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 (500-750 wds) 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.” You might find it helpful to listen to the videos (they’re actually audio recordings) as you read the speeches, but for your paper you must cite the sources in the book only.

Structure: Begin with a statement of just a few sentences that sums up the essence of the debate between the two men. Name the issues and boil them down into a thesis statement that focuses on two or three key points. In the following two or three paragraphs discuss each point, showing both disagreement and agreement (if there is any). Focus on one point per paragraph, giving each man’s side. Support your statements with brief quotes. 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.

Online Debate: Don’t forget to participate in the Discussion Forum debate with your classmates.

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

Length: 500 words min./750 max.

Grade: 125 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 – 4/10 by 11:59 pm*

  • Late papers will be accepted by the dropbox, but they will be flagged and marked down.


Videos to listen to while reading.

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

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

“The Ballot or the Bullet “ HYPERLINK ""

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.

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: Malcolm said, “That’s part of what’s wrong with you, you do too much singing” (X 81).

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

Field of study: 
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