The African Americans

Search for Truth and Knowledge

By Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Jr.


Part Four: Approach

The method used in this presentation of Black America will help develop a systematic approach to understanding the inter-relationship of African Americans to the American System. It will present certain patterns that have developed in response to the crises and challenges of living in America. The major response of African Americans to the American experience has been a cyclical pattern of Accommodation, Separation and Rebellion. This pattern is very evident during periods of military struggle and their aftermath. The concepts of socialization, acculturation and political power will be highlighted. This approach will give a broader picture of the history of African Americans.

In order to appreciate the value of the Cyclical Pattern on African American response to the European American Experience as a frame work of analysis, several case studies will be presented to provide the insights into the life of African Americans. These studies will center on the first generation in the colonial period; the Revolutionary War Era and the development of the Black Church and fraternal organizations; the post-Revolutionary War Era, and the Black Exodus to Africa after exile in Canada; the Colonization Movement, Free Blacks and Liberia; Frederick Douglass and Abolition Movement; the Slave Rebellions of Prosser, Vesey, Turner and the Haitian Revolution; Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation; the First Reconstruction; and African American Political Participation; post-Reconstruction and African American contributions to science and industry; Black Rebellion and the NAACP; World War II and the Civil Rights Movement; The Second Reconstruction and African American Political Power; The African American Family and the Economic Crises.

The military experience has played an extremely important part in the development of the political culture of the Black Community. Its impact on the socialization process is enormous. This was true as far back as the Revolutionary War period, and continued to be so during the Civil War and the World Wars. This work will relate the military experience and its aftermath to the question of African American identity and socialization processes, to the African American Family and acculturation, to Black institution-building and organizational skills and to African American Community development.

How has the military affected these crucial aspects of African American life? What has been its impact on the decision-making process among African Americans? How does the military experience relate to economic and political power? Clearly, slaves, Free Blacks, and post-Reconstruction Freed Blacks were nurtured by a Negative socialization process designed to create political and economic dependency on Whites. This dependency syndrome was crucial in maintaining control over the slave population, and imposing segregation and discrimination on African Americans since the Civil War up to the present day.

The military experience appears to break the dependency syndrome and to create an inter-dependency through re-socialization which implants a new self-image, a different understanding of the need of teamwork, leadership and organization, and a broader view of the world. In short, it seems to produce a new value system, different role models and patterns of behavior. For the most part, military experience tends to be a politicizing process which makes people conscious of their rights and their power.


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