The Journey: A History of the African American Experience, Part 2

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9780073387932: The Journey: A History of the African American Experience, Part 2

By 1890, most (90.3%) African Americans remained in the South. The literacy rate had risen from 18.6% in 1870 to 42.9% in 1890, more reflective of progress in Black education in the North than in the former slave states of the South, where public school education remained defective through 1900. By 1900, twice as many acres were in cultivation compared to 1860. While 60% of American workers labored in agriculture in 1860, only 37% remained in that category by 1900, with their contribution to the American economy dropping from one-third to one-fourth. Over 50% of the white farmers and 75% of Black farmers had fallen into tenancy. Per capita income in the South changed little between 1880 and 1900. Death had erased the generation of militant activist leaders raised in slavery and anti-slavery protest. Sojourner Truth died in 1883. Henry Highland Garnet had died in 1882, shortly after arriving in Monrovia as the ambassador to Liberia. By 1885, Martin Delany died. In 1890 the Crafts’ left Woodville for Charleston, South Carolina to live with their daughter’s family. Ellen Craft died the following year. Mary Ann Shadd Cary died by the time of the Columbian Exposition in 1893. By 1895, the death of Frederick Douglass removed the leading spokesman for racial justice, integration, and equality. Just before his death, he lamented the conditions in America: “It sometimes seems we are denied the benefits of heaven and earth. . . . If the American conscience were only half alive, if the American church and clergy were only half Christianized, if American moral sensibility were not hardened by persistent infliction of outrage and crime against colored people, a scream of horror, shame, and indignation would rise to Heaven . . . “ The actual death of Frederick Douglass, leader of the nineteenth century, was the figurative death of militance and the pragmatic embrace of accommodation. The actual death of Frederick Douglass, leader of the nineteenth century, was the figurative death of militance and the pragmatic embrace of accommodation.

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