Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom

Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom

Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom

Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom

Synopsis

'..... Through an exhaustive investigation of black songs, folk tales, proverbs, aphorisms, verbal games and the long narrative oral poems known as 'toasts, ' Levine argues that the value system of Afro-Americans can only be understood through an analysis of Black culture.... His work ranks among the best books written on the Afro-American experience in recent years.' Al-Tony Gilmore, The Washington Post

Excerpt

This study rests upon two related convictions which I hold even more firmly at the conclusion of my work than I did at its inception: It is time for historians to expand their own consciousness by examining the consciousness of those they have hitherto ignored or neglected. It is time that the study of human intellect be broadened to embrace Joseph Levenson's admirable definition of intellectual history as "the history not of thought, but of men thinking." This is such an attempt. It can be repeated for many other groups in American history. It focuses upon the orally transmitted expressive culture of Afro-Americans in the United States during the century that stretched from the antebellum era to the end of the 1940s, and is primarily concerned with two major questions: What were the contours of slave folk thought on the eve of emancipation and what were the effects of freedom upon that thought?

The significance of this study lies not only in its subject matter but also in its quest. I have attempted to present and understand the thought of people who, though quite articulate in their own lifetimes, have been rendered historically inarticulate by scholars who have devoted their attention to other groups and other problems. Historians are the prisoners not only of what Jack Hexter has called their "tracking devices"--the scholarly tools of perception that prevail among them at any given time-- but also of their sources or what they perceive to be their sources. The effect of the embarrassment of documentary riches confronting modern . . .

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