I Am a Man!

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I Am a Man! is a declaration of civil rights, often used as a personal statement and as a declaration of independence against oppression.

Am I Not a Man?[edit]

Am I Not A Man And A Brother emblem used by abolitionists.

Historically, in countries such as the U.S. and South Africa, the term "boy" was used as a pejorative racist insult towards men of color and slaves, indicating their subservient social status of being less than men.[1] In response, Am I Not A Man And A Brother? became a catchphrase used by British and American abolitionists. In 1787, Josiah Wedgwood designed a medallion for the British anti-slavery campaign. He copied the original design from the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade as a cameo in black-and-white. It was widely reproduced and became a popular fashion statement promoting justice, humanity and freedom.[2]

The question "Am I Not A Man?" was brought up again during the Dred Scott decision if the U.S. Supreme Court.[3] During the Civil rights movement at the Memphis Sanitation Strike "I AM A MAN!" signs were used to answer the same question.[4]

On trial for bringing his son back to Nebraska for burial, from a forced march to Oklahoma, in 1879 Ponca Chief Standing Bear spoke to judge Dundy in his Omaha trial, "That hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be the same color as yours. I am a man. God made us both." Standing Bear (and Native Americans) were granted habeas corpus meaning that they had status in the court and were indeed human beings. "I Am a Man": Chief Standing Bear's Journey for Justice, Joe Starita 2010

Modern use[edit]

"I Am a Man!" has been used as a title for books, plays and in film[5] to assert the rights of all people to be treated with dignity. "I Am a Man!" signs were used in Arabic language Ana Rajul during the Arab Spring.[6]

Other uses[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Andersen, Margaret L. (2008). Sociology With Infotrac: Understanding a Diverse Society. Thompson Learning. p. 61. 
  2. ^ Dabydeen, David (February 17, 2011). "The Black Figure in 18th-century Art". BBC News. Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  3. ^ Am I Not a Man? by Mark L. Shurtleff
  4. ^ Miami Herald
  5. ^ Mining the Memphis Sound
  6. ^ Dark Forebodings of the Arab Spring