Blacks in Florida Term Paper

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Blacks in Florida

The history of slavery that has haunted the African-Americans for centuries has allowed the society to forget the heritage of their culture. The shame and considerable violence that surrounds their slave pasts overwhelms people so that they are apt to forget that these peoples had a history before they came or were brought to the 'western' world. Most historians and academics follow the impact of the African-American culture on the U.S. lands and people, much like the influence of the African-Americans on Spanish Colonial Florida as presented by Jane Landers in her article, "Traditions of African-American Freedom and Community in Spanish Colonial Florida" and Hall's "African Religious Retentions in Florida" through the basis of slaves being seen as mere 'animals' that had to be civilized. What influence they are seen to have then is seen to emerge from their repressive slave pasts rather than from the time when they lived in their homelands. That is why Samory Rashid's thesis in his article, "Islamic Origins of Spanish Florida's Fort Musa" is controversially refreshing. The articles suggests that the African America influence began from the their past when they lived in the West African and Islamic North regions and to actually understand the heritage and influence the African-Americans have had we must study the culture evident in these areas.

The influence of Africans on the New World should not be viewed through their slave past, rather the influence should be studied from the origins of the African peoples which can be traced back to the African region and its claim to glory that came from the Spanish Moors and the Islamic roots. Only then can the African influence on the New World be viewed as having more than 'survived'…

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Robert Hall and Jane Landers are academics who have studied the influence of African-Americans of the Spanish Colonial region of Florida. Yet, they have narrowed down their study by viewing the heritage of the Africans Americans through the lenses of slavery. Most academics are unable to study the African-American past without bias not because they view the African-Americans as second class citizens but because they associate African-Americans with 'slavery' and cannot see beyond that label. While they realize that the African-Americans immigrated, or were forcefully brought from the regions of Africa to the Americas they are unable to separate the 'slaves' from the 'free' people.

Hall [1990] presents the influence of the African-Americans on Florida by studying the religious facets of the African culture; from the drum beats to black magic to the rich death and burial rites. Hall and Landers [1995] both suggest that the Florida region had been influenced by the African-American more than other states because they were to some extent allowed to retain their moral and religious personalities by the law and church. The slaves colonial Spanish area were till a greater part of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century allowed to continue their own cultural rituals and it was only after annexation of the Florida area to the American states that the slave rights began to be suppressed.

Yet, while both these writers contend that the African-Americans had their basis in Western Africa to some extent they fail to pursue the cultural base. They focus more on the influence of African-Americans on Florida through the kaleidoscope of slavery than actually tracing the origin of the culture from the Africa's. In

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