Thesis Statement: Throughout the history of the United States, as seen through an
analysis of African-American literature and rhetoric, black rage has not only existed, but has grown. As the momentum toward equality is clearly evident in the black race’s struggle, the question of where (or when) this rage will subside (if ever) remains unanswered. In examining black rage, four distinct periods of American history should be considered: slavery, Reconstruction and Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Era, and contemporary America.
I. Introduction
A. Background
1. Throughout African-American history, a presence of “black rage” is identifiable through both African-American literature and rhetoric.
2. This rage has emanated from a state of racial inequality and has gained
momentum throughout history.
B. The Problem
1. When dealing with the concept of racial equality, the question must be asked: Can two races live together in equality?
2. It has yet to be proved that a state of equality can be obtained in the United States for African Americans.
3. Given the momentum that exists within African-American society to gain more freedom, is a reversal in racial power inevitable?
II. Slavery in America: Slavery is the source of black rage.
A. Perhaps the earliest voice of black rage is that of David Walker
B. Nat Turner’s insurrection solidified white America’s fear of rebellion.
C. Perhaps the most militant voice of black rage during slavery is that of Henry
Highland Garnett.
D. Fredrick Douglass, though a more moderate voice, also demonstrates the rage of his race.
III. Reconstruction and Jim Crow: With slavery abolished, equality was still not
accomplished, further embittering African Americans and fueling the desire to
A. T. Thomas Fortune explains the plight of the black race during Reconstruction, proclaiming that nothing has been solved; slavery is gone, but the black man is not free.
B. Marcus Garvy stands alone as one who has vehemently sought to channel the rage of his people militantly.
C. Langston Hughes epitomizes the plight of the black race in America in his poetry.
D. Sterling Brown’s “Strong Men” outlines the black struggle in America, illustrating a momentum of black rage.
E. James Weldon Johnson and Ralph J. Bunch justify violent channeling of rage to overcome oppression.
F. Claude McKay advocates violence and fighting back.
G. W. E. B. Du Bois, though a more moderate black voice, prophesies the coming of an inevitable race conflict in America.
IV. The Civil Rights Movement: The Civil Rights movement, perhaps the greatest
demonstration of black rage in American history, produces an explosion of rage
A. In the struggle for civil rights, the rhetoric of revolution dominates as one major theme of black rage.
B. Accompanying revolutionary thought, black rhetoric or rage also strongly advocates the use of violence.
C. Black Power, advocating revolution and violence, dominates the forefront of black-rage demonstration.
D. One organization that aims to channel black rage militantly beyond the efforts of others is the Black Panther Party.
F. The struggle for social power between white and black America was brought to a head during the Civil Rights Era.
G. While many during the Civil Rights Movement supported a nationalistic movement with a separate black government, the possibility of black dominance in America, a reversal of racial power, was also voiced.
H. Perhaps encapsulating the entire struggle of rage during the Civil Rights Movement are the works of Malcolm X.
I. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., also sought to channel black rage to effect change.
V. Black Rage in Contemporary America: In contemporary American society,
African-American equality has yet to be realized, and rage still exists.
A. The battle for civil rights is not over.
B.. Black rage is still present.
C. Can a state of equality ever be obtained between whites and blacks in America?
D. Understanding what it took to gain civil ground in the past, what is it going to take in contemporary America?
F. The Los Angeles riots as well as conducted research demonstrate that rage is still present and waiting to act.
VI. The Conclusion
A. Review of the major issues
1. Slavery is the source of black rage in America.
2. With slavery abolished equality was still not accomplished, further
embittering African Americans and fueling the desire to overcome.
3. The Civil Rights movement was perhaps the greatest demonstration of black
rage in American history.
4. In contemporary American society, African-American equality has yet to
be realized.
B. The answer, the solution, the