African American Experience
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The African American experience since the 19th Century is more widely studied in literature through the eyes of female protagonists in popular works of fiction, such as those by the following authors:
The evolution of the African American male in literature has remained shadowed by the overwhelming response towards black female literary history, which dramatizes the struggle of liberation from a broad spectrum of oppression. The struggle of African American males was rooted in literary recognition through authors that exclaimed a more militant rebuttal of racism and social issues of liberation that were at the forefront of political and social venues. Intimate and personal issues such as family, morals and self-worth were not explored in the light of critical review until the 1940’s and the introduction of more dynamic writers such as James Baldwin. Writers such as Baldwin and Zora Neal Hurston were not afraid to reveal the rich complexities of the African American male’s personal evolution in America since the days of slavery.
Female Writers and African American Experience
Toni Morrison’s novel Sula is one of the most revered works of African American Literature to date. The rational behind the praise for Morrison’s work is the tremendous insight it provides towards the coming of age of African American’s in the 20th Century. Unlike other characters discovering their power in contemporary African American literature, such as Janie from Hurston's “Their Eyes Were Watching God” or Alice Walker's Celie from “The Color Purple”, Morrison differentiates Sula by stating "She is new world black and new world woman". Toni Morrison is one of several African American female writers of the twentieth century that sought to change the way in which black protagonists were portrayed and perceived. Through her writing, Morrison allows her characters to seek their sense of identity by way of the black experience and lifestyle.