Comprehensive Personal Connections to African American Literature


08/03/2015
ENG/496
University of Phoenix

Comprehensive Personal Connections to African American Literature
During slavery many people feared their owners and the people that worked for them. Many slaves struggled to just keep hope, but I believe in that African American slaves created a way for themselves to keep hope. One way was by song. One of those The Negro spiritual songs was called "Swing Down, Chariot.” This was a song that I grew great interest to know and focus on why slaves at the time wanted to go to heaven so badly. Besides the basic understanding of slavery it made me wonder why there spirit was as crushed when they had other slaves around. I would assume that would help. As a black man I contemplate how they managed to come up with a song of that nature. When reading on the topic I found that there were alternate meanings to the lyrics of the music. Swing low, sweet chariot, (wagons of the Underground Railroad). This meant that when they would escape it would include wagons on a trail. Coming for to carry me home, (free country). This meant that they will try and go north which is where the free country was. Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home. I looked over Jordan (Ohio River), which was an alternate name for the river at the time because the plantation on which this song was initially made for was in the south and they wanted to go north towards the Ohio River. Coming for to carry me home, a band of angels coming after me, coming for to carry me home. The piece focuses on the fact that people just wanted to get away from the pain and struggle they were going through. From seventeen hour working days, to bloody feet from little to no footwear. Children being separated from their families at birth and being sold to become slaves to other master. It was an unfortunate time and overall I believe that in the end the song was not just a way to know an escape route, but also a way to come together and vent without getting killed by the slave owners and the overseers. Although it was a powerful song for slaves to have made that encompassed multiple meanings outside of hope, there was great literature as well.
“A Decade of Reconstruction” is one of my favorite pieces in the Literature of Reconstruction to the New Negro Renaissance chapter. With life as many African Americans knew if there life had changed for the better, but it was sad to read that many stayed and worked for the same people that owned them. After great study I found that in that time there were still people who believe that slaves should still remain that. Programs were not put in place for the “Former African American slave” to succeed. “Under new institutions such as sharecropping and the convict-lease system, most African Americans, especially those living in the states of the former confederacy, continued to work on farms, often in service to the same people who had once owned them” (The Norton Anthology of African American literature Volume 1, pg.509) The positives is that the thirteenth, fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments were subsequently created to help improve the conditions of the African American community in America. The Thirteenth Amendment (1865) outlawed slavery the Fourteenth Amendment (1868) provided equal protection to African Americans under the law, and the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) granted suffrage to black men. ” (The Norton Anthology of African American literature Volume 1, pg.509)
With the 13th amendment outlawing slavery I feel as if there should have been more thought into actually helping the slaves. Even though I believe that Abraham Lincoln did his best to do as much as he could with the little support he had, simply saying “ok now you guys are free, figure it out” is not enough. “A Decade of Reconstruction” was a great read throughout, but it was more literature that caught my mind. The Fourteenth Amendment was passed by Congress in June 1866 and ratified by the states in 1868. The Radical Republicans had been battling with Andrew Johnson for control of Reconstruction. Johnson was in favor of leaving the future of