Advancing The People and Strengthening a Nation: Four Unforgettable Men Advocating for Change in the Redemption Era

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The ending of Reconstruction and the period known as the Redemption gave birth to the “new Negro.” Gene Jarrett, a CAS associate professor of English at Boston University, defines the “new Negro” as a time “when African Americans were hoping to represent themselves in fresh, progressive ways, whether dealing with politics or culture alone.” He goes on to say, “There was a transition from the old Negro, the plantation slave, to the new Negro, African-Americans who were considered more refined, educated, sophisticated, and involved in the political process” (Ullian 2008). Although there was an overabundance of civil rights activists at the time, there were four men who individually stand out from the rest. Though these four men may not have always agreed with the ideas of one another, one thing is for certain; they all wanted to ultimately see a nation of equality, each believing in a different way of gaining it. These four men are Alexander Crummell, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, and Marcus Garvey. Though these men all game from different backgrounds, they indeed fought for the same cause.

Alexander Crummell was born to a free family in 1819. Born into a life of activism, Crummell grew up in the house where the first African American newspaper, the Freedoms Journal, was published. Crummell worked with the American Anti-Slavery Society as a child and went on to become the first black student to graduate from Cambridge. It was at Cambridge where Crummell developed his pan-Africanist way of thinking. Pan-Africanists are people who believe that harmony is fundamental to economic, social, and political advancement and intend to unify and uplift people of the African descent. Crummell also believed in the Talented Tenth, a term ...

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... men that led to the birth of the “new Negro” and opened the doors for the freedom that African Americans have today. Although no two solutions are exactly alike, the reason for the fight was undoubtedly the same. As for who had the best approach, trying to place myself in the mindset of someone living during the time of these men, I would have say Booker T. Washington. Although accommodation seems like a way of giving up, accepting the situation at the time and trying to better oneself seems a lot more humane to me than fighting and losing lives. This is a topic that could contribute to countless hours, or days, of debate but each person is entitled to their own opinion. Nonetheless it is still safe to say that, however one looks at it or whoever’s approach one may believe is best, these four men can be considered the founding fathers to African American freedom.

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