Heirs of a Mythic Prefiguration

Ellison and I regarded ourselves as being the heirs and continuators of the most indigenous mythic prefiguration of the most fundamental existential assumption underlying the human proposition as stated in the Declaration of Independence, which led to the social contract known as the Constitution and as specified by the Emancipation Proclamation and encapsulated in the Gettysburg Address and further particularized in the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments. 

Yes, it would be the likes of him from the Oklahoma Territory and me from the Deep South, the grandchildren of slaves freed by the Civil War, betrayed by Reconstruction and upstaged by steerage immigrants, it would be us who would strive in our stories to provide American literature with representative anecdotes, definitive episodes, and mythic profiles that would add up to a truly comprehensive and universally appealing American epic. Whatever the fruits of that grand ambition, he and I conceded nothing to anybody when it came to defining what is American and what is not and not yet [emphasis added].

- Albert Murray, introduction to Trading Twelves (The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray)