American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"Malcolm X" (1992)


Harvard University Address

Audio mp3 delivered by Denzel Washington


Malcolm X: My high school was a black ghetto in Roxbury, right here in Boston. I got my college education on the streets of Harlem in New York City. I took my Masters degree in prison over the course of six and a half years. In fact, my old burglary hangout is just outside this campus. I lived like an animal. I stole. I used drugs. I smoked reefers, cocaine. I committed adultery.

Had it not been for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, I'd of surely been in an insane asylum, or dead, or possibly even the murderer of one of you.

So what is Mr. Muhammad trying to do? He's trying to get us on God's side, so that God will be on our side and help us fight our battles.

When the negro, the so-called negro in America gets on God's side and listens to the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, he'll wanna get off drugs.

He'll wanna get away from a life of crime.

He'll wanna get away from committing adultery and fornication.

Then he would wanna get off the welfare.

He would wanna get a job.

He would wanna earn a living and take care of his family, and his family would respect him.

His son will say, "I'm proud that that's my father."

His wife will say, "I'm proud that that's my husband."

"Father" only means that you're taking care of your children -- that's what it is to be a father. "Father" doesn't mean that you're havin' some babies. Anybody can have a baby. Havin' a baby does not make you a father. Anybody can go out and get a woman. But not anybody can take care of that woman.

There's another word for it: It's called "responsibility."

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