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

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