- Term Papers and Free Essays

Slavery in the United States

Essay by   •  March 28, 2016  •  Essay  •  2,273 Words (10 Pages)  •  1,116 Views

Essay Preview: Slavery in the United States

Report this essay
Page 1 of 10

Slavery and civil rights are topics that are always big topics in the United States. Slavery is always brought up in United States history classes and debated and the same with Civil Rights. Slavery is abolished in the United States but we still have issues with it happening. Civil Rights is a topic that is always present. Turn on the news and there will be another new story about how a cop killed a black man. Civil Rights is an issue that yes many seem to be getting out of hand but it’s something that we need to change in society. Everyone should be treated equally. People are born a certain race and they cannot change that. Just because someone is a certain race people need to respect the person for who they are and not judge them based on their race. There is a Bavarian saying that they live by “Mia San Mia” which stands for we are who we are and they live their lives by that and respect each other. That’s something that is not seen in the United States. Birth of a Nation, Gone with the Wind, Burn!, and Spartacus are a good representation of how America’s view on slavery and the mixing of races changed over time. Birth of a Nation was made in 1915 when segregation was still huge in American society. Burn! was made in 1969 which was right after the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was passed. It’s a big time frame to look at but it gave a good understanding on how viewpoints changed over time.

The films Birth of a Nation and Gone with the wind were made 25 years apart and mainly took place during the reconstruction period after the Civil War. But they both presented different viewpoints on the issues. The first main theme brought up in Birth of a Nation was the mixing of races. In the opening scene the film African-Americans are coming to America and being sold to whites as slaves. During that scene a text overlay appeared on the screen and it said “the bringing of the African to American planted the first seed of disunion.” This in my opinion was the main theme of the film. During this time though it would have been 50 years after slavery was abolished but people still were not comfortable allowing African-Americans to have any sort of a relationship with whites. The issue of intermarriage was presented multiple times in the film. It even caused a revolt and during that scene a text overlay appeared and said “Aryan birthright.” In the 19th century the term “Aryan” developed a racialist meaning. It stood for the “master race” or “white supremacy” and was used in Nazi racial theory. The film used it to state that whites were the master race and if whites had relationships with African-Americans it would destroy that. Going along with that idea would be the scene where Flora jumps off the cliff. Gus asks her to marry him and she proceeds to run away. The scene ends with her on top of a clip and a text overlay says “go away or I’ll jump.” Gus continues to follow her to the top of the cliff and she jumps off. This scene can be interpreted in multiple ways but the way that I believe the producers wanted people to believe was that she jumped because she didn’t want to get raped by Gus. It symbolizes the emasculation and rape of whites in the south by a black population that is suddenly emancipated. It basically was stating that the newly emancipated slaves were just running around the south raping white women. Also in the film the African-American population is shown as good for nothing other than submissive labor. They were basically considered animals in this film. Even the scenes with the African-American legislator who were not slaves and had to be decently educated to hold that position were mocked and shown to be stupid. This showed that whites viewed African-Americans as do nothing people who were detrimental to society. Whites did not even recognize them as people and for the film being made 50 years after slavery was abolished it still showed that even at that people African-Americans were not respected in the United States. The film did not even use African-American actors they just use white actors and put a lot of black make-up on them. They did not want to work with African-Americans during the time this film was made. This film also glorified the Ku Klux Klan, KKK, and made them seem heroic. The scene where Silas gags and bounds Elsie and tries to force her to marry him but the KKK rides in on horses to recuse her. Is easily seen as a heroic moment and glorifies them. This film was also somewhat used to recruit for the KKK. The KKK had become smaller and really was not much of anything at this point. This film helped recruit and bring back the KKK. This film overall showed African-Americans as comic simpletons who were not for nothing other than forced labor. It also showed black males as sexual predators and that stereotype is still lingering around today. It also helped bring the KKK back together. This film was very demeaning to African-Americans but as time goes on you can see the changing viewpoint towards blacks in America.

Gone with the Wind was made 25 years after Birth of a Nation the view could easily be able to see how the viewpoints in America has changed. Gone with the Wind had a theme of slavery in the film but I would not say that it was the most prominent part of it. It was important but I think the romantic aspect of the movie was the more overlying theme. The film was a lot more focused on the love affair between Scarlett and Rhett. However, the issues regarding slavery and racism are still prevalent in the film. The first thing that jumped out to me in this film is the use of African-American actors. It showed a huge step in the right direction especially in the film industry. Based on Mammy’s performance in the film she won an academy award for her acting in the film. Which made her the first African-American to win this honor. The film industry was still predominantly white and for them to award her with the award was a huge step towards the mixing of the races. It showed that an African-American can do what a white person can do.  It also shows that during this time period that African-Americans were starting to be more respected in American. Still during the film most of the black characters were portrayed as cartoonish. They were not really look down upon in this film compared to Birth of a Nation but the film still showed them to be inferior to whites. There was a scene the portrayed this in the film pretty well. It was the scene where Melanie became disturbed by the fact that her son might be in a class with black children. During this time whites thought blacks were dumb and should not be in the same class because it could ruin their own children’s education. Melanie was always nice to African-Americans but this still shows how the mixing of races still was not allowed. I also believe that the view on slavery was not as prominent in this film due to it being released towards the end of the Great Depression. The depression put the whole of America in a state of somewhat poverty. I believe that it brought the country closer together and showed that we all need to work for our lives and do what we can to survive. It put a good majority of the United States on more of a similar playing field. Whites were still seen as more prominent but it gave African-Americans more of a chance to make a better living for themselves after the depression. You could see that with the African-American units during World War 2 with was already going on during the time this film was released.



Download as:   txt (12.3 Kb)   pdf (150.1 Kb)   docx (12.2 Kb)  
Continue for 9 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2016, 03). Slavery in the United States. Retrieved 03, 2016, from

"Slavery in the United States" 03 2016. 2016. 03 2016 <>.

"Slavery in the United States.", 03 2016. Web. 03 2016. <>.

"Slavery in the United States." 03, 2016. Accessed 03, 2016.