This essential one-volume collection brings together some of the most influential and significant works by African-American writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Included herein are such classics as Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave (1845) and excerpts from W.E.B. DuBois’s The Souls of Black Folk (1903), Harriet A. Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself (1861), Booker T. Washington’s Up from Slavery (1901), and James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man (1912). Whether read as records of African-American history, autobiography, or literature, these invaluable texts stand as timeless monuments to the courage, intellect, and dignity of those for whom writing itself was an act of rebellion—and whose voices and experiences would have otherwise been silenced forever.
Edited with an introduction by Anthony Appiah, who explains the distinctive American literary and cultural context of the time, this edition of Early African-American Classics remains the standard by which all similar collections will inevitably be compared.