Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Emancipation Proclaimed--and then what?

What happened to slaves after emancipation was proclaimed? An interesting op ed in the New York Times related to the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation:

Why we still live with the legacy of slavery.

1 comment:

  1. I like that the author points to a distinct difference between the philosophic and the existential meanings of freedom--the difference between proclaiming freedom and providing the "food, shelter and health" to foster it. Since the legacy of this lack of provision is far-reaching, for example, there is a marked racial disparity in accumulated wealth (e.g. property, savings, inheritance among whites is much greater than among persons of color) even today, I wonder: how does African-American literature explore this tangible lack--or, perhaps more simply, this lack of tangible goods--as a barrier to freedom? For me, the first work that comes to mind is Hughes's "A Dream Deferred." Two of the dominant images in the poem, "fester like a sore" and "stink like rotten meat," are born in tangible lack--lack of health and lack of fresh/good food. In other words, we could argue that Hughes's imagery of deferred freedom (if we interpret freedom as the dream deferred)reflects material lack among African Americans traceable to the legacy of slavery. Do/how do images or metaphors of lack operate in other African-American works?