Morehead State University

Poster Title

The American Savage: The Demonizing of African American Male Masculinity in the Early 1900's

Institution

Morehead State University

Abstract

After the American Civil War ended in 1865 and the Emancipation Proclamation gave blacks their "freedom," whites needed new ways to maintain their racial superiority. Out of white's need to preserve the racial line, Jim Crow laws arose along with new ideas of African American Masculinity. As advertisements became part of national culture, images that supported and promoted stereotypes of black men became classified into two categories, the "bad nigger" who was a cannibal and savage that raped white women and was the scourge of the white race, or the "good nigger" who was a bumbling idiot with over exaggerated features but maintained his rightful submissive place in society. As advertising grew in popularity, stereotypes changed from representing and reflecting regional distinctions to demonstrating new ideas and stereotypes for the nation. When images of "good and bad" blacks became standardized, social problems like the American Savage were introduced to the nation. To represent the transition of stereotypes to a national stage, advertisements, this poster examines the multiple sites that created imagery of black men including the Ku Klux Klan (and its subsidiaries the Women's Klan, the Junior K-Club, and Tri-K-Club), the rise of lynching, the introduction of films such as Birth of a Nation, to provide insight into the white mind of a nation, as they attempted to redefine their social power after the Civil War.

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The American Savage: The Demonizing of African American Male Masculinity in the Early 1900's

After the American Civil War ended in 1865 and the Emancipation Proclamation gave blacks their "freedom," whites needed new ways to maintain their racial superiority. Out of white's need to preserve the racial line, Jim Crow laws arose along with new ideas of African American Masculinity. As advertisements became part of national culture, images that supported and promoted stereotypes of black men became classified into two categories, the "bad nigger" who was a cannibal and savage that raped white women and was the scourge of the white race, or the "good nigger" who was a bumbling idiot with over exaggerated features but maintained his rightful submissive place in society. As advertising grew in popularity, stereotypes changed from representing and reflecting regional distinctions to demonstrating new ideas and stereotypes for the nation. When images of "good and bad" blacks became standardized, social problems like the American Savage were introduced to the nation. To represent the transition of stereotypes to a national stage, advertisements, this poster examines the multiple sites that created imagery of black men including the Ku Klux Klan (and its subsidiaries the Women's Klan, the Junior K-Club, and Tri-K-Club), the rise of lynching, the introduction of films such as Birth of a Nation, to provide insight into the white mind of a nation, as they attempted to redefine their social power after the Civil War.