Malcolm X's famous Ballot or the Bullet speech - his first after leaving the Nation of Islam and "ranked 7th in the top 100 American speeches of the 20th century by 137 leading scholars of American public address" - was given just twice; first in Cleveland, Ohio on the 3 April 1964, and then in Detroit, Michigan on the 12 April 1964.

According to a footnote on that Wikipedia page, recordings exist of both versions, but of the many audio recordings I've come across on YouTube, all of them seem to be from the later Michigan speech. This is significant because based on the transcripts, the Ohio version seems to be a more eloquent speech that makes Malcolm X's case much more clearly, with the Michigan version seeming more informal and improvised and covering less content.

Where can an audio version of the original Ohio speech actually be found?

N.B. Audio of the two recordings can be differentiated based on the first line: the Michigan speech refers to a "Reverend Cleage", whereas in Ohio it refers to a "Brother Lomax".

1 Answer 1


The audiotape of both the Cleveland and Detroit versions of speech is found at the Schomburg Center Oral History Collection. An in-person appointment is required to hear the audiotape.


I was able to find a small excerpt of it on YouTube.


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