By Associate Professor Elaine B Richardson, Ronald L Jackson II
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Extra info for African American Rhetoric(s) Interdisciplinary Perspectives
In 1960, George Jackson was convicted of stealing seventy dollars from a gas station and given a sentence of one year to life. In prison, he “met Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Engels and Mao” and began to study economics and military history. It became Jackson’s goal “to transform the Black criminal mentality into a Black revolutionary mentality” (G. Jackson, 1994, p. iii). Jackson didn’t start off as a political prisoner, but he slowly became one as he was radicalized first by his reading and then through his growing connections to revolutionary organizations outside the prison walls and his own attempts to organize inside prison.
An additional issue addressed by Golden and Rieke is the very worth of large-scale rhetorical intervention. Are the problems faced by the nation with respect to racialized inequality open to amelioration through what we generally regard as persuasive means? Or, given some of the deep-rootedness of racism, are coercive means, such as the physical force that ended enslavement or influenced legislation in the 1960s, more appropriate? These questions point to a possible “crisis of faith,” particularly for Black rhetors and scholars, and are queries that must be confronted seriously.
Pupils were compelled to be correct both in speaking and writing” (J. H. A. Johnson, 1886, pp. 11–12). But we need not look solely to the formal training prescribed in textbooks at the time to account for Harper’s rhetorical skills. Foster (1997) points out that we do not hesitate to “applaud the verbal agility of the trickster in folktales and extol the improvisational dexterity of the spirituals and the blues but, when it comes to the published literature, [we] assume that a desire to be published by or read by White people necessitated abandoning such strategies and copying the conventions and convictions of others” (p.
African American Rhetoric(s) Interdisciplinary Perspectives by Associate Professor Elaine B Richardson, Ronald L Jackson II