Alain Leroy Locke was the first African American to win a Rhodes scholarship in 1907. Lock was a philosopher he was best known for his writing on and his support of the Harlem renaissance.
Lock was born on September 13th 1885 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Locke graduated from Harvard university which is a prestigious university like Oxford. Despite his obvious intellect Locke faced significant barriers as an African American. Although he was selected as the first African American Rhodes scholar he was denied admission to several colleges at Oxford university because of race. He finally gained entry into Hertford college, where he studied from 1907-1910.
Locke’s writing focused on African American ldentity. His collection of writing and illustrations The New Negro was published in 1925.
Locke wrote, the old Negro, we must remember, was a creature of moral debate and historical controversy. His has been a stock figure perpetuated as a historical fiction partly in innocent sentimentalism, partly in deliberate reaction is the Negro himself has contributed his share to this through a sort of protective social mimicry forced upon him by the adverse circumstances of dependence. So for generations in the mind of America, the Negro has been more of a formula than a human being, a something to be argued about, condemned or defended, to be “put down”or “kept down” or “in his place” or “helped up”, to be worried with or worried over, harassed or patronised, a social bogey or a social burden.
The thinking Negro even has been induced to share this same general attitude, to focus his attention on controversial issues, to see himself in the distorted perspective of a social problem.
Locke is right in the regard of the Rhodes statue at Oxford university. Black people are being argued about, over the racist statue of Rhodes still standing. In South Africa they took action and removed Rhodes statue as it stood for apartheid. Black people are kept down as Locke wrote, as the statue stands for white superiority, and as long as it stands at Oxford university the message is clear.
The challenge to defeat the centuries old attempt ‘to dwarf the significance of our manhood’, to treat us as children, to define us as sub-humans whom nature has condemned to be inferior to white people, an animal like species characterized by limited intellectual capacity, bestiality, lasciviousness, and moral depravity, obliged, in our own interest, to accept that the white segment of humanity should, in perpetuity, serve as our Lord and master truly aware that they too are people, and whether they do not, still regard themselves as appendages of our self-appointed superiors.
I believe that the Rhodes statue must fall as it symbolises white superiority.