The Creation of African-American Identity in the Language of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X

Abstract

This paper analyzes five iconic speeches by Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. The main focus lies on how various linguistic devices are used to create a collective African-American identity. Prior to the analysis, a theoretical framework - founded on Foucault's and Fairclough's theories on discourse as well as contemporary theories on identity - is developed. A qualitative approach is used to show how King and Malcolm X use noun phrases, personal pronouns, and figurative language to both construct and communicate a collective African-American identity. Special attention is paid to the different usages of these devices by the two speech writers. It is concluded that King uses a rather inclusive approach on identity, dreaming of a truly united United States, whereas Malcolm X advocates a rather exclusive approach on identity, in favor of a separate African-American state.

 

Tags: Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, identity, discourse, discourse analysis, personal pronouns, noun phrases, figurative language

Presentation 1

Additional Links 1

Sources 1