Margaret Walker: Poems

Malcolm X: His Voice in Poetry and Politics College

In her poem “For Malcolm X,” Margaret Walker states “[t]he voice has gone” (1) on the death of the late Civil Rights activist and the leader within the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X. Malcolm X used his voice to influence millions of African Americans grasping for a shimmer of hope within the darkness, African Americans who lived lives where every day was a constant struggle for survival. These oppressed people subsisted in fear of the white men walking passed them on the streets, fearing that this may be their last day alive. For these people, Malcolm X was their champion. He gave these victims of continued prejudice a voice. He spoke out against the white men who led this country with the threat of violence. He inspired his people to fight back and take what was rightfully theirs with his dying breath, stating, “It’s got to be the ballot or the bullet” (Malcolm X 5). “The Ballot or the Bullet” by Malcolm X and “For Malcolm X” by Margaret Walker depict the rise of Malcolm X to the height of his greatness and his sudden plummet to martyrdom following his death. Through the power of his voice and the strength of his words, Malcolm X was cast as a harbinger for freedom, until he was gone and his followers were once again lost.


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