The Power of Language and Literacy

angela davisAngela Davis was an African American civil rights activist. Through her interview on revolution back in 1972, Davis discusses the dramatic effects language and literacy have on violence. Language holds the power for so much in our world.

Davis was asked by the interviewer about the revolution that the Black Panthers were creating. At first Davis was very surprised when she was asked, “How do you get there? Is it through confrontation? Through violence?” Yet, she thoroughly explains that we as people always link a revolution to war and therefore violence is always associated. Instead, she bring upon us how violence can be explained as literacy and how it shaped our understandings.

She utilizes many forms of rhetoric to support her reasoning. The use of Kairos brings in rhetorical appeals of pathos, ethos and logos. Davis uses pathos to talk about violence and discrimination towards African Americans. She also uses pathos to tell her own story ad experiences with violence and how people portray her. Logos is used to connect violence to her experiences growing up and bring in an emotional connection. Lastly, Davis then uses ethos to argue with the interviewer about the credibility of the Black Panther Party. They said they didn’t want violence but they used it anyways. As someone who saw violence through her whole life, she believed that violence does not have to be connected with a revolution.

When I searched up the Black Panther Party, I found a militant group that was formed in response to the violence that the African Americans were experiencing. However, it came off more as an armed self-defense group actually against local police to attain black liberation. With some more research, I was able to find that the Black Panthers Party was just a group of people who were trying to create equality and attain social justice.


2 thoughts on “The Power of Language and Literacy

  1. You did a great job explaining the types of rhetoric that Davis uses. You are not too clear on how she uses kairos, or maybe I am just confused on what exactly kairos is because I have not learned much about it. You summarize Davis’s argument that violence is a literacy. Thank you for also giving some more background information about the Black Panther Party!


  2. Hey,
    So I found similar results to your on the Black Panther Party. I was not able to find a more positive and progressive outlook on the Black Panther Party. I think it’s quite interesting how there is an overpowering view on the internet and the limited amount of perspective that are provided to us.


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