Write your abstract
here.Booker T. Washington. James Weldon Johnson
and William E.B. DuBois, Three Negro Classics. New York:
Avon Books, (1999) 512 pages.
The reprint of these three texts offers one source for
the most instrumental books evaluating the African American
situation in the United States. Washington’s Up from
Slavery, The Souls of Black Folk by WEB DuBois, and An
Autobiography of an Ex-colored Man by James Weldon Johnson
were published over the years from Reconstruction after the
United States Civil War through the turn of the century.
Avon Books has republished the three in their original
format to offer scholars the opportunity to compare and
contrast the three texts. This book offers an excellent one
text resource for American Ante-bellum and Civil War
university and college instructors. The texts can also be
used in advanced American history classes at the high school
Up from Slavery traces the role of blacks that were
broughtto North America as slaves, without the ability to
hold land, vote, and without the legal authority to even
marry. Washington was an articulate chronicler of the Blacks
ability to take positions of leadership in academics and
government. He was an advisor to politicians and to leaders
in education and society. His role to the Black community
was to urge African Americans to read, attend college and
study to advance improvement of the Blacks in American society.
WEB DuBois’s The Souls of Black Folk presents the other
prominent view of Black society at the time Washington’s
book was attracting public attention.
DuBois’ position was
that Blacks had the best chance to advance through taking
positions that illustrated their abilities in business and
industry. This position was supported by the type of
instruction offered at Tuskegee Institute. Blacks were
trained in technical skills. DuBois viewed this training as
the core of developing acceptance of Whites for advancement
James Weldon Johnson’s An Autobiography of an Ex-colored
Man is the most controversial of the texts in the volume.
This is undoubtedly due to the fact that it is the most
recent of the three included. Johnson compared the condition
of Blacks in the United States with Blacks living in other
countries, and discovered that Blacks livings in European
countries had many more rights than Blacks around the world.
Each of these books shows a prominent interpretation of the
role of Blacks at a particular point in history. Although
the vocabulary and positions may be considered dated, and
perhaps somewhat surprising in this day and age, they offer
an important resource to understand the development of
African American society in the United States.