“The Ballot or the Bullet” by Malcolm X Rhetorical Analysis

During the 20th century, the black population experienced violence, disrespect, and injustice from the rest of the American nation. As a result, many anti-racial movements and rebellions were organized. Malcolm X was one of the activists who supported the idea of equal human rights and fair relationships. His words and ideas motivated people with different skin colors. “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech remains a remarkable example of how a number of rhetorical devices, strong statements, and provocative attitudes could change human lives. It is not enough to choose a group of people as an audience and add several images or ethos. A good discourse should contain a clear purpose, several repetitions, and other stylistic elements. In his “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech, Malcolm X succeeded in using effective purposes, addressing a particular audience, and choosing powerful logos to demand equal rights for the black population.

To create an interesting speech, it is necessary to identify a purpose, and Malcolm X uses his personal experience, observations, and conclusions to prove his goals and readiness to analyze racism in American society. He aimed “to clarify some things that refer to me personally” (Malcolm X). The activist did not want to take a theme that could be distantly observed but focused on what bothered people at the moment of speaking. In addition, he tried to prepare his listeners for problem-solving and decision-making by underling the importance “to talk about the ballot or the bullet” (Malcolm X). This choice cannot be simple or evident, and people had to analyze their lives, opportunities, and achievements and avoid mistakes or unfavorable consequences.

In addition, Malcolm X showed how to introduce the audience and describe people’s contributions to his speech. He addressed his “brothers and sisters and friends,” hoping that they could share his position and understand his message. Being around individuals and neglecting possible differences or ranks were Malcolm X’s intentions at the event in King Solomon Baptist Church. His tone evidenced his desire to cooperate with those who had similar thoughts. At the same time, the mention of “some enemies” turns out to be a strong rhetorical move in this speech. This small remark played a crucial role because it confirmed the fact that many people came to listen to the orator, and it was important to realize that opponents could join the movement.

Finally, “The Ballot or the Bullet” is known for its extensive use of logos as one of the basic logical components of the text. Malcolm X openly demonstrated his opinion about the mistakes and failures made by the government in regard to the black nation. He explained the urgency of changes “because Negroes have listened to the trickery,” and now, they wanted to stop all those lies and improve their lives (Malcolm X). To support the same tactic during speaking, he added more facts from his life and made the problem of racial inequality evident. For example, he did not deny how “they attack me’ cause I’m black.” The point is that his religion, job, or family had no meaning when he went outside, just the color of his skin.

In general, racial inequality shaped American society in a variety of ways. Malcolm X was not the only activist who rose against the existing concerns and unfair judgments. However, his speeches were based on interesting facts, daring ideas, and aggressive statements. “The Ballot or the Bullet” has several purposes, a well-defined audience, and several rhetorical devices like logos. With the help of properly chosen stylistic means, Malcolm X was able to create a powerful speech and become a famous figure in American history.

Work Cited

“Malcolm X: The Ballot or the Bullet.” American Public Media, 2020. Web.

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