The ballot or the bullet speech by Malcolm X highlighted social-political and economic situation in United States in mid 1960s. The speech portrayed actual situations that the Negros faced and experiences they encountered in their daily lives. As an activist, and an eloquent speaker, Malcolm X approached African-American segregation and lack of representation in national issues from a rhetorical perspective. Notably, the struggle for equality in America in previous years played a significant role in strengthening cohesion among the African-American communities. Malcolm X was instrumental in uniting the communities rather than creating divisions based on religious ideologies and individual beliefs. In his speech, Malcolm X called for eradication of inequality in United States and highlighted the notion of insincerity of the white politicians in giving the black communities false promises. The fact that 1964 was election’s year, the struggle for equality would get to greater heights and white politician would give a different version of false promises. According to Malcolm X, the numerous struggles in United States were afflicted to religious ideologies and could cause divisions among the black communities. However, he claimed his struggle accommodates every black in the United States regardless of their religious orientation. From this perspective, Malcolm X declared himself as a nationalist committed in harmonizing the black communities struggle through nonviolence tactics to acquire equality. Malcolm X argued that the solution to problems facing the black communities in the social-political and economical aspects could only be resolved by either a ballot or a bullet. Based on his argument he called for unification of black communities and enlightened them on the controversies surrounding them.
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Writer of the text
The speech by Malcolm X highlights broad issues regarding the social-political and economic situation in United States in 1960s. According to Malcolm X, in unification of the black communities it was crucial to overcome the challenges in the struggle to achieve freedom. The fact that the situation was worsening the communities had to respond to the situation and gain freedom. The rhetoric situation in the speech can be perceived from various perspectives. The problematic situations Malcolm X identified affiliated to African- American communities can be approached from two distinct perspectives. The struggle to liberty faced obstacles from authorities and accomplishing the goals of the struggle depended on overcoming the challenges. Notably, Malcolm X claimed that African-American protesting against the raising inequality were arrested and jailed. This was not only a hindrance toward achieving the freedom but also created the notion that change in the society would never be achieved. In addition, the obstacles would reduce supporters of the liberty movement and compromise with the objectives of struggle for equality process.
On the other hand, discrimination in the social structures based on racial orientation was rampant. To redeem African-American communities in the United States changing the structures was paramount. However, it was a challenge to change the social structures in the society and embrace a different culture. This was another rhetoric problem to Malcolm X that would compromise with the struggle for equality in the United States. Prosperity of the struggle involved established perception of the process in the masses rather than in Malcolm X, changing the social structures was paramount in accomplishing the objectives of the struggle. However, Malcolm X pledged to provide the black communities with a solution to social disparities and avenues of empowering the communities to embrace social changes. In this case, Malcolm X was not only committed in facilitating changes, in the social structures, but also in the forefront toward establishing apt social platform to embrace change and accommodate equality.
Purpose of the text
The speech by Malcolm X was delivered at times when the black communities in the United States faced intense discrimination in social, economic and political structures. The speaker aimed at educating the communities to overcome their individual or religious ideologies and unity toward demanding equal treatment. Educating the masses on the scope of discrimination in United State was the fundamental step toward establishing avenues to demand freedom. In addition, educating the masses on the actual situation and promote cohesion would establish a unified direction toward achieving equality. Also, the speech aimed at persuading the black communities to join the struggle and demand for equal treatment and representation in key institutions, in the United States. Notably, cohesion and unity of direction in the struggle was paramount in overcoming obstacles and achieving equality in the three fundamental aspects.
The speech was delivered when American experienced intense political discrimination and social-economic disparities based racial orientation. Malcolm X intended to educate the African- American communities on inequality and the need to harmonize in the struggle. From this perspective, it is apparent that the black communities were the intended audience to promote unity among them and struggle for equality. In addition, the speech was to inform the white that African-American communities were committed in fighting for their rights. In addition, the speech would inform the whites that black communities had united, and solution to their problem should be addressed.
Social, political and historical contexts surrounding the text
The speech is diverse and highlights the various issues surrounding the black communities in the United States in relation to the whites. Malcolm X informed the communities on the need to unite and act urgently to gain equality in the various structures. The social structures in United States were discriminative based on the racial orientation of an individual. Therefore, the social changes were paramount toward detaching the nation from segregation. The fact that limitation among the black communities was apparent changes in the social structure to facilitate change were crucial. In the political arena, representation of the black communities was minimal. This highlighted the need to change the political structure to accommodate the communities and establish policies to respond to their demands. In addition, politician rarely fulfilled promises they made to the black communities. The historical context in the text involves existence of African-American in the US. According to Malcolm X since African came to America they received substandard services and unequal treatment. However, it was apt moment to detach from history and demands for equal treatment and representation.
Strategies used to engage the audience and achieve purpose
The issues addressed by Malcolm X in the speech were sensitive and touched the lives of African-American communities. The speech highlighted the scope of discrimination in the US and aimed at educating and persuading the communities to unity and demand for equality in social-economic and political structures. In order to achieve the goals of the speech engaging the audience based on appropriate strategies was established. Malcolm X highly used repetition in his speech to convince his audience on issues in society. In addition, repetition in his speech aimed at highlighting the seriousness of the situation and urgency to respond to inequality, exploitation and oppression of the black communities in the United States. Malcolm X mentioned “ballot or the bullet” severally in his speech to portray the seriousness of the issue and need to demand equality in elective appointments, in the key institutions. Also, similes were highly used to achieve the purpose of the speech among the African- American communities. Usage of similes in the speech aimed at highlighting the magnitude of the situation and facilitating visualization on the potential implication of unprivileged communities in case the situation was not resolved. For instance, Malcolm X stated “just as violent as those crackers in Mississippi. The statement was describing the white man in the US and call for preparation to face the whites during the fight against exploitation and oppression of the black people. In addition, the statement called for the blacks not to fear death in the struggled to focus on the objectives of operations in the society. The strategies deployed by the speaker in persuading the audience aimed at achieving the fundamental objective of speech and enable the black people to overcome oppression.
Effectiveness of the strategies in achieving purpose
Effective communication is influenced by various factors and channel of communication deployed is a function of tool of interaction used. In addition, accomplishing effective communication involves developing a plan that reflects objectives of interaction. The ballot or bullet speech by Malcolm X entailed education and persuading the black people to rise and demands for their rights. Also, the speech aimed at empowering the African-American communities under exploitation and oppression in United States. The deployed strategies to achieve the intended purpose in the community were effective. The fact that Malcolm X established an apt platform to achieve the purpose of the speech through similes the audience visualized on both effects and magnitude of the issue. The similes highlighted the challenges ahead and prosperity of the black people is vested on overcoming the obstacles. Therefore, the strategy was effective portraying the required resources and preparation to overcome the challenges. On the other hand, repetition in the speech highlighted the two fundamental options of terminating or resolving the situation. Therefore, the statement was persuading the black people to choose one of the options as the bridge to freedom.
The ballot or bullet speech by Malcolm X is informative on racial segregation in United States in 1960s and need to redeem the society from the atrocities. The speech aimed at educating the black communities on the notion of discrimination, exploitation and oppression by the whites. In addition, the speech established a basis of persuading the Negros in joining nonviolence approach and demand for equal treatment and representation in the US. The speech highlighted the actual situations in United States and disparities between the whites and the blacks on economic, social and political structures. The required preparations to overcome the white oppression and become entitled to rights stipulated in the constitution are evident in the speech. The statement, “it takes two to tango; when I go, you go.” Reveal the essence of unity in achieving the fundamental objective of the struggle. The statement persuaded the audience in taking an active role in the struggle against discrimination and oppression. From this perspective, harmonization of plans to liberate the black people from white oppression would be achieved. Malcolm X said, “Nowhere on this earth does the white man win in guerrilla warfare.” This highlights that, in case, the black communities in the United States united against oppression, inequality and exploitation they were assured of winning. The statement further persuaded the communities to participate fully and fight for their rights. On these grounds, it is evident that the speech was persuasive to the audience and effective in building cohesion toward struggle for equality in social, economic and political institutions.
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