Study "African-American / Black Studies" Essays 331-385

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Social Issues Civil Rights Movement Term Paper

… Civil Rights Movement

For sociologists, social movements are important agents of social change. It is through such coalitions that people are able to bring about change in society. Conversely, social movements also give people a means of organizing against change,… [read more]

Janie in Zora Neale Hurston Term Paper

… Janie's greatest emotional challenge is to learn to live for her own self, without fear and truthfully. This, however, is extraordinarily difficult for her, especially given her grandmother's fear-generating messages, implicit and explicit, about men, the outside world, and Janie's… [read more]

Civil War From Slavery Term Paper

… The following decades has seen a rise of black middle class across the country, yet the medium income of blacks is still roughly sixty percent compared to whites, and they are disproportionately incarcerated in the nation's prison system (African pp).

During the past century, African-Americans have more than any other people, reinvented their culture by rediscovering their roots (African pp). From a totally oppressed segment of America's population, they have risen to the top in numerous academic, political and legal fields, as well as music, literature, sports, film, entertainment and the arts (African pp). Condoleezza Rice replaced General Colin Powell as Secretary of State, Clarence Thomas sits on the Supreme Court, in fact there is no federal or state office that does not include an African-American (African pp).

African-American music has had an incredible influence on the industry (African pp). From the spirituals sung by slaves, evolved blues, jazz and gospel, which in turn evolved hip hop, rock, R& B, funk, and other contemporary music forms (African pp).

Many African-Americans allowed their experiences to inspire literature, such as

Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and Maya Angelou (African pp).

The term African-American is not only an expression of cultural and historical roots, it expresses black pride and solidarity, "and an embracing of the notion of pan-Africanism earlier enunciated by prominent black thinkers such as Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois and, later, George Padmore" (African pp).

Work Cited

African-American. [read more]

Malcolm X And Lyndon Term Paper

… For him, the bill was just any other resolution that attempted to solve the problem of racial prejudice and discrimination in the country; unfortunately, this ruse had been uncovered early on by Malcolm X and his fellow Negros. Thus, he proposed that what Negros need was not a defective legislative system and a bill that purports to fight for equal rights in the country, but active participation in fighting the social plague that was prejudice and discrimination against Negros. Thus, from the assertion that "... The only thing that I've ever said is that in areas where the government has proven itself either unwilling or unable to defend the lives and the property of Negroes, it's time for Negroes to defend themselves ... " Malcolm X was not extending the fantasy that Negros can achieve equality; in fact, he tried to bring his audience back to reality, tried to downplay the hopes that the Voting Rights bill posed for his fellowmen. Indeed, his arguments had shown that Negros' social realities were a far cry from the peaceful and egalitarian state of society that the administration argues the 20th century to be.

This last assertion was subsisted to by Johnson, who, in his speech "We shall overcome," put up the hopes of Negros by proposing and expressing his desire for the passage of the Voting Rights bill. He put forth the 'fantasy' or ideal that, indeed, equality will be achieved and discrimination, eliminated. This fantasy was realized through the Voting Rights bill, which, he explicated as "[t]he bill that I am presenting to you will be known as a civil rights bill. But, in a larger sense, most of the program I am recommending is a civil rights program. Its object is to open the city of hope to all people of all races." This generalization was put forth despite criticisms against Malcolm X one year before the passage of the bill to become the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

While Malcolm X kept a pessimistic view of the Negros' welfare under the said legislation, Johnson relied on the bill's power and influence to unite American society, regardless of race, socio-economic status, or beliefs and values of people in life. From the analysis of Malcolm X and Johnson's speeches, it became evident that the former subsisted to a more real illustration of the Negro condition in the country, while the latter (Johnson) believed that a goal, achieved through the fantasy that American society would lead to the development of an egalitarian society, will help and provide opportunities for Negros to better their welfare… [read more]

Martin ) Are That Music Term Paper

… The ideas expressed by Aidi (2003) were also very persuasive in showing how Islamic elements are being integrated into Western pop culture. It was quite interesting to read about how Islamic hip-hop came into existence among the French Muslim youth and how it helped them to identify with youths of other cultures, namely African-American youth.

The ideas expressed by Martin (2005) were incomplete in that I wished that he had delved deeper into how music helped to maintain the nonviolent nature of the African-American movement. Aidi's (2003) ideas are also incomplete in that I wished he could have researched into whether Muslims of other nationalities were helping to popularize Islam in the West.

Works Cited

Aidi, Hisham. "Let us be Moors: Islam, race and 'connected histories'." Middle East Report 2:29 (Winter 2003): 42-53.

Martin, Waldo. No coward soldiers:… [read more]

Harlem Renaissance Term Paper

… The central themes of this poem deal with a number of issues; namely, the search for identity; the racial divide and the problems of understanding and communication; and the issue of resolving racial inequality.

For example, the poem begins with… [read more]

Martin Luther King's Letter Term Paper

… King explains to the critiquing ministers that African-Americans cannot wait for their rights in a state of inaction, because African-Americans have been waiting for far too long already. He stresses that although African-Americans are acting rather than talking, they are not acting in a violent fashion, and no 'talks' had ever occurred over the course of African-American history without positive and proactive measures upon the parts of Blacks.

An example of a contrast between actions and words is common in many works of literature. No one wishes to be 'all talk, no action.' However, this is exactly what was expected of King and the African-Americans of the 1960s. Hence King's rhetorical, antithetical use of pairing words against deeds, and his stress that real actions are necessary before words can have real meaning.

Works Cited

"Antithesis. "The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.

King, Martin Luther. "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." 1963.[23 Feb 2005] [read more]

What to a Slave Is the 4th of July and David Walker's Appeal Term Paper

… ¶ … Slave is the 4th of July and David Walkers "Appeal"

Radicalism and Reason: Douglass vs. Walker

One of the most substantial themes of Frederick Douglass' oration on Independence Day is the fact that America began as a land… [read more]

Malcolm X Redux Term Paper

… Malcolm X

We didn't land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us." Spike Lee's adaptation of The Autobiography of Malcolm X shows how religion played a key role in the development of African-American history and consciousness. From his early… [read more]

Dr. Martin Luther King Term Paper

… But however far the presence of African-Americans have come over the past years since King's speech, life, and martyrdom, one must not forget the racism that still exists in America today. The dynamic force with which African-Americans have been propelled into the so-called mainstream should not cause us to forget how recent and how swift that history has been. African-Americans in American history have only come to such remuneration for their accomplishments relatively recently, even though Black thinker, scholars, and inventors, have always made their presence known, no matter how deep and eviscerating the racism of the time. From the time one spoons peanut butter on one's toast in the morning, the invention of George Washington Carver, to the time one flips on a CD of Billy Holiday at night, one takes in the accomplishments of Black Americans of the past into one's body and soul and culture -- but these accomplishments must not be seen as a replacement for continued success and community involvement.

African-Americans still must fight harder and struggle more for proper and safe schooling, for adequate health care, and for recognition of the full range of their abilities. Color still weights upon the eyes of most, in the world around us, and within the community divisions still exist between brothers and sisters, classes, regions, and those of different ancestries and educational backgrounds. Political unity is necessary amongst ourselves, even while we acknowledge the freedom of difference in our life choices within the community.

Works Cited

King, Martin Luther. " I Have a Dream." 1963. Speech the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. On August 28, 1963.

Hassey, Eliza. "The History of Black History." [read more]

Civil Rights Movement Term Paper

… However, Dr. King and his fellow civil rights workers were also exceptionally practical. They knew that, no matter what visions were in Dr. King's dreams, the reality of civil rights works was gritty and ugly. The seeds of civil disobedience… [read more]

Movement for Civil Rights Term Paper

… Civil rights movement is considered one of the most complex and tumultuous times in this nation's history. Though the civil rights movement spanned many years, peak activity and highlights of the movement are most often credited with the time period… [read more]

River of No Return Term Paper

… The group had shifted from some college students trying to get a hamburger while sitting at the Walgreen's counter to young adults who knew African-American babies were starving to death and that young Black men were still being lynched. They recognized that they were revolutionaries, and that the struggle was not about the hamburger, but what the hamburger represented -- full and equal access to all aspects of American society, including the one most threatening to Whites: a true political voice.

As these young leaders matured, they saw the fight for Civil Rights move beyond the South to major cities in the North, Midwest and West, including Harlem in New York City, Watts in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia. One of S.N.C. C.'s first members, Julian Bond, ran for a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives. The Viet Nam War had become a concern, and a student leader in Alabama was shot for attempting to use a "Whites Only" restroom in a gas station. The juxtaposition of African-American men sent to liberate Viet Nam while they had virtually no political say in their own country and could be shot over using the wrong bathroom was not lost on S.N.C.C. "Black Consciousness" became more and more important to its members even though 25% of their members were White. This issue was forced when two White members wanted to use S.N.C.C. To organize poor Whites in Louisiana, while Black leaders of the group continued to be arrested on what seemed like trumped-up charges. What should have been small-scale events turned into full-blown riots. Just when it seemed it could get no worse, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis.

A variety of S.N.C. C.'s leaders were sent to prison for all sorts of reasons. Sellers was sentenced to five years for refusing to register for the draft. Stokley Carmichael, Jim Foreman, and H. Rap Brown and another leader joine the Black Panthers, merging that group with the S.N.C.C. Jim Foreman, leader of the S.N.C.C., became mentally unstable, causing tensions between the group, and in the infighting that followed, Sellers was fired from the S.N.C.C. The group had fallen completely apart and was essentially dead.

The book ends in 1973, with Sellers recounting the many frustrations Black activists continued to endure. Describing himself as having only one life, for "the struggle," Sellers demonstrates throughout the book that although the students may have thought their actions were about getting a hamburger, the result was an awakening of an entire race that has resulted in a new view of our country as a place truly meant for all its citizens. [read more]

Harriet Tubman Was Born Term Paper

… These extreme measures inspired those around her to persevere for the whole of the arduous journey, and ensured that all persons on her trains were delivered safely to their new lives in freedom.

According to Still, Tubman's numerous trips to Maryland were fraught with danger. One trip and its preparations took weeks, during which others feared greatly for her safety, but she was apparently without any fear at all. Part of this fearlessness was manifest in her above warning to anyone who thought of turning back. Tubman's philosophy was that slaves returning to their former lives were sources of information regarding those who escaped. If she however shot them before they could get away, they would be no danger at all and Harriet's rescue efforts could continue (The Encyclopedia of New York State).

During her efforts to save slaves from abused and meaningless lives, Harriet Tubman made the acquaintance of several sympathizers as well as prominent persons in favor of her cause. At Auburn, for example, sympathetic abolitionists included U.S. Senator William H. Seward. Tubman met the Senator and his wife in the mid-1850's. The couple provided homes for Tubman and several family members after they have been freed from slavery. Tubman later bought this home to use as a base for her operations. Other prominent persons helping her in her causes include abolitionists such as John Brown, Frederick Douglass, Jermain Loguen, and Gerrit Smith (Civil War Biographies).

The outbreak of the Civil War in no way deterred Tubman's efforts to be of service to others in need, and she further proved her unbreakable spirit by serving as a soldier, spy, and a nurse, and also guided a group of black soldiers in South Carolina. Here also Harriet Tubman's fearlessness is evident. After the war Harriet married Nelson Davis in Auburn, and moved into a home on South Street. Today this residence serves to house the Resident Manager of the Harriet Tubman Home (Civil War Biographies). Tubman, celebrated for her courageous work throughout her life, died in 1913.

This great American figure was buried in Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, and received military honors posthumously. In 1914 a bronze plaque was placed at Cayuga County Courthouse in her honor, and a civic holiday was declared in her name. Other posthumous honors include the Liberty Ship that was named after her, and christened in 1944 by Eleanor Roosevelt. More recent honors include Freedom Park, opened in 1994 in Auburn in her memory, as well as a commemorative postage stamp with her name and likeness as a show of respect from the Federal Government (Library of Congress). Harriet Tubman was thus an inspiration not only in her own time, but is still this for many today.


Civil War Biographies. "Harriet Tubman." 2004.

Library of Congress. "Harriet Tubman." 2004.

The Encyclopedia of New York State. "The Life of Harriet Tubman." New York History Net, 1996-2004. [read more]

Racism in Augusta Term Paper

… This is exacerbated by politicians who make promises to the poor while at the same time serve their self-interest by allowing factories to pollute water, air and soil used by human beings. It is, as in the past, a basic battle between rich and poor, and white and colored.


Alfred Adams sums up the problem with regard to black males and their inability to use politics for self-empowerment: "...politics is just too far out there for us." (Dunbar). The everyday problems faced by the very poor and those discriminated against as a result of race appear insurmountable. This impacts badly upon persons' faith in themselves or the systems in place to help them out of their situation.

There are thus a wide variety of factors contributing to the problems outlined above. In the long-term, slavery can be seen as the main basis for racial problems not only in Augusta, but throughout the United States. The mental paradigm created by slavery was one of white superiority as opposed to black inferiority, as well as the inferiority of other races.

This has affected politics as well as the issue of empowerment. Many persons of color in Augusta do not have the means, either mentally or physically, for self-empowerment. This relates to the legacy left by slavery, as well as short-term problems such as poverty and social and political racism.

Racism is indeed still a problem in the United States, and specifically in Augusta, as seen above. This is so despite 21st century paradigms of freedom and equality. These have been promises given by the Constitution for centuries. However, if the government does not take positive action towards teaching people paradigms of self-worth and self-empowerment, the Constitution remains but a collection of beautiful words.

As the 21st century develops however, more and more black people are becoming aware of their opportunities in terms of empowerment through voting, for example. Persons such as Alfred Adams provide a ray of hope for his race by helping people to empower themselves.


Augusta College. "History." 2004.

Augusta Focus. "We celebrate Dr. King." 2004.

Dunbar, Haley A. "Noose, racial graffiti outrage NAACP." Augusta Focus, Dec. 4 -10, 2003 VOL. 23 No.1135

Picking up the pieces:Ex-felon makes his voice, vote count"

Gallop, J.D. "Walker was Born a Slave." Augusta History, June 21, 1996.

Hyde Park and Aragon Park Improvement Committee. "The Hyde Park Story." 2004. [read more]

Brown v. Board of Education Term Paper

… "Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the Negro group," said the Court at the time. This legacy is still felt today, even in the absence of segregation, and can be said to account for the continuing battle to improve even talented young African-Americans from falling prey to societal and cultural pressures that equate failure with Blackness and success with Whiteness. Even to succeed in some communities is to be an Oreo, Black on the outside and White on the inside, reflecting self-hatred even when mocking others.

But is integration, as prescribed by Brown, the answer, or at least is integration the only answer to the current racial divide that still exists in American education? Although an integration of spheres of knowledge, of Black and White peoples and cultures may be a component of such an answer and point to the court cases' continued relevance, clearly Brown is not relevant in the same way as it was in the 1950's. Mere access to integrated and enhanced education and vocational opportunities for African-Americans is not enough. Rather, a lifting of self-esteem and soul must be accomplished as well. The necessity and positive influence and experiences of African-Americans through affirmative action as well as integration highlights that mere mixing of the races in education is and was not enough. Rather, the cultural legacy of slavery and the historical unequal division of the races and educational opportunities must be explored, acknowledged and ameliorated in the present and future, rather than merely be ignored or addressed with supposed equality of opportunities in what was once such an unequal society.

To accomplish this, reflection upon the positive attributes of Blackness has been deemed necessary, as well as a restatement of the equality with what is deemed whiteness by society. Some Black leaders, as per Malcolm X did in the 1960's, have suggested that rather than turn to integration as any solution at all, separation but positive pro-African and pan-African modes of schooling may be necessary. However, sociologist Julius Wilson has argued for a revitalization of the coalition of Black and White educators and activists that caused Brown to come before the court, suggesting that multiracial political cooperation is necessary, across class-based political alliances of working -- and middle- class Americans. (Wilson, 2000) Perhaps a balanced answer is necessary, where Black education occurs in community-directed organizations outside and after schools, while integrated schools attempt to create a multiracial society as per Brown, but still one that acknowledges the damage done to African-Americans in the past, as a unique part of American history that must be ameliorated.

Works Cited

Brown v. Board of Education. (1954). U.S. Supreme Court Decision. Findlaw. Retrieved on May 3, 2004 at

Wilson, Julius. (1999) The Bridge over the Racial Divide. University of California Press. [read more]

Henry Louis Gates and Cornel Term Paper

… At one point, he describes the way he is evaluated by teachers: as an intelligent individual considering his demographic. Gates does not want to hide his identity -- he embraces it -- but at the same time, he feels there is a fundamental lack of individuality applied to him and his peers during his years at Yale.

West's essay pertains more heavily to Dubious, and his idea of "The Talented Tenth." West emphasizes the idea that educated African-Americans have the responsibility to help those not so fortunate. He is a strong believer that freedom of the individual has not been accomplished until freedom of the race has. He does not necessarily criticize the African-American community, but rather the circumstances that led to its plight. West writes, "Like any other group of human beings, black people forged ways of life and ways of struggle under circumstances not of their choosing. They constructed structures of meaning and structures of feeling in the face of the fundamental facts of human existence -- death, dread, despair, disease, and disappointment" (79). He continues by saying, " (The African-American predicament resulted from) the African and American character of black people's attempts to sustain their mental sanity and spiritual health, social life and political struggle in the midst of a slaveholding, white supremacist civilization that viewed itself as the most enlightened, free, tolerant, and democratic experiment in human history" (79).

West's assertion gets to the basic point of the African-American situation, which is the act of slavery. Slavery, he insists, created an almost insurmountable barrier between the socioeconomic statuses of blacks and whites. This barrier, he contends, needs to "fall" with the help of educated blacks, and governmental assistance aimed at educating and assisting the country's African-American communities.

In conclusion, Gates and West hail the ideas of Dubious, yet they also recognize the problems in achieving his vision. They believe strongly that the African-American community deserves better. They believe that Americans of all color, especially educated African-Americans, need to work harder for equality and opportunity in this country's neglected communities.

Works Cited

Gates, Henry Louis and Cornel West. The Future of the Race.… [read more]

Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes Term Paper

… Langston Hughes poem "Refugee in America" is a much shorter work than Hurston's is, but it still contains many references to the two-ness of African-Americans, but in a much different format from Hurston's. Hurston looks at the black people in her story with amusement and clear affection, and portrays them as simple people living in simpler times.

Hughes on the other hand, in eight short lines, portrays the difficulties facing black Americans because of their two-ness. He talks about freedom and liberty, something that blacks did not experience even after their emancipation after the Civil War. They had to keep on fighting for equality right through the 1960s, and still continue today. Hughes says he has freedom in his heart every day, but does not necessarily experience freedom every day. "On my heart-strings freedom sings / All day every day" (Hughes). While Hurston's story is a celebration of blackness in America, along with all its quirks, Hughes work is not a celebration; it is a moving and eloquent plea, pleading for freedom and equality for everyone, regardless of color.

The lines " There are words like Liberty / That almost make me cry. / If you had known what I knew / You would know why" (Hughes) are the most poignant of the poem, and are the exact opposite of Hurston's technique of being outside and looking in at the people of Eatonville. Here, Hughes is on the inside looking out, and trying to share with his readers what it feels like to be black, and suffer from oppression. That is the other side of the two-ness experience, the perpetual oppression black Americans have continually faced. These two authors use the same theme of two-ness, but expand on it in many different ways. However, each one makes their point eloquently. Hurston shows the Southern blacks as real people with real concerns and needs, who contribute to the country just as much as any other residents. Hughes shows blacks in his poem in a constant struggle between being black, and being American. Each outlook has merit, and each outlook captures the experience of blacks in America, both good and bad.

It is no wonder these people are torn between their culture and their country, they always have been, and today is no different. While there is supposed to be equality in America, blacks are still looked down on, and face more challenges than white people, even the white poor. It is more difficult for them to get a quality education, to move up into the upper echelon of big business, and even to move into politics. There are far fewer blacks in high-ranking public and private positions, and they still face persecution and oppression. They have made great strides from the 1960s and beyond, but they still have a long way to go to be truly equal. As long as they face the two-ness of culture and country, they will always be separate. They should simply be Americans, and their color… [read more]

Martin Luther King, Jr Term Paper

… King's argument is more logical. Van Dusen seems to weight the cause of the colonists as more important than the cause of the African-American. Because the African-American lives under a democratic form of government, he assumes that justice is simple and readily available. This may be the key fallacy that causes his argument to fall apart. As Martin Luther King so eloquently suggests, the justice system works, but more often than not, racism precludes justice. He uses the concrete example of the segregation laws in Birmingham. Businesses were once required by law to change their signs to be more inclusive of the black community. However, the law was not enforced. Van Dusen seems willing to impose a catch-22 situation on the civil rights movement.

Furthermore, just because street demonstrations have the potential to become violent, violence does not automatically ensure from such demonstrations. The right to picket and demonstrate is, in fact, a hallmark of democracy. Mob rule should never be allowed to get out of hand, however. Van Dusen makes a strong case in favor of obeying all laws, but seems to believe that this can only be done in certain circumstances. The problem with imposing a set of circumstances on the "right" time to demonstrate is that this undermines the whole purpose of the demonstration. I would have to ask Van Dusen why he feels the African-American has equal access to the American system of justice, especially in the 1960s, when this essay was written.

Martin Luther King's argument is stronger, because he embraces all sides of the issue with compassion before asserting himself. He acknowledges the underlying reasons for people's fears of public demonstrations. He recognizes and justifies the fear of anarchy that can result from mass protests and black militancy. The edge King has over Van Dusen is that of personal experience. Dr. Martin Luther King, writing from jail because of his exercising his right to protest, has seen the worst of the worst. He knows that African-American men and women do not have equal representation either at the polls or in the courts. He does not question or subvert the democratic process, as Van Dusen suggests. Rather, he is attempting to change institutionalized racism. Before I would be able to accept Van Dusen's argument implicitly, I would have to ascertain whether he is aware of the gross injustices that exist within the democratic system. Only after he can prove that human error and racism does not exist in the courts nor in American bodies of legislature would I be able to fully agree with his stance. Otherwise, Dr. Martin Luther King's case is the more… [read more]

Muslim Slaves Term Paper

… In Sierra Leone and Congo, the situation is the same. "Thousands of children are employed as soldiers" (Gordon 1999). These children are seen in tattered clothes and in "precarious nutritional state" (Gordon 1999). In January 1999, during the rebel's offensive… [read more]

Brown V Board of Education Term Paper

… Other principle cases were used as background for the case. One of these was Briggs v Elliott U.S. District Court. (1950). This case established that the segregated condition that existed in black schools were significantly detrimental to the psychological welfare… [read more]

Paul Laurence Dunbar -1906) Wrote Term Paper

… However, Whites are unaware of this distress because they only wish to see the smile of the mask, the lie that is not made of paper or plaster, but is made with the real human flesh of suppressed African-American. African-Americans were often forced in subservient occupations such as a maid or a porter, or a 'mammy' watching after a white woman's children, as featured so prominently in Margaret Mitchell's romance and the popular film made of the novel. These were often the only images Whites had of Blacks at all during the age when Dunbar wrote. ("Harlem Renaissance")

Dunbar ends his poem by striking a contrast between what the hearts of African-Americans are saying, even though their lips can only "mouth with myriad subtleties," that is to placate Whites with platitudes such as yes and no ma'am. (Line 4) "We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries / To thee from tortured souls arise," read the first lines of the last stanza. (Lines 10-11) This employment of the pleas to God, often articulated in the context of African-American worship, continue to be employed in African-American protest literature, beyond that of the Harlem Renaissance when Dunbar wrote, as can be seen in Martin Luther King's "Letter From Birmingham Jail." Like King's later work, Dunbar's poem opens in a formal, though explicitly honest style and ends with a ringing explanation of the desperation of the plight he is explicating. However, because King is writing protest literature, his work ends on an uplifting note. Dunbar's work is mainly descriptive, stating simply "we wear the mask," at its end. (Line 16)

Dunbar's poem may end on a downbeat note, but it attempts to be descriptive rather than prescriptive in nature. It does not tell Whites to treat African-Americans with greater dignity. It functions instead as a revelation and an explanation. Do not think what you see is true, it suggests, underlining both the irony of most White's observed experience, as well as the irony of blistering second stanza's tears and sighs behind the socially assumed mask.

Works Cited

DuBois, W.E.B. "Of the Sons of Master and Man" from The Souls of Black Folk. New York: Penguin Classics, 1989.

Dunbar, Paul. "We Wear the Mask." 1913.

King, Martin Luther. Why We Can't Wait. New York: Penguin Books, 1963.

Harlem Renaissance. Web Site accessed July 11, 2002.

Mitchell, Margaret. Gone With the Wind.… [read more]

Aron Douglas and the Harlem Term Paper

… Some of his most notable works include Triborough Bridge, oil, 1935, The Negro in an African Setting, black and white mural, oil, 1933, The Composer, portrait in oil, 1967, Listen, Lord - A Prayer, black and white illustration, 1925 and Evolution of the Negro Dance, black and white mural, oil, 1935 (B. David Schwartz Memorial Library).

In each of these works, the theme is from an African-American perspective. This use of art as representing African-Americans was a new develeopment. Up until that time, African-American painters would only paint in a white or European style.

This was perhaps Douglas's major contribution to art, that he opened the door for the expression of the African-American experience, "he was recognized for making it acceptable for future African-American artists to express in their creations movements and depictions from their experiences as African-Americans" (B. David Schwartz Memorial Library).

One of Douglas's works is titled Song of the Towers and is an example of the themes of Douglas's work. This work is describes as being "symbolic of the migration of African peoples from the rural South and the Caribbean to the urban industrial centers of the North just after World War I" (Schomburg Center).

The picture shows a saxophonist standing on the wheel of life, this can be seen as a symbol of the African-American new freedom, with their ability to play music representing their new freedom to express themselves artistically.

From this we see how Douglas's paintings represented modern life for African-Americans. Rather than their African life, his paintings reflect the life of African-Americans within America.

While the subject of the works was modern, Douglas also incorporated his African culture by his focus on African forms, with his style being described as "flat with hard edges and repetitive designs... heavily influenced by African sculptures, jazz music, dance and geometric forms" (Schomburg Center).

This nature of his work shows how Douglas combined modern themes with African influence, to create artwork that reflects the past of African-Americans while relating it to the present.

Even though his style is also important, it is his themes that take precedence with it being said that his "artistic insight is a lasting influence and a testament to the themes of African heritage and racial pride" (Schomburg Center).


B. David Schwartz Memorial Library. African-Americans in the Visual Arts: A Historical Perspective. Long Island University,

Powelland, R.J. "Re/Birth' of a Nation." In Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance. California: University of California Press, 1997.

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Harlem 1900-1940: Aaron Douglas. The New York Public Library. [read more]

Frederick Douglass -1895) Term Paper

… " A supplemental publication entitled "Douglass' Monthly" followed. Douglass published these newspapers in his new home state of New York from December 1847 through May 1863. His fame only grew, not only as an orator, but now as a talented journalist. (Encarta)

After helping recruit African-American soldiers during the Civil War, Douglass returned to his fight for freedom and equal rights to all Americans. During the postwar rebuilding of a new America, Douglass fought for suffrage (voting rights regarding legislation and public officials) and spoke out for coming to the aid of former slaves. He worked tirelessly for the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, which completely rid America of slavery, gave American citizenship to everyone born in America and prevented racial discrimination with regard to voting. Not only did Douglass fight for the rights of blacks, but he also fought for the equal rights of women. In 1872 he was the vice-presidential candidate for the first woman to ever run for president, Victoria Woodhull. With his move to Washington D.C. In 1872, Douglass began his career as a government official - serving as U.S. Marshall for D.C. from 1877 to 1881. He then recorded deeds for D.C. until 1886. Three years later, he became the U.S. Minister to Haiti, which he did until 1891. His wife of 44 years had died in 1882. Two years later, Douglass married Helen Pitts, a white woman who had been his secretary. Many whites, and some blacks found fault in his marriage, which fell outside of his race. Douglass rejected this notion, feeling that his actions, along with the actions of every American, should not be restricted because of skin color. His marriage, according to his philosophy, added another victory in his win column against discrimination. (Encarta)

Long before his death in 1895, Douglass established his place in American history as one of the most eloquent and passionate orators of the 19th century. As time has passed, his accomplishments have gained more and more acclaim and admiration. His three published books are still considered groundbreaking classics that provide a much needed first hand account of conditions for slaves before the Civil War. Throughout his life, Douglass struggled for freedom for all African-Americans, along with equal rights for all men AND women.

He fought for an education that he felt he deserved, conjoined with freedom he felt he had earned. He spoke out against slavery through speeches, his newspapers, and through his daily life. Douglass was a man with extraordinary strength, and perseverance despite his rough beginnings. It was those characteristics that established his place in history as a prominent leader of the early civil rights movement, and other reform movements of the 19th century. (Encarta)

Douglass, Frederick,"… [read more]

Leadership of Oprah Winfrey Essay

… (Garson, 2011) (Brown, 2005)

What are some of her accomplishments that led her to becoming a leader?

Oprah became a good leader based upon the accomplishments she achieved in her own life. This was the result of her overcoming numerous challenges and redefining the world today. A few of the most notable include:

Rising above poverty and abuse: Throughout the course of Winfrey's early life, she was sent to live with different relatives. This is because her mother was unable to support her and used the rest of the family as a way of easing the financial burden on them. This resulted in her facing ridicule and discrimination at the hands of her classmates. They believed that she was nothing and would never amount to anything. However, in spite of the issues, Winfrey continued to focus on education and believed that this was the key for her living a better life. This instilled sense of determination and wanting something more. The example she set, enabled Oprah to become a leader for young African-Americans. As they realized, that anything is possible by having a dream and being willing to purse it regardless of the situation. (Garson, 2011) (Brown, 2005)

Redefining television: In 1983, Winfrey moved to Chicago and took over a low rated show called AM Chicago. The way she interviewed guests and the topics she discussed redefined the televisions genre. This occurred with her taking a more candid style and talking about topics that were interesting to others from an African-American woman's point-of-view. These attributes, resulted in her having a nationally syndicated show. That set the example for others to follow in the future. In this aspect, the accomplishments from her TV show helped everyone to see what was truly possible by following a dream. (Garson, 2011) (Brown, 2005)


Brown, J. (2005). Oprah Winfrey.… [read more]

Narratives of the Life of Frederick Douglass Reaction Paper

… ¶ … Narratives of the Life of Frederick Douglass is talking about his life in slavery and how he was able to free himself. This occurs by highlighting the way he was passed around from one slave master to the next. He was considered their property and was either loaned or rented to others. This caused him to endure tremendous hardships (which impacted his state of mind). However, after he was able to escape is when he became an author and lecturer (who focused on illustrating the injustices that were occurring). (Gates)

What is the main concern of the book?

The main focus of the book is talk about the impact of slavery on the individual and to highlight the abuses that are taking place. This is occurring, through showing how the institution itself is unjust and must be destroyed. To achieve these objectives, Douglass will talk about a number of events he witnessed. This creates a sense of outrage at what is happening, which helped to lead to the abolition of slavery. (Gates)

What is the message?

The message of the book is that slavery is a brutal institution which must be destroyed at all costs. This is accomplished by using a tone that is very engaging and straightforward. Yet, he is also showing how there is a sense of hypocrisy about what is happening and its impact on others. (Gates)

What kind of subject about slavery is mentioned?

The subjects that are discussed about slavery include: how ignorance is used as a tool to keep African-Americans down, how this is a perversion of Christianity, the damaging effects and the way knowledge is the path to freedom. These elements are showing the various themes which are affecting… [read more]

Welty and Hughes the Protagonists Creative Writing

… The way the nurse questions Phoenix about her grandson is harsh and cruel. She asks whether or not the child is still alive like one would ask if it were still raining. The fact is that she really does not care one way or the other and is unable to hide this emotion from the woman in front of her.

This prejudicial attitude is a major theme in Hughes' work also. Of the slavery years, he writes: "I am the one who labored as a slave, / Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave - / Children sold away from me, I'm husband sold, too. / No safety, no love, no respect was I due" (lines 11-14). Even after the years of slavery have been ended by legislation, the African-Americans of the United States are treated by marginalization and prejudice. The majority community has little interest in the troubles of the minority, as is indicated in both of these narratives.

In "The Negro Mother," his narrator's primary concern is in making sure the present understands exactly how fortunate they have it in comparison with those who lived in the past. Those who live freely owe all their good fortune to the suffering of their ancestors. This is an idea that is easy to forget in the wake of modern luxury and happiness. The only way to achieve true equality in a world of prejudices is to continue to use strength and force of will to demand that equality. Hughes writes:

Believe in the right, let none push you back.

Remember the whip and the slaver's track.

Remember how the strong in struggle and strife

Still bar you the way, and deny you life

But march ever forward, breaking down bars (lines 39-44).

This strength is a part of the Negro heritage. Those who leaved in the past and were made to suffer on a daily basis had to build up strength in order to survive in the harsh universe. Their descendents, on the other hand, do not have to deal with daily beatings and the threat of being separated from their loved ones by their white oppressors. Consequently, without being reminded constantly about the blood debt they owe their ancestors, present African-Americans could grow complacent and stop fighting.

"A Worn Path" is not only about what people are willing to do for those we care about, but what we are willing to suffer ourselves in order to ease their pain. In the case of Phoenix Jackson, not only must she endure a long and difficult trek to the doctor's, she must also put up with the glares and the patronizing of the white people around her. Her little boy will never truly understand the kind of misery that she was forced to endure that he might have a chance for survival. Though physically frail, Phoenix teaches that internal strength is far more important than muscle or youth or the color of your skin.

Both stories reflect on the… [read more]

Obama in 2012 Essay

… Obama in 2012

Reelecting Barack Obama in 2012

History was made on November 4, 2008, when the junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, was elected president. He was the first African-American to be elected to the highest office in the land. He promised change: "I'm asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington…I'm asking you to believe in yours" (Obama). The voters were looking for change, as there were problems at home and abroad. Joblessness, a looming financial crisis and the war in Iraq were some of the issues of great concern. Mr. Obama has demonstrated in his first two years of office that he is committed to bringing about real change. Despite partisan opposition, he has accomplished a great deal for the American people. He should be reelected in 2012 so he can continue to bring about the changes this country needs.

On December 21, 2010, political commentator Rachel Maddow devoted her MSNBC program to the "halftime" accomplishments of President Obama, stating that he has already achieved eighty-five percent of what he promised during the campaign and his first days in office. Maddow spoke before a live audience on the eve of the vote on the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which was indeed ratified the next day. Maddow showed a news clip of President Obama, who called START "the centerpiece of my foreign policy." She said that, if ratified, the treaty would represent for President Obama a "huge foreign policy victory." We now know that this was accomplished. Maddow enumerated other accomplishments during the President's term thus far, calling in an "astonishing period" during which the President was able to effect real change despite "unified Republican opposition." Mr. Obama's Administration

Last Name 2

enacted the Lillian Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for Women and passed reform legislation for Wall Street, student loans, credit cards, and the tobacco industry. The Administration expanded health care access for children and enacted new hate crimes legislation. There is a new G.I.Bill and the repeal of the military's policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The stimulus package brought Americans tax cuts, and unprecedented investment in clean energy and education. The Food Safety Modernization Act is the most expansive food safety legislation since the 1930s. (Maddow),

It would appear that a second Great Depression has been averted. Mr. Obama's policies have made… [read more]

Life of Bees Both the Secret Essay

… Life of Bees

Both the Secret Life of Bees and Feast of Love explore the multiple manifestations of love. Whereas Feast of Love focuses more on romantic love, the Secret Life of Bees addresses all kinds of love, including the love of self, God, and family members. In spite of their differences, the Secret Life of Bees and Feast of Love share much in common. For one, both address the issue of race and how race-related social norms can impact love, expressions of love, and societal reactions to love. Second, both the Secret Life of Bees and Feast of Love illustrate the ways love can inspire and uplift the individual. Third, both stories also reveal a realistic side of love: love is difficult, love is painful, and love creates irreversible transformations of character.

Race is addressed with far more depth and sensitivity in the Secret Life of Bees than it is in Feast of Love. After all, race is a central theme in Secret Life of Bees, which is set in segregation-era South. In the era of Jim Crow, interracial love -- romantic or not -- was taboo. The Secret Life of Bees addresses multifaceted interracial relationships, including the bond between protagonist Lily and her housekeeper-turned-friend Rosaleen. The love between Lily and Rosaleen blossoms and matures as mutual trust develops. Each helps the other escape from Lily's abusive father, and both overcome the barriers to interracial friendship too. Likewise, Lily falls in love with Zach and so the social dynamic of an interracial love relationship is also explored. In Feast of Love, Harry and Esther are old enough to have experienced Jim Crow and so understand the stigma of interracial love.

Both the Secret Life of Bees and Feast of Love show how love inspires and uplifts individuals. Love is a positive force in both stories, helping Lily to love herself, trust others, and eventually fall in love with a potential life partner. Thus, in the Secret Life of Bees, love provides hope for a better future. In Feast of Love, love also provides hope for several of the characters. Harry and Ester use love to overcome grief, and Bradley never gives up hope that love can triumph over all adversity. As the author writes, "Every relationship has at least one really good day. What I mean is, no matter how sour things go, there's… [read more]

SNCC, Core, and the Sclc the Southern Thesis

… SNCC, CORE, and the SCLC

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was organized for the express purpose of taking real action against segregation laws throughout the South. The primary action advocated by the group, however, was really a non-action -- boycotting. While this finally proved effective in Montgomery, Alabama and eventually in other locales, many activists believed that this method was still to slow and non-confrontational. Though they practiced methods of non-violence for most of their existence, the younger radicals that became members of Congress of Racial Equality and/or formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee took more direct action than did their counterparts in the SCLC.

These differences were not especially significant throughout most of the 1960s; though the actions of the SNCC and CORE brought more attention to many of the Jim Crow laws than did the SCLC, the leadership was not as prominent, and they were helping to shed focus on an agenda shared by the older and more respected members of the SCLC. Rightly or wrongly, it was these leaders -- especially Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- that had the ear of the national public, both amongst most African-Americans and certainly among white sympathizers. Given the close alignment of the groups' ideals, the more direct actions of the SNCC and CORE did not lead to any significant differences with the SCLC.

That being said, more direct action receives more direct results. The sit ins and Freedom Rides organized by the SNCC and CORE galvanize attention and passion in the Civil Rights movement.

Civil Rights: 1954-1964

Despite the continued struggle for true equality since the passage of… [read more]

Perception of Slavery in the Mid-1800s Offering Essay

… ¶ … Perception of Slavery in the Mid-1800s

Offering their responses to the issue of state's rights and slavery in 1850, William Seward, John C. Calhoun, and Daniel Webster's speeches allow students of history to draw important conclusions about the political issues of the period, in addition to the forces behind the states' struggles. While the speeches were made in order to persuade members of congress and other politicians to support the speakers' particular views in order to avoid secession and war, an understanding to the speeches, today, can give students of history a glimpse at how the aspects of slavery and states' rights were perceived during the pre-civil war era. A comparison and contrast of the three speeches will allow readers to understand both how slavery, which is now universally seen as an abomination, could have been accepted.

Today, it would be difficult to find an American who did not see slavery for the abomination that it was. In the 1850s, however, slavery was viewed much differently. Although William Seward, John C. Calhoun, and Daniel Webster have different views on the subject of slavery, the collage of viewpoints allow today's student of history to understand the cosmopolitan viewpoints of the issue during the 1800s, giving that student a better appreciation of the political and humanitarian struggle regarding slavery. In Seward's speech, the issue of slavery is treated like an evil that has not been expressly condoned by the United States' Constitution, an outdated concept that serves no purpose in the modern United States. Seward accomplishes this by explaining how the constitution only refers to slavery twice, both times showing that they are men, or human, in addition to using theological argument, suggesting that God did not design the earth to allow one human to be the slave of another. Other arguments that Seward makes in order to express his view against slavery have to do with the fact that slavery is outdated, something that no modern nation would implement. While Seward continues to use a variety of other arguments to support his claim that slavery is wrong, it is the previously mentioned arguments that allow readers to see how the issue was understood in the 1800s. Seward had to make a strong case for the fact that a slave, or African-American was a person, something that is just logical by today's standards. The fact that he had to make this case legally, however, suggests that the thinking in the mid-1800s, slaves were not quickly classified as humans. By appealing to the constitution and God to suggest they are, Seward draws on the two most authoritative references of his time.

John C. Calhoun, however, takes a very different tone towards the matter. Calhoun discusses slavery to be primarily a political issue, suggesting that a cause of the strife between the Northern and Southern states can be "traced to the long-continued agitation of the slave question on the part of the… [read more]

Native Son Essay

… ¶ … Bigger in Native Son

Richard Wright demonstrates the power of societal preconceptions in his novel, Native Son. Bigger is not necessarily a misogynist because he kills women. He is the product of a society and that society has practically shaped him to be what he is. Bigger is a product of society in many ways. His limited education is one result of what can happen to a young African-American that is lost in the system. As a result of his treatment, Bigger is angry and resentful and much like a caged animal. His violent behavior is the result of a society that mistreats certain individuals.

Bigger is the result of racism and his actions from day-to-day are the result of that racism. There is not a day that goes by that Bigger is not reminded of what color his skin is and there is not a day that goes by that Bigger does not respond to that racism in one form or another. Bigger simply cannot escape that prejudice that surrounds him. He cannot succeed because of the color of his skin and he cannot change the color of his skin. We can see an example of how racism affects Bigger's thoughts and actions as he watches the plane flying overhead with Gus. Both men are more than aware that Bigger would never learn to do something as wonderful as fly a plane because he was African-American. The notion is so far-fetched, that the men laugh at it. This scene is significant because Wright is demonstrating how oppression runs rampant and the African-American is essentially helpless. To expose the gap that exists between the two races, the two… [read more]

What Where the Positive and Negative Effects of Slavery on the Americas Africa and Europe Term Paper

… Positive and Negative Impacts of Slavery

When speaking of pre-Civil War history, people seem to take two basic positions. The first position is that slavery as an institution was inherently evil and it created no real benefits for the enslaved or the enslavers. The second position is that slavery was a benevolent institution, in which more-capable people took care of less-capable people in exchange for providing those people with room, board, and something to do. Neither depiction is entirely correct; slavery had benefits and detriments to America, Europe, and Africa and the peoples of those lands.

To understand the concept of slavery as a beneficial institution, one must understand that slavery in Africa existed long before Europeans began colonization or started the transatlantic slave trade. While morally repugnant by modern-day standards, slavery in Africa had some benefits to Africans, including the enslaved. First, slavery in Africa was largely the result of wars. Instead of killing the losers of a war, the winners of wars would enslave the losing population. While some of these slaves were used for labor purposes, the main use of such enslavement was to increase the population and power of the dominant society, and slaves were given positions such as that of concubine, which resulted in the intermingling of the two societies. African societies also permitted the enslavement of family members; troublemakers could be sold into slavery, which increased family harmony, provided a profit for the family, and theoretically provided the enslaved family member with the opportunity to grow and become disciplined. Slavery, especially designated periods of servitude, also served as a form of currency and permitted people to establish debts in exchange for goods, with the option of paying them off by selling a family member or oneself. Lawbreakers and wrongdoers were also subject to enslavement in Africa, a logical solution in societies that had no prisons. As practiced in Africa, slavery had benefits for the African people.… [read more]

Civil Disobedience Term Paper

… Civil Disobedience

Both Mahatma Gandhi and Rosa Parks embodied the idea that change can occur nonviolently. Both figures acted in a spirit of civil disobedience, but they did so in a passive manner which made their oppressors look vile and tyrannical. Both Gandhi and Parks prove than one can start a revolution without firing a shot or physically striking someone. Passive civil disobedience can result in real change. Gandhi effectively ended British rule in India and Rosa Parks began a civil rights movement in the South which led to higher equality for African-Americans.

Mahatma Gandhi was acting in civil disobedience against the tyranny and oppression of British rule in India. The British Empire had ruled over India for generations. Rosa Parks acted out against the inequality faced by African-Americans faced in the South. Several states enforced laws which lessoned the status of African-Americans in the middle of the twentieth century. Rosa Parks refused to obey these laws when she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man.

The actions of Rosa Parks set off a bus strike all over the South. Thousands of African-Americans refused to ride the public bus which led to the eventually repeal of the bus legislation which Rosa Parks was in violation of. Both acts of defiance were great challenges, but Gandhi's march was most challenging. He, along with his followers, faced… [read more]

Experience in Life Term Paper

… Martin Luther King Jr. is arguably the most influential American of the past mellenium. He helped to solve one of the biggest problems of American democracy, the continued social inequality for African-Americans. Dr. King's devotion to the Civil Rights movement ensured that many of the prejudices that Americans took for granted during the early 20th century have virtually disappeared in the new mellenium. There are two primary aspects to Dr. King's ideas and life that influenced our perception of social equality.

First, Dr. King showed that racial differences does not imply racial superiority. Pre-dating the Civil Rights movement, the majority of Americans believed that African-Americans were genetically inferior to Caucasions. Not only were they less intelligent, morally bereft, but unequal in the eyes of religion and society. As a result, they were "meant" to be treated unequally by the nature of their race. Dr. King showed that African-Americans were no different in their physical, intellectual and spiritual capacity. Through his strength of character, and the artful manner he executed the Civil Rights movement, Americans changed their views of the African-American race in general. He… [read more]

Stereotypical Comments Term Paper

… Stereotypical Comments

Senator Biden dooms any hopes of a presidential nomination again by trying to compliment and distance himself at the same time from the most charismatic candidate his own party has for the 2008 presidential election. Cole (2007) provides an accurate assessment of Biden's comments by showing how mindless Biden is in his comments meant to both compliment a member of his own party yet intentionally distance himself from Senator Obama. When one considers Senator Biden's comments in the context of the great African-American orators of the 20th and 21st century one has to wonder if the Senator recalls the stirring speeches of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and many others.

Would not Dr. King, in his prime, be even more charismatic, articulate and "clean," the word Senator Biden uses for an "acceptable" African-American? Of course, Dr. King's many gifts of communication, persuasion and the galvanizing of a nation will never be forgotten. He erased the color line Senator Biden left on the American political canvas of this year as he inches along his own path to obscurity.… [read more]

Let Nobody Turn US Term Paper

… ¶ … Nobody Turn Us Around" delves into the wealth of resources regarding the African-American experience since the founding of our nation. A specific examination of the context of slavery before 1861 reveals a deep level of inhumanity at the way slaves were treated. This text carefully illustrates the immoral and unethical manner in which slaves were treated, as well as the heroes and heroines who wanted to attempt change.

The tradition of slavery ran deep within the American mindset between 1789 to 1861. This is evidenced through documentation of the many disgusting and arbitrary ways that slaves were treated. Laws such as the one presented in Chapter six, which prohibits salves from learning to read and write, reveals the mentality that the white majority viewed slaves. Essentially, the establishment saw those individuals of color as unworthy of human status, without the ability or need to be educated. This theme is again evident within Chapter eight, in which we find that within this era slaves could not even marry without their master's permission. This cruelty with which these individuals lived was truly atrocious; they did not have even the sanctity of family. The manner in which slaves were sold in Chapter nine captures the nature of the slavery system, which was an attempt to denigrate African-Americans to an even lower level of social acceptance. They were effectively classified as subhuman, without the respect accorded to even the lowest of the social order.

Despite the way that the majority within the American establishment treated slaves, there were a few brave men and women who advocated and fought strongly for abolition. Many of these individuals fought against slavery through literary, cerebral and political channels. Among them was the first African abolitionist, Equiano, chapter one tells his amazing tale of slavery to English gentlemen. He represented one of the first waves of African rights discussion that eventually led to the abolition of… [read more]

Taylor Branch's Parting the Waters Term Paper

… So, in my opinion, there are several key aspects for the narration. First of all, there is the central figure of Martin Luther King, his leadership and fight for freedom. Then there are the elements surrounding this: the Civil Right… [read more]

Native Son James Baldwin Published His Book Term Paper

… ¶ … Native Son

James Baldwin published his book Notes of a Native Son in 1955 at the urging of his friend Sol Stein. The book is a collection of nine essays he had written on the state of what… [read more]

Peculiar Institution: Slavery Term Paper

… Rebellion was a constant in the Southern plantation owner's mind because of the risk it posed to owner's personal safety. Escape was seen as an economic detriment, a loss of one of the most valuable pieces of farm equipment upon a plantation. This is why so much psychological as well as physical torture was inflicted upon slaves who escaped or revolted against their treatment. Unlike an animal, the slave owners saw that human beings could learn by observation of the examples of others, and thus they used extreme cruelty towards captured runaway slaves to prevent further attempts at escape and rebellion. This is why slaves who escaped were also so vigilantly pursued, even if they were not particularly or personally valuable. If one slave escaped successfully, this might motivate and encourage other, more valuable slaves to escape from capture.

Thus, there was always awareness, even in owner's minds, that slaves had human feelings, thoughts, and agency, however hard owners tried to treat slaves like property or animals. As contemporary accounts of slavery from the 1820s and 30s suggest, furthermore, there was not a complete and utter absence of feeling between masters and slaves, even on the part of the slaves. The slaves recognized that their masters were human, and particularly those slaves who lived in quite close quarters to their masters, such as house slaves, would concede that their masters might be good human beings. However, most slaves suggested that even though Southerners might not be rotten to the core, because of the constraining nature of the institution, even the best slave owners were capable of great evil when provoked, because of the evils of the institution of slave ownership.

Perhaps Frances Kemble recorded least kindly views of the institution of slavery from this early period of observing slavery, in her work "On Racism, Religion and Fear in Georgia. 1838-1839." In this early account, the observer presents a powerful testimony to the vehemence with which slaves injected religion into their restricted lives, and used it as a method of emotional expression, despite master's attempts to use religion as a sedating technique to the fires of rebellion and revolt. Life for slaves was a continual state of physical and emotional preservation under the influence of severe repression.

Slavery was a psychologically confusing state for both slave owners and slaves, where the fiction that the slave was not quite a person on the equal of a master, but still somehow more than property or animal, was sustained on a constant, tenuous basis. As evidenced in Thomas Dew's tract, "Thomas Dew Defends Slavery," from 1832, when Southerners publicly defended their cultural and economic institution, which they saw as peculiar and integral and natural to their way of life, they could be quite rhetorically florid. However, in the livid reality of the institution, life was far more contradictory in… [read more]

Lives of African Slaves Per Levine Black Culture and Black Consciousness Essay

… Black Culture and Black Consciousness -- Lawrence Levine

Chris Rock vs. Lawrence Levine

Speaking extemporaneously in a 2007 Time interview, comedian Chris Rock characterized the era of European (and later) American enslavement of African blacks as the "worst thing that has ever been done to human beings." He also included a specific reference to the fact that, in addition to being shackled, beaten, and raped, the victims of slavery also had their culture and their religion stripped from them in the process of their enslavement. Lawrence Levine, author of Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom (Oxford, 1977) might disagree, based on his comprehensive analysis of the rich cultural traditions maintained by slaves throughout the Antebellum period.

In his well-researched work, Levine details the extent to which the African slaves actually retained traditional forms of music, folklore, philosophy, and other elements of their culture of origin throughout their enslavement as a people. Levine's central thesis is that the African slaves did not lose their cultural traditions as a result of their enslavement and that they actually preserved their pre-enslavement culture and traditions. According to Levine, the eventual assimilation of the emancipated slaves into American society after the end of the Slavery era did not necessarily represent the replacement of traditional African culture with that of white American society to the degree commonly believed. Rather, the former slaves and their descendants actually retained the most important elements of their culture of origin, primarily in their music, folklore, humor, and philosophical understanding of their history and origins.

The Sacred World of Black Slaves

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Evaluating the Respective Perspectives Objectively

Notwithstanding the extensive factual record detailed by Levine, his analysis does not necessarily overcome the contrary view suggested by Rock. For one thing, Levine's analysis is substantially limited to those elements of African cultural traditions that survived the Slavery experience. It does not and cannot fully describe the extent to which those elements represent the vestiges of a much richer culture that existed before those from whom its record was gleaned after the fact were forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands and societies of origin. Furthermore, the representational aspect of so much of the culture detailed by Levine strongly suggests that what remained of African social culture that was left to analyze after the Antebellum period represents a culture that was fundamentally changed by virtue of the need to disguise it from white society.

In principle, analyzing… [read more]

Slavery in America Essay

… The sellers were required to disclose any known defects (as well as defects they were not aware of at the time of the sale), and they were bound "by explicit contractual language" (Wahl, 5).

This illustration from

(Google images)… [read more]

Black Slavery in America Essay

… Black Slaves in North America

Black slavery in America created not only major political rifts in public opinion and economic activities but also brought up major human rights questions. The colonies benefited economically from the use of black slaves and after the United States was formed, many states still implemented slavery as a major economic engine and social norm. Even after the Civil War, slavery left millions of blacks in vulnerable economic and social positions. As an institution, slavery helped drive American economic interests and became a socially acceptable substitute for whites laboring long hours in the fields and plantations in the south.

The English Colonies were set up as resource providers for the English Monarchy and economy in Europe. Products like cotton, tobacco, and other crops were planted and harvested in the rich soils of the colonies. The land and plantation owners were eager to cut costs, and with the African slave trade to places like the Caribbean and southern Spanish colonies booming, black slaves were an abundant and relatively cheap labor resource, especially for the farms and plantations in the southern colonies. Unlike the southern colonies, the northern colonies' economies began to differentiate themselves as producers of manufactured goods as well as services. In this way, even though slavery was legal in all of the English Colonies, the northern colonies had less of a demand for black slaves than the southern ones.

Operationally, slaves were brought in primarily from West African locales to work in agriculture-related servitude. Many of the slaves were separated from their families and many died during the long voyage via slave ship to… [read more]

Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional Term Paper

… ¶ … Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life by Stanley Elkins, and Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction by James M. McPherson.

Specifically it will contain a comparative analysis of Elkins historical interpretation of slavery… [read more]

Narrative Term Paper

… 107).

Equiano took off when he was free to travel the world, as he was an experienced seaman. He spent a lot of time in London, where, in 1788, he tried relentlessly to persuade the Queen to allow blacks to settle back in Africa in the British colony of Sierra Leone. Equiano never actually made it back to Africa, however. Instead, he got married in London and had a child. In 1797, he died.

In his autobiography, Equiano tells his story with a fair and accurate historical tone. This manner makes his story come across as unbiased, rather than angry or vengeful. His owners were both fair men, he says, and were appreciative of his hard work and good behavior. Both men strove to provide him with money and benefits so Equiano was never mistreated. However, his story also tells the tale of his fellow slaves that were treated miserably. Thus, the tragic story of slavery is not sugarcoated at all in this book.

In this book, Equiano describes his journey on a ship during the years of the slave trade: "I was often witness to cruelties of every kind, which were exercised on my unhappy fellow slaves. I used frequently to have different cargoes of new Negroes in my care for sale; and it was almost a constant practice with our clerks and other whites, to commit violent depredations on the chastity of the female slaves; and these I was, though with reluctance, obliged to submit to at all times, being unable to help them." (Equiano, p. 697)

He describes many of the horrors that the African slaves suffered through. According to Equiano, slaves worked in horrible conditions; they enjoyed no personal freedom, and were given no choice in their own destinies.

Very few slaves were educated and those who were lacked the supplies to write down their experiences. Therefore, when a slave was freed, educated, and given supplies, they usually published their stories. Due to the rise of abolishment in America and Britain, these stories were popular.

Equiano shows loyalty to England and affection for the British culture. His literary style is absent of African speech and seems to be a strictly English voice. However, he does not fail to criticize the Europeans' violations of the African's humanity. He shows respect to Europeans while telling his tale of African injustice.

However, he was aware of the differences between whites and blacks. In this story, Equiano compares African primitivism with the barbarity of Western civilization. He describes the reactions of Europeans to their encounters with the uncivilized Africans. For Equiano, as an accidental tourist or traveler into a world of wonders, the white man is described as "the other."

Equiano describes Africa before European encroachment as a "rich and fruitful" land whose inhabitants were simple, noble, and loving. "We are almost a nation of dancers, musicians, and poets." (Equiano, p. 211) He then describes the agonies brought on by encounters with the Europeans: war, the Middle Passage, and enslavement.… [read more]

Institutional Racism the Fourth Essay

… This is because of the racism that was still rife in the country. The black people were from achieving their independence and that was the prompting factor to his argument.

Some lessons are derivable from these two documents. In the recent past and some current situations as well, there have been cases of oppression to some people. This happens to people of the black descent who live in the U.S. The declaration states explicitly that all men have equal rights. Douglas echoes the same sentiments in his speech by claiming that no man is greater than another. However, these theoretical approaches have failed miserably in their practical appearance. The U.S. has become one of the places with exceptionally high levels of racism. The people have been unable to take any lessons from these two documents (Heintze 2009). Another lesson that has constantly evaded the people in the recent past is the purpose of July 4th. This should be a celebration for the independence of an individual. However, most of the people, including those who are not Native Americans, have been celebrating the day blindly. This day should not be views as a national independence day but as a day when individuals celebrate their own independence.


The fight against racism is finally wearing out those who involve themselves in this inhumane act. In the recent past, the concept of equality has finally started to weigh on all people, and there has been improvement in the strides against this vice. The most prominent stride in the acceptance of everyone has to be the election of a black president. This was a clear indication that finally it was time for everyone to achieve independence. It is through this move that the U.S. were able to convince that finally the black people were no longer slave descendants but were also citizens of the country (Heintze 2009). Therefore, the non-Natives are also independent members of the U.S. As they can feel that finally one of them is an esteemed member of the society. Frederick Douglas was truly right in asking whether it was just that, he should celebrate an independence day when he was not free. His argument was that this day is a source of celebration only to the white man and was a reality check to the slave descendants who had nothing to celebrate. However, with the recent change in tide, it is time for all citizens to celebrate the Fourth of July as an independence day.


Heintze, J.R. (2009). When in the Course of Human Events It Became Necessary to Celebrate

July 4th. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 89(2), 4-6.

What to the slave is the Fourth of July? (2006).4 July 1852, Rochester,… [read more]

Colonial America Differed From England Essay

… Colonial America differed from England because it offered greater opportunities, the degree to which one could take advantage of these opportunities depended upon gender, race, ethnicity, and religion. Discuss how these factors affected the ability of certain groups of people to enjoy the promise of Colonial America.

The economic opportunities were divided based upon racial and gender points-of-view. Under this kind of thinking, white males were given the greatest opportunities. While, other races (such as blacks) were seen as: slaves that are beneath the whites. At the same time, the Indians were thought of as savages that needed to be saved. The women were considered to be beneath the males in every society. As, they were expected to: quietly support the men and their families. (Boger 3 -- 15) (Murrin 67 -- 159)

What was the impact of British mercantilist policy on colonial economic development, policy-making, and on colonial society? Who made up the colonial elite? To what extent did they dominate the socio-economic and political policies in the colonies? Could slavery have become as pervasive as it did without mercantilism?

The impact of the British policy is that it created vast differences in society that were at first based upon racial distinctions. Then, as time went by these views were changed, with separations occurring in society based upon the personal net worth of an individual. In general, the colonial elite were considered to be white males. They dominated every aspect of society and politics by creating institutions / practices that supported these views. As a result, slavery would not have become pervasive without mercantilism. This is because, slavery allowed for countries to be able to maximize their trading advantages over partners. As, they could flood their markets with: a… [read more]

Slavery Scars of the Caribbean Past Thesis

… Slavery

Scars of the Caribbean Past

Although abolished for what appears to be a long time, slavery is still very much an issue in the collective cultural conscience of today; whatever culture this may be. The sheer inhuman treatment and… [read more]

African Slavery With New World Essay

… ¶ … African slavery with New World slavery and the Ottoman Empire. Slavery existed in Africa long before it began in the New World. In fact, in many cases, the Europeans who began trading in slaves did so as a result of viewing the practice in Africa, and it had been going on in the Arabic world of the Ottoman Empire for centuries.

In African slavery, most of the people who became slaves had been conquered in battles, and became slaves to their new leaders. "As in many other societies and culture slavery had very deep roots in Africa and was known in antiquity. Africans had enslaved other Africans, and although they were chronic injunctions against such practices" (Notes). Some of the African kingdoms that fought wars throughout Africa were extremely powerful, and they acquired many slaves from their conquered neighbors. These slave societies helped form the backbone of the slave trade to the New World because they already had a system of slavery in place, they had the ability to capture new slaves, and they were interested in developing trade of any sort with the Europeans who were coming to Africa. There was some slave trade between kingdoms; too, because some kings would sell off some of their slaves they were displeased with as punishment.

Slaves were often treated as part of the family in African culture, helping them assimilate into the culture a little easier. "In African, slaves were generally treated as part of the family members and were integrated into the larger society" (Notes). However, when trade began with Europe and other countries, it became a disaster for the African slaves. "The trade in African slaves by the western nations between the late fifteenth and the nineteenth centuries severely affected the social, cultural, economic, and even political life of African societies, and they never recovered from the blow.

When slaves began coming to the New World, their lives were transformed, and New World slavery was the worst example of the practice. The Middle Passage on board ship from Africa to America was horrific, it has been calculated that millions of slaves died during the Passage. In America, slaves had no rights, could not marry without their owner's permission, their families could be sold up and divided, they had no say in government, they could not own property, and they labored in difficult, harsh conditions. They were viewed as property by their owners, rather than human beings, and they were often cruelly punished by beating, whipping, and other forms of torture.

They were actually the largest group of immigrants to America in the colonial era (Notes). Their greatest numbers were in the plantation system in the southern United States, because the large plantations grew labor-intensive crops such as tobacco, cotton, and rice, and these crops needed a lot of manpower to grow and harvest them. The planters on the plantations often employed hundreds of slaves to ensure… [read more]

Black History, the Emphasis Term Paper

… He wrote one of his friends a week before the trial how exciting the whole situation was. He knew that they had a hard battle, but thought Darrow would give them a fighting chance. White loved being with Darrow and… [read more]

Impact of the Epistle of Paul to Philemon on Slavery Dissertation

… ¶ … Epistle of Paul to Philemon on Slavery

This paper will be focused on the Impact of the Epistle of Paul to Philemon on Slavery. The paper will start off (chapter 1: introduction) with an overview of the historical… [read more]

History of America Through 1877 Research Proposal

… History Of America Through 1877

Jordan, Winthrop. White Over Black. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968.

In his book on the European views of 'blackness' and Africa entitled White Over Black, the historian Jordan Winthrop grapples with the question of the degree to which racism caused or was caused by the European slave trade. After all, slavery existed in both Europe and Africa before the interaction between the two cultures created the particularly noxious form of slavery that was to define so much of the 18th and 19th century relationships of black and white, even while the ideology of the brotherhood of man was advocated in other aspects of the Enlightenment popular discourse. Jordan suggests that the interrelationship between the two was symbiotic -- racism justified the forms that slavery took, and European prejudices of Africans as inferior fed the flames of the slave trade.

Jordan begins his book with a focus on the first slave 'entrepreneurs,' the Portuguese, although most of his book focuses on English, who arrived in the 16th century. The Portuguese, echoing the gaze of Columbus upon the native inhabitants of the Americas, tended to see the Africans as natural slaves, but Jordan believes that the evidence suggests that the first English settlers tended to see the Africans as more 'natural men' but not necessarily inherently inferior and in need of conversion. Finding other commodities to sell was the early Englishmen's first priority. Not until a century later, was the first English settlement and the Royal African Company established with the intent of enslaving the African people. Up until then, the primary source accounts Winthrop uses to reexamine racial attitudes differ widely in their emphasis -- some English authors stress Africans' exotic differences, such as their alleged cannibalism and savageness, others the surprising capability of their administration. Some Englishmen called the Africans 'Black Moors,' to distinguish them from black, Muslim Moors living in Europe. Even positive portrayals of Moors in English… [read more]

17th and 18th Centuries Essay

… ¶ … slavery" to describe the condition of the colonies before Independence is an affront to the Africans held in bondage throughout the bulk of American history. Yet, as Foner points out, the term "slavery" was invoked repeatedly in political and popular literature and permeated the public discourse of pre-Revolutionary America. Up to the Revolution, the colonists perceived themselves as being mavericks and beacons of Enlightenment liberties. The politics espoused by landowning Europeans in the New World was the same ideology that forms the basis of the United States government today. Freedom, independence, and liberty were the new ideals of democracy that spawned the new nation. Beneath the idealism of American ideology, though, rested the vivid beast of slavery. Slaves were not considered to be human enough to count. Slaves did not form part of the American discourse. Slaves were the forgotten people on American soil. Slavery and liberty coexisted in a sinister way throughout the Revolutionary years. Freedom from Great Britain was achieved at the same time that slavery was enhanced as an American institution.

Freedom and slavery coexisted in a seemingly peaceful way in American political discourse prior to the Revolution. As Foner states, the word slavery was invoked almost as often as the word liberty in the "legal and political literature" of the eighteenth century (p. 29). Slavery was a "political category" that referred to the way the Crown controlled the colonies and its people (p. 29). The trans-Atlantic slave trade was envisioned as something entirely different. Africans did not count because they were not considered on par with Europeans. Therefore, the colonists could invoke the word slavery without self-consciousness or embarrassment.

Anti-slavery rhetoric that referred only to freedom from… [read more]

Barack Obama as Representative of a Deracialized Research Proposal

… Barack Obama as Representative of a Deracialized, Post-Civil Rights Paradigm

The history of the United States is saturated with struggle, of which the civil rights movement is perhaps the most significant. What is interesting about the contemporary political paradigm of… [read more]

American History in Their Considerations Term Paper

… American History

In their considerations of the slavery issue before the Civil War, William Henry Seward, John C. Calhoun and Daniel Webster contribute a variety of viewpoints. Each author uses a sequence of main ideas upon which to base the progression of their thoughts. A consideration of the slavery issue in general is followed by the roles of the North and the South, after which each author provides his views on how the issue can, should, or is likely to be resolved.


Seward states in no uncertain terms his belief that slavery is not only unconstitutional, but also morally wrong, and he spends the majority of the document upon emphasizing his views. He counters the argument that slavery is a lawful institution in the South with the fact that not all persons living in the South are indeed slaves, but that freedom is as much an institution as slavery. According to Seward, freedom is much more constitutional than slavery, and should therefore take precedence in arguments about the nature of the Constitution. He also uses in his argument the fact that the slave population is by far not as numerous as the free population, and that the institution is therefore a violation of the natural state of affairs. Seward furthermore holds that slavery cannot be condoned in terms of humanity; slaves are human beings and therefore their freedom should be constitutionally guaranteed.

In contrast to Seward, Calhoun only briefly states that slavery has been an institution before the inception of the American states. Instead, the majority of his argument focuses upon the stormy relationship between the North and the South at the time.

Like Calhoun, Daniel Webster also spends only a brief time upon the general slavery issue. In contrast to the former, however, he holds that slavery was universally condemned to some degree in all states. The institution however became a necessity due to economic and export developments in the South.

North and South

Although condemning it in the strongest terms, Seward does not appear to hold the South responsible for it as much an unfortunate convergence of circumstances; an "accident," as mentioned above. He sees it as the role of the North to help the South restore the "natural" order of freedom for all people.

John C. Calhoun spends considerably more time on the relationship between the North and South than upon the other two aspects, as mentioned above. According to this author, the North is basically at fault for creating the disjunction between the states. As a reason for this, he cites the disproportionate strength of the North, both in terms of both politics and the economy. According to Calhoun, the North has victimized the South, because the former controls the government and the economy. As such, the South has become the political black sheep, and has suffered severe losses in revenues… [read more]

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