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Three Negro Classics by Booker T. Washington
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I'm interested in civil rights and the issues of racism in the US. I had long heard of W.E.B. Du Bois and was anxious to read some of his writing, and I had heard Booker T Washington’s name before but didn’t really know much of anything about him. The last title, by James Weldon Johnson, definitely piqued my interest, so I was glad to pick up this book and find out what these men had to say. All three books are autobiographical in natural; DuBois’ is the least so, but he still pulls in personal experiences, while the other two are fully autobiographies. They take place shortly before, during, and after the US Civil War, and the emancipation of the slaves. All three titles cover what life was like for blacks in the US during that time period, and each had very different experiences and views (making this a nice well-rounded collection).

It was very informative, and I learned a lot about the period that I had not known before, which I was certainly never taught about in schools. It was great that each tale was of first-hand accounts of life during that time, rather than historian accounts looking back and surmising about what life was like then, without having the true experiences. These men lived it, and then they turned around and wrote about it to help educate others. I really enjoyed Du Bois’ writing when he was telling about his experiences and the things he saw, and Johnson’s story was likewise interesting to read about his experiences in the world.

Both Booker’s and Du Bois’ tales were a little slow at times. While I enjoyed Du Bois’ writing concerning his first-hand experiences, his less emotional writing (about the implications of what was going on, etc) was a little tough to get through, due to being rather dry. It was very informative about the sociological impacts and I learned a lot, but it made for slightly dull reading. I think I would have read through it much quicker had he included more of his first-hand experiences mixed in with the writing about the problems the country was facing, and would be facing, and whatnot. I really did feel like I learned quite a bit, it was just slow. Then, there’s Booker. His story was certainly interesting as well, and he most definitely overcame great hurdles and made great strides. However. I agree with Du Bois that Booker’s attitude about blacks and how they should behave was a very …well, it was essentially “Uncle Tom’ing,” in my view. He firmly believed that in order for blacks to reach equality, they had to be humble to those in “higher” places, and should essentially only strive to be laborers, and be the best laborers out there, so that the whites would see the need for their quality products and accept them in the world. But he acted like blacks were inferior and shouldn’t try to fight to prove otherwise, at least not for a long while. He felt they should pretty much just accept their role, try to prove they were good and useful and be friends with the whites, and then some day maybe things would be different. Or something. I don’t know. All I know is, reading his writing made me really upset at points by the way he felt they should act, and that he was such an important influential figure back then.

While I didn't thoroughly enjoy myself while reading every bit of this, it was incredibly informative and I'm really glad that I did, and would encourage anyone else to do the same. ( )
  PolymathicMonkey | Sep 8, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Washington, Booker T.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Du Bois, William Edward Burghardtmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, James Weldonmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Franklin, John HopeIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0380015811, Mass Market Paperback)

UP FROM SLAVERY

The autobiography of Booker T Washington is a startling portrait ofone of the great Americans of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The illegitimate son of 'a white man and a Negro slave, Washington, a man who struggled for his education, would go on to struggle for the dignity of all his people in a hostile and alien society.

THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK

W.E.B. DuBois's classic is a major sociological document and one of the momentous books in the mosaic of American literature. No other work has had greater influence on black thinking, and nowhere is the African-American's unique heritage and his kinship with all men so passionately described.

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN EX-COLORED MAN

Originally published anonymously, James Weldon Johnson's penetrating work is a remarkable human account of the life of black Americans in the early twentieth century and a profound interpretation of his feelings towards the white man and towards members of his own race. No other book touches with such understanding and objectivity on the phenomenon once called "passing" in a white society.

These three narratives, gathered together in Three Negro Classics chronicle the remarkable evolution of African-American consciousness on both a personal and social level. Profound, intelligent, and insightful, they are as relevant today as they have ever been.

The Autobiography of Booker T. Washington is a startling portrait of one of the great Americans of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The illegitimate son of a white man and a Negro slave, Washington, a man who struggled for his education, would go on to struggle for the dignity of all his people in a hostile and alien society.W.E.B. DuBois's classic is a major sociological document and one of the momentous books in the mosaic of American literature. No other work has had greater influence on black thinking, and nowhere is the African-American's unique heritage and his kinship with all men so passionately described.Originally published anonymously, James Weldon Johnson's penetrating work is a remarkable human accout of the life of black Americans in the early twentieth century and a profound interpretation of his feelings towards the w3hite man and towards members of his own race. No other book touches with such understanding and objectivity on the phenomenon once called "passing" in a white society.These three narratives, gathered together in Three Negro Classics, chronicle the remarkable evolution of African-American consciousness on both a personal and social level. Profound, intelligent, and insightful, they are as relevant today as they have ever been.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:17 -0400)

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