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CALLING ALL WELL-READ PEOPLE!


manderlyh

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Hey, I need a little bit of help. I'm a little less-educated in the world of poetry than I wish I could be, so I need people who are in the know to help me out!

I'm also looking for any short stories that may be able to accomplish this same purpose.

I'm looking for some poems that have the theme of racial prejudice/injustice, etc. I'm specifically looking for something by African American authors that are pre-civil rights movement in theme.

Perhaps just a few names of some poets that have written about this?

I'm working on a major project that involves Jim Crow Laws, and anything would be greatly appreciated.

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Langston Hughes has some good poems from both early and late in the pre-civil rights movement, and they're interesting to compare--the early note of hope, the later note of "we've waited long enough." Most of the good African American poets are post-civil-rights-era, except for the Harlem Renaissance people, and even then most of them were better at fiction. (Maya Angelou is later, too, though of course virtually all African American writers have written about civil rights at some point.) Robert Hayden is another earlier one.

Just saw that you also wanted short stories. Both Baldwin and Ellison have a number of good ones that would fit in with your theme. Or you could use extracts from Nella Larsen, maybe (since she didn't write short stories)?

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You caught me at the right time! I just took the second half of an American Lit. sequence of classes last quarter, so let's see how much I learned, heh. I just happen to have read both of ebk's suggestions, so I'll start with the stories I read by them:

"Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin is about a black teacher from Harlem who is having trouble accepting his troubled younger brother's goal of becoming a jazz pianist. I liked that one a lot. It's not about any specific injustice, just sort of about taking charge of your life and making it your own in an environment that doesn't want to let you, I guess.

"Bright and Morning Star" by Richard Wright is more directly related to racism (with a bit of communism on the side)...I didn't finish that one (I don't think I finished more than 3/4 of the reading we had to for that class, argh), but take a look at it -- I think it ought to work pretty well.

A poem that I really recommend is "A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi. Meanwhile, a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon" by Gwendolyn Brooks. It's about the murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago, by two white men in Mississippi in 1955, just at the very beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, so Jim Crow was obviously still very much in play at that point (especially since the murderers, who later confessed, were acquitted). The poem is told from the point of view of the wife of one of the murderers, who sees her marriage and the murder as a sort of fairy tale gone wrong. If you check out any of these, I'd take a look at this one first. In class we watched a good documentary about the events surrounding the murder, too, if you want any info about that.

Uhh... also check out Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. Oh - I know! This should work pretty well: we read Chapter 10 of James Weldon Johnson's Autobiography of an Ex-Black Man. It's fictional, but it talks about an African-American man who can pass for white and his experiences with both black and white people. In one part he witnesses a burning at the stake...it's pretty hard-hitting and graphic, so depending on the age of the students, I don't know, maybe you don't want to use that one. His insights on it and the rest of his experiences are really interesting, though, and it definitely gives you a non-sugar coated look at life in the South during Jim Crow, for sure.

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Good suggestions (though Washington and DuBois didn't write poetry or short stories).

Also James Baldwin's stories in Uncle Tom's Children are all useful. But bringing in Emmett Till is really relevant to your project, I'm guessing, given that what he was accused of was coming on to a white woman. Also there's a song on Dylan's Freewheelin' album about the event.

Oh, and although it's written after the civil rights movement, I just remembered that there's a section in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon that would be really relevant, too.

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Thanks guys!

I thought about DuBois or Washington. It's hard to decide what parts to use with them though.

I also thought about Nella Larson, but I think her work is going to be a bit harder to read quickly.

I've written down all the suggestions, and I'm going to thoroughly check them out!

Thanks again!!!

xoxo

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Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora

The Sleeper Wakes: Harlem Renaissance Stories by Women

Dubois did write some fiction - "The Comet" would fit in well with what you're looking for. It's in Dark Matter.

A lot of Ralph Ellison is pre Brown v. Board of Ed ... "THe Shadow and the Act" is a good one from the late'40s "Invisible Man" is also late '40s.

Faulkner's "Go Down Moses" might be interesting. There is a story in it called "Pantaloon in Black" that's a must read, and can be read separate from the main themes involving Ike and the wilderness and the curse of the South.

I just read Chester Himes' Lonely Crusade. Great book, and definitely pre-Civil Rights. It involves a union organizin0g effort at a WWII airplane factory in California. It was considered quite inflammatory for the 1940's, as it delves deeply into the psychology of lefty politics and race of those times.

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Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora

The Sleeper Wakes: Harlem Renaissance Stories by Women

Dubois did write some fiction - "The Comet" would fit in well with what you're looking for. It's in Dark Matter.

A lot of Ralph Ellison is pre Brown v. Board of Ed ... "THe Shadow and the Act" is a good one from the late'40s "Invisible Man" is also late '40s.

Faulkner's "Go Down Moses" might be interesting. There is a story in it called "Pantaloon in Black" that's a must read, and can be read separate from the main themes involving Ike and the wilderness and the curse of the South.

I just read Chester Himes' Lonely Crusade. Great book, and definitely pre-Civil Rights. It involves a union organizin0g effort at a WWII airplane factory in California. It was considered quite inflammatory for the 1940's, as it delves deeply into the psychology of lefty politics and race of those times.

Let me revise what I said--he didn't write any GOOD fiction! Certainly nothing I would inflict on students. :D

"Invisible Man" is 1952, FWIW.

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Thanks guys.

I've literally taken this entire thread and put it into a word document to keep permanent record of this. I'm going to head to the library or google these to see if I can find some of them in a low-cost manner. ;)

I'm trying to stick with things that I can get to quickly, because I'm going to cover the civil rights/Jim Crow laws quickly prior to reading To Kill A Mockingbird with my kids this summer.

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...oh and Footsteps, do you have an anthology that you're using for that stuff?

I have all the American Norton ones, except that my latter one, (C,D,E) is not in my possession right now--my friend has it because she's taking the second part of the American literature survey right now.

ANYONE HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR MUSIC? SPECIFIC BLUES SONGS, ROCK AND ROLL, ETC. THAT MAY FIT THE BILL?

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...oh and Footsteps, do you have an anthology that you're using for that stuff?

I have all the American Norton ones, except that my latter one, (C,D,E) is not in my possession right now--my friend has it because she's taking the second part of the American literature survey right now.

ANYONE HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR MUSIC? SPECIFIC BLUES SONGS, ROCK AND ROLL, ETC. THAT MAY FIT THE BILL?

Well, songwise, off the top of my head I can think of 'We Shall Overcome'. It's been covered many times, but most notably by Joan Baez during the civil-rights movement.

Wiki Link

There's also Mississippi Goddam by Nina Simone. She wrote two others as well - Four Women and To Be Young, Gifted and Black.

Four Women Wiki

To Be Young, Gifted and Black Wiki

Mississippi Goddam Lyrics

And as Redrum mentioned (at least, I think it was them), Strange Fruit by Billie Holliday.

Strange Fruit Wiki

Hope this helps :)

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...oh and Footsteps, do you have an anthology that you're using for that stuff?

I have all the American Norton ones, except that my latter one, (C,D,E) is not in my possession right now--my friend has it because she's taking the second part of the American literature survey right now.

ANYONE HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR MUSIC? SPECIFIC BLUES SONGS, ROCK AND ROLL, ETC. THAT MAY FIT THE BILL?

Yeah, it's the Heath Anthology of American Literature, and I think I was looking at volumes D and E.

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Yeah, it's the Heath Anthology of American Literature, and I think I was looking at volumes D and E.

Dangit. Those are the ones I DON'T HAVE right now. LOL (I figured as much...considering the time periods and the fact that I have THREE different editions o volumes A and B on my shelf....)

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