counter, a desegregated theatre, a desegregated park, and a de- segregated public toilet; you can sit down next to white folks--on the toilet.  That's no revolution.  Revolution is based on land.  Land is the basis of all independence.  Land is the basis of freedom, justice, and equality.  The white man knows what a revolution is...  How do you think he'll react to you when you learn what a real revolution is?  You don't know what a revolution is.  If you did, you wouldn't use that word.

        Revolution is bloody, revolution is hostile, revolution knows no compromise, revolution overturns and destroys everything that gets in its way. 


ENG 10-2: Speech Writing Comprehension and Analysis

Malcolm X: "Message to the Grassroots"

Mr. Steel


1. Who was Malcolm X? What is his audience interested in hearing about during this speech?




2. Who does Malcolm X see as his enemy?




3. What is Malcolm X's point about revolutions throughout history?




4. What is Malcolm X's attitude towards violence? Does he think that any real change can occur without violence? Why or why not?






5. What is the difference between the "Negro revolution" and the "black revolution in Malcolm X's speech?







6. What is his criticism of Martin Luther King's "Negro revolution"?






7. What would a "black revolution" be like, in Malcolm X's view?




8. Martin Luther King speaks about the "dream" he has of what society should be like. Malcolm X, by contrast, speaks about what he sees as the "reality" of society, and how societies change. Explain how this contrast might be an effective rhetorical technique.









9. Analyze some of the stylistic or rhetorical devices that Malcolm X uses when he delivers his speech in order to give his words more power. Provide some examples for each.
























10. Answer the following question in PARAGRAPH form (minimum 5 sentences each).


What do you think about revolution? Do you think things need to change in society? What sort of things should be different? What can you do to change them? Does this change require revolution? If you had to pick between Martin Luther King's "dream" and Malcolm X's "reality," which would you pick and why? Which speech did you like the best and why?