Thursday, July 18, 2019

African American Identity Essay

It was a hot August day as sweat beat down on Thomas Jefferson Brown. He had been working in the field 2 hours before the hot sun had made its presence known. He looked back over the drying field, hoping that this crop would provide for his family better than last years crop had. Thomas watched his oldest son, Nathan, who worked down one row of the field while staring intently at the cotton plants as he picked the cotton. Nathan was a very inquisitive young man who had just yesterday asked his father what it was like being a slave for Mr. Walter Johnson. When his father had told him that in a lot of ways life was so much easier than now, Nathan had given him a look that allowed Thomas to know that his son could not understand. How could he understand? Nathan had not grown up a slave and seen that while it was extremely difficult, there was a feeling of stability to life then. Yes, Thomas Jefferson Brown had endured the beatings and yes he had watched as his Mother and eventually his sisters had been sexually assaulted, but how do you tell a young man such as Nathan that such was the way of life; it was to be expected, along with the comfort of knowing where your next meal was going to come from. Since Tomas had been freed after the great war, He s and his family had endured much more than that; having watched the lynching of two of his brothers and numerous friends. They were the lucky ones though, Thomas thought, while looking up at the fiery ball of heat known as the sun. They did not have to endure other hardships; their suffering was over. Yes it was hard for Nathan to know that life was indeed easier as a slave than a freed man, and maybe, just maybe, things would change during Nathan’s lifetime. Thomas Jefferson Brown wiped his brow once more and continued on picking the cotton? Even though the civil war ended in 1865, African Americans still faced an uphill battle to obtain rights that were afforded other Americans. This was in spite of the fact that 24 African American soldiers earned our Nations highest honor; the Congressional Medal of Honor, during the Civil War. Even with the passing of the 13th Amendment in 1865 banning slavery and the 14th Amendment giving African Americans citizenship and equal protection under the law, there were still so many other issues that would deprive African Americans of their lawful rights, such as having the first African American elected into the 41st Congress in 1869 continuing through 1901 with the 57th congress, which had no African Americans. This trend would continue until the election of 1929 before another African American was elected to congress. In 1873 the Supreme Court decision ruled that the 14th-Amendment guarantee of equal protection of the laws extended only to federal civil rights, thus removing southern states from the duty to protect the civil rights of African Americans, but it was just not their rights that were taken; but their lives as well. Between 1882 and the end of 1900, 1751 African Americans and 1105 white Americans were lynched for trying to further the African American cause (National). Given all of this discrimination and violence, it is hard to imagine that anyone would be willing to further the African American cause, but many stood ready to not only give of themselves, but perhaps even to give their life for this noble cause. African American writers were presented with these problems of equality and self esteem, and yet have truly transformed and continue to support a freed people, to obtain all of their rights. What follows is from three writers who each in his own way contributed mightily to the African American cause. They are W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and Glen Loury. First, we have W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt) Dubois, who was born on February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Dubois was one of the most influential black leaders of the first half of the 20th Century. Dubois shared in the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, in 1909. He served as its director of research and editor of its magazine Crisis until 1934. He was the first African American to graduate from Harvard University, which he accomplished in 1896. At first, Dubois thought that African Americans could be freed through the Social Sciences, but quickly became disillusioned with this idea and began to believe that freedoms could only come about by agitation and protest(Chew). Dubois recognized that the African American’s of his day faced many problems, not the least of which were of the life threatening variety. After his disillusionment with helping African Americans through the social sciences, Dubois thought that African Americans needed to develop their own culture, which was definitely more American than African. Dubois enjoyed the unique African American culture, particularly that of the Negro spiritual songs. Dubois thought that African Americans should not give in to what white Americans expectations were of African Americans, but to continue to develop as a people. Dubois wrote that all people regardless of their culture, heritage, sex, should be treated as equals. Dubois also thought that African Americans should not worry about competing with the world as a group, but that they should join together to help each other. He eventually was forced to leave the United States because the government considered Dubois an agent of the Soviet Union. That is why he immigrated to Ghana, first obtaining Ghana citizenship, joined the communist party and eventually died there in 1963. Dubois was there for all future African Americans to follow his example. Dubois founding of the NAACP led to many victories for the rights of all Americans, most of which he never saw. Next we have Marcus Mosiah Garvey, who was born in Jamaica on 17 August 1887. Mr. Garvey is best remembered as a pivotal figure in the struggle for racial equality, not just in the United States but throughout the world as well. He founded the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association) and African Communities League in 1914 while still in Jamaica, and also championed the ‘back to Africa’ movement of the 1920s. Of the Africans who departed, Garvey thought, some had left independently while others were brutally removed for economic gain and exploitation. Garvey perceived that the main problems facing not only African Americans, but Africans as well was that they must first go back to Africa and free their African brothers before moving on to other parts of the world. Through the organizations that Garvey had formed (UNIA and ACL), he reasoned that until Africa is free and redeemed, not only in name but in reality, no one would be free, Black or White. Garvey reasoned that no matter what one’s race was we are all bound together by the Creator, which is Spirit. The Creator has a purpose for everyone and that purpose did not include being made a slave or subject to anyone for that matter. While Dubois and Garvey did not see eye to eye on the issues involving African Americans, Garvey did align himself closely with Dr Robert Love, and Dr Loves teachings that a race could progress no further than the dignity and esteem of their women and younger girls. Garvey and Love thought that the best way to plant the seeds of dignity and self-esteem would be through the woman and younger girl. Last, we have Glen Loury, who was born in 1948. Mr. Loury is a professor of economics at Boston University while also being a consultant to the Federal Trade Commission. Mr. Loury has devoted a major portion of his career to the study of race and public policy. He is the author of ‘On the Need for Moral Leadership in the Black Community’, ‘Responsibility and Race’, ‘Impact of Affirmative Action on Equal Opportunity: A New Look’, and most recently ‘A New American Dilemma’. Mr. Loury saw many problems facing not only African American, but also all Americans, including the civil rights policies of 1960-1985, which seemed to have been based on equality of outcome rather than on equality of opportunity. Mr. Loury also thought that affirmative action policies created backlash. Loury maintained that all Americans should have equal rights with none being given favorable treatment over any other. Loury reasoned that it is hard to justify denying admission to an elite college to anyone who struggled to be able to pass the admissions exam; while admitting a member of a designated minority group, who did not work near as hard to earn his score and is only admitted based on his minority status. Such actions build resentment towards these policies and are only heightened when defenders of the policies claim that to question these policies is to engage in a racist act. Mr. Loury contends that giving preferential treatment with no sound explanation only led to more heightened tensions and is a very grievous error on the part of those who merely wish to be advocates of affirmative action. Loury did see, that there was a proper use of affirmative action, such as on police forces around the country that had a significant percentage of African American citizens and yet none on the police force. These Authors present their own conclusions and reasoning’s for what happened to the African Americans previous to, and of their own time. These writers used the influences of other African Americans and were also pioneers themselves. All of these writers believed in equality for everyone and thus did share at least one common goal. In Mr. Dubois we have a writer and scholar who originally thought that through a study of Social Sciences and doing what was right could African Americans receive their rights, and yet Dubois was able to refocus and remain firm in his opinions of helping each other and thus able to help not only the African American’s of his generation, but the ones to follow as well. Mr. Dubois saw all of the problems besetting African Americans and knew that they must unite, working together, to build a culture of their own, that would allow all African Americans to have a better life. Mr. Garvey on the other hand, perceived that until the rights and freedoms were restored in the entire African continent, Africans elsewhere would always be treated as second-class citizens. Garvey along with Dr Robert Love, thought that it was through the African women, especially the younger women, that Africans had a chance to make a difference in providing a better future. Mr. Loury saw problems that came about because of the Civil Rights movement, and that African Americans should not merely rely on being a minority to get ahead in life, but instead grab the opportunity that was before them so as not to create a political backlash. Each of these writers have stood their ground for what they believe in, and our world we live in today is better for it. Each of these writers, in their own time, helped frame not just African Americans lives but has truly transformed and continues to support a freed people, obtain all, of their rights. Works Cited Chew, Robin â€Å"W. E. B. Dubois Sociologist, Author & Civil Rights Leader 1868 ? 1963†³ February 26, 2005. 6 Feb 2006 Dr Coony, Mark â€Å"Race and Affirmative Action† 6 Feb 2006 Du Bois, W. E. B. â€Å"Of our Spiritual Strivings. † Cultural Conversations The Presence of the Past. Ed Stephen Dilks, et al. Boston: Bedford/St Martin, 2001. 131-145 Garvey, Marcus â€Å"Motive of the NAACP Exposed† Cultural Conversations The Presence of the Past. Ed Stephen Dilks, et al. Boston: Bedford/St Martin, 2001. 153-154 Loury, Glenn. â€Å"Free at Last? A Personal Perspective on Race ad Identity in America. † Cultural Conversations The Presence of the Past. Ed Stephen Dilks, et al. Boston: Bedford/St Martin, 2001. 173-180 â€Å"Marcus Garvey Biography† November 2000, K. W. Spence-Lewis Consultant Researcher Community Health and Planning Plant Science. â€Å"The Making of African American Identity VOL II 1863-1917† National Humanities Center 6 Feb 06 Bibliography Chew, Robin â€Å"W. E. B. Dubois Sociologist, Author & Civil Rights Leader 1868 ? 1963† February 26, 2005. 6 Feb 2006 Dr Coony, Mark â€Å"Race and Affirmative Action† 6 Feb 2006 Du Bois, W. E. B. â€Å"Of our Spiritual Strivings. † Cultural Conversations The Presence of the Past. Ed Stephen Dilks, et al. Boston: Bedford/St Martin, 2001. 131-145 Garvey, Marcus â€Å"Motive of the NAACP Exposed† Cultural Conversations The Presence of the Past. Ed Stephen Dilks, et al. Boston: Bedford/St Martin, 2001. 153-154 Loury, Glenn. â€Å"Free at Last? A Personal Perspective on Race ad Identity in America. † Cultural Conversations The Presence of the Past. Ed Stephen Dilks, et al. Boston: Bedford/St Martin, 2001. 173-180 â€Å"Marcus Garvey Biography† November 2000, K. W. Spence-Lewis Consultant Researcher Community Health and Planning Plant Science. â€Å"The Making of African American Identity VOL II 1863-1917† National Humanities Center 6 Feb 06.

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