Our analysis of “The Ballot or the Bullet” by Malcolm X is based on the rhetorical pentagram model. Here, you can find a short overview of our analysis.

We will outline the topics of the speech—the Civil Rights Movement and Black nationalism – and look at the way the speaker connects them with themes like discrimination, use of violence, or the corruption of the political class.

We will present the speaker— Malcolm X – looking at his background with the Nation of Islam and how he presents himself to the audience.

We will look at the audience of the speech- those present when the speech was delivered as well as an international audience – and explore the way Malcolm X chooses to target particular segments of the general audience.

We will address the language the speaker uses, focusing on the speaker’s choice of words, his tone, rhetorical devices, and modes of persuasion and what they say about the speaker’s message and intentions.

We will discuss the circumstances of the speech, looking at the context of the Civil Rights Movement in the US and the speaker’s relationship with the Nation of Islam, as well as at international events.

We will examine the speaker’s intention of motivating the audience to become more determined in the fight for civil rights, as well as criticizing the political class and promoting Black nationalism.

Read the full analysis of the speech in the next pages of this study guide!