African American Autobiography: A Study Of African American Autobiography

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African American autobiography is motivated by a revisionist attitude toward exploring the issues involving the black people in America and the autobiographer himself. The genre of autobiography is often utilised as a tool to demolish the myths of black inferiority, and to break the chains which have held the African American in bondage to the white man over the generations. Thus, often in its final rendering, African American autobiography is a quest for freedom while opposing and repudiating oppression and discrimination based on colour. Therefore, a study of African American autobiography proves its uniqueness while it continues to adhere to the autobiographical canon. Attempting a general yet comprehensive definition of autobiography, James Olney writes that it is: a recollective/narrative act in which the writer, from a certain point in his life – the present - , looks back over the events of that life and recounts them in such a way as to show how that past history has led to this present state of being. Exercising memory, in order that he may recollect and narrate, the autobiographer is not a neutral and passive recorder but rather a creative and active shaper (The Slave’s Narrative: 149). Ssensalo’s list of the elements of general autobiography, similar to Olney’s definition, indicates that autobiography has the “first person narrative built around a singular character, [employing the] first person point of view, [with the] narrative covering a broad span of time,
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