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e-Black Studies: Introduction to Afro-American Studies, A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER


e-Black Studies: Introduction to Afro-American Studies, A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER

e-Black Studies: Introduction to Afro-American Studies, A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER

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  • 1. Rethinking… THEORY IN BLACK STUDIES UIUC Public Lecture Series / Fall 2011 September 13: Ideology September 27: Methodology October 11: HistoryBLACK October 25: November 8: Tradition DebateSTUDIESAS TEXTMAPPING Black StudiesDEGREE PROGRAMSCURRICULUMJOURNALSeBOOKSCONFERENCES / WORKSHOPSInformation TechnologyWorkshopORGANIZATIONS http://www.eblackstudies.org/BROTHERMALCOLMCYBER-CHURCH This site established February 21, 2000 / Edited by Abdul Alkalimat m cwor ter@ illinois dot edu © 2000-2011 TCB With: Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER Web 2.0 Conversion and formatting for study, sharing and download by RBG Communiversity
  • 2. Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER http://www.eblackstudies.org/ Abdul Alkalimat and Associates Twenty-first Century Books and Publications, Chicago (6th Edition) © TCB Chicago 1984 - 2009 | TCBCHGO@aol.com Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER Web 2.0 conversion and formatting for study, sharing and download by RBG Communiversity
  • 3. Editor’s Note: The following Hypertext Table of Contents will open the HTML source pages ate-Black Studies. The RBG mirror text will immediately follow.ContentsAcknowledgments ...................................................................vList of Tables ...................................................................xii1 . INTRODUCTION .................................................. 1 Afro-American Studies:,Who, What, Why, for Whom 1 Intellectual History .............................................. 6 William Edward Burghart DuBois ....................... 7 Carter Godwin Woodson ................................ 9 Edward Franklin Frazier .................................. 11 Langston Hughes ............................................ 12 The Disciplines ................................................. 14 The Movement ................................................ 15 Innovation ...................................................... 16 Experimentation ............................................. 17 Institutionalization .......................................... 19 The Text ......................................................... 22 Biology and Race ............................................. 22 Political Economy and Class .............................. 23 Society and Nationality ..................................... 24 Ideology and Consciousness ................................ 242. AFRICA BEFORE AND AFTER THE SLAVE TRADE:THE AFRO-AMERICAN HERITAGE ................................ 31 Africa: The Continent and Its People ..................... 32 Production ...................................................... 34 Politics .......................................................... 36 Religion .......................................................... 36 Education ....................................................... 37 Women and the Family ................................. 37 Culture .......................................................... 38 The European Penetration .............................. 39 Colonialism and Imperialism in Africa ...................... 43
  • 4. 3. COLONIALISM AND THE SLAVE TRADE ........................ 49 Why the Slave Trade ...................................... 51 Aspects of Capitalist Slavery .......................... 54 The Demands for Markets ........................... 54 The Struggle for Land ...................................... 54 The Struggle for Labor ..................................... 55 The Source of Profit ....................................... 56 The Impact of the Slave Trade ............................... 594. THE SLAVE EXPERIENCE:THE MELTING POT OF AFRICAN PEOPLES ......................... 67 The Institution of Slavery .................................. 67 Social Organization .......................................... 70 Religion and Slavery .......................................... 72 Mechanisms Strengthening Slavery ........................ 74 Mechanisms Weakening Slavery ....................... 745. THE RURAL EXPERIENCE:THE EMERGENCE OF THE AFRO-AMERICAN NATIONALITY ..... 81 Tenant Farming ................................................ 83 Peonage ........................................................... 85 Middle-Class Aspects of the Agricultural Experience ........................................... 86 The Church ........................................................ 87 Disfranchisement and social repression ................. 88 Organized Resistance ........................................... 91 Decline of Rural Life : Outmigration ............................ 956. THE URBAN EXPERIENCE:THE PROLETARIANIZATION OF AFRO- AMERICANS .............. 99 The Urbanization of Blacks .................................... 101 The "New Negro" ........................................... 104 The Proletarianization of Blacks ...................... 107 Changes in Social and Cultural Life ........................... 111 Resistance ....................................................... 1147. BLACK WORKERS AND THE LABOR MOVEMENT .............. 121 Black People in the Work Force ........................... 122 123 Scabs ............................................................ 124 "Shit-Work" ...................................................... 124 Labor Reserve ................................................. 128 Black Workers and Organized Resistance ................. 128
  • 5. Early National Unions: NLU, CNLU, and the Knights ... 130 Craft Unionization: AF of L ................................. 130 "One Big Union": The Wobblies ........................... 132 A National Black Union.- The Brotherhood ................ Radicalism: American Negro Labor Congress and 133 Unemployed Councils ..................................... 135 Industrial Unionization: CIO and the Black Community 137 Reactionary Forces: AFL-CIO Merger ..................... 137 Black Militancy ................................................ Black Revolutionary Union Movement: 140 142 DRUM, the League, BWC ................................. The Contemporary Scene ....................................8. THE BLACK MIDDLE CLASS ................................... 147 The Slave Period ................................................ 147 The Rural Period ................................................ 151 The Urban Period ............................................... 153 Business ........................................................ 155 The Professions ............................................... 157 Government and the Black Middle Class ................ 159 The Future of the Black Middle Class ...................... 1619. BLACK CULTURE AND THE ARTS .............................. 167 Traditional African Culture .............................. 168 The Slave Period ............................................ 170 The Rural Period ............................................ 172 The Urban Period ............................................ 175 The Arts Movements ........................................ 176 The 20s: The Harlem Renaissance .................. 177 The 30a and 40s: The WPA Artists and the Be Bop Musicians ................................................. 178 The 60s: The Black Arts Movement .................. 182 Black Culture and Imperialism ...................... 18310. RELIGION AND THE BLACK CHURCH ............................ 189 The African Connection .................................. 191 The Slave Period ............................................. 192 The Rural Period ........................................... 194 Social Stability ........................................... 195 Economic Cooperation .............................. 196 Education ................................................. 196 Arena of Politic al Life ................................... 196 The Urban Period .............................................. 198 Secularization ................................... 198 Storefront Churches ..................................... 199 Black Religious Cults .................................. 200 The Contemporary Situation ................................... 201
  • 6. 11. BLACK WOMEN AND THE FAMILY ................................. 207 The Slave Period ............................................ 208 Rural Period ............................................... 212 The Urban Period ............................................ 21712. EDUCATION AND THE SCHOOL IN THE BLACKCOMMUNITY ...................................................... 227 The Slave Period .................................... 229 The Rural Period .......................................... 232 The Urban Period ......................................... 236 Elementary and Secondary Education ............. 238 Higher Education ....................................... 24113. BLACK POWER AND THE U.S. POLITICAL SYSTEM ............ 247 Slavery, The Struggle for Human Rights ................ 248 Rural Period: The Struggle for Civil Rights .............. 251 Urban Period: The Struggle for Equal Rights ........... 25514. CIVIL RIGHTS AND THE STRUGGLE FOR DEMOCRACY ....... 265 Legal Action ...................................................... 268 The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ....................................... 269 The Urban league ................................... 271 Mass Struggle ................................................. 272 Congress of Racial Equality ................... 273 Southern Christian Leadership Conference ........ 274 Student Non-violent- Coordinating Committee ... 280 Electoral Politics ............................................. 28415. NATIONALISM AND PAN-AFRICANISM ........................... 291 The Historical Basis for Black Nationalism ............... 292 The Historical Basis for Pan-Africanism ................. 293 Ideological and Political Character of Nationalism ..... 294 The Slave Period ............................................... 296 The Rural Period ........................................... 298 The Urban Period .............................................. 301 The Role of Malcolm X .............................. 303 Politics ......................................................... 304 Culture and Art ............................................ 307 The Black Nation ......................................... 308 Two Lines on Pan-Africanism in Africa ................ 311 Two Lines on Pan-Africanism in the United States .. 311 The Prospects for Pan-Africanism and Nationalism ... 313
  • 7. 16. MARXISM AND THE BLACK LIBERATION ...................... 319 International Marxist Theory .................................. 320 U.S. Marxist Movements ....................................... 324 Current Tasks., ................................................... 336 Toward a Scientific Approach to Black Liberation ........ 33717. EVERYONE HAS A ROLE TO PLAY ............................... 345 Summary .................................................... 345 The Future .................................................. 348Bibliography ...................................................................... 353APPENDICES Selected Scholarly Journals ................................. 374 Bibliographical Tools in Afro-American Studies ....... 375 Index ................................................................ 377
  • 8. Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMERRBG Communiversity MirrorContentsONE1. INTRODUCTION .................................................. 1 Afro-American Studies:,Who, What, Why, for Whom 1 Intellectual History .............................................. 6 William Edward Burghart DuBois ....................... 7 Carter Godwin Woodson ................................ 9 Edward Franklin Frazier .................................. 11 Langston Hughes ............................................ 12 The Disciplines ................................................. 14 The Movement ................................................ 15 Innovation ...................................................... 16 Experimentation ............................................. 17 Institutionalization .......................................... 19 The Text ......................................................... 22 Biology and Race ............................................. 22 Political Economy and Class .............................. 23 Society and Nationality ..................................... 24 Ideology and Consciousness ................................ 24 Introduction You have to be careful, very careful, introducing the truth to the Black man who has never previously heard the truth about himself, his own kind, and the white man.... The Black brother is so brainwashed that he may even be repelled when he first hears the truth. 1 Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, 1965 Afro-American Studies is an academic field that combines general intellectual history, academic scholarship in the social sciences and the humanities, and a radical movement for fundamental educational reform. This chapter will summarize the general scope and content of the field and introduce the approach used in the remaining 1 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 9. chapters.AFRO-AMERICAN STUDIES: WHO, WHAT, WHY, FOR WHOMAfro-American Studies covers the entire American hemisphere, including North, Central,and South America, the Caribbean, and northern countries like New Foundland andGreenland. In this text the main focus will be on the United States, but it should alwaysbe kept in mind that there are nearly 103 million Black people of African descentthroughout the Americas, of which only 27% are in the U.S.A., while 47% are in Brazil.There is a great deal of diversity in this Black population spread throughout thehemisphere, but there is one general point of unity. All of these Black populations derivefrom an African origin. Black people come from Africa as compared to white people whocome from Europe.In the world experience of Africans, subjugation by hostile people and migration haveled to great crises. First, as a result of their subjugation, their past has been distorted orsimply omitted from the libraries and curricula. Second, the living descendents ofAfricans who live outside Africa are faced with an identity crisis because they have beenstripped of their cultural heritage and forced to use languages which are not conduciveto maintaining links with Africa.In the United States today, there is also a crisis of identity in terms of what name to usefor African descendents. It can be thought of as a naming crisis. Table 2 lists eightnames that have been used since the 18th century. Many have been omitted, especiallythe derogatory names like "nigger," "jigaboo," "spade, "coon,"darky," "spook,""swartzes," "blackie," etc. These types of negative names can be found for allnationalities in the United States.Rationales exist for these diverse names, although each must be viewed within itshistorical context. For example, the term "African" was used during the 18th centurybecause slaves were still being brought from Africa itself. This was a direct form ofnaming. After the mid-twentieth century victorious struggles that liberated most Africancountries, some Black people in western countries chose to call themselves "Africans" toidentify with both their origins and the contemporary politics of African liberation. It is thesame term, but each historical context and the material condition of the peoplegenerated its own meaning. 2 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 10. Table 1 BLACK PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT IN THE AMERICASRegion - Country Total Population (000s) % BlackNorth AmericaU.S.A. 234,193 11.9Mexico 75,702 1.0Canada 24,882 0.1Central AmericaPanama 2,058 65.0Belize 154 60.0Nicaragua 2,812 9.0Honduras 4,276 2.0Costa Rica 2,624 2.0El Salvador 4,685 0.1Guatemala 7,714 0.0South America 2Brazil 131,303 37.0Ecquador 8,811 6.0Venezuela 17,993 5.5Peru 19,161 3.0Colombia 27,663 2.0Bolivia 5,883 2.0Uruguay 2,916 0.5Paraguay 3,526 0.4Argentina 29,627 0.1Chile 11,486 0.1CaribbeanHaiti 5,945 99.0Barbados 256 97.0French Guiana 66 95.0Jamaica 2,255 93.0Guadeloupe 317 90.0 3 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 11. Marinique 312 90.0Dominican Republic 5,762 84.0Cuba 9,796 62.0Trinidad & Tobago 1,176 57.0Guyana 850 43.0 Table 2 NAMES AND THE IDENTITY CRISIS : SELECTED 1984 ORGANIZATIONAL EXAMPLESName Organizational exampleAFRICAN African Methodist Episcopal Church National Association for the AdvancementCOLORED of Colored PeopleNEGRO National Council for Negro Women 3 Journal of Non-white Concerns inNONWHITE Personnel and Guidance National Organization of MinorityMINORITY Architects Association for the Study of Afro-AmericanAFRO-AMERICAN Life and History DuSable Museum of African AmericanAFRICAN-AMERICAN HistoryBLACK Coalition of Black Trade UnionistsThe critical issue is the power to define. Some focus more on the practical character ofnames, the difficulty of making a change, and status recognition based on existingsocietal norms. A different focus makes naming a matter of political control, a criticalprinciple of self-determination. The difference can be demonstrated with the name"Negro." DuBois argued in the 1920s that the name "Negro" was acceptable, as longas it was capitalized. Richard Moore, in his book The Name Negro: Its Origin and EvilUse (1960) condemns the name and argues that a preferred name is "Afro-American"(although he disagrees with the hyphen). His point is that Black people must name 4themselves, because "dogs and slaves are named by their masters; free men namethemselves!"In the 1960s, the issue of naming was one of the important struggles reflecting acultural identity crisis. Faced with white racism, the Civil Rights Movement was anexpression of "Negroes" fighting to integrate themselves into white society. By 1966,this struggle was transformed into a liberation movement for Black people. The Nationof Islam, mainly represented by Malcolm X, carried out widespread publicity toconvince the "so called Negro" to become "Black." Black became popular, a positiveaffirmation of self. This was a symbolic victory for the masses of people, since for 4 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 12. historical reasons the Black middle class was brown or tan in skin color. Black was areplacement for subordination to white that was reflected in the terms "nonwhite" and"minority.""Afro-American" and "African American" were more historically specific terms todescribe a synthesis of Africa with America and to replace "Negro" and of course"colored." ("Colored" is really a misnomer since if you were not colored youd becolorless and that means invisible. The issue has always been what color!) This fieldof study thus is called Afro-American Studies. In the early campus struggle againstwhite racism to set up programs, it was named Black Studies, and many programsretain their original name. Also in use are Africana Studies and Pan African Studies.In addition to the general issue of who is being studied and what they are to be called,the issue of who is the constituency for an Afro-American Studies program should beconsidered. This is linked to the special purposes Afro-American Studies serves in thegeneral academic curriculum. In general, Afro-American Studies has two mainobjectives:1. to rewrite American history and reconceptualize the essential features of Americansociety;2. to establish the intellectual and academic space for Black people to tell their ownstory.Afro-American Studies is also important because of its impact on affirmative action.Blacks constitute only 4.3% of faculty and only 8.8% of students in U.S. highereducation. The presence of an Afro-American Studies program encourages Blackemployment and attendance. On virtually every campus, the activities of Black facultymembers are related to Afro-American Studies and Black students are likely to enrollin at least one course before they graduate. Black students need to be tied intoscholarship on the basis of an anti-racist affirmation of their own experience as part ofthe overall human condition. Further, their study must be the basis for reinterpretingthe overall American experience, especially correcting the centuries of racist 5distortions and omissions. White students, believing liberal generalities at best andracist stereotypes at worst, are the most ignorant of the Black experience. Their gainfrom Afro-American Studies is essential if recurring crises of racial ignorance andconflict are to be avoided. Apart from students, there are many others who wouldbenefit, from Afro-American Studies. For instance, everyone who desires to work ingovernment - whether it is making or implementing policy - should have knowledge ofthe Black experience. All future legislators, administrators, and most mayors should berequired to take Afro-American Studies because much of their legislative and policy-implementing activities deal with Black people. Similarly, people in business or laborshould take Afro-American Studies. Blacks constitute a growing market for business,and they are an essential component of the trade union movement (Blacks are evenmore unionized than whites when you compare them industry by industry). Thisgeneral text in Afro-American Studies is designed to meet peoples need to understandthe Black experience. Before considering the specific content of that experience, oneshould have some grasp of the broad field of Afro-American Studies. We thus turn to a 5 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 13. discussion of Afro-American intellectual history, Afro-American scholarship within thetraditional academic disciplines, and the radical movement for Black Studies in the1960s and 1970s.We will then discuss the conceptual framework that is used in this text to analyze theBlack Experience. The conceptual framework is both a model for unity in Afro-American Studies and the basic structure of the chapters that follow.INTELLECTUAL HISTORYAfro-American intellectual history in the U.S.A. Is being rewritten and even now is onlypartially being given the academic attention that it deserves. It is the history of Blackmen and women fighting to establish professional careers as scholars, journalists,writers, etc. They had to fight against racism and discrimination. For these reasonsthis is a history that mainstream white scholarship has not included.The institutional concentration of a Black intellectual tradition took place in graduateeducation and dissertation research. This was supplemented by newspapers,magazines and journals, and specialized organizations. Blacks who got higherdegrees have been overwhelmingly in the social sciences, education, and thehumanities. Further, most of their research has been on the Black experience. HarryGreene, in Holders of Doctorates Among American Negroes (1946), lists all Blackdoctorates between 1876 and 1943. Of 77 dissertations in the social sciences, 56% 6were on the Black experience; 67% out of 71 in education; 21% out of 43 in languageand literature; and 15% out of 26 in psychology and philosophy. This graduateresearch has been a point of tension between intellectual currents within the Blackcommunity and the academic mainstream. It is therefore one of the most intense anddynamic indicators of, how important and deepIy rooted is the desire of Black peopleto study the Black experience.The overall written record of Black intellectual history is perhaps most easily traced injournals that specialize in some aspect of Afro-American Studies. (See Appendix Aform a list of the top 26 journals in Afro-American Studies.) This began with theJournal of Negro History, founded by Carter G. Woodson in 1916, and includesPhylon, founded by W.E. B. DuBois in 1940. The number of journals has expandedgreatly since the 1960s, even though aspects of the Black experience have beenincreasingly integrated into mainstream journals. The growth of these journals is proofof a continuing commitment to the field. Afro-American Studies is a field anchored in aprofessional journal literature, just as are all other recognized fields in thecontemporary academic setting. Table 3 DATE OF FOUNDING OF BLACK STUDIES JOURNALS 7 No. Percent 6 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 14. Pre-Black Studies Movement 1916-1961 7 26.9 Early Black Studies Movement 1967-1974 9 34.6 Recent Black Studies Movement 10 38.5There are also a number of published bibliographies that give a codified view of theentire field. These range from A Bibliography of the Negro in Africa and America byMonroe Work (1928, 700 pages) to Blacks in America: Bibliographical Essays byJames McPherson, et al. (1971, 430 pages). The most recent reference tool is BlackAccess: A Bibliography of Afro-American Bibliographies by Richard Newman. (SeeAppendix B for a list of key bibliographies.)We will highlight the contours of this intellectual history by briefly discussing four keyindividuals: W. E. B. DuBois, Carter G. Woodson, E. Franklin Frazier, and LangstonHughes. DuBois and Woodson, both trained in history, were mainly broad generalistswho focused on the role of race in history, especially for Black people in the UnitedStates. Hughes and Frazier, of a later generation, made outstanding intellectualcontributions. Hughes was trained in the humanities and Frazier was in the socialsciences. One of the critical similarities among these intellectuals is that they allproduced a paradigmatic text of the Black experience. A paradigmatic text is acoherent survey of the main aspects of the Black experience throughout the dynamichistorical stages, from Africa to the Afro-American present. It constitutes an overalltreatment of the Black Experience.William Edward Burghart DuBois (1868-1963)W. E. B. DuBois was a world-class intellectual of the late 19th and first half of the 20thcentury, and clearly the most dominant Black intellectual of all time. He was educatedat Fisk University and Harvard University, the best Black and white institutions ofhigher education. One example of the racism he faced was that Harvard admitted himas a college junior, only giving him two years credit for his four years of study at Fisk.After two years of study at the University of Berlin, he went on to be the first BlackPh.D. in the social sciences in the U.S.A. 8His work is best exemplified by two sets of conferences that made a great impact interms of both understanding the Black experience and changing the world for Blackpeople. DuBois was a leading force in the five major Pan-African Congresses held todevelop a world-wide movement for African liberation (see Chapter 15). He was alsothe leading figure in the Atlanta University Conferences held between 1898 and 1930to summarize research and public policy regarding the conditions of life for Blackpeople in the U.S.A. during the early decades of the 20th century. The proceedings of 7 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 15. each Atlanta University Conference were published, and together they constitute thebeginning of modern applied research on the Black experience. This work was theearly origin of Black Studies.DuBois lived 95 years, and he published during 80 of those years. His contribution canbe seen in the breadth of his research concerning the Black experience.Selected Works by DuBois AFRICA The World and Africa (1947) SLAVERY The suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America 1638-1870 (1896) John Brown (1909) Black Reconstruction in America (1935 ) RURAL The Negros of Farmville, Virginia (1898) The Negro Landholder of Georgia (1901) The Negro Farmer (1906) URBAN The Philadelphia Negro (1899)He had hoped to culminate all of his research in a major encyclopedia. He proposedan Encyclopedia Africana in 1909, but he could not secure funding. He planned anEncyclopedia of Colored People in 1934, but was only able to publish a preparatoryvolume by 1944. In 1959, he was invited by Kwame Nkrumah, President of Ghana(West Africa), to work on the Encyclopedia Africana. He was working on the projectwhen he died in 1963. His entire dramatic story, nearly a century long, was recorded in 9two autobiographical volumes, Dusk of Dawn (1940) and The Autobiography of W E.B. DuBois (1968).Perhaps the most important contribution made by DuBois was his relentless search fortruth and his untiring devotion to the cause of clarifying the meaning of his peoplesexperience. In 1903, he published a major collection of essays, The Souls of Black 8 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 16. Folk. From then on he was a critical interpreter of the Black experience. He went on towrite several works of fiction, including a trilogy of novels called The Black Flame(1957, 1959, 1961).DuBois led the life of an intellectual and an activist. He founded Crisis, the journal ofthe NAACP, and was its editor from November, 1910 to July, 1934. In 1940, hefounded the academic journal Phylon (Greek for race) at Atlanta University and editedit from 1940 to 1944. His life epitomized academic excellence and political activism.Carter Godwin Woodson (1875-1950)Carter G. Woodson is known as the father of Black history. He not only made majorcontributions through his scholarly research, but he also was the key organizer inbuilding a Black history movement. He was educated at Berea College, the Universityof Chicago, Harvard, and the Sorbonne (University of Paris), getting the Ph.D. fromHarvard University in 1912. His parents were ex- slaves, and he didnt enter highschool until he was twenty years old.Woodson made great contributions to research about Blacks, both by creating newdata sets and by analyzing existing data. Selected Works by Woodson AFRICA African Heroes and Heroines (1939) SLAVERY Free Negro Owners of Slaves (1924 Free Negro Heads of Families (1925) 10 The Mind of the Negro As Reflected in Letters Written During The Crisis 1800-1860 (1926) The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 (1915) RURAL The Rural Negro (1930) URBAN A Century of Negro Migration (1918) The Negro as a Businessman (1929) 9 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 17. The Negro Wage Earner (1930) with Lorenzo Greene The Negro Professional Man and the Community (1934) INSTITUTIONS The History of the Negro Church (1921) The Miseducation of the Negro (1923) Woodson wrote the first general history that became a standard reference, The Negro in Our History (1922). Woodson published nineteen editions of this work. He also published an extensive study guide, The African Background Outlined (1936), which included a focus on Africa as well as the Black experience in the United States. At the time of his death, he was writing a projected six-volume, comprehensive historical study of the Black race. He maintained a stubborn allegiance to the facts, to rigorous historical methods, and to a desire to expose racist lies and distortions in the scholarly study of the Black experience. No one person has created an intellectual movement comparable to the Black history movement organized by Carter G. Woodson. In 1915, he organized the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. The following year, he began to publish a scholarly journal, The Journal of Negro History. He went on to found a publishing company, Associated Publishers, and by so doing completed the task of organizing professional resources for Black history. There was an organization, with a newsletter and an annual meeting; a professional journal for scholarly articles; and a publishing company for books.He also took Black history out of the classroom into the Black community by foundingNegro History Week, now Black History Month and Black Liberation Month. This wasthe major project that helped to spread an appreciation for Black history among thebroad Black population, especially since the activity was based in schools andchurches. Woodson combined academic scholarship with a broad commitment tocommunity education. He fought against racism and for the development of a healthyBlack consciousness rooted in a firm grasp of the historical record. 1Edward Franklin Frazier (1894-1962) 1E. Franklin Frazier was the most renowned Black social scientist of the 20th century.Further, he was elected president of the American Sociological Association (1948),indicating his white colleagues held him in the highest regard as well. He waseducated at Howard University, Clark University, University of Copenhagen, and theUniversity of Chicago where he earned a Ph.D. in sociology in 1931. Utilizing the mostadvanced research techniques of his time, he was a preeminent analyst of thechanging patterns of race relations in both the United States and the world. 10 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 18. His books made strong contributions to understanding many aspects of the Afro-American experience.Selected Works by Frazier AFRICA Race and Culture Contacts in the Modern World (1957) SLAVERY The Free Negro Family (L932) URBAN The Negro Family in Chicago (1932) Negro Youth at the Crossways (1940) Black Bourgeoisie (1955) INSTITUTIONS The Negro Family in the United States (1939) The Negro Church in America (1964)His major research was on the family. Frazier shared the puritanical values of hisgeneration, and so his research is conditioned by a Black middle-class biasconcerning proper behavior. While his work remains quite controversial, his analysis iscomprehensive, historical, and based on the documentary testimony of Black peoplethemselves.The entire scholarly literature concerning Black people was summarized by Frazier inhis major work, The Negro in the United States (1949). With the keen perception of aresearch social scientist, he brought together widely diverse information and organizeda coherent pattern of structural change and institutional development, from the slaveexperience to the urban experience.Langston Hughes (1902-1967)Langston Hughes could justifiably be called the Afro-American poet laureate of the20th century. He not only won critical acclaim for his writing in virtually every genre, 1but he also wrote a newspaper column that had great popular appeal among the 2masses of Black people. Moreover, he translated other Black writers into English fromHaitian French, Cuban Spanish, and Creole from New Orleans. Langston Hughes isknown all over the world.Selected Works by Hughes AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL WORKS I Wonder As I Wander (1956) 11 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 19. The Big Sea (1940) GENERAL WORK The Book of Negro Folklore (1958) with Arna Bontemps A Pictorial History of the Negro in America (1956) with Milton Meltzer The Poetry of the Negro 1746-1949 (1949) with Arna Bontemps POETRY The Weary Blues (1926) Shakespeare in Harlem (1942) Montage of a Dream Deferred (1951) The Panther and the Lash (1967) PLAYS Mulatto (1935) Tambourines to Glory (1963) NOVELS Not Without Laughter (1930) Simple Speaks His Mind (1950) Simples Uncle Sam (1965) SHORT STORIES The Ways of White Folks (1934) Something in Common and Other Stories (1963)Langston Hughes was both a poet and a political voice in the Black community. Hisorientation is clear from this 1934 essay entitled "Cowards from the Colleges," in whichhe commented on the political weakness of the Negro college And how change mustcome from students: More recently, I see in our papers where Fisk University, that great center of Negro education and of Jubilee fame has expelled Ishmael Flory, a graduate student from California on a special honor scholarship, because he dared organize a protest, against the University singers appearing in a 1 Nashville Jim-crow theatre where colored people must go up a back alley 3 to sit in the gallery. Probably also the University resented his organizing, through the Denmark Vesey Forurn, a silent protest parade denouncing the lynching of Cordie Cheek who was abducted almost at the very gates of the University.Hughes then made a prediction that was to come true nearly thirty years later in thesouthern students sit-in movement (see Chapters 12 and 14): 12 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 20. Frankly, I see no hope for a new spirit today in the majority of the Negro schools of the South unless the students themselves put it there.... the younger teachers, knowing well the existing evils, are as yet too afraid of their jobs to speak out, or to dare attempt to reform campus conditions.But Langston was also deeply mindful of the deep historical heritage that could serveas the basis for a strong Black consciousness. This was true even in the very firstpoem that he published, which was in the Crisis edited by DuBois:THE NEGRO SPEAKS OF RIVERS (1921)Ive known rivers:Ive known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood inhuman veins.My soul has grown deep like the rivers.I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans,and Ive seen its muddy bosom turn all golden, in the sunset.Ive know rivers:Ancient, dusky rivers.My soul has grown deep like the rivers.Langston Hughes wrote this poem when he was only nineteen years old. He went onto capture the essence of the hopes and dreams, as well as the trials and tribulations,of Black people.THE DISCIPLINESThe second major source of intellectual work that makes up Afro-American Studiesconsists of the established disciplines of academic scholarship in the humanities andsocial sciences. There is also much to learn about the Black experience from scholarsin the sciences and mathematics. This can be investigated further in the work byJames Jay, Negroes in Science: Natural Science Doctorates, 1876-1969 (1971),Virginia K. Newell, et al., eds., Black Mathematicians and Their Works (1980), andIvan Van Sertima, ed., Blacks in Science: Ancient and Modern (1983). But the main 1focus here is on the study of society. 4Sociology has been a leading disciplinary contributor to the field of Afro-AmericanStudies. Sociology also exemplifies the limitations of the established disciplines.Frazier (1968) and Lyman (1973) demonstrate that sociology did not embark upon aprogram of empirical research dealing with the Black experience until the 20th century.Vander Zanden (1973) notes that sociological literature (and presumably coursesbased on that literature) reflected three themes: "(1) a description and documentation 13 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 21. of Black disadvantage within American life; (2) an attack upon racist notions of blackbiological inferiority; and (3) an interpretation of Black disadvantages as derived fromWhite prejudice and discrimination"Pettigrew (1980), in summing up the historical development of the sociology of racerelations, makes a penetrating critique of its limitations: In documenting black and other minority disadvantages, sociological work has emphasized static description far more than dynamic process; and it has stressed the reactive and pathological features of black life more than its proactive healthy features. Moreover, in attacking white racist notions and demonstrating white culpability, the literature has often focused on the individual level and such phenomena as prejudiced personalities at the expense of the institutional, and societal levels and such critical phenomena as group discrimination.Sociology merely typifies what has happened in other mainstream disciplines. Ingeneral, the mainstream disciplines have focused on the Black experience byemphasizing race relations from the point of view of the interests of white people. Theyhave lacked a theoretical perspective that is dynamic and is focused on the politics ofsocial change. The mainstream disciplines thus were unprepared to deal with both theintellectual concerns of Black people and the political actions of the masses of Blackpeople.One of the key features of Afro-American Studies is that it was created precisely forthis reason. The tension between theory and practice is at the heart of the field. Thistension is most clearly revealed in the two phrases, academic excellence and socialresponsibility. On the one hand, universal standards of scholarship guarantee thatAfro-American Studies will earn and maintain its right to be a permanent part ofuniversity life. On the other hand, it must maintain a positive moral posture regardingthe quality of life in the Black community. 1THE MOVEMENT 5The current phase of, Afro-American Studies has been nurtured by a radical socialmovement in opposition to institutional racism in U.S. higher education. But manypeople had called for it earlier. Arthur Schomburg, a collector of Black books afterwhom the famous collection of Black materials in New York is named, put it this way in1913: We have chairs of almost everything, and believe we lack nothing, but we sadly need a chair of Negro history. The white institutions have their chair of history; it is the history of their people and whenever the Negro is 14 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 22. mentioned in the text books it dwindles down to a foot note. . . . . Where is our historian to give us, our side view and our chair of Negro Historv to teach our people our own history. We are at the mercy of the "flotsam and jetsam" of the white writers.... We need in the coming dawn the man, who will give us the background for our future, it matters not whether he comes from the cloisters of the university or from the rank and file of the fields. We await his coming....By 1915, Carter G. Woodson had his activities going. And by the mid-1960s, a massmovement rising to meet this challenge was raging in the United States. Students hadplayed a strong role in the Civil Rights Movement, and young activists were the mainbasis for the Black-consciousness developments. (See Edwards (1970), Gurin andEpps (1975), Orum (1972), and Tripp (1982).Emerging from this context, the Black Studies movement has gone through four mainstages of development:Innovation - The origin of the movement came through social protest and disruption ofthe university. Blacks sought to attack and to change the policies and practices ofinstitutional racism.Experimentation - The initial actors in the protests for Black Studies sought to bring thegeneral rhetorical orientation of the national movement within local campusadministrative and cultural style. Many different types of academic structures andprograms were developed on a trial and error basis.Crisis - When the post-1960s fiscal and demographic shift hit higher education (lessmoney and fewer students) Afro-American Studies was challenged for immediateresults. It was faced with the prospects of diminished status and decreased resources(as was becoming common for all academic structures in the social sciences and the 1humanities). 6Institutionalization - The strategic orientation for Afro-American Studies was developedin 1977 as "Academic Excellence and Social Responsibility." Under this banner, a setof professional standards began to put the field on a permanent academic foundation.InnovationSeveral case studies have been done that helps to shed light on the innovation phaseof the movement. Orrick (1969) describes the context of the first Black Studiesprogram at San Francisco State University. Baraka (1984) sums this up: Nathan Hare was . . . at San Francisco State during that period and he and 15 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 23. Jimmy Garrett helped put together the first Black Studies program in the country. Humanitarian California? No, some niggers with guns had just walked into the California legislature.He is referring to the emergence of the Black Panther Party, which had a tremendousinfluence on the militancy of the Black student movement and its drive to create BlackStudies on the campus (see Chapter 12). In this same context, Walton (1969) presentsa documentary case study of the emergence of Black Studies at Merritt College inOakland, California.The case of Cornell University is described by Donald (1970) and Edwards (1980).Edwards tittles the chapter "Black Power and War Come to Cornell," because Blackstudents were attacked by a cross-burning, Ku Klux Klan reign of terror and respondedwith an armed take-over of a campus building. This was the subject of a Newsweekcover story, which depicted armed Black students defending themselves against racistattacks and demanding Black Studies. This was not in a working-class communitycollege; this was in the ivy league schools! Not the 1860s but the 1960s.At the Black colleges, the situation was somewhat different because the Afro-American intellectual tradition had been based there. Here the contradiction expresseditself in generational terms and in challenging what was called the "predominantlyNegro college" to become a Black university. Mays (1971) tells his version of thestruggle at Atlanta University. The essence of that struggle was contained in astatement the Trustees of Morehouse, Spelman, and Atlanta University signed afterbeing held captive by a group of students and faculty for nearly thirty hours: We, the undersigned, resign from the Board of Trustees of the schools within the Atlanta University Center. Our purpose in resigning is to enable the black community to control their own education and toward this end an entirely new process of control must be established. We recognize and support the necessity of Black Power in education, and so we step aside. 1 This act will release us from all responsibility and leaves the schools in the 7 hands of an interim committee of alumni, faculty and students to be elected from those respective groups.This phase of the Black Studies movement was summed up in two collections ofarticles. The Negro Digest (March 1967, March 1968, and March 1969) publishedthree special issues under the guest editorship of Gerald McWorter. The articles inthese issues presented a critique of institutional racism and a vision of what a Blackuniversity that would be in a position of providing an alternative might be like. Theproceedings of a conference at Yale University, Robinson (1969), were nationallysignificant because the Ford Foundation joined Yale in pulling together the leadingactivists of Black Studies with a leading group of white mainstream scholars. Thisconference resulted in greater mainstream legitimacy for Black Studies. It provided a 16 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 24. useful critique of the mainstream and several examples of the types of scholarship tobe developed in the field, and it led to a substantial investment in the field by the FordFoundation.ExperimentationThe experimentation stage of Black Studies was marked by both its origins and thediversity of the academic mainstream. Most of the colleges and universities developedprograms as a function of three things: (1) a demographic imperative (large Blackstudent population or Black community that provided a demand); (2) a curriculum void(no courses being taught that dealt substantially with the Black experience); and (3) aprotest movement (specific agitation to mobilize students to fight for Black courses). Itfollows that the nature of these three things, in conjunction with the overall localconditions, would produce a diversity of activity.In general, Afro-American Studies includes the following variety of administrativestructures:1. Department: full academic units with academic majors, and a secure budget;2. Institute/Center: a permanent, research-oriented special program with minimumfinancial support;3. Program: formally organized program of activities with no permanent status; 1 84. Committee: informally organized program with no permanent security.Each of these types of structures must be evaluated in terms of how it meets theneeds of the local campus. In general, however, the critical question is the extent towhich there is some multi-year commitment so that Afro-American Studies is securefrom immediate political pressures and can be focused mainly on the academicperformance of its faculty and students.Three key works summed up this experimentation stage of Black Studies: Ford (197-3), Blassingame (1971), and Cortada (1974). These works were reactions to thediversity and apparent loss of academic quality that many attached to Black Studiesbecause of its political origins. Each attempts to define a program that would beacceptable to the mainstream. At the same time, new forms of organization weredeveloping to further develop the movement into something new, something that mighthelp to transform all of higher education in the United States. An example of this is theInstitute of the Black World, led by Vincent Harding. Black Studies scholars also werebeginning to develop a professional literature discussing the character and future ofthe field (e.g., Frye (1976), Butler (1981), and Sims (1978)).Institutionalization 1The institutionalization of the field is the current stage of Afro-American Studies, one 9likely to carry into the 21st century. This involves the issues of curriculum, program, 17 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 25. professional standards, and theoretical coherence to the field.Curriculum - A core curriculum model has been widely adopted as the academicfoundation of the field, The Hall Report. This curriculum model is designed to provide acoherent framework for major and minor programs of study. As a field it covers thesocial sciences, historical analysis, and the humanities. There are several levels: anintroductory course, survey and advanced courses in the substantive areas, and anintegrative senior seminar in which the many aspects of Afro-American Studies arepulled together in a review of the current research in the field.Program - Many activities have developed as regular features of Afro-AmericanStudies at most colleges. One of the most important ones is the expansion of NegroHistory Week into Black Liberation Month. Carter G. Woodson founded Negro HistoryWeek in 1926 in the context of a virtually total racist denial of the contributions of Blackpeople to world history. As a result of the 1960s, the issue was popularized and NegroHistory Week was turned into Black History Month. This was carried even further bythe national television production of "Roots" by Alex Haley watched by millions ofpeople. The question became, history for what? This led to the origin of BlackLiberation Month. Here is the explanation developed by Peoples College: 2 Black Liberation Month is our attempt to unite with the founders and 0 supporters of Negro History Week, and join their emphasis on study with our emphasis on struggle. Moreover, the concept of Black Liberation Month 18 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 26. more accurately reflects the needs of our movement, particularly the need to build on the massive participation of people in the upsurge of struggle during the 1960s. Carter G. Woodson, noted Afro-American nationalist historian, founded Negro History Week in 1926. In addition to the newspaper column of J. A. Rodgers, this was the major source of information that Black people had about their history. Every year in schools, churches, civic and political organizations, Negro History Week has been a time for historical reading and discussion. We believe that Negro History Week has made a great contribution to mass awareness of Black History. Moreover, the recognition of Negro History Week has caught on, and has become an intellectual tradition in the 20th century Afro-American experience. However, times have changed considerably since 1926. In political and cultural terms, the time has come to transform our orientation: from Negro to BLACK, from History to LIBERATION, from Week to MONTH. The revolutionary upsurge of the 1960s is our most recent historical experience of massive militant protest. It continues to be a rich source of lessons for current and future struggles. BLACK LIBERATION MONTH unites with Woodsons effort, but does so by raising it to a higher level based on the lessons of the 1960s. In sum, our study of history must be linked with the revolutionary history of the Black liberation movement. Our goal is not simply to symbolically institutionalize a change in our yearly calendar of events, but to use this month as one more way to raise the consciousness of the masses of people about the historical nature of exploitation and oppression, to unite people around a correct political line, and to mobilize people to actively take up the struggle for Black liberation.Professionalism - The development of Black Studies has been mainly a reaction to theracism and conflict Blacks have experienced in other disciplines and areas of theuniversity. So it is particularly important to indicate the affirmative action taken byBlack scholars to impose high quality professional standards on Black Studies.Professional achievement is a function mainly of research and publication, acceptanceand approval of ones work in professional organizations that decide futuredevelopments, and productive organization of graduate level programs of study. Inshort, Black Studies is consolidating around professional journals, professionalorganizations, and graduate programs. Achievement is being judged on the basis of ashared value-orientation in the field. This is clearly spelled out in a 1981 study byMcWorter, "The Professionalization of Achievement: Ranking of Black StudiesPrograms."Theory - Another aspect of the development of Black Studies is the theoretical 2coherence of the field. Alternative theoretical models that serve to organize ideas and 1guide research have been clarified. George (1984) deals with four models of racerelations theory, including the ethnic group model, the caste model, the colonial model, 19 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 27. and the Marxist model.Different theories are most clearly found in the alternative texts that have developed inthe field. Each text is an expression of a basic position in Afro-AmericanStudies. There are three fundamental points of unity: the central theme of BlackStudies is "ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY"; Afro-American intellectual history is the foundation of the field; and Africa remains animportant reference for the historical origin of the Afro-American experience and forcomparative analysis as well. But some differences do exist.Karenga, (1982) provided a text based on his nationalist theory of Kawaida:The seven basic subject areas of Black Studies then are: Black History; BlackReligion; Black Social Organization; Black Politics; Black Economics; Black CreativeProduction (Black Art, Music and Literature) and Black Psychology... this conceptualframework is taken from Kawaida theory, a theory of cultural and social change.Asante (1980) put forward a theory called "Afrocentricity," which consciously attemptsto build on Kawaida. Mumford (1978) presented a Marxist analysis. He focuses onmaking historical analysis of class and class struggle the basis for understanding theBlack experience. His analysis especially concentrates on slavery, thelumpenproletariat, racism, and Africa.Our text is based on a paradigm of unity for Black Studies, a framework in which allpoints of view can have the most useful coexistence. While maintaining a dynamicprocess of debate, everyone involved can remain united and committed to the field.This includes Marxists, nationalists, pan-Africanists, and old-fashioned civil rightsintegrationists as well. Further, our specific orientation is anti-racist, anti-sexist, andanti-capitalist. We are basing our analysis on most of our Black intellectual traditionand that leads us, as it did Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, and W. E. B. DuBois, toa progressive socialist position. This text, therefore, has a definite point of view, but itpresents the basis for clarity, understanding, and dialogue between different schools ofthought and different disciplines.THE TEXTThis section is designed to introduce you to the specific conceptual framework of thistext and its organization into chapters. A conceptual framework involves the 2clarification of theoretical ideas on the basis of which one proceeds to do an analysis. 2In a text that introduces the entire field of Afro-American Studies, it is necessary tohave a conceptual framework that is inclusive of the entire subject matter. Theconceptual framework focuses on two questions: What is the Black experience? How 20 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 28. does it change?The Black experience is the sum total of the content of Black peoples lives. There arefour main levels of this experience, as can be see in Table 4.Biology and RaceOn the biological level, the overall key variables are race, age, and gender. Allbiological traits are controlled by a genetic code found in every cell of a persons body.This genetic code is inherited from ones biological parents. A race or gender group isdefined as a human population sharing specific physical traits (e.g., sexual organs forgender and skin color for race). A great controversy continues to rage in scientificcircles regarding the relative importance of the view that human behavior is biologicallydetermined versus the view that people become who they are as a result of socio-historical forces. This is known as the "nature versus nurture" debate. Table 4 BASIC ASPECTS OF THE BLACK EXPERIENCELevel of Human Reality Key Black Studies ConceptBIOLOGY RACEPOLITICAL ECONOMY CLASSSOCIETY NATIONALITYCONSCIOUSNESS IDEOLOGYThere is little convincing evidence that biological differences between races make asocial or historical difference. Racial differences Almost always are put forward toexplain inequality, where one racial group has a lower standard of living and lesspower. An argument of biological inferiority rationalizes the groups being on thebottom. The logic is that they are inferior, and they therefore belong on the bottom.This is not a scientific discussion of race, but RACISM, which is an ideology of racialinferiority. White racism is the overall position that Blacks are inferior and whites aresuperior. An example of how silly this is can be seen in South Africa, the most racistcountry in the world. The South African government restricts the freedom of everyonewho isnt white. However, when the Japanese became economically powerful (as theyare now in the automobile, steel, electronics, and computer fields), the racist white 2South Africans reconsidered. They wanted excellent trade relations with Japan so they 3decided to make the Japanese honorary white people!Political Economy and ClassOn the level of political economy, the central concept is class. Economic activitiesinvolve the production, distribution, and consumption of scarce material things neededfor human survival and that otherwise serve human wants. Class is a historicalrelationship between groups of people. It is a relationship of power that determineswho works, what they get from it, and what impact they can have on the society atlarge. There is a ruling class in every society, although different types of societies are 21 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 29. not organized in the same way. In feudal Europe royal families made up the rulingclass. In traditional African society, this was often the case as well. This is class rulebased on heredity. In a capitalist society, heredity is much less important. Somemobility in and out of the ruling class occurs despite the status of ones family by birth.The overwhelming majority of adults in the U.S.A. get up every morning and go towork. They have to do this because only by doing so will they earn an incomenecessary for their families survival. Therefore, political economy is a universal featureof the human experience.Society and NationalityThere are two major aspects of society: culture and social institutions. Culture refers tovalues and life style, whereas social institutions refer to roles and collective forms ofsocial interaction. These are not temporary phenomena, but are permanent features ofa society that are reproduced and transmitted across generations. Nationality(sometimes called ethnicity) is the particular identity of a group based on its cultureand social institutions. Historically, such identity is correlated with economicinterdependence and a common language. The issue of nationality is one of the keyissues of the Afro-American experience in the U.S.A.Ideology and ConsciousnessHow each of these three aspects of the human experience is known, thought about,and discussed is the focus of consciousness. This is the experience of the abstract,mental images that enable one to make choices and realize human freedom regardingthe physical and social worlds. While the "brain" is a physical reality, it works as a"mind" full of ideas, conceptions, imagination, opinions, beliefs, etc. There can be no"mind" without a "brain," although it is possible to have a damaged brain or be mentally 2ill and to be what people call "out of your mind" 4The most formal organization of ones consciousness is the realm of ideology.Ideology is a set of beliefs that serve to define physical, social, mental, and spiritualreality. Everyone in society has an ideological orientation, but only trained anddisciplined thinkers have a comprehensive and coherent, ideological orientation.The Black experience is the complex sum total of all aspects of the human experienceas lived by Black people. The Afro-American experience has a beginning and adefinite logic of change as can be seen in Figure B.Historical change in the Afro-American experience has alternatively represented socialcohesion and social disruption. Social cohesion is an established and relatively stablepattern of social life that is transmitted across generations. This is not social lifewithout conflict, but rather social life that can be taught to the next generation. Socialdisruption occurs when these patterns are broken and people have to adjust to a newenvironment, to a new set of relations, to a new way of life. Of course, out of everyexperience of disruption emerges a new form of social cohesion. This dynamic patternof change, historical periodization, is universal for all Black people in the U.S.A. Every 22 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 30. person and family can locate their own experience within this pattern (see p. 26).The overall framework constitutes a paradigm of unity in Afro-American Studies. Thisfigure defines a logical space for the entire field of Afro-American Studies. Thecolumns are historical stages marked with letters, and the rows are aspects of theBlack experience marked with numbers. Each box (e.g., A-1 or G-4) is a logicalconnection of experience within a specific historical context. With this analytical tool, itis possible to have a conception of the entire field and begin to identify boxes and setsof boxes to codify and sum up existing research, as well as to chart the path foradditional new research.This is the basis for the organization of the chapters in this book. Chapters 2 and 3deal with columns A and B. Chapter 4 deals with column C, Chapter 5 with column E,and Chapter 6 with column G, Chapters 5, 6, and 9-13 include columns D and F whereappropriate. Chapters 7 and 8 deal with row 3, mainly G-3. Chapters 9, 10, 12, and 13all deal with row 2, again mainly G-2. Chapter 11 takes an aspect of row 4 (gender)and relates it to other rows, especially row 2. Chapter 14 deals with rows 1 and 2,Chapter 15 deals with rows 1, 2, and 4, and Chapter 16 with rows 1, 2, and 3. Ingeneral, the above connection between the paradigm of unity and the chapters issuggestive because no chapter is confined to the specific limitation of a box. But theparadigm is the basis for locating a topic of debate or discussion in such a way that itis comprehensible across ideological lines. 2 5 Figure B HISTORICAL CHANGE AND THE BLACK EXPERIENCE 23 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 31. 2 6Each of the following chapters should be read in relationship to the paradigm of unity.Each of the chapters has a set of key concepts, a set of study questions, and a list ofsupplemental readings. All aspects of the chapter should be part of your study, but youshould concentrate especially on anything you are not familiar with or have not reallyunderstood in the past. You also should be using a dictionary along with this text sothat you can build your vocabulary. This is essential because learning the field of Afro-American Studies means learning new concepts so that your ideas can be expressedin a clear and precise manner.The field of Afro-American Studies is an exciting Intellectual Adventure, an experiencethat will open new worlds of knowledge to both Blacks and whites. Welcome aboard!KEY CONCEPTS 2 Academic discipline Intellectual history 7 Black Liberation Month Nationality Historical periodization Paradigm Identity Political economy/Class Ideology Race/RacismSTUDY QUESTIONS1. What is Afro-American Studies?2. Discuss and compare the intellectual origins of Afro-American Studies in the work ofDuBois, Woodson, Frazier, and Hughes.3. How did the movement for Black Studies develop? Describe the four stages(innovation, experimentation, crisis, and institutionalization).4. What is the paradigm for unity in Black Studies? Explain historical periodization,aspects of society, social cohesion and social disruption.SUPPLEMENTARY READINGS 24 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 32. 1. W. E. B. DuBois, The Autobiography of W. E. B. DuBois: A Soliloquy of Viewing My Live from the Last Decade of Its First Century. New York: International Publishers, 1968. 2. Vincent Harding, There Is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom in America. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1981. 3. Langston Hughes, A Pictorial History of the Negro in the United States. New York: Crown, 1956. 4. Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Ballantine Books, 1981 (first published in 1965). 5. Richard Wright, 12 Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro in the United States. New York: Viking Press, 1941. TWO2. AFRICA BEFORE AND AFTER THE SLAVE TRADE:THE AFRO-AMERICAN HERITAGE ................................ 31 32 Africa: The Continent and Its People ..................... 34 Production ...................................................... 36 Politics .......................................................... Religion .......................................................... 36 Education ....................................................... 37 Women and the Family ................................. 37 Culture .......................................................... 38 The European Penetration .............................. 39 Colonialism and Imperialism in Africa ...................... 43 Africa Before and After the Slave Trade: -The Afro-American Heritage 25 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 33. Toward a Paradigm of Unity in Afro-American Studies Social Traditional Rural Urban - Slavery - -LOGIC OF Cohesion Africa Life LifeCHANGE Social Slave - - Emancipation - Migrations - Disruption Trade Ideology A1 B1 C1 D1 E1 F1 G1UNITS OF Nationality A2 B2 C2 D2 E2 F2 G2ANALYSIS Class A3 B3 C3 D3 E3 F3 G3 Race A4 B4 C4 D4 E4 F4 G4 The great-brained Ape Who stood erect and talked to his fellows Who planted seed and first boiled Iron And civilized a World. Night fell, silent and noisome night, ghost-haunted, Earthquake tore, flood roared, serpent and insect bit; Fever raged, starvation reigned; but Africa lived; Africa lived and grew, fared far and flourished, Vitalized mankind. Until the Devil rose and ruled in Europe and America, Worshipping Greed, proclaiming God, enchaining His children; Preaching Freedom, practicing Slavery Making Africans the niggers of the World. To be mocked and spit upon, To be crucified! Dead and buried! But Africa is not dead; she never died; she never will, She writhes in sleep; this third century of her degradation She struggles to awake. W. E. B. DuBois, "I Sing to China: 1959. Hardly a day passes without some mention of Africa in the newspapers, radio, and television. But such discussion of Africa - especially about the struggle for independence, liberation, and revolution - has not always been the case. Prior to the liberation struggles of the late 1950s, the most widely presented image of Africa in the mass media and in the 31 textbooks was that seen in Tarzan movies - "primitive" and "savage" people who ate nice white missionaries (and each other) but who were so inferior that they could always be beaten single-handedly by Tarzan. Of course this view was symbolic of the colonial domination of Africa. Many Black people in the United States accepted this myth of Africas 26 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 34. inferiority and refused to identify with the continent of their ancestors. Today, however, this has changed considerably. The upsurge of Africans for liberationwas linked to the struggle of Black people for freedom in the United States during the1960s and 1970s. Most Black people today accept the rich heritage of their ancestralcontinent - a heritage of culture and struggle. The task today, however, is to approach thestudy of Africa scientifically and not fall victim to an analysis which replaces the old set ofmyths and distortions with a new set. This chapter will present some basic issues regardingthe African heritage of Afro-American people.AFRICA: THE CONTINENT AND ITS PEOPLE Africa has a long, long history. It is widely accepted by scholars that it is the continentwhere human beings first evolved. Archaeologists (scientists who study early societiesusing artifacts like skeletons, kitchen utensils, and tools uncovered through excavations ordigging) and anthropologists (scientists who study the origin and nature of people) haveprovided evidence of, human- like beings in Africa that are millions of years old. However, 32we are interested in taking up those aspects of Africa which are most immediatelyconnected to the lives of those African masses, the ancestors of Afro-Americans, who werebrought as slaves to the United States. This is our point of departure, though African historyis also an important subject for study. In addition, we are concerned with the contemporarysituation on the African continent - the struggles for liberation which have a greatsignificance for our current lives. Africa is the second largest continent in size in the world, second only to Asia. Includingits larger islands, Africa is three times the size of Europe and four times the size of theUnited States. The whole of Europe, India, China, and the United States could be heldwithin its borders. It is about 5,000 miles long (from North to South) and about 4,600 mileswide. Its 11,700,000 square miles cover one-fifth of the total land surface of the world. Theequator cuts across the middle of Africa and the entire continent falls mainly within thewarmer tropics. It is bound on the North by Mediterranean Sea, on the West by the AtlanticOcean, and on the East by the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Africa is one of the worlds richest continents, a fact which highlights its long history ofbeing exploited since today its people are among the worlds poorest. It produces over one-fifth (20%) of ten of the worlds most important minerals - 77% of the worlds diamonds,67% of the gold, and 35% of the platinum. These minerals are especially needed by theindustrially advanced countries. Southern Africa is a focal point for imperialist rivalryprimarily because much of the rich mineral resources of Africa are concentrated in thisregion. For example, South Africa ranks first in the worlds production of chrome, silver, andmanganese and second in diamonds; Zaire is first in diamonds and fifth in copper, tin, andsilver; Zimbabwe is second in the production of chrome, silver, and copper; and Zambia is 33third in the worlds production of copper. Africa is under populated, in large measure because of the impact of the slave trade. Theslave traders preferred able-bodied men and women between the ages of fifteen and thirty-five, which had the effect of depleting millions in the prime of their child-bearing years.Walter Rodney has pointed out that this in part led to a stagnation in population growth, asindicated in Table 5. 27 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 35. While population growth in Europe and Asia led to economic development, Africaspopulation stagnation has resulted in low productivity. The population loss related toslavery led to the disruption of farming routines and often to the abandonment of land.When the population was reduced beyond a certain point, there simply were not enoughpeople to harness nature. This loss of population and its negative effects on economicdevelopment is something from which Africa has never really recovered. Africa is still arelatively sparsely populated continent. Although it constitutes approximately 22% of theworlds land area, its population in 1982 was only about 513 million people or just over 11%of the worlds population. Table 5 ESTIMATE OF WORLD POPULATION, 1650-1900 (IN MILLIONS) 1650 1750 1850 1900 Africa 100 100 100 120 Europe 103 144 274 423 Asia 257 437 656 857Source: Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, p. 97 That the continent of Africa is not a single unit but is a continent of great culturaldiversity is indicated by the fact that there are approximately 1,000 separate and distinctAfrican languages. The fact that European languages such as English, French, andPortuguese are spoken widely in Africa and are often "official" national languages sharplyillustrates the impact of European colonialism on the continent. We will look at pre-colonial Africa using six categories that you will notice are thethemes of some of the following chapters: production, politics, religion, education, womenand the family, and culture. 34Production Agriculture was the basis of life in Africa and therefore had a determining influence on allaspects of society. Agricultural work was a communal or collective undertaking in whichevery adult was expected to contribute to and share the products on an equitable basis.Production, though done collectively, was still on a lower level technologically becausethere were no modern agricultural tools or machines (e.g., tractors). Manufacturing did not 28 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 36. develop as rapidly as in Europe and other places. Products consisted of housing, cloth,pottery, jewelry, art, weapons, and agricultural tools. There was trade but it was a secondary source of material goods. Markets existed wheretraders came and brought firearms, gunpowder, hats, beads, and dried fish in exchangefor perfume, salt, and slaves. Cattle sometimes was used instead of money, which was notused widely because most of what was needed was self-produced and not purchased. Recently, the African past has often been glorified to the extent of making slavery and theslave trade purely a consequence of Europeans in Africa. This substitutes myth for fact.Africans did have slaves. For example, the pyramids of Egypt were built with slave labor.Slavery in Africa, however, was different from slavery in the West Indies and in the UnitedStates. In Africa, a slave was treated as a human being. It was when slavery become a toolof capitalism in which goods are produced primarily for sale on the market, and not just forpersonal use, that slavery assumed the brutal and inhumane character as in the UnitedStates.Click here to view map of Africa 35Politics Because the politics of a society is based on its economic development, politicalorganization throughout Africa took on many different forms. Large kingdoms arose onlywhere there was a big enough economy so that a great deal of wealth could beaccumulated. There were several large and significant centralized governments in Africalike those of Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, and Songhay. The governments of thesekingdoms were used to collect taxes and mobilize armies. They were also important inincreasing the capacity to produce food, clothing, and shelter, and in stimulatingmanufacture and trade. In general, however, the real power often rested with elders or chiefs of each local village,and not with the king. In addition, the family or kinship group was usually the basis ofgovernment or political authority. Governments or states were not as necessary in earlyAfrica. In those societies, the exploitation of one group of people by another had not 36developed to a significant extent, and political power was not needed to rule over theexploited.Religion African religion was a complex and all-encompassing social institution that involvedphilosophical views, belief in the super- natural, and rituals It was a pervasive aspect oflife. Religion played both a positive and a negative role in African society. On the one hand,it was an integral part of the social life of the people and facilitated the cooperation anddiscipline needed to aid the groups survival. On the other hand, it often exercised aconservative influence on social development since it changed slowly, if at all. According to Walter Rodney, religion slowed down the development of Africans capacityto produce food, nothing, and shelter: "Belief in prayer and in the intervention of ancestors 29 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 37. and various Gods could easily be a substitute for innovations designed to control theimpact of weather and environment" Rodney is referring to the religious practice calledancestor-worship, a belief that the spirits of dead relatives are always around to protect andprovide. Food and drink were always put on the ground for these spirits before it wasconsumed. As in other societies, this belief in some otherworldly or supernatural force withpower over weather, life and death, health, and everything else reflects a pre- scientificunderstanding of nature and society.Education Education reflected the needs of African society. The process of education took placewith groups of young people under the supervision of an older person. Boys and girls weretaught separately those practices and customs important for their assuming the sex-roleresponsibilities of adults. The high point of the educational process was their initiation intoadulthood, or the "rites of passages." Thus, the main aspect of this educational process isthat it was based on the accumulated practical experience of the people. It was passedfrom generation to generation by the oral tradition and apprenticeship relationships. Therewere also formal, institutions of education. The University of Sankore at Timbuktu andothers were renowned intellectual centers to which scholars from other parts of Africa, Asia,and Europe came for study. These universities reflected the advanced development of apolitical state with the power to mobilize surplus wealth for education.Women and the Family 37 Research suggests that in many ways the role of women in early African society wasequal to men, even in armed battle. Gustavas Vassa, a West African who was taken toBarbados as a slave in the 1700s, wrote in, his account of life in Africa: ". . . even ourwomen are warriors, and march boldly out to fight along with the men! This observation isidentical to what one would find in the current liberation struggles in Africa. Between menand women, however, there was a division of labor. Men were usually the hunters andfarmers. Women also engaged ii4 agricultural work, but when networking with the men inthis, they engaged in weaving and spinning cotton, dying the cloth, and making clothing. Itis important to note, however, several ways in which women were oppressed in earlyAfrica. The "council of elders" was made up exclusively of men. Men did not have to obeythe same strict rules as women in relationships with members of the opposite sex. Menwere even assigned more living space in the household. These kinds of practicesundoubtedly led to attitudes and practices of male supremacy which women and men,especially in the contemporary African liberation movements, have struggled to abolish. The family was the basis of social organization in pre-colonial Africa. It performedessential economic, and political functions. Often families grouped together in clans forcooperation in various aspects of social life, like farming or war. Communalism - a societywhich -has a low stage of -technological development, no classes, and a collectiveApproach to the production and distribution of food, clothing, and shelter - developed in all 38parts of Africa. However, even during the pre-colonial period, a class structure wasdeveloping in Africa. There were Africans who owned slaves, and they were in a differentclass than the slaves themselves. In some places, there was a privileged "royal family" whocomprised a privileged elite in relationship to the African masses. 30 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 38. Culture As a rich source of cultural tradition, Africa has long inspired Black people in the UnitedStates. This is reflected in many ways. Historically, many names of early Black institutions(e.g., the African Methodist Episcopal Church) symbolized the link with Africa. Creativeartists have often written about Africa, as in Countee Cullens poem "Heritage" ("What isAfrica to Me") and Langston Hughess "Ive Known Rivers." More. recently, artists like GilScott-Heron have taken up the theme of struggle with songs like "Whats the Word -Johannesburg," about the liberation struggle in South Africa. Similarly, Bob Marley haspopularized a political link with Africa through Reggae music. Music, literature, dance, and sculpture are concentrated expressions of a peoplesculture. Thus, they are usually prominent in most societies. As Vassa says, "We are almosta nation of dancers, musicians, and poets." Every great event was reflected andcommunicated in artistic performances, especially in dance and song. Musical instruments,such as drums, xylophones, and harps, were developed in Africa. The bronze sculptures ofBenin, Vassas home, have been widely recognized for their greatness. In fact, African artwas copied by such artists as Picasso in creating modern art like cubism. The research of such scholars as linguist Lorenzo Turner and anthropologist MelvilleHerskovitz has demonstrated that Africans brought this rich cultural heritage to America.Once here, African culture interacted with the culture of other peoples. Under theseconditions, a new cultural pattern emerged. It was a culture that contributed to Blackpeoples struggle for survival under very challenging conditions.THE EUROPEAN PENETRATION Considering such well-developed African societies, one must wonder how Europeanslave traders and colonizers were able to penetrate the continent of Africa. The key tounderstanding this is that Africa and Europe were at different stages of socioeconomicdevelopment. Despite the fact that Africa was. more advanced than Europe at an earlierperiod, Europe by the beginning of the slave trade had surpassed Africa, especially in thecapacity of its economy to produce goods like ships and guns. When a strongersocioeconomic system comes into contact with a system at an earlier and weaker stage ofdevelopment, the weaker one will suffer. This is what happened when Europe penetratedinto Africa. 39 Initially, Africa interacted with Europe on the basis of trade, not of slaves but of othergoods. This was the first step in "how Europe underdeveloped Africa." Briefly, becauseEurope was a capitalist society using manufacturing and large-scale machine production,its capacity to produce was greater. The manufacture of cloth is a good example. Duringthe 18th century new inventions, like the power-loom and the use of water power,revolutionized cloth production in Europe. This enabled Europe to produce enough cloth tosupply its own needs and to export large quantities, to Africa and elsewhere. European manufacturers even copied and produced colorful African cloth patterns andflooded Africa with this cloth. African cloth producers were unable to compete with this 31 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 39. cheaper, machine-produced cloth since they were still producing by hand. Africans thusturned to mining gold, securing slaves, and producing other goods that could be traded forcloth produced in Europe. As a result African manufacturing was neglected and the processof technological advancement was slowed in cloth production and in many other sectors ofthe economy (like iron manufacture) Continued trade with Europe only pushed Africafurther behind Europe. When we discuss the stunting of technological development in Africa, this is not tosuggest that there were no significant achievements. The pyramids of Egypt and thegranite stone buildings of Zimbabwe are outstanding examples of skill and technologicalcapacity. There are, many other examples of early African superiority in culture andtechnology. The key point is that only the continued development of Europes system ofproduction into its capitalist stage - and not race or genetic inferiority - led to Africas beingdominated by Europe. In other words, Europeans use of the gun eventually overcame, thefierce resistance of Africans using the spear. The most destructive trade, however, was the slave trade. Millions of the continentsmost productive men and women were carried off to produce goods and services thatwould benefit neither themselves nor Africa. The social disruption caused by the manyyears of the slave raids and slave trade left long-lasting damage to African societies. There is considerable controversy about the impact of the slave trade on Africa,especially regarding the number of slaves exported from Africa. Estimates of the numberexported to the New World range from one hundred million to a few million. Recentestimates of ten million tend to underestimate the extent of the slave trade. Just as thenumber of slaves exported from Africa is underestimated, so too are the mortality rates - 40the numbers of Africans who died on the voyage from Africa to the Americas. While somerecent studies suggest that only 9 out of every 100 died, earlier studies of the slave tradeshow that the number of slaves who died was as high as 33 out of every 100 If, we takeinto account the number of Africans who died in slave raids and of foreign diseasesimported to Africa by slave traders, any estimate of the number of slaves imported into theAmericas must be multiplied several times to be accurate about the depopulation of Africa. Most of the slaves exported came from coastal West Africa - from the areas now calledSenegal, Gambta, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Benin, and Nigeria. One study indicates that 81% of the slaves exported by the British between 1690 and 1807 came from this area. Therewere some important variations, however. For example, 40% of the slaves imported intoSouth Carolina between 1733 and 1807 came from Angola in southern Africa. Though theslave trade was concentrated in the coastal areas, it had a negative impact on the continentas a whole. As Walter Rodney has pointed out, "European trade goods percolated into thedeepest interior, and (more significantly) the orientation of large areas of the continenttowards human exports meant that other positive interactions were thereby ruled out:” 32 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 40. 41 How were the slaves secured? Outright kidnapping of slaves by Europeans and Africantraders occurred at the beginning of the slave trade and lasted throughout its 450 yearhistory. But very early after the first raids, the slave enterprise became more of a trade thana raid. That is, Africans, especially chiefs, cooperated with Europeans in securing other 42Africans to be taken away as slaves. The key to understanding this is as Walter Rodneystates: the Africans who sold other Africans were a privileged class who "joined hands withthe Europeans in exploiting the African masses." Thus, the slave trade furthered the 33 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 41. development of classes in Africa by enabling a small elite group of Africans to accumulatewealth, luxury, and power (including firearms) at the expense of, the masses of Africanpeoples. European countries even established trading forts on the West Coast of Africawhere slaves could be brought from the interior and stored until slave ships arrived to maketheir purchases. The prices paid for slaves reflected the different modes of production in Africa and inEurope. This is important to keep in mind when we read that slaves were often purchasedfor a few bars of iron or a few yards of brightly colored cloth. In 1695, for example, ahealthy African could be purchased for eight guns or 600 pounds of iron. This may seemcheap but not when we consider that in Africa such large quantities of iron could not beproduced without considerable time and expense and the guns could not be manufacturedat all. Thus, the price that was obtained for slaves was really a reflection of how long it tookAfricans to produce the goods that were traded for slaves and not how much it cost tomanufacture them in Europe. We must also note the impact of firearms on Africa. If one state obtained firearms inexchange for slaves, it was stronger than its neighbor. A neighboring state was often forcedinto slave trading in order to secure guns to protect itself. Thus, it is correct to assess thefull impact of the European penetration into Africa by including these patterns of violenceand disruption introduced by the slave trade. Economic development usually demandspeaceful conditions. The slave trade stimulated social violence and increased fear anddistrust among people, all of which had a negative impact on economic development inAfrica. Who were the major slave trading countries? England carried 44.6% of all slaves ascompared to 29% carried by Portugal and 16% carried by France. The United Statescarried 5% of the total while Holland carried 3.4% and Denmark carried 1.7%. Thus thecapitalist countries of Europe were the principal slave traders. This is an important fact thatwill be discussed in greater detail in the next chapter. In East Africa, Arab traders carriedout a slave trade secondary in importance to the European trade. Where were Africans taken as slaves? Phillip Curtin in The Atlantic Slave Trade: ACensus calculated that between 1701 and 1807, 42% of all the slaves exported from Africawent to the Caribbean Islands and 49% went to South America. The most significant findingis that less than 5% of the total exports came to the United States. The bulk of these 43430,000 slaves came between 1730 and 1770 - before most settlers from Europe.COLONIALISM AND IMPERIALISM IN AFRICAAs capitalism continued to develop in Europe and in the United States, its need for slavesdecreased. After the Industrial Revo0lution, Europe became more interested in the valuableraw materials of Africa. As Walter Rodney has stated: Both openly and by implication, all the European powers in the 34 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 42. nineteenth century indicated their awareness of the fact that the activities connected with producing captives were inconsistent with other economic pursuits. That was the time when Britain in particular wanted Africans to collect palm produce and rubber and to grow a agricultural crops, for export in place of slaves; and it was clear that slave raiding was violently conflicting with that objective in Western, Eastern, and Central Africa. The slave trade was abandoned because it no longer suited the capitalists needs. This was why Europes relationship to Africa shifted from slave trading to colonialism.Kwame Nkrumah put it correctly: "Colonialism is, therefore, the policy by which the mothercountry, the colonial power, binds her colonies to herself by political ties with the primaryobject of promoting her own economic advantages." He went on to point out: Such a system depends on the opportunities offered by the natural resources of the colonies and the uses for them suggested by the dominant economic objectives of the colonial power. Under the influence of national aggressive self-consciousness and the belief that in trade and commerce one nation should gain at the expense of the other, and the further belief that exports must exceed imports in value, each colonial power pursues a policy of strict monopoly of colonial trade, and the building up of national power. The French Premier Jules Ferry, in a speech to the Chamber of Deputies in 1885,clearly articulated the main reasons Europe acquired its colonies: "The nations of Europedesire colonies for the following three purposes: (i) in order that they may have access tothe raw materials of the colonies; (ii) in order to have markets for sale of the manufacturedgoods of the home country; and (iii) as a field for the investment of surplus capital." Manyyears later, Nkrumah, whose country underwent colonialism, spelled out the colonialpolicies the Europeans used to ensure their success in achieving these goals: "(i) to makethe colonies non-manufacturing dependencies; (ii) to prevent the colonial subjects fromacquiring the knowledge of modern means and- techniques for developing their ownindustries; (iii) to make colonial subjects simple producers of raw materials through cheaplabor; (iv) to prohibit the colonies from trading with other nations except through the mothercountry." 44 Colonialism was but a form of imperialism. "Imperialism," as Ralph Bunche succinctlyputs it, "is an international expression of capitalism: Briefly, imperialism. is a stage ofcapitalism in which a few capitalists own or monopolize the wealth (factories, banks, land,and the like) in a country, and because they have exhausted all of the most profitableinvestments at home, these monopolists can only expand their profits by turning to, the richraw materials, land, and people of other parts of the world. The main reason for this is thatadvanced capitalist countries, because of the constant struggle for profits, cannot continueto develop based on their own resources. Hence, these countries are forced into a newkind of struggle with each other in which they annex overseas territory as part of their"empire." 35 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 43. The impact of imperialism and colonialism on colonized people was very destructive.Economically, the people were forced, often at gunpoint, to work in imperialist-ownedmines, plantations, and factories for starvation wages. Politically, imperialist nationsarbitrarily drew political boundaries and instituted a system of political rule using their ownadministrators or indigenous puppets to guarantee that power remained in the hands of the"mother country." Socially, the cultural and social life of the indigenous people wassuppressed. Missionaries and educators played key roles in consolidating imperialistcolonial domination. As Nkrumah has written: The stage opens with the appearance of missionaries and anthropologists, traders and concessionaires, and administrators,. While "missionaries" with "Christianity" perverted implore the colonial subject to lay up his "treasures in Heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt," the traders and concessionaires and administrators acquire his mineral and land resources, destroy his arts, crafts, and home industries. One of the most significant tools of colonialism was racism. Colonialism usually involvedEuropeans as the colonizers and people of color as the colonized. As a rationalization forexploitation and oppression, the ideology of racism was developed which branded the 45colonized people as racially inferior and subhuman, having no rights that the colonizers hadto respect. Their only right, in the eyes of the imperialists, was the right to be exploited. It is against this long history of exploitation and oppression by colonialism, imperialism,and racism that we must understand the daily discussion in the U.S. mass media regardingAfrica. While it is not often presented to us as it really is, Amilcar Cabral, an assassinatedleader of the African revolution, points to the real story behind the headlines we read aboutand hear: "The destruction of colonialism and the struggle against imperialism constitutesone of the outstanding characteristics of our times." It is. this struggle against aninternational system of imperialism and such evils as colonialism and racism that arecaused by it that, says Cabral, links the struggle of African peoples to the struggle offreedom-loving and justice-loving people all over the world. It is partly because of their richheritage of culture and struggle that Afro-American people are profoundly -interested in,influenced by, and indeed, form an integral part of this same struggle now being valiantlyfought in Africa.KEY CONCEPTS African Heritage Liberation struggles Colonialism Population/Depopulation 46 Cultures Slave Trade Geography Slavery Imperialism Wealth 36 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 44. STUDY QUESTIONS1. Compare the various features of the African continent to Europe, to the U.S.A., and tothe Soviet Union. a. land b. population and peoples c. natural resources d. industrial production e. cultural diversity2. Discuss life in pre-colonial Africa using six key aspects of social life in all societies:production (food, clothing, shelter), politics, religion, education, women and family relations,and culture.3. What is colonialism? Why was Africa dominated by European colonialism by 1900?4. What is the liberation struggle in southern Africa all about (specifically South Africa andNamibia)? Use current news- papers and magazines to research this question. What is thesignificance of these struggles for Afro-Americans and the U.S.A. in general?SUPPLEMENTARY READINGS1. Abdul Rahman M. Babu, African Socialism or a Socialist Africa? London: Zed Press,1981.2. George M. Fredrickson, White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and SouthAfrican History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.3. Henry F. Jackson, From the Congo to Soweto: US. Foreign . Policy toward Africa since1960. New York: Quill, 1984.4. Bernard M. Magubane, The Political Economy of Race and Class in South Africa. NewYork:- Monthly Review Press, 1979.5. A. Temu and B. Swai, Historians and Africanist History. A Critique. London: Zed Press,1981. 37 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 45. THREE3. COLONIALISM AND THE SLAVE TRADE ........................ 49 Why the Slave Trade ...................................... 51 Aspects of Capitalist Slavery .......................... 54 The Demands for Markets ........................... 54 The Struggle for Land ...................................... 54 The Struggle for Labor ..................................... 55 The Source of Profit ....................................... 56 The Impact of the Slave Trade ............................... 59 Colonialism and the Slave Trade Toward a Paradigm of Unity in Afro-American Studies Social Traditional Rural Urban - Slavery - -LOGIC OF Cohesion Africa Life LifeCHANGE Social Slave - - Emancipation - Migrations - Disruption Trade Ideology A1 B1 C1 D1 E1 F1 G1UNITS OF Nationality A2 B2 C2 D2 E2 F2 G2ANALYSIS Class A3 B3 C3 D3 E3 F3 G3 Race A4 B4 C4 D4 E4 F4 G4 The slave trade kept the wheels of metropolitan industry turning; it stimulated navigation and shipbuilding and employed seamen; it raised fishing villages into flourishing cities; it gave sustenance to new industries based on the processing of colonial raw materials; it yielded large profits which were ploughed back into metropolitan industry; and, finally, it gave rise to an unprecedented commerce in the West Indies and made the Caribbean territories among the most valuable colonies the world has ever known. 49 Eric Williams, From Columbus to Castro, 1970. In 1694 the ship "Hannibal" dumped 320 of its cargo of 700 slaves overboard during the Middle Passage. Thus 43% of its cargo was brutally murdered on the voyage from Africa to the "New World." In 1781, the captain and crew of the ship "Zong" tossed 133 slaves overboard before landing because the voyage from Africa had left them too ill to bring a good price. This barbaric method enabled the owners to collect the insurance. These 38 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 46. horrors were common during most of the slave trade.The television series "Roots" excited much interest in this phase of Afro-American history.The narrative of Gustavus Vassa, an African slave writing in the 18th century, is vivid as aneyewitness account of these horrors: forced capture; a long voyage with men, women, andchildren packed like sardines below a ships deck; attempts to seize control of the shippunished by death; suicides as means of escape; torture; and, finally, induction into a life ofslavery. The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast, was the sea, and a slave ship, which was then riding at anchor, and waiting for its cargo. These filled me with astonishment, which was soon converted into terror, when I was carried on board. I was immediately handled, and tossed up to see if I were sound, by some of the crew; and I was now persuaded that I had gotten into a world of bad spirits, and that they were going to kill me. Their complexions, too, differing so much from ours, their long hair, and the language they spoke, (which was very different from any I had ever heard) united to confirm me in this belief... I now saw myself deprived of all chance of returning to my native country, or even the least glimpse of hope of gaining the shore, which I now considered as friendly; and I even wished for my former slavery in preference to my present situation, which was filled with horrors of every kind, still heightened by my ignorance of what I was to undergo. I was not long suffered to indulge my grief, I was soon put down under the decks, and there I received such a salutation in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life: so that, with the loathsomeness of the stench, and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste anything. I now wished for the last friend, death, to relieve me; but soon, to my grief, two of the 50 white men offered me eatables; and on my refusing to eat, one of them held me fast by the hands and laid me across, I think the windlass, and tied my feet, while the other flogged me severely... At last, when the ship we were in, had got in all her cargo, they made ready with many fearful noises, and we were all put under deck, so that we could not see how they managed the vessel. But this disappointment was the least of my sorrow. The stench of the hold while we were on the coast was so intolerably loathsome, that it was dangerous to remain there for any time, and some of us had been permitted to stay on the deck for the fresh air; but now that the whole ships cargo were confined together, it became absolutely pestilential. The closeness of the place, and the heat of the climate, added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us. This produced copious perspirations, so that the air soon became unfit for respiration, from a variety of loathsome smells, and brought on a sickness among the slaves, of which many died - thus falling victims to the improvident avarice, as I may call it, of their purchasers. This wretched situation was again aggravated by the galling of the chains, now became insupportable; and the filth of the necessary tubs, into which the children often fell, and were almost suffocated. The shrieks of the women, and the groans of 39 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 47. the dying, rendered the whole a scene of horror almost inconceivable. Happily perhaps, for myself, I was soon reduced so low here that it was thought necessary to keep me almost always on deck; and from my extreme youth I was not put in fetters. In this situation I expected every hour to share the fate of my companions, some of whom were almost daily brought upon deck at the point of death, which I began to hope would soon put an end to my miseries... At last, we came insight of the island of Barbadoes... We were conducted immediately to the merchants yard, where we were all pent up together, like so many sheep in a fold, without regard to sex or age.... We were not many days in the merchants custody, before we were sold after their usual manner, which is this: On a signal given, (as the beat of a drum,) the buyers rush at once into the yard where the slaves are confined, and make choice of that parcel they like best. The noise and clamor with which this is attended, and the eagerness visible in the countenances of the buyers, serve not a little to increase the apprehension of terrified Africans, who may well be supposed to consider them as the ministers of that destruction to which they think themselves devoted. In this manner, without scruple, are relations and friends separated, most of them never to see each other again...0, ye nominal Christians! might not an African ask you - Learned you this from your God, who says unto you, Do unto all men as you would men should do unto you? Is it not enough that we are torn from our country and friends, to toil for your luxury and lust of gain? Must every tender feeling be likewise sacrificed to your avarice...Surely, this is a new refinement in cruelty, which, while it has no advantage to atone for it, thus aggravates distress, and adds fresh horrors even to the wretchedness of slavery.WHY THE SLAVE TRADE?But why the slave trade in the first place? And of what significance was the result of theslave trade, especially the institution of slavery in the United States? Few populardiscussions provide sufficient answers to these all important questions. The usual practiceis to dismiss the slave trade and slavery as the result of "mans inhumanity to man" -natural events that we are now too "civilized" to practice again. Or slave trade and slavesare blamed on the "inherent evilness of the devil - the white man." Both of theseexplanations fall far short of explaining what actually happened in history and why. Thestory is much more complex than that. In this chapter we will look at some of the factorswhich caused the trade in Africans. In the next chapter we will discuss the slave system ofthe antebellum South.The slave trade involved several important factors. The slavers were, for the most part, 51European and American merchants. The source of slaves was Africa, though slaves weretaken from other continents as well. The destination to which most slaves were taken wasthe so-called "New World" - especially the West Indies. It is very important for us to placethe slave trade in international perspective if we are to understand it properly.Eric Williams (1970) indicates the extent to which slave trading was an internationalventure: The Negro slave trade became one of the most important business enterprises of the seventeenth century. In accordance with sixteenth-century precedents its Organisation was entrusted to a company which was given the sole right by a particular nation to trade in slaves on the coast of West Africa, erect and maintain the forts necessary for the protection of the trade, and 40 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 48. transport and sell the slaves in the West Indies. Individuals, free traders or interlopers, as they were called, were excluded. Thus the British incorporated the Company of Royal Adventurers trading to Africa, in 1663, and later replaced this company by the Royal African Company, in 1672, the royal patronage and participation reflecting the importance of the trade and continuing the fashion set by the Spanish monarchy of increasing its revenues thereby. The monopoly of the French slave trade was at first-assigned to the French West India Company in 1664, and then transferred, in 1673, to the Senegal Company. The monopoly of the Dutch slave trade was given to the Dutch West India Company, incorporated in 1621. Sweden organised a Guinea Company in 1647. The Danish West India Company, chartered in 1671, with the royal family among its shareholders, was allowed in 1674 to extend its activities to, Guinea. Brandenburg established a Brandenburg African Company, and established its first trading post on the coast of West Africa in 1682. The Negro slave trade, begun about 1450 as a Portuguese monopoly, had, by the end of the seventeenth century, become an international free-for-all.As early as the 15th century, England passed from raising sheep and producing wool, anagricultural activity, to manufacturing cloth. This signaled the beginning of capitalistproduction. It is in capitalist production that we can locate the basic cause of the slavetrade.Feudalism, the system that preceded capitalism in Europe, was based on the ownership ofland by landlords, and their exploitation of serfs, who owned no land and had to work forthese landowners to survive. The production and trade of goods and clothing wasmonopolized by a few skilled craftsmen and merchants. Because of the increase ininternational trade, production had to be carried out on a much larger scale. This systemwas not able to produce the increased amount of goods and was therefore replaced bymanufacturing, a system in which many craftsmen still producing goods by hand werebrought together in a single "manufactury" or factory. This enabled each craftsman to 52specialize in performing a single task in production (e.g. putting the heel on all the shoesproduced, instead of working on the entire shoe). This division of labor and specializationincreased the amount of shoes, cloth, and other goods produced.But commerce and trade kept expanding, especially overseas, and more and more goodswere needed. The old manufacturing system was no longer sufficient. Machines wereinvented to speed production, and large-scale industries, based on the use of these newly-invented machines, steam, and water power, were developed. It is in this historical contextthat we can see how Africa and the slave trade were connected to this history-makingprocess. The slave trade was caused by the development of capitalism. It also made animportant contribution to the continued development of capitalism. 41 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 49. 53ASPECTS OF CAPITALIST SLAVERY.This contribution to capitalisms development was made on two continents - Europe(especially in England) and North America (in the United States). Let us look briefly atsome of the aspects of this relationship: markets, land, labor, and profit. 54The Demands for MarketsMercantilism was the economic theory which guided England. This theory stated that thepossession of gold, silver, and other precious metals was the basis of the wealth of nations.Therefore, trade became important as England and other nations struggled to monopolizesources of precious metals and to export (or send to other countries) more goods than they 42 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 50. imported (or received from other countries).It was this need for precious metals and their shortage in Europe that led to a period ofexploration and discoveries. While many historians distort the real motivation, ChristopherColumbus who "discovered" America in 1492 was very clear on why he undertook the trip:"Gold is a wonderful thing! Whoever possesses it is lord of all he wants. By means of goldone can even get souls into Paradise." Most of the great discoveries we read about ingeography and history - Vasco da Gama, Sir Francis Drake, and even Estavanico (LittleStephen), the Black Spanish explorer who discovered New Mexico - should all beunderstood as part of the struggle of European countries to find gold so that one nationcould be stronger than another. Later, however, as capitalism developed further and thetechniques of production improved (more skilled labor, better machines, bigger ships, fastercommunications, electrical power, etc.), foreign lands were needed not so much for goldbut as markets to sell the manufactured goods which could not be sold at home.The Struggle for LandEngland is a small island, about the size of New York. In order for it to develop, it needed(and still needs) both sources of raw materials for its factories and markets for the goods itproduced. Colonialism became the key mechanism by which capitalist countries likeEngland, France, Belgium, Germany, Portugal - and later the United States - acquired andmaintained control over foreign territory and workers for exploitation. By exploitation wemean when workers are paid less than their work is worth. This always happens undercapitalism because, as Malcolm X put it bluntly: "show me a capitalist and I will show you abloodsucker!"No continent escaped the domination of British colonialism. As the British were once fondof saying (until the peoples of the colonies rose in revolution and threw off the shackles ofcolonialism)., "The sun never sets on the British Empire." It was the colonization ofAmerica - especially the United States and the West Indies - that paved the way forcapitalisms rapid development in England. These colonies were ideal for mercantilism.They provided a lot of wealth and required very little investment. Colonial Virginiastobacco, Carolinas rice, the sugar of the West Indies, and New Englands timber and tar forships were important goods that were exported exclusively to England. These colonieswere forbidden by England to trade with any other countries (so smuggling becamepopular). They also were prohibited from manufacturing any item that competed with aproduct made in England (like iron). On top of all of this, gold and silver mined by Indians 55and Africans were also a great source of wealth.In providing all of this wealth, these colonies served the mother country well. It was to breakthis colonial exploitation by England that the American people (as others before and afterthem) declared in 1776: "GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH!"The Struggle for LaborIf the lands colonized in the Americas were to yield a profit, labor was needed. The rulingclass of England first attempted to supply the labor from England by using indentured 43 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 51. servants. Indentured servants were given free passage to America in ex-change for theirpledge to work for a set number of years (usually four to seven or until they were 21). Thiswas very similar to slavery. This source of labor, however, was insufficient. Slavery becamethe answer. The first instance of slave trading and slave labor in the New World involvednot Africans, but Indians. As if taking the lands of the Native Americans were not enough,the colonizers enslaved them. Excessive work, insufficient diet, and diseases of Europeanorigin resulted in almost total genocide (the systematic killing of a national group) of theNative American population.It was to Africa and the slave trade that England finally turned in order to obtain the laborneeded in America. Other kinds of labor proved too scarce or too costly. The origin of Blackslavery, according to Eric Williams in Capitalism and Slavery, "can be expressed in threewords: in the Caribbean, Sugar; on the mainland, Tobacco and Cotton." He went on to add,"The reason [for slavery] was economic, not racial; it had to do not with the color of thelaborer, but the cheapness of the labor."The population of Africa was abundant and could be purchased cheaply. Besides, racism -an elaborate set of lies and distortions that branded Black people as inherently inferior -was developed to facilitate economic exploitation of the slaves by the capitalists. As EricWilliams pointed out, "The features of the man, his hair, color and dentifrice [teeth], hissubhuman characteristics so widely pleaded, were only later rationalizations to justify asimple economic fact that the colonies needed labor and resorted to Negro labor because itwas cheapest and best." We will return to the important issue of racism in almost everychapter in this text.The Source of ProfitIn addition to supplying an all important labor force for the development of the Americas, 56the slave trade itself yielded great profits. To one influential mercantilist in the 18th century,slaves were "the fundamental prop and support" of the English colonies. Another describedthe slave trade as "the first principle and foundation of all the rest, the mainspring of themachine which sets every wheel in motion." Why this glowing tribute? It was because theslave trade not only provided the population of workers for the plantations and mines of theNow World, but it also made big profits for both the slave traders and those who providedthem with goods and services. Eric Williams in Capitalism and Slavery cites manyexamples of ship owners making double their money in profits on the sale of slaves. Theslave trade was perhaps the most abundant source of quick and substantial profits duringthis period of history.The overall importance of all of this can be brought together by discussing the triangulartrade. As stated in Capitalism and Slavery: In this triangular trade England - France and Colonial America equally - supplied the exports and the ships; Africa the human merchandise; the plantations the colonial raw materials. The slave ship sailed from the home country with a cargo of manufactured goods. These were exchanged at a profit on the coast of Africa for Negroes, who were traded on the plantations, 44 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 52. at another profit, in exchange for a cargo of colonial produce to be taken back to the home country. As the volume of trade increased, the triangular trade was supplemented, but never supplanted, by a direct trade between home country and the West Indies, exchanging home manufactures directly for colonial produce. The triangular trade thereby gave a triple stimulus to British industry. The Negroes were purchased with British manufactures; transported to the plantations, they produced sugar, cotton, indigo, molasses and other tropical products, the processing of which created new industries in England; while the maintenance of the Negroes and their owners on the plantations provided another market for British industry, New England agriculture and the Newfoundland fisheries. By 1750 there was hardly a trading or a manufacturing town in England which was not in some way connected with the triangular or direct colonial trade. The profits obtained provided one of the main streams of that accumulation of capital in England which financed the Industrial Revolution.Thus we see the close connection between the slave trade and the development ofcapitalism in Europe. Capitalism represents an increased use of machinery and increaseddemanded for more raw materials. This led to the colonization of the Americas to secureland (raw materials), and to the slave trade which supplied the needed labor. The profitsfrom the sale of slaves and slave-produced products were accumulated by merchants.They then used these profits as capital to build bigger and better factories to further exploitthe workers and peasants of Europe. The exploitation of African and European workerswas two sides of the same coin.In addition, important inventions of the Industrial Revolution (when the use of machines inproduction became widespread in all industries), like Watts Steam engine and several 57inventions in the textile industry, were financed by slave-trade profits. Huge bankingfortunes, like Barclays Bank, also began with the slave trade.Most significant, however, is the fact that the trade in slaves was the key aspect of thetriangular trade in which the increasing demand for goods led to the expansion and furtherdevelopment of capitalist industry in Europe. It is important to understand the historicalthough costly contribution of Africans and Afro-Americans to the modern world of capitalismthrough the slave trade. 45 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 53. 58THE IMPACT OF THE SLAVE TRADEThe colonial relationship between England and America must first be emphasized beforewe can understand the importance of the slave trade to the development of the UnitedStates. America was colonized to serve the needs of the English ruling class. Economically,it provided England with land for agricultural production, valuable raw materials, a marketfor English goods, and a profitable place in which to invest. Politically, England dominatedAmerica. There was taxation without American representation and the laws were made inEngland to serve its own economic interests.To make the best use of its colonial empire, English capitalism implemented a colonialdivision of labor which enabled each colony to specialize and produce more of certain 59goods. The West Indies specialized in sugar, which was shipped to England and themainland colonies. The mainland colonies supplied England with tobacco, cotton, rice,indigo, grains, fish, and naval supplies, to mention a few.As capitalism expanded in England, the demand for all of these goods increased. It was forthis reason, particularly in the southern colonies and in the West Indies which were bestsuited for large scale plantation agriculture, that slavery expanded, along with the slavetrade which supplied slave labor.We pointed out in the previous chapter that England and other capitalist countries inEurope were the main slave traders. But American merchants were also deeply involved inthe slave trade, contrary to what many scholars say. Their involvement, however, was not 46 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 54. as great as Englands because the American merchants were part of a young capitalistclass. Most had not had the time to make enough money to build the large ships requiredfor the voyage to Africa. England thus supplied the American colonies with most of itsslaves, just as it dominated other markets.Though not extensive, the trade involving American merchants and Africa wasconcentrated in New England - Rhode Island and Massachusetts. For example, 93% of theexports of the American colonies to Africa between 1768 and 1772 were sent from NewEngland. This specialization developed because New England with its harsh winters androcky soil was less suited to plantation agriculture than other colonies, and it depended onshipping, shipbuilding, and fishing to pay its debts to England. Slaves became an importantarticle of commerce in New Englands trade. New Englanders played a major roletransporting slaves between West Indian Islands and between the West Indies and theUnited States.New England merchants also engaged in a triangular trade: from New England, shipssailed with food - especially fish - and other goods to be exchanged in the West Indies forrum. The rum was then taken to Africa and, exchanged for slaves who were brought backto the West Indies and exchanged for more sugar, rum, and molasses.Two important factors stand out in New Englands involvement in the slave trade. First, theslave trade had the same impact on the development of capitalism in New England that ithad in England. The slave trade stimulated the development of industries which suppliedthe slave traders with the goods they exchanged for slaves. The manufacture of rum, forexample, became the largest business in New England before the American Revolution.Rum was so abundant and so cheap that it became the main item to be traded for slaveson the coast of Africa. In fact, it was so important that the price of slaves was often stated inquantities of rum!New England benefited as much from the services it provided the slave traders as fromdirect involvement. In addition to its rum, its ships were widely used in the trade. Because 60the economies of the West Indies were forced to produce sugar for England, they had littletime or land to grow food. Thus, fish from New England was its principal food item. AsLorenzo Greene summarizes: The effects of this slave trade were manifold. On the eve of the American Revolution it formed the very basis of the economic life of New England: about it revolved, and on it depended, most of her other industries. The vast sugar, molasses, and rum trade, ship-building, the distilleries, a great many of the fisheries, the employment of artisans and seamen, even agriculture - all were dependent upon the slave traffic.The second important contribution of the slave trade is that it provided the source of capitalfrom which many important and wealthy Americans accumulated their fortunes and gainedprestige. Senators, governors, judges, philanthropists, newspapermen, scientists,educators, and many others were slave traders or profited from the trade. Josiah Franklin,Benjamin Franklins stepbrother, was a prosperous merchant who not only sold slaves at 47 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 55. his tavern but also permitted other traders to show their slaves there. He was hardly alone,for as Lorenzo Greene points out: There was no stigma attached to trading in Negroes before the Revolution...Wealthy slave merchants, like the industrial captains of the present era, were successful men - the economic, political and social leaders of their communities - and were regarded by their fellows as worthy of emulation.Southerners may have gained their wealth and position from the exploitation of slave labor,but it was New Englanders who reaped the real profits from the sale of slaves. The mostimportant people were the capitalists who used the profits from their slave trade- relatedactivity to finance the textile industry. The first industry to use machines and water poweron a large scale, the textile industry moved the United States into the age of industrialcapitalism.The Brown family of Rhode Island was one of the leading families of merchants in theUnited States. The Browns were involved in shipping to all parts of the world, importingmolasses and distilling it into rum, making candles which they monopolized, banking,insurance, and real estate. Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island was named afterthem for their financial support. 61But few people know (and those who know dont tell) that the Browns were also slave-trading merchants. Part of their fortune was made by selling Africans into slavery or bysupplying goods to those who did. In 1736, Captain James Brown was the first Providencemerchant to enter the slave trade. One of his sons, Moses Brown, became interested intextile manufacturing. The Brown family money financed experiments by Samuel Slater anEnglish mechanic, who, using now inventions from the textile industry in Europe, perfectedthe first water-power mill. It pushed the United States into the first stage of its IndustrialRevolution.In 1814, Francis Cabot Lowell organized a group of New England merchants - the Cabots,Amorys, Lowells, Jacksons, Higginsons, Russels, Lees, and Lawrences who initiated thesecond stage in Americas Industrial Revolution. They developed the method of the bigcorporation for mass production, integrating the manufacture of cloth - from the processingof raw cotton to the finished product under one roof. This new system of large scalemachine industry revolutionized cotton textile production, and the amount of cloth producedincreased almost 30% between 1815 and 1833.Only a, few of the Boston Associates, as this group of capitalists was called, were directlyinvolved in the slave trade. But, almost without exception, they were merchants whodepended on the slave trade, selling rum, insurance, and other goods and services to theslave traders. These merchants played leading roles in the American Revolution which 62declared that all men were created equal, shaped the U.S. Constitution (pre-Civil War)which condoned slavery in the antebellum South, and were key leaders in the early periodof U.S. history. 48 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 56. One important fact to remember about the rise of capitalism is that it was during thisprocess that the two great classes of our own time emerged: the bourgeoisie or capitalistclass and the proletariat or working class. By bourgeoisie we mean the class of capitalistswho own the means of producing goods and services (factories, banks, land, mass media,etc.) and employ or buy the labor-power of workers for wages. By proletariat we mean theworking class of people who own no means of production of their own and who are forcedto sell their labor-power for wages in order to get enough money for food, clothing, shelter,and other necessities.Why is it important to mention these two classes in a chapter on the slave trade? Becausemost discussions on television or radio or what we read in our textbooks and in thenewspapers fail to tell us where this ruling class - capitalists like the Mellons, DuPonts,Rockefellers, Fords, etc. - came from. Did they always exist? Did they just fall from thesky? Of course not. Like everything else, the ruling class in this country and in every othercountry in the world has a history. Our point here is that the capitalist class that rules theUnited States has its roots in the slave trade, which was one of the important sources ofprofit from which this class accumulated the wealth that financed the early industrialdevelopment of the United States.It was the accumulation of wealth from the slave trade and other forms of exploitation (likepaying workers low wages in factories and employing child labor for pennies a day) thatenabled these early capitalists to build more factories, start banks, open newspapers toadvertise their products and to shape public opinion in their interest, support universities totrain new personnel, elect presidents and Congresses, and fight wars. All this was done inan effort to build their empire, to consolidate their control and domination over the UnitedStates and much of the world. It is important that we understand the relationship of Blackpeoples history to this process, since any solution to todays problems must be based onan accurate and thorough assessment of this historyBut the significance of the slave trade extends beyond these important economic factors.The slave trade was the historical process that forcibly transported millions of Africansthroughout the world, and concentrated a significant number in the Black Belt section ofsouthern United States. Table 6 (below) indicates the growth of the slave population from1790 to 1860.The slave trade thus set the conditions for the subsequent development of the Afro-American experience. African influences in social life (institutions like religion and thechurch) and cultural life (language and artistic activity like music and dance) weretransported during the slave trade. The slave trade also had important ideological 63ramifications. Racism, a set of beliefs which sought to justify the enslavement of Blackpeople for exploitation and oppression, was born during the slave trade and nurtured duringslavery in the antebellum South. Thus, the Afro-American experience of which the slavetrade is an integral part is a complex set of experiences with many aspects that we willsystematically examine in the remaining chapters of this book. 49 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 57. TABLE 6 GROWTH OF SLAVE POPULATION IN THE UNITED STATES 1790 - 1860Census Year 1790 1800 1810 1820Number 197,624 893,602 1,191,362 1,538,022Decennial 28.1 33.3 29.1IncreaseCensus Year 1830 1840 1850 1860Number 2,00,043 2,487,355 3,204,313 3,953,760Decennial 30.6 23.8 28.8 23.4IncreaseSource : E. Franklin Frazier , The Negro in the United States, p. 39KEY CONCEPTS Accumulation of wealth Indentured servants Bourgeoisie/Capitalist class Industrial Revolution/, Manufacturing Capitalism Mercantilism/Commerce Division of labor Proletariat/Working class Feudalism Triangular tradeSTUDY QUESTIONS 64I. What is the triangular trade thesis on the slave trade as presented by Eric Williams?2. What were the similarities and differences in the way the rising capitalist class in Englandand in the United States were connected to the slave trade3. What impact did the slave trade have on England?4. What impact did the slave trade have on the United States?SUPPLEMENTARY READINGS 50 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 58. 1. Jay A. Coughtry, The Notorious Triangle. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1981.2. W. E. B. Dubois, Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States ofAmerica. Now York: Social Science Press, 1954 (first published in 1896).3. Lorenzo J. Greene, The Negro in Colonial New England, 1620- 1776. New York:Atheneum, 1968 (first published in 1942).4. C. L. R. James, "The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery: Some Interpretations of TheirSignificance in the Development of the United States and the Western World." In Amistad1: Writings on Black History and Culture, edited by John A. Williams and Charles F. Harris.New York: Vintage Books, 1970.5. Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery. New York: Capricorn Books, 1966 (firstedpublished in 1944). 51 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 59. FOUR4. THE SLAVE EXPERIENCE:THE MELTING POT OF AFRICAN PEOPLES ......................... 67 The Institution of Slavery .................................. 67 Social Organization .......................................... 70 Religion and Slavery .......................................... 72 Mechanisms Strengthening Slavery ........................ 74 Mechanisms Weakening Slavery ....................... 74 The Slave Experience: The Melting Pot of African Peoples Toward a Paradigm of Unity in Afro-American Studies Social Traditional Rural Urban - Slavery - -LOGIC OF Cohesion Africa Life LifeCHANGE Social Slave - - Emancipation - Migrations - Disruption Trade Ideology A1 B1 C1 D1 E1 F1 G1UNITS OF Nationality A2 B2 C2 D2 E2 F2 G2ANALYSIS Class A3 B3 C3 D3 E3 F3 G3 Race A4 B4 C4 D4 E4 F4 G4 52 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 60. When "in his cups," Master Epps was a roystering, blustering, noisy fellow, whose chief delight was in dancing with his "niggers," or lashing them about the yard with his long whip, just for the pleasure of hearing them screech and scream, as the great welts were planted on their backs. When sober, he was silent, reserved and cunning, not beating us indiscriminately, as in his drunken moments, but sending the end of his rawhide to some tender spot of a lagging slave, with a sly dexterity peculiar to himself. Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave, 1853. 67 He might plead his cause with the tongue of Frederick Douglass, and the nation listened almost unmoved. He might labor for the nations wealth, and the nation took the results without thanks, and handed him as near nothing in return as would keep him alive. He was called a coward and a fool when he protected the women and children of his master. But when he rose and fought and killed, the whole nation with one voice proclaimed him a man and brother. Nothing else made emancipation possible in the United States. Nothing else made Negro citizenship conceivable, but the record of the Negro soldier as a fighter. W. E. B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America, 1935. The first Black people in North America were not slaves. Evidence indicates that prior toColumbuss laying claim to the new world in the name of the Spanish Queen Isabella, Africanexplorers crossed the oceans. In addition, several Black people were with Columbus in 1492.By the 17th century, however, most Blacks in the Americas found themselves in the institutionof slavery. 53 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 61. THE INSTITUTION OF SLAVERYSlavery is basically a system of political economy in which the production process is carriedout by slaves, human beings owned as property by other human beings. Slaves work underdirect coercion, and the product of their labor is owned entirely by their owner. FrederickDouglass captured the essence of slavery in 1846: Slavery in the United States is the granting of that power by which one man exercises and enforces a right of property in the body and soul of another. The condition of a slave is simply that of the brute beast. He is a piece of property - a marketable commodity, in the language of the law, to be bought or sold at the will and caprice of the master who claims him to be his property; he is spoken of, thought of, and treated as property. His own good, his conscience, his intellect, his affections, are all set aside by the master. The will and the wishes of the master are the law of the slave. He is as much a piece of property as a horse. If he is fed, he is fed because he is property. If he is clothed, it is with a view to the increase of his value as property. Whatever of comfort is necessary to him for this body or soul that is inconsistent with his being property is carefully wrested from him, not only by public opinion, but by the law of the country. He is carefully deprived of everything that tends in the slightest degree to detract from his value as property. 68 Slavery has existed at every period in world history until very recently, but its existence hasnot always had the same economic character. Two questions must be answered to correctlyanalyze any particular cause of slavery: (1) what other systems of labor exist in the society inaddition to slavery? and (2) what system of labor is dominant? In this way we can make adistinction between ancient slavery (e.g., in Greece and Egypt where free farmers coexistedwith slaves, but slavery was dominant) and antebellum slavery in the United States (whichcoexisted with free farmers, but was dominated by the industrially-based capitalism of theurban North). The historical dominance of capitalism in the United States made antebellumslavery the most barbaric system of slave labor. Not only did the slaves produce for the directconsumption of their owners, they were also forced to feed the gluttonous machines (textilemills) of both New England and "old" England with their products (cotton). The averageproductive life of slaves in cotton has been estimated at seven years during the height of KingCotton. The textile mills consumed the cotton and the plantations consumed the slaves! Solomon Northup, a slave, described a typical day in the life of a cotton slave: When a new hand, one unaccustomed to the business, is sent for the first time into the field, he is whipped up smartly, and made for that day to pick as fast as he can possibly. At night it is weighed, so that his capability in cotton picking is known. He must bring in the same weight each night following. If it falls short, it is considered evidence that he has been laggard, and a greater or less number of lashes is the penalty... The hands are required to be in the cotton field as soon as it is light in the morning, and, with the exception of ten or fifteen minutes, which is given them at noon to swallow their allowance of cold bacon, they are not 54 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 62. permitted to be a moment idle until it is too dark to see, and when the moonis full, they often times labor till the middle of the night. They do not dare tostop even at dinner time, nor return to the quarters, however late it be, untilthe order to halt is given by the driver... No matter how fatigued and weary he may be - no matter how much helongs for sleep and rest - a slave never approaches the gin-house with hisbasket of cotton but with fear. If it falls short in weight- if he has notperformed the full task appointed him, he knows that he must suffer... This done, the labor of the day is not yet ended, by any means. Each onemust then attend to his respective chores. One feeds the mules, another theswine - another cuts the wood, and so forth; besides, the packing is all doneby candle light. Finally, at a late hour, they reach the quarters, sleepy andovercome with the long days toil. Then a fire must be kindled in the cabin,the corn ground in the small hand-mill, and supper, and dinner for the nextday in the field, prepared. All that is allowed them is corn and bacon, whichis given out at the corncrib and smoke-house every Sunday morning....When it is "done brown: the ashes are scraped off, and being placed upon achip, which answers for a table, the tenant of the slave hut is ready to sitdown upon the ground to supper. By this time it is usually midnight. Thesame fear of punishment with which they approach the gin-house,possesses them again on lying down to get a snatch of rest. It is the fear ofoversleeping in the morning. Such an offense would certainly be attendedwith not less than twenty lashes. . . . An hour before day light the horn is blown.... Then the fears and labors ofanother day begin; and until its close there is no such thing as rest. He fearshe will be caught lagging through the day; he fears to approach the gin-house with his basket-load of cotton at night; he fears, when he lies down,that he will-oversleep himself in the morning. Such is a true, faithful,unexaggerated picture and description of the slaves daily life, during thetime of cotton-picking, . . . 55 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 63. Slavery in the historical experience of Black people is very important because it lasted for250 years, and we are only 120 years or so away from it. Moreover, all subsequent historicalexperiences of Black people have been influenced by the mark of slavery. It is a difficult moralproblem for Black and white people to look at slavery, but it is a necessary process if one is tohave a full historical understanding of the United States. Just as we must understand the 69atrocities of the Vietnam War committed by the, U.S. government in order to understand life inthe United States today, so must we understand the system of slavery if we are to understandthe origin and initial development of the United States in general and Black people inparticular. 56 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 64. While we are treating slavery as one of the three main historical experiences of Blackpeople, it too developed in stages. The first stage marks a difference between slavery in theupper colonies (New England and New York), where slaves were mainly used for domesticwork and some manufacturing, and in the lower colonies, where slaves were used inagricultural work. The second stage marks a shift from the southeastern region where slavesproduced rice, indigo, and tobacco to the fertile delta region of Mississippi, central Alabama,and southeastern Georgia where cotton was grown. The third main stage of slavery occurredwhen cotton became King and dominated the entire economy of the South. It was afundamental feature of the entire U.S. economy as well. Based on this changing pattern in thedemand for slave labor, the geographical distribution of slaves changed from an initialconcentration in the southeastern coastal area (e.g., South Carolina and Virginia) to thewestern part of the South (Mississippi). This stretched the concentration of Black people in ahalf moon- shaped pattern creating the Black Belt South (which to some limited extent stillexists today, though no longer is it the main concentration of Black people).SOCIAL ORGANIZATION The social organization or division of labor of slaves during the reign of King Cotton must beconsidered as well. On the plantation, there was a difference between house slaves an field 70slaves, sort of like the difference between service workers (maids, janitors, hospital orderlies,etc.) and production workers (workers who produce commodities for sale or goods forconsumption, like automobile and steel workers). James Stirling, writing in. 1857, described thedifferences between house and field slaves: In judging of the welfare of the slaves, it is necessary to distinguish the different conditions of slavery. The most important distinction, both as regards numbers and its influence on the well-being of the slave, is that between house-servants and farm or field-hands. The house-servant is comparatively well off. He is frequently born and bred in the family he belongs to; and even when this is not the case, the constant association of the slave and his master, and masters family, naturally leads to such an attachment as ensures good treatment.... The position of the field-hands is very different; of those especially, who labour on large plantations. Here there are none of those humanizing influences at work which temper of the system , nor is there the same check of public opinion to control abuse. The "force" is worked en masse , as a great human mechanism, or if you will ,as a drove of human cattle. 57 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 65. 71 58Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 66. There was also a difference between life on the plantation and the life in the city. Thestructure of the plantation was monolithic ( all power being in the hands of the landowner ) andmostly limited to what was on the plantation. However, in the city there was great diversity anddensity so that life was more cosmopolitan. In the city, there was a difference between theslaves owned by individuals and those owned industrially by a company (e.g., a railroad).Though industrial slavery was quite limited, it did provide the loosest form of social control andit is here that the emergence of independence and initiative by Black slaves can be seen mostclearly. These differences were the concrete basis that led to different forms of social and culturallife. Close, constant, and brutal supervision forced field slaves to develop an "underground"social life in addition to a few customs allowed to flourish on key holidays. House slaves wereclose to the social life of white people so that assimilation could take place (e.g., actualparticipation in the religious practices of their owners and, when going among field slaves,mimicking "white folks" with clothes, speech, and behavior borrowed from their owners). In thecity, since the paternalism of the plantation was impossible, slaves had the time to developlimited patterns of free associate on in illegal institutions that developed in alleys and poorerparts of town (especially in New Orleans and Charleston). 72RELIGION AND SLAVERY The debate over slavery and religion among white people, and the impact of religion onBlack people, are major aspects of the social and cultural experience of slavery. If slaves couldbe baptized, then they were human beings after all; if they were less than human they shouldnot be brought into the "Kingdom of God." So as slaves were either baptized or got access tothe bible (which of course meant the learned how to read), they took on a new social andcultural identity. In addition to worshipping with their masters in some cases, slaves were ableto express their identity in developing their own forms of worship and devotion Thus, the church and religion provided the main basis for the independent development ofBlack social life: (1) to deal with the bible someone, usually a Black minister, had to read; (2) todeal with religion meant that Black people developed and/or reinforced. Values that dictatedforms of family life, interpersonal relations, and a general sense of justice and fair play. In otherwords, the religion was the moral basis for the development of the first forms of education andindigenous forms and values regarding family life. 59 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 67. 73 60Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 68. MECHANISMS STRENGTHENING SLAVERY In analyzing the slave system of the antebellum South, it is necessary to make a distinctionbetween those mechanisms that held slavery together, and those that tended to weakenslavery. The slave system was held together by the dominant influence of the slave plantationowners. They had the support of the northern industrialists, as well as the capitalist powers inEngland, who needed cotton for the textile mills. The local and state governments as well asCongress were dominated by the slave owners. In this way, the slave system was totallyprotected by the economic and political organization of power. All social and culturalinstitutions also served the slave system. Except for a few cases (mainly the New EnglandQuakers and the social reformers who became forces desiring the peaceful abolition of theslave system), the churches, schools, mass media, and artists joined in support of the slavesystem.MECHANISMS WEAKENING SLAVERYWe must also be aware of the developments that tended to weaken the slave system. Theyincluded the following: 74Hiring out - This practice enabled slaves to find jobs and pay the bulk of their wages to theirowner. This developed initiative and independence in slaves and resulted in a desire forfreedom. A few slaves even purchased their own freedom in this way.Industrial slavery - As pointed out, this practice was the opposite of the close paternalisticsupervision of plantation life. Supervision was impersonal and allowed slaves greater freedom,though not necessarily better conditions of life or a higher standard of living.Manumission - This is simply the process whereby a slave owner willfully freed a slave. Muchof this was done to free the offspring of a slave owner and one of his female slaves.Running away - This was the practice of slaves secretly leaving their owners for a free state inthe North or Canada. The most famous pattern was the "underground railroad," a network ofpeople who would provide shelter and assistance to runaway slaves. Harriet Tubman andSojourner Truth were important leaders in this form of resistance to the slave system. 61 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 69. Race mixing -The sexual exploitation of Black women was the usual form of amalgamation ofBlacks and whites. This created a color status group of mulattoes, who threatened the rigidityof the color line of Black people on one side and white people on the other.Slave revolts - This form of collective resistance represented an armed insurrection by theslaves themselves. Most were small and unsuccessful, but a few are of great historicalsignificance. In the summer of 1822, Denmark Vesey organized a slave revolt aroundCharleston, South Carolina. Between 6,000 and 9,000 were said to be implicated in the plan toattack Charleston. The leaders, however, were betrayed and arrested. When slaves tried torescue them, state troopers converged upon them. During their executions, federal troops werebrought in to protect the city. Slave revolts continued throughout this period. In 1831, Nat Turner, a deeply religious man,along with six other slaves began their crusade "to take up Christs struggle for the liberation ofthe oppressed." They began by killing Turners master, and within twenty-four hours they werejoined by some seventy slaves who killed all slaveholding whites in the twenty mile area(approximately sixty in all). Soon hundreds of soldiers swarmed the countryside, slaughteringover one hundred slaves and hanging the leaders of the revolt. As Herbert Aptheker writes, 75 The South was panic-stricken. Disaffected or rebellious slaves were, in the winter of 1831, arrested, tortured or executed in other counties of Virginia, in Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina (where at least three slaveholders died from fear!), Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. This did not stop the slave revolts. They took place not only on land but also on the highseas. For instance, Joseph Cinque, a native African, freed a whole shipload of slaves; MadisonWashington, a slave bound from Richmond to the New Orleans slave market, rose up withothers, liberated the ship, and sailed into Nasseau, New Providence.Armed attacks - This form of collective resistance represented a militant attack on slavery fromoutside the slave system. The most famous was undertaken by John Brown, who in 1859gathered a small band of both Blacks and whites and seized a federal arsenal at HarpersFerry. They were defeated when hundreds of troops moved against them, but their actions, likethose of militant slaves before and after them, were a part of a process that ended the formalinstitution of slavery. 62 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 70. Many others spoke out militantly over the years. In 1843, Henry Highland Garnet exhortedslaves to rise up in resistance: If you would be free in this generation, here is your only hope. However much you and all of us may desire it, there is not much hope of redemption without the shedding of blood. If you must bleed, let it all come at once - rather die freemen, than to be the slaves.... Brethren, arise, arise ! Strike for your lives and liberties. Now is the day and the hour. Let every slave throughout the Land do this, and the days of slavery are numbered.... Let your motto be resistance resistance resistance No oppressed people have ever-secured their liberty without resistance. What kind of resistance you had better make, you must decide by the circumstances that surround you, and according to the suggestion of expediency.Echoing Garnet, Frederick Douglass some fifteen years later exclaimed: If there is no struggle there is no progress... This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it, never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will-be imposed upon them, And these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.By 1863 Douglass was urging Blacks to rise up and join the war effort: 76 A war undertaken and brazenly carried on for the perpetual enslavement of colored men, Calls logically and loudly for colored men to help suppress it. Only a moderate share of sagacity was needed to see that the arm of the slave was the best defense against the arm of the slaveholder... Action! Action! not criticism, is the plain duty of this hour. Words are now useful only as they stimulate to blows. The office of speech now is only to point out when, where, and how, to strike to the best advantage. There is no time to delay. The tide is at its flood that leads on to fortune. From East to West, from North to South, the sky is written all over, "Now or never." Liberty won by white men would lose half its luster. "Who would be free themselves must strike the blow." "Better even die free, than to live slaves." This is the sentiment of every brace colored man amongst. us.... By every consideration which binds you to your enslaved fellow- countrymen, and the peace and welfare of your country; by every aspiration which you cherish for the freedom and equality of yourselves and your children; by all the ties of blood and identity which make us one with the brave black men now fighting our battles in Louisiana and in South Carolina, I urge you to fly to arms, and smite with death the power that would bury the government and your liberty in the same hopeless grave.... The chance is now given you to end in a day the bondage of centuries, and to rise in one bound from social degradation to the plane of common equality with a other varieties of men. Remember Denmark Vesey of Charleston; remember 63 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 71. Nathaniel Turner of Southampton; remember Sheilds Green and Copeland, whofollowed noble John Brown, and fell as glorious martyrs for the cause of theslave. Remember that in a contest with oppression, the Almighty has noattribute which can take sides with oppressors. The case is before you. This isour golden opportunity. Let us accept it, and forever wipe out the darkreproaches unsparingly hurled against us by our enemies. Let us win forourselves the gratitude of our country, and the best blessings of our posteritythrough all time. Collective resistance continued to be the theme of manymilitants before during, and long after the war. The historical experience ofslavery is one of repression and acquiescence, but it is also one of resistanceand rebellion. 64 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 72. KEY CONCEPTS Ancient vs. antebellum slavery Manumission Hiring out Slave revolt House vs. field slaves Social organization Plantation vs. urban slavery Three stages of slavery King Cotton Underground railroadSTUDY QUESTIONS 771. What were the main features of the political economy of slavery in the United States duringthe early 19th century?2. What experiences did slaves have, based upon different occupations within the plantationsystem? Of what significance were these differences in influencing or shaping the capacity ofBlacks to resist and to struggle to abolish slavery?3. Compare the factors that tended to strengthen slavery with those that weakened it.4. What are the similarities and differences in the methods of struggle against slavery wagedunder the leadership of people such as: Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass,John Brown, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Henry Highland Garnet? 65 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 73. SUPPLEMENTARY READINGS1. John Blassingame, The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South. NewYork: Oxford University Press, 1973.2. Eugene Genovese, From Rebellion to Revolutions: Afro-American Slave Revolts in theModern World. New York: Random House, 1979.3. Nathan Huggins, Black Odyssey: The Afro-American Ordeal in Slavery. New York:Pantheon Books, 1977.4. Leslie H. Owens, This Species of Property: Slave Life and Culture in the Old South. NewYork: Oxford University Press, 1976.5. William L. Van Deburg, Slavery and Race in American Popular Culture. Madison- Universityof Wisconsin Press, 1984. 78 66 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 74. 5. THE RURAL EXPERIENCE:THE EMERGENCE OF THE AFRO-AMERICAN NATIONALITY ..... 81 Tenant Farming ................................................ 83 Peonage ........................................................... 85 Middle-Class Aspects of the Agricultural Experience ........................................... 86 The Church ........................................................ 87 Disfranchisement and social repression ................. 88 Organized Resistance ........................................... 91 Decline of Rural Life : Outmigration ............................ 95FIVE The Rural Experience: The Emergence of the Afro-American Nationality Toward a Paradigm of Unity in Afro-American Studies 67 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 75. Social Traditional Rural Urban - Slavery - -LOGIC OF Cohesion Africa Life LifeCHANGE Social Slave - - Emancipation - Migrations - Disruption Trade Ideology A1 B1 C1 D1 E1 F1 G1UNITS OF Nationality A2 B2 C2 D2 E2 F2 G2ANALYSIS Class A3 B3 C3 D3 E3 F3 G3 Race A4 B4 C4 D4 E4 F4 G4 Peonage . . . was defined thus by a judge: "It is where a man in consideration of an advance or debt or contract, says, Here, take me, I will give you dominion over my person and liberty, and you can work me against my will hereafter, and force me by imprisonment, or threats of duress to work for you until that debt or obligation is paid." Experience has shown, too, that the judge might have added, "Until I, the planter, shall say that the debt has been paid." Carter G. Woodson, The Rural Negro, 1930 The end of the slave period was followed by a period in which the experiences of Black people were both similar to and different from what they had been. The Civil War and the Reconstruction were the years of emancipation. It was a period of transition in which great social, political, and economic upheaval destroyed some aspects of slavery but allowed other aspects to continue (not entirely in form, but in essence). From the 1870s to the 1930s, the dominant experience of Black people in the United States 81 was in the rural Black Belt area of the South. In 1890, a quarter of a century after the end of the Civil War, four out of every five Black people still lived in rural areas of the United States. Ten years later in 1900, nine out of every ten were in the South. And between 1890 and 1910, three out of every five Blacks worked in agriculture. This is the period in which Black people were molded into a definite nationality, a people sharing social, cultural, economic, and political experiences, as well as suffering under a brutal system of social control and repression. Of course the common experience of slavery laid the foundation for this, but it was in the rural period that the full expression of this national development and national oppression took place. It is necessary to emphasize that this development was stunted because of repression and social control. Our focus here is, not on the chronological history of this period, but rather is to analyze the major aspects of the social content of this experience. 68 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 76. 82TENANT FARMINGThe most basic aspect of a peoples experience is the way they produce and consumewhatever is necessary in order to survive, or in other words, their economic life. In the ruralexperience Black people were "apparently" free, but they continued to be oppressed by aneconomic system that compelled them to work in virtual bondage. The mechanism by whichBlack people were kept in servitude was the tenant system.In theory, the tenant system was simply a contractual arrangement by which a landownerwould exchange the use of land and perhaps tools, seed, and "furnishings" for either cash or 83a share of the profits and/or produce (crops). Charles S. Johnson, Edwin Embree, and WillAlexander describe this system more fully: Tenants may be divided into three main classes: (a) renters who hire land for a fixed rental to be paid either in cash or its equivalent in crop values; (b) share tenants, who furnish their own farm equipment and work animals and obtain use of land by agreeing to pay a fixed per cent of the cash crop which they raise; (c) share-croppers who have to have furnished to them not only the land but also farm tools and animals, fertilizer, and often even the food they consume, and who in return pay a larger per cent of the crop. 69 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 77. Table 7 (below) outlines the typical arrangements for each type of tenancy.At this level, such an economic arrangement appears to be a free exchange in which theeconomic partners have the freedom to enter on arrangement or to leave it. As has beenpointed out, "Normally it is regarded as a step on the road to independent ownership."However, this was not the situation in the South where traditions and practices ensuredexploitation. Emerging from a legacy of slavery, the economic partners were quite unequal.Rather than being partners, they can more correctly be defined as the oppressor and theoppressed.In the first place, the overwhelming numbers of Blacks were sharecroppers and not renters oreven share tenants. Moreover, Black farmers/workers were usually illiterate, had very limitedexperience in making contracts, and were very dependent upon the landowner for credit tosurvive from crop to crop. Analyzing the tenancy system in the 1930s, Johnson, Embree, and Alexander wrote: It is to the advantage of the owner to encourage the most dependent form of share cropping as a source of largest profits...landlords, thus, are most concerned with maintaining the system that furnishes them labor and that keeps this labor under their control....The means by which landowners do this are: first, the credit system; and second, the established social customs of the plantation order. Table 7 TENANCY TYPES OF TENANCYShare Cropping for Half and Share Renting for Third and Cash or Standing RentingHalf Fourth LANDLORD FURNISHESLand 84House LandFuel House LandTools fuel HouseWork Stock One fourth or one third of FuelFeed for Stock FertilizersSeesOne half of Fertilizers TENANT FURNISHES 70 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 78. Labor Labor Work Stock Work Stock Food for StockLabor Food for Stock ToolsOne half of Fertilizers Tools Seed Seed Three fourths or two thirds of Fertilizers Fertilizers LANDLORD GETS One fourth of crop or one thirdOne half of crop fixed amount in cash or cotton of crop TENANT GETS Three fourths or two thirds ofOne half of crop entire crop less fixed amount cropThey go on to describe the way the system functioned to keep Blacks indebted: As a part of the age-old custom in the South, the landlord keeps the books and handles the sale of all the crops. The owner returns to the cropper only what is left over of his share of the profits after deductions for all items which the landlord has advanced to him during the year: seed, fertilizer, working equipment, and food supplies, plus interest on all this indebtedness, plus a theoretical "cost of supervision." The landlord often supplies the food - "pantry supplies" or "furnish" - and other current necessities through his own store or commissary. Fancy prices at the commissary, exorbitant interest, and careless or manipulated accounts, make it easy for the owner to keep his tenants constantly in debt.The landowner was -able to manipulate the farmer so that the initial credit extended to thefarmer nearly always resulted in the farmers going further and further into debt. Thelandowners also manipulated the law to enact "measures which compelled the employee toremain in the service of his employer." Indebtedness thus became the basis of what turnedout to be forced labor, or what is called peonage. 85PEONAGECarter Woodson described in his 1930 study how the tenancy system gave rise to peonage: Peonage developed as a most natural consequence of things in the agricultural South. The large planters constitute a borrowing class. It is customary for financial institutions to advance for a year sufficient money to cover the expenses of the landlord and his tenants, the amount being determined on the basis of one tenant for each twenty acres. The landlord, then, must hold his tenants by fair or foul means. If they desert him he is bankrupt. Authority, therefore, must be maintained with overseers using whips and guns to strike terror to the tenants who are kept down in the most debased condition. Negro women are prostituted to the white "owners" and drivers; and children are 71 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 79. permitted to grow up in ignorance with no preparation for anything but licentiousness and crime. Often landowners or their agents would go from town to town hiring farm laborers with theUnderstanding that they would pay them wages and advance them provisions from the"company store." Woodson recounted an investigators report of what would then befall them: "The laborers arrive and at the outset are indebted to the employer, who sees that they trade out their wages at the commissary, and in many instances, by a system of deductions and false entries, manages to keep the laborer perpetually in debt. If the laborer hap, a family, so much the better for the employer; they must live out of the commissary and if the laborer runs away his family are detained at the camp. To enforce the payment of such debts young children have been withheld from their parents. If the victim escapes the law is invoked. He is arrested under false pretenses, cheating, swindling, and false promises. There is usually no actual trial. The arresting officer in collusion with the planter induces the victim to return to work rather than go to jail," and "so he returns to bondage with a heavier load of debt to carry, for the cost of pursuit and arrest is charged to him. Often no process is issued for arrest, but the employer arrests without process, returns the prisoner to his labor camp and inflicts severe chastisement. Many of the labor contracts contain provisions to the effect that the laborer consents to allow himself to be locked in a stockade at night and at any other time when the employer sees fit to do thus."Peonage in its most extreme form could be seen in the chain gang. Woodson described theprocess: The unusual prosperity of the country and, of course, of the South, 86 necessitated a large labor force. To supply this need it became customary to fall back on convict labor. The first step in such peonage was the "benevolent" practice of the white men who would volunteer to pay the fines of Negroes convicted of minor crimes, and thus get them out of jail. The next step was to assure, by physical restraint, the working out of the debts thus incurred. Finally came the cooperation of justices, constables, and other officials in providing a supply of this forced labor by "law."Though peonage may not have been practiced by the majority, it did exist in areas ofMississippi, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina where rich planters had the political andsocial wherewithal to enforce it.Describing the conditions of the Black agricultural experience, Johnson, Embree, andAlexander wrote in the 1930s: For many years, even after Emancipation, black tenants were the rule in the cotton fields and the determination to "keep the Negro in his place" was, if anything, stronger after the Civil War than before.... the old "boss and black" attitude still pervades the whole system. Because of his economic condition, and because of his race, color, and previous condition of servitude, the rural 72 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 80. Negro is helpless before the white master. Every kind of exploitation and abuse is permitted because of the old caste prejudice.MIDDLE-CLASS ASPECTS OF THE AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCEThe other side of the rural experience was that it did enable Black people to own some things,while in the slave period they were virtually propertyless. Moreover, while rural farmers didntown much, they at least had the possibility of getting out of debt, purchasing a few pieces offarm equipment a little land, and a decent house, and even saving money. Thus, while therural tenancy experience was in the main one of forced labor based on indebtedness (and inits most severe form, peonage), there was also a "middle-class" aspect to it that makes thesepeople quite different from the wage worker in the industrial city. Farmers were poor, but theywere usually in day-to-day managerial control of their farm lands, even if they were onlysharecropping. This control was the crucial factor in making the farming experience "middleclass" in that authority and control of work is a middle-class experience,Black tenants had two choices, to go into debt or to increase their property holdings. To theextent that the tenant sank into debt, the life of a tenant took on the character of a modernworker using land and tools owned by someone else to make a living. On the other hand, tothe extent that the tenant was successful and was able to buy land, equipment, and livestock,life became more secure and independent. This type of self-employment is one of thetraditional bases for the middle class in a capitalist society. Of course all of this was controlledby the repression of the southern culture of white supremacy and by the terror of the lynch 87mob. The general pattern was for the tenant to go into debt, but aspire to success. Therefore,while their objective conditions were approximating an agricultural working class, theirconsciousness held out for a middle-class type of life.THE CHURCHAs will be more fully described in a later chapter, the rural experience was the historical periodin which the social and cultural organization of Black people was developed. This must beviewed in relationship to the economic character of the Black Belt, and to the forms andmethods of social control and violent repression experienced by Black people. During therural period the development of the Black church remained the major factor in the overalldevelopment of the Black community. The church was the central social- institution in whichall forms of social life were organized and regulated. This included moral and social codes forfamily life, recreational behavior, orientations towards the problems faced by Black people,and the solutions to those problems. This is both to the credit and discredit of the church,because while objectively it is what held Black social life together, it was most often heldtogether for survival rather than forms of active resistance for positive social change (thoughpositive changes were made in some cases). Hence, the church was simultaneously thesocial basis for two kinds of leadership: militancy and "uncle tomism."DISFRANCHISEMENT AND SOCIAL REPRESSION 88Under slavery the social control of Black people was total and was fully reinforced by all levels 73 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 81. of law, from the federal government to the smallest county or town government in the South.The Civil War resulted in the emancipation of the slaves, and new federal legislation waspassed giving Black people the right to vote. This newly acquired political enfranchisementwas short-lived however. Robert Allen provides some of the reasons for this: Black Reconstruction was made possible because Northern businessmen and politicians supported enfranchising the ex-slaves. This, however, was an alliance of convenience in which the businessmen and politicians used black people as pawns in their attempt to consolidate the economic and political control of the white North over the white South. Black men were given the vote, not so much out of sense of racial justice as to offset the political power of the white South. After all, the North had won the war and Northern leaders were anxious to ensure that their national political hegemony was firmly established. They believed this could be accomplished by allowing the freedmen to exercise the franchise within the framework of the Republican Party. After about ten years, when the North was well on the road to achieving economic penetration of the South, black people were abandoned by their so- called friends.Once northerners secured their economic and political dominance of the South, they left whiteSoutherners alone to deal with Blacks.From at least 1890 onward, Black disfranchisement was a leading issue, and it helped reunitethe white South, which had been divided over the agrarian reform movement that pitted poorwhites against wealthy landowners and industrialists. "Political niggerism," as Paul Lewinsonsaid, "was an issue on which the vast majority of Southerners thought alike." There were twoproblems, however. One, the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution specifically stated thatthe right to vote could not be denied "on account of race, color, or previous condition ofservitude. Two, any scheme to disfranchise Blacks had to be carefully formulated so thatwhites would not also be excluded.The devices for the political disfranchisement of Black people were soon developed.Lewinson describes the new tactics that were instituted throughout the South: They perpetuated, in the first place, certain devices of the statutory election codes: A poll tax or other taxes must be paid by the applicant for registration. Registration was to take place months in advance of polling time, and a receipt for taxes paid must be shown to either registration or election officials, or to both. It was left to the officials, actually though not necessarily in law, to ask for 89 these receipts, so that the Negro voter, unused to preserving documents, could often be disfranchised through sheer carelessness on his part. Among the new features introduced was the property qualification. This ran to two or three hundred dollars. One or more alternative qualifications might be offered by the would-be voter. Crude literacy - reading and writing - was one. Another was a sort of civic "understanding," tested by the ability to interpret the State or Federal constitution to the satisfaction of the election officer. "Good character" might also qualify, when supported by sworn testimonials, or by 74 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 82. evidence of steady employment during a specified preceding period, or by an affidavit giving the names of employers for a period varying from three to five years. The property and literacy qualifications cut out large numbers of Negroes automatically; the alternatives could easily be manipulated by the officers in charge. In addition, residence requirements were greatly extended throughout the Southern States, and the list of crimes involving disfranchisement diversified until it included petty larceny, wife beating, and similar offenses peculiar to the Negros low economic and social status. To, safeguard whites of low intelligence or small property, the so-called "grandfather clauses" were devised. For a period of years after the adoption of the respective constitutions, permanent registration without tax or other prerequisites was secured either to persons who had the vote prior to 1861 and their descendants; or to persons who had served in the Federal or Confederate Armies or in the State militias and to their descendants. This exemption from tests obviously ran only for whites.The poll tax, property qualifications, literacy and civic tests, good character and residencyrequirements, disqualifications for petty crimes, and the grandfather clauses effectivelyblocked the possibility of Blacks engaging in electoral politics.The social repression of Black people took on further ominous overtones with the violentgenocidal practice of lynching. Table 8 provides data on the incidences of lynching. Thesedata, of course, only give a glimmering of an idea of the extent to which Blacks were lynchedsince their lynchings often went unrecorded.Moreover, most data on lynchings were based on a fairly limited definition of lynching: Any assemblage of three or more persons which shall exercise or attempt to exercise by physical violence and without authority of law any power of correction or punishing over any citizen or citizens or other person or persons in the custody of any peace officer or suspected of, charged with, or convicted of the commission of any offense, with the purpose or consequence of preventing the apprehension or trial or punishment by law of such citizen or citizens, person or persons, shall constitute a mob within the meaning of this Act. Any such violence by a mob which results in the death or maiming of the victim or victims thereof shall constitute lynching within the meaning of this 90 Act: Provided, however, That lynching shall not be deemed to include violence occurring between members of groups of lawbreakers such as are commonly designated as gangsters or racketeers, nor violence occurring during the course of picketing or boycotting or any incident in connection with any labor dispute...Many were lynched under circumstances not covered by this definition. The Commission onInterracial Cooperation in 1942 pointed to two cases highlighting the complications of defininglynching: 75 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 83. A man is out fishing. He discovers a body on the bank of a creek. It is clearly evident that the man was murdered. Maybe his body is riddled with bullets - his feet wired together, his hands tied behind him, his head bashed in. There have been no reports of any trouble in the county. Was he lynched or was he murdered? Another man has an altercation with his employer over a lost tool, or the amount of wages due him, or failure to carry out orders. His body is found one day. It is evident from its condition that the man was put to death. Did he meet his death at the hands of three or more persons? Was he suspected or accused of a crime? Were the officers of the law forewarned of his danger and did they act in collusion with the killers? Table 8 LYNCHINGS OF WHITES AND BLACKS, 1882-1946 Period Whites Blacks Total 1937-1946 2 42 44 1927-1936 14 136 150 1917-1926 44 419 463 1907-1916 62 608 670 1897-1906 146 884 1,030 1887-1896 548 1,035 1,583 1882-1886* 475 301 776 Totals ...... 1,291 3,425 4,716* Indicates 5 year period. The other intervals are 10 year periods.Source : Based n Jessie P. Guzman and W. Hardin Huges, Negro Year Book, p.307As vague as the definitions may have been, it was clear to Black people that they lived underthe constant threat of being killed.Lynching was not only a specific method of murdering particular individuals, but also was thebasis for developing a pervasive climate of terror and fear that became the cornerstone of thesouthern way of life. The logic was clear: Black people would be afraid of being lynched andtherefore would observe the code of conduct informally prescribed by the dictates of whitesupremacy. 91ORGANIZED RESISTANCEIn all societies in all stages of history, where there is oppression there is resistance. Blackpeople were not completely docile; they found many ways to resist and rebel. Throughout theBlack Belt South individuals and families have resisted attacks, in some cases in courageousarmed confrontation with lynch mobs. However, more significant than this is the pattern ofcollective resistance.The Messenger recognized the importance of collective resistance in its 1919 proposal toresist lynching, which it saw as the "arch crime of America." It proposed two methods of 76 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 84. resistance. The first was the use of physical force: We are consequently urging Negroes and other oppressed groups confronted with lynching or mob violence to act upon the recognized and accepted law of self-defense. Always regard your own life as more important than the life of the person about to take yours, and if a choice has to be made between the sacrifice of your life and the loss of the lynchers life, choose to preserve your own and to destroy that of the lynching mob.... The Messenger wants to explain the reason why Negroes can stop lynching in the South with shot and shell and fire...A mob of a thousand men knows it can beat down fifty Negroes, but when those fifty Negroes rain fire and shot and shell over the thousand, the whole group of cowards will be put to flight... The appeal to the conscience of the South has been long and futile, its soul has been petrified and permeated with wickedness, injustice and lawlessness. The black man has no rights which will be respected unless the black man enforces that respect.... In so doing, we dont assume any role of anarchy, nor any shadow of lawlessness. We are acting strictly within the pale of the law and in a manner recognized as law abiding by every civilized nation. We are trying to enforce the laws which American Huns are trampling in the dust, connived in and winked at by nearly all of the American officials,, from the President of the United States down... Whenever you hear talk of lynching, a few hundred of you must assemble rapidly and let the authorities know that you propose to have them abide by the law and not violate it... Ask the Governor or the authorities to supply you with additional arms and under no circumstances should you Southern Negroes surrender your arms for lynching mobs to come in and have sway. To organize your work a little more effectively, get in touch with all of the Negroes who were in the draft. Form little voluntary companies which may quickly be assembled. Find Negro officers who will look after their direction...When this is done, nobody will have to sacrifice his life or that of anybody else because nobody is going to be found who will try to overcome that force.The second form of resistance that The Messenger proposed was economic force: Now one of the best ways to strike a man is to strike him in the pocketbook...Negroes are the chief producers of cotton. They also constitute a big factor in the South in the production of turpentine, tar, lumber, coal and iron, transportation facilities and all agricultural produce. They should be thoroughly organized into unions, whereupon they could make demands and withhold their labor from the transportation industry and also from personal and domestic 92 service and the South will be paralyzed industrially and in commercial consternation... Industrially, let the farmers organize farmers protective unions. Let the lumber workers, moulders, masons plasterers and other Negro workers on railroads and in mines organize into unions, quietly and unostentatiously. Be prepared to walk out in concert, every man and woman who does any form of work. Let it be known that we are down to plain business, free from any foolishness or play. 77 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 85. Let every Negro in the South begin to work on this program by agitating for it in the lodges, churches, schools, parlor and home conversation and while at work in factory or field. Write also to us about any detail in entering upon this work. If this program is pressed, a year from now, we can call out of the fields, the factories and the mines between a million and two million Negroes, who will initiate the true work of making America a real "land of the free and home of the brave."While The Messengers program of physical and economic resistance was a specificresponse to lynching, organized resistance to economic oppression had been going on forsome time even though it was plagued with problems.In the aftermath of Reconstruction and as a reaction to the Depression of 1873, which wasparticularly hard on the agrarian South, white farmers had organized the Southern Alliance ofFarmers. Theoretically, the material basis for an alliance was there. Though Blacks facedgreater economic hardship, both Blacks and poor white farmers suffered under the tenantsystem.But as Robert Allen points out, the alliance between the two groups had been thwarted in theantebellum period: Although there was much to recommend an alliance between black and white farmers, several historical factors had contributed to a deep rift between the two groups. In the first place, many of the poor white farmers were hostile towards blacks, tending to regard them as economic enemies. The explosive advance of the cotton plantation system in the decades prior to the Civil War had seriously undermined the independent small farmers. Unable to compete with the large planters in cotton production they were inexorably pushed out of the fertile regions or forced to emigrate to the frontier. Many of these ousted farmers became the "poor, white trash," "hillbillies," and "crackers" of the mountains and other inhospitable regions of the South. The class of poor rural whites was thereby swelled by the growth of the slave plantation system. However, in the 93 hysterical racist atmosphere cultivated by the big planters, the poor whites were prone to identify their distress not with the slave system but with the slaves themselves. The unquestioning acceptance of white supremacy demanded by the planters and their allies combined with the formers custom of employing poor whites as harsh overseers between master and slave contributed immensely to racial antagonisms. The historic hostility between impoverished rural white and black populations thus has roots that reach back into the antebellum period.This "historic hostility" continued to obstruct any possibility for an alliance, even during the late1800s when economic conditions worsened for both. Allen pinpoints the reasons for thefailure of the two groups to ally: 78 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 86. [H]istorically, two contradictory dynamics were at work among the white farmers of the late nineteenth century, one pushing them toward economic and political alliance with similarly exploited-black farmers, and the second, based on white supremacy, moving them to economic and political hostility toward black farmers.Despite this hostility, the whites who had formed the Southern Alliance and had excludedBlack members realized they needed the support of Black farm workers. They thus helpedorganize a separate Black organization, the Colored Farmers National Alliance andCooperative Union.Some historians have contended that the Colored Alliance "was little more than anappendage" to the Southern Alliance, but there were differences in their approaches. In 1891,the Colored Alliance began working on a plan for Black cotton pickers to strike for higherwages. The president of the Southern Alliance reacted by declaring that Blacks were trying"to better their conditions at the expense of their white brethren." The white Alliance was notabout to support any radical action that would threaten the interests of white farmers, and itconsistently undermined Black efforts to act independently. As Allen points out: Underlying this dispute was a difference in class interest between the two groups. Many of the white farmers, especially the leaders of the agrarian revolt were farm owners and their ideology tended to be that of a landowning class. Between white and black farmers, who were overwhelmingly sharecroppers differing only in degree from landless farm workers, there was a smoldering class conflict not altogether unlike the contemporary conflict between farm owners and farm workers... Black farmers thus were caught in a position of economic and racial conflict with white farmers and their political representatives. However... the black farmers lacked a truly independent organization through which they could develop and articulate their own program. Instead they were reduced to 94 subservient status in the agrarian reform movement.Although the Colored Farmers National Alliance and Cooperative Union built up amembership of over one million Black farmers, its fate was set by the betrayal of white farmleadership.Later, a more revolutionary approach was undertaken by organizations like the SouthernFarm Tenant Union and the Sharecroppers Union, most active in the 1930s and 1940s. Theorganizations built a membership of Black and white farmers, and were militant enough toeven engage in armed struggle to protect its membership from the "southern justice" ofsheriffs and lynch mobs.THE DECLINE OF RURAL LIFE: OUTMIGRATION 95In the end, the overall dynamic character of industrial capitalism significantly reduced thedemand for agricultural labor and increased the demand for industrial labor. The boll weevil 79 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 87. that invaded the South during the 1920s and 1930s and led to the deflation of land valueshelped speed the process of agricultural decline. Particularly during World Wars I and II whenthe war industries were at their peak, Black people left the South and headed North. Thisexodus is one of the major social disruptions of Black social life, in many ways equal to theCivil War and Reconstruction. 80 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 88. KEY CONCEPTS Alliance of farmers (white vs. Black) Lynching Black Belt Peonage/Indebtedness Resistance (physical force vs. Disfranchisement economic force) Emancipation experience (Civil War vs. Sharecropping Reconstruction) Farming/Agriculture Tenancy 96STUDY QUESTIONS1. What are the different forms of tenancy? Describe the relationship between each type oftenant and the landowner.2. Compare peonage to the middle-class aspects of tenant farming.3. What political and violent methods were used to control and repress Black people during 81 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 89. the rural period? Compare these methods with those that were used during slavery.4. How did Black people organize resistance to fight against exploitation and repressionduring the rural period?SUPPLEMENTARY READINGS1. Leon F. Litwack, Been in the Storm so Long. The Aftermath of Slavery. New York: RandomHouse, 1979.2. Edward Magdol, A Right to the Land: Essays on the Freedmens Community. Westport:Greenwood Press, 1977.3. Jay R. Mandle, The Roots Of Black Poverty.- The Southern Plantation Economy after theCivil War. Durham: Duke Uni- versity Press, 1978.4. Roger L. Ransom and Richard Sutch, One Kind of Freedom: The Economic Consequencesof Emancipation. New York: Cam- bridge University Press, 19775. Theodore Rosengarten, All Gods Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw. New York: Alfred A.Knopf, 1975. 82 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 90. 83Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 91. 6. THE URBAN EXPERIENCE:THE PROLETARIANIZATION OF AFRO- AMERICANS .............. 99 The Urbanization of Blacks .................................... 101 The "New Negro" ........................................... 104 The Proletarianization of Blacks ...................... 107 Changes in Social and Cultural Life ........................... 111 Resistance ....................................................... 114SIX The Urban Experience: The Proletarianization of Afro-Americans Toward a Paradigm of Unity in Afro-American Studies Social Traditional Rural Urban - Slavery - -LOGIC OF Cohesion Africa Life LifeCHANGE Social Slave - - Emancipation - Migrations - Disruption Trade Ideology A1 B1 C1 D1 E1 F1 G1UNITS OF Nationality A2 B2 C2 D2 E2 F2 G2ANALYSIS Class A3 B3 C3 D3 E3 F3 G3 Race A4 B4 C4 D4 E4 F4 G4 The white man turned ...... Im from up North," he said.... "They need men up there - good men - all they can get. If Big Mat speaks for this family tell him they can use him and all the other able menfolks in his house: . . . The man reached back in his pocket and pulled out a roll of bills. It was more money than Chinatown had ever thought was in the world. The permanent grin. almost left his face as the man shucked off a ten-dollar bill and gave it to him.... 99 "The freight train will stop at Masonville Junction at midnight. Thats tonight. Thats where you boys board her for the North."... Hiding his cheek under one big hand, Mat listened to them tell about the crazy jackleg. Not one muscle in his body moved, though Chinatown was waving the bill under his nose.... "What on your mind, Mat?" He took his hand away from his face. A long purple 84 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 92. welt blossomed on his cheek.... "Git the stuff packed," Big Mat said. "We goin to be at MasonviU6 Junctionfore midnight.. . . .Saturday morning Big Mat went to the mill a changed man. A- borning in himwas a new confidence.... Through the long, hot hours he would do twice as much work as anybody else.In competition with white men, he would prove him- self... Without slowing between molds, they took tests of the steel. The sweat raninto Big Mats wide-mouthed gloves and made small explosions when it fell onthe hot test steel. Big Mat did not flinch. Alone he held the spoon steady. It tooktwo hunkies to hold up a spoon. He smiled behind his expressionless face. Hismuscles were glad to feel the growing weight of the steel. The work was nothing.Without labor his body would shrivel and, be a weed. His body was happy. Thiswas a good place for a big black man to be. William Attaway, Blood on the Forge, 1941.It is not only the long house, the small pay, and the lack of privacy - we oftenhave to share a room with the children - that we maids find hardest to bear. It isbeing treated most of the time as though we are completely lacking in humandignity and self- respect. During my first year at this work I was continuallyhopeful. But now I know that when I enter that service elevator I should park myself-respect along with the garbage that clutters it. Self- respect is a luxury Icannot retain and still hold my job. My last one was a good example of this....Lucille and I both met our Waterloo in the following fashion. I had cooked a hugedinner for many guests - we always had company besides the ordinary family offive - and it was 9:00 P.M. before we two sat down to our meal, both too tired toeat.Suddenly the bell rang furiously and Lucille came back, flushed with anger. "Shesay to put the cake right on the ice!"Soon the bell rang again. "Is that cake on the ice?" called out Mrs. B - 100I sang out. "Weve just started our dinner, Mrs. B - Later I said to Lucille: "Doesshe think were horses or dogs that we can eat in five minutes - either a coltie ora Kiltie?" (Kiltie was the d6g.) Lucille, who loved such infantile jokes, broke intopeals of laughter.In a second Mrs. B - - was at our side, very angry. She had been eaves-dropping in the pantry. "I heard every word you said!""Well, Mrs. B - - were not horses or dogs, and we have been e4fing only fiveminutes!""Youve been a disturbing influence in this house ever since youve been here!"Mrs. B - - thundered. "Before you came Lucille thought I was a wonderful womanto work for - and tonight you may take your wages and go. Tomorrow, Lucille,your aunt is to come, and we shall see whether you go too!" . . . 85 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 93. Jobless, and with only $15 between us and starvation, I still felt a wild sense of joy. For just a few days I should be free and self- respecting! ... Naomi Ward, "I Am a Domestic," 1940.Black people had the opportunity to begin moving out of the South in large numbers and theydid. They moved to the cities of the North and the South, but particularly important was themove out of the South, and eventually to the cities of the West. The great migrations occurredduring the two world wars when there was a great demand for unskilled labor in northernindustries. Harold Baron captures the essence of what took place during this period: This new demand for black workers was to set in motion three key developments: first, the dispersion of black people out of the South into Northern urban centers; second, the formation of a distinct black proletariat in the urban centers at the very heart of the corporate-capitalist process of production; third, the break-up of tenancy agriculture in the South. World War II was to repeat the process in a magnified form and to place the stamp of irreversibility upon it.This is the basis for the Black community that we know todayTHE URBANIZATION OF BLACKSBetween 1910 and 1940, the proportion of the Black population residing in urban areas of theUnited States increased from 28% to 48.2% (side diagrams below). When the census was firsttaken in 1790, Black people were found in large numbers in only four cities: New York,Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Boston. After Emancipation, Blacks began migrating to northernas well as southern cities, but it was World War I that witnessed the mass migrations tonorthern cities. "Hostilities in Europe," wrote Baron, "placed limitations on American industrysusual labor supply by shutting off the flow of [European] immigration at the very time thedemand for labor was increasing sharply due to a war boom and military mobilization." Blacksthus were drawn into the steel, meat-packing, and auto industries, of northern cities and intoshipbuilding and heavy industry of southern cities. Though post- war demobilization broughtheavy unemployment for Black people, a strong economic recovery and very restrictiveimmigration laws in the early 1920s encouraged a second migration out of the South. E. 101Franklin Frazier notes in The Negro in the United States: During and following the War there was a great demand for unskilled labor to fill the gap created when immigrants returned to Europe and immigration from Europe ceased. At the same time economic conditions in the South growing out of the tenancy system tended to "push" the Negro out of the South. During 1915 and 1916, crop failures, floods, and the ravages of the boll weevil resulted in the widespread disorganization of the plantation economy. In a study which was designed to measure the relative strength of the "pull" of northern industries and the "push" of southern agriculture, Lewis concluded that the "pull" of the North was primarily responsible for the migrations. World War I I gave further impetus to the "pull" of northern cities (see Figures D and E andTable 9 below). During and following World War II, Blacks for the first time were drawn in large 86 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 94. numbers to the west coast where defense industries were located. In 1950, only 40% of the Black population lived on farms and the number of acres operateddeclined 37% to 25.7 million acres. Moreover, in 1950 the United States Census Bureaureported that for the "nonwhite" population - 95% of which was Black - only 18.4% wereemployed as farm workers, with 38% as "blue collar workers" (mainly industrial) and 34% as"service workers." This transformation of the social form of the Black community - from a predominantly agricultural laboring class in the rural South to an integral sector of the industrialproletariat more concentrated in the urban North - is one of the most significant socialtranformations in the history of the United States. 87 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 95. 102 88Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 96. 103By the 1970s Black people had become an urban people. In 1890 whites were twice as likely tobe in cities, passing the 50% mark by 1920. However, the World War I and World War IImigrations to the city by Black people, as well as other subsequent developments (suburbanization of whites, increased fertility/birth rates and lower mortality/death -rate for Blacks,etc.), have resulted in Black people today being more urbanized than whites.THE "NEW NEGRO"This new urban experience, in combination with their experience in World War I, produced a 104new response by Black people in the 1920s. 89 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 97. TABLE 9 CITIES WITH A BLACK POPULATION OF 100,000 OR MORE 1940, 1930, 1920,1910, and 1900. CITY 1940 1930 1920 1910 1900 ( NORTH ) New York 458,444 91,709 60,666 Chicago 277,731 44,103 30,150 Philadelphia 250,880 84,459 60,613 Detroit 149,119 5,741 4,111 Washington 187,266 94,446 86,702 Baltimore 165,843 84,749 79,258 St. Louis 108,765 43,960 35,516 New Orleans 149,034 89,262 77,714 Memphis 121,498 52,441 49,910 Birmingham 108,938 52,305 16,575 Atlanta 104,533 51,902 35,729Source: E. Franklin Frazier, The Negro in the United States, p. 230.There was a new confidence and determination, which can be seen in this editorial W. E. B.DuBois wrote for The Crisis in 1919: We return from the slavery -of uniform which the worlds madness demanded us to don to the freedom of civil garb. We stand again to look America squarely in the face and call a spade a spade. We sing: This country of ours, despite all its better souls have done and dreamed, is yet a shameful land. It lynches. And lynching is barbarism of a degree of contemptible nastiness unparalleled in human history. Yet for fifty years we have lynched two Negroes a week, and we have kept this up right through the war. 105 It disfranchises its own citizens. Disfranchisement is the deliberate theft and robbery of the only protection of poor against rich and black against white. The land that disfranchised its citizens and calls itself a democracy lies and knows it lies. It encourages ignorance. It has never really tried to educate the Negro. A dominant minority does not want Negroes educated. It wants servants, dogs, whores and monkeys. And when this land allows a reactionary group by its stolen political power to force as many black folk into these categories as it possibly can, it cries in contemptible hypocrisy: "They threaten 90 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 98. us with degeneracy; they cannot be educated." It steals from us. It organizes industry to cheat us. It cheats us out of our land; it cheats us out of our labor. It confiscates our savings. It reduces our wages. It raises our rent It steals our profit. It taxes us without representation. It keeps us consistently and universally poor, and then feeds us on charity and derides our poverty. It insults us. It has organized a nationwide and latterly a worldwide propaganda of deliberate and continuous insult and defamation of black blood wherever found. It decrees that it shall not be possible in travel nor residence, work nor play, education nor instruction for a black man to exist without tacit or open acknowledgment of his inferiority to the dirtiest white dog. And it looks upon any attempt to question or even discuss this dogma as arrogance, unwarranted assumption and treason. This is the country to which we Soldiers of Democracy return. This is the fatherland for which we fought! ... But by the God of Heaven, we are cowards and jackasses if now that that war is over, we do not marshal every ounce of our brain and, brawn to fight a stern", longer, more unbending battle against the forces of hell in our own Ian We return. We return from fighting. We return fighting. Make way for Democracy!A new term developed for this confident and determined Black - the "New Negro." In 1920, The Messenger outlined the aims of the "New Negro" so that the general publicwould have a "definite and clear portrayal": In politics, the New Negro, unlike the Old Negro, cannot be lulled into a false sense of security with political spoils and patronage. A job is not the price of his vote. He will not continue to accept political provisory notes from a political debtor, who has already had the power, but who has refused to satisfy his political obligations. The New Negro demands political equality. He recognizes the necessity of selective as well as elective representation. He realizes that so long as the Negro votes for the Republican or Democratic party, he will have only the right and privilege to elect but not to select his representatives. And he who 106 selects the representatives controls the representatives. The New Negro stands for universal suffrage. A word about the economic aims of the New Negro. Here, as a worker, he demands the full product of his toll. His immediate aim is more wages, shorter hours and better working conditions. As a consumer, he seeks to buy in the market, commodities at the lowest possible price. The social aims of the New Negro are decidedly different from those of the Old 91 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 99. Negro. Here he stands for absolute and unequivocal "social equality." He realizes that there cannot be any qualified equality. He insists that a society which is based upon justice can only be a society composed of social equals. He insists upon identity of social treatment. It went on to specify the methods for achieving these goals: First, the methods by which the New Negro expects to realize his political aims are radical. He would repudiate and discard both of the old parties - Republican and Democratic. His knowledge of political science enables him to see that a political organization must have an economic foundation. A party whose money comes from working people, must and will represent working people. Now, everybody concedes that the Negro is essentially a worker. There are no big capitalists among them. There are a few petit bourgeoisie, but the process of money concentration is destined to weed them out and drop them down into the ranks of the working class. In fact, the interests of all Negroes are tied up with the workers. Therefore, the Negro should support a working class political party. He is a fool or insane, who opposes his best interests by supporting his enemy. As workers, Negroes have nothing in common with their employers. The Negro wants high wages; the employer wants to pay low wages. The Negro wants to work short hours; the employer wants to work him long hours. Since this is true, it follows as a logical corollary that the Negro should not support the party of the employing class. Now, it is a question of fact that the Republican and Democratic Parties are parties of the employing or capitalist class. On the economic field, the New Negro advocates that the Negro join the labor unions. Wherever white unions discriminate against the Negro worker, then the only sensible thing to do is to form independent unions to fight both the white capitalists for more wages and shorter hours, on the one hand, and white labor unions for justice, on the other, It is folly for the Negro to fight labor organization because some white unions ignorantly ignore or oppose him. It is about as logical and wise as to repudiate and condemn writing on the ground that it is used by some crooks for forgery. As a consumer, he would organize cooperative societies to reduce the high, cost of living. The social methods are: education and physical action in self defense. That education must constitute the basis of all action, is beyond the realm of question. And to fight back in self defense, should be accepted as a matter of course... Finally, the New Negro arrived upon the scene at the time of other forward, progressive, groups and movements - after the great world war. He is the product of the same world wide forces that have brought into being the great liberal and radical movements that are now seizing the reins of political, economic and social power in all of the civilized countries of the world. His presence is inevitable in these times of economic chaos, political upheaval and social distress. Yes, there is a New Negro. And it is he who will pilot the Negro through this terrible hour of storm and stress.Most of this energy was generated in and focused on the urban environment - with mixedresults, as will be seen later in the chapter. 107 92 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 100. THE PROLETARIANIZATION OF BLACKS The urban experience for Black people was similar to that of any other formerly rural and poorpeople. The city was a relatively small place where large numbers of people lived and thereforesocial and cultural activities were intensified. Moreover, the economic basis for all of this wassignificantly different from the rural experience.Black people were transformed into wage workers with little opportunity to be self-employed orto own the means of making a living (like a piece of land) in an independent way. In the cityvirtually everyone worked for someone else. Unlike white workers, however, Blacks in the citywere the "last hired and the first fired" so that the vicious pattern of rural discriminationpersisted in a new form in the urban environment.Initially, there continued to be jobs that were occupied by Black people only. As Harold Baronhas pointed out : In industry generally the black worker was almost always deployed in job categories that effectively became designated as "Negro jobs.". . . The superintendent of a Kentucky plough factory expressed the Southern view: "Negroes do work white men wont do, such as common labor; heavy, hot, and dirty work; pouring crucibles; work in the grinding room; and so on. Negroes are employed because they are cheaper. . . . The Negro does a different grade of work and makes about $.10 an hour less." There was not a lot of contrast in the words of coke works foremen at a Pennsylvania steel mill: "They are well fitted for this hot work, and we keep them because we appreciate this ability in them.". "The door machines and the jam cutting are the most undesirable; it is hard to get white men to do this kind of work."Certainly there was a limit beyond which black people couldn’t go, at least in large numbers. Inother words, there was a job ceiling that existed in both the North and the South, as Baron aptlydescribes: In the North there was some blurring of racial distinctions, but they remained strong enough to get the black labor force off quite clearly. While the pay for the same job in the same plant was usually equivalent, when blacks came to predominate in a specific job classification, the rate on it would tend to lag. White and black workers were often hired in at the same low job classification; however for the whites advancement was often possible, while the blacks soon bumped into a job ceiling. In terms of day-to-day work, white labor was given a systematic advantage over black labor and a stake in the racist practices.... 108 In the South, where four-fifths of nations black population still lived at the end of the 1920s, the situation of black labor was to all appearances essentially unchanged.... Black workers were concentrated in stagnant or declining plants, such as sawmills, coal mines, and cigar and tobacco factories. The increased hiring of blacks in such places was chiefly a reflection of the fact that the jobs had no future and the employers were not able to attract white workers. Black employment in textiles was severely limited, as in South Carolina, where state law forbade blacks to work in the same room, use the same stairway, or even share the same factory window as white textile workers.Throughout the 1920s and 1930s as Blacks continued to migrate to the cities, they were forced 93 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 101. into "Negro jobs," which became workplace ghettos. St. Clair Drake and Horace Caytondescribed the situation in their 1945 study: ....the bulk of the Negro population became concentrated in the lower- paid, menial, hazardous, and relatively unpleasant jobs. The employment policy of individual firms, trade-union restrictions, and racial discrimination in training and promotion made it exceedingly difficult for them to secure employment in the skilled trades, in clerical or sales work, and as foremen and managers. Certain entire industries had a "lily-white" policy - notably the public utilities, the electrical manufacturing industry, and the citys banks and offices. Ira De A. Reid, who was on the Social Security Board, further detailed the plight of Black workers: Blind alley occupations for workers who have latent capacity for other jobs is, the rule rather than the exception among Negro workers. For the Negro there is little encouragement and less opportunity for promotion. Success stories of rises from laborer to superintendent and manager are few. Opportunities for training are even more restricted. Apprenticeships are few and other opportunities for trade training rare. Schools do not see the wisdom of training Negro pupils in skilled crafts because there is no opportunity for placing them after they have been trained. Employers will not hire them because they have no training. The vicious circle continues when a privileged few do received the training or the required apprenticeship only to find that white workers refuse to accept them as fellow workmen. Strikes have been waged on this account. Union workers have been known to walk off the jobs when a Negro fellow unionist was employed.Baron takes us one step further and analyzes the process by which Black people wereproletarianized during this period: As the size of the black population in big cities grew, "Negro jobs" became roughly institutionalized into an identifiable black sub-labor market within the larger metropolitan labor market. The culture of control that was embodied in the regulative systems which managed the black ghettos, moreover, provided an effective, although less-rigid, variation of the Jim Crow segregation that continued with hardly any change in the South. Although the economic base of black tenancy was collapsing, its reciprocal superstructure of political and social, controls remained the most-powerful force shaping the place of blacks in society. The propertied and other groups that had a vested interest in the special exploitation of the black peasantry were still strong enough to maintain their hegemony over matters concerning race. At the same time, the variation of Jim 109 Crow that existed in the North was more than simply a carry-over from the agrarian South. These ghetto controls served the class function for industrial society of politically and socially setting off that section of the proletariat that was consigned to the least desirable employment. This racial walling off not only was accomplished by direct ruling-class actions, but also was mediated through an escalating reciprocal process in which the hostility and competition of the white working class was stimulated by the growth of the black proletariat and in return operated as an agent in shaping the new racial controls.This general pattern of restricting Black people to working-class jobs - and the lowest level ofthese jobs at that - is known as the proletarianization of Blacks. 94 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 102. Not surprisingly, racial tension was quick to emerge in the urban areas, as employers promotedcompetition for jobs and used Black workers as strikebreakers against the white working class."When the conflict erupted into mass violence," Baron observes, "the dominant whites sat backand resolved the crises in a manner that assured their continued control over both groups."During the depression years, Black people were in dire economic straits in the industrializedurban areas as millions were thrown out of work: In the first years of the slump, black unemployment rates ran about two- thirds greater than white unemployment rates. As the depression wore on, the relative position of the black labor force declined so that by the end of the decade it had proportionately twice as many on relief or unemployed in the Mid-Atlantic States, and two and a half times as many in the North Central States. In the Northern cities only half the black men had regular full-time employment. In the larger cities, for every four black men in full- time regular employment there was one engaged in government-sponsored emergency relief The differential in the South was not as great, for much of the unemployment there was disguised by marginal occupations on the farms.But, as Baron points out, "Two somewhat contradictory results stood out for this period. First,whites were accorded racial preference as a greatly disproportionate share of unemploymentwas placed on Black workers. Second, despite erosion due to the unemployment differential,the black sub-sectors of the urban labor markets remained intact." Thus, despite the fact thatBlack people suffered disproportionately during the Great Depression, they continued to adhereas a permanent part of the urban work force, albeit at the lowest levels.As the country geared up for World War II, initially "the black unemployed had to stand asidewhile the whites went to work." However, increased military mobilization finally swept Blacksback into the industrial work force: The vast demand for labor in general, that had to turn itself into a demand for black labor, could only be accomplished by way of a great expansion of the black sectors of metropolitan labor markets. Training programs for upgrading to skilled and semiskilled jobs were opened up, at first in the North and later in the South.... 110 World War I had established a space for black laborers as unskilled workers in heavy industry . During World War II this space was enlarged to include a number of semi-skilled and single-skilled jobs in many industries. World War II marked the most-dramatic improvement in economic status of black people that has ever taken place in the urban industrial economy. . , . Occupationally, blacks bettered their positions in all of the preferred occupations. The biggest improvement was brought about by the migration from South to North (a net migration of 1,600,000 blacks between 1940 and 1950). However within both sections the relative proportion of blacks within skilled and semi-skilled occupations grew. In clerical and lower-level professional work, labor shortages in the government bureaucracies created a necessity for a tremendous black upgrading into posts hitherto lily-white. Though Blacks continued to face severe discrimination in employment following World WarII, the overall structure of the Black work force had been significantly altered (see Chapter 7).During the first half of the 20th century, Black men had been able to move from strictly unskilled 95 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 103. labor positions into some skilled labor jobs, mainly as operatives. Black women, particularlylater during the 1960s and 1970s, moved from domestic positions into service positions. On the whole, the discrimination that Black people confronted in the northern cities duringthe first half of the 20th century was less than that of the rural experience, but in some respectsit was greater. There was more apparent social equality, the work paid more, and there was agreat deal more to do in the course of normal everyday life. However, life was cold andimpersonal, prices were higher, and there was much greater relative deprivation. In the city apoor Black person was closer to wealth though without it. It was easier to be without somethingin the South because Black people there were quite distant from the general wealth of themiddle and ruling classes (except for the domestic servants, who were similar to the houseslaves), and because of the legacy of slavery.. The main process of life in the cities had to do with the increased industrialization of Blackworkers. This process represented:1. an increase in the skill level of Black workers;2. an increase in the pay of Black people, especially since both world wars resulted in Blackwomen getting factory jobs too, making a great deal more money than they had ever madebefore (though it should be noted that Black women were pushed out of their jobs immediatelyfollowing both wars); 1113. an increased association with white workers on a more equal basis, resulting in positiveassociation in comparison with the more blatant racism and oppression that had been thecommon experience in the South.The most important aspect of the urban experience for Black people was theirproletarianization.CHANGES IN SOCIAL AND CULTURAL LIFE The northern urban experience also meant that social and cultural life was quite different.Urbanization brought about the functional differentiation of social life in which the churchceased to be the main and central social institution. In the city, each social and cultural activityhad its own institution that was more often than not divorced from the church. Either the activitywas set up by the government (like public education and public assistance programs), or it wassimply the activity of private enterprise (e.g., recreation - movies, bowling, dance halls, bars,etc. - and insurance, health care, death benefits, etc.). The cultural life of Black people took a tremendous leap forward in the city, both in quantityand quality. Immediately after the World War I migrations, while the automobile and pre-depression prosperity of the U.S.A. created the "roaring 20s," Black people in Harlem had a 112cultural renaissance (rebirth). In every decade since, Black art and culture have advanced inwaves. (See Chapter 9, "Black Culture and the Arts.") All of this has two tendencies: (1) moreand more Black people have assimilated the dominant culture, become proficient, and in some 96 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 104. cases, expert; and (2) the mass culture of Black people has changed to express the urbanworking-class experience (rather than the rural tenant experience) and has achieved auniversal appeal that has continued to make a significant impact on all U.S. culture and mostpeoples through- out the world. In the city Black people faced discrimination in housing so that segregated Blackneighborhoods were formed This approximated the rural experience in the South so closelythat in Chicago, for example, the South Side was called Chicagos Black Belt. In 1919, WalterF. White observed: Much has been written and said concerning the housing situation in Chicago and its effect on the racial situation. The problem is a simple one. Since 1915 the colored population of Chicago has more than doubled, increasing in four years from a little over 50,000 to what is now estimated to be between 125,000 and 150,000.... Already overcrowded this so called "Black Belt" could not possibly hold the doubled colored population. One cannot put ten gallons of water in five-gallon pail. Although many Negroes had been living in "white" neighborhoods, the increased exodus from the old areas created an hysterical group of persons who formed "Property Owners Associations" for the purpose of keeping intact white neighborhoods .... Early in June the writer, while in Chicago, attended a private meeting ... Various plans were discussed for keeping the Negroes in "their part of the town," such as securing the discharge of colored persons from positions they held when they attempted to move into "white" neighborhoods, purchasing mortgages of Negroes buying homes and ejecting them when mortgage notes fell due and were unpaid and many more of the same caliber. The language of many speakers was vicious and strongly prejudicial and had the distinct effect of creating race bitterness. In a number of cases, during the period from January 1918 to August 1919, there were bombings of colored homes and houses occupied by Negroes outside of the "Black Belt." During this period no less than twenty bombings took place, yet only two persons have been arrested and neither of the two has been convicted, both cases being continued.Writing in 1945, St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton described what took place in Chicago in theintervening years: 113 The Job Ceiling subordinates Negroes but does not segregate them. Restrictive covenants do both. They confine Negroes to the Black Belt, and they limit the Black Belt to the most rundown areas of the city. There is a tendency, too, for the Negro communities to become the dumping ground for vice, poor-quality 97 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 105. merchandise, and inferior white city officials. Housing is allowed to deteriorate and social services are generally neglected. Unable to procure homes in other sections of the city, Negroes congregate in the Black Belt... They went on to analyze how segregated housing led to further social and cultural segregation: The conflict over living space is an ever-present source of potential violence. It involves not only a struggle for houses, but also competition for school and recreational facilities, and is further complicated by the fact that Negroes of the lowest socioeconomic levels are often in competition with middle class whites for an area. Race prejudice becomes aggravated by class antagonisms, and class- feeling is often expressed in racial terms. Residential segregation is not only supported by the attitudes of white people who object to Negro neighbors - it is also buttressed by the internal structure of the Negro community. Negro politicians and businessmen, preachers and civic leaders, all have a vested interest in maintaining a solid and homogeneous Negro community where their clientele is easily accessible. Black Metropolis, too, is an object of pride to Negroes of all social strata. It is their city within a city. It is something "of our own" It is concrete evidence. of one type of freedom - freedom to erect a community in their own image. Yet they remain ambivalent about residential segregation: they see a gain in political strength and group solidarity, but they resent being compelled to live in a Black Belt.Chicagos Black Belt merely exemplified what was happening to Black people in urban areasthroughout the United States. Based on this geographical concentration, new ways were developed to oppress Blackpeople through city agencies organized on geographical lines. In the areas of public education,police protection, parks and public recreational facilities, water and sewage disposal, garbagecollection, public health, and public transportation, Black people were confronted withdiscrimination that was not compensated for by the existence of a Black community. By comingto the city, Black people did not escape oppression; they merely had to face it in a new form. 114RESISTANCE Black people fought against these new attacks against them. While geographicconcentration enabled the ruling class to orchestrate new forms of oppression more effectively,it also enabled Black people to fight back with more intensity, more force. Throughout theirurban experience, Black people have combined political pressure with such techniques asboycotts, picketing, marches, demonstrations, and occasional violence to achieve their ends. 98 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 106. Table 10 provides some examples of the means by which Black people in Chicago fought andthe outcome of their struggles from 1929 to 1944. 115Table 10THE STRUGGLE FOR JOBS IN CHICAGOCampaigns Date Groups Involved Technique Outcome "Spend Your Sponsored by NegroMoney Where Professionals -andYou Can Work" Successful: Businessmen. (Led Boycott;Campaign 1929 2,000 jobs in Black by white Race picketing,(directed Belt stores Radicals, with broadat stores in the community support)Black Belt)51st StreetRiot (directed Spontaneous 1930 Violence Successfulat white outburst, by laborerslaborers)Fight forSkilled Jobson Picketing; Consolidated TradesConstruction in political Partial success with 1929 - 38 Council - group ofBlack Belt pressure ; some advent of New Deal Negro artisans(directed at violenceAFL buildingtrades unions) Negro Labor Relations League -Fight for Six group of young menBranch Threat of managers appointed 1937 and women; someManagers with boycott after one week cooperation fromDaily Times campaign Urban League and Politicians Negro LaborFight for Relations League -Branch group of young men Conference; Eight managersManagers, 1937 and women; some implied threat of appointedEvening cooperation from boycottAmerican Urban League and politicians 99 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 107. Campaign for Negro LaborMotion Picture Relations League -Operators in group of young men Ten operators Picketing; threatBlack Belt 1938 and women; some appointed after short of boycott(Directed cooperation from campaignagainst AFL Urban League andUnions) politicians Negro LaborCampaign for Relations League -Telephone Treat that all group of young menOperators ( Negros would Unsuccessful ; threat 1937 - 39 and women; somedirected remove not carried out fully cooperation fromagainst phone telephones Urban League andcompany) politiciansDrive for Negro Fight begun by Whip; Threat ofMilkmen revived in 1937 by boycott; attempt Unsuccessful due to(directed Council of Negro 1929 - 39 to organize lack of communityagainst major Organizations and "Milkless supportdairies and Negro Labor Sunday"AFL unions ) Relations League Demonstrations;Campaign for "United front with threat of Successful inbus drivers and strong leftwing 1930 - 44 boycott; strong securing a fewmotormen on influence; campaign political positionstransit lines aided by FEPC pressure Source: St. Clair Drake and Horace R- Cayton, Black Metropolis, p. 743. Elsewhere Blacks also took up militant means. The 1935 riot that broke out in Harlemmarked "the first time blacks moved ion and employed violence on a retaliatory basis againstwhite storeowners," as Baron observed. It was a technique that was to be used in later years.Another one of the ways to struggle was based on the concentration of buying power. Blackpeople used their money to force merchants to hire Black people by shopping only where Blackpeople worked. During the 1920s, Black bourgeois leaders organized "Dont Buy Where YouCant Work" campaigns to gain jobs in white firms operating in the ghettos. Later, the Doctrineof the Double-Duty Dollar was preached, often from the pulpit. St Clair Drake and HoraceCayton described -in 1945 the meaning of this doctrine and its importance to the Black 116community: It is Sunday morning in the "black belt " The pastor of one of the largest churches has just finished his morning prayer. There is an air of quiet expectancy, and then - a most unusual discourse begins. The minister, in the homely, humorous style so often affected by Bronzevilles "educated" leaders when dealing with a mass audience, is describing a business exposition: "The Business Exposition at the Armory was one of the finest achievements of our people in the history of Chicago. Are there any members of the Exposition 100 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 108. Committee here? If so, please stand. [A man stands.] Come right down here where you belong; weve got a seat right here in front for you. This man is manager of the Apex Shoe Store - the shoes that I wear.. We can get anything we want to wear or eat from Negroes today. If you would do that it would not only purchase the necessities of life for you, but would open positions for your young folks. You can strut as much as you want to and look like Miss Lizze [an upper-class white person], but you dont know race respect if you dont buy from Negroes. As soon as these white folks get rich on the South Side, they go and live on the Gold Coast, and the only way you can get in is by washing their cuspidors. Why not go to Jacksons store, even if you dont want to buy nothing but a gingersnap? Do that and encourage those girls working in there. Go in there and come out eating. Why dont you do that?" This is the doctrine of the "Double-Duty Dollar," preached from many Bronzeville pulpits as a part of the weekly ritual. Church newspapers, too, carry advertisements of all types of business from "chicken shacks" to corset shops. Specific businessmen are often pointed out to the congregations as being worthy of emulation and support, and occasional mass meetings stress the virtues of buying from Negroes - of making the dollar do "double-duty": by both purchasing a commodity and "advancing The Race." The pastor quoted above had been even more explicit in an address before the Business Exposition crowd itself: "Tomorrow I want all of YOU people to go to these stores. Have your shoes repaired at a Negro shop, buy your groceries from a Negro grocer ... and for Gods sake, buy your meats, pork chops, and yes, even your chitterlings, from a Negro butcher. On behalf of the Negro ministers of Chicago I wish to commend these Negro businessmen for promoting such an affair, and urge upon you again to patronize your own, for that is the only way we as a race will ever get anywhere." . .. This endorsement of business by the church simply dramatizes, and brings the force of sacred, sanctions to bear upon, slogans that the press, the civic organizations, and even the social clubs repeat incessantly, emphasizing the duty of Negroes to trade with Negroes and promising ultimate racial "salvation" if they will support racial business enterprises.... To the Negro community, a business is more than a mere enterprise to make profit for the owner. From the standpoints of both the customer and the owner it becomes a symbol of racial progress, for better or for worse. In addition to these consumer boycotts, mass protests were organized in many differentways. For instance, in January of 1941, A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood ofSleeping Car Porters, an all-Black union, called for a massive march on Washington. TheMarch on Washington Movement received sufficient support to force President Roosevelt toestablish a Fair Employment Practice Committee in exchange for calling off the march."Although this movement was not able to establish a firmly-organized class base or sustainitself for long," Harold Baron maintains, "it foreshadowed a new stage of development for a 117self-conscious working class with the appeal that an oppressed people must accept theresponsibility and take the initiative to free themselves." The March on Washington Movementtriggered off a long history of marches on Washington that continue to this day. Lastly, and most importantly, since Black people were becoming workers, the fight againstdiscrimination was aimed at racist practices by both industry and segregated unions. This tookits most advanced form in the 1930s with the development of the Congress of Industrial 101 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 109. Organizations (the CIO) and campaigns in such basic industries as steel and automobileproduction. In the next chapter, we will take up in more detail the experiences of Black peopleas industrial workers in urban centers.KEY CONCEPTS Consumer boycott "New" Negro Double Duty Dollar Push/Pull Ghetto Proletarianization Migration Urban Black Belt "Negro jobs"/Job ceiling Urbanization/SuburbanizationSTUDY QUESTIONSI. Why did Black people migrate to the cities, particularly the northern industrial cities? How wasthe agricultural experience of Black people similar to and different from the industrialexperience?2. What kinds of jobs did Black people get in the city?3. What were the major forms of discrimination and oppression experienced by Black people inthe city? 1184. How did Black people fight back during this period?SUPPLEMENTARY READINGS1. Constance McLaughlin Green, The Secret City: A History of Race Relations in the NationsCapital. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967.2. Theodore Kornweibel, Jr., In Search of the Promised Land: Essays in Black Urban History.Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1981.3. Hollis R. Lynch, The Black Urban Condition: A Documentary History, 1866-1971. New York:Thomas Y. Crowell, 1973.,4. Gilbert Osofsky, Harlem: The Making of a Ghetto. New York: Harper and Row, 1966.5, Allen H. Spear, Black Chicago: The Making of a Negro Ghetto 1890-1920. Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 1967. 102 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 110. 7. BLACK WORKERS AND THE LABOR MOVEMENT .............. 121 Black People in the Work Force ........................... 122 Scabs ............................................................ 123 "Shit-Work" ...................................................... 124 Labor Reserve ................................................. 124 Black Workers and Organized Resistance ................. 128 103 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 111. Early National Unions: NLU, CNLU, and the Knights ... 128 Craft Unionization: AF of L ................................. 130 "One Big Union": The Wobblies ........................... 130 A National Black Union.- The Brotherhood ................ 132 Radicalism: American Negro Labor Congress and Unemployed Councils ..................................... 133 Industrial Unionization: CIO and the Black Community 135 Reactionary Forces: AFL-CIO Merger ..................... 137 Black Militancy ................................................ 137 Black Revolutionary Union Movement: DRUM, the League, BWC ................................. The Contemporary Scene .................................... 140 142SEVEN Black Workers and the Labor Movement Toward a Paradigm of Unity in Afro-American Studies Social Traditional Rural Urban - Slavery - -LOGIC OF Cohesion Africa Life LifeCHANGE Social Slave - - Emancipation - Migrations - Disruption Trade Ideology A1 B1 C1 D1 E1 F1 G1UNITS OF Nationality A2 B2 C2 D2 E2 F2 G2ANALYSIS Class A3 B3 C3 D3 E3 F3 G3 Race A4 B4 C4 D4 E4 F4 G4 104 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 112. "I may not be a red," he said as he banged on the bar, "but sometimes I seered ""What do you mean?""The way some of these people a man has to work for talks to a man, I seered. The other day my boss come saying to me that I was laying down onthe job - when all I was doing was thinking about Joyce. I said, What do youmean, laying down on the job? Cant you see me standing up?"The boss said, You aint doing as much work as you used to do: "I said, ADollar dont do as much buying for me as it used to do, so I dont do asmuch for a Dollar. Pay me some more money, and I will do more work!""What did he say then?""He said, You talk like a red."I said, What do you mean, red?"He said, You know what I mean - red, communist. After all this country hasdone for you Negroes, I didnt think youd turn out to be a red:"I said, In my opinion, a man can be any color except yellow. Id be yellow ifI did not stand up for my rights."The boss said, You have no right to draw wages and notwork. "I said, I have done work, I do work, and I willwork - but also a man is due to eat for his work, to have some clothes, and aroof over his head. For what little you are paying me, I cant hardly keepbody and soul together. Dont you reckon I have a soul? I said. "Boss said, I have nothing to do with your soul. All I am concerned about isyour work. You are talking like a communist, and I will not have no reds inmy plant. ...."Well, if you fire me, I will be a red for sure, because I see red this morning.I will see the union, if you fire me, I said."Just go and do your work", he said, and walked off. But I was hot, pal! Imtelling you! But he did not look back. He didnt want to have no trouble out of 121that union! . Langston Hughes, "When a Man Sees Red: 1940.Deep in the gloom of the fire-filled pitWhere the Dodge rolls down the line,We challenge the doom while dying in shitWhile strangled by a swine....For hours and years with sweated tears.Trying to break our chain....But we broke bur backs and died in packsTo find our manhood slain....But now we stand for DRUMs at handTo lead our freedom fight,And now till then well unite like menFor now we know our might....And damn the plantations and the whole Dodge nation....For DRUM has dried our tears....And now as we die we have a different cryFor now we hold our spears!UAW is scum....OUR THING IS DRUM!!!Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement, "Our Thing is DRUM," 1968 105 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 113. As we have consistently pointed out, the role of Black people since the beginning ofslavery in the United States has been to work, to produce goods, and to provide services.This, of course, is the task forced on the vast majority of people in the U.S.A. - white,Puerto Rican, Chicano, Native American, various nationalities from Asia (Chinese,Japanese, Filipino, etc.), and Black people. As with other oppressed nationalities, Blackpeople have worked under the double oppression of being exploited as workers andoppressed as Black people. For Black women, there has been a triple oppression: as aworker, as a Black, and as a woman. The most important social content of Black historyreveals the struggle against these attacks. Finally, it is only when all of these aspects of thesuffering of Black people are fought, when Black people and all oppressed and exploitedpeople unite to overthrow all forms of oppression, that freedom, justice, and equality will beachieved by all people. This is the most important lesson to learn from Afro-AmericanStudies.BLACK PEOPLE IN THE WORK FORCE 122The experiences of Black workers reflects the general trends of the overall U.S. economy.This means that up to the 20th century, most industries needed a great deal of workers,especially unskilled workers. For Black people, of course, this meant agricultural work untilWorld War II. However, during the 1940s and 1950s, the use of tractors and othermachines, the rural electrification program, and the use of chemical fertilizers meant thatthe need for agricultural labor was drastically reduced. While technological innovation wasoccurring in industry as well, it has not had the effect of significantly reducing the need forlabor. Some writers use scare tactics and try to prove that industrial workers are obsoleteand no longer needed because of automation. (For this view applied to Black people, seeSam Yette, The Choice, and Sidney Wilhelm, Who Needs the Negro.) But by examiningoccupational statistics, and by taking up discussions with working- class people, this view iseasily proved absurd. 106 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 114. We can generally date the origin of the Black industrial worker to the early 20th century,especially after the World War I migration to northern cities. By this time, some advanceshad been made by Black males in industrial employment. Particularly important are thestruggles to gain employment in basic industry, like automobile and steel production, andthe struggles to gain full membership in the trade unions. A significant difference exists inthe experience of men and women Black workers. During World War II , Black womenworkers made a slight shift from domestic service household work into low-level clericaljobs and industrial factory jobs. After the war, both Black men and women faced theperennial experiences of Black workers, "the last hired, and the first fired"Black workers have been used in three main ways: as scabs to break strikes, as low-statuslabor for "shit work," and as a labor reserve.Scabs 123A scab is a person who agrees to work on a job when the regular workers are out on strike.Workers strike (i.e., refuse to work) when they are not paid enough or when they dont haveproper health conditions in the work place, retirement benefits, etc. At various times,especially during the working-class militancy of the early trade-union experience, Black ex-sharecroppers were used as scabs. The main force behind this was the economicnecessity of getting a better job, and the fact that most of the working-class organizationswere as racist as the capitalist factory owners. The history of the trade union movement isboth positive and negative. While Black people have often gotten their start in an industryas scabs, once inside an industry the Black worker has become more of a trade unionistthan the average U.S. worker. 107 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 115. "Shit Work" Once hired, Black workers get assigned to the worst jobs. Most workers call undesirablejobs, dirty and dangerous jobs, "shit work: This is particularly hard for Blacks since eventhese jobs are often the best jobs available for Blacks. The low status of Black employmentis suggested by a list of over twenty-five jobs at least 15% -Black (i.e., jobs with a highconcentration of Blacks). Table 11 is dominated by service jobs, indicating anothermechanism that keeps Black workers in low-income levels.Labor Reserve In response to a recurring imbalance between the demand and supply for industrialworkers, capitalists try to keep a reserve of labor to call up when necessary. This laborreserve is the general source for scabs and people to do the shit work. In the meanwhile,the labor reserve is usually channeled into four main areas:Armed Forces - In World War I and II, Blacks were discriminated against in the armedforces so they worked in jobs left open when white males went to war. However, the post-Vietnam period has radically reversed this trend. There is now a high concentration ofBlacks in the armed services, as indicated in Table 12.Now, over one-third of those in the army are Black and over one-fifth of those in the armed 124forces are Black. But Blacks have been getting the same treatment inside the armedservice as in the general society. They are underrepresented in the officer corps (i.e.,leadership positions). Moreover, while in 1979 Blacks were 32.2% of the army, Blacks were51.2% of the army prison population. Also, one can easily make the case that during theVietnam War, Blacks were being used as cannon fodder until the Black liberationmovement fought for change (see Table 13). The fact that Black soldiers reenlisted at morethan three times the rate for whites (66.59% to 20%) after their first term of service might beexplained by the difficulties Blacks have in finding employment outside the military.Unemployment - This is the main context for the accumulation of the labor reserve, Sincethe end of World War 11, Black people have suffered with an unemployment rate twice thatof whites (see Table 14). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, during the firstquarter of 1984, there were 1,949,000 Black people a majority of teenage Blacks out ofwork. Many will never hold a job unless major changes, occur.Social Welfare - The government has a few programs by which people who qualify receivea monthly government check. These are either to support someone who has worked(social security, , health benefits, veterans benefits, etc.) or to protect those who cant find ajob (unemployment compensation, aid to dependent children, etc.). Black people aredisproportionately recipients of family/children support, as indicated in Table 15, but theyare often cut out of others. Table 11 SELECTED OCCUPATIONS WITH HIGH % OF BLACKS, 1980 125 108 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 116. Occupation % of Black and OtherModerate household cleaners and servants 5304Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants 28.8Cleaning service workers 27.5Laundry and dry cleaning operatives 25.6Taxicab drivers and chauffeurs 25.3Postal Clerks 24.2Textile operatives 22.6Key punch operators 21.8File clerk 21.6bus drivers 19.9Sewers and stitchers 19.9Fork lift and tow motor operators 19.4Packers and wrappers (except meat and produce) 19.2Freight and material handlers 19.0Social and recreational workers 18.6Cooks (except private household) 18.4Vocational and educational councelors 17.7Crane ,derrick and hoist operators 17.6Farm laborers, wage workers 16.9Guards 16.8Construction laborers 16.6Gardeners and groundskeepers 16.3Childcare workers (except private household) 16.2Cutting operatives 16.1Machine operatives 16.1Dressmakers and seamstresses (except factory ) 15.9Assemblers 15.2Source : US Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1981, pp. 402-404 Table 12 HOW BLACK IS THE UNITED STATES MILITARY Army All services Date Enlisted Officer Total Enlisted Officer Total 1942 6.2 0.3 5.8 - - - 126 1964 11.8 3.3 10.9 9.7 1.8 8.7 1972 17.0 3.9 15.0 12.6 2.3 11.1 1981 33.2 7.8 29.8 22.1 5.3 19.8Source : Data derived from Martin Binkin, et al, Blacks and the Military,p.42 Table 13 109 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 117. VIETNAM WAR COMBAT DEATHS, BY RACE Number of Deaths Date Blacks Total % Blacks 1961-66 837 4,156 20.1 1967-72 3,163 26,435 12.0Source : Martin Binkin, et al, Blacks and the Military,p.76 Table 14 ANNUAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATES , 1955-1980 Male Female Ratio Year Black White Ratio B:W Black White B:W 1955 8.8 3.7 2.37 8.4 4.3 1.95 1967 6.0 2.7 2.22 9.1 4.6 1.98 1977 12.4 5.5 2.25 14.0 7.3 1.92 1978 10.9 4.5 2.42 13.1 6.2 2.11 1979 10.3 4.4 2.34 12.3 5.9 2.08 1980 13.3 6.1 2.18 13.1 6.5 2.02Source: National Urban League, The State of Black America, 1983, pp103-104John Reid reports in the Population Bulletin : Nearly one of every five blacks is on welfare, according to figures derived from spring 1982 study of the nations largest cash welfare program, Aid to families with Dependant children. This study also indicates that some 40 percent of all black families with children under 18 are getting AFDC benefits, compared to 6.8 percent of white families with childrenPrison - The average number of inmates in Prisons and jails is Over 50,000. About 26% ofthe overall Prison population is Black, but over 40% of the local jail inmates are Black. 127In general this labor reserve, consisting of the poor recruits into the armed forces, theunemployed, the welfare recipients, and the prisoners, is used to support the economicsystem and to keep wages down. As the work force is threatened by economic crisis,tensions mount between employed workers and this labor reserve. However, it has beenthe history of organized struggle by the employed worker in trade unions that has beenat the heart of the working-class struggle for better living and working conditions. The mainreason for this is that the employed worker is the productive source of wealth in the society.Workers constitute the logical source of resistance to how this wealth is distributed. The oppression faced by Black workers has been met with struggle, both in the form ofspontaneous rebellion and organized resistance. At times, this has been mainly the efforts 110 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 118. of Black workers themselves. At other times, there have been efforts of workers united,Black and white, in trade unions or militant rank- and-file organizations of workers. Themost advanced form of struggle occurs when the concrete economic issues that face allworkers are united with the overall political questions that face all people in the society, andworkers of all nationalities unite to lead the fight against all oppression. This requires anadvanced form of political organization rooted in the working class. Table 15 BLACK WELFARE RECIPIENTS (Aid to families with dependant children, 000s)Year Number of recipients % black1975 3,420 44.31977 3,523 43.01979 3,428 43.9Source : U.S. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1981, p. 346BLACK WORKERS AND ORGANIZED RESISTANCEBeginning in 1866, the working class in the United States has had a, national organizationof one sort of another, as can be seen in Table 16. Even with these unions, there has beena long struggle for immigrants, women, and Blacks to be accepted as full-fledged unionmembers. What follows is an abbreviated history of the major national unions and otherlabor organizations in terms of their relationship with Black workers.Early National Unions: N.LU, CNLU, and the KnightsThe first major national organization was the National Labor Union, founded in 1866. A. C.Cameron, one of the NLU organizers, attempted to confront directly the issue of Blackworkers in an address before the national convention by declaring that the 128 ... interests of the labor cause demand that all workingmen be included within its ranks, without regard to race or nationality; and ... the interests of the workingmen of America especially require that the formation of ... labor organizations should he encouraged among the colored race and that they be invited to cooperate with us in the general labor undertaking. Table 16 NATIONAL FORMS OF UNION ORGANIZATION Type of Organization Dates of Existence Name 1866-1872 National Labor Union "One Big Union" Noble Order of the Knights of 1869-1895 (1949) Labor 111 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 119. 1905-1920s (present) Industrial workers of the world Craft Unions 1881-1955 American Federation of Labor Congress of Industrial Industrial Unions 1937-1955 Organizations Craft and Industrial Unions 1955-present AFL-CIOBut than convention failed to act upon this and others advice. The best the NLU evermanaged to do was later to adopt a resolution encouraging Black workers to organizeseparate unions that could be affiliated with the NLU. This policy of separate or dualunionism clearly was not designed to promote class solidarity or racial unity. Black workerswere left to continue pushing for entry into the union on an equal basis or to form their ownseparate unions. They chose to do both.In 1869, Black workers formed the Colored National Labor Union. Isaac Myers, the CNLUsfirst president summed up its position: Labor organization is the safeguard of the colored man. But for real success separate organization is not the real answers The white and colored ... must come together and work together... The day has passed for the establishment of organizations based upon color.While the CNLU was open to all workers, it fell into the reformist trap of believing that laborand capital could learn to live and grow together. In failing to see the irreconcilable conflict,the. CNLU sealed its fate. Both it and the NLU soon tell into decline. The radicalorganization of workers into a national organizationbegan with the Knights of Labor. Formed in 1869, the year that the CNLU called for the 129unity of workers "without regard to race or color," the Knights of Labor was initiallycommitted to trans- forming this expression of solidarity into a reality. From the ranks of themilitant Knights of Labor rang the slogan, "An injury to one is a concern for all." In manycities throughout the country, including the South, Blacks were a major part of themembership. The Knights also managed to conduct a number of mass campaigns andmarches showing a militant solidarity between Black and white workers. William Z. Fostersummed up the Knights of Labor in The Negro People in American History: Despite the white chauvinist attitude of many of its officials, the Knights of Labor represented the highest stage of Negro-white unity yet achieved by the workers, as well as the most effective stand of the working class against the offensive of the employers. The organization began to decline after 1886from a variety of causes. Among these were the destructive influence of the large influx of nonworking class elements - farmers, professionals, etc. - who came into the order; tendencies of the leadership to play down and even betray strikes and other militant working class actions; trends toward purely opportunist political activities; disruptive activities by ... anarchists, and involvement of the organization in the prevailing "cheap money" quackeries. Especially destructive, was the hostility of the rival 112 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 120. national craft unions, which were strongly opposed to the organization form of the order. By 1895, after 10 years of its greatest activity, the K. of L. was no longer the key labor organization of the working classCraft Unionization: AF of LFor the bulk of the working class involved in unions, the American Federation of Labor,founded in 1881, replaced the Knights of Labor. The AF of L was a national federation ofcraft unions that proved to be an exclusive organization consolidating the most reactionarysectors of the working class. Though Samuel Gompers, its founder, initially declared thatthe AF of L did "not want to exclude any workingman who believes in and belongs toorganized labor," the AF of L failed miserably in its practice. In the beginning, rather thanrooting itself in the principle of solidarity, it took the position that Black workers had to beincluded because their exclusion would make it easier for employers to use them asstrikebreakers. Its position did not improve as the years wore on. Ira De A. Reidsummarized the AP of Us relationship with Black workers: What then is the official position of the American Federation of Labor, toward the organizing of Negro workers? It comprises a number of resolutions urging organization against efforts of radicals at organization; segregated organization of Negro workers in certain occupations through local and federal labor unions; a few pleas for organization; the employment at various times of a few Negro organizers; and a total 130 inability, if not unwillingness to compel international unions to remove from their constitutions Negro exclusion clause$, or Buffer expulsion from the Federation.Its preoccupation with the interests of white workers rather than the working class as awhole, and its concentration on organizing the skilled to the exclusion of the unskilled,meant that it failed not only Black workers but the entire working class."One Big Union": The WobbliesThe Industrial Workers of the World, founded in 1905, took a very different approach. Asthe ideological heir of the better aspects of the Knights of Labor, this was a major radicalunion that included all sectors of the working class. The ideological character of the classstruggle was clearly put: "The working class and the employing class have nothing incommon." The IWW (or Wobblies as they were generally called) was to be "one big union"of the working class, regardless of race, creed, color, or sex. 131Philip, Foner indicates the IWWs relationship to the Black worker: 132 ...at no time in its history did the IWW ever establish segregated locals for black workers, even in the deepest South. Wherever it organized, members 113 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 121. were brought together in locals regardless of race or color. In fact, the Industrial Workers of the World is the only federation in the history of the American labor movement that never chartered a single segregated local.It was just this kind of policy that led W. E. B. DuBois to write: "We respect the IndustrialWorkers of the World as one, of the social and political movements in modern times thatdraws no color line."The Wobblies were perceived by the capitalist class as a major threat to their rule forseveral reasons. First, the Wobblies were syndicalists, a political position that workers candirectly seize control of the state mainly through the use of the strike. Second, their policyof actively recruiting Black workers on an equal basis left open the real possibility that Blackand white workers would unite to overthrow the capitalist class. The government thus setabout to systematically destroy the Wobblies. At the height of the IWWs efforts to organizethe waterfront in 1917, the government began moving in. It eventually arrested IWWleaders all over the country and imprisoned them, some for as many as twenty years. Itwas a move from which the Wobblies never really recovered. The mounting "Red Scare"and further governmental repression decimated the ranks of the IWW. By 1923, "the IWWwas only the shell of an organization," as Foner put it. The government had successfullymanaged to stem the tide of organizing workers, especially Black workers, into industrialunions.A National Black Union:The Brotherhood Not only did the Wobblies present a threat during this period, but thepossibility of an independent Black labor movement loomed large, particularly in the early1920s when Black workers threatened to secede from the AF of L because of its continuedindifference to their concerns. In 1924, A. Philip Randolph was able to capture some of thisremaining impetus when he launched the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters at a publicrally in Harlem, which at the time was hailed as "the greatest mass meeting ever held of, byand for Negro working men." The first organizing drive was in Chicago, but organizingefforts swept thecountry as Black militant, porters rode the rails. It was eventually supported by the NAACP,the National Urban League locals, some churches, and the Colored Womens EconomicCouncil, which formed auxiliaries to stage rallies and to aid porters who were harassed,beaten, and fired by the Pullman Company. Even some of the AF of L leadership supportedthe Brotherhood. As Foner has pointed out, "Worried about the influence of Communists inthe Negro working class, they saw the brotherhood, whose leadership was bitterly anti- 133Communist, as a bastion against the American Negro Labor Congress!By 1928, the Brotherhood had sufficient strength that its members voted to strike Pullman.At the last moment, Randolph called off the strike largely at the counsel of William Greenthe President of the AF of L. Randolph was roundly criticized by militants within and outsidethe Brotherhood, but he defended his position on the basis that the future of the 114 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 122. Brotherhood lay with the AF of L. The following year the Brotherhood had its ownconvention and a constitution, and it went on to become the first successful national Blackunion. For many, it was the symbol of an important response to racism as well as a force ofcohesion for Black workers in organized labor.Radicalism: American Negro Labor Congress and Unemployed CouncilsThere were other, more radical forces at work. In 1925, the same year that Randolph wasestablishing the Brotherhood, the American Negro Labor Congress was organized to unite"Negro workers -and class-conscious white workers in a common struggle against racial,social and economic oppression." Its purposes were clearly stated: The American Negro Labor Congress stands for a militant and uncompromising struggle against all forms of white ruling class terrorism: lynchings, etc. against the attempts of the employers to set one group of workers against the other in order to continue more easily their exploitation of both black and white workers. The American Negro Labor Congress stands for the right of workers to organize for self-defense.It called upon all workers to unite to form militant industrial unions and to fight against U.S.imperialism: The Negro masses throughout the world are the victims of one of the most monstrous systems of exploitation the world has known. In Africa, the West Indies, the United States, etc. our lot is that of an oppressed and exploited denial of education, are some of the methods used by the landowners and employers, in collusion with the banks, courts and police, to enslave the Negro masses. These terrible conditions, which face the Negro not only in the South but throughout the imperialist world, call for effective organization and militant methods of struggle on the part of the Negro workers and farmers, in alliance with the class-conscious white workers. It is futile to expect the wavering, treacherous middle-class Negro leaders to give militant leadership to the struggles of the masses. Such leadership can only come from the workers in the factories and shops who constitute the membership of the American Negro Labor Congress. Only through trained, intelligent and, courageous working-class leadership can the Masses resist oppression and achieve real emancipation. Every Negro worker And farmer should join the American Negro Labor Congress. Every class-conscious white worker should give it his support.Hailed by the Daily Worker, criticized by the Black press as Communist-inspired, andcondemned by the AF of L, the American Negro Labor Congress received a great deal ofpublic attention. It Was not, however, very successful in bringing large numbers of Blackand white workers together in a united front against the segregated trade unions, much less 134against the capitalist class. By 1930, it was superseded by the League of Struggle forNegro Rights. 115 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 123. As the Depression deepened, Blacks and whites joined to set up Unemployed Councils todemand relief, unemployment insurance, and jobs. The policy of the Unemployed Council,as stated by Angelo Herndon was: . . .to carry on a constant fight for the rights of the Negro people. We realize that unless Negro and white workers are united together, they cannot get relief The capitalist class teaches race hatred to Negro and white workers and keep it going all the time, tit for tat, the white worker running after the white worker, and the capitalist becomes the exploiter and the robber of them both. . . . It is in the interest of the capitalist to play one race against the other, so greater profits can be realized from the working, people of all races. It so happens that the Negros skin is black, therefore making it much easier for him to be singled out and used as a scapegoat.... But the Unemployment Council points out to the Negro and white workers that . . . the solution can only be found in the unity and organization of black and white workers. In organization the workers have strength.Herndon, a Black Communist Party worker (the Unemployed Councils were mostly underthe leadership of the CP though Communists and non-Communists alike participated inthem), was arrested in Atlanta for leading a demonstration of the unemployed and wasprosecuted for insurrection. At his trial, Herndon declared: But I can say this quite clearly, if the State of Georgia and the City of Atlanta think that by locking up Angelo Herndon, the question of unemployment will be solved, I say you are deadly wrong. If you really want to ,do anything about the case, you must go out and indict the social system. . . . There are thousands of Negro and white workers who, because of unemployment and hunger, are organizing. If the state wants to break up this organization, it cannot do it by arresting people and placing them on trial for insurrection, insurrection laws will not fill empty stomachs. Give the people bread. The officials ... know now that the workers are going to organize and get relief.The states reaction was to sentence Herndon to life on the chain gang. Other prosecutionsfollowed as the state moved to put down the working class.Industrial Unionization: CIO and the Black Community 135The 1930s witnessed many other battles involving workers. One that was to have particularrelevance to the future of Black workers was the battle over industrial unionism. The craft-trade union was the dominant form of organization inside the AF of L and had long servedto effectively prevent Black workers from being unionized. Those who were unionizedsuffered from all forms of discrimination. There were, however, some industrial unionswithin the AF of L (e.g., the United Mine Workers and the International Ladies GarmentWorkers Union) that had organized all workers on the worksite. A struggle emergedbetween these two trends, representing not only the two objectively based sectors of theworking class (craft versus mass-production industrial workers), but also two basic politicaltrends (reactionary narrow interests versus interests, for progressive social and politicalchanges). The rift broke out at the 1935 convention, after which the dissident group formedthe Committee for Industrial Organization as a minority bloc within the AF of L. After some 116 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 124. struggle, they were purged and subsequently they set up the Congress of IndustrialOrganizations in 1937. In a real sense, the radical wing of the labor movement was again given vitality in theearly days of the CIO. The Communist Party gave leadership to the organizing effort. It ledthe working class in pitched battle against both the sell-out trade unionism pushed by theleadership of the AF of L, and the repressive practices of the capitalist class and its stateduring the severe crisis of the Great Depression. The old southern slander against thetrade union movement again dripped from the lips of every reactionary in the country: "laborunions + strikes = communism + atheism + social equality with the Negro!" The CIO wasnot to be deterred however. The historical importance of this new organization of industrialunions is summarized by Philip Foner: All workers gained substantially from the organizing drives of the CIO, but black workers perhaps gained the most. Before the establishment of the CIO barely 100,000 blacks were members of American trade unions; by 1940, there were roughly 500,000. Before the rise of the CIO, the presence of a black union official at union events was a rare occurrence; in 1939-40, it was commonplace. A body of militant black union officials had come into being. As spokesmen for hundreds of thousands of black union members, tlify occupied a strategic position in influencing union policies.At the same time the CIO was being formed, a number of prominent Blacks came togetherand created the National Negro Congress. "For the first time in the history of blackAmericans; Foner writes, "a united front of all Negro organizations, from old-lineRepublican to Communist, had joined together, rejected Red-baiting, and stood ready tohelp in solving the urgent problems of the Negro people, among which the organization ofblack workers stood foremost." Though it officially supported both the CIO and the AF of L, 136it actively sought an alliance With the CIO, which it saw as the best hope for fightingdiscrimination against Black workers.The National Negro Congress, however, ultimately did not speak for the entire Blackcommunity. The Black community became split over the issue of unionization. One sidewas tied to capital and focused on racism in the unions to argue against unionization. Theother side argued that since the advancement of Blacks was only possible in the tradeunion movement, whatever problems existed had to be fought rather than to jump in bedwith capital. There are many examples of this kind of a split. The major industrial giants,like Ford in Detroit, contributed funds to local churches in order to gain the support ofministers to fight the efforts to organize Black workers into an industrial auto union. Also,local Urban Leagues often took a pro-capital position because of the composition of theirboards and the relationships they had developed in fund raising for the League, thoughthis local practice was in contradiction to the national policy which was hardly ever stronglyanti-union.Reactionary Forces: AFL-CIO Merger During the late 1930s and 1940s, despite the efforts of the Nation al Negro Congress 137and others, reactionary forces operating in the interest of capital increased their attacks onthe CIO. The most backward anti-Communist propaganda was directed at the CIO. Thiswas made more complex by organized labors positive relationship with Franklin D. 117 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 125. Roosevelt and its support of his policy concerning World War 11. By 1948, there was a hardening of the right in trade union leadership, and aconsolidation of the right-wing leadership in the CIO itself. After the war, the AF of Lcontinued with blind patriotism to support the "cold war policies;" of the United States. TheCIO was not far behind. In 1949, the CIO expelled eleven progressive unions, with almostone million workers, on the grounds that they were Communist-dominated. These expulsions smoothed the way for the merger of the AF of L and the CIO in 1955.With the leadership of the AFL-CIO in the hands of the "labor lieutenants of capital," thismerger had serious repercussions for Black workers. Now there was no radical nationaltrade union organization that took a clear and antagonist stand against capital. Blackworkers would have to depend on the militancy of rank-and-file workers or outsideorganizations to push for their rights.Black Militancy Anticipating the reactionary direction the trade union leadership was taking, Blackworkers formed the National Negro Labor Council in 1951, amidst anti-Communist hysteria.The NNLC was dedicated to addressing the needs and rights of Black workers. It filled avoid created by the absence of the National Negro Congress, which had ceased to existafter the war, and by the NAACPs failure to criticize labor leaders who were in the processof ridding the unions of their radical elements. From the beginning, the NNLC made it clearthat its main purpose was to assist unions in bringing an end to job discrimination andracism within the unions. However, when the NNLC attempted to cooperate with unionleaders, it was rebuffed. Black appeals to elect Blackofficers were met with charges of "racism in reverse." The NNLC conducted manyimportant struggles, including militant strikes and campaigns to win jobs, to stop brutalpolice killings of Blacks, and to gain the right to use public transportation and facilities. In1956, however, the NNLC was called before the Subversive Activities Control Board todefend itself against charges that it was a Communist-front organization. Faced with anenormous legal defense bill that it could not pay, the NNLC voted to dissolve itself. Thusthe NNLC died, the victim of, as Foner put it, "intimidation, Red-baiting, and other kinds ofpolitical and economic pressure: Once again, the government, at the behest of the capitalistclass, succeeded in repressing Black workers at- tempts to organize themselves to fightagainst racism. While the NNLC failed to change the AF of L or CIO,. it did set, a new tone 138of Black militancy to inspire others.On the heels of five years of experience with the AFL-CIO during which Black workersmade very little progress, Black trade unionists were determined to assume a more militantrole. After a particularly galling rejection of Black demands, Randolph went before theNAACP convention to ask for the creation of a national Negro labor committee. In May of1960, the Negro American Labor Council was born. It was an autonomous organization ofBlack trade unionists working within the AFL-CIO to pressure it to take concrete actiontoward eliminating racism. Its efforts were hardly welcomed by the AFL-CIO. The followingyear, the AFL-CIO Executive Committee censored Randolph for creating, as George 118 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 126. Meany (the president of the AFL-CIO) put it, "the gap that has developed betweenorganized labor and the Negro community." Black response was quick to follow. RoyWilkins of the NAACP summarized the position of the Black community: "If such, a gapexists it is because Mr. Meany and the AFL-CIO Executive Council have not taken therequired action to eliminate the broad national pattern of anti-Negro practices thatcontinues to exist in many significant sections of the American labor movement . . " Black people were no longer content to wait for organized labor to act upon theirdemands. They were taking matters into their own hands. The NALC, with the -cooperationof the NAACP, - SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), CORE (Congress ofRacial Equality), and SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee), led the 1963March on Washington to demand jobs and an end to discrimination in industry and theunions (see Chapter 14). The Civil Rights Movement was in high gear, and promises ofchange were fast forthcoming from the unions. The next years witnessed a closer relationship between Black people and organizedlabor as both struggled for the passage of the i964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 VotingRights Act. But sharp divisions were occurring between more militant Blacks and whiteliberal labor leaders as organized labors position hardened. In June 1966, "Black Power" came to national attention. While essentially reformist inthat it proposed no fundamental change in the U.S. political and economic system, "BlackPower" did become the rallying cry for many. For some, it portended the beginning of a newrevolutionary struggle.In 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. was still calling for a closer union of labor and civil rightsforces: Today the union record in relation to Negro workers is exceedingly uneven, but the potentiality for influencing union decisions still exists. In many of the larger unions the white leadership contains some men of ideals and many more who are pragmatists. Both groups find they are benefited by a constructive relationship to their Negro membership. For those compelling 139 reasons, Negroes, who are almost wholly a working people, cannot be casual toward the union movement. This is true even though some unions remain incontestably hostile. ... To play our role fully as Negroes we will have to strive for-enhanced representation and influence in the labor movement.... We allowed ourselves to accept middle-class prejudices toward the labor movement.... In shunning it, we have lost an opportunity. Let us try to regain it now, at a time when the joint forces of Negro and labor may be facing an historic task of social reform.But growing disillusionment, among civil rights activists and increasing hostility betweenunions and poverty-stricken Blacks, Puerto Ricans, and other minorities were leading manyto the position that social reform was simply not enough. The riots that erupted in Detroit,Newark, Cleveland, and many other cities in the summer of 1967 could not be blamed onBlack people. The root of the problem was clearly economic and social conditions thatcould be changed only through revolutionary struggle and not by mere reform. 119 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 127. Black Revolutionary Union Movement: DRUM, the League, BWCIn 1968, the labor movement began to feel the full impact of this new revolutionary thrustwhen DRUM (Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement) burst on the scene at a Chryslerplant in Detroit. Its revolutionary goals were made clear in its constitution: We ... understand that there have been previous attempts by our people in this country to throw off this degrading yoke of brutal oppression, which have ended in failure. Throughout our history, black workers, first slaves and later as pseudo-freedmen, have been in the vanguard of potentially successful revolutionary struggles both in all black movements as well as in integrated efforts.... Common to all of these movements were two things, their failure and the reason why they failed. These movements failed because they were betrayed from within or in the case of the integrated movements by the white leadership exploiting the racist nature of the white workers they, led.... At this point we loudly proclaim that we have learned our lesson from history and we shall not fail. So it is that we who are the hope of black people and oppressed people everywhere dedicate ourselves to the cause of liberation to build the world anew, realizing that only a struggle led by black workers can triumph our powerful reactionary enemy... We recognize our struggle is not an isolated one and that we have common cause with the black workers in this racist nation and throughout the world. For this reason it is incumbent upon us to foster, join with, initiate and lead other black workers in our common struggle. By being in the forefront of this revolutionary struggle we must act swiftly to help organize DRUM- type 140 organizations wherever there are black workers, be it in Lynn Townsends kitchen, the White House, White Castle, Ford Rouge, the Mississippi Delta, the plains of Wyoming, the tin mines of Bolivia, the rubber plantation of Indonesia, the oil fields of Biafra, or the Chrysler Plants in South Africa. Needless to say, our line is the hard line. We are in a life and death struggle that has been raging savagely for 5 centuries. A struggle between master and slave, rich and poor, black and white, beast and prey, management and worker. A struggle which has shown no quarter to the black man and which we now wage and give no quarter. The ruthless land vicious nature of our enemy has brought us to a point where we are now prepared to be as ruthless and vicious, if not more so. All that the honkey has acquired, has been acquired through his exploitation of our people with his brutal tactics of murder, enslavement, mayhem, and rape. Our line is one of consistent struggle in which we support everything the enemy opposes and oppose everything the honkey supports.Within a year, DRUM was joined by similar Black caucuses, which eventually united to formthe League of Revolutionary Black Workers. The league, which sought to unite Blackworkers, Black students and intellectuals, and unemployed Black youth, was to be "thevanguard of the liberation struggle in this country." The League believed that Black workershad to break the control of racist unions and form their own revolutionary caucus withineach union, made up of unemployed Blacks as well as workers. The League became thesymbol of not only Black-worker insurgency, but also radical politics on the shop floor for allworkers. Not since the 1930s had workers organized with such radical politics against thecapitalist factory owners. 141 120 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 128. While the following incident occurred after the demise of the League, it was undertaken byformer League members and reflects the general posture of League tactics. JamesGeschwender describes what happened: Two workers, Isaac Shorter and Larry Carter, climbed a ten-foot wire fence, lowered themselves into a six-foot-square wire cage, and turned off the electricity --- stopping the assembly line at the Jefferson Avenue assembly plant for thirteen hours on July 24, 1973. Five thousand workers were made idle and the production of 950 cars lost. Shorter and Carter presented a, list of four demands, (1) Thomas Woolsey, utility superintendent, should be fired; (2) no reprisals; (3) this should be guaranteed in writing; and (4) the guarantee should be signed in their presence and in front of their fellow workers. These demands apparently struck a receptive chord -in a number of workers as a crowd gathered around the cage shouting encouragement and supplying, food and other forms of aid.... All accounts agree that a jubilant crowd carried Shorter and Carter off on their shoulders when they came out of the cage at 7:11 p.m. after winning all demands. Both management and UAW representatives had previously attempted without success to talk the two workers out of the cage. When all other efforts failed, Chrysler, capitulated Woolsey had been a subject of previous controversy. He had been transferred within Chrysler because of worker discontent, had been the subject of five grievances and had been accused of racism and abusive behavior stimulating an earlier work stoppage. Workers accused Woolsey of abusing workers and using racist epithets, for example, calling a man a "black son-of-a-bitch. . . Woolsey had about 300 workers, 90 percent of whom were black, under his jurisdiction. Workers had collected 214 signatures on a petition demanding that Woolsey be fired. After four months of ineffectual protest, Shorter and Carter resorted to direct action. Shortly after the shutdown began the United Justice Caucus (UJC), rank-and-file caucus within UAW Local 7, spread the word about what was happening and helped to rally supporters.... Isaac Shorter and Larry Carter addressed a victory celebration sponsored by UJC on July 29. Shorter did most of the talking and announced that he was a socialist who was "working to change the total structure of the capitalist system by scientific socialism He expressed the need for a vanguard party to lead the workers and indicated that the union was a part of the problem rather than a vehicle for its solution. He received an ovation in response to his statement that "Workers of the world must unite." The practice of the League inspired a new optimism in the radical movement - at thattime called the "New Left" - and led to broader efforts to organized in working-class centersof employment. But the League did not survive the 197Os due to organizational problemsof leadership, their differences over political orientation, and the limitations of being locatedin only one city, Detroit. This organizational thrust led directly into the Black WorkersCongress, a national organization building on the experience of the League and includingradicals from the former student group, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.This led to a greater Black presence in the left (see Chapter 16), but not a great deal of 121 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 129. organizing took place among Black workers. In the working class, the dramatic results of the league, and of similar efforts around thecountry by the small but militant Black caucus movement, were to increase the number ofBlack workers in certain industries. There also was an increase of Blacks in positions ofresponsibility, including Black foremen and Black union stewards. Blacks became part ofthe system, co-opted into low-level leadership positions in both management and the tradeunions.The Contemporary SceneThe increased gains of Blacks in the trade union movement, energized by the massmobilizations of Black people during the 1960s, led to a new organization of Blacks withinthe trade union movement. The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) was organizedin 1972. Sparked by the refusal of AFL-CIO leadership (especially George Meany) tooppose the election of Richard Nixon, Blacks in the trade union movement united in theCBTU "to focus the, influence and bring to bear the power of the nations three million Black 142workers, both in national politics and in union affairs." The specific grievances were: (1)underepresentation of Blacks in top leadership positions in the trade unions; (2)discriminatory hiring practices that keep Blacks in insecure employment; (3) discriminationon the job without protection from the trade union officials; and (4) failure of trade unionleadership to take seriously the policy concerns of their Black members. But the CETU was definitely within the trade union movement. The major leader ofCBTU, William Lucy of APSME, is very clear on this: We are not a separatist organization. We are not negativists. We are still trade unionists. Were not interested in civil rights. Other people are taking care of that. Were not interested in changing peoples attitudes. This has nothing to do with right and wrong, with sin and evil. Power is what creates equals and demands respect. 143CBTU membership comes from over forty unions, inside and outside of the AFL-CIOstructure, including steel, auto, meat cutters, teamsters, government employees, and avariety of other service workers. This historical sketch of Black workers and trade unions is an extremely important partof the Black experience, but it is usually not included in general texts in Afro-AmericanStudies. The same omission is frequent in American history and world history courses.Since most Black people have been working people at every historical stage, it isnecessary and appropriate to spend a chapter dealing with this subject. Further, sincewhite people are also workers, the discussion of the Black experience in the trade unions isan important part of the overall American experience. Blacks have participated in trade unions more than any other organization, except theBlack church. Trade unions were designed to improve the standard of living and workingconditions facing workers, even though this has seldom been done adequately for Black 122 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 130. workers. This chapter should be read in relationship to Chapters 14, 15, and 16.KEY CONCEPTS Caucas Social welfare Craft unions vs. industrial unions Strike Labor reserve Unemployment Last hired, first fired Unionization Scab Working classSTUDY QUESTIONS1. Discuss the negative experiences Black workers have to suffer. How are these similar toor different from the experiences of white workers?2. Have trade unions ever taken a strong position against racism and segregation insupport of Black workers? Give concrete examples.3. What are the main lessons for today that can be drawn from worker struggles of the1930s? 1960s?4. Discuss the pros and cons of separate Black organizations in the trade union movement.Give concrete examples.SUPPLEMENTARY READINGS1. Harold Baron, "The Demand for Black Labor." Radical America 2 (March/April, 1971): 2-6.2. James A. Geschwender, Class, Race, and Worker Insurgency: The League ofRevolutionary Black Workers. Cambridge: Cam- bridge University Press, 1977. 1443. William H. Harris, Keeping the Faith: A. Philip Randolph, Milton P. Webster, and theBrotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, 192537. Urbana: University of Illinois -Press, 1977.4. John F. Keller, Power in America: The Southern Question an . the Control of Labor.Chicago: Vanguard Books, 1983.5. Sterling D. Spero and Abram L. Harris, The Black Worker. The Negro and the LaborMovement. New York: Atheneum, 1968. 123 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 131. EIGHT8. THE BLACK MIDDLE CLASS ................................... 147 The Slave Period ................................................ 147 The Rural Period ................................................ 151 The Urban Period ............................................... 153 Business ........................................................ 155 The Professions ............................................... 157 Government and the Black Middle Class ................ 159 The Future of the Black Middle Class ...................... 161 The Black Middle Class Toward a Paradigm of Unity in Afro-American Studies Social Traditional Rural UrbanLOGIC OF - Slavery - - Cohesion Africa Life LifeCHANGE Social - Slave - Emancipation - Migrations - 124 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 132. Disruption Trade Ideology A1 B1 C1 D1 E1 F1 G1UNITS OF Nationality A2 B2 C2 D2 E2 F2 G2ANALYSIS Class A3 B3 C3 D3 E3 F3 G3 Race A4 B4 C4 D4 E4 F4 G4 Matt said, "Let ins break it down for you. White folks invented these debitramp balls so that their darling little heifers could git a good shot at the prize bull in the pasture..." He chuckled, "But colored folks just do these things cause they see white folks doing them. It aint no investment like it is with white folks. All the money ends up in Whiteys hands again. To the dance teacher, to the beauty peoples, to Mr. Waldorf. Its just some more white folks foolishness that dont git Black folks nowheres except in debt. Like Santa Claus and Easter bonnets, it all ends up in Charlies pockets." John Oliver Killens, The Cotillion, 1971 The Black middle class is a small part of the Black community, but it has more and lives with less hardship than the majority of Black people. Middle-class people have smaller family units, higher incomes, more homeownership, more education, jobs with more 147 authority and independence, more and higher quality consumption of necessity items and luxury items, etc. The fact is that some Black people have always lived better than most. But it is also true that the Black middle class has been very insecure at every stage of Black history. Middle-class privilege has been rooted more in the shifting character of status than in the firmer base of economic ownership. THE SLAVE PERIOD The overwhelming reality of the slave system was that all Black people had the same basic class position, that of being a slave. This class did not own anything; most importantly, they did not own themselves. Therefore, in strict terms, most Blacks were in the same class during slavery. However, the objective differentiation that did matter was in the technical division of labor. 125 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 133. The basic distinction between house slaves and field slaves was the difference betweenservice work in the house and production work in the field. Some specialized production byskilled craft workers took place near the slavemasters house (e.g., the blacksmith) but themain production was done as field work. Field slaves worked collectively (though not with ahigh level of interdependence, as later developed in assembly line factory-production) andhad more limited contact with whites. House slaves were fewer in number and oftendeveloped very close ties with their white masters. This close association became the firstbasis for status distinctions among Blacks in the United States: an aristocracy based oncolor and style. The more "white blood" (the lighter in skin color), the higher the status; themore one was able to "mimic white behavior" (through hand-me-down clothes, speech,etc.), the more status one had.House slaves were conditioned to have commitment and loyalty to the slavemaster. Thispoint is dramatically made by Malcolm X in a 1963 interview on the radio in Philadelphia: The house Negro was the one who lived in, the masters house, ate the masters food, at the masters table usually - after the master had finished with it. He dressed like the master, which means he wore the same type of clothing that the master did, but usually it was clothing handed down to him by the master. He identified the masters house as his own. If the master said, "We have a fine house here," the house Negro would say, "Yes, our house is a fine 148 house." Whenever the master said, "We," he said, "We." If the master said, "We have good food on our table," the house Negro would chime in and say, "Yes, we have plenty of food, boss, on our table." The house Negro would also identify himself so closely with his master that when the master was sick the house Negro would say, "Whats the matter, boss, wes sick?" When the master was sick he was sick. If the masters house caught on fire the house Negro would fight harder to put the flames out or keep the flames from enveloping the masters house than the master would himself.The other group of privileged Blacks within the slave system was called "freedmen." Somefree Blacks owned land, but as E. Franklin Frazier pointed out in the The Negro in theUnited States, most were only subsistence farmers: In 1830 the free Negroes owned about 32,000 acres of land valued at $184,184, and by 1860 both the acreage and the value of the farms owned by free Negroes had doubled. Since nearly half (43%) of the farms owned by the 1,200 free Negro farm owners contained 25 acres or less, it may be assumed that these farms were used for subsistence rather than for commercial enterprises. 126 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 134. Ira Berlin notes the slave system was so threatening to free Blacks that they were oftenuncooperative and decidedly conservative with respect to the well-being of their fellowBlacks who were in slavery: Standing a step above the slave, free Negroes simply had too much to lose to take the lead in breaking the bonds of servitude. They too suffered the pains of white oppression, but free Negroes could look down to slavery as well as up to complete freedom. They could see how their status might degenerate, and they knew that whites needed only the flimsiest excuse to take their liberty. Having learned to squeeze a few precious benefits from their caste status, they were not about to surrender them without a guarantee of something better. Freedom within the context of slavery gave free Negroes something to protect and transformed them into a conservative caste. The general insecurity of free Negro life, the sure knowledge that free Negroes suffered whenever whites felt threatened, and their growing material prosperity reinforced that conservatism.Berlin goes on to point out that the conflict between free Blacks and Black slaves wascaused by slavemasters who were interested in preventing Black unity against the slavesystem: Whites promoted these differences between free Negroes and slaves, just as they tried to divide field hands and house servants, unskilled bondsmen and slave artisans. They gladly rewarded free Negroes who informed on slaves, just as they almost always freed slaves who revealed impending 149 insurrections.Some free Blacks were slaveowners themselves. Much of this can be explained by the factthat they often purchased their family members and friends. However, like whiteslaveowners, some Blacks did own slaves for their own economic advantage. Berlinprovides further insight into how an economic system based on slavery functioned to divideBlacks: Economic success in the South depended largely on the ownership of slaves, and free Negroes were no more exempt from this than whites. Although most free Negro slaveholders were truly benevolent despots, owning only their families and friends to prevent their enslavement or forcible deportation, a small minority of wealthy freemen exploited slaves for commercial purposes. This small group of free Negroes were generally the wealthiest and best-connected members of their caste... Slaveholding free Negro planters identified...closely with the Southern ideal. Andrew Durnford, who owned a Louisiana plantation which he worked with some seventy-five slaves, was finely attuned to the planter ideology and considered himself a patriarchal master in the best tradition. Although he raided endlessly against the seeming incompetence and indolence of his "rascally negroes" he took pride in his role as their protector as well as their owner. When Norbert Rillieux, a French-trained free Negro engineer who had invented a new method of refining sugar, offered Durnford $50,000 for use of his plantation to test the vacuum process, the planter turned him down, noting that he could not "give up control of his people." Durnfords people of course were slaves and he treated them as such despite their 127 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 135. similar complexion. With the exception of his personal body servant, henever showed any interest in releasing them from bondage. In 1835,Durnford traveled north to Virginia to purchase additional hands for himselfand his white mentor, John McDonogh. During his trip, he confronted,perhaps for the first time, the Southern distaste for slave traders, asopposed to those who bought and used slaves, and he consciouslymanipulated that idea to obtain lower prices. Yet, throughout his lengthydiscussion with McDonogh on what he called "Negro traders," he showednot the slightest understanding that the term when applied to him mighthave two additional meanings, for Durnford literally was a Negro trader andsome blacks might consider his actions treasonable. These possibilitieswere lost on Durnford because he fully identified with the white slaveowningelite. Many wealthy freemen, like Durnford, considered themselves morewhite than black, no matter what their precise racial heritage. They showedlittle sympathy for the slave and had few qualms about the morality ofslavery. Durnfords Northern-educated son, who urged amelioration of slaveconditions - not emancipation - had no greater sense of identification withblacks than his father. He supported African colonization for slaves - but notfor himself - spoke of colonization as reparation, and lauded the plan toreturn blacks to "the land of their fathers." 128 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 136. These few Black slaveowners wanted to retain their class privilege.An additional group with special standing was the skilled craft workers (or artisans). Slaveswere the dominant skilled craft workers in many areas of the South, and as such they wereaccorded certain privileges. Some free Blacks were skilled craft workers in both the Northand the South. Marcus Christian provides an example of the artisans in his study of Blackironworkers in Louisiana: Working alongside the slave ironworkers, though not allowed to associate with them socially, were the free Negro and the f.m.c. - free man of color. For almost the entire life of the colony, slaves, free Negroes, and free people of color had practically monopolized the labor situation. The 150 free men of the race naturally had the better part of the situation since they worked for themselves. For generations they had apprenticed their sons to expert mechanics in the building trades. In fact, a thorough knowledge of a particular trade had been the means by which many of them had gained their freedom.While slaves were sometimes able to use their status as artisans to help them gain theirfreedom, some free Blacks were able to use their position as craft workers as a steppingstone to other businesses and professions. Most self-employed artisans were eventuallyabsorbed into large-scale industrial production. Those who work in the building trades orwho do specialty work in wood, glass, metal, and cloth can trace their heritage back to theartisans of the slave period. 129 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 137. In general, privilege under slavery existed mainly in the form of status. There were statusdistinctions between house slaves and field slaves and between those who were skilledcraft workers and those who werent. The main class distinction was between slaves andfree Blacks, and secondarily between those few Blacks who owned land and slaves andthose who did not.THE RURAL PERIODThe Civil War and Reconstruction transformed the class relations in the United States,especially (but not exclusively) in the South. For Blacks, the main thing was the end ofslave class relations. After some experimentation, wage labor (paid by the hour) wasrejected due to the mass resistance and independence of the newly freed slave workers.What developed in conjunction with the Black Codes, however, was a semi-slave, semi-free system of tenant production (see Chapters 5 and 13). The tenant system had within itdifferent class positions in which Blacks were able to maintain some level of privilege.The main basis of class privilege was ownership of farm land. Black people did manage tobuy 15 million acres by 1915. Black people knew that the economic basis of independencewas the ownership of land and there were tremendous efforts to acquire and maintainownership, even though success was slow in coming. In The Negro in the United States, 151Frazier described what happened during the rural period: The number of Negro farm owners in the South gradually increased until 1910 when they owned 24.5 per cent of the farms operated by Negroes. But during the following 20 years tenancy among Negroes as among whites steadily decreased until by 1930 only one out of five Negro farmers in the South was an owner. In 1929 Negro owners of farms produced only 3.8 per cent of the cotton in the South, whereas 28.6 per cent of the entire cotton crop was produced by Negro tenants. During the decade, 1930 to 1940, there were important changes in the rural Negro population both in respect to numbers and land tenure. The number of owners continued to decline; but there was also a decline of almost 200,000 in the number of tenants...As a result there was a small increase in the proportions of owners among Negro farm operators as compared with a much higher increase in this class among whites. In 1940 there was about the same number of Negro land owners as in 1900; and they represented the same proportion among farm operators in 1940 as in 1900. On the other hand, while the number of Negro tenants and croppers had decreased through migrations, the proportion of tenants among farm operators had remained the same. However, it should be noted that the portion of croppers among these tenants had increased during the four decades. 130 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 138. Since World War II, there has been an increasing decline in the number of people engagedin agricultural production, especially among Blacks. The pattern of ownership hasincreased within the general pattern of decline - there are fewer Black farm operators andowners, but a relatively higher proportion of farms are owned, as indicated in Table 17.Lester Salamon demonstrates that the Black-owned farms are concentrated in the BlackBelt: Much of this black-controlled land is concentrated in a relative handful of states. As of 1969, for example, Mississippi alone accounted for almost one quarter of the black farm landowners in the region. Four states - Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina - account for almost 60 percent of all black farm landowners and 52 percent of all black-controlled land... Black-owned land is not only concentrated among a handful of states, but also is concentrated (within) them...[O]nly 492 of the more than 1,000 counties in the South contain as much as 2,000 acres of black-owned land. And of these counties, 92 contain in excess of 20,000 acres each. Although blacks constitute only slightly over 6 percent of all farm landowners in the South as a whole, therefore, they comprise a much more substantial proportion of all landowners in these several states. In Mississippi and South Carolina, for example, over 20 percent of all farm landowners are black. In Alabama,. Louisiana, and North Carolina, about 10 percent are black. In none of these states, however, is the acreage held by blacks proportional to 152 the number of black landowners. This pattern points to one of the central characteristics of black-owned farms in the South: their relatively small size. Only in Missouri, where there are few black-owned farms, does the average size of the farms of black full owners reach even 60 percent of the average size of the farms of all full owners. Else where, black fully-owned and part- owned farms are typically only about half as large as all full-or part-owned farms. As a consequence, in every state black landowners account for a significantly smaller share of the land owned by all landowners than they do of the number of landowners... Table 17 131 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 139. 17 MINORITY OWNERS OF FARMS IN THE SOUTHERN UNITED STATES (000S) % Owners (Full & Total Full Owner Part Owner Part) 1950 559 141 52 34.5 1964 185 71 31 55.2 1978 61 36 15 83.7Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1981, p. 662. 132 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 140. The vicious system of racial/national oppression (called "Jim Crow") that was set up duringthe rural period was met by increased desires and appeals for Black unity. Robert Higgsexplains how the Black middle class reacted: Perceiving that such an appeal to racial solidarity might be turned into private profits, increasing numbers of blacks established business enterprises. DuBois estimated that about 5,000 blacks operated businesses in 1890. The National Negro Business league, an organization founded by Booker T. Washington, estimated that the number reached 20,000 in 1900 and 40,000 in 1914, but these figures are probably overstatements. Most of these enterprises were small - so small that they could be operated with little or no hired help - and most involved retailing or personal services. Grocery stores, restaurants, saloons, pool rooms, barber shops, undertakers, real estate agencies, and boarding houses were common. Of the 1,906 black businesses surveyed in 1899, only 12 represented investments of $50,000 or more; and 79 percent of them involved capital sums of less than $2,500. The largest enterprises included insurance companies, banks, newspapers, 153 and real estate agencies, but even they were small by the standards of the white worldThe older mechanism of status continued to operate, especially in this period of freedomwithin the rigid limitations of segregation. The main additional criteria were homeownershipand living by the moral codes set by the church. The minister and church leaders regulatedstatus as an institutional resource to mold the Black community into a cohesive whole,albeit one controlled by those "anointed with the blessing of status." (See Chapter 10.)THE URBAN PERIODIt was primarily in the city that the Black middle class developed, beginning as far back asantebellum slavery but taking full shape during the 20th century. The economic bases ofthe Black middle class in the city were the professions and ownership of business and realestate. Over the years, the professions have replaced business as the main avenue ofupward mobility. Moreover, professionals now are more likely to be employed by largecorporations than to be self-employed as they were in the past. 133 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 141. Educational attainment has emerged as an important status mechanism. The old-linestatus mechanisms were transformed in importance. While proximity to whites (especiallycolor and speech) was still positive source of status, distance from whites was no longer asnegatively regarded as it had been. In fact the old adage "if youre Black get back!" wasreplaced in the 1960s by another old adage "the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice."One of the important indicators of how Black social protest is good for the mental health ofBlack people is that during the 1960s Black people began to change their value orientationtoward skin color. The slogan was "Black is beautiful," and styles changed to an African-inspired aesthetic.The socioeconomic characteristics of the Black middle class since the 1960s haveapproximated those of the white middle class. This has led to the debate over how best toanalyze the Black community - on the basis of race, class, or both. Milton Gordon uses theterm "ethclass" to suggest that an understanding of white ethnics might best be based onethnicity and class, and James Geschwender borrows from this and coins the expression"race-class" to suggest that the Black experience might best be understood in terms of raceand class. William Wilson, in his book The Declining Significance of Race, makes theargument that the Black middle class in many ways has virtually achieved parity with 154whites, especially in educational achievement and job entry of the upwardly mobile. Themasses of poor Blacks, however, are trapped in the working class and a structuralunderclass with little if any hope for a life of gainful employment. He argues that while someBlacks are moving up, most are locked into a life of poverty. He cites the followingoccupational description: The most dramatic changes in black mobility occurred during the decades of the 1950s and 1960s. Whereas 16.4 percent of black males were employed in middle-class occupations in 1950, 24 percent held such jobs in 1960 and 35.3 percent in 1970. Whereas 21.3 percent of black males were in essentially working-class jobs in 1950, 26.6 percent were so employed in 1960 and 29.4 percent in 1970. Finally, whereas 62.1 percent of all black employed males were in basically lower-class jobs in 1950, 50.7 percent held such jobs in 1960 and only 36.4 percent in 1970.However, given the austerity of the 1970s, the economic insecurity of the Black middleclass has proven itself as it is now "catching hell" in this economic downturn of the 1980s.In order to capture the essence of the Black middle class in the city, we will review brieflythe experience of Blacks in business and the professions. 134 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 142. BusinessBlack people have engaged in commercial enterprises (mostly small businesses) for sometime in the city environment. The owner of a small business is self-employed, with few ifany paid employees other than family members. Black small businesses have been mostlyin retail trade (e.g., a grocery or clothing store) or in the services (e.g., hair care andcatering). This has been the main basis for what has been called "Black Capitalism"The growth of Black businesses between 1863 and 1913,can be seen in Table 18. Blackbusinesses continued to grow, although their character was transformed along with theoverall development of the Black community. E. Franklin Frazier points this out in BlackBourgeoisie with a discussion of Black business development in Chicago: One may get a notion of the nature of Negro business in the North by considering first the situation in Chicago. During the fifteen years prior to the mass migrations from the South, the number of Negro businesses reached 500. The majority of these enterprises were in the service field, with barber shops and moving and storage establishments forming the majority of the enterprises. It was the mass migrations from the South during and following World War I that created the Negro market in Chicago which Negro businesses sprang up to serve. Conspicuous among the Negro businesses were the two banks and four insurance companies. During the Depression the 155 two Negro, banks failed and many of the larger business establishments were wiped out. At the same time the smaller businesses increased in number because unemployed Negroes with small savings opened small stores as a means of securing a living. In 1938 there were about 2,600 Negro businesses in Chicago. Of the ten most numerous establishments there were 287 beauty parlors, 257 groceries, 207 barber shops, 163 tailors, cleaners, and pressers, and 145 restaurants. The remaining five most numerous types of business - coal and wood dealers ,taverns, undertakers, shoe repairing and dress making - were represented by less than 100 establishments Table 18 BLACK BUSINESSES, 1863-1913 135 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 143. Year Total Number of Businesses 1863 2,000 1873 4,000 1883 10,000 1893 17,000 1903 25,000 1913 40,000Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, The Social and Economic Status of the BlackPopulation in the United States, p. 78. 136 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 144. Since the 1960s there has been a dramatic growth of Black businesses. From 1969 to1982, there was a 119% increase in the number of businesses and a 278% increase in thegross sales (see Table 19). Of the 357,000 Black businesses in 1982, the top 100 includedcompanies in manufacturing (13), industrial supply (14), energy distribution and sale (9),construction and contracting (13), automotive sales and service (29), publishing andentertainment (9), and other consumer sales (14). It is interesting that only 24 of thelargest 100 have headquarters in the South, while Chicago has 8 and New York 13.Blacks are also involved in financial institutions. As of 1981, there were 46 Black banks,employing 1,943 people and with assets of $1.3 billion. The top 10 Black banks had 52.2%of these assets. There were 38 Black insurance companies, employing 7,240 people andwith assets of over $725.8 million. The top 10 Black insurance companies held 87.4% ofthe assets. Overall, although Black businesses are growing, most are quite small andmarginal. Lenneal Henderson sums up the general picture in nine points: (1) Almost 95% of black-owned firms operated as sole proprietorships rather than as partnerships or corporations; (2) Most black-owned businesses operated with no full-time, paid employees, other than the owner...; (3) Less than 1% (0.3%) of all black-owned firms had gross receipts of more than $1 million with an average of $37,392 in gross receipts; 156 (4) In 1977, the 231,203 black-owned firms accounted for over $8 billion in gross receipts, less than 2% of the more than $4 trillion generated by American business in the same year; (5) ...the largest increase in the number of black-owned firms between 1972 and 1977 occurred in the finance, insurance and real estate category (28%). The 54% increase in black bank ownership largely accounts for this increase; (6) Another perspective on black business enterprise is demonstrated by the Black Enterprise annual survey of the 100 leading black firms in America. These 100 firms reported total sales which increased from $473 million in 1972 to $1.9 billion in 1981, or nearly 25% of the total sales of all black-owned firms. Compared to 1972, manufacturers and three strongly consumer- oriented categories, automobile dealerships, entertainment and publishing firms, gave way to increases in the representation of energy distribution and sales companies, and computer and information processing firms. However, median sales among the top one-hundred black firms rose 582%, from $2.35 million in 1972 to $13.7 million in 1981. Subtracting inflation from this precipitous increase, these firms experienced about a 300% increase in sales volume in ten years; (7) The geographical distribution of black-owned enterprises indicates that the South Atlantic states host the largest number of firms and that the states of California, Illinois, Texas, New York and Ohio account for more than 30% of 137 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 145. all black-owned firms in America. Like the black population, black-owned firms continue to urbanize. Twenty-six cities had more than 1,000 black-owned enterprises in their jurisdictions in 1977...; (8) The top 100 black industrial firms accounted for some $1.5 billion in sales and employed 17,827 persons. When related to aggregate employment of black-owned firms in 1977, black-owned firms are labor-intensive without being employment-intensive; that is, black-owned firms employ a tiny proportion of the total number of blacks in the work force but their industries tend to require more labor than automated processes; (9) As Robert Hill indicates: A major reason why black businesses have been lagging behind the U.S. businesses over the past decade is because they have been disproportionately impacted by periodic recessions and soaring interest rates...the devastating effect of the 1974-75 recession on black businesses is reflected in the sharp declines in the following businesses between 1972 and 1977: a. The number of auto dealerships and service stations fell by 24% - from 6,597 to 5,002. b. The number of hotel and other lodging facilities declined by 21% - from 2,196 to 1,733. c. The number of food and eating establishments fell by 10% - from 26,000 to 24,000. d. The number of intercity transporting firms fell by 9% - from 8,881 to 8,008. Table I 9 BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES, 1969-1982 Year Number Gross Sales (millions) 1969 163,073 4,474 1972 194,986 7,168 1977 231,203 8,645 1982 357,000 16,900Source: Derived from National Urban League, The State of Black America, 1983, pp. 158and 383; U.S. Bureau of the Census, The Social and Economic Status of the BlackPopulation in the United States, p. 78; and Black Enterprise, June 1983. 138 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 146. The ProfessionsThe professional sector of the middle class is highly skilled, enjoys work conditions thatallow for relative independence on the job, and receives material rewards reflected inrelative comfort and the consumption of luxuries. Black professionals developed in twowaves, paralleling the general development of the middle class, though very fewprofessionals existed before the Civil War. First to develop were the traditional professionsof teaching and the ministry. Then came the more bureaucratic and technical professionsin medicine and law.Table 20 indicates that the main category is teaching. The historical dominance of theclergy is rapidly being matched by doctors, lawyers, and judges. These professions,however, are not equal for Black women. Black women are 78.9% of the 1980 teachers,but only 5.9% of the Black clergy, 23.8% of the Black doctors, and 31.4% of the Blacklawyers and judges.At the technical level of the professions, special attention has to go to the Ph.D. level ofeducation. Many professions (especially in scientific research, technical fields, and highereducation) require the Ph.D. degree. Blacks, however, are not getting Ph.D.s in every field.They are mainly in education. From 1973-1976, of 2,253 Ph.D.s awarded to Black menover 58% were in education; out of 1,177 Ph.D.s awarded to Black women 66% were in 158education. Both Black men and Black women had about 23% of their respective number ofPh.D.s in psychology, social sciences, and the humanities. Table 20 BLACKS IN SELECTED PROFESSIONS, 1890-1980 Teachers Physicians and Lawyers and Year Clergy (except college) Surgeons Judges 1890 15,100 12,159 909 431 1910 29,432 17,495 3,077 798 1940 63,697 17,102 3,524 1,052 1960 122,163 13,955 4,706 2,180 1970 235,436 12,850 6,106 3,728 1980 362,937 16,045 13,243 15,133Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, The Social and Economic Status of the BlackPopulation in the United States, p. 76 and Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1981, p.402 139 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 147. The overall structure of the Black middle class is reflected in its occupational composition.As indicated in the census of individuals in Table 22, the percentage of Black males in themiddle class has remained relatively constant. However, within the Black middle class,there has been a shift from farmers to professionals, with a slight decline in the percentageof individual shopkeepers (self-employed individuals in retail trade). The pattern for Blackwomen is somewhat different. Women were 43% of the employed middle class in 1973.Further, in 1979, of all employed Black women 0.1% were farmers, 0.4% were in business,but 14.2% were professionals. Thus, while 14.7% of Black women were in these mainmiddle-class occupations, only 11.8% of employed men were. The main difference is thetendency of women to be more often, in the professions and men to dominate in farmingand business. Table 21 BLACKS EARNING THE PH.D. DEGREE, 1866-1976 Year Number 1866-1919 23 1930-1939 179 1950-1959 1,197 159 1970-1976 6,226Source: Derived from John P. Davis, ed., The American Negro Reference Book, p. 564 andNational Urban league, The State of Black America, 1980, p. 89. Table 22SECTORS OF BLACK MIDDLE CLASS AS PERCENT OF TOTAL BLACK EMPLOYED MALES, 1958-1979 Total (000s) Farmers Shopkeepers Professionals Total1958 3,821 5.8 1.0 3.2 10.01963 4,229 3.4 .9 4.9 9.21968 4,702 2.0 .8 6.6 9.41973 5,13 1.1 .8 8.2 10.11979 5,779 .6 .7 10.5 11.8Source: Based on employment data in U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Handbook of LaborStatistics (December 1980), pp. 46-48, and earlier editions. 140 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 148. Government and the Black Middle ClassAnother critical aspect of the Black middle class is the role played by the government. Ingeneral, the state has been the major agent in the development of middle-class Blacks andtheir ideological orientation. Not only does this reflect the general trend of U.S. statemonopoly capitalism, but it is central to understanding the particular history of Blacks sincethe Civil War, from the Freedmens Bureau to affirmative action programs. The role of thegovernment has been two-fold:1. The government as a source of jobs: This is key for the Black professional, as well as allemployed Blacks, in that over 15% of Black workers were classified by the 1980 census asgovernment workers. A major turning point was the passage of the Fair EmploymentPractice Commission bill that opened new opportunities during and after World War II.Hence, the government - both directly (as employer) and indirectly (through legislationregarding employment in general) - has been a source of jobs.Statistics in a 1976 study for the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education by HarvardUniversity economist Richard Freeman reveal the importance of government employment: 160 Over all, about 51% of all male Black college graduates are employed by governments - either federal, state, or local - compared to about 25% of college-educated white males. Although the largest number are teachers, there are high proportions of Blacks employed by governments in other fields as well - about 28% of Black lawyers, compared to 14% of lawyers overall. 47.5% of personnel and labor relations professions, compared to 25% overall, and 24% of all Black men who are managers, which is about double the overall proportion.Freeman also reports that 72% of Black women college graduates work for some branch ofgovernment.2. The government as a source of capital: Again the history of Black business activity canbe seen in relation to government action. The great fiasco of the Freedmens Bank duringReconstruction is an example, but the government has really been involved since the Nixonadministration (1968-1974) with special legislation and executive guidelines to channel bothpublic and private funds into the hands of Black entrepreneurs. While the majority ofbusinesses started by Blacks may be independent of direct government intervention, itappears that a majority of those that are successful are helped with funds (grants, loans,etc.) and/ or technical assistance. 141 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 149. A critical factor is investment capital for Black businesses. In 1983 the U.S. GovernmentSmall Business Administration made $29.2 million in loans to minority businesses, and$205 million in loan guarantees. However, this is quite small when one considers thesupport by the federal government for large corporations. Black Enterprise sums up theproblem in the early 1980s: The fundamental problem of minority business is the lack of access to capital - and proper funding when capital is available. The Reagan Administration has declared its intention of getting out of the direct lending process and limiting its support to loan guarantees. This avoids the basic issue of capital formation in a black community where a middle class capable of accumulating wealth for investment is still in its formative stages. The lack of Administration support for minority business can be attributed to a general conservative mistrust of race-sensitive programs and a macro- economic view of free enterprise that has not been particularly sensitive to small business. The federal government could improve the chances of survival of many small businesses - both white and minority - by demonstrating the same level of concern for them that it has shown to large multinational corporations. That requires a willing ear and a look back at history.THE FUTURE OF THE BLACK MIDDLE CLASSThere is now a definite consolidation of the Black middle class on the basis of economicresources. However, most of the economic activity is marginal and directly linked to a 161segregated Black community as the consumer market. This is particularly true for smallerbusinesses. Otherwise, governmental policies (affirmative action and policies to supportminority contracts) have served as a foundation and source of capital and jobs. The futureof the Black middle class is based on answers to several questions: Will the segregatedmarket of the Black community continue to exist? Can Black businesses and professionalssell their products and services to whites? Will the government remain a source of jobsand capital?The other side of the story returns us to the issue of status. In the urban experience, theBlack middle class more than ever has developed a social process of creating illusion tomaintain high status privilege. Frazier is at his best on this subject. The second half ofBlack Bourgeoisie is entitled "The World of Make Believe." He states: This world of make-believe, to be sure, is a reflection of the values of American society, but it lacks the economic basis that would give it roots in the world of reality. In escaping into a world of make-believe, middle-class Negroes have rejected both identification with the Negro and his traditional culture. Through delusions of wealth and power they have sought identification with the white America which continues to reject them. But these delusions leave them frustrated because they are unable to escape from the emptiness and futility of their existence. 142 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 150. There is no doubt that the Black middle class tries to mimic the ruling class in this society.This is the meaning of various Black colleges claiming to be the "Black Harvard," or theway social and fraternal organizations consume luxuries in order to achieve status whenthey dont have the material equality rooted in class terms. This pattern of delusion seemsto be increasing rather than decreasing due to the changing demand for Black labor. WhenBlack colleges were founded, there was the need for skilled labor and managers to ruleover the Black community. Now that the supply of such people has started to exceeddemand, particularly in this period of an economic downturn and political crisis, the Blackmiddle class continues its antics of conspicuous consumption and desperately seeks statusto maintain privilege.The Black middle class has been a dynamic sector of the Black community, but thisdynamism must be understood as having a dual character. Given the relative advantage ofhaving more education, economic resources, and the status resources to make dealingwith white people easier, the Black middle class acted as Black leadership whenever theBlack community was threatened by white people. During the rural period and early city life, 162this remained true. In fact, because it too was oppressed by racism, this Black middle classhad its own reasons for providing militant leadership. This will be demonstrated in Chapters14, 15, and 16.During the slave and rural period, the Black middle class was potentially a revolutionaryclass because its own class interests were consistent with the overall desire by Blacks todestroy the system of racism and oppression. Further, it was the Black middle whoprovided the professional services and retail shopping within the Black community. Therewere also psychological benefits to the Black community in that one Black person doingwell was shared by all - middle class advancement of a few was good for "race pride."However, as the few Black businesses grew, they often became the same as other largebusinesses paying their workers low wages. Further, the recent transformation of the Blackprofessional has meant, that the government has a large number of Blacks managing theapparatus of welfare and social control. In this way the Black middle class has become aninstrument for government and business to control the Black community. 143 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 151. 163 144Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 152. This is the main political tension that currently exists for the Black middle class: to lead theBlack struggle against racism or to serve the corporate/government interests by controllingthe masses of Black people. It seems obvious that part of the answer rests with theobjective economic basis of the Black middle class. "Whoever pays the piper calls thetune!" On the other hand, the very survival of the Black middle class depends upon itswillingness to include the entire Black community when it prepares to fight (either to winmore gains or in defense from racist attacks) because only with Black unity can a fightagainst racism be won. The study of this dynamic process is an important part of BlackStudies.KEY CONCEPTS Black capitalism/ Middle class Monopoly capitalism Professions Class/Power Sole proprietorship vs. Farm ownership corporations Free Blacks (freedmen) Status/Prestige 164 Higher education Upward vs. downward mobilitySTUDY QUESTIONS1. Discuss the origins and historical development of the Black middle class over the threemain periods of the Afro-American experience (slave, rural, and urban).2. What is "Black capitalism"? How is it differentiated from monopoly capitalism in theUnited States today?3. What are similarities and differences between the Black middle class and the masses ofworking-class Black people?4. What historical role has the Black middle class played in the Black liberation struggle,and what contribution can it make today? 145 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 153. SUPPLEMENTARY READINGS1. Stephen Birmingham, Certain People: Americas Black Elite., Boston: Little, Brown andCompany 1977.2. Black Enterprise Editors, "The Top 100 Black Businesses: Annual Report." BlackEnterprise [Every June].3. James E. Blackwell, Mainstreaming Outsiders: The Production of Black Professionals. 165Bayside: General Hall, 1981.4. George Davis and Glegg Watson, Black Life in Corporate America. Garden City: AnchorPress, 1982.5. Richard B. Freeman, Black Elite: The New Market for Higher Educated Black Americans.New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976. 146 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 154. NINE9. BLACK CULTURE AND THE ARTS .............................. 167 Traditional African Culture .............................. 168 The Slave Period ............................................ 170 The Rural Period ............................................ 172 The Urban Period ............................................ 175 The Arts Movements ........................................ 176 The 20s: The Harlem Renaissance .................. 177 The 30a and 40s: The WPA Artists and the Be Bop Musicians ................................................. 178 The 60s: The Black Arts Movement .................. 182 Black Culture and Imperialism ...................... 183 The Black Culture and the Arts Toward a Paradigm of Unity in Afro-American Studies Social Traditional Rural Urban - Slavery - -LOGIC OF Cohesion Africa Life LifeCHANGE Social Slave - - Emancipation - Migrations - Disruption Trade Ideology A1 B1 C1 D1 E1 F1 G1UNITS OF Nationality A2 B2 C2 D2 E2 F2 G2ANALYSIS Class A3 B3 C3 D3 E3 F3 G3 Race A4 B4 C4 D4 E4 F4 G4 147 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 155. Yet do I marvel at this curious thing: To make a poet black, and bid him sing! Countee Cullen, "Yet Do I Marvel," 1925. All I can say is that when I was a boy we always was singin, you know, just hollerin. But we made up our songs about things that was happenin to us at the time, and I think thats where the blues started. Son House of Mississippi, 1971 I dont think Im singing. I feel like I am playing a horn. I try to improvise like Les Young, like Louis Armstrong, or someone else I admire. What comes out is what I feel. I hate straight singing. I have to change a tune to my way of doing it. Thats all I know. Billy Holiday, Hear Me Talkin to Ya, 1955. 167Black culture is of major significance in the study of the Afro-American experience.Historically, considerable controversy has existed around the question of the origins andcontent of Black culture. Even in this period of the deepening social, political, and economiccrisis of monopoly capitalism, Black culture continues to be a significant source of cohesionamong Black people.In general, culture is the sum of values and behavioral preferences that make up a peopleslife-style and approach to the activities of everyday life. The most profound manifestation ofculture is in common and routine daily activities, such as talking and communicating,childrearing, cooking, dressing, and recreation. When these daily activities, values, andbehavioral preferences are concentrated in a conscious process of creative expression,they become cultural forms of the highest order, what we will call the arts - music, literature,sculpture, painting, dance, photography, etc. 148 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 156. Culture is a key aspect of the development of a nation. This is also true of Afro-Americansas a distinct nationality. Its development reflects the similarities and differences betweenBlack people and the entire society. It also reflects the similarities and differences -especially differences based on class - that exist among different groups of Black people.Culture (in form and content) is historical and Black culture is no exception. Just as thehistorical stages of the Black experience reflect changes in the mode of material(economic) production, so cultural change reflects changes in the mode of culturalproduction. In other words, similar factors are involved in how Black culture is produced:What technology is used? What numbers of people with what kinds of skills are involved?Who owns what? And who works for or with whom? The mode of cultural production is thusdependent on the mode of material production. Furthermore, the historical development ofBlack culture reflects the same historical periods as all other aspects of the Blackexperience. It is especially important to begin with Africa.TRADITIONAL AFRICAN CULTURE 168The development of Afro-American culture has its roots in sub-Saharan Africa before theslave period. The pattern of cultural development in Africa reflects both similarity anddiversity. African societies were similar in that most were pre-literate (had no formal writtenlanguage) and therefore relied heavily on the oral tradition. Moreover, many Africansocieties were relatively small and, therefore, generally developed strong social controls(as opposed to legal codes) to regulate behavior in such areas as property rights andsexual relations.The level of cultural development among groups in Africa varied according to the level oftechnological development, which reflected different concrete conditions and stages ofdevelopment. Some societies in Africa had some of the highest levels of technology in theworld. For example, a society in East Africa had a method of forging iron a thousand yearsbefore the process was discovered in Europe in the 19th century. Most societies, however,were less technologically developed than Europe, particularly in the crucial area ofweaponry. Europeans thus came to dominate Africa and to retard its technologicaldevelopment further. Similarly, African cultural development was fundamentally altered byEuropean imperialism and colonialism. 149 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 157. The African arts were more advanced and more developed before European colonialismthan after. The pattern of "cultural borrowing" that took place between Europe and Africaunderscores this. The impact of African art can be seen, for example, in 20th centurymodern Europe art, which reflects West African sculpture done before colonialization. Theart of the Dan, Bakota, and Baule (among others) was discovered by the modern artists inthe first showing of "primitive" art in Paris. This exposure had a major impact on thedevelopment of the cubist school of art (led by Picasso and others). The colonialdomination of African societies, however, stifled African cultural development. It was onlywith the demise of European colonialism that African culture began to flower once again.A new African culture has emerged, especially in African countries that have fought wars ofnational liberation. African culture is not now limited to the pre-colonial "tribe" but reflectsthe emergence of new national culture. For example, instead of separate "tribal" or ethniccultures, we now have the emergence of new Mozambican culture. 169There has been considerable discussion about the necessity of reconstructing "traditional"African culture. A study of the current developments in Africa, however, will reveal twoimportant considerations regarding culture: (1) the continuing role of cultural aggressionand cultural genocide as part of imperialist domination in Africa; and (2) the role of culturalresistance as a weapon in the fight to end imperialism and the use of culture inconsolidating new post-colonial African nations. The latter involves creating a genuinenational culture, a new national unity that transcends the many religious, ethnic,geographical, and other differences that imperialism has been able to use to further divideand weaken African peoples.The important point to remember with respect to Afro-American culture is that Africa had arich cultural heritage, which African people brought with them to the Americas during theslave trade. Africa thus provided the basis for what was to develop as Afro-Americancultures. 150 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 158. THE SLAVE PERIODAfro-American culture which emerged under slavery, however, was not based solely onAfrican cultural tradition. Those who hold such a position today fail to reflect on thefundamental transformation of Africans becoming Afro-Americans - a new people withprofound historical and symbolic links to Africa, but with a new material reality and a newcultural reality.Cultural "creolization" best describes this process of transformation. Creolization is aprocess in which two people and two cultures interact, with one people taking on thecharacteristics of the resulting (cultural) synthesis. For Black people in the United States,this cultural creolization has involved two complex and dynamic aspects:1. Among Africans themselves, a creolization process developed as Africans captured fromdifferent places and from different cultural backgrounds were forced to live together underthe conditions of the slave trade and slavery. A process of mutual cultural exchange andsynthesis took place.2. Almost simultaneously, this dynamic mixture of African cultures was interacting andexchanging with European cultures, which were themselves varied because of the different 170national identities and cultural patterns of the oppressive slave traders and plantationowners, (British, French, etc.).Thus, this process of creolization or cultural transformation (which Africans were goingthrough within the institution of slavery in the Americas) has two distinct yet inter-relateddimensions, two ways in which Africans were being transformed into Afro-Americans. Onewas the loss or continued survival of African cultural traits. The other was the adoption andinternalization of the new cultural expression in the Americas. Both led to the developmentof Afro-American culture.This process of creolization was determined by the conditions of forced labor and totalsocial control under slavery. Thus, we can identify a continuum, based on structuralfeatures of the slave system, that reflects degrees of creolization or cultural transformationamong Black people during slavery.Runaway slave communities - The maroons of Jamaica and the "geeche" or "gullah"people of the Sea Islands off the Georgia and South Carolina coast preserved Africancultural traits to the most significant degree. Creolization still characterized these areas, butbecause of historical isolation, these areas have appeared to be "most African" over theyears. This was the main point proved ,by the work of linguist Lorenzo Turner andanthropologist Melville Herskovitz. 151 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 159. Field Slaves - The conditions of working from "cant see in the morning to cant see atnight," the terror of the overseers whip, and segregated social life on the plantationnurtured key cultural developments The social organization of slaves lent itself to thedevelopment of distinct culture, which John Blassingame describes: The social organization of the quarters was the slaves primary environment which gave him his ethical rules and fostered cooperation, mutual assistance, and black solidarity... The slaves culture or social heritage and way of life determined the norms of conduct, defined roles and behavioral patterns, and provided a network of individual and group relationships and values which molded personality in the quarters. The socialization process, shared expectations, ideals and enclosed status system of the slaves culture promoted group identification and a positive self-concept. His culture was reflected in socialization, family patterns, religion, and recreation. Recreational activities led to cooperation, social cohesion, tighter communal bonds, and brought all classes of slaves together in common pursuits.House slaves - These conditions were conducive to the greatest degree of culturalassimilation, meaning that so much of the slaveowners culture was borrowed by the house 171slaves that they became the most "Euro-Americanized" of all Afro-Americans.Urban slaves - The city was the center of cosmopolitan and dynamic cultural interaction,and the lives of slaves reflected this. There was a great deal more freedom of movementfor the slaves in the city, and two lines of cultural development resulted: the sacred and theprofane, or the culture rooted in the church and that rooted in the barroom.Music is the best example of the cultural diversity that emerged during the slave period.Many other aspects of cultural life (sculpture, African languages, traditional African religiousrituals, and so forth) were prohibited and were penalized. Music, however, flourished.Many communities of runaway slaves maintained the drum and the basic features oftraditional African music. Even when they had no drums, they would practice "patting juba."Patting juba involved, as Solomon Northup described it, "striking the hands on the knees,then striking the hands together, then striking the right shoulder with one hand, the left withthe other - all the while keeping time with the feet, and singing... " The field slave was thecollective author of many spirituals. Spirituals might be thought of as the Africanization ofChristian cultural expression based on the painful experience of being a slave. Field slavesalso sang folk songs reflecting their secular life, as Blaissingame points out: 152 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 160. The secular songs told of the slaves loves, work, floggings, and expressed his moods and the reality of his oppression. On a number of occasions he sang of the proud defiance of the runaway, the courage of the black rebels, the stupidity of the patrollers, the heartlessness of the slave traders and the kindness and cruelty of masters.House slaves were frequently used to entertain the slave master, and for this reason theywere taught to perform European music as white people did it. Urban slaves were caught inthe dynamic cultural explosion of the city, and they began to develop the rudiments of jazz.In addition to music, slaves relied on the oral tradition, much as their African ancestors did.Blassingame outlines the use to which folk tales were put in the slave environment: 172 Primarily a means of entertainment, the [folk] tales also represented the distillation of folk wisdom and were used as an instructional device to teach young slaves to survive. A projection of the slaves personal experience, dreams, and hopes, the folk tales allowed him to express hostility to his master, to poke fun at himself, and to delineate the workings of the...system. At the same time, by viewing himself as an object, verbalizing his dreams and hostilities, the slave was able to preserve one more area which whites could not control. While holding on to the reality of his existence, the slave gave full play to his wish fulfillment in the tales...This slave culture, synthesizing elements of African cultures, Euro-American cultures, andthe slave experience, was the foundation for the Afro-American national culture thatemerged during the rural period. 153 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 161. 173 154Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 162. THE RURAL PERIODAfter the Civil War and Reconstruction, a distinct national culture emerged that unified theAfro-American people, especially in the Black Belt South. This new national culture of theAfro-American people was conditioned by the structural constraints of the new historicalperiod. The economic and political repression of the rural tenancy period kept Black peoplepoor, uneducated, and relatively stationary on the land. In this sense, it was a restrictiveand limited social world. On the other hand, it was not slavery, and the intimate control ofplantation life by slaveowners and overseers did not exist. There was some degree offreedom.The oppressive character of the economic and political structures of Black rural life and thelittle freedom that did exist provided the context in which Black culture developed in therural period. A two-sided, dialectical character to the Black experience developed: (1) theindividual tenant farmers family life that revolved around the yearly cycle of farming, and(2) the collective life of the community on Saturday (market day) and Sunday (church). Acontradiction existed between the isolated individual life on the farm and the collectivecultural experience for the entire community on Sunday at church. Everyday, cultural lifewas molded by the poverty of subsistence farming, while collective cultural development 174took place around the church and included food preparation, music, recreation, moraltraining, ritual observance of life stages (christening, baptism, marriage, and funerals), etc.In general, then, the family was associated with both aspects of this dialectical culturalexistence. It reflected both the necessities and the freedom of tenant farming and rural life.The development of a nation has generally reflected the drive of an emerging bourgeoisclass to control its own market, to run its own turf (so to speak), and to facilitate its owndevelopment. Correspondingly, national culture is dominated by this class as well.Imperialism and racism stunted the development of the Afro-American nation, especially inblocking the development of a Black bourgeoisie. Because of this, the Black church, as asocial institution that did develop, has played a very important role in the Afro-Americannation. The Black preacher emerged as a personification of the cohesiveness and nationalunity of Black people. The preacher was one of the main vehicles for the spread of Afro-American culture and Afro-American national conscious ness, especially among the Blackmiddle class or petty bourgeoisie. In addition, the church was the basis for the collectiveexpression of Afro-American national development in the area of economic life, because itwas through the church that mutual aid societies and the like developed. This role of thechurch in Afro-American national development is the basis for the continued pivotal role ofthe church among Black people. 155 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 163. While the Black church was the main expression of the rising bourgeois cultural dominationover the Black community during this period, it was not the only cultural dimension. Themasses of people were not all socially organized into families that participated in the"morally righteous" context of the church. There were the unattached individuals whosecultural lives revolved around the more immediate pleasures and emotions of the beer hall,cafe, and brothel. This might be summed up as the contra- diction between Saturday nightand Sunday morning, with a significant number of people (especially males and especiallybefore marriage) participating in both. This cultural contradiction is manifested musically inblues and gospel music, both of which fully emerged during this period.THE URBAN PERIODThe urban period brought decisive, qualitative changes in the economic and politicalconditions of Black people. It also introduced new developments in Afro-American culture.Not only did the general cultural life of Black people change, but for the first time full-blown, 175self-conscious arts movements developed among Black people. How was the urbanexperience different from the rural period such that new cultural forms could emerge? First,the seeds of Black urban culture did exist during slavery and the rural period. However, themode of cultural production was limited by the overall class relations, social context, andtechnological possibilities. The urban period, beginning around World War I, gave Blackculture greater access to the American mainstream and the mainstream greater access toit. Second, when Blacks moved en masse to the city there was no immediate transition, butrather one that took several generations to develop. There were three major forces whichoperated to transform Black culture during this period.Migration and urbanization - World War I caused mass migrations of Blacks out of theSouth, which led to the concentration of Blacks into ghettos of northern urban centers. Citylife was less centralized and less intimate than rural life had been, and Black culturereflected this greater variety. Through the radio, movies, night clubs, and just being in thecity, Black people had more access to and were more influenced by the cultural patterns ofother nationalities (and in turn exercised considerable influence on other cultures). 156 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 164. Proletarianization - The daily work experience of Black people was transformed from mainlyagricultural work on the farm to factory work in large industries alongside white workers andto the urban service sector (as maids, pullman porters, etc.). The new conditions, and thenewer forms of struggle which emerged, provided new experiences on which the culturaland artistic creativity could draw. In addition, industrys need for a better trained labor forcemeant that Black people had greater access to education. A more literate population andcultural artists who were skilled in various crafts resulted.Commercialization - Black culture and the arts ceased to be something developed byBlacks for their own personal consumption and enjoyment. Its products becamecommodities, products of the capitalist system available to anybody who had moneyenough to pay. With soul food, the commercialized form was the restaurant. With dance, itwas night clubs. With music, there were the big bands, night clubs, and the recordingindustry. And with writing, an outpouring of poems, novels, short stories, books, and 176magazines. In the slave period, Black culture was essentially underground. During the ruralperiod, it was isolated and intimate. In the urban period, however, Black culture was seizedby capitalism and subjected to the impersonal forces of the market. It is a market overwhich Black culture artists and the masses of Black people have had little control.THE ARTS MOVEMENTSMusic, literature, painting, etc., as we have said, represent the most concentrated forms ofcultural expression - the arts. An art movement consists of artists and patrons (supporters)who are united by sharing common interests, themes, and general social rapport. The unityis ideological (how they view the world), political (how they apply these beliefs in analyzingtheir concrete problems), and sometimes organizational. 157 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 165. Three art movements have emerged among Black people during the urban period thatreflect the impact of the changes outlined above. The Harlem Renaissance emerged duringthe post-migration, post-war period of radical nationalist protest; the WPA (Works ProgressAdministration) and the Be Bop period developed amidst the revolutionary turbulence of theGreat Depression and World War II; and the Black Arts Movement developed on the heelsof the Black Power Movement in the 1960s. These powerful cultural arts movementsamong Black people developed in the context of the most intensive period of Black peoplesstruggle for liberation. How well any particular movement reflected the sentiment andaspirations of the struggling masses must be investigated, however, and not assumed. Letus briefly assess these arts movements by analyzing the concrete conditions in which theyemerged, their content and form, and their relationship, appeal, and impact on the massesof Black people.The 20s: The Harlem RenaissanceThe 1920s were prosperous times. After a brief period of postwar decline, the U.S.economy soared because of the immense profits earned from the first imperialist war. Blackpeople, as recent arrivals in northern industrial centers, enjoyed this prosperity as well, 177though the postwar riots and numerous lay-offs revealed that the city was not free fromoppression for Blacks.As a concept, the "New Negro" accurately sums up what was happening to Black people."New" described the migration out of the South, urbanization of Black people into northernghettoes, and the proletarianization of rural southern Black farmers. "New Negro" alsodescribed a wide range of new subjective and ideological developments. There was greatersocial class stratification of Black people. This included the emergence of a new, moreassertive middle class that was critical of the accommodationism of the "old Negro" (e.g.Booker T. Washingtons leadership). With the NAACP, the Urban League, and the Garveymovement all emerging between 1909 and 1917, there was the tremendous flowering ofthe organized struggle of Black people for liberation."New Negro" thus became the credo of the movement of Black writers, artists, musicians,actors, intellectuals, and their patrons which emerged during this period. The culturalexpression of this "New Negro" was authentic and widespread. No longer was Blackcultural expression isolated and shunned. Artists like Langston Hughes were inspired toexpose the life and culture of Black people in a way that had not been done before. 158 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 166. The Harlem Renaissance was not only a movement of the city, but a particular city - NewYork, the countrys biggest and most Cosmopolitan city. This was the first modern artmovement of the Afro-American. As such, it had the major task of defeating the racistnotion that Blacks were culturally inferior. However, the new Black artists, reflecting theirmiddle-class backgrounds, did not feel bound to the masses in their task of artistic creativityand production. In this sense, the Harlem Renaissance was petty bourgeois elitism at itsheight. On the other hand, the artists had to face the capitalist market with their work.Publishing companies and other cultural businesses bought up their products, mass-produced them, and circulated them. Increasingly, this contradiction between the work ofthe artist and the work of the cultural business began to transform Black art into a morecommercial product. The mediating social organization was the salon gathering of artistsand patrons, or the parties "downtown" frequented by the literary establishment to whichsome young Black artists would be invited. In this setting, wealthy patrons would meetyoung Black artists whom they would sponsor, thus providing them with income other thanwhat they were paid from competing in the market place.The Harlem Renaissance was the work of a few talented and highly educated Black 178people, their white publishers and promoters, and a few others who could afford "Blackculture." Thus, while it had an impact on this key sector of the Black population, the HarlemRenaissance was practically unknown to the vast majority of Black people and had littledirect impact on solving the problems with which they were most concerned.The 30s and 40s: The WPA Artists and the Be Bop MusiciansThe Great Depression laid bare the racist rule of the rich and threw many working peopleout on the street to starve and die. All working people suffered, but Black people sufferedeven more because they were the very last hired and the very first fired. This wasdevastating proof that the North offered no sanctuary from racism and class exploitation.Rather, life in the northern cities merely represented another, perhaps even more viciousmanifestation of oppression because it had held out the hope of being different. Blackartists were affected as well, since the income derived from selling their art "products" driedup like everything else. This shattered the social organization of the artists that grew upduring the Harlem Renaissance. This was not limited to New York, but was spread fromcoast to coast. 159 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 167. Two forces external to the Black community had a tremendous impact on the developmentof the arts movement of this period. First, the federal government set up an unprecedentedwelfare program under Franklin D. Roosevelt that included the hiring of artists. Black artistsin every part of the country got WPA (Works Progress Administration) jobs. This changedthe social relations of cultural production. Before, the artist had worked as an individual,possibly supported by a sponsor, but the key relationship was with a large capitalist firmthat took over the commercial aspects of production. Under the WPA, artists began workingcollectively (often with social scientists), and the government was the employer (actuallyacting as a large impersonal employer in the name of the entire country). Many people gotwork, and a lot of work got done.Second, the overall condition of the masses of people led to a rapid increase in 179revolutionary political activity, including a significant (at that particular time) role played bythe Communist Party, USA. Major developments were the unionization of Black workersinto the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations), the organization of the unemployed inthe Unemployed Councils, and militant Black-white unity in the Black Belt South (SouthernNegro Youth Congress, Southern Tenant Farmers Union, and the Sharecroppers Union).This raised economic and revolutionary change as the fundamental question facing bothBlacks and whites. This was a political question that made a profound impact on artists,particularly Black artists. As Richard Wright put it: "Today the question is: Shall Negrowriting be for the Negro masses, moulding the lives and consciousness of those massestoward new goals, or shall it continue begging the question of the Negroes humanity?" Thequestion was answered as the years wore on. 160 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 168. Whereas Alain Locke could say the the New Negro in the 1920s was "radical on racematters, conservative on others," Black people in the 1930s and 1940s were increasinglyradical on all matters. Black people and their artists began to understand that racistdiscrimination was a product of capitalism and imperialism. They thus became active asleaders and participants in campaigns for radical and revolutionary changes. These themesof revolutionary class struggle pervaded the work of many Black artists. The best examplesof this new proletarian consciousness among Black writers were Richard Wright andLangston Hughes. As cultural artists, they sought (1) to apply the theory, insights, andlessons of the world revolutionary struggles to the concrete problems of Black people; (2) toexpose Black peoples experiences with racism and poverty in the United States, and torelate this to the common problem of exploitation facing the entire working class, therebydeveloping the cultural basis for unity of action among Blacks and whites; and (3) tocontribute to the development of a united front of all exploited and oppressed peoples forthe revolutionary overthrow of imperialism as a necessary step in the total liberation ofBlack people.Richard Wright perhaps best summarized this new revolutionary perspective: It means that a Negro writer must learn to view the life of a Negro living in New Yorks Harlem or Chicagos South Side with the consciousness that one-sixth of the earth surface belongs to the working class. It means that a Negro writer must create in his readers minds a relationship between a Negro woman hoeing cotton in the South and the men who loll in swivel 180 chairs in Wall Street and take the fruits of her toil. Perspective for Negro writers will come when they have looked and brooded so hard and long upon the harsh lot of their race and compared it with the hopes and struggles of minority peoples everywhere that the cold facts have begun to tell them something.Langston Hughes dramatically spelled out the nature of the revolutionary task of Blackwriters in a speech at the First American Writers Congress in 1935: Negro writers can seek to unite blacks and whites in our country, not on the nebulous basis of an interracial meeting, or the shifting sands of religious brotherhood, but on the solid ground of the daily working-class struggle to wipe out, now and forever, all the old inequalities of the past. Furthermore, by way of exposure, Negro writers can reveal in their novels, stories, poems, and articles: The lovely grinning face of Philanthropy - which gives a million dollars to a Jim Crow school, but not one job to a graduate of that school; which builds a Negro hospital with second-rate equipment, then commands black patients and student-doctors to go there whether they will or no; or which, out of the kindness of its heart, erects yet another separate, segregated, shut-off, Jim Crow Y.M.C.A. 161 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 169. Negro writers can expose those white labor leaders who keep their unionsclosed against Negro workers and prevent the betterment of all workers.We can expose, too, the sick-sweet smile of organized religion - which liesabout what it doesnt know, and about what it does know. And the half-voodoo, half-clown, face of revivalism, dulling the mind with the clap of itsempty hands.Expose, also, the false leadership that besets the Negro people - boughtand paid for leadership, owned by capital, afraid to open its mouth exceptin the old conciliatory way so advantageous to the exploiters.And all the economic roots of race hatred and race fear...And expose war. And the old My-Country-Tis-of-Thee lie...We want a new and better America, where there wont be any poor, wherethere wont be any more Jim Crow, where there wont be any lynchings,where there wont be any munition makers, where we wont needphilanthropy, nor charity, nor the New Deal, nor Home Relief.We want an America that will be ours, a world that will be ours - we Negroworkers and white workers! Black writers and white!Well make that world! 162 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 170. And in the world of the performing arts, Paul Robeson, one of the foremost actors andsingers of his time, asserted what was in the hearts of many: When I sing "Let My People Go," I want it in the future to mean more than it has before. It must express the need for freedom not only of my own race. Thats only part of the bigger thing. But of all the working class - here, in America, all over. I was born of them. They are my people. They will know what I mean.Unlike the artists of the Harlem Renaissance who tended to focus on the culture of thebourgeoisie, the cultural artists of the Depression era were much more in touch with thesentiment and aspirations of the masses of Black people. They pointed out that a total 181restructuring of American society was necessary if Black people were to be free. Theyactively lent their talent and skills to achieve this aim.On the heels of the Depression and as a reaction to the turbulence of the war years, BeBop arrived on the scene. The key aspect of the Be Bop experience was that it was acultural revolt. The "hipster" was in revolt: beards, dark glasses (even at night), beret,esoteric speech, and a militant political attitude, spiced with a love for "art." These wereBlack people who had been emancipated from the South, and who were bitter about beingkept from realizing their full humanity. Their cultural revolt represented withdrawal intoclosed little circles. But it also represented a new cultural energy that swept through thearts and won Afro-American culture and art respect throughout the world. As A. B.Spellman put it: 163 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 171. The bebop revolution saw the jazz musician adopting an entirely different social posture...Here, for the first time, a black artistic vanguard assumed whole styles of comportment, attire and speech which were calculated to be the indicia of a group which felt that its own values were more sophisticated than, if not superior to, the mores of the American society at large. The music and the manner developed concomitantly, which indicates that the musicians were aware that each musical innovation was a new way of commenting on the world around them.This is true of no one more than the musician Charlie "Bird" Parker, the father of Be Bop: Parker spoke through his horn like a man who, after getting along for years on a diet of basic English, had suddenly swallowed the dictionary, yet miraculously managed to digest every page. Where others had played in and around arpeggios on a single chord for four beat, he would involve two, three, or four; where they had given an impression of brisk motion with their little flotillas of eight notes, Parker would play sixteenths. Where tonal discretion had been the better part of their technical valor, Parker threw conventional tonal beauty out of the window to concentrate more fully on matter rather than manner.Be Bop improvisation was a cultural parallel to the theory of relativity, and Birds voice had 182an impact like the atomic bomb.The 60s: The Black Arts MovementThe Civil Rights Movement with its underlying cultural goal of assimilation was aborted bythe reactionary repression Blacks underwent in the form of assassination, imprisonment,and racist ideological attacks. The Civil Rights Movement had been the hope of a large anddeveloping number of aspirants to middle-class life. When it failed, many of these young,middle-class youths formed the social base for a new nationalist movement againstAmerica. While this had a political aspect, it also had a cultural aspect. "Black power"became a rallying cry for the newborn nationalist who began to defect from the Civil RightsMovement, particularly after the death of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. In thiscontext the Black Arts Movement was born.The "Black power" concept and the Black Arts Movement reflected the particular plight ofthe Black middle class that was previously revealed during the Harlem Renaissance. Itdesired and had fought for full integration into the "mainstream." But having been barred bypervasive racism, it was forced to become more nationalist and seek its advancement inambivalent unity with the masses of Black people.Black power fell short of pointing out that the problems of Black people resulted from racistoppression and capitalist exploitation. Similarly, the Black Arts Movement defined theproblems of Black people more as the result of "European American cultural insensitivity" 183and not primarily as the result of the operations of the capitalist system. The solutionproposed by the Black Arts Movement (and Black power) was essentially reformist: "A 164 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 172. cultural revolution in arts and ideas." This cultural "revolution" was to be rooted in a newaesthetic, the Black aesthetic. The writer Larry Neat articulated its purpose: The motive behind the Black aesthetic is the destruction of the white thing, the destruction of white ideas, and white ways of looking at the world. The new aesthetic is mostly predicated on an Ethics which asks the question: whose vision of the world is finally more meaningful, ours or the white oppressors? What is truth? Or more precisely, whose truth shall we express, that of the oppressed or of the oppressors?Neither the Black Arts Movement nor the Black Power Movement understood, however,that such a cultural revolution was impossible without revolutionary change in the existingcapitalist economic and political system. Thus, the Black Arts Movement was more like theHarlem Renaissance than the arts movement of the Depression. In fact, Alain Lockesdescription of the Renaissance in the 1920s, "radical in form but not in purpose," comesclose to an accurate description of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s.BLACK CULTURE AND IMPERIALISMIt is important to note that as Black cultural expression has increased in quantity and artistshave become more expert, there has also been a tremendous increase in the appeal ofBlack art. The major single feature that has contributed to this dissemination of Blackculture in the last fifty years has been, of course, the mass media: advertising, radio,television, film. Through the mass media, the various forms of Black cultural expressionbecome accessible to the broad masses of people, although it is clear that the content ofthis expression is very tightly controlled by the capitalists owners. Hence, Black culturalexpression as it is presented to us today - via theatre, film, music, newspapers, magazines,paperback novels - as popular as it is, is almost entirely devoid of any social content. Thatis, on the whole, it lacks a concrete analysis of the real content and cause of the problemsfacing Black people and any orientation toward struggle to change these conditions.In order to understand why this is so, it is necessary to understand the growth of monopolycapitalism and imperialism, and its effect on Black people and Black culture. "Imperialismand the Black Media" written by the National Coordinating Committee of the "Year to Pullthe Covers Off Imperialism" Project, outlines the relationship between monopoly capitalismand the mass media: In brief, the pattern of ownership of the mass media is identical to the 184 pattern of monopoly capitalism in the U.S. economy. Ownership is characterized by "media monopolies" and is concentrated among a few large corporations. Heavily represented in the ownership of media are large financial institutions, that serve to bring the mass media under the ownership and control of the same elite U.S. ruling class that owns the rest of the economy.A small ruling class owns almost all of the newspapers, magazines, films, music, theatres,and radio and TV stations in this country as well as abroad. As owners, they control the 165 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 173. content of what is released in the media. True, there are occasional exposes ordocumentaries, but the media by and large do not present in any meaningful sense thecontent of the lives of the masses. The media have performed and continue to perform asthey do because, as stated in "Imperialism and the Black Media," It is not in the interest of U.S. monopoly capitalism and imperialism to allow a true picture of the lives of the masses of people - Black, Asian, Chicano, Native American, Puerto Rican, white - to be presented in this country. Such truth would provide too great a push to the already on-going struggle of the people to end their exploitation and oppression at the hands of U.S. imperialism.In discussing Black culture and the arts, we must remember one thing: imperialism cannotafford for the cultural lives of the masses of people to be outside the realm of its control.Hence, we must understand Black culture and art in two ways: (1) its relationship to theconcrete experiences of the masses of people, which is a history of racist oppression andexploitation; and (2) the continuous manipulation and control by capitalists. It is thisanalysis that can correctly explain in a comprehensive way the development of the cultureof Black people in the United States and make it a component part of the struggle forliberation.KEY CONCEPTS African cultures (tribal, colonial, national) Creolization Art Cultural imperialism Be Bop Culture Black Arts Movement Harlem Renaissance Commercialization Oral traditionSTUDY QUESTIONS 1851. Discuss the impact of colonialism, imperialism, and racism on the culture of traditionalAfrica. What are the parallels and contrasts in the development of Afro-American culture?2. What is "creolization"? How does it explain the transformation of Black culture in theUnited States from African to Afro-American? Illustrate how this process operated in theUnited States, and show how the conditions of slavery influenced the "creolization"process.3. What social and economic forces shaped Black culture and artistic production during therural period? the urban industrial period?4. Discuss the three arts movements (Harlem Renaissance, WPA and Be Bop, and the1960s Black Arts Movement) that emerged among Afro-American people in the urban 166 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 174. period.SUPPLEMENTARY READINGS1. Houston A. Baker, Jr., The Journey Back: Issues in Black Literary Criticism. Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 1980.2. William Ferris, ed., Afro-American Folk Art and Crafts. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1983.3. Leroi Jones and Larry Neal, eds., Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing.New York: William Morrow, 1968.4. Samella Lewis, Art: African American. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1978.5. Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans: A History. New York: W. W. Norton,1971. 167 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 175. 186 168Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 176. 169Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 177. TEN10. RELIGION AND THE BLACK CHURCH ............................ 189 The African Connection .................................. 191 The Slave Period ............................................. 192 The Rural Period ........................................... 194 Social Stability ........................................... 195 Economic Cooperation .............................. 196 Education ................................................. 196 Arena of Politic al Life ................................... 196 The Urban Period .............................................. 198 Secularization ................................... 198 Storefront Churches ..................................... 199 Black Religious Cults .................................. 200 The Contemporary Situation ................................... 201 Religion and the Black Church Toward a Paradigm of Unity in Afro-American Studies Social Traditional Rural Urban - Slavery - -LOGIC OF Cohesion Africa Life LifeCHANGE Social Slave - - Emancipation - Migrations - Disruption Trade Ideology A1 B1 C1 D1 E1 F1 G1UNITS OF Nationality A2 B2 C2 D2 E2 F2 G2ANALYSIS Class A3 B3 C3 D3 E3 F3 G3 Race A4 B4 C4 D4 E4 F4 G4 170 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 178. On Sunday mornings the women all seemed patient, all the men seemedmighty. While John watched, the Power struck someone, a man or woman;they cried out, a long, wordless crying, and, arms outstretched like wings,they began the Shout. Someone moved a chair a little to give them room,the rhythm paused, the singing stopped, only the pounding feet and theclapping hands were heard; then another cry, another dancer; then thetambourines began again, and the voices rose again, and the music swepton again, like fire, or flood, or judgment. Then the church seemed to swellwith the Power it held, and, like a planet rocking in space, the temple rockedwith the Power of God. John watched, watched the faces, and theweightless bodies, and listened to the timeless cries. One day, so everyonesaid, this Power would possess him; he would sing and cry as they did now,and dance before his King. James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain, 1953The relation between religion and political radicalism is a confusing one. Onthe one hand, established religious institutions have generally had a stake inthe status quo and hence have fostered conservatism. The other-worldlyorientation of the masses, particularly as expressed in the morefundamentalist branches of Christianity, has been seen as an alternative tothe development of political radicalism. On the other hand, as the source ofboth universal humanistic values and the strength that can come frombelieving one is carrying out Gods will in political matters, religion hasoccasionally played a positive role in movements for radical social change. Gary Marx, Protest and Prejudice, 1969 189Speaker: Let a new earth arise!Congregation: Let a generation full of courage rise and take control!Speaker: In the Union of South Africa (USA) to the United States of America(USA)!Congregation: Let a new earth arise!Speaker: Let the dirges disappear!...Congregation: Stop bank loans in South Africa! Stop redlining againstBlacks and the poor!Speaker: Let a generation of men and women rise and take control!Congregation: No Sowetos over me, No more Sowetos over me, No more,no more!Speaker: From the USA to the USA!Congregation: No more Bakkes over me, No more Bakkes over me, Nomore, no more!Speaker; Let a new earth arise!Congregation: No more auction blocks for me! No more police brutality!...Speaker: "For my people everywhere!"Congregation: Rise up, fight for what is right! Rise up and fight!Speaker: From the USA to the USA!Congregation: This land is my land! I built it with my hands!Speaker: Let a generation of men and women rise and take control.Congregation: Stand up, fight for your rights! Stand up and fight!Speaker: Come out to the picket line!... 171 Introduction to Afro-American Studies A PEOPLES COLLEGE PRIMER
  • 179. Congregation: We make our stand to defend our rights and fight forliberation.Speaker: From the USA to the USA!Congregation: Same struggle. Same fight!Speaker: From the USA to the USA!All: SAME STRUGGLE, SAME FIGHT!Chicago Committee for a Free Africa, "New Wine in Old Bottles: AResponsive Reading on the Black Church and Strug