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A Torch for Tomorrow Civil Rights Protest Literature and the Historical Memory of Abolitionism Zoe Trodd April 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "A Torch for Tomorrow Civil Rights Protest Literature and the Historical Memory of Abolitionism Zoe Trodd April 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Torch for Tomorrow Civil Rights Protest Literature and the Historical Memory of Abolitionism Zoe Trodd April 2008

2 The genre of “American protest literature” The abolitionist aesthetic Historical memory

3 Old John Brown is not dead. His soul still marches on, and each passing year weaves new garlands for his brow and adds fresh lustre to his deathless glory. Who shall be the John Brown of Wage-Slavery? —Eugene Debs, 1907.

4 Thomas Clarkson, “Stowage of the British slave ship Brookes,” 1789.

5 “The officer of justice arresting a helpless female fugitive in N.Y. What has the North to do with slavery?” in The Legion of Liberty!, Illustration in Harper’s Weekly, June 14, 1862.

6 “The resurrection of Henry Box Brown at Philadelphia, who escaped from Richmond Va. in a bx 3 feet long 2 1/2 ft. deep and 2 ft wide,” “The Resurrection of Henry Box Brown,” in William Still, The Underground Railroad: A Record of Facts, Authentic Narratives, Letters, & etc, 1872.

7 “3 feet 1 inch long, 2 feet wide, 2 feet 6 inches high. Representation of the box in which a fellow mortal traveled a long journey, in quest of those rights which the piety and republicanism of this country denied to him, the right to possess,” in Charles Stearns, Narrative of Henry Box Brown, Who Escaped from Slavery, Enclosed in a Box 3 Feet Long and 2 Wide. Written from a Statement of Facts Made by Himself. With Remarks Upon the Remedy for Slavery, 1849.

8 “Escaping Child in Trunk,” in William Still, The Underground Railroad: A Record of Facts, Authentic Narratives, Letters, & etc, 1872.

9 “Expulsion of Negroes and Abolitionists from Tremont Temple, Boston, on December 3, 1860,” Harper’s Weekly, December 15, 1860.

10 “Effects of the Fugitive Slave Law,” Hoff and Bloede, Lithograph, 1850.

11 Frederick Douglass, frontispiece image to My Bondage and My Freedom, 1855.

12 Photographic portrait of Harriet Jacobs in her 80s; courtesy Jean Fagan Yellin. Advertisement submitted by James Norcom for the capture of Harriet Jacobs after she went into hiding; American Beacon, Virginia, July 4, 1835.

13 Hole Stories Roy DeCarava, “Hallway,” 1953.Bill Mauldin, “Inch by Inch,” 1960.

14 By Roy DeCarava, in Langston Hughes & Roy DeCarava, The Sweet Flypaper of Life, 1955.

15

16 We are proud of our white blood and our white heritage of sixty centuries... If we are bigoted... so were Abraham Lincoln and our other illustrious forebears who believed in segregation. We choose the old paths of our founding fathers. —Association of Citizens’ Councils, 1955.

17 The very time I thought I was lost, my dungeon shook and my chains fell off… [the African American past] testifies to nothing less than the perpetual achievement of the impossible. —James Baldwin, By Danny Lyon, Leesburg, Georgia, 1963.

18 Richard Avedon, “William Casby, born in slavery,” Algiers, Louisiana, Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation… But one hundred years later the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. —Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963.

19 Herb Block, “I’m eight. I was born on the day of the Supreme Court decision,” 1962.

20 Ollie Harrington, “Now I ain’t so sure I wanna get educated,” 1963.

21 Marion Trikosko, “Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C.,” 1963.

22 Gordon Parks, “Emerging Man,” 1952.

23 By Charles Moore, Birmingham, Alabama, 1963.

24 By Roy DeCarava, in Langston Hughes & Roy DeCarava, The Sweet Flypaper of Life, 1955.

25 David Hunter Strother, “Osman,” 1856.Stanley Kramer (dir.), The Defiant Ones, 1958.

26 By Charles Moore, Philadelphia, Mississippi, W. P. Snyder, detail from “The Dismal Swamp,” Harper’s Weekly, April 26, 1884.

27 Herb Block, “And remember, nothing can be accomplished by taking to the streets,” 1963.

28 Jacob Lawrence, “Underground Railroad,” Jacob Lawrence, “One-Way Ticket,” 1948.

29 Jacob Lawrence, “Generations,” Jacob Lawrence, detail from The Life of Frederick Douglass, No. 9, 1939: “Transferred back to the eastern shore of Maryland, being one of the few Negroes who could read or write, Douglass was approached by James Mitchell, a free Negro, and asked to help teach a Sabbath school. However, their work was stopped by a mob who threatened them with a death if they continued their class.”

30 Langston Hughes, “Frederick Douglass: ” (1966) Douglass was someone who, Had he walked with wary foot And frightened tread, From very indecision Might be dead, Might have lost his soul, But instead decided to be bold And capture every street On which he set his feet, To route each path Toward freedom's goal, To make each highway Choose his compass’ choice, To all the world cried, Hear my voice!... Oh, to be a beast, a bird, Anything but a slave! he said. Who would be free Themselves must strike The first blow, he said. He died in He is not dead. By Charles Moore, Selma, Alabama, 1965.

31 The first Negro slaves were brought to this country as freight chained in the holds of slave ships… three hundred years later a leading Washington hotel [insists] that Negroes visiting the Democratic National Committee should use the FREIGHT ELEVATOR. —Langston Hughes, The patterns of slave days… still exist…. Front doors are gradually opening to Negroes in many parts of America, but in Alabama and Mississippi, South Carolina and Georgia, even back doors are still closed. —Langston Hughes, 1965.

32 I am the one who labored as a slave, Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave... Remember my years, heavy with sorrow And make of those years a torch for tomorrow. —Langston Hughes, “The Negro Mother” (1931).

33 I come back today To tell you a story of the long dark way... Make of my past a road to the light Out of the darkness, the ignorance, the night... march ever forward, breaking down bars. Look ever upward at the sun and the stars. Oh, my dark children, may my dreams and my prayers Impel you forever up the great stair. —Langston Hughes, “The Negro Mother” (1931).

34 There was Denmark Vesey. There was Harriet Tubman. There was Frederick Douglass…. There are the Negro voters of Miami…. And there are you. —Langston Hughes, Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, John Brown, Fred Douglass… left no buildings behind them. —Langston Hughes, 1940.

35 Keep your hand on the plow! Hold on! If the house is not yet finished, Don’t be discouraged, builder!... The plan and the pattern is here, Woven… into the warp and woof of America. —Langston Hughes, 1943.

36 Cover image for Langston Hughes, The Glory of Negro History, 1955.

37 Nat Herz, “Boy on Steps,” Washington, D.C., 1963.

38 The world still needs figures like William Wilberforces and Harriet Tubmans…there is plenty of room for more anti-slavery heroes…And this time we have within our power to end slavery for good. —Jolene Smith, Executive Director, Free the Slaves, March 2007.

39 Jean-Robert Cadet, 2004.

40 Roseline Odine, 2005.

41 Roseline and Christina, two former slaves, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., February 2005.

42 The 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the British colonies…will be a powerful reminder of centuries of struggle and progress in combating slavery—but also of the fact that we still have not managed to eliminate it completely…let us pledge to draw on the lessons of history to free our fellow human beings from slavery. —Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, December 2006.


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