Malcolm X was civil rights activist, born in Omaha Nebraska in 1925. He wrote many essays to inform citizens in the United States of the struggles and difficulties that African Americans face while simply attempting to get an education. He also wanted to persuade African Americans to take action in the civil rights movement. In this essay, I will be exploring Malcolm X’s article Learning to Read looking more deeply into techniques and strategies like pathos, ethos, logos, and tone used in writing that helped convey his message.
Malcolm X wanted to stress the importance, especially to African Americans, of reading and writing. He states that In the streets, I had been the most articulate hustler out there- I had commanded attention when I said something. But now, trying to write simple English, I not only wasn’t eloquent, I wasn’t even functional (Malcolm 107). When Malcolm was only in the eighth grade he became involved in organized crime and could not read or write. When is prison he changed his life for the better. He dedicated his time and energy teaching himself to read and write. He made an important point that it doesn’t matter how weak your rhetoric skills are you can always advance them.
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Malcolm X uses many rhetoric devices, but one that is very evident is his use of tone. Tone is established when one puts the language together. The first part of the language is punctuation. Malcolm’s uses dashes to help support his point. An example of when he uses dashes is when he says that between Mr. Muhammad’s teaching. My correspondence, my visitors usually Ella and Reginald-and my reading books.. (Malcolm 108). This dash emphasizes the words ‘reading books’ and the importance behind them. Another factor that contributes to the language is his use of quotation marks. For example, when he talks about skin game he puts quotation marks around the phrase because he wants to stress the significance of the tension happening in the United Nations through sarcasm with quotation marks (Malcolm 113). The next factor in language is when Malcolm uses italicized words. He says how is a black man going to get civil rights before first he wins human rights (Malcolm 114).
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