Essay Samples

“From Sunup to Sundown”

Table of contents

    “Dr. Rawick was an author, teacher and political activist. He was best known for his research on slavery, which resulted in his book From Sundown to Sunup: The Making of the Black Community. The book, published in 1972, has been translated into more than 12 other languages. Dr. Rawick also compiled the slave narratives done by the WPA in the late 30s into The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography. Rawick taught History and Sociology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis for the last 11 years of a teaching career, which spanned 35 years. He also taught at Washington University, Wayne State University, State University of New York, University of Chicago, and others. Dr. Rawick was involved in leftist politics from his earliest days at Oberlin College where he received his bachelor's degree.”

    George Rawick’s From Sundown to Sunup is by far the most successful modern book in regard to slave culture. As moving and touching as Rawick’s breakdown of slave life is his rendition of American narrow-mindedness towards black people.

    When Americans look at enslavement, they enchant up figure of tired black bodies picking cotton from sunup to sundown under Southern skies. That representation is to some extent true, however, as the distinguished and eminent writer Geroge Radwick details, the lives of slaves in America’s racist system were complex and dissimilar. Perceiving slavery through the viewpoint of what slaves did most of the time, furnishes a means to draw some essential peculiarity and find some fundamental commonalties between the different experiences of North America.

    To most Americans, in addition to most scholars, slavery in the USA is generally thought of as property slavery much the same as with the plantation economies of the South. One of the biggest underestimation’s in the whole sphere of historiography is without doubt the contribution of the slaves to the forming and building of America as a civilized life. Slavery is an exceptional establishment not only in view of its horrors but by virtue of it was something very cruel and abhorable.

    According to George Radwick the southern attitude seems so often a matter of temperament that is indistinct character speaking itself against a general tendency in worldly affairs which opposed the fixed investment of wealth in land and human property. In other words, the South fabricated personality rather than minds of singular or primary power. But the character and disposition are of a singular and assisting force.

    One product of the ascent in interest in the black experience was the reappearance of published materials illustrating the encountering of slavery first-hand. In 1972, Greenwood Press published the first nineteen volumes of The American Slave in two series under George Rawick’s editorship. Volume 1, From Sundown to Sunup: The Making of the Black Community introduced the narrative materials in the other eighteen books.

    In this book George Rawick traces the narratives of Afro-Americans and in doing so breaks numerous fables that have encircled the subject of black slavery for a long time. Rawick illustrate that African-Americans is an essential and necessary part of our annals.

    He presents a picture of life from the view point of the slaves in a very efficient and effective manner. His courageous and daring readings of the narratives go a long way in the direction of an understanding of the master-slave relationship. George Radwick pursues to elucidate how the slaves made their own world and oppose to become creatures of their master’s choice.

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    ” American Negro slavery was a human institution, albeit exceedingly an inhuman one. Yet rarely has the discussion of slavery in North America proceeded from this premise. Rather almost all historians have presented the black slaves as dehumanized victims without culture, history and community. The assumption that the slave was a total victim is at its heart elitist and untenable. What flows from itself is the view that the slaves could not help himself because he had no culture, history, community or opportunity for change and development and that, consequently, he had to be liberated by those whose history has fortunately left them intact and thus in human terms better equipped to help him.

    But if the slave had a history, then his behavior changed over time as he learned from the past and met new experiences. Men however do not move in their own behalf or make revolutions for light and transient reasons. Only when they can no longer stand the contradictions in their own personalities do they move in a sharp and decisive fashion. The victim is always in the process of becoming the rebel, because the contradictions demand this resolution.”

    In George Rawick perspective United States slavery has passed through in the course of the last quarter of a century. Three large subject matters in the study of slavery have undergone modification in the course of those years. The first and foremost is the impact of slavery affixed to blacks; the second is the profitability of slavery as an commercial institution; and the third is the matching archives of slavery in the new world.

    George Rawick illustrated American slavery as a system wherein slaves lived in families, were in general well cared for physically by masters, and were disciplined no more seriously than rebellious children or for disorder.

    In common with most white southerners and most white scholars in the Western world of the early twentieth century, George Rawick also adhered to the fact that race sets human behavior to a substantial, although generally unspecified, magnitude. It is not unexpected consequently that Rawick and the bulk of American historians who ensued his lead should see the inefficiencies of slavery and the social and moral behavior of blacks under slavery as an outcome of the Negro’s race and not as a result of slavery.

    As Rawick said, the character of the two systems varies in view of the fact that race of the slaves varied. In the South, he concluded, the slaves were Negroes, who for the most part were by racial quality compliant rather than defiant, lighthearted instead of dismal, charming instead of irritable, and whose very fault invited paternalism rather than restraint. George Rawick depicted a slave community that was quite self-governing, full of cultural and social variety, and controlled in only finite ways by the master.

    George Rawick, in describing the independent and diverse life of blacks under captivity in his book, From Sundown to Sunup, admits that at one time he had recognized the idea of Sambo. His denial of it came, clearly, when he was able to clarify himself, as he acclaimed, of the implicit racism and elitism from which he thought the idea was used.

    Negro servitude is among those traditions that were once carefully thought about as an agreeable, if not applauded, while by today’s value judgments they are taken into account as evil. Rawick do not think it is conceivable today for a historian to write a sufficient history of slavery from the position that slavery was good. The effective word here is adequate, for George Rawick no doubt that a person living, in our culture could, either from his or her own choice or from a conventional aloofness, enter adequately into the values of a past society to write about slavery from that point of view. Rawick do not think that history would be read. He further argued that what was written would be seriously amateur, not history. For the variance amid antiquarianism and history is that the following has an important and essential association with the present while the former does not.

    Works Cited

    • George P. Rawick Papers
    • From Sundown to Sunup by George Rawick
    • Preface to 2nd Edition

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