Importance of Heritage
Throughout this semester in African American Literature we have read and analyzed many different literary works from The Norton Anthology of African American Literature by Henry Louis Gates Jr. We have discussed several of them in class either as a whole or in groups. I thoroughly enjoyed gaining useful knowledge about my own culture and heritage. This course also furthered my knowledge of the African American Experience. A few literary works stood out to me in particular; I’ve Been to The Mountaintop by Martin Luther King Jr., “What to a slave is the Fourth of July “ by Frederick Douglass and Long Black Song by Richard Wright. These powerful works of literature really allowed me to hypothetically “put myself in their shoes”. Some of the imagery portrayed in the text really effected me and made me reevaluate myself as an African American male. The impact that these powerful men and women had in their time period still affects us in present time. I’ve been to the Mountaintop delivered by the late, great, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 3,1968 was one of the most powerful speeches of his life. During this sermon Dr. King spoke of some of his encounters with racist white people. One of his encounters was a brutal stabbing incident in New York City. Dr. King was in critical condition for four days “ if I had sneezed I would have died.” (King 115) Even though he was treated horribly he knew that one-day things would get better. Martin Luther King jr. used a certain form of Vernacular called call and response/ call and recall engaging his audience and evoking a deeper response. He also made a few biblical references during the speech. Martin Luther King Jr. compares himself to a present day Moses stating “ He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain…and I’ve seen the Promised Land, I may not get there with you, but, I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land” (King 116). King’s speech really portrays...
Cited: Gates Jr, Henry Louis. “Folktales.” The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. 2nd edition. Eds. Nellie McKay and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. New York:
Norton, 2004. P.110-116, 468 Print.
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