Malcolm X at Oxford Union: Racial Politics in a Global Era

Overview


In 1964 Malcolm X was invited to debate at the Oxford Union Society at Oxford University. The topic of debate that evening was the infamous phrase from Barry Goldwater's 1964 Republican Convention speech:"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." At a time when Malcolm was traveling widely and advocating on behalf of blacks in America and other nations, his thirty minute speech at the Oxford Union stands out as one of ...
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Malcolm X at Oxford Union: Racial Politics in a Global Era

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Overview


In 1964 Malcolm X was invited to debate at the Oxford Union Society at Oxford University. The topic of debate that evening was the infamous phrase from Barry Goldwater's 1964 Republican Convention speech:"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." At a time when Malcolm was traveling widely and advocating on behalf of blacks in America and other nations, his thirty minute speech at the Oxford Union stands out as one of the great addresses of the civil rights era.

Delivered just months before his assassination, the speech followed a period in which Malcolm had traveled throughout Africa and much of the Muslim world. The journey broadened his political thought to encompass decolonization, the revolutions underway in the developing world, and the relationship between American blacks and non-white populations across the globe-including England.

Facing off against debaters in one of world's most elite institutions, he delivered a revolutionary message that tackled a staggering array of issues: the nature of national identity; US foreign policy in the developing world; racial politics at home; the experiences of black immigrants in England; and the nature of power in the contemporary world. It represents a moment when his thought had advanced to its furthest point, shedding the parochial concerns of previous years for an increasingly global and humanist approach to ushering in social change.

Set to publish near the fiftieth anniversary of his death, Malcolm X at Oxford Union will reshape our understanding not only of the man himself, but world politics both then and now.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/21/2013
In December 1964, a little more than two months before his assassination in Harlem, Malcolm X delivered before the Oxford Union one of his last significant addresses, arguing in favor of a motion borrowed from Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” In analysis, interviews, and personal reflections preceding the transcript of the speech, Lehigh University political scientist Ambar (How Governors Built the Modern American Presidency) contextualizes its import and continuing relevance, making a case for the speech’s under-appreciated contribution to the worldview of a revolutionary figure. The at-times fiery but equally measured, and humorous address places the American race question squarely in the Cold War context of a revolutionary postcolonial Africa and a larger African diaspora. Ambar’s careful reading of the rhetorical strategies underway between Malcolm and his opponent in the debate, Conservative MP Humphry Berkeley, demonstrates how this global frame had strategic and moral implications for Malcolm’s political philosophy and thoughts about race. Labeling the speech “one of the truly great addresses of the civil rights movement,” Ambar makes it an essential companion to 1963’s “Message to the Grassroots” or 1964’s “The Ballot or the Bullet” in any assessment of Malcolm X as a political thinker and activist. Agent: Geri Thoma, Markson Thoma Agency. (Feb.)
From the Publisher

"An essential companion to 1963's 'Message to the Grassroots' or 1964's 'The Ballot or the Bullet' in any assessment of Malcolm X as a political thinker and activist. " - Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Saladin Ambar, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University and author of How Governors Built the Modern American Presidency.

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1964
1 Introduction: "This is an interesting despatch"
2 Extremism: "The revolution is now on the inside of the house"
3 Liberty: "Please forward by any means necessary"
4 Moderation "It is no part of the moderate to refuse to fight"
5 Justice "To take up arms against a sea of troubles"
6 Virtue "Authentic Revolutionary"

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