Authorities, politicians, and activists can communicate with people through public speeches, expressing their political views on certain events happening across the nation and beyond. Some orators approve of the U.S. government and the U.S. Constitution, while others criticize more for various reasons. President Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X revealed their attitudes toward the Constitution and raised important debates in society.
The U.S. president and public activists have questioned the rightfulness of the U.S. Constitution. In one of his speeches, the President proposed that while the founding document promised equal citizenship, not all Americans could use that promise equally because of the slave trade (Anderson & Smith, 2018). Slavery is connected to racism, and Malcolm X suggests that White America is the enemy because it oppresses African Americans (Farrah, 2020). According to Malcolm X, the government violates constitutional amendments as it acts unresponsive to the needs of Black Americans and sanctions racist policies (Farrah, 2020). Similarly, Martin Luther King Jr. also depicts African Americans’ unjust inequities in his speech (Alwaqaa, 2019). King proclaims a wide gap between the Constitution, the civil rights laws, and what is truly practiced, describing the subhuman treatment of the Black population (Alwaqaa, 2019). While Obama, King, and Malcolm X criticize the non-compliance of reality and the Constitution, they seem to blame different causes.
Furthermore, President Obama expresses a certain attitude toward the United States and its people in his speech. Obama suggests that contradiction is a normal and regular element of American culture and attempts to educate people (Anderson & Smith, 2018). The President signals his mindset in the language that he uses. Obama begins his speech about a perfect union by citing the nation’s ancestors, hence appealing to its heritage and transcending barriers (Anderson & Smith, 2018). Then, the President emphasizes the Constitution’s contradictions and asks rhetorical questions to establish a pedagogical foundation (Anderson & Smith, 2018). Although Obama speaks about inequalities in the United States system, he appears to educate rather than accept people and share their feelings.
To summarize, although they all speak about the unconstitutional treatment of African Americans, Obama condemns slavery, Malcolm X accuses White Americans, and King reproaches the law. Moreover, President Obama’s general attitude signifies that the nation is contradictory and requires instruction. However, while the orators’ feelings towards the Constitution matter, they must raise questions and debates about racism to remind people of the importance of equality.
Alwaqaa, M. A. M. (2019). Literary discourse and human rights in Martin Luther King’s Speech ‘I Have a Dream’. Studies in Literature and Language, 19(3), 19-27. Web.
Anderson, S., & Smith, J. (2018). Transcending media framing of candidate religiosity: The religio-rhetorical discourse of John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama. Southwestern Mass Communication Journal, 34(1), 1-11.
Farrah, D. (2020). Interrogating Malcolm X’s “Ballot or the bullet”. Journal of African American Studies, 24(3), 398-416.