Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The National Negro Convention of 1835

Prior to 1835, many African Americans, both free and enslaved, had some semblance of connection with their African ancestry. However, on June 1, 1835, The 5th National Negro Convention met in Philadelphia urging blacks to abandon the use of terms "African" and "colored" when referring to "Negro" institutions, organizations, or themselves. Institutions like African Methodist Episcopal church kept the word “African” in their name, but many places removed the word “African” from schools and other public buildings.

This denial of Africa continued until Liberia became an independent republic in 1847. This caused many African Americans to reexamine their position on Africa; therefore, there was a resurgence of African pride and support for the new republic.

However, if one looks at the history of African Americans through the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement, they would notice that pride for African ancestry declined among African Americans in the United States. It safe to say that this sentiment towards Africa reached a level of abhorrence among African Americans largely due to negative images perpetuated by the American press during the 19th and 20th centuries. In this 21st Century, the vicious cycle continues as we sit in our homes plucking our red, white, and blue flower while repeating, “I love my African ancestry…I love my African ancestry not."


Sources: Blackfacts, and Songs of Zion: The African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States and South Africa, UNC Press Books, 1998
Image:  Blacklist pub


4 comments:

Guyana-Gyal said...

Same in Guyana, Stephen.

I think, if we [whatever culture we come from] are proud of our history, our food, colour, art, music, others will see that self-love and respect us.

Camille said...

This is an interesting topic, thanks for sharing. I have to include my two cents on this one. Personally, I don't mind being referred to as African American, African or Black. I don't like being referred to as Negro because I feel it is a negative term, just like nigger. So I was very surprised and upset to see on the 2010 Census that you could select "Black, African American, Or Negro" as your race!! I was so upset that I wrote a letter to the Census Bureau. I received a response not long after. They stated that there is an older generation of Black people who do not identify themselves as Black or African American. They identify themselves as "Negro". So in order to include those people, they needed to add the option to choose "Negro"! I was still upset, honestly, after reading the response. But after reading this post of yours, I understand now why that was so important to that generation of Black people that prefer to call themselves "Negro".

Stephen Bess said...

Camille, that is interesting. I didn't know that about the census. Wow! Yeah, there is the older generation who refer to themselves as "colored" or "Negro." Funny, they even imposed "Negro" on me. My 1967 birth certificate has [Race: Negro]. LOL! By the way, your response was not 2 cent. It was more like a dollar! :)

Stephen Bess said...

GG - Self love is the key. I'm happy to say that I'm so in love with who I am that I recognize it all over the Diaspora. That's why you're my sister. :)

Rhiannon Giddens- "Julie"

Rhiannon Giddens' music is based on a collective number of slave narratives. This is an absolutely beautiful way to preserve the his...