James Needham: Reflection narrative

23 Oct

While researching the life and accomplishments of James Needham, I found it very challenging to find a great deal of information. There was a lack of online sources and journals that even mentioned his name. Needham’s personal life concerning life, death and family were nowhere to be found, so I continued researching his career accomplishments. Needham proved to be a notable figure through his leadership roles in various abolitionist groups. I expanded on those groups and communities – garnering clues about what type of person he might have been. I could not find any information on his individual role at the convention, but based on his previous leadership positions, I made an educated guess that he was a relatively vocal and active member of the convention.

The articles that I found covered important historical events in the 20th century. Local newspapers printed stories about the abolitionist movement, the Emancipation Proclamation, and of course, the Colored Convention. Although very few of these articles mentioned anything about Needham, they provided great insight on what type of African American activists took part in them. Needham’s experiences and association with the church proved that he, like many other abolitionists, was determined to give blacks equality. Realizing Needham’s life goal made the unfound information of his personal life seem rather trivial. It is not clear whether he was from an affluent family or an impoverished one, but his participation in the Philadelphia Vigilance Association and Sunday schools highlighted his relentless efforts for a good cause.

While writing this biography, I considered my potential audience to be teachers and students who plan on researching James Needham in the future. They may also want to know about the groups that he was a part of, so I divided that information into paragraphs. The language that I wrote with was similar to that of most biographies. It is similar to how most students will write when uncovering the history of black abolitionists.


James Needham: Paving The Way for Abolitionists

23 Oct

James Needham was an African American officer hailing from Philadelphia, active in many political causes and deeply committed to the abolitionist movement. Like many black men at the time, he worked intensively to gain leadership positions in reform organizations, finding ways to spread hope, knowledge, and protection to slaves.

In August 1835, he was one of the nine black abolitionists to create the Philadelphia Vigilance Association. The committee’s main goal was to “fund aid to colored persons in distress.” They helped runaway slaves find shelter, clothing, medicine, and money. Needham and his fellow members educated the slaves on their legal rights and protections, later giving them temporary jobs before sending them off to the safe haven of Canada. The association elected James Needham as the Treasurer, along with James McCrummell and Jacob C. White as President and Secretary, respectively.

On November 5th, 1841, The Liberator published an article reporting on the National Convention, in which a committee of twenty-four men met in concern for the “colored people of the United States.” Needham, the chairman of the committee, discussed several aspects of the lives of African Americans, hoping to fix depravations and issues that blacks were facing at the time. The article went on to list the views of the committee, concluding with the general consensus that blacks ought to freely express their voice, and be given the same rights and privileges as whites. In the end, James Needham was the first to sign, implying that he had a massive input in the writing.

Needham was also an active participant in the church sector – giving speeches in various Sunday schools. On August 1, 1842, the “Colored Sunday Schools” of the city and county of Philadelphia had exercises opened with prayer by Rev. Joe Cox. The singing was conducted by Robert C. Jones, and the address on the event was by Bishop D.A. Payne. The address to parents and teachers was by S.D. Hastings, and finally, the address to children was by James Needham.

Around 1870, when the 15th amendment was finally being ratified, a San Francisco-based newspaper called The Elevator reported that people across the country were preparing for a celebration. African Americans were rejoicing in the fact that the government had secured to them (in the constitution) something that they deserved from the very beginning. James Needham was interviewed from Philadelphia, saying, “Our folks here are making preparations to celebrate the 15th Amendment, when the Proclamation is issued. It will be a great jubilee, and I hope it will be duly observed throughout the country. We anticipate having a fine time here.”

James Needham’s significance in the Colored Convention was the sheer amount of experience and expertise he carried. Representing so many groups and gaining solid positions in all sorts of abolitionist groups gave him an edge, especially in a group masterminded by men with such similar experiences. Needham was among the myriad of courageous men who were willing to stand up for justice for African Americans. He was committed to the end of slavery – and did just about anything he could to make sure it came as soon as possible.

Not just Needham, but all of the blacks who came together in the Colored Convention, give us great insight on how to go about solving our problems and circumstances today (unemployment, abortion, taxes). Thanks to their efforts, we have now achieved relative equality in all races and ethnicities. Racism has vastly improved – and in the 21st century, our country has become smart enough to realize that there are far more imperative issues left to fix, much of which can be solved by starting off with a dream, a vision, and group of highly effective, determined individuals.

Sources/Writings of Needham:





John Rock, The Abolitionist

22 Oct

John Rock was born a free African American in 1825.  He was an abolitionist and civil rights leader.  He was a renowned public speaker and he came up with the phrase “black is beautiful”. He went to medical school and decided to transfer to dentistry.  He was accepted into the Massachusetts Medical Society and was only the second African American to do so. He set up his own practice of dentistry and medicine and many of his patience turned up to fugitive slaves.

As a great public speaker, he campaigned for public rights.  His speeches were printed in the Liberator and read everywhere.

He became ill and went to France for treatment and when he returned, he stopped his practice and started studying law. He opened up his own law office in Boston and campaigned more for the rights of African Americans.  He was the first attorney to be admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States. He then became the first African American to be on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Like many of the great men and women that we have learned about the past week, John Rock helped to provide a way out for those who were not yet free. He helped others in need and tried to do everything is his power to make everyones lives equal.  He, just like the other men and women involved in the National Colored Convention, tried making a difference to better our society and they have each made an impact on the world that will be there forever.

Analyzing Images

30 Sep

This week in class we analyzed and talked in detail about a range of images.  We looked at pictures of President Obama, natural habitats, historical events, and more.  We learned how to analyze images by looking for certain aspects of the picture.  First, we looked at what stood out in the forefront of the image and what was considered to be the primary theme of the image.  By discovering this, we could more easily determine what the creator of the image was trying to portray with his work.  The angle at which the image was taken affected the orientation of the image as well.  If the focus of the image, such as a person, is large and above the middle of the image, this suggests a powerful, strong figure that we look up to.  If the man is eye level, this suggests a person who is approachable and equal to the viewers.  In the images of President Obama, he is front and center in the image and the emphasis is on him and his body language.  In one image, he is lounged back in a chair at his desk.  His body language and the pictures of his family on the desk attempt to portray Obama as an approachable, kind, and humble leader.  On the other hand, we analyzed another image of Obama where he has a stern facial expression and isn’t looking directly at the camera, portraying him as a serious, powerful, and stern leader.

Another type of image we discussed in class this week was the advertisement.  Similarly to the images before, we looked to see what was the focus of the image to discover what the purpose of the advertisement was.  Some advertisements use large words with bright colors to emphasize the name of the product being advertised while others may use a recognizable person in the foreground to grab the viewer’s attention. There are two main strategies that all advertisements use: the mirror effect and window effect.  The mirror effect refers to way advertisements mirror the self image of the audience where they feel they are part of the crowd the advertisement relates to.  The window effect provides visions of the future of what what will happen if you buy the product being advertised.  Effect use of these strategies can really lure customers in to buying a product.





I chose the image above because it is simple but straight to the point and effective.  Nike uses the slogan “Just Do It” in a lot of their commercials to emphasize hard work and no excuses.  In this image, the emphasis on a poor Indian boy in the slums represents the idea that if the boy in India “can do it”, than anyone can.  I chose the video because it uses the strategy of using two celebrities to promote the company, and it also is the funniest commercial on television.


29 Sep

This past week in class, we have discussed analyzing photographs and advertisements.  We have learned techniques to use to know what the creator of the photograph or advertisement was trying to say.  They may not always be easy to figure out, but there is always a reason to them.  Learning how to do this has become very helpful because as a writer, it is good to see how other photographers, writers, or advertisers are targeting their audience. We have seen that many of them target certain groups of people, whether that be race, gender, or age.  There is almost always a specific group that the writer, or creator, is targeting.  That is helpful to writers in training, like students, because that helps us to target our own type of audience during our writing process.  The process may not always be easy, you have learn to grab the audiences’ attention and keep it as you try to get your point across to them.  Having a good hook is really what keeps the audience interested and forces them to focus on the product, or reason you are trying to sell to them.  Learning how professionals do it helps young writers learn because the need to be able to see how they react as an audience and they need to realize what types of advertisements or persuasions reel them in and make them want to continue reading or watching that advertisement.  Being able to analyze and view how other professionals do it helps us to understand why they chose to persuade someone using certain techniques and how they were able to keep their audience interested.  Being able to understand what was going on in their heads when they planned it helps because it helps us to see how they think about the writing or advertising process which makes it clearer for us to understand.


Analyzing Photographs

29 Sep

Branching off of persuasive rhetoric is a another very interesting topic of discussion – the photograph. Pictures and images we see in our daily life make us predisposed to certain judgments and reactions. In class, we analyzed various pictures of President Obama in his element: wearing some concoction of red, white, and blue, and conveying a powerful message through his speech. It gave us a sense of patriotism, a sense of relief – to know that our nation is in the hands of a man who is serious about his work. Soon after, we saw an image of the President in a reclined, laid-back pose in his office. It offered us another facet of Obama’s personality – casual, carefree, and loving. His family pictures were sitting on his desk and he was flashing a million-dollar smile. In the job of politicians, and amidst all the legal, social, and corporate work, there seems to be a fine line between the professional character and real character of a person. This picture suggests Obama’s real personality – how he acts in his off-time.

We came to these conclusions after closely examining every aspect of the images. The distance from subject, angle, framing, light, focus, lines, and color all affect the way we perceive images. For example, the vantage point from which the photograph was taken loosely tells us the status of the person in relation to us. A low angle makes the subject look much larger, proposing that we are looking up at the subject. Likewise, a high angle implies that the subject is smaller. An angle that is on the same level as ours implies equality, as many of Obama’s pictures do.

Images can be used for a wide range of reasons. Advertisements – ones that contain some sort of written and visual material – are used to promote a product. Ads are there to sell an idea (to a certain demographic), and they have to be very efficient in doing so. Using the same examining techniques, we can look at movie posters and how they affect us.

Take, for example, Little Miss Sunshine. It was a relatively small, independent movie, so it wasn’t fated to receive global recognition. However, its advertisement is a simplistic, appealing, and persuasive. Besides offering a wide range of actors (Greg Kinnear, Steve Carrell, Alan Arkin), this movie poster is an artistic rendering of simple comedy – the kind that makes you want to know more. If we examine the distance from the subjects, we are not very close. This implies that the overall concept is perhaps not very serious. The angle of the picture is leveled, showing that these characters are running to catch up to a van. The quirkiness of the characters and framing devices reveal that this film has an eccentric vibe. The light and colors of this are bright, wholesome, and inviting.

You get the point.

There are a variety of spaces, shapes, words, and lines that we can examine – things that will always imply something about the advertisment. At a certain point, when we get the general idea, we can deem the advertisement successful, and succumb ourselves to the powerful visual rhetoric that is before us. In other words, go watch the movie.


26 Sep

Writing essays can be the most exhausting thing.  Sometimes it is hard to find ideas, other times you cannot find the right words.  Writing essays is something that we all have to practice and in order to become better at it, it takes much time and concentration.  It is never easy writing essays, even once you have learned how to write a great, thorough essay, it does not always “feel” better when you write them.

In class, we have gone over many ways to help make the writing process easier and more effective.  The 7-10 minute free writes we do are helpful when trying to train your brain to keep your hand moving at all times, even when you are out of words.  This is helpful because when you are writing essays, the more you keep your hand moving, the more that comes to your mind and the faster the process goes.

Another helpful tool I have learned and we have practiced in class is to come up with a topic and draw arrows around the topic that come to mind when you hear the word or words.  This is helpful because it allows you to see all of the possibilities that you can write about in your essay or paper.  It allows the topic to move through your head while adding details to the topic as you think about it.

These drills can be very helpful to writing a paper, if prosecuted correctly.  As Mr. Casey says in class when we do the free writing, always keep your hand moving.  If you do not, your brain will not train the correct way that makes it effective in helping writing skills.  When we do the topic and think about all the things that come to mind, we must keep our minds open to everything that pops up, otherwise, that drill will not be as effective either.  All of these tools are supposed to be helpful, and using them in the correct ways will allow them to be very effective on our writing skills.