Rhetorical Analysis Of Malcolm X's Speech

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An essay on Malcolm X’s famous speech given in Cleveland, Ohio on April 3, 1964.
Introduction
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. His dream was that one day whites and blacks could live together in equality. King and his rhetoric of idealism are what come to mind for most people when they think about the civil rights movement, but there is another famous civil rights leader who had some very different ideas than King. Malcolm X was the leader of the more radical civil rights movement in the early 1960’s. Perhaps no speech better exemplifies X’s stance on civil rights than the “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech of 1964. This speech outlines X’s opinions on integration, African Americans’ role in government and the community,
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X appealed to the audience’s pathos by driving home his message with fiery rhetoric. He used inflammatory language that foreshadowed what he saw as an almost unavoidable conflict. He said that, “You talk about a march on Washington in 1963, you haven’t seen anything. There’s some more going down in ‘64” (X, 1964). Then, to bring the audience near the breaking point, X made the statement that, “…if you never see me another time in your life, if I die in the morning, I’ll die saying one thing: the ballot or the bullet, the ballot or the bullet” (X, 1964). The phrase “the ballot or the bullet” had become like a mantra now, the rhetorical style of repetition being used to its full effect. The audience would remember this phrase and the message that went with it. X even used a metaphor in the closing of his speech when he referred to the situation in the country as one, “…that will bring seeds up out of the ground with vegetation on the end of them looking like something these people never dreamed of” (X, 1964). The vegetation was the confrontation that X had been warning the audience of all night. Then, to hammer that message home, X’s final words to the audience restated his ultimatum and the mantra of his speech. He told the audience, “In 1964, it’s the ballot or the bullet” (X, 1964) and so finished his

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