Tag Archives: African Americans

From David Walker to President Obama: Tropes of the Founding Fathers in African American Discourses of Democracy, or The Legacy of Ishmael

More than a century after the Emancipation Proclamation, in a society that still others blackness, we continue to hold to the mythical humanizing power of literacy. In our own time this has been poignantly evinced in the public reception of the current President of the United States, Barack Obama. He has been internationally hailed for his written and oral eloquence, and many Americans expected that Obama’s evident intellectual prowess would reverse prevailing stereotypes of black inferiority. Obama’s rhetorical success is rooted in the longstanding literary practice of invoking the mythical founding fathers to validate text and subject. In this regard, David Walker’s  Appeal (1829) represents the emergence of a long tradition of black voices invoking America’s most sacred patriarchs and their rhetoric of Americanness.

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Forty years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the charismatic leader of the civil rights movement, Barack H. Obama was elected the first African American president of the United States of America in 2008. Although U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy had predicted in 1961 that a black person could be president like his brother "in the next thirty or forty years," nobody really expected this kind of victory to come true.

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The Reflection of Race and Law in African American Literature

Since the law has been crucial in defining and delineating the dimensions of African American experience both in slavery and in freedom, the encounter with the American legal system and its representatives has left a strong imprint on African American cultural and literary memory and expression. The article sketches out a few aspects and features which characterize the reflection of law and race in African American culture and literature.

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