Julie Moock Unit 4 Post 1

Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells, prominent African American writers, both discuss ways in which the white ruling class subjugated African Americans during the Jim Crow period. Wells describes and criticizes lynching, the practice of hanging and tortuing the accused as a punishment, namely against young black males. Lynching, as Wells states, was motivated by a fear of “negro dominiation.” Often times, African American males were unjustly accused of violence against white women, perpetuating a stereotype of white purity and black criminality. The ultimate goal of lynching was to instill fear into the African American community and dehumanize its members by taking away their right to due process. Wells argues that in order to remedy this problem, Americans must “see the defect in our country’s armor” and take steps to dismantle it. Terell, on the other hand, writes about segregation in public spaces, and the inability for African Americans to gain sustainable employment. As a woman, she argues it was even more difficult to find employment in the few fields women were allowed to enter. This form of Jim Crow was born not only out of fear that African Americans, just as equally equipped, would succeed in society, but also out of the white community’s desire to maintain superiority. Prevented from securing education or employment, Terrell might argue that segregation in this way was just as oppressive as lynching, both undermining the livelihood of African Americans. She ends by rejecting the hopelessness that African Americans so often felt. She claims that giving up, accepting a life without education or a career is an affront to the capability and brilliance that African Americans hold. The common root for these forms of oppression seem to be both fear and a desire to exercise power over others. 

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