Malcolm/Martin Debate Paper

Are you able to complete a 600 word paper that summarizes the contrasting viewpoints of Malcolm X based on his “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech and MLK’s “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” speech?

ENGL 2202 – Malcolm/Martin Debate Position Paper

This paper will be very similar to the one written for the Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois debate: a brief (600 word minimum) position paper in which you summarize the dispute and state your own position on it.

For the The Malcolm/Martin debate use only the videos below and the materials in the book. All sources must be cited within the paper and listed in a Works Cited in MLA format. Use of other sources will require a rewrite and penalty. (See “Notes on Sources” below for more info.)

NOTE: All papers should contain at least one direct quote from each man discussed. Quotes should be brief—preferably no more than one sentence.

Although you may use the introductory materials and even other speeches by the two men that appear in our textbook, your primary sources should be the two speeches that are also on video: “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” and “The Ballot or the Bullet.” I urge you to read them also, because the full texts are somewhat different from the audio versions. I usually follow along in the book as I listen.

Structure/Content: Begin with a statement of just a few sentences that sums up the essence of the debate between the two men—in other words, what is it that they disagree on? In the next paragraphs, you can describe each man’s views separately, or you can go point by point on topics like integration, economics, etc. In the final paragraph, state your own position on the debate, along with a brief summation of your reasoning.

DO NOT include long biographical passages on the men—focus on their ideas.

DO NOT make the whole paper about violence/non-violence!

Format: Times New Roman, 12 pt. font. MLA style, including Works Cited.

Length: 600 words min./750 max. (It’s actually okay if you go over.)

Grade: 100 points, based on content, coherence, use of support, clear and grammatical writing, competent proofreading, and MLA style. Papers that are not proofread for errors will be returned for a rewrite with a 10 point deduction from the grade.

Due Date:

MLK/Malcolm X paper – See Calendar and Dropbox for due date*

*Please note that the Dropbox will accept late papers well after the due date. A late paper with deductions for lateness is much better than a zero for not doing the paper at all!


Use ONLY these videos or the materials from the textbook.

 “I have been to the Mountaintop.” (Full audio version)

“I have been to the Mountaintop.” (Shorter video version)

“The Ballot or the Bullet “

Cite videos like this:

King, Martin Luther, Jr. “I Have Been to the Mountaintop Full Speech.” 3 Apr. 1968. YouTube. Web.

3 Apr. 2015. [NOTE: Enter the date on which you viewed the video.]

X, Malcolm. “Malcolm X – The Ballot or the Bullet – April 4, 1964.” 4 Apr. 1964. YouTube. Web.

3 Apr. 2015.

List Works Cited like this:

King, Martin Luther, Jr. “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” The Norton Anthology of African American

Literature. Eds. Ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Valeria A. Smith. 3rd ed. New York: W.W.

Norton, 2014, 72-8. Print.

X, Malcom. [Use same format as for King.]

If you use material from an introduction in our text, list it like this:

“Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968).”  The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. Ed.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Valeria A. Smith. 3rd ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2014, 592-3.


Cite in your paper like this:

From a speech text: Malcolm said, “That’s what’s wrong with you, you do too much singing” (X 81).

From an introduction: Many saw Malcolm X as the “exemplary embodiment of  black ‘manhood’” (“Malcolm” 565).

From a video: Quoting a spiritual, Dr. King said, “Mine eyes have seen the glory” (King).

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