Slavery in America began in 1607. Blacks and a small percentage of whites were owned by people whom were called masters. The majority of slaves were involved with the responsibility of field work and picked such things as cotton, sugar, crops, etc. The blacks that were not slaves had only a limited amount of rights which included their own water fountain and the backseat of the bus. Throughout the first half of the 19th century, a movement to end slavery was in progress. By 1865, President Lincoln signed The Emancipation Proclamation and the Land of the free had began. A New Song by Langston Hughes and Fences by August Wilson were both based on black characters. Both the poem and the play base their theme on their inherited history and the difference with today and back then.
A New Song by Langston Hughes is a poem that expressed black history. Condensed in a few stanzas, Hughes managed to capture the past, as well as the future, of the blacks. The poem’s begins with “I speak in a name of the black millions.” (365) It is obvious that Langston Hughes’ purpose of those words is to have the reader relate to the blacks. He wants the reader to be inside the head of a black person to reveal real thoughts and feelings. As Hughes continues, he embraces the reader with the bitterness of the narrator. “Bitter was the day when I bowed my back Beneath the slaver’s whip.” (366) This feeling of bitterness and the history of this poem relates to August Wilson’s Fences.
Fences focuses on a man named Troy who is living in his past. Troy strived during his youth to make it as a professional athlete. Even though this was years ago, Troy refuses to perceive a historical change in the acceptance of blacks, and he carries this sense of doubt with him throughout the entire play. Troy’s son, Cory, however, sees that time has changed since baseball rejected a player as talented as Troy because of the color of his skin. Cory knows the possibility exists that the professional sports world will include, not exclude him. In Act One, Scene Three, Cory provides examples of successful African American athletes to Troy. Cory says, "The Braves got Hank Aaron and Wes Covington. Hank Aaron hit two home runs today. That makes forty-three." Troy responds, "Hank Aaron ain't nobody." This is clear evidence that Troy hasn’t accepted the change in history. Because of this, Cory is discouraged in furthering his plans with football. To Cory’s knowledge, Football players were integrated years before baseball. For Troy to accept this change in the world would cause Troy to accept the death of his own dreams. Troy refuses to see Cory's potential because it would mean accepting his own misfortune.
It is evident, that both main characters of A New Song and Fences have had bad experiences with whites. According to the narrator of A New Song, he is a slave and treated horrendously. In stanza four, lines two through four, the reader can get an understanding of just how badly he is treated:...