The twentieth century saw the rise of many thinkers and activists in the U.S.A. Extensive literature and polemical writing was also available. Racial segregation in social and cultural life began to be attacked. Fred Lee Hord and Jonathan Scott Lee in I Am Because We Are (1995) provide a sketch of the basic assumptions in Black philosophy.
They assume that there is a distinctive Black philosophical tradition. The ideas that the individual is never separable from the socio-cultural environment. The informing principle is not “I think therefore I am”, but rather, “I am because we are.” All dimensions of reality are interlinked. Physical objects, for example, cannot be separated from their uses, which are themselves human. The use of myths forms the African tradition. Ishmael Reed’s voodoo, Gates’ reliance upon traditional African gods and legends to develop an African-American literary theory are extensions of this idea.
One of the best poets in the Afro-American tradition Langston Hughes’ work has provided numerous images of race, inequality, consciousness in twentieth century America. Hughes suggested that the Negro artist’s problem was to assert a Negro cultural integrity when faced with the “racial mountain.”