The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the Jim Crow Laws: Including: Plessy V. Ferguson and Literary Non-Fiction for Common Core State Standards Compa by Carter G. Woodson

Page Updated: May 14, 2017
Book Views: 100

Author
Carter G. Woodson
Publisher
Hewson Publishing
Date of release
Pages
320
ISBN
9780615840918
Binding
Paperback
Illustrations
Format
PDF, EPUB, MOBI, TXT, DOC
Rating
3
80

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Book review

This is an unaltered version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The text is not scrubbed of words we find offensive but were part of the context in which the novel was written. Also, included, for the sake of historical comparison, is a commentary on and examples of the Jim Crow laws, inclusive of an overview of Plessy v. Fergeson, Justice Brown’s Opinion and Justice Harlan’s Dissent as well as an article from The Journal of Negro History, “Fifty Years of Negro Citizenship” by C. G. Woodson (1921). These texts are designed to help readers understand the time in which Mark Twain wrote this classic novel and serve as a way to connect the tone and symbols of Huck Finn to the world as it existed when the story was penned by Twain. Controversy of Words: Mark Twain once said: “…the difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter”. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is written in the voice of the boy Huck. It begins where Tom Sawyer leaves off. It is a tale of friendship and the hypocracy of racism. The novel was written in 1885 and is set in pre-Civil War America. The writer did not defend slavery, but depicted the period's bigotry and made the moral center of the novel a white boy's choice to help a slave escape from bondage. The words within the text of the novel are Twain’s. It is a dangerous precedence to alter an author’s words, especially those written at a given point of time and under a specific set of circumstances. In a conversation with a Civil Rights Leader in the early 1990s I learned never to “scrub” history but to shout it from the rooftops as that is the only way in which we can learn and grow from our mistakes. History happened. Slavery in American happened. Whole races of people were sold into bondage – both white and black men ripped these men, women and children from their homelands and delivered them into a life of misery and servitude. Twain did not make that up and by changing his words, by scrubbing his literature, we miss the opportunity to educate our children, and the society as a whole, on what life was like, how people lived and spoke and then brainstorm creative solutions to prevent similar situation from reoccurring. What I am referring to is the “n” word controversy and the word’s appearance, along with the word Injun, within one of the most overtly anti-racist books written. For the record, these words should cause controversy, because they are offensive and should not be spoken. The “n” word should cause discomfort in 21st century readers and should stimulate conversation and spark discussion. If it does not – that is when we are in trouble and that is why we can’t allow history to be altered to the norms of today’s political correctness. We cannot become passive to the wrongdoings of our ancestors – we must learn from them and grow as one culture moving forward forging common experiences out of our collective…and different…past experiences. So, I challenge you to teach this book in the context of eradicating racism. I challenge you to understand Twain’s anti-Reconstruction world and the rise of the Jim Crow laws and the influence of Plessy v. Ferguson and help to do your part to ensure all understand the challenges we face and the reality of forever moving forward in our quest for equality.


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