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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

14. Becoming Visible

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Activities: Author Activities

Ralph Ellison - Selected Archive Items

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[7140] Emory, One of Our Main Purposes Is to Unify Brothers and Sisters in the North with Our Brothers and Sisters in the South (c. 1970),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZC4-10248].
Political poster for the Black Panthers. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Black Panthers and black nationalist writers emphasized the need for soli-darity among African Americans and people of African descent throughout the world.

[7852] Arthur Rothstein, Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. Students (1942),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USW3-000237-D].
The Tuskegee Institute was the lifelong project of Booker T. Washington and also the site of George Washington Carver's revolutionary agricultural experiments. Tuskegee was the model for the college in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. Note the neoclassical architecture.

[7865] Charles Keck, Statue of Booker T. Washington (1922),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-103181].
"I am standing puzzled, unable to decide whether the veil is really being lifted, or lowered more firmly in place; whether I am witnessing a revelation or a more efficient blinding."-Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man. The narrator's comment reflects the debate over how African Americans should be educated. Born into slavery but freed after the Civil War, Booker T. Washington devoted his life to the advancement of African Americans. Although he was respected by both blacks and whites, Washington came under criticism for his willingness to trade social equality for economic opportunity.

[8613] Vito Marcantonio, Labor's Martyrs (1937),
courtesy of Special Collections, Michigan State University Libraries.
This socialist publication describing the "great labor martyrs of the past 50 years" discusses the trial and public execution of the "Chicago Anarchists" who organized the Haymarket bombing in 1887 as well as the trials of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1927 and the Scottsboro Boys in the 1930s. It also talks about the thriving state of the 1930s labor movement. Labor activism is depicted in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Carlos Bulosan's America Is in the Heart.

[8849] John Callahan, Interview: "Becoming Visible" (2003),
courtesy of American Passages and Annenberg Media.
John Callahan discusses Ralph Ellison's conception of African influence on all Americans.

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