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  • Booker T. Washington was born in West Virgina in 1856, in what he describes as the most miserable, desolate and discouraging surroundings. He did not know his father, raised by his mother who was a cook until emancipation came at the end of the Civil War. He worked in a coal mine and was determined to make his life better by getting an education and got admitted to an industrial school for blacks. He then served on the faculty of that school, and the founded a school for blacks teachers in Alabama "Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute." He worked there until his death in 1915. His philosophy of progress was: industrial education, accomodation of southern white supremacy, emphasis on racial pride, solidarity and self-help. He was a great publicist and got the attention of businessmen, and politicians to get attention on a national front. He was a dynamic speaker and made himself famous with his autobiography Up From Slavery. This was written in a simple, folksy style and became very popular with whites as well as blacks. Won praise from literary magazines for its style and tone.
  • She was born to slave parents just before Emancipation and then attended as one of first students of school in her town of Mississippi. Her parents died of yellow fever in 1878, and she dropped out of school.She later became a teacher and supported her entire family. She moved to Memphis and later became a journalist. She was an activist who often found herself in the midst of controversy. She was outspoken about lynchings and finally had to leave town, moving to New York to continue her writing and activism. She is remembered as an outspoken and articulate advocate of equal protection under the law and civil rights for black people. She put herself at constant risk to do so.
  • Born in Great Barrington, MA, and cherished books and intellecualism. His father deserted the family when he was an infant, but his mother was a prominent family and she protected and nurtured his love of learning. She sent him to predominantly white schools and churches and he graduated with honors with no thought of discrimination. It wasn't until he went to college in Tennessee that he experienced the racism of the south and the life of African Americans. Graduated and went to Harvard then wrote extensively on the African slave trade. He became a college professor and laid the foundation for African American sociology. In 1903 he wrote The Souls of Black Folk in which he describes the distinctive artistic traditions, culture and communal values of African American which he calls the "soul" of black folk. He was known as a radical Democrat who was not afraid to talk about socialism and communism. He was committed to spiritual ideals. "to the striving in the souls of black folk," to become co-workers in the kingdom of culture. He felt that all races of people had inherent power and genius. He was an educated scholar and his manner of writing was scholarly but he most often turned to traditional literary forms such as poetry, fiction, and prose that expressed his deep emotions. He wanted to raise his race. Because of his left wing politics he was indicted by the government for promoting the banning of atomic weapons, in 1951, accused of being a subversive power.He was ostracized by many African American leaders and civil rights leaders and in 1961 he moved to Ghana , and renounced his American citizenship.

The+Literature+Of+Reconstruction The+Literature+Of+Reconstruction Presentation Transcript

  • 1865 - 1919 Literature of the Reconstruction
    • Policies implemented regarding the South between 1863 and 1877
    • Nation was focused on winning the Civil War, abolishing slavery, defeating the Confederacy, reconstructing the nation and amending the US Constitution
    • Abraham Lincoln was major policymaker until his assassination in 1863
    • Reconstruction began in each state when federal troops controlled most of the state
    What was the "Reconstruction Era"?
    • In 1865 President Andrew Johnson broke decisively with the Radical Republican faction in Congress.
    • He announced that Reconstruction had been accomplished as soon as the states repudiated slavery and secession
    • Republicans disagreed, almost impeached him
    • New legislation put army in charge held new elections allowing black men vote
    Republican majority
    • Increased number of religious denominations increased national tensions
    • New scientific theories challenged previously held ideas about social order
    • Many different social groups were intersecting: African Americans, slaves and free citizens, Euro-Americans, and indigenous people and their ways of life were changing
    Other Challenges to the Nation after the War:
    • Reconcile populations
    • Reaffirm the original vision of the New World
    • Determine the societal role of freed slaves, indigenous Americans, women and recent immigrants
    • Produce a society faithful to the intent of the Constitution
    The Post Civil War Task
    • Established themselves as the backbone of anti-slavery movement
    • Developed administrative and political skills
    • Became accomplished speakers and writers
    • Identified with the condition of blacks
    • Gained more independence and experience through the demands of war
    • Developed hospitals, schools, recreational centers and other institutions
    Role of Women
    • Industrial expansion changed plantation system from slavery to sharecropping and tenant farming.
    • First transcontinental railroad 1869 built by exploited Asians and blacks
    • Opened up the frontier and the availability of produce, raw materials and finished goods
    • Changed nation from small towns to urban metropolises
    Changes in Economic Structure
    • 1867 to 1877
    • Reconstruction Act - struck down codes that restricted blacks
    • Freedmen's Bureau- northerners established schools to train freed slaves
    • Constitutional Amendments
      • 13th - outlawed slavery (1865)
      • 14th - equal protection for African Americans (1868)
      • 15th - right to vote for black men (1870)
    A Decade of Reconstruction
    • Vigilante groups such as Ku Klux Klan embarked on a wave of brutal suppression ignored by federal government
    • 1877 return of Democrats to power reversed previous gains made by blacks
    • Withdrawal of federal troops in south reversed protective legislation for African Americans
    End of Reconstruction
    • After the war, abolitionists turned attention to women's rights, pacifism, temperance
    • Suffragists angry that black men could vote and not women -- withdrew support
    • Abolitionist leaders aged, died
    • Influx of European labor in north took away jobs and hope for social mobility for blacks
    Reasons for Downfall
    • Throughout history Americans have used literature to represent the sentiment of the times both politically and socially
    • Most popular literature in America taught and confirmed social values
    • African American writers understood this and tried to produce work that both pleased and taught
    "Writing Things Right"
    • Correct historical perceptions that African Americans were not intellectually or creatively capable
    • Confirm creative genius
    • Document and shape social, political and spiritual hopes for African Americans
    The Role of African American Literature of the Reconstruction Period
    • After the war (postbellum) narratives described rugged individualism and the" American Dream"
    • Concentrated on the lessons learned from slavery
    • Not all writers had been slaves - some literature instead reflected conditions of segregation and persecution
    • Used as a model for overcoming past to arrive at a better future
    Slave Narratives to Personal Testimony
    • Personal accounts by those who were on their way to success but had not arrived
    • Used to inspire and instruct others
    • Used to quell fear of whites that blacks would seek revenge for wrongs
    • Instructed blacks to buy into the American Dream
    "Progress Report" Autobiographies
    • With more schools opening for blacks need for relevant texts grew
    • Texts offered reading, writing, arithmetic and vocational skills
    • Also needed texts to express history, position and hopes of African Americans
    • Biographies about notable blacks were used to show both blacks and whites what the African American was capable of
    African American literature and literacy
    • Did not limit readership to race, class or culture
    • Wrote literature accessible to all
    • Imitated and revised styles and themes of white writers
    • Used the same styles and wrote in the same genres as white writers
    Popular African American Literature
    • Booker T. Washington
    • Ida B. Wells-Barnett
    • W.E.B Du Bois
    • James Weldon Johnson
    • Paul Laurence Dunbar
    Important Writers of this Period
    • Up From Slavery
    • Embraced by blacks as a
    • guide to a better future.
    • He felt that the way to peace was for whites to embrace the blacks' desire for economic opportunities, and for blacks to respect the whites' desire for social separation of the races.
    • Urged fellow African Americans to accept status quo, and work gradually to improve themselves and prove themselves valuable, productive members of society.
    Booker T. Washington
  • Ida B. Wells-Barnett 1862 - 1931 Best known as an investigative journalist who reported on lynching in a factual, courageous, and consciousness- raising style. She was a literary activist who wrote stirring essays to inform and persuade people to demand equal rights. She wanted to write for people who had little or no school training to describe their problems in a simple, helpful way.
  • W.E.B. Du Bois 1868-1963 "Renaissance Man" Most multifaceted and influential writer that black America ever produced. Published sociology and history of African American people Believed that ideas not slogans were the way to get rid of bigotry. Believed in the "ideal of human brotherhood" Established the Niagara movement which became the NAACP.
  • James Weldon Johnson 1871 -1938 Dedicated to helping black people he became known as an author, politician, critic, journalist, poet, educator, lawyer, songwriter, and early civil rights activist. Johnson is remembered best for his writing, which includes novels, poems, and collections of folklore. In 1900, he wrote the "Negro National Anthem" - "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" with his brother.
    • Known as black Poet Laureate
    • Lively and cheerful verse
    • Strong use of dialect and idiom
    • Described life of blacks
    • Often criticized as a black artist co-opted by white media hype, a poet who by singing "serenely sweet to whites" only postponed the realization in his words: "I know why the caged bird sings."
    Paul Laurence Dunbar 1872 - 1906