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Classics in the Modern WorldA Democratic Turn?$
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Lorna Hardwick and Stephen Harrison

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199673926

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199673926.001.0001

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Classics as a Weapon

Classics as a Weapon

African Americans and the Fight for Inclusion in American Democracy

(p.89) 7 Classics as a Weapon
Classics in the Modern World

Margaret Malamud

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows how two educated African American abolitionists mobilized knowledge of classical texts and antiquity in their fight for liberty and equality in the American republic. The chapter argues that education in and knowledge of the classics and classical history provided Alexander Crummell and William G. Allen with a powerful weapon to combat charges of racial inferiority and to argue for African American political and social inclusion in American democracy. Deploying the same classical techniques of rhetoric their White contemporaries used to bolster their proslavery positions, Crummell, Allen, and others argued for the necessity of abolition. They utilized their knowledge of the classical world to advocate liberation and emancipation for African Americans. The chapter ends with a brief look at African American oratory today.

Keywords:   abolition, African American, oratory, racial, rhetoric, education

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