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A Lesson Before Dying I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal - Dr Martin Luther King Jr Suffering through the horrors of racism black Americans appear to have no chance of progression in society As exemplified by the Interactionist viewpoint racial religious and other cultural differentiation can create social distance suspicion and tensions between groups Parrillo 235 Generation after generation of being uneducated and treated like animals has left the black community in shambles and thinking they are not as good as the whites In the 1940s it was difficult to find a black man who could read and write The black mans illiteracy caused him to believe he was less civilized than the whites In Ernest Gaines A Lesson Before Dying we are introduced to Jefferson an uneducated average black man unjustly accused of murder and sentenced to death by an all white jury Convinced he is an animal Jefferson is going to be shown by Grant Wiggins the plantation schoolteacher that he is in fact a man Though Grant and Jefferson have vastly different educational backgrounds their commonality of being black men who have lost hope brings them together in the search for the meaning of their lives In the 1940s small Cajun town of Bayonne Louisiana blacks may have legally been emancipated but they were still enslaved by the antebellum myth concerning the place of black people in society Customs established during the years of slavery negated the laws meant to give black people equal rights Blacks could not use the same parks playgrounds drinking fountains restrooms waiting rooms or railroad cars They always rode in the back of the bus attended different schools and usually dropped out of school early Parrillo 216 The chains of tradition prevailed leaving both Grant and Jefferson trapped
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