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AAA S Malcolm X Survey Essay A Vote for a Better Future Black Americans of today need to register to vote and make use of their voting rights if they want to see a change to the current state of democracy. In the contemporary world of today Americans are said to be living in the most equal nation, one where its citizens are entitled to a variety of inalienable rights, one in particular being the right to vote. However this was not always the case. From the times of the late Malcolm X, we have not made much progress in our voting affairs. We have the choice and ability to vote, but are we as a people (the black community) utilizing these rights to the utmost? Have we been using our votes to our advantage, or making use of our votes at all? Statistics and I say no. We did not always have choice or say in how things were governed and now that we do, I would hope to see all Black Americans jumping at the chance to be a part of the decision making.
Think back to not even a half century ago when this privilege was not ours, and there were many a people ready to give up all they had, their lives and more for it. Malcolm X the revolutionary in his struggle for freedom stressed the importance of Voting. He emphasized the power of the vote and the importance of being granted the right of voting, and even now not as many as need be are making use of their vote. A good beginning is Malcolm X's speech, "The Ballot or the Bullet" delivered April 3, 1964 in Cleveland, Ohio; this speech was devoted to the voting issues of that era. The most significant ideas of that speech that I would like to discuss are exploitation of African-Americans and This struggle was not easy; it was obvious that there were individuals that disagreed with blacks having voting rights. When Malcolm spoke out in "An Appeal to African Heads of State", he discussed his dissatisfaction with the American government's willingness to protect the lives its African-American citizens from blatant racists' murder attacks. Malcolm labels the African-Americans as defenseless.
He refers to three recent cases. One case there were two black bodies were found in the Mississippi River, another in Georgia where an unarmed African-American educator was brutally murdered and the last when three civil-rights leaders disappeared completely. Although it was uncertain if they were murdered, the people were lead to believe they disappeared because they were teaching the black people in Mississippi how to vote and secure their political rights. I think it is safe to say they wanted to use this to scare others from doing the same. The last case alone illustrates the influence of the vote. The National Newspaper Publishers Association also made efforts during this time to encourage greater Negro voter registration.
It was quoted "We have seen men shot down in the streets as they moved to exercise the basic right of suffrage. We have seen, only recently, more than a dozen men in Mississippi lose their lives when they attempt to register to vote ..." "This alone should motivate every eligible man and woman to resolve now to vote in the coming presidential election." These statements tie in with my survey question: Do you think African Americans take for granted the voting rights their ancestors fought so long for?, majority of survey takers, a good 55% either agreed strongly or moderately. On many occasions Malcolm X testifies specifically about voting in the south. In the speech "With Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer," Malcolm affirms that because the black man is denied the right to vote in the south of the forty-six committees that had control the foreign and domestic direction of the country in 1964 twenty-three were in the hands of Southern racists. Another account concerning voting in the south, Malcolm testifies "...if Negroes could vote south of the Canadian border--south South, if Negroes could vote in the southern part of the South..." Malcolm describes how certain people would not hold positions if black were given their right to vote.
Malcolm touched upon the need for black nationalists many times throughout the book, defined as member of a group of militant Black people who urge separatism from white people and the establishment of self-governing Black communities. The idea of a Black Nationalist Party was in good support. "...as soon as we announced we were going to start a black nationalist party in this country, we received mail from coast to coast, especially from young people at the college level, the university level, who expressed complete sympathy and support and desire to take an active part in any kind of political action based on black nationalism..." This again compares the level of activism and community involvement of the youth of today and back then. I think this relates to the voting circumstances and gaining freedom in that, what they needed in order to gain their right to vote was a Black Nationalist party to push for these rights. Conversely with the right to vote in hand, in order to gain their freedom, a Black Nationalist party was needed to help oversee that the black community votes were guided in the right direction and not being used blindly. There are many accounts where Malcolm expressed his feelings on democracy.
In the speech "With Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer" Malcolm preaches that what happens in Mississippi and the south has direct bearing on what happens to the blacks in the north, and just as the black people supported the Democratic Party, the whites belonged to the party as well. Malcolm asserts that the base of the Democratic Party is in the South, directly amidst the racism. Malcolm expresses that he believes the Democratic System is the single greatest system on earth for its capability of thoroughly separating and isolating a people. Again on page 50 he states "There is no system more corrupt than a system that represents itself as the example of freedom, the example of democracy, and can go all over this earth telling other people how to straighten out their house, when you have citizens of this country who have to use bullets if they want to cast a ballot. From my survey I gathered out of all the survey takers 30 said they were in the 18-21years of age range and 1 in the age range of 46--55. I would like to focus more on the 90% of survey takers in the 18-21age group.
This is the group where I see it to be the most challenging to get voting. Of those who responded about 18 were male and 13 female, there was a wide rage of ethnicities. The majority, however, totaling a percent of 69% an average 23 people were Black/African-American and as for their highest level of education to date, 25 people or 75% answered College or University Studies. 29 people or 87% are U.S. Citizens 47% coming from Pennsylvania, 47% New Jersey and about 2% for each of GA, MD, NY, and OH. Incomes levels I noticed are very spread out.
Of the survey takers that answered, 30 are of legal voting age. Of that 30, 63% said they are registered to vote and 30% are not. The majority of the individuals who are unregistered to vote answered their reason for not getting registered they plan to, but just have not found time to. This leads me to believe that our society is getting lazier and lazier, which I believe to be one of if not the top reasons for a number of problems with our generation. This is shown in the level of activism and involvement in things like politics of my generation. This is a major setback of the times, today's youth, speaking of those in their teens through 20's, are more content in sitting back and letting others do for them. I can attest to this, myself being in this group of people, but I have come to terms with our present day situation (Bush in office and war just to name a few) and realize all this affects me, my future and those who follow.
I think it is time that everyone must vote, there no reason more important not to vote than there is to do so. Of the same 76%, when asked if they have voted in past elections, 12 said yes and 18 said no. As if it is not hard enough to get individuals registered, of the registered only 12 have actually voted and the majority reason being they forgot to. 69% said their parents vote and 18% said their parents do not, 21of the 30 voting for the Democratic Party. 48%, the majority expressed they strongly agreed with the importance of voting, so that shows that people consider voting to be important, and approximately 58% either strongly or moderately agreed that a single vote can make a difference. Most people agreed that 18 is ideal for a legal voting age. One argued "at 18 most people are either entering the real world or going to school further, at this time the economic and political situation of the country have a larger impact on their lives", however some felt "old enough to go to war, old enough to vote. actually they should both be higher.
18 year old kids are too stupid to vote and most definitely too immature to go to war". Two actually felt that the voting age should be lowered to 16 arguing that" Many things that involve the world involve kids. if your able to drive u should be able to vote" , my problem with this is that, if it is already difficult to get 18 year olds and even some adults to vote, it would be much harder to get those younger to vote. Also, in my opinion, it would be more voters of those who do not represent the majority population (our people, the black community). I definitely think white families will encourage their children to vote more so and black families would less. I brought up the question of whether or not people think that voting should be required as a citizen, because I think it would substantiate a better a representation of the nation.
The results show that the majority a 60% or 20 people disagreed. I would expect that everyone wants the option and does not want to feel obligated, but I do not see how this in any way could be anything but constructive. When I asked if people think there will ever be a Black/African-American president, results showed mixed answers, majority 9 people and 27% said moderately disagree. This surprised me, to answer there will never be a Black president ever, is extreme, I do believe there will be a Black president, perhaps not in the near future, but for someday it seems reasonable. The last questions of the survey included. Do you think that elections are biased and are typically in favor of the white voters? 33% strongly agreed. And do you think African Americans are under-represented in elections? 22 people or 67% answered strongly or moderately agree..
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