African American Identity
It was a hot August day as sweat beat down on Thomas Jefferson Brown. He had been working in the field 2 hours before the hot sun had made its presence known. He looked back over the drying field, hoping that this crop would provide for his family better than last years crop had. Thomas watched his oldest son, Nathan, who worked down one row of the field while staring intently at the cotton plants as he picked the cotton. Nathan was a very inquisitive young man who had just yesterday asked his father what it was like being a slave for Mr. Walter Johnson. When his father had told him that in a lot of ways life was so much easier than now, Nathan had given him a look that allowed Thomas to know that his son could not understand. How could he understand? Nathan had not grown up a slave and seen that while it was extremely difficult, there was a feeling of stability to life then. Yes, Thomas Jefferson Brown had endured the beatings and yes he had watched as his Mother and eventually his sisters had been sexually assaulted, but how do you tell a young man such as Nathan that such was the way of life; it was to be expected, along with the comfort of knowing where your next meal was going to come from. Since Tomas had been freed after the great war, He s and his family had endured much more than that; having watched the lynching of two of his brothers and numerous friends. They were the lucky ones though, Thomas thought, while looking up at the fiery ball of heat known as the sun. They did not have to endure other hardships; their suffering was over. Yes it was hard for Nathan to know that life was indeed easier as a slave than a freed man, and maybe, just maybe, things would change during Nathan's lifetime. Thomas Jefferson Brown wiped his brow once more and continued on picking the cotton
Even though the civil war ended in 1865, African Americans still faced an uphill battle to obtain rights that were afforded other Americans. This was in spite of the fact that 24 African American soldiers earned our Nations highest honor; the Congressional Medal of Honor, during the Civil War. Even with the passing of the 13th Amendment in 1865 banning slavery and the 14th Amendment giving African Americans citizenship and equal protection under the law, there were still so many other issues that would deprive African Americans of their lawful rights, such as having the first African American elected into the 41st Congress in 1869 continuing through 1901 with the 57th congress, which had no African Americans. This trend would continue until the election of 1929 before another African American was elected to congress. In 1873 the Supreme Court decision ruled that the 14th-Amendment guarantee of equal protection of the laws extended only to federal civil rights, thus removing southern states from the duty to protect the civil rights of African Americans, but it was just not their rights that were taken; but their lives as well. Between 1882 and the end of 1900, 1751 African Americans and 1105 white Americans were lynched for trying to further the African American cause (National). Given all of this discrimination and violence, it is hard to imagine that anyone would be willing to further the African American cause, but many stood ready to not only give of themselves, but perhaps even to give their life for this noble cause. African American writers were presented with these problems of equality and self esteem, and yet have truly transformed and continue to support a freed people, to obtain all of their rights. What follows is from three writers who each in his own way contributed mightily to the African American cause. They are W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and Glen Loury. First, we have W.E.B. (William Edward Burghardt) Dubois, who was born on February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Dubois was one of the most influential black leaders of the first half of the 20th Century. Dubois shared in the...
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