The Man Who Was Almost a Man Historical Context

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Racism and Black Masculinity

The first decades of the twentieth century were difficult and violent ones for African Americans in the South. The agricultural economy was suffering, leading to poverty for poor whites and blacks; but with "Jim Crow" segregation laws, which appealed especially to poor whites, blacks were kept oppressed with limited opportunities. Moreover, African-American masculinity was threatened during the time when "The Man Who Was Almost a Man" takes place, offering a useful context for Dave's struggle for manhood and respect.

More than two thousand African Americans— the great majority being men—were lynched by angry mobs between 1890 and 1920. Historians cite economic frustrations as the primary cause for this violent phenomenon, but at the time the common excuse for lynching was the alleged rape of a white woman by a black man. Lynching victims were subjected to torture, burning, and even castration.

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This section contains 585 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Man Who Was Almost a Man from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.