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Autodidactism is the act of self-directed learning about a subject or subjects in which one has had little to no formal education. In the story of African American self-education, Heather Andrea Williams presents a historical account to examine African American’s relationship to literacy during slavery in her book, “African American Education in Slavery and Freedom”. Williams’s analysis is punctuated with rich anecdotes of ordinary African Americans’ personal and collective fight for education.

Autodidactism, as it relates to African-Americans is extremely relevant. Within the context of discrimination, oppression and the need to keep Blacks, Slave and free, in ignorance, “autodidactism” ranges from tasks as simple as learning to tell time and read, to be able to express one’s complex thoughts, in varying disciplines as a precursor for a meaningful life within a socio-political-historical context.


Andrea Williams’s, African American Education in Slavery and Freedom

Wikipedia page on Autodidacticism

Autodidacticism page by Ralph Dumain

National Humanities Center page on Enslavement and Resistance in the U.S.


CLICK HERE: Landmark Court Rulings Every American Should Know (PDF)

African-Americans started in the U.S defined as slaves. This condition was later affirmed in the infamous Dred Scott decision where The Constitution was interpreted to mean that slaves and their descendants were not/could never be citizens of the United States, and therefore had no rights.

The importance of slavery to the founding of this nation is evident in how The Constitution (1789) which concerns itself intimately with slavery, was in existence 2 years before The Bill of Rights (1791). The legal implications of this arrangement are vast, far reaching and responsible for many of the bitterest political struggles in our nation’s history as well as The Civil War.

For African-American’s to be able to obtain their full rights of citizenship, they had to know what their rights were, what they weren’t, why they were what they were, and most importantly what was needed for blacks to obtain the full menu of rights, privileges, immunities and protections that whites had by birthright.

The Constitution and Landmark decisions contained within "Landmark Supreme Court Rulings" establish significant new legal principles, concepts or otherwise substantial changes in the interpretation of existing law.




The Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO, Alabama) was formed in 1965 by SNCC and Stokeley Carmichael to utilize political means to empower black sharecroppers with the right of suffrage in one of the most racist Counties in the nation. Known as "Bloody Lowndes", Lowndes County was synonymous with violence against blacks. Although blacks represented 80% of county residents, there were no registered black voters. Backed by the promise of the 1965 Voting Rights Act to provide federal monitors to ensure black suffrage in select southern counties, SNCC came to Lowndes and instituted a plan that utilized registration drives, demonstrations and political education to get black candidates elected so that they could redirect local resources to black residents.

The Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO), with the black panther as it's symbol, was the first independent political party in the Lowndes County since Reconstruction. The Black Panther stood in direct opposition to the white rooster of the racist Alabama Democratic Party. A year after the LCFO was founded The Black Panther Party for Self Defense was formed (Oakland, CA 1966). They chose the Black Panther Party as their name and symbol, playing off the notoriety and philosophy of Lowndes County. The addition of, "For Self Defense" was a direct reference to the armed black Louisiana based civil rights group, The Deacons for Defense.

Through the efforts and sacrifices of many organizations, including The Deacons for Defense, Robert F. Williams, the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, The Greensboro 4, The Black Panther Party along with black and white students, parents and professionals, BLACK POWER and a new radical form of active protests and education broke the back of the American culture of black oppression that had operated in the United States for 400 years. As to be expected, a fierce and vicious blowback erupted resulting in assassinations, murders, state sponsored brutality and the subversion of the basic rights of individuals and organizations that lead the way in the struggle. By the mid-70's, the roiling pot of racist oppression was lidded as it gave way to tangible, practical improvements in the lives of ordinary black citizens.

The success of the black panther symbol of the more radical arm of the civil rights era was made up by a new generation of bold black Americans embracing the sentient praxis and vision preached by Frederick Douglass. It was Douglass who clearly articulated that until blacks were willing to rise up in defense and in demand, they would forever be ineffective in their efforts: "POWER concedes NOTHING without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what a people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.."



19 Steps to Black Freedom (PDF)

The 19 STEPS is 23-pages long with visual aids detailing the sequence of historical events leading to black freedom. These events form a chain of causally linked events that are indispensable to the struggle for black equality.

The below lecture series, by Professor David Blight, is a great accompaniment to the first 16 of the 19 steps. Professor Blight is a folksy former high school teacher who is currently a Professor of American History Yale University with specialized interest in the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition.

Link to ITUNES: The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877
Link to YALE.EDU: The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877



The Woozy Celebrates 14 Rap Classics AND The History and Progression of Black Music in America (WEBPAGE)

Check out our new page. A long overdue celebration of the black musical form that survived the middle passage and has reconvened, reorganized and re-expressed itself on American shores in many iterations.

From slave songs to Hip Hop through gospel, rags, blues, jazz, R and B, pop, rock, to the present day, black music has been our faithful companion on this strange and curious journey in the new world.

Black music, tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years in the making has kept our spirits high, as oppression has brought us low, saving us, redeeming us, reminding us and comforting us. This page of celebration includes a PDF write up on all included Hip-Hop songs.



ANTHROPOLOGY: Anthropology is the study of humanity. Its main subdivisions are social and cultural anthropology, which describes the workings of societies around the world, linguistic anthropology, which investigates the influence of language in social life, and biological or physical anthropology, which concerns long-term development of the human organism.

SOCIOLOGY: Sociology is the scientific study of social behavior, including its origins, development, organization, and institutions. It also investigates social order, social disorder and social change, including religion, mobility, class, stratification secularization and rules. Observational research describes and identifies individual cultures, differences and diversity within the human species.



Major Political and Legal Events in Black History (PDF)

36-page long edited compilation of web available material chronicling the most important and influential policies, acts, movements and decisions in black-American history.



(National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders)

The Kerner Reports were commissioned to discover, explain and address the underlying social conditions that resulted in the nationwide 1967 race riots. Every riot and social disturbance that has arisen since this report, has pointed back to the very same conditions highlighted in the Kerner Reports, -issues that have largely remained ineffectively addressed.

Summary of The Report of the The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (PDF)

The Millennium Breach (PDF)

'The Breach' is an advocacy piece that endorses social policy and grass-roots programs that have been effective in addressing issues exposed in the original Kerner Report.

Locked in the Poorhouse (PDF)

'Locked in the Poorhouse' advocates several youth and school intervention programs to address issues raised in 'The Kerner Commission' and 'The Breach'.




Quick Link to Woozy Pages

Black History Hall of Fame
Black History Timeline
Major Political and Legal Events in Black History
Essential Books
Favorite Websites
Listen to Black History Audiofiles
Essential Black Cinema List
Historical and Educational DVD's
The Woozy Celebrates Black music and Hip Hop
Uncle Tom's Cabin Resources
evz-yoyo Creative Writing Project