In all, Tademy does a great job in transporting her readers back to the 1800s in rural Louisiana. This book is a profound alternative to just another slave narrative. Instead of history it offers ‘herstory’. This story offers insight to the issues of slavery through a women’s perspective, something that not so many books offer. Not only does it give readers just one account or perspective of slavery but it gives readers a take on slavery through generation after generation. From the early days of slavery through the Civil War, a narrative of familial strength, pride, and culture are captured in these lines.
Anna Julia Cooper’s, Womanhood a Vital Element in the Regeneration and Progress, an excerpt from A Voice from the South, discusses the state of race and gender in America with an emphasis on African American women of the south. She contributes a number of things to the destitute state African American woman became accustom to and believe education and elevation of the black woman would change not only the state of the African American community but the nation as well. Cooper’s analysis is based around three concepts, the merging of the Barbaric with Christianity, the Feudal system, and the regeneration of the black woman.
A person cannot change their body; therefore, they cannot change the color of their skin. Trethewey uses phrases like “cold lips stitched shut”, “expression of grief”, “language of blood”, and “muck of ancestry” in order to describe the constant verbal abuse and ignorant insults she received due to the nature of her genetics. The words of the body, which describe her physical features, are paired with the negatively connotated words to compare racism in the 70s and 80s with current racism in America. In comparison, Trethewey dissects the issue of racism by describing the lack of monuments for black soldiers as disrespect. In the poem “Pilgrimage”, Trethewey describes the lack of memorials for the Native Guard in Mississippi as a clear sign of Southern racism. Mississippi is “a graveyard for skeletons of sunken riverboats”, “hollowed by a web of caves . . . like catacombs.” The city floods with the soldiers from the Civil War, but the bodies are “stone, white marble, on Confederate Avenue.” The soldiers honored in Mississippi are Confederate generals and colonels. Mississippi distinctly decided against recognizing and celebrating one of the first all-Black regiments for the Union, the Native
Born to a decaying marriage and unstable household, Maya Angelou thrills her poetic intentions through her dominant and eloquent words. Maya Angelou, center of mysterious and descendants of the broken, like a champion, she rose out of the ashes and into the lights of the stage. An American author and artist who has been called “America’s most visible black female autobiographer” by dozens of people, has made remarkable recognitions all around the word. She is best known for her sequence of six autobiographical stories, focusing on her childhood and early adulthood. Her writing, through the eyes and experiences of a black woman, can lend a structure to the study of racial relations and culture in the 20th century America. Angelou’s work is then, a presentation of the life of a black woman who has lived in the South and in the urban North, who has lived in Africa, and has traveled Europe. She has gone through poverty and despair and she has been granted high honors. Her work is the expression of those experiences and sensations through the eyes of a black woman. Due to specific events in Maya Angelou’s life, her style of writing was exceedingly pretentious.
Nikky Finney (1957- ) has always been involved in the struggle of southern black people interweaving the personal and the public in her depiction of social issues such as family, birth, death, sex, violence and relationships. Her poems cover a wide range of examples: a terrified woman on a roof, Rosa Parks, a Civil Rights symbol, and Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State, to name just a few. The dialogue is basic to this volume where historical allusions to prominent figures touch upon important sociopolitical issues. I argue that “Red Velvet” and “Left”, from
The Civil War divided the United States, which most people try to forget. Although Americans would like to pretend that slavery and inequality never happened in the United States, the unjust actions continue as a part of history and are represented from “ the fields of cotton, hallowed ground- as slave legend goes-each boll holding the ghosts of generations” according to Trethewey’s poem “South” (45). Each boll holds a spirit which represents the black people who had to endure the hardships of slavery. Together they help create the United States historical identity. While she visited her parent’s home state of Mississippi, she visits museums about the civil war and stays in an old fashioned inn that had probably been around since the civil war. In her poem “Pilgrimage” Trethewey is deep in sleep at the inn “the ghost of history lies down beside me, rolls over, pins me beneath a heavy arm” (20). The ghost is trying to show Tretheway that she is a part of the history that she observed earlier in the day. Although she may sometimes try to hide that part of her identity, the ghost reminds her that she cannot hide from her family’s history in Mississippi. Ironically, in “Native Guard”, Trethewey uses the term “phantom
Dubbed as “The Greatest Country in the World” by god knows who, America is not as awesome and free as some may see. In doing a close reading of Heather Christle’s “Five Poems for America”, we can see how the author uses metaphors to portray a flawed American, specifically within its political system, religion, obsession with technology and basic human rights. Americans have been living with the oppression of these everyday issues, completely oblivious thus creating the America we infamously know today.
The female, adolescent speaker helps the audience realize the prejudice that is present in a “melting-pot” neighborhood in Queens during the year 1983. With the setting placed in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, the poem allows the audience to examine the experience of a young immigrant girl, and the inequality that is present during this time. Julia Alvarez in “Queens, 1963” employs poetic tools such as diction, figurative language, and irony to teach the reader that even though America is a place founded upon people who were strangers to the land, it is now home to immigrants to claim intolerance for other foreigners, despite the roots of America’s founding.
Analyzing the narrative of Harriet Jacobs through the lens of The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du bois provides an insight into two periods of 19th century American history--the peak of slavery in the South and Reconstruction--and how the former influenced the attitudes present in the latter. The Reconstruction period features Negro men and women desperately trying to distance themselves from a past of brutal hardships that tainted their souls and livelihoods. W.E.B. Du bois addresses the black man 's hesitating, powerless, and self-deprecating nature and the narrative of Harriet Jacobs demonstrates that the institution of slavery was instrumental in fostering this attitude.
The South is a region of the United States known for lively bluegrass and jazz music, African American literature, fine cuisine, family unity, a strong prevalence of religion and racial stereotypes. These customs, important to this area, have spurred artists to write about their experiences in the South. Black American poet and educator, Terrance Hayes, has been greatly influenced by the culture of the Southern United States. Terrance Hayes’ works reflect Southern influences and how being a member of the black community in the South has shaped his identity and his perception of the world.
Anne Moody’s memoir, Coming of Age in Mississippi, is an influential insight into the existence of a young girl growing up in the South during the Civil-Rights Movement. Moody’s book records her coming of age as a woman, and possibly more significantly, it chronicles her coming of age as a politically active Negro woman. She is faced with countless problems dealing with the racism and threat of the South as a poor African American female. Her childhood and early years in school set up groundwork for her racial consciousness. Moody assembled that foundation as she went to college and scatter the seeds of political activism. During her later years in college, Moody became active in numerous organizations devoted to creating changes to the civil rights of her people. These actions ultimately led to her disillusionment with the success of the movement, despite her constant action. These factors have contributed in shaping her attitude towards race and her skepticism about fundamental change in society.
Through the photograph, Trethewey is able to look back to this time of complex feelings and try to pinpoint the reason why she felt excluded and isolated, as well as the effect of her racial identity on her childhood. Additionally, she uses the photograph to try to gain a sense of control over her identity now, as a grown woman. Trethewey uses the visual art of photography to try comprehend not only her personal life but Southern history as well. In her poem, “Scenes from a Documentary History of Mississippi,” she describes a photograph of a parade in Vicksburg celebrating cotton, the crop that made white Southerns rich, but left African Americans poor. By reviewing this photograph, Trethewey attempts to understand the truth of Southern history’s double-sided nature, giving her control in the form of knowledge. In an interview with Joan Wylie Hall, Trethewey explains that much of her poetry involves photography because she is interested in “what might be behind an image,” such as the moments before and after the photograph was taken as well as “what the subjects of the photograph could
Natasha Tretheway’s Native Guard was published in 2006 and contains many poems about her childhood in the Deep South during the Civil War era. Her poem “Incident” tells a story that has seemingly been passed down in her family for generation. The poem can be interpreted to tell the story of the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross in the speaker’s yard. The variations in repetition that Tretheway uses throughout the poem shows that although the details of a story can change, the idea of racial intolerance prevails regardless of what version of the story is told.
...elief in bleak futures, isolation, and reluctance to leave their own doors in the morning to confront the allegorical road of life. It is apparent that Rainey’s song resonates with the audience members when they “bow dey heavy heads, set dey moufs up tight an’ cried” (49). This line is repeated once more, reaffirming that the audience is bowing in reverence for words that ring true to them, speak to them, and move them to acknowledge the common pains of their personal microhistories. “Backwater Blues” describes situations that African Americans endure every day; Brown illustrates this poignantly when he notes that there is nothing more to say but that Ma Rainey catches hold of her listeners and their problems (40, 52). It is interesting to note the parallel between the poem’s focus on unifying different people and the unification of poetry and song within the poem.
In Alice Walker's book, In Search Of Our Mother's Gardens, she addresses many issues facing blacks in today's society. The two essays examined here, "The Black Writer and the Southern Experience" and "The Unglamorous But Worthwhile Duties Of the Black Revolutionary Artist Or Of the Black Writer Who Simply Works and Writes," concern themselves with the truth and beauty of being a black Southern writer and the role of the revolutionary black artist, respectively.