David Walker’s Appeals David Walker’s Appeals As I read David Walker’s Appeals, I notice this final edition was published by Black Classic Press. Webster’s dictionary defines a classic as having lasting significance or worth; enduring. Under these terms, I would have to disagree. Despite great efforts of both the North and South to stop its publication, David Walker’s Appeal became one of the most widely read and circulated books ever written by a black person. Walker was considered a hero by most abolitionists, who considered his book the boldest attack ever written against slavery. It had significant effects on race relations in 1829 America.
However, as we enter the 21st century, David Walker’s book appeals to very few. One theme found lingering in Walker’s appeals is religion. It’s obvious Walker’s route to literacy was through the Bible. The appeals are immersed with citations form the Old and New Testaments. Much of his argument also deals with God in examining the actions of The Christians (Whites).
Article III., Our Wretchedness in Consequence of the Preachers of the Religion of Jesus Christ, delves into the actions of the whites and how it contradicts with their so-called beliefs. He wonders how slave owners can murder blacks on Saturday and go to church on Sunday like nothing happened. Have not the Americans the Bible in their hands? Do they believe it? Surely they do not. See how they treat us in open violation of the Bible!! Another issue throughout his Appeals is disagreement. Besides the obvious lack of understanding of the Whites and how they justify their actions, Walker also had trouble comprehending the behavior of Blacks as well.
In Article I, Our Wretchedness in Consequence of Slavery, he conveys his feelings in regards to interracial relationships. And I do say it, that the black man, or man of colour, who will leave his own colour (provided he can get one, who is good for any thing) and marry a white woman, to be a double slave to her, just because she is white, ought to be treated by her as he surely will be, viz: as a NIGER!!!! Throughout the book he speaks of several occasions where conversation with Black folk sickens him. In one incident, he explains to a coloured man the extent (or lack thereof) of his son’s education. In another, he questions the expectations of a slave who proclaims to be completely happy cleaning the boots, clothes, etc. of Whites. ..My objections are, to our glorifying and being happy in such low employments.
I think Walker had a hard time relating to his brothers because his experience was very different than theirs. Because his mother was a free woman, the law freed Walker from the chains of slavery. Although he observed the brutality of slavery, he did not endure it. Very much like us, he was speaking in abstract, having no personal experience to fall back on. In class you proposed a question dealing with saving our wives from rape, or letting it happen. As the class became heating, it was apparent to me there was no right or wrong answer.
Until we are put in those life or death situations, we cannot indefinitely secure a position. The tone of Walker’s Appeals also have a lot to do with him not being a slave. If Walker’s experience as a free black man filled him full of anger at the racism he experienced, imagine how the slaves who actually endured it felt. I’d like to crack a whip on Walker’s ass 24-7 and see if he still proclaims a Kill Whitey!/Do something you idiots. attitude.
I don’t have very much to say about David Walker’s Appeals. However, Walker himself proves to be more important than his publication. A wise man once said you control people in one of two ways: through fear or hope. Walker instilled hope in Blacks in a time where the plantation was the staple of America. He argued that African Americans were degraded by slavery and were kept in subjection through ignorance and through the perversion of Christianity. He called for Blacks to wage war against their enemies.
A revelation at the time, Walker’s book scandalized white Americans, to the point a $10,000 price was put on his head. His Appeals are arguably the most radical of all antislavery documents. However, I still believe David Walker’s Appeals has little to offer African Americans today. A different time, we are faced with different problems (or at least the same ones carried out in a different fashion). And different times call for different measures.
Perhaps, this piece is a classic in the obersvational sense: belonging to the highest rank or class. American History.