African-American intellectual life, vibrant despite the odds against it, is notable among the themes of the works in the September 2013 release of Afro-Americana Imprints
. Frederick Douglass makes a reasoned academic argument against racial pseudoscience. W.E.B. Du Bois undertakes careful sociological studies, from which he drew much that became The Souls of Black Folk
The achievements of these thinkers, another imprint reminds us, are all the more impressive in the context of a Southern society so threatened by the prospect of literate African Americans that even Southern women could be jailed for the crime of teaching free Black children to read.
A few titles of interest found in last month’s release:
The claims of the Negro, ethnologically considered. An address, before the literary societies of Western Reserve College, at commencement, July 12, 1854. By Frederick Douglass (1854)
This was the first commencement speech by an African-American at a major American University. In it, Douglass takes aim at the notion that Negroes are a separate species from Caucasians - a major underpinning of the then-emerging scientific racism used to defend slavery.