The Detroit Speeches of Malcolm X are special for several reasons:

1.      He was a Michigan home-boy, spending many of his formative years in the Lansing - Detroit area.  He always had family there, especially his older brother Wilfred. See

2.      Detroit was a great center of industrial production, and a hot spot of industrial decline.  Radicals of all sorts congregated in Detroit to organize a workers movement.

3.      The Black community was militant as well and had a long history of Black nationalist radicalism.  The NAACP chapter has been one of the largest and most militant chapters, and activists from Detroit have joined every trend of militancy over the last century.

4.      The speeches were each given to a key audience, part of the main audience for Malcolm’s leadership, hence he was on his “A” game whenever his spoke there.  He was speaking to mentors, peers, and followers.

He gave three key speeches that have been well documented:


The “Message to the Grass Roots” laid down his basic ideological framework.


The “Ballot or the Bullet” outlined his strategic view of Black liberation versus the racist US state.

1965 The “Final Message” focused on the key role of African liberation in the struggle for world revolution.

One can approach these three speeches in three different ways:

1.      Culture: listen to Malcolm X’s voice.  He was a rhetorical genius in talking Black, using the language of the people to convey highly complex political analysis;

2.      Philosophy: grasp the logic in his analysis.  There is a deep structure of philosophical logic to his thinking, a dialectics of oppression and resistance.

3.      Politics: simulate his style of fighting back, especially his take on friends and enemies.  He mastered the polemical style of talking back, speaking truth to power.

This web site provides the text, voice, and a study guide for these three speeches.  Listen to his words.  Come back and read the texts while listening for a second time.  Then, when you want to get serious read and implement the study guide.  You may not like going to school, but if you’re interested in Malcolm X and learning from him, its time to become a serious student.