The Rhetoric of Rebellion

In recent days, we have been perusing the argumentative writing of rebellion.  To borrow the famous phrase used by one of our authors, you have been exploring influential writers who used words as a powerful form of “civil disobedience.”  For this blog post, I want you to think carefully about one of these assigned readings (by Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X).  For your post, I would like you to consider one of these works in two different ways.  First, I want you to really think long and hard about the words and written approach of your chosen author.  Why, exactly, is their writing so powerful, so engaging, so convincing?  Be as specific as you can be in considering how your writer makes their point, and makes it well.  Then, I want you to talk about your personal view of their argument.  Do you agree with their “rebellious” perspectives, and why?  How, exactly, do you feel about their “disobedient” contentions and social challenges?  In total, your Blog post should be (at least) two in-depth paragraphs long.

49 thoughts on “The Rhetoric of Rebellion

  1. It is no surprise to any of us that Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrated acts of rebellion throughout his fight against segregation in America in the 1960s. As he writes about how he was placed in jail for his “civil disobedience” he explains his justification for what he and his group of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference are fighting for. His writing is powerful because he is explaining the oppression that he is going through as an African-American. In his letters he explains this oppression by giving examples such as, “when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will,” and “when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity.” These are just two of the dozens of examples he gives, each just as terrible as the two written above. Seeing what King and his race had to be put through makes his writing touching and engaging, and makes his point of why he went against the government so powerful. He also explains the four steps to a non-violent campaign, “1) collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive; 2) negotiation; 3) self-purification; and 4) direct action.” However, trying to negotiate with the American government at the time about the issues of segregation was near impossible, forcing King to have to resort to violence. The government was so unaccepting of anything that King had to say, that unless he and his group wanted to just give up, there was no other option besides for violence and civil disobedience.

    After reading King’s “Letter From Birmingham City Jail (Excerpts),” I have come to form my own opinions about his perspectives. I completely agree with his rebellions and with the point he is trying to make about the situation. First of all, Martin Luther King Jr. tried to push his issue in a non-rebellious way at first, but the government wouldn’t have it. Therefore I do not believe he should have just given up and not continued to work for what was right. What the government and law enforcement was doing in Birmingham in the 1960’s was unjust and unfair. To treat anyone as less than another is just morally wrong. The Constitution for this country flat-out states, “all men are created equally.” So why were we okay with treating non-whites as less than whites? Equality is definitely something to fight for and to rebel for. The disobedient contentions of King and his followers, such as protests and riots, were violent, however completely necessary to get their point across.

  2. I read “The Ballot or The Bullet” by Malcolm X. His writing was very powerful in this text. Some words that he used that I found to be powerful was life or death, ballot or the bullet. Baptist, Methodist, Muslim, anti-white, negro’s and many more. These were just some that stood out or was mentioned a lot throughout the text. What I got out of this was that Malcolm is trying to inform us that he did not see this American dream that was talked about. He found it more as an American nightmare. All of it needed to change, which then he would say it’ll be the ballot or the bullet. The point I think he is trying to get across is that you need to fight what you believe for. Mostly the blacks. They need to fight for their rights for their freedom. They would do so much and not get anything in return. If they did not get their civil rights just like everybody else, then it was time for the ballot or the bullet. In other words, if they did not get what they should receive like others, they will fight the government till it killed them.

  3. Though it’s regularly obvious that the definitions of “civil disobedience” between Thoreau/King and Malcolm X are as polarized as the means by which they take such actions, it’s equally important to examine words which they use while advocating their effort. You can feel the venue X is in through his chose of words. By contrast, It’s clearly unlike the two other documents by King and Thoreau because the language used in theirs is clearly more formal. A semi-rehearsed speech in front of a live audience always has less dictum compared to premeditated and methodically evaluated book selections or letters. X frequently uses short, punctuated sentence structures infused with common vernacular, contractions and idioms.

    “Negroes have never done that before. But it shows you there’s a new deal coming in. There’s new thinking coming in. There’s new strategy coming in. It’ll be Molotov cocktails this month, hand grenades next month, and something else next month. It’ll be ballots, or it’ll be bullets. It’ll be liberty, or it will be death.”

    These are common techniques used frequently by public speakers even today. Often if one wishes to convey an idea, the vehicle on which that idea travels must be small and easily digested so the speaker can move quickly through their statements while still being comprehensible to the audience. Being at a rally like the one X was addressing, its easy to envision the response the audience would have; applauding at the end of statements made by X or interjections of agreeing parse. This is exactly what a speaker is looking; being received by an audience is much more like a conversation then one might at first consider. The Speaker says something he believes the audience agrees with, the audience reacts positively and passe that energy to other audience members and back again to the speaker. Its a reciprocal closed system.

    Also one should consider the nature of the address by which I’m referring to its “feeling”; the anecdotes he illiterates, select words used to evoke a feeling of dire distress or that action must be taken. Often this is by means of words and examples with negative connotation. Words like oppression; exploitation, degradation, conspiracy, death, hypocrisy, victim, animosity, hatred, violence. Of these negative words, more than three quarters of them show up in the first half of the speech, including his mantra “It’s the ballot or the bullet”, always ending on a strong note. These words show up nearly 35 times throughout the text all the while placing a direct blame of these abuses on the white man, making the two synonymous. He also illustrates also a laundry list of injustices experienced by blacks all over the country from Deep South lynchings to Washington incompetence. All this negativity is effective at making an audience address negativity and inequality in their own lives. X perpetuates that negotiating isn’t working, that things are worse then they were, that the machine is working against the audience and that his tactics are the only way to change things.

    When X is positive and only in the later half of his speech. He aims perpetuate his idea civil disobedience, to exclaim the need for consensus among the black community, defending black nationalism and suggesting unification with other abused minorities. Its extremely egalitarian though his speech does fall flat when it comes to his points about ‘the ineffectiveness of the white man to win wars’ which to me seems like a weak point.

    An interesting way of comprehending the effectiveness of Malcolm X’s speech is looking through the prism of an equally famous and divisive (although much less eloquent) public speaker, Donald J. Trump. The following video explains the ways speakers like Trump influence the way an audience conceives an issue and it shows that the two have a lot in common when it comes to framing an issue. I highly suggest members of the class watch it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aFo_BV-UzI

  4. In his letter from the Birmingham City Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. describes why he is there. One of the reasons this writing is so powerful and persuasive is his mastery of giving some background information to set the tone for the reader and his clear, step by step procedure of what he thinks is best to handle this situation. For example, in the second paragraph he talks about being president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference which proves his high-end legitimate position and in the next paragraph goes on to talk about the four basic steps in a nonviolent campaign as “1) collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive; 2) negotiation; 3) self-purification; and 4) direct action.” He goes on to say how he has tried each step and now it is up to direct action to get his message across. In addition, throughout the writing, he uses several questions in a row to get you to think along with his steps as truly just. He engages in the writing of saying “my friends” which proves that he is in a fight, nonviolent of course, with people who have similar struggles. The last point he makes which really engages the reader to persuade them of the unjust actions going on is in one of the lengthy paragraphs he gives specific, vivid details of what is going on around him and how unfair the Negros are being treated. As just one example in the passage, he says “when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity,” you can visualize the pain and severity of these actions.
    He really tries to put the reader in his shoes and feel the pain of the Negro to really persuade how unjust all of this was. I agree with Martin Luther King’s “rebellious” perspective of acting in a nonviolent way as that is the only real reason people will understand each other. He says by using violent actions you are giving up in what you believe in which I feel is true. By using violent actions you are just giving in to those who already know they are beating you. Rather if you just act like violence isn’t the only act and I know it seemed to be hard with how unfair the Negro’s were being treated, but if you use your words rather or use sit-ins as a form of protest those actions speak louder. By being violent what does that accomplish? Only more hatred and a reason to be attacked even more. The “disobedient” contentions MLK raises is not so much disobedience but his disappointment in those who take no action or just go with the flow like the white moderates. It should be more important to do what is morally right or wrong as a human, instead of going along with the popular belief at that time which was racial prejudice.

  5. The Martin Luther King excerpts of “Letter From Birmingham City Jail” are considered very powerful and engaging for very good reason. Martin Luther King is sharing with the world his own thoughts on this segregated issue in Birmingham that were not necessarily seen as acceptable in that time. In this article, Martin Luther King stated, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” This statement brings up a powerful feeling that people need to demand what they feel is right or nothing will be done or seen otherwise. The strong and passionate feelings that Martin Luther King expresses makes people want to follow in this footsteps and stand up for what you deserve in life. Throughout this excerpt, Martin Luther King talks about how people that do not feel the darts of segregation can not feel the way people are getting affected by it and it is not easy to just stand by and wait for potentially nothing to happen. This excerpt portrays Martin Luther King as a leader and as a strong man who is willing to fight for what he wants done such as segregation. This is so powerful and engaging because some people don’t have the willingness to make a stand as he did but gets people thinking and conveys aspects they may never have thought of before.
    I feel very strongly about this excerpt and the way that Martin Luther King had the guts to stand up proudly for his well deserved rights. Not everyone can or would stand up, fight, and be a leader for thousands to follow in a way to get their rights. Martin Luther King was inspiration to so many and opened doors for people who needed it. Martin Luther King’s “rebellious” perspectives made a difference in the world and in a lot of the changes we see even today. Without his courageous perspectives, who knows if segregation would have been changed in the way that it has. I believe everyone should speak their “rebellious” perspectives because you never know, millions of people could feel the same way and it starts by one person standing up and saying it first to make it a possibility. Everyone thinks and feels differently, in order to have all perspectives in a decision, I think it’s very important to hear all sides. Martin Luther King’s perspectives about segregation were very important to hear and changed other peoples’ perspectives all over the world. I believe Martin Luther King’s “disobedient” contentions were pushed to naturally happen due to the government’s actions of segregation and not giving equal rights. When sometime is done that is wrong, people might feel that there is not other option but to refuse to follow the rules given. The social changes for Martin Luther King is something I personally will never truly understand and feel, but I could see it wasn’t easy. Once Martin Luther King got put in Birmingham prison, his social status must have become even more challenging. People either backed him up or hated him and before that he was probably just a normal average man living during that time. Martin Luther King did the right thing to stand up for his rights and beliefs. He is a historical hero that did not deserve his punishments but give the world that best reward, equal rights and no segregation.

  6. While reading Malcolm X’s “Ballot or the Bullet”, I found myself realizing that, in my opinion, he seems more convincing than Martin Luther King. A part of the reason I believe this, is due to the fact that Malcolm X talks about drastic change instantaneously. If I were a black man in this time frame, I’d be tired of the lack of change. I’d be looking for a leader who would be willing to take charge and induce change. MLK insisted on waiting for change through peaceful protests. When nothing changes, you need to take action into your own hands. This is why I believe Malcolm X became as big of a voice as he was.

    Malcolm X speaks on the premises of being treated equally. He speaks about not being against anybody in particular, but rather against those who oppress others, regardless of their race or wealth. In this case, it happened to be the government which was primarily white. According to Malcolm, the system was designed to set minorities up for failure. He says that the government cant dictate whether or not you are treated properly. This is a matter of human rights, not constitutional. He says he isn’t anti-white, but he refuses to wait around for “the decisions from the crackers”. Bigotry works both ways, but that’s a topic for another day.

    I mentioned above that I think Malcolm X was more convincing to those who demanded instant change. That being said, I still think that MLK’s way to bring change is the better way to go. When you riot and violently protest, you just make the situation for yourself worse. The only thing that does is turn the opposition even further away from you. This is particularly true in America where we don’t bow down to anybody. In a time that was ignited by racial tensions, Malcolm X fanned the flames while Martin Luther Kind tried to put them out.

  7. It can be argued that Martin Luther King Jr’s letter from Birmingham Jail is his best work of all time, even better than his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. But what is it that makes King’s letter so powerful and persuasive? Throughout his letter Martin Luther King Jr uses various different techniques to convey his message to his readers. The first example of how King portrays his message so powerfully is the way he incorporates his readers into his writing. He uses sayings like, my friends and we, by doing this he engages the reader in his writing. He also draws in a group of people who feel like him by creating a common ground. Another way King improves his argument is by providing the reader with background information. King touches on all the ways he and others have attempted to solve the oppression of African American people. By doing this he highlights the failures that have occurred before him thus reinforcing that his was of civil disobedience is the one that will work. This appeals to readers who are tired of trying and failing, King insists that his way of nonviolence can be the one to work and that appeals to those who want change.
    Martin Luther King Jr. preached nothing but nonviolent protest. He urged his fellow African Americans that the violent ways of Malcolm X and the black panthers would only make things work. For these reasons, I agree with the stance that Martin Luther King Jr. took. Violence simply leads to more violence creating a never ending circle of violence. King argued that if people acted violently toward whites and police officers they would only seem more dangerous. King, like Gandhi, proved that nonviolent protest can work and is extremely effective. It seems that the people of today seem to have forgotten the teachings of King and have resorted to the ways of Malcolm X. Based on Kings Arguments, he would have spoken out against all those the ruined the town of Ferguson in their violent riots. Martin Luther King Jr. preached that it’s ok to be angry however if you act violently and rashly you are no better than those who are oppressing you.

  8. Martin Luther King Jr. who we as a society view as the leader of the civil rights movement, has written numerous powerful works, which always engage his audience, and his letter from Birmingham city jail is no different. At first glance the article catches people’s attention for the pure fact that he is writing from jail. The words we read are not just a journalist’s opinion about what is happening, but a firsthand understanding of the oppression in America. This letter is not just filled with opinions, there are blatant facts laid out for us as well, “There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any city in this nation”. Also, this letter does a good job of answering questions that people have. For example, the idea of negotiation is addressed, then answered with the fact that direct action is a form of negotiation. Martin Luther King Jr. does a great job appealing to our emotions in this letter as well. He paints the picture of the differences Negroes face when he says about having your family lynched and drowned. We feel the sadness he feels when having to tell young children that they cannot do the fun things they see white children doing just because they are black. Throughout the whole article Martin Luther King Jr. puts the reader in the place of Negroes during this time period, making the letter so effective.
    I agree with the way Martin Luther King Jr. chooses to rebel. He mentions in the letter that there is no good timing for a movement, and that non -violent actions are what force negotiations. You can’t fight fire with fire, all it does is create more fire. Fighting segregation with violence would only make things worse. By enacting sit-ins and marches the flame that once controlled African Americans becomes smaller without getting worse first. I also agree with the four basic steps for a nonviolent campaign that Mr. King outlines in the third paragraph. There are three steps prior to direct action that need to be taken before a sit-in or march. This shows us that civil disobedience is the last resort and is also the result of a well thought out plan. The acts of African Americans during this time were well justified due to all of the oppression they faced.

  9. Malcom X’s approach to this topic was quite compelling. He chooses his words very wisely and interests readers from the start. His analogy of “the ballot or the bullet” is extremely clever and accurate. He means that either things change in government or rebellion will occur. He is trying to create a movement for his people. He was preaching equality and encouraging his people to begin fighting hard for it.

    This piece was quite moving. Malcom X is so passionate about how he feels and what he believes in. It was very dangerous as a black person to stand about for his/her rights in 1964. So to hear him preach so loud and proud is compelling. I liked that his introduction is uniting. He is preaching that although he is Muslim, he is speaking out to people of all religions. In 1964, the country was so intensely segregated. It actually was a bit difficult for me to read the whole thing because I can’t imagine what blacks were going through. I would never be able to put myself in their shoes to feel how it was and I wouldn’t want to. I respect Malcom X for standing up for himself. The only thing that I was leery about while reading this was that he was threatening to turn to violence. It is understandable that his anger would drive him to that, but I don’t think violence would work well. It never does. Other than that, I fully back Malcom X and his beliefs that its been too long that blacks have been mistreated and that it was time for things to change.

  10. Through Dr. King’s letter from Birmingham City Jail, his words clearly and respectively outline the goal he sets out to accomplish in order to achieve equality throughout America. He outlines the basic steps of his campaign which assists in clearly defining his motives in order to achieve a greater understanding among the clergymen to whom he is writing. King outlines the approach to his non-violent direct action campaign by, “[creating] such a crisis and [establishing] such creative tension that a community that has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.” King further elaborates upon legal and non-violent pressure as essential plans to making any gains in the civil rights movement. He explains this by stating that privileges are rarely given up voluntarily because they are something that are earned and cannot be given. Since people lack selflessness a majority of the time, direct action needs to be taken to restore order and balance within society. He further elaborates the imbalance throughout society through this quote: “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” This essentially speaks to the ignorance of the clergy. He conveys that as fellow clergy who are supposed to be about being virtuous, their understanding is rather shallow on this issue of civil rights although they mean well. However those without concern for Kings’ welfare, were very determined in their plan. King describes the varying opinions toward the civil rights movement throughout the black community to demonstrate how he stands between opposition that currently exists, so confronting opposition from the white community is no different. Although there are fluctuating thoughts toward the civil rights movement throughout the black community, there is a collective resentment and frustration to how easily they have been overpowered that King highlights. Finally, King stresses the importance that religion also played in the segregation of his people. Churches know especially that integration is morally right and that everyone should be regarded as equal, yet churches have stood by while blatant spiteful acts have been inflicted upon the black community. Throughout his letter, King embraces a moral approach to his campaign and focuses on how history and extremism play a vital role in the serration of African Americans. His call to action incorporates syllogism by arguing that in order to make a change, action must be taken because currently, nothing is being done.

    I believe that Dr. King successfully defined his motives and goals of the future in a very strategic and well thought out manner. There are a few qualities that make King such a powerful speaker, one being cadence, or the inflection of his voice. Although we cannot hear the inflection in his voice through reading an excerpt, it is still shown through his writing. He starts at a measured pace and over time, increases his volume and intensity in order to draw the audience in and establish a call to action seen throughout this speech. The context in which his writings and speeches are formatted also contributes to the authority of his message. King specifically implements pathos as well as ethos in order to make a stronger, more logical argument. Through his example of conditioning children to grow up with the mind set of being inferior to a white individual is both emotionally degrading and unethical. I feel that King is rightfully rebellious and his social challenges bring about a necessary change in society. His disobedience sparked a greater understanding of what was occurring in society. His bravery is insurmountable considering that his views deliberately challenged those who held a greater power in society. By showing the corruption of the social system at that time, King was able to debunk the seemingly “just” laws in place which targeted African Americans.

  11. I read Susan Glaspell’s, “A Jury of Her Peers.” Her writing intrigued me from the beginning because she made me wonder why Martha and her husband had to leave. Her writing is really descriptive and allows you to feel the same way Martha is feeling. Her writing created a space for me in the kitchen. I felt like I was standing there while Mr. Hale told his story about the morning before.
    The Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale hide the Mrs. Wright’s secret from the men. The men made fun of the role of women and down played how much work they do in the house. I think the reason the women kept the secret of the canary is because they were able to sympathies with her. Mr. Wright killed Minnie Foster’s song and her bird. Even though they are breaking the law they feel they are doing right by a fellow woman.
    I do not think the women should have kept Mrs. Wright’s secret. Killing a bird and killing your husband are on two very different levels. I understanding being furious about someone killing your beloved pet but Mrs. Wright took measures for revenge too far. I think Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale should have told their husbands about the dead canary.

  12. In The Ballot or the Bullet, Malcolm X attempts to convince the reader/ listener that despite the many groups they may claim to be in, all of Americas darker citizens are united in their subjugation. The first paragraphs drive that the differences the people have should be put away to realize the greater truth in how all their world is set against them. He notes the vast differences between American born Blacks and even foreign immigrants in terms of rights and the hypocrisy of “Uncle Sam” and his promises. With these obstacles, Malcolm states that the only ways an African American can claim justice would be by the ballot or the bullet. The following paragraphs stress the weight of the latter option for America, referencing the weakness shown from the Vietnam War truce. As well as the rising prevalence of violent occurrences by Black youths. The main idea seemed to be that without a revised and better civil rights movement the people would have no choice and effectively have to use violence after being denied representation.
    Malcolm X’s writing brought up several good points on his reasoning for the “Ballot or the Bullet stance. The constant pressure of being labeled as second class citizen in a country where freedom is the motto would be immensely infuriating. Although I tend to be patient in the face of aggravating instances, it’s understandable that there would be those who would want the civil rights movement to procure more immediate actions from Society and the Government. Its not to hard to believe that X’s worst case scenario of people with nothing to lose mobilizing in retaliation against the country that spurned them. If I was stuck in the same time, I don’t know that I wouldn’t react the same. But as bad as the implications of such an event would be, maybe it’s possible that the thought of such an occurrence motivated people to work harder to avoid it. Even on what would be called the more “peaceful” Ballot route far too many lives were lost.

  13. Malcolm X in his speech “The Ballot or the Bullet” is a persuasive call to arms that certainly incited believers in his cause to action. By talking to the “small” people and playing to their shared qualities while emphasizing forgetting their differences for the cause, he appeals to oppressed people everywhere to rise up against oppression. Malcolm X speaks to people and effectively highlights the dire circumstances and history of blacks in America for his time period as well as time periods before while playing to the “sick and tired” attitudes of the said people. He constantly reinforces his belief that the time for action is upon them and that “the time has run out”. Using strong language such as “Uncle Sam’s hands are dripping with blood, dripping with the blood of the black man in this country.” leaves listeners thinking about all the dues black people have paid while being denied basic human rights. Calling for violence to achieve his goals is a stark difference from what Martin Luther King Jr. but, nevertheless his methods certainly convinced people that action must be taken to achieve social equality.

    While I agree with Malcolm X’s view that human rights were horrifically being abused in America, I don’t think that violence was the right response to achieve equality. However, in terms of effectively playing to crowd’s ideas, carefully setting up his ideas, and using strong language to engage the audience was brilliant. Mentioning the sacrifices that his people have endured for little to no reward was an effective way of illustrating the injustices at hand. Also, by encouraging dropping differences between fellow sufferers and emphasizing that he isn’t “anti-white” just anti-oppression I think gives him more credibility that he is not only in favor of black equality but, equality for all.

  14. In April of 1636, Civil Right protests were takin place in Birmingham Alabama. During the events, Judge W.A. Jenkins issued a ruling against temporary protesting there. Martin Luther King Jr. went against the sanction and had a peaceful protest for which he was arrested for. During his time in jail, he wrote a piece known as “Letter from Birmingham City Jail.” This piece is a representable what his goals are through his ways of protest. MLK Jr. advocated for peaceful protesting in public locations. Many people had different views on this. Some people felt peacefulness wouldn’t work and that violence was the only way to social change. Another theory was that there shouldn’t be any kind of protest at all and everything should be down through courts and government.
    This piece is so powerful because it captivated the audience of people who wanted the change by giving them a means to go about acquiring it. He gave his reasons as to why peaceful protesting has more benefits than any other means of acquiring social change. I agree with his prospective because with nonviolent disobedience, you get a response from who you need to without causing real problems. It brings light to issues without anyone getting hurt, or without making the people who are protesting have a bad image.

  15. Martin Luther King Jr. is a man we all know well. We’ve learned about him since we were in elementary school, alongside Rosa Parks and Jesse Owens. We’ve heard his “I have a Dream” Speech many times over; but one of King’s most underrated pieces came from a night spent in Birmingham, Alabama in a jail cell. King spoke after spent the night in jail for leading a peaceful protest which was broken up by fantastic amounts of police brutality. This is considered one of the best pieces of rhetoric in American history, and it’s still recalled today as one of the most moving pieces of all time. For a piece so moving, King exemplified a number a powerful techniques that helped him to sway his audience. For one, he spoke to an audience with clear intent; and there was no floundering. All his points were made clearly; all his statements backed up by facts; and all of his definitions of “freedom” and “justice” were expressed with perfect clarity. King made sure the audience knew that his definition of justice did not match up with the social stigmas’s of the time; and his nonviolent stances were kept afloat with preaching or morality and equality. King knew his audience, and he truly believed in his cause. That is what made his “Letters From Birmingham City Jail” speech so incredible memorable and moving.
    Although memorable, his speech has brought up a lot of controversy. In school we learn about King being nonviolent and great; and yet, in his time period, King was just another person practicing disobedience. No matter how gentle or passive King’s group allowed, they were still brought suffering from a greater police strength. There’s photographs of people being sprayed with fire hoses and unnecessary force. It begs the question of weather or not nonviolence can really be sustained. In King’s case, it seemed to work. Civil rights is still considered a higly important case; schools are no longer segregated; racism is still happening, but on a much more even playing field for the most part. But was nonviolence really the winning solution there? I find it hard to think about all the people who have to suffer brutal attacks a countless number of times in order to get a their points heard. And yet if you fight back with fire, even more people could be injured or maimed in the process. It’s a hard question to decide upon. I agree with MLK Jr’s stance; it’s hard to argue with. But I’m not sure how effective it could be in different circumstances, especially in today’s world.

  16. “The Ballot or the Bullet”, by Malcolm X, proves to be a very powerful and convincing piece. The factors that makes it this way are his word choice and reiteration. As far as word choice, Malcolm X makes a very black and white argument. He does not ease up on his side. He tells you exactly what he thinks, and why he thinks it. After every point, he then summarizes what was said. This is especially true for his title and reoccurring line “the ballot or the bullet”. He repeats this about every 3 paragraphs, to emphasize his argument that blacks are fed up, and change will happen- whether it be done peacefully or by force. This process of repetition and summarization not only reiterates the point, but it makes sure that the reader does not forget a single detail.
    At this precise point in time, society was going through a whirlwind of change and reformation. He talks of immediate action needing to be taken, and lists all the sources where the oppression stems from. He is ruthless. He is frustrated with the oppression and allows those feelings to bleed through the text. “…time has run out!. . . and now we have the type of black man on the scene in America today. . . who just doesn’t intend to turn the other cheek any longer.”
    Personally, I agree with his argument. Up until this point in history, blacks had always been exceedingly mistreated. They wanted their freedom, no matter how long it took or how life threatening it was. He is not afraid to touch upon issues that seem touchy, such as questioning the American system or targeting his fellow black man as helping the suppression process. He also gives a direct course of action to be taken for the issue at hand. He is raw, determined, and fed up. He makes a very powerful and convincing argument.

  17. Malcolm X picks the “perfect” time to write his speech in; he picks a time when racism is at a high even though, the civil rights movement has been well under way. One of the main points to pick out of his speech is that although he calls for the “ballot or the bullet”, he doesn’t necessarily want to jump to violence. He always refers to it as the back-up plan and talks about what can be done through politics. He speaks through his speech with simplicity but, with power and conviction as well and gathers supporters through his knowledge of what is going on in the country around him that others may be ignorant to. Another part is interesting where he describes the racism and segregation that is happening in America not as racism and segregation but, as Americanism implying and showing that this is the only country that professes to be leader of the free world and promotes freedom and equality but, has continued to oppress African-Americans for generations.
    It’s hard to say that he aligns with civil disobedience in the concept most people think of because when it comes up, many think of MLK Jr. or Thoreau; he does put forth and really drive home the point of having knowledge about what is happening and using that knowledge to fight back against those who are engaging in the oppressing. I understand and see the good behind King’s desire to remain non-violent and to achieve everything he wanted for all races through peace and change that is brought up through a personal desire to amend a great many wrongs; however, Malcolm X gives an option: to be peaceful and gain the rights and liberties everyone else in America has or cease “turning the other cheek” and start up a fight that will end in bloodshed and hopefully those rights and liberties. This is powerful because he gives African-Americans in 1964 a choice and in most lives during that time, a choice was as tangible as a dream. We define ourselves by the choices we make and find comfort or create regrets in those very same choices; he never said ballot AND the bullet but, simply or.

  18. Dr. Martin Luther King would be my idea of a perfect way for civil disobedience through his actions and the way he brought about this action. He would go from city to city, state to state sharing his feelings with a nonviolent action. He gained followers by the way he withheld himself and did not rebel by fighting fire with fire. He fought with his mind and heart expressing to the world that people before him died for their right that they never received.
    In doing so Dr. King was given the chance to walk through the most segregated place in the country and instead of fighting the hate he let the people hate him and hit him and tear him down with negative slurs. He did all of this and yet he still said he would forgive them. The day came for his speech in D.C. where he gave the most rememorable speech. He had over hundred of thousands of people listening to his dream of equal rights for everybody not just blacks. His dream was set in motion by not fighting but sharing his feelings, he did not lead by his fist but by his mind and heart and that opened others to see and feel the same as him.

  19. Martin Luther King is a political speaker known by almost everyone around the world. Martin is most recognized for his “I have a dream” speech in Washington D.C. When Martin was arrested and was in Birmingham City Jail, his words speak freely and clearly to portray his point and the goals he wants to accomplish in order to receive he wanted to see in America. At the start of the article, he wants it known that he is writing this letter from Birmingham City Jail. This letter isn’t just filled with opinions, there are facts all over “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

    I agree with the way Martin Luther King Jr. chooses to rebel. He knows that by fighting back with violence will only make the goal he wanted to achieve impossible. Fighting segregation with violence would only make things worse. By organizing marches, sit-ins and rally’s will prevent a racial war and give African Americans a better chance of freedom rather then fighting back and taking action. Martin Luther King Jr. brought light to the issues in America without many people getting hurt and without having people protesting giving the group a bad image

  20. Malcom X’s speech, “Ballot or Bullet” is a powerful piece that commands attention for its approach that challenges the mainstream path of civil rights activists. Malcom was down to earth with his speeches unlike the lofty ideals of Martin Luther King. He made simple promises instead of preaching about peace. He promised that in one way or another change was on the horizon. Be it through the rightful ballot or the unjust bullet the social change so desperately needed in our country would be brought forward. The proposition of violence was a culture shock to the white Americans who had been used to largely ignoring the peaceful pleas of King. While violent acts were still few and far between, Malcom’s words paved the way for future civil rights groups such as the Black Panthers that forced their way into the attention of America’s media with militaristic imagery that could not be ignored.
    From a personal standpoint I agree with the views of Malcom X. While effective in their own right, the peaceful protests led by king were one cog in the civil rights machine and would simply not have been enough on their own to push the entire movement forward. The civil disobedience of Malcom X was exactly the type of force needed for true civil rights reform. Providing a promise that change was well on its way in one form or another was exactly the type of encouragement the powers at be needed to entertain social reform. While often overlooked, the works of Malcom X were undoubtedly a major driving force in the civil rights movement.

  21. Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech is very powerful on paper and I can only imagine that it was even more powerful when spoken. Malcolm X uses a lot of different rhetorical devices in his speech but one that he uses quite often is repetition. Repetition is an incredibly powerful way to make people remember what you are saying or to put emphasis on a particular point. Malcolm X repeats the phrase “ballot or the bullet” over and over again. He uses this phrase as a way to call people to action and he continuously repeats it throughout his speech. He also uses repetition within paragraphs or sentences for emphasis throughout his speech.

    Another powerful approach that Malcolm X takes is the casualty of his tone. Whether he purposefully chose to speak in this manner or not, it puts him down on the level of the listener. He even begins his speech by putting himself on the same level as the listener. He says, “We’re all in the same boat and we all are going to catch the same hell from the same man.” This is an important move on Malcolm X’s part because it shows that he is fighting the same fight that he is encouraging his audience to fight.

    Malcolm X also uses a lot of comparison and storytelling throughout his speech. He compares the fight for civil rights to different wars throughout the world and he compares the way America functions to sitting down for dinner. He tells a story about the young generation of people who are willing to fight in order to encourage his audience to do the same. He also uses brutal imagery to encourage people to join him. He talks about the blood that African Americans shed and the labor that they did. He talks about the fact that America is the way it is because of the work of their ancestors.

    Malcolm X also talks about the differences between the fight of today and the fight of yesterday in his speech. He uses powerful words of encouragement that tell the people listening that things have changed and they they need to do more than had been done before. He evokes a sense of dire need for change and that alone is powerful.

    When it comes to how I feel about Malcolm X’s rebellious speech, I have to say that there is definitely a place for this type of approach and the Civil Rights Movement just might have been that place. There was (and still is if I am being frank) a dire need for change in America. People were being treated as less than people and that is not okay. I am not one to ever condone violence but sometimes the threat of violence is enough to make a change happen, especially when that change is, indeed. for the better. I would be more prone to follow Martin Luther King Jr.’s lead if I were around during the time because I am a fan of a peaceful approach, but after enough time, I can see why people followed Malcolm X. He was using a very active form of civil disobedience, but that active form of civil disobedience helped push America toward a much needed change.

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  24. Civil disobedience used to be different than it is today. Sitting in trees or joining hands is in very stark contrast to blocking interstates and looting.

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