February 5, 2014
Primary Source Paper 1
Eric Foner argues, in Give Me Liberty, that former slaves' definition of freedom mirrored that of white Americans. In The Souls of Black Folk, the author, W. E. B. De Bois supports this argument. De Bois says blacks just wanted to be treated the same as the white man. They wanted to be accepted into society, instead of discriminated against because of the color of their skin. De Bois states, “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.”1 De Bois goes on to say this is the problem that caused the Civil War. De Bois explains, “Negro slavery was the real cause of the problem.”2
In The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. De Bois refers to the idea of freedom as, “The equality in political, industrial, and social life which modern men must have in order to live, is not to be confounded with sameness.” “Freedom, too, the long-sought, we still seek,-the freedom of life and limb, the freedom to work and think, the freedom to love and aspire. Work, culture, liberty,-all these we need.”3 This is De Bois’ definition of true freedom. Just because African Americans were freed men by law doesn’t mean they were actually free. They were still treated as if they were slaves.
Africans Americans faced many problems after being set free after the Emancipation Proclamation. They were freed men according to the law, but were they really free? They still faced the same racism and prosecution that they had before when they were slaves. They were still treated badly by the white man, as a second class. A black man couldn’t go to the same schools, ride on the same buses, or even drink out of the same drinking fountain as a white man. There were many double standards throughout society.4
In the text, De Bois refers to “The Veil”. He says every African American wears the veil. The Veil refers to three concepts. The first concept is the literal dark brown skin of African Americans which is the