African American Readings Final

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Gina Jacobson
History 210
Beatrice McKenzie
June 28, 2012

“I don’t need no books to tell me how to be black” - quoted in Dreams from My Father (87)  
This quote resonated with me as I read the last text for the course, and I began to think as much as the reading of affluent African-Americans writings was a gate way into their minds; was it also a tool to solidify ones blackness by finding common ideals and life experiences?  I cannot say for sure, but personally I felt confirm my racial identity and what I believe in terms of civil rights after reading each of the books. We have embarked on topics such as Black Nationalism, politics, African-American folklore or culture, and Garveyism to name a few in reading the many autobiographies, biographies, and writings of various influential African-Americans. However, the reoccurring topic within each text and is education. Whether it is that education was the key to racial, social, and economic equality for African-Americans or merely the piece of the puzzle I cannot say; but it was no doubt the force that many leaders needed to bring the movement to life.

I am interested in examining the views and opinions of individuals read in class on the topic of education as it relates to ways in which each are used to achieve equality and justice for African-Americans and in the end for all humanity. In this paper I will focus on four figures we studied: Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. DuBois, Carter G. Woodson, and Angela Davis’s views on education. My reasoning for selecting these five figures is to get a better idea if there are significant differences in views on education at certain time periods but also between men and women. I would argue that as we move past the civil rights era there is less significance placed on what type or whether one receives an education; as a primary means of seeking equality, for it is know that the level of education attained does not make African-Americans valued much more than the next person.

I had an instinctive feeling that the people who have little or no school training should have something coming into their homes weekly which dealt with their problems in a simple, helpful way... so I wrote in a plain, common-sense way on the things that concerned our people.     – Ida B. Wells Better known for her work on the anti-lynching campaigns in the Southern states of the United States along with spreading her message internationally of lynching used as a form of punishment against false or petty crimes; Wells also was a firm believer in education for blacks. As the above quotes suggest, she understood the importance of even the slightest form of education or knowledge as it makes people aware of issue in which they can be active and make changes to better themselves as an individual but also as a race. Ida was enrolled in Rust College in her hometown until the death of both of her parents in which case she dropped out to take care of her siblings and took a job as a teacher making 30 dollars a month compared to white counterparts 80 dollars a month (biographical presentation). This was an eye opener for Wells as such wage discrimination only made her more interested in the politics of race and improving the education of blacks. Thus, the reason she taught and later began to write articles in her newspaper, The Free Speech which were distributed on a weekly basis for blacks to stay informed on the politics and issue of “the people”.            

 Wells wrote three pamphlets for her anti-lynching campaign, the last pamphlet entitled Mob Rule brings about the issue of the New Orleans mob stalking the streets for suspicious blacks to lynch. In one case, they were searching for “desperado” Robert Charles because he shot a police officer in trying to defend himself from being beaten to death (Wells, 193). The police and newspapers labeled him as a desperado because he had pamphlets and items which were seen as hatred toward whites. This is crucial in...
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