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Places and forms of power : how have African Americans achieved recognition?

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Par   •  6 Janvier 2020  •  Synthèse  •  661 Mots (3 Pages)  •  275 Vues

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Places and forms of power

The notion of power generally implies a basic division between those who have and exercise power and those who have not or little of it. As a consequence, the exercise of power within a community requires that its members accept or even internalize a complex system of relations, laws, rules, and regulations, and respect symbols such as specific institutions (the monarchy, parliament…). This helps to create social cohesion on the one hand and reveals quite clearly the tensions and conflicts existing within the group on the other hand.

Indeed, when the authority of institutions and traditions seems absolute, there are always counter powers that question it, limit its excesses and resist it.

African American artists, for instance, fought to change the balance of power and make the voice of their community heard and taken into account in the USA

According to documents studied in class and some of the mines, we can ask ourselves how have African Americans achieved recognition?

It started with a big contradiction in the USA. For 240 years, the ideas Thomas Jefferson expressed in the Declaration of Independence have ignited imaginations, inspired song and verse, and aroused political campaigns, social movements, and revolutions around the world: “let freedom ring” … “God bless America” … “We shall overcome.” But for America’s black population, freedom didn’t ring in 1776. It would take 87 years and bloody civil war for most African Americans to gain their “unalienable Rights,” and another 100 years of courageous protests before those rights could be fully exercised. That duality played out across the country, and on Jefferson’s plantations. Of the 607 men, women, and children Jefferson owned throughout his life, only 10 were freed on or before his death, at which time approximately 130 individuals had to be sold, along with Monticello, to account for his debts. Jefferson’s notion of liberty, while visionary for his time, did not extend to all people. Yet many enslaved individuals knew of his stirring words and were inspired by the Declaration’s proclamation of equality.

However, a new racial consciousness started to be heard by fighting peacefully through art. We can take for example my document being Eliott Erwitt's “Segregated Water fountains”. This document is a photograph taken by Elliot Erwitt in 1950 in North Carolina, USA, and represents the injustice of segregation of black and white people in America during this time.

At the time the image was an example of how much things needed to change, now we see this photograph we can see how much times have changed and to reflect on the past. The interesting thing about this photograph is that we don’t necessarily need to know any background information. The photograph itself tells the story. The ‘white’ water fountain is visibly more luxurious than the ‘colored’. We can, therefore, see straight away that the image is simply evidence of controversial inequality. We can see on the man’s face him glancing at the ‘white’ fountain. Discrimination in America took a turn for the worse after the Civil War and segregation was becoming increasingly apparent. When the U.S. joined WWII the southern society was fully segregated. Everything from schools, restaurants, hotels, train cars, waiting rooms,


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