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Malcolm X Holds Rally in New York

Mar. 23, 1964 - One thousand Negroes cheered Malcolm X last night when he declared: “It’s time for you and me to let the Government know it’s ballots — or bullets.”

It was the 38-year-old Black Muslim’s first public rally since he broke off March 8 from Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam to organize Black Nationalists of any religion or creed. The meeting took place in the Rockland Palace, West 155th Street and Eighth Avenue.

His first effort, Mr. X announced, would be a voter registration drive. Negro votes, he said, had “power to determine who will sit in the White House and who will sit in the doghouse.”

But down South, he asserted, “in order to start casting ballots, you have to have some bullets.” To win control politically and economically of their own communities, Mr. X urged “22 million so-called Negroes” to join any Black Nationalist organization or any organization practicing that philosophy. By May or June, he said, the movement could hold a national convention in New York — “if they won’t let us have Madison Square Garden, maybe we can have it in Times Square.”

Then, he continued, amid applause, “if it’s necessary to form a Black Nationalist party — or a Black Nationalist army — we’ll form it.”

Another tactic he proposed was to “internationalize” the civil rights problem here to a human rights issue, which would allow it to be taken to the U.N. In the world organization, he said, American Negroes would have friends in African nations and “800 million Chinese.”

Introduced by Mr. X as strong Back Nationalists were the Rev. Nelson Dukes, pastor of the Fountain Spring Baptist Church, and Jesse Gray, leader of current Harlem rent strikes. They were in the audience.

Despite his break with the Nation of Islam, Mr. X several times took pains to say he had taken some of his ideas from Elijah Muhammad.

Promising regular Sunday night rallies, Mr. X announced sessions March 29, April 5, and April 12 at the Audubon Ballroom. He said his new Muslim Mosque would hold religious services at the Theresa Hotel in Harlem.


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