The Rhetoric of Malcolm X’s Legacy: by Any (Available) Means (of Persuasion) Necessary

Document Type


Publication Date



This dissertation examines the cultural practices of the 2018 Malcolm X Festival, hosted by the Pan-African Connection: Bookstore, Art Gallery, and Resource Center on May 19, 2018. Analyzing literacy practices, rhetorical theory, and visual rhetoric, this dissertation project explores how this festival utilizes cultural practices to (re)construct Malcolm X’s rhetorical legacy. Chapter one introduces the general outlines of upcoming dissertation chapters. Chapter two discusses the literal representation of Malcolm X by reviewing what scholars have concluded about his actual life. Focusing on his interconnected roles as a rhetor, rhetorician, and cultural figure, chapter three chronicles the rhetorical representations of Malcolm X within academia. Chapter four explains my methodology of Positionality, Motive(s), and Community Accuracy (P.M.C.) to argue for the need of methodologies that respond to communities of study. Throughout my study, P.M.C. constantly encourages me to revisit my positionality, motive(s) for conducting this research, and my representations of this community. Chapter five assesses the 2018 Malcolm X Festival on a larger scale since I incorporate six interviews to illustrate how being literate in Malcolm X can produce reconnective racial literacies. Returning to traditional oratory, chapter six focuses on the epideictic rhetoric of Nuri Muhmmad, a student minister of the Nation of Islam, to convey epideictic performance is a collective performance at this particular festival. Finally, chapter seven evaluates five visual artifacts that advertise different Malcolm X festivals of the past. By evaluating each visual artifact, this chapter illustrates what each visual artifact claims about the ethos of Malcolm X and how it (re)constructs his ethos for different festival occasions. Ultimately, this dissertation emphasizes the importance of studying Malcolm X beyond his literal life and the benefits of understanding how local communities (re)construct rhetors in general.