Description : Music was one of the most powerful weapons of the abolitionists. In 1848, William Wells Brown, abolitionist and former slave, published The Anti-Slavery Harp, "a collection of songs for anti-slavery meetings," which contains songs and occasional poems. The Anti-Slavery Harp is in the format of a "songster"--giving the lyrics and indicating the tunes to which they are to be sung, but with no music. The book is open to the pages containing lyrics to the tune of the "Marseillaise," the French national anthem, which to 19th-century Americans symbolized the determination to bring about freedom, by force if necessary. (loc.gov)
Description : Music, and folk music in particular, is often embraced as a form of political expression, a vehicle for bridging or reinforcing social boundaries, and a valuable tool for movements reconfiguring the social landscape. Reds, Whites, and Blues examines the political force of folk music, not through the meaning of its lyrics, but through the concrete social activities that make up movements. Drawing from rich archival material, William Roy shows that the People's Songs movement of the 1930s and 40s, and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s implemented folk music's social relationships--specifically between those who sang and those who listened--in different ways, achieving different outcomes. Roy explores how the People's Songsters envisioned uniting people in song, but made little headway beyond leftist activists. In contrast, the Civil Rights Movement successfully integrated music into collective action, and used music on the picket lines, at sit-ins, on freedom rides, and in jails. Roy considers how the movement's Freedom Songs never gained commercial success, yet contributed to the wider achievements of the Civil Rights struggle. Roy also traces the history of folk music, revealing the complex debates surrounding who or what qualified as "folk" and how the music's status as racially inclusive was not always a given. Examining folk music's galvanizing and unifying power, Reds, Whites, and Blues casts new light on the relationship between cultural forms and social activity.
Description : A well-known nineteenth-century abolitionist and former slave, William Wells Brown was a prolific writer and lecturer who captivated audiences with readings of his drama The Escape; or, a Leap for Freedom (1858). The first published play by an African American writer, The Escape explored the complexities of American culture at a time when tensions between North and South were about to explode into the Civil War. This new volume presents the first-edition text of Brown's play and features an extensive introduction that establishes the work's continuing significance. The Escape centers on the attempted sexual violation of a slave and involves many characters of mixed race, through which Brown commented on such themes as moral decay, white racism, and black self-determination. Rich in action and faithful in dialect, it raises issues relating not only to race but also to gender by including concepts of black and white masculinity and the culture of southern white and enslaved women. It portrays a world in which slavery provided a convenient means of distinguishing between the white North and the white South, allowing northerners to express moral sentiments without recognizing or addressing the racial prejudice pervasive among whites in both regions. John Ernest's introductory essay balances the play's historical and literary contexts, including information on Brown and his career, as well as on slavery, abolitionism, and sectional politics. It also discusses the legends and realities of the Underground Railroad, examines the role of antebellum performance art--including blackface minstrelsy and stage versions of Uncle Tom's Cabin--in the construction of race and national identity, and provides an introduction to theories of identity as performance. A century and a half after its initial appearance, The Escape remains essential reading for students of African American literature. Ernest's keen analysis of this classic play will enrich readers' appreciation of both the drama itself and the era in which it appeared. The Editor: John Ernest is an associate professor of English at the University of New Hampshire and author of Resistance and Reformation in Nineteenth-Century African-American Literature: Brown, Wilson, Jacobs, Delany, Douglass, and Harper.
Description : Against Wind and Tide tells the story of African American's battle against the American Colonization Society (ACS), founded in 1816 with the intention to return free blacks to its colony Liberia. Although ACS members considered free black colonization in Africa a benevolent enterprise, most black leaders rejected the ACS, fearing that the organization sought forced removal. As Ousmane K. Power-Greene's story shows, these African American anticolonizationists did not believe Liberia would ever be a true "black American homeland." In this study of anticolonization agitation, Power-Greene draws on newspapers, meeting minutes, and letters to explore the concerted effort on the part of nineteenth century black activists, community leaders, and spokespersons to challenge the American Colonization Society's attempt to make colonization of free blacks federal policy. The ACS insisted the plan embodied empowerment. The United States, they argued, would never accept free blacks as citizens, and the only solution to the status of free blacks was to create an autonomous nation that would fundamentally reject racism at its core. But the activists and reformers on the opposite side believed that the colonization movement was itself deeply racist and in fact one of the greatest obstacles for African Americans to gain citizenship in the United States. Power-Greene synthesizes debates about colonization and emigration, situating this complex and enduring issue into an ever broader conversation about nation building and identity formation in the Atlantic world.
Description : Spanning nearly 400 years from the early abolitionists to the present, this guide book profiles more than 400 people, places, and events that have shaped the history of the black struggle for freedom. Coverage includes information on such mainstay figures as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks, but also delves into how lesser known figures contributed to and shaped the history of civil rights. Learn how the Housewives' League of Detroit started a nationwide movement to support black businesses, helping many to survive the depression; or discover what effect sports journalist Samuel Harold Lacy had on Jackie Robinson's historic entrance into the major leagues. This comprehensive resource chronicles the breadth and passion of an entire people's quest for freedom.
Description : The first novel published by an African American, Clotel takes up the story, in circulation at the time, that Thomas Jefferson fathered an illegitimate mulatto daughter who was sold into slavery. Powerfully reimagining this story, and weaving together a variety of contemporary source materials, Brown fills the novel with daring escapes and encounters, as well as searing depictions of the American slave trade. An innovative and challenging work of literary invention, Clotel is receiving much renewed attention today. William Wells Brown, though born into slavery, escaped to become one of the most prominent reformers of the nineteenth century and one of the earliest historians of the black experience. This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition reproduces the first, 1853, edition of Clotel and includes, as did that edition, his autobiographical narrative, "The Life and Escape of William Wells Brown," plus newly written notes.