The Confucian Strategy in African Americans’ Racial Equality Discourse


From the 1870s to the 1950s, African Americans frequently referred to the Chinese sage Confucius when demanding justice from American white society. This hitherto unnoticed strategy emphasized Confucian morality to undermine the theoretical basis of American racism. It exposed the hypocrisy of white society on racial relations and illuminated a different path for blacks’ racial advancement. In the process, blacks added an American racial color to Confucius’ image while portraying themselves as cosmopolitan and rational fighters for racial fairness. Chinese culture is therefore not only widely known in America but has an important role to play in its interracial relations.

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This research is funded by the Educational Commission of Chongqing Municipality, China (Project No. 18SKGH084)

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Zhang, T. The Confucian Strategy in African Americans’ Racial Equality Discourse. Dao 20, 309–329 (2021).

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  • African Americans
  • Confucius
  • Racial equality
  • Strategy