Rhetoric of commonality: an Afrocentric analysis of Jesse Jackson's discourse and performance at the 1984 and 1988 Democratic National conventions

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University of Alabama Libraries

Despite the vast research by rhetorical scholars on political communication, scant attention has been paid to contemporary black political speech, which is becoming increasingly present. The present study provides an analysis of Jesse Jackson's 1984 and 1988 Democratic National Convention (DNC) discourse to discover how his rhetoric conforms to an Afrocentric rhetorical ideology. This study also examines how Jackson's performance of gender and race identity functions in the dominant American political sphere, employing three representative identities of black masculinity, the race man, the new black aesthetic, and the nigga. The significance of this study is punctuated by the idea Jackson used a culture-centered rhetorical approach to capture diverse audiences, when delivering speeches of major importance, while embracing his identity. Through examining his most popular pieces of discourse from 1984 and 1988, this study first attempts to analyze Jackson's rhetoric using the method of rhetorical criticism, specifically, Afrocentricity to examine his speech text. Second, this study examines Jackson's rhetorical performance of his black masculine identity. As a result, Jackson's discourse and rhetorical performance of his identity offers implications concerning Afrocentricity and black masculinity.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Communication, African American studies