Slavery and the Post–Civil Rights Literary Imagination
This essay explores the ways in which African American authors of that era reclaim the slave past as a site of memory for a nation eager to forget. Lucille Clifton’s Generations (1976), Alex Haley’s Roots (1976), Ishmael Reed’s Flight to Canada (1976), and Octavia Butler’s Kindred (1979) are the chapter’s main focus. These works resist the tide of historical amnesia and “lost cause” mythology that would minimize or relegate the enslaved to mere props in the larger Civil War drama of rupture and reconciliation. By centering the stories of the enslaved as ancestral foundations of post-civil rights black life, these authors promote a model for historical memory and genealogy that elevates black resilience.
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