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Discrimination on Graduation

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 4 (994 words)
Categories: A Poem, Graduation Day, Maya Angelou
Downloads: 17
Views: 5

In graduation by Maya Angelou, she and her class were graduating in a time when people did not want to see them graduate. This story took place in the 1940s and at that time black people were not seen the same as everyone else. Other races looked down upon them which made their graduation feel even more deserving of it. In graduation, Angelou and her class were looked down on and discriminated during their graduation.

This story by Angelou takes place in the 1940s which was a horrible time for black people. At this time black people were not accepted into any professional sports teams and they were not accepted in society. The MLB didn’t allow black people to play until 1940, and the NBA did not let black people play until the 1950s. Racist groups like the KKK were still at large threatening death on black people. Jim Crow laws were also enforced which made it even harder for black people to vote.

The laws included poll taxes, literacy tests, and the grandfather clause. Poll taxes are self-explanatory everyone had to pay to vote. This rule was made knowing most black people could not afford to pay taxes. Literacy tests were meant to stop black people from voting. The test is filled with trick questions and if you get one answer wrong you automatically fail. The grandfather clause was a rule that if your grandfather has voted you don’t have to pay the poll tax or take the test. Because of the time period, most black people did not have a grandfather who had taken the test before them. Keeping all of this in mind Angelou and her class was still able to graduate although society did not think much of black people and did not want it to happen. Donleavy said, “If my brother wanted to become a lawyer he had to first pay penance for his skin by picking cotton and hoeing corn and studying correspondence books at night for twenty years”(51). Donleavy did not care how those words sounded and he did not care how everyone would feel about it. He is an example of how white people were back then.

Angelou already knew herself that it was awful to be black at that time. “It was awful to be a negro and have no control over my life” says Angelou(52). Angelou did not like that they couldn’t defend themselves just because of the color of their skin. Angelou states “It was brutal to be a young and already trained to sit quietly and listen to charges brought against my color with no chance of defense”(52). There is even a point when Angelou starts to think that they should be dead. What kind of life is being discriminated against and looked down just for the skin you were born with. Most people would agree that being judged because of something you were born with is wrong. Imagine the life black people who had to live through the struggle and hardship. Angelou is definitely not the first person to start thinking of death after being treated like this. Angelou states “I should like to see us dead, one on top of the other. A pyramid of flesh with white folks at the bottom, as a broad base, then the Indians with their silly tomahawks and teepees and wigwams and treaties, the negroes with their mops and recipes and cotton sacks and spirituals sticking out of there mouths.” (52).

Maya Angelou was so upset she did not feel like getting her diploma because she felt that her name had “lost its ring”. Angelou said “My name had lost its ring of familiarity and I had to be nudged to go and receive my diploma” (53). Even though this is an opportunity that most black people did not get at the time she was still hesitant to get her diploma. Most people would question her at this moment. She would be asked questions like why are you hesitating? This is an extremely rare moment why are you stopping? The reason she did that was that she was noticing how wrong everything felt for her.

Maya Angelou has shown how black people were discriminated against and looked down upon by the rest of society. In the 1940s black people were not equal to white people. Black people were not accepted or respected by society. They were not allowed to play in the MLB because it was seen as a “white sport”. In 1947 black people were allowed to play even though people did not like that choice. The NBA took a little longer to accept black people into the league. In the 1950s black people were finally allowed to play in the NBA. The KKK was still running loose and ready to kill black people because of their beliefs and religion which is disgusting. Black people also had to deal with Jim Crow laws. They dealt with poll taxes which the southern states knew they couldn’t afford, they also had to deal with literacy tests which was full of trick questions, and they also had to deal with the grandfather clause. These laws were made to only affect black people.

The southern states found a loophole in the 15th amendment so they could enforce the Jim Crow laws. Even though black people had to deal with these laws and with a hateful society Maya Angelou was still about to graduate. Even back then Angelou knew that being black in America at this time was bad. Schools were still being segregated at this time. The government did not want to have black and white students in the same school. Segregation wasn’t abolished until 1954. At one point of the essay Angelou thought that they should all be dead. After going through was she has gone through she questions her life. Angelou says “I should like to see us dead, one on top of the other”(52).

Cite this essay

Discrimination on Graduation. (2020, Sep 23). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/discrimination-on-graduation-essay

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