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Critical Discourse Analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Speech I Have a Dream and Malcom X’s Speech A Message to the Grassroots

Ibtesam Abdul Aziz Bajri , Eelaf Othman
Journal of Linguistics and Literature. 2020, 4(1), 1-14. DOI: 10.12691/jll-4-1-1
Received September 17, 2019; Revised October 24, 2019; Accepted November 05, 2019

Abstract

This is a linguistic study which is grounded in the domain of critical discourse analysis. CDA is a kind of analysis that examines social and political discourse. It is concerned with the way power is exercised through language and the effect that kind of power can have on its intended audience. In the year 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. called for unity and integration in his speech I Have a Dream. In the same year, Malcolm X called instead for a revolution and segregation in his speech A Message to the Grassroots. In its examination of these two speeches, the study applies the 3D model of Fairclough [1] which is comprised of the following dimensions: text, discursive practice and social practice. By analyzing these three dimensions, the study aims to deconstruct both speeches in order to uncover and compare the linguistic tools that have been employed by the two speakers. The study finds that Fairclough’s model helps in deconstructing both speeches and in exposing the linguistic tools that are used. The study also finds out that the speakers use language in distinct ways in their attempts to influence and gain power over their respective audiences.

1. Introduction

The mid-19th century was considered a period of great turbulence in the United States. There was great conflict between the northern and southern states that centered on the controversial issue of slavery. The northern states were against the enslavement of black people and considered it a moral wrong while the southern states were entirely pro-slavery. The nation was thus divided and this division led to one of the deadliest wars to ever be waged on American soil. Known as the Civil War, it began in 1861 and ended in 1865 with a victory for the north and the abolishment of slavery ( 2, 7). However, even though the enslavement of black people officially ended, discrimination against them did not. They continued to endure the crushing effects of racism and the violence and prejudice that went hand in hand with it.

The mid-20th century saw a turning point for black people. Unable to continue enduring injustice at the hands of the whites, they began an unprecedented movement. This movement was considered by black people to be a fight for their basic civil rights - rights that should automatically be afforded to any citizen under United States law. These include the right to vote, to equal employment, equal pay and education. Aptly named the Civil Rights Movement, this struggle mainly took place in the 1950s and 1960s and was spearheaded by two prominent figures: Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. At a time when the nation was rampant with discord and dissension, these two influential figures were considered as beacons of hope for the oppressed. In their numerous speeches, they called on black people to realize their social, economic and political potential. They emphasized the importance of cultural and racial pride and explained that, through collective social action, black people could overcome poverty, injustice and inequality. Their calls for racial and social justice aimed at improving the plight of black people who were treated as second-class citizens in those times of civil unrest. However, although they were both fighting the same fight for equality, they had vastly different beliefs on how to achieve that equality. For Dr. King, the solution lay in integration which he believed could be the first step towards creating a society that was color-blind. A society where a person would be valued and judged on the basis of his or her character rather than their skin color. For Malcolm X, the solution lay in segregation, whereby black people would have their own separate nation within the United States and which he believed could only be achieved with a black revolution. These two strong leaders thus represented two sides to the same coin when it came to the civil rights movement. While it was through their hard-hitting speeches that they were able to display these two opposing sides, it was through their masterful use of language that they were able to exert influence on their millions of followers. Using the framework of critical discourse analysis, this particular study examines two of their most hard-hitting speeches which were both delivered in 1963: Dr. King’s I Have a Dream and Malcolm X’s A Message to the Grassroots.

According to Fairclough 3, the primary concern of CDA is the relationship between discourse and power and their effects on social relationships within a given society (8). Fairclough’s analytical approach assumes that language helps to create change and can be used to change behavior. In short, language becomes a tool of power. In these two inspirational speeches, both Dr. King and Malcolm X demonstrate how their powerful language and their positions of power can both be used to influence their audiences. Applying the 3D model that Fairclough 1 has developed for CDA, the study aims to do the following:

1. To deconstruct Dr. King’s speech I Have a Dream and Malcolm X’s speech A Message to the Grassroots.

2. To uncover and compare the linguistic tools that are used by both speakers in each of their speeches.

The study also hopes to answer the following questions:

1. Will the application of Fairclough’s 3D model help in deconstructing both speeches?

2. What linguistic tools do Dr. King and Malcolm use to gain power and authority over their respective audiences?

Dr. King’s speech I Have a Dream and Malcolm X’s speech A Message to the Grassroots are considered two of the most influential speeches to ever be given. Both speeches have been studied and researched extensively using a variety of approaches. However, to the best of the researchers’ knowledge, no previous studies exist that draw a comparison between them. It is important for readers to understand that there is more than one way to use language as an instrument of power. Thus, this study is designed to raise awareness and offer a better understanding of the different techniques that can be used.

2. Review of Literature

2.1. Conceptual Background

According to Stubbs 4, the term “discourse analysis” refers to “the linguistic analysis of naturally occurring connected spoken or written discourse” (1). However, adding the word “critical” to discourse gives a whole new dimension to how discourse can be analyzed. This new dimension is mainly concerned with the relationship between language and society, a relationship that Fairclough 5 sees as being “internal” rather than “external” (19). An internal relationship means that a person using language is not detached from the society in which he/she lives. Rather, that person is influenced by that very society. That is why language and society should be viewed as one entity as opposed to two separate ones. It is also why Gee 6 differentiates between two kinds of discourse: discourse with a lowercase “d”, which refers to the linguistic aspect of language, and discourse with a capital “D”, which refers to the social aspect of language (13). In other words, the social aspect is about how people use different styles of language to enact different identities in different social settings. In essence, people use language in ways that are “determined socially and have social effects” ( 5, 19). CDA is thus an interdisciplinary approach to the study of discourse that views “language as a form of social practice” ( 5, 16).

CDA is also concerned with power and how it is enacted and exercised through language. Wodak 7 asserts that language is not something that is powerful all on its own. Rather, it gains power from the way it is used by powerful people (10). A speaker or writer can exercise power by determining what is included in their discourse and what is excluded, by how they represent certain events and by how they maneuver or position their audience to share their worldviews ( 8, 356). The use of rhetorical devices and metaphors also play a significant role to that end, as they can be used as a powerful instrument of influence and persuasion 9, 10. Moreover, discourse can be structured in a particular way that ensures the audience interprets it in a particular way as well ( 11, 408). This can contribute to the method of naturalization which, when analyzed, demonstrates the ways in which ideologies can be embedded in discourse practices. These ideologies are proven to be more effective when they are naturalized and “attain the status of common sense” ( 12, 200). CDA, thus endeavors to “uncover, reveal or disclose” that which is hidden or implicit in texts in an attempt to also uncover, reveal and disclose the underlying ideologies that are inherent in them ( 13, 18).

2.2. Previous Studies

There have been many noteworthy studies that have analyzed political speeches from the theoretical framework of CDA. The majority of the recent studies that have been conducted have adopted Fairclough’s 3D model. Most notably, Bayram 14, uses this model in his analysis of a speech which is made by the Prime Minister of Turkey, Erdogan. The discursive practices of Erdogan are examined within the context of cultural, ideological and language background. The researcher is able to show how Erdogan’s background, identity, values and principles are clearly reflected in his discourse. Due to this fact, the Turkish people are able to relate to him, which is also why his speech has such a positive reception among them. This study presents strong and clear evidence to support the issue it addresses. These conclusions are important in that they raise awareness of language attitudes. This, in turn, helps a person understand himself or herself better within a society.

In another study by Sipra and Rashid 15, Martin Luther King Jr.’s most renowned speech I have a Dream is analyzed from a socio-political perspective. Again, Fairclough’s 3D model is adopted in order to be able to fully analyze the text, interaction and context of the speech. The researchers find that King uses specific linguistic and stylistic devices, particularly metaphors, which help gain him the support of his enraptured audience. Through the socio-political aspect of the speech, the researchers are able to uncover King’s ideologies which are imbued in the language he so skillfully uses. The evidence that is presented in the paper, although concise, is very on point, as it shows that effective political discourse can do much in gaining an audience’s trust and support.

A study conducted by D’Ambrosio 16 analyzes 31 of Malcolm X’s speeches. The researcher unravels Malcolm X’s counter-hegemonic discourse, this time by adopting Halliday’s 17 approach of systemic functional linguistics. By using this particular methodology, it is found that Malcolm X uses slang and informality as his linguistic tools. In addition, his counter-hegemonic discourse of resistance is realized through intertextuality, lexis, genre, and transitivity. The paper presents a lot of evidence that genuinely helps in deconstructing all 31 of Malcolm X’s speeches. The main conclusion of the paper is that important social issues, like those of struggle and resistance, can be demonstrated through the use of language. These conclusions are important because they demonstrate how, in standing up in the face of hegemony, one can bring about social change.

Hussein 18, employs Fairclough’s 3D model in her examination of Arabic political discourse. Specifically, she examines a speech made by the Egyptian President, Al-Sisi. The results of the study uncover Al-Sisi’s use of distinctive linguistic devices such as figures of speech, collocation, synonymy and repetition. All of these devices are set in social, political and cultural contexts that reflect Al-Sisi’s ideologies. These devices are also used as strategies to influence the Egyptian people. The main conclusion of the paper is that language is shaped by the social, cultural and political factors surrounding the person using it. The evidence in this paper is very well presented, as it gives a thorough explanation of how one can uncover covert ideologies in political speech.

Similarly, Mettomaki 19 adopts Fairclough’s 3D model in the analysis of the inaugural speeches of Obama and Trump. The aim of her study is to examine how the language they have used in their inaugural addresses has helped create representations about different groups of people. This is done by analyzing the use of pronouns and metaphors and the various contexts in which they appeared. The study finds that Obama’s use of pronouns and metaphors encourages unity and solidarity. On the other hand, Trump’s use of both is intended to divide. The evidence provided in this paper is comprehensive and offers thorough answers to the research questions. The conclusions are important because they demonstrate how a president’s inaugural address can either have a positive impact on the people or a negative one. Therefore, politicians should be mindful of their language choices.

This study will be following along the same themes as the ones mentioned above. It will apply Fairclough’s 1 3D model in its analysis of Dr. King’s speech I Have a Dream and Malcolm X’s speech A Message to the Grassroots. By doing so, the researchers wish to show the different methods that are employed by both speakers in their bid to create change.

3. Research Method and Design

3.1. Data Collection

In this study, two speeches will be analyzed. The first one is I Have a Dream 20 by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was delivered in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963 and consists of 1,651 words. The speech has been obtained from the following website: https://www.archives.gov/files/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf.

The second speech is A Message to the Grassroots 21 by Malcolm X. It was delivered in Detroit, Michigan on November 10, 1963 and consists of 5,341 words. This speech has been obtained from the following website: http://malcolmxfiles.blogspot.ca/2013/06/a-message-to-grassroots-november-10- 1963.html.

These two speeches have specifically been chosen for two reasons: the first is that they are both delivered by African American civil rights activists, and the second because they are both delivered in the same year of 1963.

3.2. Data Analysis

According to Fairclough 1, “any instance of discourse is seen as being simultaneously a piece of text, an instance of discursive practice, and an instance of social practice” (4). In order to better understand the relationship between language, society, power and ideology, Fairclough 1 has developed a model which can help in describing, interpreting and explaining this relationship. This model consists of three dimensions and can be summarized as follows:

1. The first dimension is called ‘text’. This dimension focuses on the linguistic features of a spoken or written text. These features include the use of specific lexical items, rhetorical devices and metaphors. All of these concrete textual features should be described and systematically analyzed before moving on to the second dimension.

2. The second dimension is called ‘discursive practice’. This involves the production of text and how that text is comprehended and interpreted by the audience. Attention here is also given to shared knowledge and intertextuality, both of which can help place a text in its social context. Shared knowledge refers to the common knowledge that is shared between the speaker/writer and the audience whereas intertextuality refers to the process of drawing on other texts.

3. The third dimension is called ‘social practice’. Social practice is concerned with the hierarchical social structures that exist in society and in the construction of social identities. This includes an analysis of the social relationship that exists between the speaker/writer and the audience.

However, as Fairclough 1 contends, there is no sharp division between these three dimensions. He explains that the overlap is due to the fact that one cannot mention the linguistic features of a text without some kind of reference to how that text is produced or the social context in which it is produced. He, therefore, suggests that where concrete features of a text are more prominent or salient, they should be included under ‘text’ and where productive processes are more salient, they should be included under ‘discursive practices’ and where social identities and relationships are most salient, they should be included under ‘social practices’ (73).

4. Application of Dr. King Speech

The study begins with Dr. King’s speech which is read multiple times. Each time it is read, attention is given to a specific aspect. The first reading focuses on the speech as a piece of text, which is the first dimension of Fairclough’s model. Under the heading of ‘text’, three other sub-headings are included: ‘lexical items’, ‘rhetorical devices’ and ‘metaphors’. Under ‘lexical items’, words that are repeated frequently, are calculated. Additionally, the lexical items and phrases that are related, are grouped together and placed in a table in order to better illustrate them. Under ‘rhetorical devices’, all of the examples of the rhetorical devices that are employed in the speech, are extracted and listed. Lastly, under the heading of ‘metaphors’, examples of all the metaphors that are employed, are included. It is also noted that italics are added in each extract to make it easy for the reader to focus and understand.

The speech is then read a second time, this time with careful attention to the ‘discursive practices’ that are used in the speech. In this second dimension of Fairclough’s model, the social context surrounding the production of the speech is explained. Additionally, two other sub-headings are included: ‘shared knowledge’ and ‘intertextuality’. Examples of both of these elements are identified, including an explanation of how Dr. King incorporated both into his speech. Finally, a final reading is undertaken where attention is turned towards the third dimension, ‘social practices’. Here, the social identity that Dr. King takes on and the social relationship that exists between him and his audience is described. Two sub-headings are also included here: ‘formality/informality’ and ‘pronouns’. Under the first sub-heading, a description is given regarding the style of language that he uses. Under the second sub-heading, the types of pronouns that are employed are included along with the number of times they are employed.

4.1. Text

According to Fairclough 1, any textual feature that is employed in either speech or writing has potential significance (74). The significance lies in the way textual features can be used to shape the mind of the recipient to mirror the interests of the speaker or writer ( 13, 23). In this particular speech, which is directed at white people as much as it is directed at blacks, Dr. King uses specific textual features to also make his interests known. More importantly, he appeals to his audience to actively share in those interests. These interests range from resolving the issues of injustice to those of racial and social inequality. Dr. King explains that the solution lies in integration, and how it is through integration that black people can attain true freedom.


4.1.1. Lexical Items

Serving as a brutal reminder that black people are not yet truly free, the word freedom is mentioned 20 times in the speech and the word free is mentioned 5 times. Dr. King’s belief that freedom can be obtained through integration is evidenced by his use of the terms and phrases below:

Not only does Dr. King use terms and phrases that encompass black and white people alike, he also impresses upon all of them the need for swift action. For Dr. King, the fight for freedom is a fight that should be fought by both races in unison. It is also one that should be dealt with in the present and not at some unforeseeable time in the future. As such, the word urgency is mentioned twice, the word today is mentioned 9 times and the phrase now is the time is mentioned 4 times in the speech.


4.1.2. Rhetorical Devices

One rhetorical device that is consistently employed by Dr. King is that of anaphora. The term ‘anaphora’ refers to “the repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, sentences, and stanzas” ( 22, 64). This rhetorical device is usually used when a speaker wishes to emphasize a particular point. In this speech, Dr. King uses anaphora to emphasize several salient points, the most important of which is the need to end segregation. In the following extract, Dr. King repeats the phrase one hundred years later:

One hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty ... One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.

In the example above, the repetition of the phrase one hundred years later is intended to underscore an important point: that although black people had legally been freed from slavery one hundred years prior, not much had changed for them during that time. They were still subject to harassment and mistreatment and were still crippled by the manacles of segregation one hundred years later.

In another example, Dr. King repeats the phrase now is the time:

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark desolate valley of segregation ... Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

In this example, Dr. King emphasizes the importance of the present. For him, living up to the promises of democracy, ending segregation and achieving justice are matters that can no longer be put off.

The following example shows Dr. King repeating the phrase we can never/cannot be satisfied as long as:

We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim ... We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel ... We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote.

Here, Dr. King recounts all the instances of racial discrimination that black people continue to endure, all of which are reasons why black people cannot be satisfied with the current state of affairs.

The phrase I have a dream that one day is repeated 8 times in the speech and, in the two examples below, Dr. King talks about his dream of integration:

I have a dream that one day…little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream that one day…the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

In yet another example of anaphora, Dr. King repeats the phrase with this faith we will be able to:

With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together…

His repetition of this phrase emphasizes the point that black people should never lose faith. That on account of having faith, they can transform their country from a state of disunity and enmity into one of unity and racial harmony.

In this final example, Dr. King repeats the phrase let freedom ring from:

Let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

In this example, Dr. King mentions all the places in America where he hopes freedom will reign supreme. He begins by stating the places where segregation does not pose much of a problem. He then uses the transitional phrase But not only that to include the places where segregation is most prevalent.


4.1.3. Metaphors

Dr. King’s speech is also filled with various metaphors. One particular method that he employs with metaphors is that of contrast, where he places a negative and positive metaphor in the same sentence. The following contrastive metaphors all share a common trait: they all demonstrate the black person’s bleak reality on the one hand, and what Dr. King hopes will be their new promising reality on the other:

The Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.

Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.

Dr. King’s contrastive metaphors can best be illustrated in the table below:

4.2. Discursive Practices

According to Fairclough 1, discursive practice involves “processes of text production and interpretation” (71). These processes consider the ways in which a piece of text is put together, whether the form is speaking or writing and how that text is interpreted in a wider social context. In this case, the speech that Dr. King produces is very much influenced by the social event of which he is a part. This event is famously known as the March on Washington. The goal of the march has been to gain social and economic equality for black people. It has been organized in advance by Dr. King and other civil rights leaders and has been intended as a peaceful demonstration that would help champion their cause for equality. The event has been televised and Dr. King has been among nine other speakers, four of whom are white.

The day this social event has taken place and its location are equally important, as allusions have been made to both in the production of the speech. With regards to the date, the speech has been delivered on August 28, 1963. This, in itself, is rather symbolic, as it marks 100 years since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. This proclamation officially has freed all black people and banned slavery for good. As for the location, the speech has been delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. This, too, is considered symbolic, as it is the same place where Abraham Lincoln has delivered one of his most famous speeches during the Civil War. Lincoln has begun that speech by making a reference to the Declaration of Independence with his famous line ‘Four score and seven years ago’. The date that is being referred to by Lincoln is 1776 when America finally has gained independence from Great Britain.


4.2.1. Intertextuality

Dr. King employs the method of intertextuality by beginning his speech in the same manner that President Lincoln has begun his many years before:

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

For those who are reluctant to embrace his vision, Dr. King makes a calculated choice to reference a man who is greatly admired by black and white people alike. In doing so, he is able to unite both races on that basis alone. Moreover, just as Lincoln has referenced the Declaration of Independence in his 1863 speech, so too does Dr. King in his 1963 speech. In fact, in another example of intertextuality, Dr. King mentions the Declaration twice:

This note [the Declaration of Independence] was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal”.

Dr. King makes this reference to the Declaration because he knows that white people hold it in very high esteem. In the first statement, Dr. King implies that America has failed to live up to its ideals. In addition, he interjects the phrase ‘yes, black men as well as white men’ to highlight the point that ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ are rights that should be guaranteed to all, not just white people. Dr. King’s second statement, where he quotes a line from the Declaration, illustrates his dream for the future: that although America has failed, as of yet, to live up to its creed, that one day it will, and his dream will be realized.

In a final example of intertextuality, Dr. King quotes two songs in his speech. The first is an American patriotic song that he hopes black and white people will be able to sing together one day. By quoting this song, Dr. King is demonstrating that black people are patriotic as well. That they, too, have the same love and loyalty for the US that white people have. That they, therefore, should be treated as first-class citizens and not as second-class ones:

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

The second song is one from the Negro spirituals, which are African American songs that describe the trials and tribulations of slavery. Dr. King hopes that a day will come when they can sing this song together as well:

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children … will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”


4.2.2. Shared Knowledge

In the following examples, Dr. King relies solely on the audience’s background knowledge. For instance, he mentions the word ‘governor’ in the following extract without having the need to specify who that person is:

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

The person that Dr. King is referring to here is George Wallace, the governor of Alabama. He is a well-known promoter of segregation and has fought against integrating the schools in Alabama. This, of course, makes him an adversary to people like Dr. King who has vastly opposing views and consider men like him to be ‘vicious racists’.

In the following excerpt, Dr. King refers to both the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X and their combative stance towards white oppression:

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people ... They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

Malcolm X, along with the Nation of Islam, has long been cynical of white people and has urged black people to distrust them. In several speeches, he calls for unity among black people only and actively promotes segregation. As indicated in the extract above, Dr. King is advising against such a hostile ‘militant’ stance against white people. Instead, he implores the audience to see that their fate is intertwined and, in order to achieve freedom, they ‘cannot walk alone’.

In a final example of his reliance on shared knowledge, Dr. King brings up the American Dream:

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

The American dream is something that is also embedded in the Declaration of Independence and to which every American aspires to live out. It is a dream of having a life of freedom and equal opportunity where everyone has the chance, through hard work, to prosper and succeed. By stating that his dream is ‘deeply rooted in the American dream’, Dr. King is demonstrating that the dream he has for African Americans in no way undermines America and its ideals. Rather, it is to draw attention to the fact that black people have similar ideals that can only be realized if America does justice to the principles that are outlined in the Declaration of Independence.

4.3. Social Practice

Social practice is about how people use language to relate to one another in any given society. According to Fairclough 5, the words that are used in any text, be it spoken or written, “depend on, and help create, social relationships between participants” (97). In Dr. King’s case, and based on the language that he uses in his speech, he positions himself as a preacher with his audience as the congregation. This positioning does not only have to do with his background as a minister, but also with his knowledge of the audience whom he is addressing. The majority of the audience are Christians, familiar with the passages of the Bible. He takes advantage of this and uses it to appeal to the Christian beliefs. These beliefs include being virtuous, honorable and moral human beings. The underlying implication is that, those who are against equality, justice and integration, are unchristian. The following italicized excerpts from the Bible are the examples that Dr. King uses to support his argument:

Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

Thus, with Dr. King’s skillful incorporation of Bible verses, he manages to remind the members of his audience, both black and white, that they all share one religion. In turn, their beliefs should be one as well. He is, therefore, able to connect with all members of his audience and is able to have them share a connection with one another. Moreover, he is able to allow those of opposing views to reevaluate what it really means to be a Christian.


4.3.1. Formality

It is important to note again the fact that the entire event is broadcast on national television and on radio stations. It has been an event that has been viewed and listened to by millions of people. The audience members who are in attendance are around 250,000. Therefore, while Dr. King does appear to connect with his audience members from a religious perspective, there nonetheless is a palpable barrier of formality. This formality is emphasized further by the fact that Dr. King relies on his educational background, as he is a graduate of Morehouse College. Thus, his oration is formal, elegant and refined and reflects the diction of an educated man. This can clearly be seen in his avoidance of contracted forms and informal words and in his employment instead of sophisticated lexical items and eloquent metaphors.


4.3.2. Pronouns

In another attempt by Dr. King to create a social relationship with his audience, he uses many inclusive pronouns. Specifically, he uses the pronouns we, us and our. Table 3 below illustrates the number of times each of the pronouns is used.

As demonstrated in the table above, the pronoun ‘we’ is the one that is used the most. He uses this pronoun 31 times throughout the speech. The pronoun ‘our’ is used 16 times, whereas the pronoun ‘us’ is used only 3 times. However, while the use of these pronouns demonstrates the bond that is created with the audience, it also shows the level of power that Dr. King holds over them. In the examples below, he speaks on behalf of his black audience, both onscreen and off, when he states:

We have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

We have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check.

A check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters.

5. Application of Malcolm X Speech

The speech of Malcolm is extracted and categorized in the same manner as is done with Dr. King’s speech, following the same steps that are outlined previously.

5.1. Text

Discourse is a collection of words that are chosen by a speaker or writer. By choosing certain words, a person is able to convey his/her attitude towards the subject at hand. In his speech, Malcolm is able to both show his attitude towards racial inequality in America and reveal his political beliefs. He does so by calling on black people to form their own black nation in America. He explains that, in order to do so, a black revolution is needed.


5.1.1. Lexical Items

For black people to embrace such a radical idea, he chooses specific words that he knows will have a profound affect. He begins his speech by stating that white America views black people as a problem. The word ‘problem’ is reiterated 7 times in the first part of the speech alone. He goes on to mention it another three times, making the total 10. After driving home the point that black people pose a problem to America, Malcolm urges all of them to come together as one. He again uses particular words and phrases to encourage them to do so. These words and phrases can be found in the table below:

He then proceeds to use other lexical items that demonstrate just how unfavorably black people are looked upon by the whites. These words can be found in the table below:

These negative nouns and adjectives have specifically been chosen by Malcolm to show that the white man’s perception of black people is not likely to change. They are used to reinforce Malcolm’s point that integration is not the solution. Instead, the solution according to him, is for black people to establish their own land within the United States, independent of the whites. As such, he mentions the word ‘land’ 16 times in his speech. The word ‘revolution’, which is Malcolm’s solution to gain freedom, is employed a record number of 60 times throughout the speech, making clear his stance on segregation.

In addition to the use of certain lexical items in his speech, Malcolm also employs over-lexicalization or over-wording. This can be seen in his use of multiple near-synonyms located within the same clause. According to Fowler et al. 23, the importance of overlexicalization is that it helps reveal a person’s preoccupation or concern with a specific issue (210). One of these issues, according to Malcolm, is the way white people have very low opinions of blacks. Malcolm uses overlexicalization to voice their negative opinions by stating:

So we are all black people, so-called Negroes, second-class citizens, ex-slaves.

[E]verybody calls you uncouth, unrefined, uncivilized, savage.

In addition, he explains how white America uses black people against one another in order to further its own political agenda. According to Malcolm, these black people have carefully been chosen to control the rest of the black masses and to force them into submission:

… to keep you and me in check, keep us under control, keep us passive and peaceful and nonviolent.

This process of over-lexicalization, or over-wording, serves to highlight Malcolm’s own negative perception of America and its immoral acts. This process is also used to impress upon the audience the seriousness of the struggle they are facing as minorities in an all-white society, and why a revolution is the ideal solution.


5.1.2. Rhetorical Devices

In his speech, Malcolm uses many rhetorical devices such as anaphora, epistrophe, parallelism and rhetorical questions. Anaphora, as previously explained, is the repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of sentences, phrases or clauses. In one such example, he explains that a person in America can get in trouble just for being black:

You don't catch hell 'cause you're a Baptist, and you don't catch hell 'cause you're a Methodist. You don't catch hell 'cause you're a Methodist or Baptist. You don't catch hell because you're a Democrat or a Republican ... You catch hell 'cause you're a black man.

In another example, he urges black people to unite against the one thing they have in common which is the white man:

[W]e have a common oppressor, a common exploiter, and a common discriminator.

He also uses anaphora to emphasize the point that a revolution is not meant to be peaceful:

A revolution is bloody. Revolution is hostile. Revolution knows no compromise. Revolution overturns and destroys everything that gets in its way.

Anaphora is further used in Malcolm’s criticism of the black people who participate in the March on Washington. According to Malcolm, the inclusion of white people in the march has made black people compliant instead of defiant:

They [black people] ceased to be angry. They ceased to be hot. They ceased to be uncompromising. Why, it even ceased to be a march.

Another rhetorical device that Malcolm uses is that of epistrophe. Harris 24 defines epistrophe as “the counterpart to anaphora” or when the “repetition of words or phrases comes at the end of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences, rather than at the beginning (105). In the example below, Malcolm informs the audience that they, as black people, constitute a serious problem for America:

America has a very serious problem. Not only does America have a very serious problem, but our people have a very serious problem. America’s problem is us. We’re her problem.

In the following extract, he criticizes black people for going to war for white America, yet refuse to defend themselves against the war that is being inflicted on them:

As long as the white man sent you to Korea, you bled. He sent you to Germany, you bled. He sent you to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese, you bled.

In yet another example of epistrophe, Malcolm explains that people do not really know the meaning of the word ‘revolution’ nor what its historic characteristics are:

When you study the historic nature of revolutions, the motive of a revolution, the objective of a revolution, and the result of a revolution, and the methods used in a revolution, you may change words.

Parallelism is another rhetorical device that is used by Malcolm. Harris 24 defines parallelism as “the presentation of several ideas of equal importance by putting each of them into the same kind of grammatical structure” (1). In the following examples, Malcolm shows his derision to those black people who blindly obey white people and who allow themselves to be manipulated by them:

You bleed when the white man says bleed; you bite when the white man says bite; and you bark when the white man says bark.

He takes a Negro, a so-called Negro, and make him prominent, build him up, publicize him, make him a celebrity.

In addition, Malcolm shows his contempt to the black civil rights leaders who, in his view, do nothing to help black people or further their cause. What they do instead is:

They controlled you; they contained you; they kept you on the plantation.

The final rhetorical device that Malcolm uses is that of rhetorical questions. A rhetorical question, according to Leech 25 is that which “expects no answer” (184). In the following extract, he endeavors to provoke the audience by asking:

You are nothing but a ex-slave. You don’t like to be told that. But what else are you? You are ex-slaves.

Additionally, in the following extract, Malcolm asks the audience if they know what a revolution actually entails:

Look at the American Revolution in 1776. That revolution was for what? For land. Why did they want land? Independence. How was it carried out? Bloodshed.

Finally, in his objection to the white people who have joined the March on Washington, Malcolm states:

It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong. What you do? You integrate it with cream; you make it weak.


5.1.3. Metaphors

Malcolm’s speech is also filled with various metaphors. According to van Dijk 26, metaphors can be used to express social beliefs (29). Malcolm expresses his own beliefs with regards to certain people by using derogatory metaphors, as when he describes the white man as a ‘wolf’:

This is the way it is with the white man in America. He’s a wolf and you’re sheep.

That’s a good religion [Islam]. And doesn’t nobody resent that kind of religion being taught but a wolf, who intends to make you his meal.

President John F. Kennedy is described as a ‘fox’ in the following example:

And that old shrewd fox.

He also uses the derogatory term ‘crackers’, the counterpart to the word ‘nigger’, to refer to white men by saying:

They began to stab the crackers in the back.

In addition, Malcolm labels black people who allow themselves to be used by white people as ‘Toms’. This is in reference to the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, whose main character is depicted as a peaceful, non-violent and subservient black man:

The same old slave-master today has Negroes who are nothing but modern Uncle Toms, 20th century Uncle Toms.

Most notably in Malcolm’s speech is his criticism of the March on Washington. According to Malcolm, this march is supposed to demonstrate black people’s anger and indignation for not having equal rights. However, the entire march has been compromised because it has been organized by white people. Not only that, but white activists like Walter Reuther actually has participated in it, thereby diluting the entire purpose of it. He, therefore, sums up the whole event as a ‘picnic’ and a ‘circus’ and those who participate in it as ‘devils’ and ‘clowns’:

It became a picnic, a circus. Nothing but a circus, with clowns and all. … I saw it on television—with clowns leading it, white clowns and black clowns.

It was a circus, a performance that beat anything ... Reuther and those other three devils should get an Academy Award for the best actors ’cause they acted like they really loved Negroes and fooled a whole lot of Negroes.

5.2. Discursive Practices

As explained in the previous chapter, discursive practice involves the process that goes into text production and how that text is interpreted in a wider social context. The social event of which Malcolm is a part, along with the other events taking place around this time, all play a significant role in the production process.

To begin, Malcolm’s speech, although has not been televised, it has delivered in real time on November 10, 1963 in Detroit, Michigan. The event he has participated in is the Northern Negro Grass Roots Leadership Conference. This conference, which has other speakers as well, has taken place at King Solomon Baptist Church and is attended by a black, Christian audience. The main idea that Malcolm is there to promote, is a radical one, which is the need for a black revolution. Malcolm is aware of this, and so, takes the audience step by step through his reasoning without mentioning the word ‘revolution’ from the very beginning. The first step that Malcolm takes towards gaining the audience’s consent is by stating:

We all agree tonight … that America has a very serious problem … The only reason she has a problem is she doesn’t want us here … Once you face this as a fact, then you can start plotting a course that will make you appear intelligent.

With this statement, Malcolm is placing himself and the other speakers in positions of authority. Because it has been ‘agreed upon’ by these people of authority that black people pose a problem to America, the audience does not refute their claims and, instead, take them as fact. The obvious power dynamics at play make it even easier for the audience to yield even more power to Malcolm by allowing him to ‘plot a course’ that will help solve their racial problems.

The second step that Malcolm takes in his reasoning is by presenting the white man as an enemy that black people should unite against:

But once we all realize that we have this common enemy ... And what we have foremost in common is that enemy - the white man.


5.2.1. Shared Knowledge

Malcolm then goes on to make a historical reference to the Bandung Conference of 1955. This conference has been attended by 29 recently independent African and Asian countries to oppose colonialism and promote cultural cooperation. Malcolm states that the only reason this conference has been a success, is because white people are not included:

The number one thing that was not allowed to attend the Bandung conference was the white man ... Once they kept him out, everybody else fell right in and fell in line.

Throughout this journey of reasoning, mutual understanding is being reached and Malcolm is able to elicit agreement from the audience even before he presents his solution. By the 10th paragraph, when Malcolm finally does bring up the word ‘revolution’, it is taken as a commonsense and logical solution to their ongoing struggle for equality.

Other historical references are mentioned in the speech that revolve around revolution. Malcolm specifically mentions the American, Chinese, Algerian, French and Russian revolutions. He then goes on to make the following statement:

The black revolution is sweeping Asia, sweeping Africa, is rearing its head in Latin America. The Cuban Revolution—that’s a revolution. They overturned the system. Revolution is in Asia. Revolution is in Africa. And the white man is screaming because he sees revolution in Latin America.

He also devotes a good amount of time in making a more current reference to the March on Washington. As previously mentioned, the March has taken place in August, nearly two months prior to Malcolm’s speech. Malcolm claims that ‘it was a sellout. It was a takeover’ because it is funded and so tightly controlled by the American government.

This is what they did with the march on Washington ... They joined it, became a part of it, took it over. And as they took it over, it lost its militancy.


5.2.2. Intertextuality

Malcolm goes one step further in strengthening his credibility by using, as Dr. King has done, intertextuality. One example of this would be in the way Malcolm draws upon the speeches of Dr. King himself by saying:

… you don’t have a peaceful revolution. You don’t have a turn-the-other-cheek revolution. There’s no such thing as a nonviolent revolution.

Dr. King, in nearly all of his speeches, uses these very words. By drawing on them, Malcolm is able to mock Dr. King’s passive attitude towards oppression. This, in turn, makes it easier for Malcolm to indirectly push the audience towards taking a more active, forceful and revolutionary stance.

In yet another example of intertextuality, Malcolm draws on the Quran to further support his argument that a revolution is required:

There’s nothing in our book, the Qur'an—you call it "Koran"—that teaches us to suffer peacefully ... That’s a good religion. In fact, that’s that old-time religion. That’s the one that Ma and Pa used to talk about: an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, and a head for a head, and a life for a life: That’s a good religion.

By drawing on this particular verse, Malcolm is able to appeal to the Muslim members of his audience. He is able to show them that even the ‘Quran’ is against the concept of ‘suffering peacefully’ and that even the ‘Quran’ urges one to fight back.

In a final example of intertextuality, Malcolm draws on several references made by Reverend Cleage, a black Christian preacher, to further supplement his argument:

As Reverend Cleage pointed out, "Let your blood flow in the streets." This is a shame. And you know he’s a Christian preacher. If it’s a shame to him, you know what it is to me!

In this way, Malcolm is able to appeal to the Christians, who also happen to make up the majority of his audience. By making these references, he is illustrating that he is not the only one who believes in a black revolution and segregation; that there are even Christian preachers who believe in them as well.

5.3. Social Practices

Social practice refers to the norms and traditions that exist in any given society. The society that Malcolm is addressing consists mostly of middle-class and lower-class black people, many of whom are uneducated. While Malcolm, as a self-educated person, is capable of speaking to his audience in a cultivated and scholarly manner, he instead chooses to speak to them at the ‘grassroots’ level, in a language that is considered the ‘norm’ in that society. Therefore, he uses informal language, slang and the African American Vernacular English. He does this to make sure that all members, young and old, educated and uneducated, understand the plight he is there to address. Furthermore, and as previously mentioned, social practices also refer to the way people can use language to relate to one another in specific social settings. As such, Malcolm uses this kind of language in order to convince the audience that they share a common identity, a common background, a common problem and, thus, need to reach a common solution. He also uses many inclusive pronouns in his speech to that effect.


5.3.1. Informality

It should come as no surprise that Malcolm’s speech is a very informal one. He actually states at the very beginning of the speech that he has purposely chosen for it to be so:

During the few moments that we have, we want to have just an off-the-cuff chat between you and me—us. We want to talk right down to earth in a language that everybody here can easily understand.

Malcolm’s use of the African American Vernacular English can be seen in the lexico-grammatical choices he uses. For example, when advising his audience on the importance of presenting a united front, he uses the word ‘got’ instead of ‘have’:

Don’t let the enemy know that you got a disagreement.

When he explains that a dentist uses medication on his patients to numb their pain, Malcolm uses the verb ‘do’ instead of ‘does’:

The white man do the same thing to you in the street.

He also uses double negatives in the following extracts:

These Negroes aren’t asking for no nation.

You wouldn’t catch no hell.

Malcolm uses the verb ‘was’ instead of ‘were’ in the following examples:

Back during slavery, there was two kinds of slaves.

And Negroes was out there in the streets. They was talking about we was going to march on Washington.

In addition, there are many examples of Malcolm’s use of slang. For instance, he uses the idiomatic phrase ‘off-the-cuff’ which means that his speech is unprepared. Moreover, it demonstrates that it is more of a chat among friends than a prepared speech:

… we want to have just an off-the-cuff chat between you and me.

He also uses the idiomatic expression ‘talk shop’ when advising his audience on how to work together as a team. This expression is slang for ‘talking about your job when not at work’:

Put the white man out of our meetings, number one, and then sit down and talk shop with each other.

Malcolm’s multiple use of the idiomatic phrase ‘catch hell’ is slang for ‘get in trouble’:

You catch hell ’cause you’re a black man.

When he councils his audience on fighting for their lives, he uses the slang term ‘even steve’ which means ‘tied score’ or ‘even match’:

And if you got to give it up, let it be even-steven.

Lastly, Malcolm uses the slang term ‘bust them up ‘side their head’ which means ‘badly beat somebody’:

They began to stab the crackers in the back and bust them up ’side their head—yes, they did.


5.3.2. Pronouns

The use of inclusive pronouns is found in abundance in Malcolm’s speech. Specifically, he uses the pronouns we, us and our. Table 6 below illustrates the number of times each of the pronouns is used.

As shown in the table above, the pronoun ‘we’ is the one that Malcolm uses the most. In fact, he uses it precisely 21 times in his speech. The pronoun ‘us’ is used 15 times, while the pronoun ‘our’ is used 11 times. In using these inclusive pronouns, Malcolm is able to evoke a sense of rapport and commonality with his audience. However, he makes use of the pronoun ‘you’ much more. In fact, this self-exclusive pronoun is used 163 times throughout the speech, as when he states the following:

You came here on a slave ship—in chains, like a horse, or a cow, or a chicken.

You’re still in prison. That’s what America means: prison.

You don’t know what a revolution is. If you did, you wouldn’t use that word.

6. Discussion

Through CDA, it is understood that language can be a bearer of change. The way a person may talk about a certain subject can change another’s view regarding that subject. Therefore, the words that are used and the way sentences are composed are of crucial importance. Another thing of crucial importance to understand is that language is not neutral and is not innocent. It often contains values, attitudes and assessments that the sender wishes to convey to the recipient. In the first part of the analysis, which involves looking at both speeches at the ‘word’ level, one can see the speakers’ attitudes towards inequality. One can also see their proposed solutions on how to overcome it.

In Dr. King’s speech, the word freedom is mentioned 20 times and the word free is mentioned 5 times. While the word freedom literally means liberty, that is not the definition that Dr. King has in mind. For him, the word freedom is synonymous with equality. In Malcolm’s speech, however, the word land is mentioned 16 times. For Malcolm, the word land is synonymous with equality because, according to him, “land is the basis of freedom, justice, and equality”. These examples demonstrate that a text does not need to represent meanings that are already familiar and established, it can contribute to producing new meanings as well. In this sense, and in accordance with Fairclough’s 5 view, texts can thus be “ideologically creative” (79).

Additionally, discourse is about language as a community. The words we choose make us feel that we are a part of a community. It is clear that the speakers have this mind in the speeches they have developed. Each of the speakers has chosen to deliver a speech that is unifying, encouraging and makes them feel as if they are one with their audiences. However, while Dr. King uses words like all of God’s children, my friends and brotherhood as a means to encompass both races, Malcolm’s words of same family, united front and come together encompass black people only. As Wilson 11 posits, these are all everyday words, but the way they are structured and organized play a role in directing how audiences think about particular matters (408).

Malcolm’s speech also differs from Dr. King’s in his use of overlexicalization. This process is used in situations of grave importance, as issues can be better communicated and instilled if they are represented with multiple words. Considering the fact that Malcolm is addressing a very serious matter, it makes sense that he would take advantage of this process. Similar to the employment of deliberate lexical items, overlexicalization is also considered as a “major and well-known domain of ideological expression and persuasion” ( 26, 25).

Rhetorical devices have also been employed by both speakers. As noted by Hussein 18, rhetorical devices can add color and flavor to discourse. However, Pini 10 asserts that one of the defining characteristics of rhetorical devices is persuasion (270). For his part, Dr. King uses one such device consistently throughout his speech which is that of anaphora, as when he repeats the phrase “let freedom ring”. By repeating this and other phrases, Dr. King is able to capture and keep the audience’s attention. He is also able to ensure that the core of his message will not be overlooked.

Malcolm, on the other hand, uses anaphora as well as two other devices of repetition: epistrophe and parallelism. They are used by Malcolm, not only for persuasion, but for clarification and in order to appeal to the audience’s emotions. Additionally, Malcolm uses rhetorical questions for emphatic and dramatic effect as when he states ‘You are nothing but a ex-slave. You don’t like to be told that. But what else are you? You are ex-slaves’. These questions also serve another valuable function that is in line with Frank’s 9 assertion: they enable him to make “stronger statements, with greater implications” than if straightforward statements have been made (726). According to Pini 10, all of these evocative rhetorical devices can be used as a means to satisfy, influence and seduce the public (270). Thus, Dr. King’s and Malcolm’s authority and power originate from their use of powerful rhetoric.

A figure of speech that is employed equally in both speeches is that of metaphors. According to Fairclough 1, “metaphors are not just superficial stylistic adornments of discourse” (194). When one examines the metaphors used by both speakers in this study, one is inclined to agree. Both speakers use deliberate metaphors that enhance their political views and inspire others to share those views. However, they are both used in quite distinct ways by each of the speakers. Dr. King uses contrastive metaphors, where he places both negative and positive metaphors in the same sentence, as when he states ‘Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood’. As found in the study by Sipra and Rashid 15, these kinds of metaphors are the simplest and most direct kinds. They are able to produce an immediate image in the audience’s mind that is striking, stirring and memorable.

However, apart from their ability to simplify concepts, metaphors can also “structure the way we think and the way we act” ( 1, 194). This assertion helps explain why Malcolm uses metaphors like wolf, fox, devil and clowns. He deliberately does so to “belittle, marginalize or dehumanize” those he is opposed to ( 26, 29). In both cases though, and in line with van Dijk’s 26 views, metaphors “may be a function of ideological control” (29). In Dr. King’s case, he uses metaphors to encourage unity and gain the audience’s support and trust, while in Malcolm’s case, he uses them to create skepticism of the white man and distrust.

The second part of the analysis, discursive practices, involves looking at both speeches at the ‘text’ level. Gee 6 contends that “when we speak or write, we craft what we have to say to fit the situation or context in which we are communicating” (11). The social context is thus an important aspect for the production and comprehension of any text. It is also something that can be controlled. In fact, Dr. King and Malcolm obtain full control by deciding on when and where their speeches are to take place, by determining what goals and social actions they wish to accomplish and by choosing their own topics. As posited by van Dijk 8, this kind of control ensures that they also have control over the minds and actions of their respective audiences (356).

Both speakers also rely on shared knowledge and intertextuality. According to Polyzou 27 shared knowledge “necessary for indirect ideological statements to be communicated without being explicitly asserted and justified can surface in discourse indirectly through presupposition (Cited in 28, 51). Fairclough 1 asserts that “the concept of intertextuality sees texts historically as transforming the past into the present” (85). However, that is not the only thing that intertextuality is used for. By making historical references and quoting credible sources, Dr. King and Malcolm are able to build and strengthen their own credibility. Woodside-Jiron 12 asserts that reference to confirm research can also help in naturalizing a text, making it appear as if it is common sense (200). As previously mentioned, Dr. King makes references to the Civil War and the American Revolution while Malcolm makes references to the Bandung Conference and several revolutions. These are all events that the audiences understand and are familiar with because they have already taken place. Therefore, and in line with D’Ambrosio’s 16 findings, the audiences are more liable to believe whatever else the speakers have to say. This is especially true considering the fact that both Dr. King and Malcolm are perceived to be authoritative, respected and trustworthy figures. Furthermore, in political cases, intertextuality can serve as a very powerful and important tool. By picking and choosing a specific text over another or a historical reference over another, as both speakers have done, they are able to validate their arguments and further their own political ideologies. As maintained by van Dijk 13, these are all strategies that are undertaken in order to legitimate, manipulate and manufacture the consent of the audience (18).

The third part of the analysis, social practices, involves looking at both speeches at the ‘norm’ level. As is already understood, language is a part of one’s communication and communication is a social event. In any social event, there are norms and traditions that define social relationships and help in constructing social identities. In the event that Dr. King participates in, the steps of the Lincoln Memorial are transformed into a pulpit where he takes on the role of a preacher who is delivering a sermon. By presenting himself as a man of God, he counts on the audience to be faithful followers to his message. Additionally, the event of which Dr. King is a part is a televised one, lending formality to the whole occasion. Not only, as Fairclough 5 claims, can this generate awe among the audience, but also “the formality of the situation here demands formality of social relations” (98). As such, Dr. King’s relationship with the audience is equally formal and his lexical choices reflect both the formality and the solemnity of the occasion.

In Malcolm’s case, however, the event is neither televised nor formal. His relationship with that of the audience is, therefore, more sociable. As such, he does not only use informal language, but slang and the African American Vernacular as well. Unsurprisingly, this does nothing to lessen the impact of his speech; on the contrary, it strengthens it. As with Bayram’s 14 findings, this serves as a unifying factor that makes him appear more relatable. Additionally, Malcolm’s identity and background are clearly reflected in the language that he uses. In fact, his language choices reflect those of a person who has emerged from the same bleak world that he is trying to rescue his audience from. All of these points can have an emotional impact on the audience and allows them to be more receptive to his ideas.

Both speakers also make use of the inclusive pronouns we, us and our. As found in the study conducted by Mettomaki 19, the use of these kinds of pronouns encourages group membership. It also helps in reducing social differences and in demonstrating solidarity. However, with his use of the pronoun we, Dr. King is also manipulating group membership. For instance, when he states ‘we are not satisfied’ on behalf of black people, he is making an implicit claim that shows he has “the authority to speak for others” ( 3, 106). In Malcolm’s case, he uses the pronoun you a record number of times. This self-excluding pronoun means that he is excluding himself from his audience and creating ‘social distance’ ( 5, 59). Thus, pronouns have the ability to reveal equal and unequal social statuses and they can cause unity or division among social classes.

7. Conclusion and Recommendations

I Have a Dream and A Message to the Grassroots will go down in history as two of the most inspiring speeches to ever be delivered. In these speeches, both Dr. King and Malcolm X challenge racial and social inequality in a white society that is responsible for both. Although they differ in their solutions on how to achieve equality, they are in agreement in how the use of powerful language can be a means to achieve it. In order to deconstruct these speeches, the study adopts the framework of CDA. Specifically, the study applies Fairclough’s 3D model which critically examines text, social, and discursive practices. By understanding the relationship between all three of these elements, one is better able to understand how both speakers rely on their positions of power and authority to influence their audiences. This particular framework helps to reveal the distinctive ways in which both speakers use lexical items, metaphors and rhetorical devices. It also helps to reveal the different ways in which they weave shared knowledge and intertextuality into their speeches. Furthermore, this framework is useful in uncovering the vastly different relationships they share with their audiences and in demonstrating how their use of pronouns plays a significant role in defining those relationships. Thus, using Fairclough’s model serves to expose the unique techniques that are employed in both speeches which, in turn, also helps to expose the ideological messages that are inherent in them.

It is important to note that Dr. King’s and Malcolm’s powerful rhetoric not only makes a powerful impact on their audiences, but on the United States government as well. By shining a light on the plight of black people, the injustices they suffer from could no longer be ignored. They are thus credited for leading the way to the signing of the Civil Rights Act. This law is signed into action by President Lyndon B. Johnson in March 1964 and guaranteed equal rights for every black citizen. In conclusion, this study demonstrates how power can be exercised through language, and how powerful language, in turn, can effect social change.

The findings in this study are very enlightening. However, for future studies, two other political speeches by these speakers can be analyzed to further validate the findings. It would also be interesting to analyze political speeches by Saudi leaders in order to find out how they use language to foster change.

CDA is an important approach to analyze spoken or written discourse. According to Rogers 29, “discourses are always socially, politically, racially and economically loaded” (6). As such, it is recommended that this subject be incorporated in school curriculums. It is crucial for students to learn from an early age the discursive practices that can be used by people of power. It is especially crucial for them to learn to take a stance against those who abuse their power. Therefore, it is believed that the incorporation of this subject can raise awareness and can contribute to the rise of a critical audience.

References

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[10]  Pini, M. (2004). ‘The Discourses of Education Management Organizations: A Political Design’. In R. Rogers (Ed.), An Introduction to Critical Discourse Analysis in Education, (267-291). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
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[11]  Wilson, J. (2001). ‘Political Discourse’. In D. Schiffrin, D. Tannen, and H. Hamilton (Eds.), The Handbook of Discourse Analysis, (398-415). Oxford: Blackwell.
In article      View Article
 
[12]  Woodside-Jiron, H. (2004). ‘Language, Power, and Participation: Using Critical Discourse Analysis to Make Sense of Public Policy’. In R. Rogers (Ed.). An Introduction to Critical Discourse Analysis in Education, (173-205). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
In article      
 
[13]  van Dijk, T. A. (1995). ‘Aims of Critical Discourse Analysis’, Japanese Discourse. 1(1): 17-27.
In article      View Article
 
[14]  Bayram, F. (2010). ‘Ideology and Political Discourse: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Erdogan's Political Speech’, Annual Review of Education, Communication and Language Sciences. 7: 23-40.
In article      
 
[15]  Sipra, M., & Rashid, A. (2013). ‘Critical Discourse Analysis of Martin Luther King's Speech in Socio-Political Perspective’, Advances in Language and Literary Studies 4 (1): 27-33.
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[16]  D’Ambrosio. (2015). ‘The Language of Struggle: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Malcolm X’s Speeches’, (Unpublished Master’s Dissertation). University of Bari Aldo Moro, BA, Italy.
In article      
 
[17]  Halliday, M. A. K. (1978). Language as Social Semiotic: The Social Interpretation of Language and Meaning. Baltimore: University Park Press.
In article      
 
[18]  Hussein, I. (2016) ‘Critical Discourse Analysis of the Political Speech of the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, at the New Suez Canal Inauguration Ceremony’,International Journal of Language and Literature 4 (1): 85-106.
In article      
 
[19]  Mettomäki, A. (2017). “Yes We Can” or “Make America Great again”: Comparison of Representations in Barack Obama and Donald Trump's Inaugural Addresses. (Unpublished Bachelor’s Thesis). University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.
In article      
 
[20]  King, M. L. (1963). I Have a Dream, retrieved from https://www.archives.gov/files/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf.
In article      
 
[21]  Malcolm X (1963) A Message to the Grassroots, retrieved from http://malcolmxfiles.blogspot.ca/2013/06/a-message-to-grassroots-november-10- 1963.html.
In article      
 
[22]  McArthur, T. (Eds.). (1992). The Oxford Companion to the English Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
In article      
 
[23]  Fowler, R., Hedge, B., Kress, G. and Trew, T. (1979). Language and Control. London: Routledge.
In article      
 
[24]  Harris, R. A. (2017). Writing with Clarity and Style: A Guide to Rhetorical Devices for Contemporary Writers. New York, NY: Routledge.
In article      View Article
 
[25]  Leech, G. N. (1969). A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry. New York, NY: Longman.
In article      
 
[26]  van Dijk, T. A. (2005). ‘Discourse Analysis as Ideology Analysis’. In C. Schäffner and A. Wenden (Eds.), Language and Peace, (41-58). New York, NY: Routledge.
In article      
 
[27]  Polyzou, A. (2015). ‘Presupposition in Discourse Theoretical and Methodological Issues’, Critical Discourse Studies 12 (2): 123-138.
In article      View Article
 
[28]  Bajri, A. I. (2016). ‘Presupposition and the Implicit Display Theory’, English Linguistics Research 5 (4): 40-53.
In article      View Article
 
[29]  Rogers, R. (2004). ‘An Introduction to Critical Discourse Analysis in Education’. In R. Rogers (Ed.). An Introduction to Critical Discourse Analysis in Education, (31-48). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
In article      View Article
 

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Normal Style
Ibtesam Abdul Aziz Bajri, Eelaf Othman. Critical Discourse Analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Speech I Have a Dream and Malcom X’s Speech A Message to the Grassroots. Journal of Linguistics and Literature. Vol. 4, No. 1, 2020, pp 1-14. http://pubs.sciepub.com/jll/4/1/1
MLA Style
Bajri, Ibtesam Abdul Aziz, and Eelaf Othman. "Critical Discourse Analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Speech I Have a Dream and Malcom X’s Speech A Message to the Grassroots." Journal of Linguistics and Literature 4.1 (2020): 1-14.
APA Style
Bajri, I. A. A. , & Othman, E. (2020). Critical Discourse Analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Speech I Have a Dream and Malcom X’s Speech A Message to the Grassroots. Journal of Linguistics and Literature, 4(1), 1-14.
Chicago Style
Bajri, Ibtesam Abdul Aziz, and Eelaf Othman. "Critical Discourse Analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Speech I Have a Dream and Malcom X’s Speech A Message to the Grassroots." Journal of Linguistics and Literature 4, no. 1 (2020): 1-14.
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[2]  Glatthaar, J. T. (2001). The American Civil War: The War in the West 1863-1865. UK: Osprey.
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[6]  Gee, J. P. (2014). An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method (4th Ed.). London and New York: Routledge.
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[7]  Wodak, R. (2002). ‘Aspects of Critical Discourse Analysis’, Zeitschrift für Angewandte Linguistik. 36 (10): 5-31.
In article      
 
[8]  van Dijk, T. A. (2001). ‘Critical Discourse Analysis’. In D. Schiffrin, D. Tannen, and H. Hamilton (Eds.), The Handbook of Discourse Analysis, (352-371). Oxford: Blackwell.
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[9]  Frank, J. (1990). ‘You Call That a Rhetorical Question? Forms and Functions of Rhetorical Questions in Conversation’, Journal of Pragmatics. 14 (5): 723-738.
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[10]  Pini, M. (2004). ‘The Discourses of Education Management Organizations: A Political Design’. In R. Rogers (Ed.), An Introduction to Critical Discourse Analysis in Education, (267-291). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
In article      
 
[11]  Wilson, J. (2001). ‘Political Discourse’. In D. Schiffrin, D. Tannen, and H. Hamilton (Eds.), The Handbook of Discourse Analysis, (398-415). Oxford: Blackwell.
In article      View Article
 
[12]  Woodside-Jiron, H. (2004). ‘Language, Power, and Participation: Using Critical Discourse Analysis to Make Sense of Public Policy’. In R. Rogers (Ed.). An Introduction to Critical Discourse Analysis in Education, (173-205). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
In article      
 
[13]  van Dijk, T. A. (1995). ‘Aims of Critical Discourse Analysis’, Japanese Discourse. 1(1): 17-27.
In article      View Article
 
[14]  Bayram, F. (2010). ‘Ideology and Political Discourse: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Erdogan's Political Speech’, Annual Review of Education, Communication and Language Sciences. 7: 23-40.
In article      
 
[15]  Sipra, M., & Rashid, A. (2013). ‘Critical Discourse Analysis of Martin Luther King's Speech in Socio-Political Perspective’, Advances in Language and Literary Studies 4 (1): 27-33.
In article      View Article
 
[16]  D’Ambrosio. (2015). ‘The Language of Struggle: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Malcolm X’s Speeches’, (Unpublished Master’s Dissertation). University of Bari Aldo Moro, BA, Italy.
In article      
 
[17]  Halliday, M. A. K. (1978). Language as Social Semiotic: The Social Interpretation of Language and Meaning. Baltimore: University Park Press.
In article      
 
[18]  Hussein, I. (2016) ‘Critical Discourse Analysis of the Political Speech of the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, at the New Suez Canal Inauguration Ceremony’,International Journal of Language and Literature 4 (1): 85-106.
In article      
 
[19]  Mettomäki, A. (2017). “Yes We Can” or “Make America Great again”: Comparison of Representations in Barack Obama and Donald Trump's Inaugural Addresses. (Unpublished Bachelor’s Thesis). University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.
In article      
 
[20]  King, M. L. (1963). I Have a Dream, retrieved from https://www.archives.gov/files/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf.
In article      
 
[21]  Malcolm X (1963) A Message to the Grassroots, retrieved from http://malcolmxfiles.blogspot.ca/2013/06/a-message-to-grassroots-november-10- 1963.html.
In article      
 
[22]  McArthur, T. (Eds.). (1992). The Oxford Companion to the English Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
In article      
 
[23]  Fowler, R., Hedge, B., Kress, G. and Trew, T. (1979). Language and Control. London: Routledge.
In article      
 
[24]  Harris, R. A. (2017). Writing with Clarity and Style: A Guide to Rhetorical Devices for Contemporary Writers. New York, NY: Routledge.
In article      View Article
 
[25]  Leech, G. N. (1969). A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry. New York, NY: Longman.
In article      
 
[26]  van Dijk, T. A. (2005). ‘Discourse Analysis as Ideology Analysis’. In C. Schäffner and A. Wenden (Eds.), Language and Peace, (41-58). New York, NY: Routledge.
In article      
 
[27]  Polyzou, A. (2015). ‘Presupposition in Discourse Theoretical and Methodological Issues’, Critical Discourse Studies 12 (2): 123-138.
In article      View Article
 
[28]  Bajri, A. I. (2016). ‘Presupposition and the Implicit Display Theory’, English Linguistics Research 5 (4): 40-53.
In article      View Article
 
[29]  Rogers, R. (2004). ‘An Introduction to Critical Discourse Analysis in Education’. In R. Rogers (Ed.). An Introduction to Critical Discourse Analysis in Education, (31-48). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
In article      View Article