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Reading Notes on Rhetoric of Black Revolution


  • The book is published in 1969.
  • Rhetoric of militant blacks: the decline of the nonviolent campaign which was accompanied by the rising voices of black nationalists


Chapter Summary

Chapter I: Toward a Revolutionary Rhetoric

  • Early rhetoric was characterized by aggression against whites
  • A message that is both frightening and hopeful
  • The aggressiveness and unifying
  • Strategy: keep the opponent off balance
  • Strategy: use militant and exaggeration; language to challenge their self-concept
  • Strategy: King’s movement through the goodness of man

Chapter II- Strategies of the Revolutionists

  • Agitational devices:
  • Vilification: to degrade an opponent’s person’s, actions, or ideas
  • Objectification: to channel all of the frustrations of a group onto a single ill-defined body such as an institution nation, political party, or race
  • Legitimation: a psychological weapon to explain, vindicate, and justify the activists which help to impute the wrong attitudes to the opposition
  • Mythification: creates a spiritual dynamism for the movement
    • Religious symbolism

Chapter III: Topics of Revolutionary Rhetoric

  • The power of the black preachers:
    • What does black liberation mean?
  • Basic themes of justice, righteousness, and truth
  • Power
  • The death of brotherhood
  • Four major themes for secular rhetors:
    • Common enemy
    • American hypocrisy
    • Conspiracy theme
    • Unity of black community

Chapter IV: Nature of the Black Audience:

  • Visible response
  • Religious/ non-religious audience
  • Education level

Chapter V: Origins of Revolutionary Themes:

  • Religion: America as a Christian nation that has contradicted the spirit of the kingdom of God
  • Pride and security
  • Hypocrisy of a nation that considered itself humanitarian

Chapter Six Samples of Revolutionary Rhetorics:

  • Slavery and the Irish by  Charles Lenox Remond
  • The Fourth of July by Frederick Douglass
  • Can There any good thing come out of Nazareth? By Adam Powell
  • The meaning of Black Power by Franklin Florence
  • Political Struggle in America by Eldridge Cleaver
  • Free Huey by Bobby Seale


Published inReading Journal

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