Intention

Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet” is a speech about African American’s fight for civil rights and about Black nationalism. These broad topics encompass themes like racism and discrimination, religion and unity, or the use of violence.

The speaker’s overall intention with the speech was to motivate the audience to continue fighting for civil rights “on all fronts by whatever means necessary”. Under the broad intention of motivating African Americans to fight for their civil rights by any means (including violence), the speaker has several other purposes which we will outline …

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Joining and adjusting the Civil Rights Movement

The speech served a personal purpose, as Malcolm X wanted to distance himself from the Nation of Islam which he had just left and reach out to moderate civil rights activists and get them to accept his involvement in the movement.…

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Targeting the government and promoting violence

An important part of Malcolm X’s speech is focused on the American government. His purpose is to discredit the government so that the audience realizes the Democratic Party (who had the majority in the government) does not work for African-American interests but against them: “…your wasted vote put in an administration in Washington, D.C., that has seen fit to pass every kind of legi…

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Inspiring African Americans

Some of the most important aspects of the speaker’s intentions are connected with his main target audience — the African-American community.

The speaker wants African Americans to educate themselves and learn how to use their vote as a weapon – to convince them of the impact their vote can have. To this end, the speaker appeals to reason and examples that create ethos, by showing t…

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