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When sticks and stones and beasts form the sole environment of a people, their attitude is largely one of determined opposition to and conquest of natural forces. But when to earth and brute is added an environment of men and ideas, then the attitude of the imprisoned group may take three main forms,--a feeling of revolt and revenge; an attempt to adjust all thought and action to the will of the greater group; or, finally, a determined effort at self-realization and self-development despite environing opinion.Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others
To make here in human education that ever necessary combination of the permanent and the contingent--of the ideal and the practical in workable equilibrium--has been there, as it ever must be in every age and place, a matter of infinite experiment and frequent mistakes.Of the Training of Black Men
- Wikipedia on John Henry
- NPR's coverage: Present at the Creation
On the above page, click on the audio icons to hear a news story and a recording of the ballad song, as well as the lyrics to one particular recording.
- Read this early version of the song, and look at the four later versions that the site offers.
On the above site, choose two versions of the song, and come to class with a one-paragraph statement that characterizes the textual differences between your chosen texts.
In what ways is the John Henry story a tall-tale? How is it social commentary? Is it primarily a story about technology, or about race? Is it too simplistic to say "both"?