Standing Tall: Malcolm X’s Speech at the Oxford Union Debate

1960s: Days of Rage


“Controversial to some, revolutionary to others, the above declaration was uttered by Malcolm X during a public debate at the Oxford Union Society in December, 1964. On this occasion Malcolm X, or El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz – the name he officially assumed months before – was special guest of the Oxford University’s debate society. He was invited to engage in a debate on the motion that ‘extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.’ Originally stated by U.S. republican senator Barry Goldwater earlier that year, the debated motion provided Malcolm X with a unique opportunity to express his newly developed political and humanitarian ideas and to address the systematic distortion of his image in the U.S. and Europe. Above all, it represented the opportunity for Malcolm X to leave a last but perennial sample of his revolutionary thought ‘standing tall at…

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