African american history literature: How can we even begin to present a concise biography of African American literature, which has a vast and tumultuous history? There were first written works of African American kinds of literature around 1800 while the United States was still in its infancy, and newly acknowledged citizens, having clearly defined liberties, were still owning slaves.

Slavery led to the development of a distinct type of writing known as “slave tales.” Jim Crow laws had led to a lot of injustice and discrimination in the South by the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Despite this, Southern highly validated it as one of the most important fictional stories in human history during this time.

18th And 19th Century Slave Narratives – African American History Literature

african american history literature

African american history literature: The Interesting History of Olaudah Equiano, and Gustavus Vassa, the African, was one of the earliest “slave narratives” widely read across the Atlantic, from Boston to London, as the 1700s concluded (1789). 

The memoir, unlike many of the subsequent slave tales, was not a central text in the American abolitionist movement. Olaudah Equiano, who spent the better part of his adult life as an independent man, was born into slavery in the United States. He died in 1797, while slaves persisted in the newly founded United States with no obvious symptoms of decline.

The abolitionist movement in the United States gained traction thanks in part to a variety of slave tales that served as crucial sources of proof for its proponents. To give one example, Account of the Life and Frederick Douglass (1845) sold thousands of copies in its first week of publication. Historians believe the book might well have sold as many as 30,000 copies in the decades leading up to the Civil War.

In the years leading up to the American Civil War, the novel Cases in the History of the Slave Girls had been published in the United States (1861). An anonymous author had to be used by Harriet Jacobs in learning how to write about just the gender-based oppression she faced as a slave. In its original serial form, the poem appeared in the New York tabloid newspaper.

During The First Decade Of The Twentieth Century

African american history literature: Racism had been rampant before or during the Civil War, but after Reconstruction, it was temporarily subdued. As a result, aspirations for a more equal future faded as Jim Crow laws were enacted in the South. 

Both Booker T. Virginia and W.E.B. DuBois published key writings on the future of Black writers inside the United States, offering distinct theoretical viewpoints on the future of Black writers inside the United States. It was just a matter of time until Washington’s Up From Slavery and DuBois’s Souls of Black Folk became classic works in the history of African American thought.

In the decade between 1910 and 1920, the number of works by Black authors in the literary canon increased dramatically. Claude McKay, a Jamaican poet who emigrated to the United States, swiftly established himself as a leading voice in contemporary poetry. 

Poems by Whitman that deal with early civil rights & racial prejudice are among of his most known. “If We Must Die,” written by McKay in 1917, was a game-changer in terms of how the country spoke about the enduring violence of Jim Crow America.

Not like hogs/hunted and penniless in an ignoble spot,/ while around us bark the furious and hungry dogs,/ mocking our terrible fate.” So that our prior blood doesn’t go to waste, let us honorable die if we must.

He is known as a key actor in the Renaissance, which was concentrated in the Harlem section of New York City. Other famous people from this 1920s movement are Langston Hopkins, Zora Hurston Hurston, and Jean Toomer. We don’t have the space or time to discuss all of the wonderful works that emerged from this movement.

There are works situated in Harlem, but many of these authors take their audience to the deep south to explore how racism has been institutionalized there. Jean Toomer’s Cane (1923), a novel that combines fiction, poetry, & language fragmentation, is a good place to start if you’re interested in this topic.

Post-Influence Modernity’s On The Civil Rights Era

African american history literature from the middle of the twentieth century has rumblings of the Black Civil rights movement. Richard Wright, originally in Mississippi but raised in Chicago, released Native Son before this World War Broke up (1940). 

Racial prejudice and segregation were discussed in the novel, which suggested that violating an individual’s rights through the judicial system might lead to murder. Chicago chauffeur Bigger Thomas murders the son of his employer in this thriller. There is more to this story than meets the eye, and the book concludes by positing that the nation as a whole could have some of the blame.

Invisible Man was released by Ralph Ellison in the early 1950s (1952). The narrator, an African American, travels from the American South to Harlem in this novel, which deals with racial and political issues. He discovers that bigotry is not isolated to a certain geographic area, but rather permeates the American psyche.

Alice Walker & Toni Morrison are two of the most prominent female authors to emerge in recent decades. Segregation in 1930s Georgia was represented in Walker’s early 1980s epistolary novel, The Color Purple (1982). The novel was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, while the film adaptation was listed for 11 Academy Awards.

african american history literature

Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) is a novel that re-creates the pain of slavery in Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) is a novel that re-creates the pain of slavery in Morrison, like Walker, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Novel in 1988. Among Morrison’s other works are The Prettiest Eye (1970), Sin (1973), and Hymn of Solomon (1976). (1977). In 1993, she received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

African American history literature has a rich and diverse past. For those who want to learn more about slavery or the Harlem Renaissance’s influence on 20th-century literary genres, it’s important to study the works of these authors across time. Aside from the works we’ve just discussed, there are countless other novels, poetry, and plays out there simply waiting to be discovered.