The Act’s of Racism In The 20 th Century Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou were very well known authors of the early 20 th century. Most of their writings were concerned with racism and equality. During that time period there was much evidence that African Americans had been treated unfairly, unjustly, and as if they had been beneath the whites. Segregation of schools, churches, bathrooms, and stores were only a few of the many things wrong with this ere. Racism was very apparent in the two short stories “Graduation” and “One Friday Morning.” In one of these, a young girl is put down because of the color of her skin, and in the other, a whole class and audience were made to feel lower than they should have. In Langston Hughes short story “One Friday Morning” a young girl by the name of Nancy Lee was denied an art scholarship because of the color of her skin.
When she first learned that she was going to receive a reward for one of her pictures, she became very excited as any young girl her age would have been. Her vice principal Miss O’Shaywas also very excited for her. She wanted Nancy to speak at a ceremony in honor of this art scholarship. Friday morning came, and what was thought to be an adventurous day filled with lots a happiness, turned out to be the exact opposite for Nancy Lee. Just before she was about to give her speech in front of the whole school for what she had accomplished, her vice principal called her into the office to give her some bad news. Miss O’Shay said,” When the committee learned that you were colored, they changed their plans” (851).
The short story “One Friday Morning” by Langston Hughes is about a young black girl, Nancy Lee, who recently moved out of the South with ... couldn’t see past her skin color. Nancy Lee went from being a bright eyed, brown colored girl to a dark girl that ... in the story. Nancy Lee, a very talented young girl, deserved to win the scholarship; but because of the color of her skin ...
She was treated very differently, and this caused her to have a different outlook on the atmosphere in which she was living. The scholarship being taken away from her, for this reason was unfortunate because she had worked hard to be recognized in the contest, and had succeeded in winning it, only to have it taken away form her because she was not a young white girl. Her friends and her mother were expecting to hear a wonderful surprise from her in her speech at the assembly. Racism came into play because this was the reason why she did not receive the scholarship. Embarrassment also came into play because she had to go through all of that public humiliation.
At first her situation was a positive one and then it became negative because of the ignorance of a few shallow white supremacists. In Maya Angelou’s short story “Graduation” racism was also evident in many ways. The story started off happy, and then it had a very sad ending… A group of eighth graders at an all black school were anticipating their graduation. They could hardly wait for it. The whole town was excited.
This was a very big deal, and a lot of people had been looking forward to it. The day had finally arrived, and everyone was seated in their chairs at the ceremony waiting for the speaker. His name was Mr. Donleavy. He was a white male, and had brought his friend along with him as support. His friend did not have any respect for this ceremony.
He first sat in the principals seat, and then had to move because it had been occupied. The Baptist minister then chose to give him his seat, and walked off the stage with much more dignity than most others would have had in that situation. In Mr. Donleavy speech he spoke of all the wonderful things they had in store for the all white school Central.
... was the man started the push to make black and white schools equal. School official tried to make a point in saying that ... , however it was not strictly enforced. In the "deep south" white schools were looked on as superior and were given more money ... forty percent less pay than teachers at white schools. There were also arguments that that segregated schools gave blacks an inferior feeling. This ...
He did not mention any improvements they were going to make to there school. He only said, “one of the best basketball players at Fisk sank his first ball right here at Lafayette County Training School” (839).
This implied that he was very stereotypical white male. He continued to be very blunt with the fact that the white school had a lot of things to be praised about.
Typical ignorance of a white male in the 1940’s though. Donleavy had exposed us. One students feelings: We were maids and farmers, handymen and washerwoman, and anything higher that we aspired to was farcical and presumptuous. Then I wished that Gabriel Prosser and Nat Turner had killed all white folks in their beds and that Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and that Harriet Tubman had been killed by that blow on her head and Christopher Columbus had drowned in the Santa Maria (839).
The words that had came out of the speakers mouth had left the students speechless.
There was nothing they could do but feel lifeless. A boy named Henry Reed then turned to the audience when their speaker had left and began to sing. This made everyone a little happier. In analyzing these two fictional stories it only makes you think of what really went on in those terrible times.
When people were treated unfair because of the color of their skin. Although Maya Angelou’s story had a better ending than Langston Hughes, it becomes very obvious why these two wrote on these topics. Growing up in the early 20 th century had to be very trying and difficult for anyone, especially if you were an African American.