Psalm 68:31 and the Fight for Freedom and Equality in Antebellum America

Roy Kay

in The Ethiopian Prophecy in Black American Letters

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780813037325
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813041582 | DOI:
Psalm 68:31 and the Fight for Freedom and Equality in Antebellum America

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This chapter demonstrates the political and social character of figural reading. The figure of emancipated Ethiopia displaces that of defective Ethiopia; physical freedom displaces spiritual salvation. The figural readings of Psalm 68:31 signify the full inclusion of the Negro within American society and its laws as citizens. Walker's Appeal presents itself as revolutionary instruction for black Americans against white oppression. Harper makes Ethiopia a poetic figure to critique the brutality and inhumanity of American slavery. Her poem, “Ethiopia,” initiates Ethiopia as a literary topic instead of a sacred prophecy. Douglass's reading of Psalm 68:31 furthers the emancipation of Ethiopia. He links emancipation with the acquisition of culture (Bildung) and the eventual weaving of the Negro into America's social fabric.

Keywords: Bildung; citizen; Douglass; Ethiopia; Harper; poetic figure; Negro; American social fabric; Walker; weaving

Chapter.  11212 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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