Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: December 15, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971966 | Print ISBN: 9781412940504 | Online ISBN: 9781412971966| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Literacy is broadly understood as one's ability to read and write, especially in the dominant language of one's society. In the African American tradition, however, the mastery of the English language is also often demonstrated in oratory. Thus, African American culture reflects the symbiosis of literacy and orality. In the context of African American education, in particular, literacy is ostensibly more political in connotation. Historically, literacy for African Americans has been linked to notions of freedom—especially freedom from enslavement—and empowerment. Many scholars have characterized the attainment of literacy as an assertion of African American humanity. Literacy remains a critical sociopolitical and academic issue for African Americans—particularly in light of achievement gap discourse. Thus, literacy is quite a contentious topic in African American education. This entry looks at the history of the issue and its current status. The earliest demonstrations of the politics of literacy are found in the publications of ...