Malcolm X was an African American minister and human rights activist in the 1950-the 60s. When he first started his road to activism, people doubted him. Whites all across America were hearing about this man who went against the norm and fought for the underprivileged blacks in America and the white population was not in compliance. It was believed that he was racist and only spoke of violence. And after a splurge of research, it’s understandable why white people in America would think that. He was an “angry black man” some would say. And the thought of a black man in the 1960’s going on a rampage did not appeal to the agenda whites had at the time. Malcolm wanted equality. Equality for blacks, Muslims, and anyone else who was treated any different than the whites. The came he would come around the on any topic he was speaking on did come across harshly, but his speeches are a perfect example of taking the tone, not the voice. His speeches were about empowerment, justice, and of course equality. One of his most influential speeches was called “Bullet or Ballot”. In this speech he described to black Americans how they should fight (physically, emotionally, mentally, etc.) for their right to vote, and for their civil rights in general.
In this speech, Malcolm X says that “the ballot is stronger than the bullet” (Malcolm X). This can be interpreted as in him saying to his fellow black Americans that they have fought, they have worked, they have done what they could to try and make a difference in this country and to have a voice of their own the way white Americans do. But nothing is stronger than the vote. One vote makes a difference, and that one vote could be any single black American’s. this is the point Malcolm was trying to get to his followers. This message means you cannot change what a person wants to be changed unless they go forward and change it themselves. But in that same quote, he does a reference a bullet. But as in most of his speeches, there is an underlying message of violence that people saw. The threat of “by any means necessary” showed that violence is still present, but will not be shown unless needed to be.
Malcolm X made an appeal to logos in his speech when he brought up his audience’s background. In his speech, he claims “regardless of background, religion, or age, they have all suffered by the oppression of the white man” (Malcolm X). This claim states that the white man has put pressure, suffrage, and prejudice on every minority especially black citizens of the country. This quote makes the audience think about what has been going on in the country at the time, and the reader now listens and thinks about the things that have happened to African Americans in America. The racism, oppression, suffering, etc., and the wrongdoings that have gone on.
He made an appeal to pathos in his speech with a very touching quote and plea. He said that he is not speaking to the audience as an “American or a patriot…mi speaking as a victim of this American system” (Malcolm X). by making this claim, Malcolm X appealed to the sensitive side of his listeners. He is asking for the country and the people who aren’t hearing his point of view to not view him as just a regular American citizen, but as someone who has been hurt, victimized, and targeted by the corrupt system that he is fighting against. This claim hits a different audience than the one his speeches normally reach out to. This reaches out to women, to young adults, to people who have been victimized by the system., who have fought, and who have been mistreated by the white men in America.
In this speech, he also made an appeal to ethos. His appeal to ethos comes from his quote “And if the white man doesn’t want us to be anti-him, let him stop oppressing and exploiting and degrading us” (Malcolm X). This powerful claim appeals to the white man. In the time period that this speech was given (1960’s) white men had all the power. And white men across the nation did not see a problem with what was going on primarily because that was the only way things had ever been done. Whites were superior to any other race, especially the blacks. Which challenges the white man’s credibility in this quote. By him saying “anti-him” and “let him stop oppressing us” challenges a white man’s argument.
In conclusion, Malcolm X gave a powerful and moving speech on April 3rd, 1964. This speech changed views for African Americans all across the country and made people realize they need to fight for their natural-born rights. And not let anyone get in the way of their own dreams, and he did this by using pathos ethos and logos to demonstrate his point of view.