Rhetorical Analysis of Artifact: The Ballot or the Bullet Essay

Rhetorical Analysis of Artifact: The Ballot or the Bullet Essay

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Rhetorical Analysis of Artifact: The Ballot or the Bullet

Speech Given by Malcolm X

I. Introduction: Though almost half a century has passed, the Civil
Rights Movement remains one freshly imprinted in not only the history
books of US schools but also in the minds of countless Americans.
Albeit, American society has come quite a ways in the acceptance of
the individual - regardless of sex, age, creed or ethnicity -
prejudices of different sorts are still to be found throughout every
one of the united states of America.

The Civil Rights Movement fought to overcome the racial inequalities
inherent and ingrained in the minds of America's citizens and the
government which they oversaw; it was one of the most important eras
in the history of the United States of America and for that reason,
its leaders and their words are widely studied, remembered and,
frequently, revered.

One such case of this remembrance is that of Malcolm X's speech "The
Ballot or the Bullet." Generally viewed as one of the top ten most
significant speeches in American history, one must wonder at what
factors have contributed to the speech's longevity and implied

For one, the speech was given during the height of this movement and
by a greatly influential leader of the time. Yet the speech contains
merits all its own that allow it to remain powerful long after its
orator has ceased to be. For one, the artifact is filled with forcible
and compelling language that would provoke some sort of feeling in
anyone who reads it. Furthermore, it utilizes a broad spectrum of
rhetorical devices which keep the audience captivated and interested.

... middle of paper ...

...ing at a table doesn't make you a
diner, unless you eat some of what's on that plate."

Thus, Malcolm X uses his speech to unify the Negroes on two fronts: in
the sense that they must stand together against the suppression of the
whites and that they must endure their "non-Americanism" amongst the
company of one another. Yet, as soon as he has done this, Malcolm X
turns to make, what might seem, a paradoxical and fairly non-artistic
case as for why the black populace is indeed American.

He begins by introducing the non-artistic proof that black Americans
were originally slaves, working for the profit of the white man. In
this sense, he then uses an enthymeme to equate the United State's
current state of wealth to the work of those long-dead slaves; the
blacks are therefore responsible for the US being a rich nation.

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