Walker, Juliet. “Racism, Slavery, and Free Enterprise: Black Entrepreneurship in the United States before the Civil War.” The Business History Review, 60 (1986). .
In this article, Walker describes the role of African Americans in the area of business prior to the end of the Civil War. The business world was sparsely populated with African Americans; free individuals at the time still faced incidences of racism, while slaves were faced with legal boundaries that prevented them from interacting with other businessmen. The article describes that as the economy prior to the Civil War became more dynamic, more African Americans became involved in business and partnership. The trend of slavery continued here, however, as many black businessmen went back to a position in which they were subject to serving white families. There was a need to protect private property among white landowners, which often resulted in the revival of slavery and the concept of blacks serving whites.
With the possibility of free and enslaved African Americans becoming future entrepreneurs, it is strange that the film Gone with the Wind depicts such individuals in a negative, degrading light. This, in fact, is one of the biggest critiques of the film. The film tends to highlight the minute positive aspects in the life of a slave, such as his or her comic character or slight contribution to a quarrel or discussion occurring among a white family. In regard to the article’s statement that the majority of free and enslaved individuals during pre-Civil War or Civil War times continued to work for white owners, Gone with the Wind portrays these slaves as fully devoted and loyal to their masters, and in turn, the masters treat the slaves as immature members of the family, presenting them with gifts for so-called good behavior and providing their opinion in matters regarding the family. The slaves in the film who stay loyal and do not bring up the idea of eventually working elsewhere, for example in the field of business, are considered less threatening and therefore acclaimed among Scarlett and other individuals in society; however, those who broach the topic of freedom and personal fulfillment are belittled and rarely supported.