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This article examines the relationship between oral- and textual-literacy systems that existed during the antebellum period of United States history. I argue that African-American intellectual processes are more accurately understood as existing on a literacy continuum that reflects equality between oral literacy and textual literacy. A literacy continuum deconstructs the notion of the textual supremacy and assumes a mutually dependent relationship between the oral and the textual. Ultimately, it enables a reevaluation of oral practices as intellectual processes and systems of knowledge production.

Leaving…the world of the white man, I have stepped within the Veil, raising it that you may view faintly its deeper recesses,—the meaning of its religion, the passion of its human sorrow, and the struggle of its greater souls. —W. E. B. Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk



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