Slings And Arrows Essay

1357 words - 5 pages

Slings and Arrows The social climate from the 1930s to the 1950s was at best tempestuous for the African American community. The depression accounted for 26 percent unemployment of black males and propagated the "Don't buy when you can't work" protests. The unrest was certainly not limited to the job market though. In 1934, the Scottsboro trials created a political and social storm out of crime that never actually occurred. True exhibitions of race relations in the South, the Scottsboro trials were a struggle for justice that produced both executioners and martyrs. The following year, Joe Louis exploded onto the boxing scene, creating a black hero in a racist era. His achievements are often overshadowed by veritable athletic tycoons like Michael Jordan; however, he played an essential role in the awakening of whites and the resurrection of the spirit of blacks that must be appreciated in historical context. In a dramatic move, A. Philip Randolph called for a march on Washington in 1941. Although his proposal never materialized, he planted a seed that would blossom years later. By 1942, Race riots became a source of fear, especially in Harlem, Detroit, and Mobile. Despite some strides to subdue blatant racism, such as the executive order to integrate the armed forces in 1949, the Governors of South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Virginia compiled their Southern Manifesto, a declaration that the federal government had no power to prohibit segregation in the South. Clearly, this period was one of desperation and distress for African Americans and one of aggravation and anxiety for those who supported segregation. One African American who weathered this social climate was Maya Angelou. Born in 1928, Angelou endured a firestorm of prejudice and progress. In her recent publication, Even the Stars Look Lonesome, Angelou comments, "The strength of the Black American is to withstand the slings and arrows and lynch mobs and malignant neglect can be traced directly to the arts of literature, music, dance, and philosophy that, despite significant attempts to eradicate them, remain in our communities today." Such insightful observation is indicative of a profound understanding of the timeline of struggle as well as the beauty of African American art. Angelou herself is an exhibition of the depth and magnificence of black American art. Although her work has been subject to question due to alleged racy material, the wisdom and reality of Angelou's writing is what prevails. A living legend in her own right, she is the breath of reality, and the truth of her work will make her immortal. In her autobiographical novel, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou describes her coming of age as an African American. In the novel, religion plays a prevalent role in her maturation to womanhood. A paramount characteristic of black culture is the permeation of religion in all aspects of existence. Religion in the novel plays not only a spiritual role,...

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