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Role of James Baldwin in Emancipation Proclamation

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James Baldwin was an American novelist, social critic, and a well-respected African-American who identified as homosexual until his late death on December 1st,1987 in Saint-Paul-De-Vence, France. During his life span, homosexuality was in its first stages where many did not understand what homosexuality was, or why one would identify as homosexual. By whites attempting to oppress blacks by deeming it to be wrong to like someone of the same sex. Although, the Emancipation Proclamation was an act signed by President Abraham Lincoln that shifted the legal status of over 3.5 million black slaves in 1863 (January 1st,1863); it was another method used to oppress blacks mentally. The act only freed slaves in certain areas in the southern political region of the United States of 1863. Baldwin’s work connects to Abraham Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation and how it led to the misconception of human rights, where blacks at the time believed that they were inferior to whites based on their uneducated interpretation of the Emancipation Proclamation. Also, the subjugation of black men under the process of having them receive a decent education helps to subjugate blacks under the Emancipation Proclamation by means of previous mental oppression. Receiving an adequate education can help gain knowledge of inalienable rights no matter the social class, color of skin, or anything else that makes people different from one-another.

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James Baldwins work showcases how he thought about the words, phrases, or terms invented by whites when they were enslaving blacks to do labor pre-1890’s. In present day, the racial slur ‘nigger’ has been transformed by its people to be utilized as a term of endearment. Instead of using the ‘er’ at the end of the word, it is now used with a ‘ga’; spelled ‘nigga’. The term is highly popular in hip-hop/pop culture today. The slur ‘nigger’ is reviewed and broken down through the mind of James Baldwin throughout a video that showcases Baldwins ideology. Balwin thought that the term ‘nigger’ was made to classify all black people into one demoralized group. The video shows that the term ‘nigger’ was invented in attempt to oppress blacks due to whites being scared of the education acquired quickly by African-Americans. Blacks knew the term ‘nigger’ as a demoralizing term and Baldwin believes that whites were in fear of an educated black man so they try to make black men illiterate. Abraham Lincoln on the other hand did not directly call black men ‘niggers’ and use other racial slurs to indoctrinate black men. Lincoln used the system of education and equal government to oppress the black race. When using the power of inadequate education to indoctrinate blacks into forced labor having enslaved them and bringing them through the Middle Passage to the Americas and other countries in the western hemisphere. African-American men did not have the ability to exercise their “rights” given to them through the Emancipation Proclamation. Although rights are not given, due to everyone having a natural set of rights that should be respected by all people.

A case that showcases Baldwin’s thoughts on the oppression on the African-American race in America is one of the most known cases in history, famously known as Brown v. Board of Education. The case was an important turning point in the United States history in 1954 where it reversed the ruling of a previous judicial case called Plessy v. Ferguson. Plessy v. Ferguson was a case that established ‘separate but equal’ for blacks. In terms of in whatever an African-American may do, they must do it in a separate place than whites. In example of this case, blacks were allowed to go to school, just not with whites. In this period of time ‘separate but equal’ was powered by a set of laws known as the Jim Crow laws. Jim Crow laws are laws that made it ‘just’ to segregate blacks and whites. Acts such as this is what James Baldwin is implying when speaking about how whites use the government and its powers to subjugate black men through education. Although blacks were given an education, it was not up to par with how white students were taught. This was to keep blacks under the scale of adequate education which led to the verso of the ideology ‘separate but equal’ in the case of Brown v. Board of Education due to The Warren Court’s unanimous ruling that ‘separate but equal’ was wrong. They ruled against it because they believed that the ‘separate but equal’ dogma voided the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. At the end of the case they put an end to the attempt of educational indoctrination on blacks by terminating legally mandated race-segregated schools all over.

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Role of James Baldwin in Emancipation Proclamation. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 8, 2023, from
“Role of James Baldwin in Emancipation Proclamation.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022,
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