The study of 20th Century Black American Poetry
(1930-1980) will coincide with a historical study of the progress of the American Negro throughout these years. The Back strugglings began years before black acceptance had been considered. Although only negative events affected the Black American in the early years of the 20th Century, these events were slowly more heavily outweighed by positive events in the second half of the 20th Century. However, it is this constant overlapping of positive/negative events throughout the 20th Century which, in effect, caused a change in the actions and attitudes taken by the blacks during these times of changes, that the students will be looking at. While you present to the students the chronology of the Black strugglings and simultaneously the chronology of Black Acceptance, the students will be examining poetry that mirrors both of these opposite movements. In presenting these two vastly different concepts at the same time to your students, it will account for first the passivity, then the anger, and finally the actions taken by the blacks to secure their rights in American society. It will also act as a guide and rationale for picking out themes both within the eras and within the poems themselves. Then, it is this changing and shaping of the Negroes from struggling to freedom from passivity to action and how they expressed the feelings surrounding these events in their poetry that the students will be examining. The following people/acts/events will act as a guide for this historical movement.
The following account was made possible by a number of sources. These include:
Before the Mayflower A History of Black America
by Lerone Bennett, Jr.,
by Alphonso Pickney,
Blacks in America
with essays by McPherson, Holland, Banner, Weiss and Bell and
American History: A Survey
by Current, Williams, and Freidel.