What does "David Walker's Appeal" represent when we talk of African American history?
David Walker’s Appeal was a long pamphlet or short book in which he argued very strongly against slavery and for a struggle to end that institution. With respect to African American history, it represents one of the strongest positions ever taken against slavery and it could be seen as a precursor to an attitude similar to that of Malcolm X.
David Walker was an African American who was born in 1796 in North Carolina. His father was a slave, but Walker himself was born free because his mother was a free African American woman. He left the South to live in the North. He was never enslaved, but of course saw the system up close while he lived in the South. In the North, he eventually became an abolitionist.
In 1829, he published the Appeal. This was the most fiery anti-slavery argument to that point. This was before William Lloyd Garrison had even started to publish The Liberator. In the Appeal, Walker condoned (as Malcolm X would a century and more later) the possibility of violent resistance to injustice. He also spoke out for the importance of African Americans in this country. He decried the idea of colonization, saying that African American labor had built the country and that blacks therefore deserved the country as much as or more than whites did.
The Appeal, then, is important in African American history as it represents a very vigorous and assertive attitude towards African American rights and abolition by an African American man.