The rich repertoire of songs and music that African-Americans have produced over the last century has to a large extent been recorded. Its value is recognized all over the world. The same cannot be said for black oratory, which shared the same roots and reflected similar emotions: slavery, segregation and imprisonment produced resistance, anger, bitterness and, often, resignation. Very few speeches were written, leave alone recorded, until the mid-20th century; and yet they had a huge cultural and historical impact. W. E. B. DuBois and Marcus Garvey were amongst the greatest orators during the early twentieth century. A generation later, Adam Clayton Powell, the independent Congressman elected from Harlem, could electrify an audience. This is the tradition within which the 1960s activist Malcolm X should be situated. It was his ability to articulate political ideas instinctively that won him an audience far beyond the ranks of the converted. First and foremost, he was one of the greatest orators that North America has ever produced.
’My institution subscribes to NLR, why can't I access this article?’
Also available in:
By the same author:
Between Past and Future
Responding to Asef Bayat, Tariq Ali argues that any adequate analysis of the outcomes of the Arab Spring must reckon with Washington’s tight defence of its interests in the region. The dynamics of the revolts located in a long history of Western intervention.
On Mao's Contradictions
Tariq Ali on Rebecca E Karl, Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World. Level-headed exploration of the Great Helmsman’s life and legacies.
President of Cant
From declamations in Cairo to silence over Gaza, occupation of Iraq and escalation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Tariq Ali asks what has changed in us foreign policy since the departure of Bush.
Death of a Comrade
Tariq Ali pays tribute to Peter Gowan, long-standing friend and mainstay of NLR’s editorial board, and his unique combination of analytical acuity, appetite for debate and generosity of spirit.
Afghanistan: Mirage of the Good War
Reasons for the West’s stalemate in Afghanistan sought neither in lack of troops and imperial treasure, nor in Pakistani obstruction, but in the very nature of the occupation regime. Tariq Ali on the actual results of ‘state-building’ in the Hindu Kush, as a broken country is subjected to the combined predations of NGOs and NATO.
The Life and Times of Simón B
Tariq Ali on John Lynch, Simón Bolívar: a Life. The Liberator as pragmatist, and his legacy from the colonial Andes to the Caracas of today—a prophylactic portrait for the times?
Mid-Point in the Middle East?
As fears are voiced within the US establishment of impending debacle in Iraq, a survey of the embattled landscape from Baghdad, Ramallah and Tehran to Beirut and Damascus. American control is slipping, Ali argues—but it is too soon to count on imperial defeat.
Remembering Edward Said
The physical and moral courage of a unique writer, and fighter—leading Arab intellectual, unconforming cultural theorist, champion of the Palestinian cause in the heartland of Israeli overseas power.
The American expedition to Baghdad, and world-wide reactions to the new imperium. From mass demonstrations against the war to the diplomatic hypocrisies colluding with it. The UN as framework of blockade and intervention yesterday, and mask of reconstruction tomorrow.
The Colour Khaki
Pakistan’s latest bout of military rule, as castle on the Pentagon’s West Asian chessboard: façade and realities of Musharraf’s dictatorship, and the complicity of clerical opposition to it.