Crossing the color line in American politics and African American literature

Thesis (M.A.), 2009

69 Pages




The Vernacular Tradition: The Spirituals as a milestone for African American Literature


“The House behind the Cedars” by C.W. Chesnutt in the Jim Crow context

The Harlem Renaissance through W.E.B. Dubois and Alain Locke

“The Invisible Man” and Discrimination up to the Civil Rights movements

From cultural to political color crossing: how Barack Obama can cope with the future without forgetting the past



My work will deal with some new and interesting subjects all united by a common thread: the color line. In the prologue I will dedicate a chapter to the importance of the Vernacular tradition, in particular the spirituals in African American history, from a linguistic point of view, then I will proceed with a historical part dedicated to a political background still to many unknown. In the first part of my work I will deal with the novel “The House Behind the Cedars” by Charles W. Chesnutt” within the context of a Jim Crow America. I will add a summary and a comment on the work, pointing out all those features directed to my thread “crossing the color line”. Then I will follow my thread by introducing the Harlem Renaissance through two of its main founders, Alain Locke and W.E.B. Dubois. The third part will be dedicated to “ Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison within the historical discrimination context up to the Civil Rights movement. The last part will deal with Obama’s autobiography and election, using some interviews taken from and recent issues of international magazines.

I will try to prove in all parts of my work that if a crossing the color line was and still is in some periods of U.S. history more or less possible, it is still not possible to ignore all racial divisions. “Obama’s victory will not heal all differences, but has proved it can mobilize black and white Americans alike”.

The African Slaves who provided most of the labor that built the White House never imagined that a black man would ever own embossed stationery that reads 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Even the dreamer himself, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., would not have imagined that 40 short years after his assassination, America would be planning an Inauguration of the first man of African descent to ascend to its presidency.

No minority of any ethnicity had ever looked beyond the scarce representation of a few Senators and seen anything that suggested that the doorknob of the Oval Office could be opened by anything other than the hand of a middle-aged white male”. 1

According to T.D. Jakes, a writer and pastor at the Potter`s House church in Texas and producer of an upcoming film Not Easily Broken “the current economic crisis demands that the Obama Administration move past the pettiness of race matters with the haste of a paramedic driving an ambulance. Tomorrow we will not care about the color of the driver nor the pronunciations of his name. Instead, the hope will be his ability to provide the medicine America desperately needs to rise again.”

His presence will not obtain an end to all racial tension, nor a total eradication of the residual bitterness typical of a society where atrocities such as slavery, as depicted in the spirituals or the Harlem Renaissance, or phenomenon like Jim Crow lie only a few miles away. 1

Crossing the line will mean being able to melt black, white and brown “into a brilliant depiction of red, white and blue” and to be the successful outcome of Obama´s slogan during his campaign Together we can!

The Vernacular Tradition: The Spirituals as a milestone for African American Literature

The Vernacular in African American literature is constituted by the church songs, blues, ballads, sermons and stories and, in our own era, rap songs that are part of the oral tradition of black expression. It has had at times a secretive, defensive, and aggressive character: it has highly influenced black poetry, fiction, drama: Ralph Ellison, one of the authors I will analyze in my work, couldn’t be imagined as such without its black vernacular ingredients. The vernacular tradition is also categorized as typical of male, lower-class groups but some other times is simply seen as the representation of a vast and complexly layered and dispersed group of people. Such tradition expressed through church songs, blues, tall tales, work songs, games, jokes, dozens and rap songs, persists among African Americans, as they have for decades. The vernacular tradition is not associated with a particular level of society or with a particular historical era: it encloses vigorous, dynamic processes of expression, past and present.

Even Ralph Ellison stated that to a great extent vernacular expression accounts for the black American’s legacy of self-awareness and endurance. For black performers and listeners (and readers as well) it has often served the classic function of teaching as it delights.1

Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century observers, both black and white, recorded their fascination with these black oral forms. For instance Frederick Douglass pointed out that those who hear the music as evidence that the slaves are happy with their station of life miss the slave song’s deeper, troubled meanings. By the end of the nineteenth century, some black writers were declaring these forms evidence of black contribution to world culture and black readiness for full U.S. citizenship.

By the late 1930s Ralph Ellison and other African American writers who were closely studying the vernacular phenomenon warned against the sentimentalization of “the folk” and stated the author’s responsibility to do what they saw e.g. Eliot and Stein (along with Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington) doing in their art: seizing the note and trick of the vernacular at the same time that he or she transformed it into something drawing on artistic sources and traditions beyond the vernacular. Such authors warned against the danger of winning audiences for black writing with the “easy tear” of a simple black folklore at the expense of political engagement. Especially Ellison advocated a literature that was conscious of the best new thinking in political science and modern writing. Even the Black Arts movements of the 1960s and 1970s were expressions of the controversies and convictions about the vernacular. 2

If we try to define the term vernacular in an American art context it can be seen an expression which springs from the creative interaction between the received or learned traditions and that that is locally invented, a “made in the U.S.A.”. It consists of sacred forms like songs, prayers, and sermons, as well as secular rhymes and songs, blues, jazz, and stories of many kinds. It also includes dances, wordless musical performances, stage shows, and visual art forms of many sorts. A major problem with capturing such works is that they were not originally constructed for the printed page but for the performance within complicated social and often highly ritualized settings.3

Non standard pronunciations in texts transcribed from records are generally represented with a minimum of invented spellings, the so called eye-dialect so often used by American writers to define a lower level or politically disempowered groups. 1

If we take a spiritual like Nobody knows de trouble I’ve seen ( Negro Spirituals are the religious songs sung by African Americans since the earliest days of slavery, mainly performed during work time, play time and rest time as well as on Sundays at praise meetings) , this is another artistic expression of the vernacular tradition. It contains the typical language employed by ordinary people, and in opposition to the “literary” language it has native, indigenous characteristics. The spiritual, like all vernacular traditions, is based on oral and native tradition. Such tradition finds its roots in the cotton plantations of the South of the U.S., where black slaves used to sing while working for their white masters. In the 1800s black slaves were widely used as cheap labourers (although at the beginning blacks were not enslaved, but could gain their freedom by working a certain amount of time), they were sold as beasts to slave-dealers, also by splitting family members from one another. They did not have the right to meet, especially during holidays, had no right to learn or read. Thanks to European thinkers of the 1800s, e.g. Humes, blacks, because of their skin, were considered incapable of sentiments, merely of senses, and their mental capability was by no means comparable to the white one. Since for black people there was no distinct line between the sacred and the secular tradition also a religious song could accompany them during their daily duties. The sole alleviation during long days spent bent or kneeling over cotton crops was a song sung especially in the name of Jesus. Since blacks had no rights at all, they found comfort and consolation of their sorrows in the Holy Bible.

Such concepts can be all found in the spiritual Nobody knows de trouble I’ve seen: the very beginning has a typical song structure:

Nobody knows de trouble I’ve seen

Nobody knows de trouble but Jesus

Nobody knows de trouble I’ve seen

Glory Hallelujah!

The same idea and structure is repeated three times, with the exception of the 2nd line, where Jesus is mentioned. Nobody in the world has seen the troubles, the sorrows, the grief I’ve seen but Jesus: He is my only mentor, my salvation. The first part finishes with a typical religious expression Glory Hallelujah!, usually used in prayers. Since spirituals belong to the oral tradition, even the exact spelling of certain words resembles the spoken language (Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down //Oh, yes, Lord//Sometimes I’m almost to de groun’//Oh, yes, Lord: here de instead of the). This second part reflects the mood of the speaker, made up of ups and downs, but with feelings mainly dragging to the ground. This as well as the third (Although you see me goin’ ‘long so//Oh, yes, Lord//I have my trials here below//Oh, yes, Lord) and last part (If you get there before I do//Oh, yes, Lord//Tell all-a my friends I’m coming too//Oh, yes, Lord ) has the same structure: each one addresses the Lord at the end of each new line. It should be noted again that in the 2nd part the use of de instead of the. The speaker, especially in the 3rd part, finds no consolation for his grief: he has been carrying a heavy burden, i.e. the enslavement chain, here on earth. But since in the end we all have to die, and display the sins committed on our earthly journey, in case the Lord should get here before him, the speaker begs him to tell his friends to wait for him: he is coming too. Other peculiarities of this spiritual are abbreviated words through apostrophes (line 7 groun ’, line 9 goin’, line 9 ‘ long): they are all typical oral expressions. If the first spiritual describes a life of sorrow and pain, the second spiritual I would like to take into consideration as another example of the vernacular tradition and artistic expression is Steal away: Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus//Steal away, steal away home//I ain't got long to stay here// Here the expression steal away is repeated several times, typical of song Ritornello: the speaker exhorts everybody to move on to Jesus. He sees his life as a passage to a better life, since his earthly one is full of grief: He is actually longing to be taken to Jesus: this is also shown through the repetition of steal away:

My Lord, He calls me//He calls me by the thunder//The trumpet sounds within-a my soul//I ain't got long to stay here// Green trees a- bending//Po' sinner stand a-trembling//The trumpet sounds within-a my soul//I ain't got long to stay here

Jesus is already calling for him with the trumpet of the last day of judgement. Since “stealing someone’s thunder” also means to use another’s idea, plan, maybe Jesus is already anticipating his move to a better life. Before Jesus, regardless of race, everybody is treated equally, and that’s why (line 11) Po' sinner stand a-trembling: the sinners can be the masters who subjected the author to such a miserable life. Other typical features of the vernacular tradition can be noticed in expressions like Green trees a- bending-, or even Po' sinner actually stands for poor sinner. At this point I would like to stress that the expressions I picked from the above spirituals are typical of contemporary African American English: some pronunciation of consonants like final stop consonants such as /d/ may be deleted. Speakers of African American English pronounce side like sigh and borrowed like borrow. This deletion rule is systematically influenced by phonological and grammatical rules. Or another feature is the pronunciation of th: in words like both, with and Bethlehem it may be realized not as the voiceless (interdental fricative) /θ/ but the voiceless (labiodental fricative) /f/, yielding [bof] or [wıf], for example. Some other examples, words like smooth or bathe and brother and mother, may be realized with voiced (labiodental fricative) /v/, yielding [smuv], [bev], [brΛvə] and [mΛvə]. Note too in brother and mother the absence of word-final /r/, a feature that African American English shares with the English of New York City, eastern New England and parts of the coastal South. Observers found that African Americans living in those cities affected by the Northern Cities shifts (usually occurring in a set of vowels –e.g. cod which sounds like cad) do not seem to use this. , 1

Such indication leads some observers to the conclusion that African American English and standard American English are diverging rather than becoming more alike. 1


Towards the last years of the XIX century, the Western States became the target of major financial groups: overall in the United States power was in the hands of the so-called “money aristocracy”. An example is John Davison Rockefeller, who in 1882 with his Standard Oil Company (of which he was the owner) dominated oil production. Monopolies were becoming so powerful that antitrust laws would be necessary to oppose them.

In 1889 in Washington the first Pan American Conference took place, where it seemed quite clear that the United States’ aim, led by President William McKinley (who would be assassinated by an anarchist in 1901), was to fight against the still strong European hegemony on the continent, following the Monroe doctrine 2: here some clarifying excerpts taken from his work:

[…] that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers…. […] The citizens of the United States cherish sentiments the most friendly, in favor of the liberty and happiness of their fellow men on that side of the Atlantic. In the wars of the European powers, in matters relating to themselves, we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy to do so. It is only when our rights are invaded, or seriously menaced, that we resent injuries, or make preparation for our defence. With the movements in this hemisphere, we are, of necessity, more immediately connected, and by causes which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial observers. The political system of the allied powers is essentially different, in this respect, from that of America. This difference proceeds from that which exists in their respective governments. And to the defence of our own, which has been achieved by the loss of so much blood and treasure, and matured by the wisdom of their most enlightened citizens, and under which we have enjoyed unexampled felicity, this whole nation is devoted. We owe it, therefore, to candor, and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers, to declare, that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere, as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered, and shall not interfere. 3

But with the governments who have declared their independence, and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration, and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling, in any other manner, their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition towards the United States. In the war between those new governments and Spain we declared our neutrality at the time of their recognition, and to this we have adhered, and shall continue to adhere, provided no change shall occur, which, in the judgement of the competent authorities of this government, shall make a corresponding change, on the part of the United States, indispensable to their security.1

What we can observe by reading this brief excerpt is that the United States differed radically from most other existing states and diverged consciously from the British constitutional model in its adherence to the principle of federalism. This was indeed fundamental to it, since only large concessions to the independence of individual states made it possible for the new union to come into existence at all. The former colonies had no wish to set up a new central government that would bully them, as they believed the government of King George had done. The federal structure provided an answer to the problem of diversity- e pluribus unum. It also dictated much of the form and content of American politics for the next eighty years.

Question after question whose substance was economic or social or ideological would find itself pressed into the channel of a continuing debate about what were the proper relations of the central government and the individual states. It was a debate that would in the end come within the ace of destroying the Union; Federalism would also promote a major readjustment within the constitution, the rise of the Supreme Court as an instrument of judicial review. 2

Outside the Union, the nineteenth century would show the appeal of federalism to many other countries, impressed by what appeared to have been achieved by the Americans. Federalism was to be seen by European liberals as a crucial device for reconciling unity with freedom and British governments found it a great standby in their handling of colonial problems.3

Finally, attention must be given in order to briefly understand the historic significance of the constitution of the United States, to its opening words: ‘We the People’ (even though they seem to have been included almost casually). The real political arrangements in many of the states of 1789 were by no means democratic, but the principle of popular sovereignty was stated clearly from the beginning. The people’s will was to remain regardless of the historical epoch the ultimate court of appeal in politics for Americans.

Here lies a fundamental verging point from British constitutional practice: British constitutionalism was prescriptive: Englishmen had taken the authority of the Crown as a substitute for the theory of the state. The new constitution broke with this and any other prescriptive theory (albeit this was not a clear cut with British political thinking, for Locke had said in the 1680s that governments held theirs powers on trust and that the people could upset governments which abused that trust).1

After declaring independence from Britain in 1776, the delegates at the Second Continental Congress immediately set to the task of creating a government. In 1777, Congress submitted the nation’s first constitution, the Articles of Confederation, to the states, who finally ratified it a few years later. But not many know that the American Revolution had been partly financed by Haym Solomon, a Polish-born Jewish immigrant. Although no colour crossing had been needed to get to the top brokerage of that time, Solomon belonged to another ethnic minority, which had also reached the American coasts: the Jewish one. When the war started, Salomon was operating as a financial broker in New York City. He seems to have been drawn early to the Patriot side and was arrested by the British as a spy in 1776. He was excused and used by the British as an interpreter with their German troops.2

Salomon, however, continued to help prisoners of the British escape and encouraged German soldiers to desert. Arrested again in 1778, he was sentenced to death, but managed to escape to the rebel capital of Philadelphia, where he resumed his career as a broker and dealer in securities.3

He soon became broker to the French consul and paymaster to French troops in America. Salomon arrived in Philadelphia as the Continental Congress was struggling to raise money to support the war. Congress had no powers of direct taxation and had to rely on requests for money directed to the states, which were mostly refused. The government had no choice but to borrow money and was ultimately bailed out only by loans from the French and Dutch governments. Government finances were in a state of confusion in 1781 when Congress chose former Congressman Robert Morris as superintendent of finances. Morris constituted the Bank of North America and proceeded to finance the Yorktown campaign of Washington and Rochambeau. Morris relied on public-oriented financiers like Salomon to subscribe to the bank, find purchasers for government bills of exchange, and lend their own money to the government.1

From 1781 on, Salomon brokered bills of exchange for the American government and extended interest-free personal loans to members of Congress.

Possibly as a result of his purchases of government debt, Salomon died penniless in 1785. His descendants in the nineteenth century attempted to obtain compensation from Congress, but were unsuccessful. The extent of Salomon’s claim on the government cannot be determined, because the documentation disappeared long ago. 1. Solomon however contributed especially through his public letter, which appeared on March 13, 1784 in the Indipendent Gazeteer, a Philadelphia publication, in response to a Quaker Lawyer, Miers Fisher’s accusation of usury, to a victory of the Jewish community as well as of the American Democracy. Here an excerpt:

“[…] Those very persons who are now flattering themselves with the idea of a new bank, first invented the practice of discounting notes at five percent. I have retained an alphabetical list of names, as well as the other brokers, and can specify persons, if necessary. In the language of Naphtali […] to David, I have it in my power to point at the very would - be directors, and say: “Thou art the man” (Genesis 27.11.). I can prove that it were these people, unwilling to venture money in trade during the war, who first declined letting out money on the best mortgage and bond security.

Were they now gratified in their expectations, would they not display the same undue spirit and degrade the dignity of a bank with practices unbecoming a common broker? Is it not in their power to finesse at the bank, and refuse discounting the notes on purpose to gripe [harm] the necessitous part of the people, and extort improper premiums out of doors [secretly]? And have we not reason to expect this would be the case?”2

Miers Fisher, a Quaker lawyer, appeared before the Pennsylvania legislature to obtain a charter for a new bank, the Bank of Pennsylvania. Potentially this bank would compete with the Bank of North America, the bank with which Robert Morris, business partner of Solomon, and Solomon himself were affiliated. Fisher supported the new bank, stating it would diminish the rate of interest, thus protecting the people from the usurious rates of Jewish brokers. Solomon felt offended by such allegations and along with the non-Jewish newspaper editor Colonel Eleazar Oswald wrote the above response.

The exchange between Fisher and Solomon is remarkable: Fisher’s comments rely heavily on a historical anti-Semitic view that Jews were usurers. Looking back to the Middle Ages, an epoch when accepting a fee for the lending of money was illegal, Jews were world widely accused of such practice-a paradox since this was one of the few businesses in which Jews were permitted to engage. In the 17th century, however, the limitations against money lending disappeared, and the term usury was used not for those who charged a fee for their services, but those who charged fees that seemed too high.

Albeit Fisher was actually sustaining the contrary, Salomon’s or any other Jew’s rate was not higher then the rates non-Jews were charging: Fisher was merely trying to distract the legislature and unite the group in its common hatred of the Jews. But Salomon managed to prove his wrongdoing through his pamphlet; although Salomon did not finance the Revolution, he did play an active role in the financing of the emerging nation. He was remembered as a scrupulous broker, an affectionate patriot and a generous benefactor. 1 Crossing the colour line or better a race line is to be applied in this case: Solomon belonged to one of the minorities that also helped constitute the nation and its culture. The significance of such a tiny but illustrative example is that one cannot look past all racial divisions, since they have always been part of U.S. history, but learn from them in an attempt to make its society better. 1

“The House behind the Cedars” by C.W. Chesnutt in the Jim Crow context

After a brief digression on some little known passages of American history, particularly on the very constitution of it, I would like to present the historical and cultural background which accompanied the phenomenon of Jim Crow.

After the famous Boston Tea Party in 1773, during which tea chests coming from Great Britain were dropped into the sea as a sign of protest, the government decided to close the port and besiege it. The U.S. colonies decided to get together and constitute a real American army, led by George Washington. On July 4th 1776 the Declaration of Independence followed, and 13 States (Connecticut, New Jersey, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Maryland, New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Delaware) joined together in order to obtain more political and economic autonomy from the British Crown. The war ended in 1783, with the establishment of the United States of America: in 1787 the federal constitution was elaborated in Annapolis and George Washington became the first president.

From a cultural point of view the only people who held social and political power were the land owners: Indian tribes as well as slaves originating from Africa and even women had no right to a place in the American political or economic scene.

The form of government that was consolidated throughout the following years was that of confederation: within such a structure two main political fronts emerged, the Federalists and the Republicans. After two Federalist presidents (Washington and Adams) the Republican were represented by Thomas Jefferson (1802-9) and James Monroe (1817-25), the latter famous for his statement “America to Americans”, nailing down the will to self-determination of the American people without any interference from Europe in their new state.

Slowly the Federalists would disappear and the Republicans would soon have to face the Democrats. The difference between the Northern and Southern States steadily grew: in the South the economy was based on the commerce of plantation products, especially cotton, where manpower was constituted by black slaves. 1

In the North industries developed, especially because after the war with Great Britain (1812-1815) Britain stopped exporting its goods produced in British firms to the U.S. From a socio-cultural point of view the United States was already a country in continuing expansion, which started assuming its own physiognomy. The social aspect was also determined by migration: a phenomenon that occurred mainly for religious reasons. Seven puritan sects, whose aim was a search for the original purity of the Church, chose the new land to settle down in. Their ideas started spreading all over it. Even if such movement condemned all excesses and was based on strict morality, its other main principle was the sense of duty: a work culture helped create a capitalist society, where success was a sign of grace and divine salvation.

In the first decades of the XIX a new literary movement was emerging in Europe: Romanticism. Its followers preferred a new discovery of local traditions, primitive eras and the Middle Ages, a time far away from contemporary conventions, in opposition to the classical era and the rationalism of the previous age. For such new artists what really counted was individual thought: they judged society negatively, since they thought it corrupted the individual, limiting and conditioning him. Linked to such a new wave there was a revaluation of childhood, as a state of innocence, and the myth of the good savage, the belief that man is fundamentally good but then gets corrupted by society.

American Literature was characterized by the fantasy genre through the works of Edgar Allan Poe, symbolism, the works of Herman Melville, and the autobiographical, the works of Frederick Douglass. On this very last one I would like to pause in order to show where his crossing the colour line lay: Douglass, born as a slave and self-educated since education was prohibited to slaves, after escaping from his condition, became a famous orator and fought against discrimination. His work, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, tells the story of his life with emotion and precision. His style is simple and direct, avoids melodramatic tones in order to make his work more real. In fact, his book would shake public opinion. 1


1 Crossing the Color Line: Commentary by T.D.Jakes, Commemorative Issue Time November 17th 2008,

1 Crossing the Color Line: Commentary by T.D.Jakes, Commemorative Issue Time November 17th 2008,

1 pg. 1 The Norton Anthology of African American Tradition, Eds. Henry Louis Gates and Nelly Y. Ashlay, Norton, New York 1997

2 pg. 2 The Norton Anthology of African American Tradition, Eds. Henry Louis Gates and Nelly Y. Ashlay, Norton, New York 1997

3 pg. 4 The Norton Anthology of African American Tradition, Eds. Henry Louis Gates and Nelly Y. Ashlay, Norton, New York 1997

1 pg. 5 The Norton Anthology of African American Tradition, Eds. Henry Louis Gates and Nelly Y. Ashlay, Norton, New York 199

1 pg. 386 Language: Its Structure and Use (Fourth Edition) Edward Finegan, Wadsworth, Boston, 2004

1 pg 386-7 Language: Its Structure and Use (Fourth Edition) Edward Finegan, Wadsworth, Boston, 2004

2 pg 49 Letteratura Angloamericana , Edizioni Alpha Test, Milano 2005



2 pg 580-581. History of the World, J.M. Roberts, Helicon Publishing Ltd., 1993

3 pg. 581 History of the World, J.M. Roberts, Helicon Publishing Ltd., 1993

1 pg .581 History of the World, J.M. Roberts, Helicon Publishing Ltd., 1993


3 pg. 32 A Norton Anthology of Jewish American Literature, Eds Jules Chametzky, John Felstiner, Hilene Flanzbaum, Kathryn Hellerstein, New York 2001


2 pg. 32 A Norton Anthology of Jewish American Literature, Eds Jules Chametzky, John Felstiner, Hilene Flanzbaum, Kathryn Hellerstein, New York 2001

1 Pg. 32 A Norton Anthology of Jewish American Literature, Eds Jules Chametzky, John Felstiner, Hilene Flanzbaum, Kathryn Hellerstein, New York 2001

1 pg. 33 Letteratura Angloamericana , Laura Maria Soledad Giusti, Edizioni Alpha Test, Milano 2005

1 pg. 33 Letteratura Angloamericana , Laura Maria Soledad Giusti, Edizioni Alpha Test, Milano 2005

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Crossing the color line in American politics and African American literature
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Cristina Nilsson (Author), 2009, Crossing the color line in American politics and African American literature, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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