read and then ask 9n questions

Anonymous
timer Asked: Oct 16th, 2018

Question Description

Let Nobody Turn us Around: David Walker’s Appeal

Let Nobody Turn us Around: What If I Am a Woman?

Let Nobody Turn us Around: Ida B. Wells- Barnett

required to submit 9 questions . Questions should demonstrate that you have done the reading. Questions that connect readings from

previous sections of the course are highly encouraged.

LET NOBODY TURN US AROUND LET NOBODY TURN US AROUND Voices of Resistance, Reform, and Renewal AN AFRICAN AMERICAN ANTHOLOGY Second Edition editors Manning Marable Leith Mullings ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD P U B L I S H E R S, Lanham • Boulder • New York • Oxford I N C. Every reasonable effort to secure permission and acknowledge copyright owners of material used in this book has been made. Any copyright owners who have not been properly identified and acknowledged should contact us so that corrections can be made. ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD PUBLISHERS, INC. Published in the United States of America by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. A wholly owned subsidiary of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706 www.rowmanlittlefield.com Estover Road Plymouth PL6 7PY United Kingdom Copyright © 2009 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Let nobody turn us around : an African American anthology : voices of resistance, reform, and renewal / Manning Marable and Leith Mullings, editors. — 2nd ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-7425-6056-7 (cloth : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-7425-6057-4 (pbk. : alk. paper ISBN 978-0-7425-6545-6 (electronic) 1. African Americans—History—Sources. 2. African Americans—Civil rights— History—Sources. 3. African Americans—Social conditions—Sources. I. Marable, Manning, 1950– II. Mullings, Leith. E184.6.L48 2009 973'.0496073—dc22 2009005113 Printed in the United States of America ∞™ The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of ⬁ American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48–1984. CONTENTS P R E FA C E T O T H E F I R S T E D I T I O N xiii P R E FA C E T O T H E S E C O N D E D I T I O N xvii INTRODUCTION SECTION ONE Resistance, Reform, and Renewal in the Black Experience xxi F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E R Y A N D ABOLITIONISM, 1768–1861 1 1. “On Being Brought from Africa to America” Equiano,” Phillis Wheatley, 1768 7 2. “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano,” Olaudah Equiano, 1789 9 3. “Thus Doth Ethiopia Stretch Forth Her Hand from Slavery, to Freedom and Equality,” Prince Hall, 1797 17 4. The Founding of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Richard Allen, 1816 20 5. David Walker’s “Appeal,” 1829–1830 24 6. The Statement of Nat Turner, 1831 34 7. Slaves Are Prohibited to Read and Write by Law 39 8. “What If I Am a Woman?” Maria W. Stewart, 1833 40 9. A Slave Denied the Rights to Marry, Letter of Milo Thompson, Slave, 1834 46 10. The Selling of Slaves, Advertisement, 1835 47 11. Solomon Northrup Describes a New Orleans Slave Auction, 1841 49 vi C O N T E N T S SECTION TWO 12. Cinque and the Amistad Revolt, 1841 51 13. “Let Your Motto Be Resistance!” Henry Highland Garnet, 1843 56 14. “Slavery as It Is,” William Wells Brown, 1847 63 15. “A’n’t I a Woman?” Sojourner Truth, 1851 66 16. “A Plea for Emigration, or, Notes of Canada West” Mary Ann Shadd Cary, 1852 68 17. A Black Nationalist Manifesto, Martin R. Delany, 1852 70 18. “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” Frederick Douglass, 1852 84 19. “No Rights That a White Man Is Bound to Respect”: The Dred Scott Case and Its Aftermath 88 20. “Whenever the Colored Man Is Elevated, It Will Be by His Own Exertions,” John S. Rock, 1858 107 21. The Spirituals: “Go Down, Moses” and “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel” 111 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N : T H E A F T E R M AT H O F S L AV E R Y A N D T H E D AW N O F S E G R E G AT I O N , 1861–1915 115 1. “What the Black Man Wants,” Frederick Douglass, 1865 122 2. Henry McNeal Turner, Black Christian Nationalist 128 3. Black Urban Workers during Reconstruction 132 Anonymous Document on the National Colored Labor Convention, 1869 New York Tribune Article on African-American Workers, 1870 4. “Labor and Capital Are in Deadly Conflict,” T. Thomas Fortune, 1886 135 5. Edward Wilmot Blyden and the African Diaspora 138 6. “The Democratic Idea Is Humanity,” Alexander Crummell, 1888 150 C O N T E N T S vii 7. “A Voice from the South,” Anna Julia Cooper, 1892 159 8. The National Association of Colored Women: 165 Mary Church Terrell and Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin 9. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” Paul Laurence Dunbar 171 10. Booker T. Washington and the Politics of Accommodation 174 “Atlanta Exposition Address” “My View of Segregation Laws” 11. William Monroe Trotter and the Boston Guardian 181 12. Race and the Southern Worker 183 “A Negro Woman Speaks” “The Race Question a Class Question” “Negro Workers!” 13. Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Crusader for Justice 191 14. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois 195 Excerpts from “The Conservation of Races” Excerpts from The Souls of Black Folk SECTION THREE 15. The Niagara Movement, 1905 209 16. Hubert Henry Harrison, Black Revolutionary Nationalist 213 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : T H E G R E AT M I G R AT I O N , H A R L E M R E N A I S S A N C E , A N D W O R L D WA R , 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 217 1. Black Conflict over World War I 224 W. E. B. Du Bois, “Close Ranks” Hubert H. Harrison, “The Descent of Du Bois” W. E. B. Du Bois, “Returning Soldiers” 2. “If We Must Die,” Claude McKay, 1919 227 3. Black Bolsheviks: Cyril V. Briggs and Claude McKay 228 “What the African Blood Brotherhood Stands For” “Soviet Russia and the Negro” 4. Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association 241 viii C O N T E N T S “Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World” “An Appeal to the Conscience of the Black Race to See Itself” 5. “Women as Leaders,” Amy Euphemia Jacques Garvey, 1925 251 6. Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance 253 “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” “My America” Poems 7. “The Negro Woman and the Ballot,” Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, 1927 264 8. James Weldon Johnson and Harlem in the 1920s 267 “Harlem: The Culture Capital” 9. Black Workers in the Great Depression 273 10. The Scottsboro Trials, 1930s 279 11. “You Cannot Kill the Working Class,” Angelo Herndon, 1933 281 “Speech to the Jury, January 17, 1933” Excerpt from You Cannot Kill the Working Class 12. Hosea Hudson, Black Communist Activist 288 13. “Breaking the Bars to Brotherhood,” Mary McLeod Bethune, 1935 294 14. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and the Fight for Black Employment in Harlem 298 15. Black Women Workers during the Great Depression 300 Elaine Ellis, “Women of the Cotton Fields” Naomi Ward, “I Am a Domestic” 16. Southern Negro Youth Conference, 1939 306 17. A. Philip Randolph and the Negro March on Washington Movement, 1941 308 18. Charles Hamilton Houston and the War Effort among African Americans, 1944 314 19. “An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman!” Claudia Jones, 1949 316 C O N T E N T S SECTION FOUR ix 20. “The Negro Artist Looks Ahead,” Paul Robeson, 1951 326 21. Thurgood Marshall: The Brown Decision and the Struggle for School Desegregation 331 WE SHALL OVERCOME: THE SECOND RECONSTRUCTION, 1954–1975 341 1. Rosa Parks, Jo Ann Robinson, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955–1956 352 Jo Ann Robinson’s Letter to Mayor of Montgomery Interview with Rosa Parks Excerpts from Jo Ann Robinson’s Account of the Boycott 2. Roy Wilkins and the NAACP 362 3. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 1957 367 4. Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Sit-In Movement, 1960 371 5. Freedom Songs, 1960s 372 “We Shall Overcome” “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ’Round” 6. “We Need Group-Centered Leadership,” Ella Baker 375 7. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nonviolence 377 Excerpt from “Nonviolence and Racial Justice,” 1957 “I Have a Dream,” 1963 8. “The Revolution Is at Hand,” John R. Lewis, 1963 383 9. “The Salvation of American Negroes Lies in Socialism,” W. E. B. Du Bois 385 10. “The Special Plight and the Role of Black Women,” Fannie Lou Hamer 395 11. “SNCC Position Paper: Women in the Movement,” 1964 399 12. Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam 401 13. Malcolm X and Revolutionary Black Nationalism 404 x C O N T E N T S “The Ballot or the Bullet” “Statement of the Organization of Afro-American Unity” 14. Black Power 418 Stokely Carmichael, “What We Want” SNCC, “Position Paper on Black Power” Bayard Rustin, “‘Black Power’ and Coalition Politics” 15. “CORE Endorses Black Power,” Floyd McKissick, 1967 435 16. “To Atone for Our Sins and Errors in Vietnam,” Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967 438 17. Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense 445 18. “The People Have to Have the Power,” Fred Hampton 456 19. “I Am a Revolutionary Black Woman,” Angela Y. Davis, 1970 459 20. “Our Thing Is DRUM!” The League of Revolutionary Black Workers 463 21. Attica: “The Fury of Those Who Are Oppressed,” 1971 466 22. The National Black Political Convention, Gary, Indiana, March 1972 469 23. “There Is No Revolution Without the People,” Amiri Baraka, 1972 473 “The Pan-African Party and the Black Nation” Poem 24. “My Sight Is Gone But My Vision Remains,” Henry Winston 480 “On Returning to the Struggle” “A Letter to My Brothers and Sisters” SECTION FIVE T H E F U T U R E I N T H E P R E S E N T: C O N T E M P O R A RY A F R I C A N A M E R I C A N T H O U G H T, 1 9 7 5 T O T H E P R E S E N T 1. Black Feminisms: The Combahee River Collective Statement, 1977 487 501 C O N T E N T S xi 2. “Women in Prison: How We Are,” Assata Shakur, 1978 507 3. “It’s Our Turn,” Harold Washington, 1983 513 4. “I Am Your Sister,” Audre Lorde, 1984 515 5. “Shaping Feminist Theory,” bell hooks, 1984 522 6. The Movement against Apartheid: Jesse Jackson and Randall Robinson 529 Jesse Jackson, “Don’t Adjust to Apartheid” “State of the U.S. Anti-Apartheid Movement: An Interview with Randall Robinson” 7. “Keep Hope Alive,” Jesse Jackson, 1988 535 8. “Afrocentricity,” Molefi Asante, 1991 546 9. The Anita Hill–Clarence Thomas Controversy, 1991 552 “African-American Women in Defense of Ourselves” June Jordan, “Can I Get a Witness?” 10. “Race Matters,” Cornel West, 1991 558 11. “Black Anti-Semitism,” Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 1992 566 12. “Crime—Causes and Cures,” Jarvis Tyner, 1994 571 13. Louis Farrakhan: The Million Man March, 1995 580 14. “A Voice from Death Row,” Mumia Abu-Jamal 584 15. “Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters,” African-American Prisoners in Sing Sing, 1998 586 “Statement by Sing Sing Prisoners” Michael J. Love, “The Prison-Industrial Complex: An Investment in Failure” Willis L. Steele, Jr., “River Hudson” 16. Black Radical Congress, 1998 592 “Principles of Unity” “The Struggle Continues: Setting a Black Liberation Agenda for the 21st Century” “The Freedom Agenda” 17. 2000 Presidential Election “Letter to Governor Bush from Chairperson Mary Frances Berry,” 2001 600 xii C O N T E N T S 18. Hip-Hop Activism 603 “What We Want” Statement Hip-Hop Action Summit Network, 2001 “Tookie Protocol for Peace,” 2004 19. World Conference Against Racism— Durban, South Africa 606 20. African Americans Respond to Terrorism and War 613 “Barbara Lee’s Stand,” 2001 10 Points from Iraq Veterans against the War, 2001 21. The Cosby vs. Dyson Debate, 2004–2005 617 Summary of “Dr. Bill Cosby Speaks at the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court Decision” Excerpt from “Is Bill Cosby Right?: or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?” 22. U.S. Senate Resolution Against Lynching, 2005 621 23. Hurricane Katrina Crisis, 2005 623 “‘This is Criminal’: Malik Rahim Reports from New Orleans,” 2005 24. Barack Obama’s Presidential Campaign, 2007–2008 627 Excerpts from National Democratic Party Convention Speech, 2004 “A More Perfect Union,” 2008 PERMISSIONS 643 INDEX 653 ABOUT THE EDITORS 677 PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION N early four years ago we jointly taught a graduate seminar offered at both City University Graduate School and Columbia University that was called, “Identity, Inequality, and Power.” The basic idea behind the course was to identify significant and provocative ethnographic, historical, and theoretical articles and sources that explored the complex connections between the imagined communities such as those of race, gender, and nation, and the structures of social inequality, state power, and economic exploitation. We wanted to talk about the African-American experience in a manner that placed black people at the center of the forces of history. We believed that the greatest weight in the judgments made by social scientists in researching the black experience should be given to the voices of black people themselves. In countless ways—from speeches and religious sermons, personal letters to friends and family, political manifestos and editorials, through the development of common rituals and ceremonies that convey membership in kinship networks—African-American people made themselves. Their notions of identity, of who they were, were constructed over time through their collective struggles and experiences against inequality, as well as from memories and traditions they had brought from Africa. We attempted to locate texts or anthologies that were appropriate for the seminar. We found, of course, a number of excellent social histories and ethnographic studies of different aspects of the experience of black people in the United States. Many of these works have interwoven the historical narrative with the voices and insights of black people themselves. That is to say, the authors of these works attempted to write history from the vantage point of being a participant observer of the culture. To theorize issues of identity, or questions about how any people understand the institutions of power that circumscribe their lives, scholars should first listen and learn from the people themselves. However, we were disappointed to find that in the past decade and more, very few anthologies designed for classroom usage incorporating this perspective into the collection and organization of sources have been published. What we wanted xiv P R E FA C E T O T H E F I R S T E D I T I O N was a collection of primary materials, rare published articles, speeches, and other sources that told the story of how black people made themselves and interpreted the world in which they lived, in their own words and specifically from their own point of view. After teaching the seminar, we decided to collaborate in the writing of two books on black American history and culture. The first is a long-term project, a study of the black experience from within, over a series of seven generations. We would like to develop a text that explores the ways in which African Americans have perceived themselves as a people, how they understood the structural barriers that denied them real opportunity, and how through their culture they found their own imagination, voice, and agency. The book is a work-in-progress, with the tentative title The African Americans: A People’s History. The second book was conceived as a comprehensive anthology of African-American social thought, broadly defined as the bodies of knowledge through which black people theorized from their experiences and social conditions, and proposed strategies and programs to enhance their power. Politics begins at the moment when any group recognizes for itself its specific objective interests and aspirations, and seeks agency to realize those interests. Black social and political thought is the expression of how people of African descent articulated and constructed the means to permit their communities to survive, to resist, and to reform or transform the structures of white power all around them. That story is what we hope Let Nobody Turn Us Around presents. More than one hundred documents represent widely different ideological and political perspectives, reflecting an ongoing debate within the black community over the appropriate strategies and tactics to achieve social change. It is by examining that diversity that we may discern the common ground that the vast majority of African Americans occupy. O There were a number of individuals who provided invaluable help in the research and publication of this anthology. Columbia University doctoral candidates Johanna Fernandez and Devin Fergus assisted in the identification of primary and secondary sources that were reviewed at the initial stage of preparing the text. Michele Hay, a graduate student at City University of New York, helped to select important documents and did background research that was important in the preparation of the biographical profiles and historical notes that accompanied each text. We would especially like to express our gratitude for the efforts of John McMillian, a doctoral candidate in history at Columbia University. Over a period of more than one year, John reviewed and evaluated the entire list of documents, tracked down hard-to-find biographical details on a number of subjects, and wrote the first drafts of many biographical profiles. John’s careful attention to details and his enthusiasm and interest in the project greatly enhanced the character of the book. P R E FA C E T O T H E F I R S T E D T I O N xv The book manuscript went through three major revisions and reorganizations during two years. We appreciate the efforts of the secretarial staff of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University— Diane Tinsley-Hatcher, Jennifer Jones, and Theresa Wilcox—who typed and revised the book throughout its many stages of development. Jennifer Jones, Sherell Daniels, and Andrea Queeley were also especially helpful in proofreading the final text and carefully checking for errors. A major architect of this work is our editor Dean Birkenkamp at Rowman & Littlefield. When the concept of this book was initially discussed in 1996, Dean provided strong support for its development. Dean is an author’s ideal editor— patient but persistent, and always helpful in thinking through problems connected with the technical aspects of putting a book together. Sallie Greenwood was extraordinarily diligent in identifying and securing permissions for all the sources—no small accomplishment given the large number of documents she was asked to review. Finally and most importantly, we wish to dedicate this anthology to our five children, Alia, Malaika, Sojourner, Joshua, and Michael. We hope that our efforts to help rediscover and document the visions of black folk past and present may provide part of that knowledge necessary to assist the next generation of black children to win that freedom which their foremothers and forefathers struggled for so long to achieve. MANNING MARABLE LEITH MULLINGS September 6, 1999 PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION I n the past two decades, the African-American community has experienced profound transformations. For many, the long freedom struggle has significantly recast how “race” is lived. There are African-American millionaires, politicians, and, most amazingly, Barack Obama, an African American, has been elected as the forty-fourth president of the United States. Clearly, the freedom struggle has also substantially modified the public discourse about race and the meaning of racial difference. Furthermore the immigration of millions of Latinos, Asians, and others since 1980, as well as a biracial president, has altered the racial and ethnic composition of the United States, undermining the older bipolar categories of white and black. But simultaneously, African Americans have experience new forms of bound labor, massive incarceration, and deepening class stratification. Continuing racial and class inequality is largely masked by a new racial ideology—colorblind racism—the claims that the civil rights struggle has eliminated all forms of discrimination, and that the United States has successfully been transformed into a “color-blind society” in which each individual is free to determine her or his own destiny. In this sense, the U.S. racial system appears to be moving toward a model that characterized much of Latin America, where racial discrimination is maintained and reproduced, but is not sanctioned by law and often vigorously denied. The contours of the freedom movement have consequently shifted. Electoral political struggles have intensified, but black candidates, especially in federal and statewide elections, are no longer answerable only to the black community. In the recent period, much of the freedom movement has not been waged in the large overarching organizations that characterized the civil rights struggle, but on the ground—in neighborhood networks and locally-based organizations concerned with a living wage, tenants’ rights, prisoners’ rights, environmental racism, education, and health. In many of these grassroots movements, women not only constitute the great majority of the cadre, but are also the leaders and theoreticians. As neoliberal capitalism is increasingly xviii P R E FA C E T O T H E S E C O N D E D I T I O N unable to meet the basic needs of most citizens and residents, calls for transformation from the most oppressed sectors of society have become louder and more determined. Four centuries ago, people of African descent were among the first to experience the destructive effects of globalization. The most recent phase of globalized capitalism has had a major and largely negative impact on African Americans. For many, it has contributed to increased poverty and marginalization. But globalization has also provided new opportunities: new global technologies have facilitated innovative forms of communication, fostering new transnational networks and promoting mobilizing efforts. As the world has become smaller, the space for traditional race-based organizing based on older historical models has become increasingly constricted. Yet paradoxically, racebased movements, often inspired by the history of African-American struggle, have emerged in many parts of the globe in the past decade. Internationalism has always been a central feature of the U.S. black freedom struggle, but new transnational networks make it possible for activists to collectively challenge “global apartheid.” The emergent discourse of “diaspora” encompasses a broad range of imagined communities and reframes the context for social change projects led by black people in diverse national contexts. As we observed at the beginning of the introduction of the first edition, African Americans are a people who have created themselves under the most difficult conditions. The sojourn of black people has been at times defined by a crucible of exploitation. Yet it has also been a triumph of the human spirit, a call for justice in a wasteland of oppression. In this way, people who were not considered to be citizens with inalienable rights fought to redefine the character of the nation and how it was run. Through the 240 years of slavery, followed by nearly a century of Jim Crow segregation and only 45 years of desegregation, black people learned more than survival skills. They struggled to become trade union leaders and social workers, doctors and lawyers, engineers and architects. Only six generations ago, it was forbidden by law to teach slaves to read and write. Today some of the greatest novelists, playwrights, and poets produced in the United States are African American. Less than seventy years ago black people were barred from professional athletics; today they dominate them. Black popular culture, relegated to obscurity as “race music” in the early twentieth century, now largely defines U.S. popular culture. As late as 1960, the majority of African Americans had never been permitted to vote in a presidential election, and were largely excluded from the electoral political system in the South. Today, the U.S. president is African American, there are over 10,000 black elected officials, and black voters comprise the essential core group for a liberal and progressive political coalition in national elections. African Americans have done more than make “contributions”: they have instead largely reshaped and redefined what U.S. life and society are about. All these gains were the result of the struggles of ordinary people. Our struggle continues. P R E FA C E T O T H E S E C O N D E D I T I O N xix The acknowledgments of the second edition of Let Nobody Turn Us Around reflects these old and new contexts. The bibliographies have been updated throughout the volume. The final section, section V, has been significantly revised and expanded, with a new introduction and the addition of readings that bring the book up-to-date and address the new debates about culture, politics, and possible the directions of the black freedom struggle. We would like to thank Karen Williams, a graduate student in anthropology at the Graduate Center of City University of New York, for her invaluable help with the new edition. She tracked down the new documents and wrote the first draft of several of the new profiles. We are also grateful to Courtney Teague and Sara Ingram for their assistance in preparing the manuscript. MANNING MARABLE LEITH MULLINGS November 24, 2008 New York City INTRODUCTION Resistance, Reform, and Renewal in the Black Experience T hroughout their entire history as a people, African Americans have created themselves. They did so in the context of the transatlantic slave trade and two-and-a-half centuries of chattel slavery—a structure of overwhelming inequality and brutality characterized by the sale of human beings and routine rapes and executions. They constructed their cultural identity and notions of humanity in a country that denied them citizenship and basic human dignity for hundreds of years. Beginning as enslaved Africans from various locations and ethnic and language groups across the continent of Africa, within several generations they found their voice, meaning, and consciousness as a special people. Those captured from Africa were not people without history and culture. They were mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and descendants of ancestors; they were religious specialists and supplicants, chiefs and commoners, cooks, musicians, metalworkers, scribes, farmers, and grioles; they belonged to states, clans, lineages, age grades, men’s and women’s associations, artisan guilds, and secret societies. Their memories of how life should be lived, of womanhood and manhood, of beauty and aesthetics, of worship and spirituality, were not annihilated by the Middle Passage. But what they could do with these memories was very much constrained by the conditions in which they found themselves—the racial and class structure of enslavement. To paraphrase a well-known observation, African Americans created themselves, but not just as they pleased, not under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given, and transmitted from the past. It was in the context of their African history and the prevailing social and economic relationships that African Americans created culture, religion, family, art forms, political institutions, and social and political theory. Social and political theory—bodies of knowledge by which African Americans attempted to analyze and address the social, cultural, and political issues they confronted—emerged from everyday practices to reform and resist the structures of oppression, and to renew their community through imagining and xxii I N T R O D U C T I O N enacting its continuity. Attempts to reform, utilizing group and individual resources to mitigate the worst aspects of the society and to enhance black interests within the state apparatus, ranged from petitions to the colonial legislatures and federal government for redress, lobbying for the abolition of slavery, and participation in various political parties to influence white liberal opinion on issues of race. Resistance was found in the various degrees of opposition to institutional racism: from day-to-day sabotage (disruption, noncompliance, refusals to work, running away) to overt rebellion (the murder of slaveholders, flight to the North, the underground railroad, joining forces with American Indian tribes to combat the U.S. army, the creation of maroon communities, and the slave uprisings of Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Gabriel Prosser, and Cinque). Throughout their history African Americans nurtured and renewed their emerging community—creating and maintaining cultural forms and building viable institutions to provide goods, services, and cultural and educational sustenance. Yet social and political theory is not merely reactive. Though it was a collective effort to address existing social institutions and structures of power, it was also a search for meaning and voice. Social thought sought to understand who we are, envision new directions, and imagine a new society. The purpose was not only to advocate, but to realize our meaning and being. The themes of reform, resistance, and renewal formed the cultural and social matrix of black consciousness, community, and public discourse. They were the foundations for the construction of a black American society that was self-conscious and motivated to define and achieve its specific interests. It was within this political culture and this web of increasingly elaborate social institutions—black religious denominations, Masonic lodges, free African societies, schools, newspapers—that competing strategic visions of how best to achieve group empowerment and self-organization began to crystallize. The decisive historical period in the construction of black ideologies was between 1830 and 1865. The free black community in the North numbered more than one hundred thousand. The immediate question confronting African Americans was how to dismantle slavery—the oppression of four million people of African descent. But the larger issue was whether and how black people could find freedom, in the United States or elsewhere, while preserving what was valuable and central to their collective identity as a people. Are we Africans, or are we both Africans and Americans? Is our collective future inextricably linked to the U.S. state and American society? It was in the context of the national debate about slavery that two overlapping political ideologies emerged among black Americans, representing two different aspects of the same racial dilemma: the possibility of black Americans achieving equality within America’s racialized social body. What became known in the twentieth century as “integrationism” actually originated among the free black communities in the North prior to the Civil I N T R O D U C T I O N xxiii War. A core of free black leaders—journalists, teachers, ministers, small entrepreneurs, abolitionists—concluded that the fight to abolish slavery could be won, but that it would represent only one part of a greater struggle: to expand the limited boundaries of American democracy to include people of African descent. The task ahead was to bring Negroes into every profession and to ensure their full participation in voting, serving on juries, and running for elective office. Black people would have the unalienable right to own property, to have unfettered access to public accommodation and schools, and the freedom to hire themselves out for a fair wage. The only limitations on any individual’s success would be determined by intellect and ambition, not by race. The goal of integrationists was a society where color was insignificant and where individual achievement and hard work largely determined the life chances of most black people. Inherent in this ideological perspective was an inner paradox. Integrationist reformers often had no choice but to build black organizations behind the walls of segregation, to mobilize their supporters, and to appeal to sympathetic whites. At times, race consciousness among African Americans was used to challenge Jim Crow. A. Philip Randolph’s Negro March on Washington, D.C., in 1941 and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s construction of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957 are two of many examples. Building on a racial base could be useful, but only for the long-term goal of eradicating all racial classifications and caste privileges that penalized Negroes simply because of the color of their skin. In other words, the struggle for integration often had to be waged from within the boundaries of racial identity. This strategy also implied that what was “wrong” with the United States could be made right, if restrictions on the basis of race could be eliminated and if blacks and other disadvantaged groups could be more fully represented in the structures of civil and political authority. In contrast, the black nationalist tradition was built on a no-nonsense set of assumptions about the relative permanence of white supremacy. Blacks would have to place their energies in building economic and social institutions that would provide goods and services to other black people. By hiring blacks, they could utilize racial segregation as a barrier to create a black consumer market. Some nationalists also saw these steps as stopgap measures. Only when a significant number of African Americans established their own separate geopolitical space—perhaps a territory, a group or state, or resettlement to another country or continent—could ultimate security and the integrity of black people be achieved. The nationalists often saw themselves as accidental Americans, or Africans-in-exile. They frequently distrusted white liberals and reformers who expressed sympathy toward blacks even more than they distrusted white supremacist groups, because they felt the latter represented the true feelings of the white majority. Some felt that race war inside the United States, and indeed globally, was probably inevitable, and the best thing African Americans could do was to prepare for it. In 1852, Martin R. Delany called upon African xxiv I N T R O D U C T I O N Americans to emigrate because “we love our country, dearly love her, but she doesn’t love us—she despises us, and bids us begone, driving us from her embraces; but we shall not go where she desires us; but when we do go, whatever love we have for her, we shall love the country none the less that receives us as her adopted children” (section 1, document 17). Similarly, the first point in Marcus Garvey’s 1920 “Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World” reads: “. . . nowhere in the world, with few exceptions, are black men accorded equal treatment with white men, although in the same situation and circumstances, but, on the contrary, are discriminated against and denied the common rights due to human beings for no other reason than their race and color” (section 3, document 4). Almost fifty years later, Malcolm X observed, “. . . it is not necessary to change the white man’s mind. We have to change our own mind. You can’t change his mind about us” (section 4, document 13). These were the most extreme positions of the integrationist–nationalist ideological axis, but most African Americans during the century between the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement oscillated somewhere in between these two poles of racial opinion. In periods of political optimism, when the bar of institutional racism seemed to be in retreat, the integrationist perspective was usually dominant. But in times of white reaction and retrenchment from racial justice—such as the 1850s, 1920s, late 1960s, and early 1970s—black nationalism resurfaced. A third strategic vision subsequently emerged, with the developing consciousness of the black working class and the growing intensity of labor struggles in the United States. This perspective neither accepted the structure of the contemporary society nor called for a separate black society, but rather advocated a radical transformation of the United States based on a fundamental redistribution of resources. This perspective did not merely push for the expansion of democracy but challenged the basic inequality of the economic structure. The objective here was to dismantle all forms of class hierarchy and social privilege. For T. Thomas Fortune, a printer who was born a slave, the working people’s struggles of the 1880s underscored the importance of class in understanding and transforming society: “The iniquity of privileged class and concentrated wealth . . . does not admit of the argument that every man born into the world is justly entitled to so much of the produce of nature as will satisfy his physical necessities . . .” (section 2, document 4). In 1912 Hubert Henry Harrison declared that “socialism stands for the emancipation of the wage slaves” (section 2, document 16). This perspective coalesces in the period from 1915 to 1954, with the consolidation of the black working class and its struggle for jobs and for access to employment at an equitable wage. It became a social force in the emergence of the African Blood Brotherhood in 1922 (section 3, document 3); the “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work” campaign in Harlem during the Great Depression (section 3, document 14); and the organization of the Sleeping Car Porters (section I N T R O D U C T I O N xxv 3, document 17). The rise of working-class “organic intellectuals”—many of whom were associated with the Communist Party, such as southern organizers Angelo Herndon (section 3, document 11) and Hosea Hudson (section 3, document 12)—was particularly notable during this period. However, white racism, including that of white workers, continued to be a major obstacle. These social visions—integration, nationalism, and transformation—are not mutually exclusive but are in fact broad, overlapping traditions. Throughout the twentieth century, these tendencies have been present, to varying degrees, in virtually every major mass movement in which black people have been engaged, from the desegregationist campaigns of the 1950s to the antiapartheid mobilization of the 1980s. Though some organizations and individuals may have exemplified one tendency or the other, organizations and movements usually displayed a spectrum of views. Individuals often began their activist careers with one set of perspectives and moved to another as they perceive limitations of that paradigm. This was the case with Hubert Henry Harrison, W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X. These three competing paradigms continue to underlie the Black Freedom movement. The broad range of forces in the desegregation struggle included the Urban League, which conceptualized civil rights as an expression of extending rights to black people, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which had “the basic aim of achieving full citizenship rights, equality, and the integration of the Negro in all aspects of American life” (section 4, document 3). On the other hand, the left wing of the Civil Rights movement envisioned the necessity of a more far-reaching change. In 1963 John Lewis declared, “[t]he revolution is at hand, and we must free ourselves of the chains of political and economic slavery” (section 4, document 8). Similarly the Black Power movement—a move toward nationalism that arose when the weaknesses of integrationism become evident—encompassed competing visions of the meaning of political power. Floyd McKissick, in his endorsement of Black Power, established the black capitalist venture of Soul City. On the other hand, the Black Panthers embraced a Marxist analysis of capitalism. Black Panther co-founder Huey P. Newton observed that “[t]he Black Panther Party bases its ideology and philosophy on a concrete analysis of concrete conditions, using dialectical materialism as our analytical method” (section 4, document 17). Fred Hampton called for class struggle, observing that “[w]e have to understand very clearly that there is a man in our community called a capitalist” (section 4, document 18). Angela Davis, a member of the Che-Lumumba Club of the Communist Party, explained why she is a Communist: “I am a Communist because I am convinced that the reason we have been forcefully compelled to eke out an existence at the lowest level of American society has to do with the nature of capitalism. . . . I am a Communist because I believe that black people, with whose labor and blood this country was built, have a right to a great deal of the wealth that has been hoarded in the hands of the Hughes, the Rockefellers, the xxvi I N T R O D U C T I O N Kennedys, the DuPonts, all the super-powerful white capitalists of America” (section 4, document 19). During this period of Black Power, the militant tradition of black workers found expression in the creation of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM) in Detroit, and in the more moderate Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. Race, and to a lesser extent class, have been central to theorizing AfricanAmerican liberation. But since its inception, African-American social theory has also included a lively discussion about gender, though this has received little attention until relatively recently. The unusual position of African-American women has made the issue of gender critical—both in practice and for the development of theory. The denial of “the protections of private patriarchy” throughout their history has made the situation of African-American women exceptional in American life. Often doing the same work as men during slavery, after Reconstruction they worked both outside and inside the home. Exploited as labor, but also oppressed on the basis of gender and race, their history has created an experience distinct from that of both black men and white women. Though triply oppressed, they also occupy a creative space from which to critique U.S. social structure from multiple sites. As Anna Julia Cooper noted in 1892, to be an African-American woman was “to have a heritage . . . unique in all the ages” (section 2, document 7). Given the significance of black women in the slave community, in the struggle for abolition and emancipation, and as workers and activists, it may be that many African-American men were more open to issues of gender than white men—advocating access to education for women and other nontraditional gendered roles—though often in terms of the optimal requirements for motherhood. Martin Delany, who called for the emigration of black people from the United States in 1852, declared: “Let our young women have an education; let their minds be well informed; well stored with useful information and practical proficiency. . . . Our females must be qualified, because they are to be the mothers of our children” (section 1, document 17). Frederick Douglass and W. E. B. Du Bois were among the most consistent and vocal advocates for the rights of women. But it is also true that, in subtle ways, the struggle for freedom was often framed in masculine terms. Abolitionist leader William Wells Brown lamented: “If I wish to stand up and say, ‘I am a man,’ I must leave the land that gave me birth” (section 1, document 14). Upon being expelled from the Georgia legislature in 1868, Henry McNeal Turner declared: “Am I a man? If I am such, I claim the rights of a man . . .” (section 2, document 2); and Frederick Douglass equates “what the black man wants” with the interests of the race as a whole (section 2, document 1). While clearly these formulations have to do with the semantic use of “man” for humankind, it is also true that they embodied often-unstated assumptions about the masculine privileges that nationhood entails. During Reconstruction, the demand for the hierar- I N T R O D U C T I O N xxvii chical gender roles of the dominant society became integrally connected with the demand for freedom. But black women have not had the luxury of defining freedom in patriarchal terms, and early on created an analysis of race, class, and gender that emerged from their experiences. While fully supporting the struggle for freedom, black women have addressed the issues of both gender and race. In 1851 Sojourner Truth declared “I am a woman’s rights. I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man” (section 1, document 15). Anticipating the feminist theorizing of the 1980s and 1990s, in 1892 Anna Julia Cooper wrote that the African-American woman is “confronted by both a woman question and a race problem, and is as yet an unknown or an unacknowledged factor in both” (section 2, document 7). The consolidation of a black working-class perspective enhanced the development of a race- and class-based feminism. Domestic workers and women toiling in the cotton fields spoke out about their own conditions and created the context for a feminism grounded in the experiences of working women. A description of women workers in the cotton fields published in Crisis in 1938 laid the foundation for a sophisticated analysis of these issues, which were rediscovered by scholars in the 1980s, such as the double day and the unpaid labor of women. The following passage presents an analysis of the relationships between production and reproduction that is valid today (section 3, document 15): In the past, this woman was compelled to reproduce a large number of children because a large labor supply was in demand. Large families also mean a cheaper form of labor, for children, as well as women, generally represent labor that does not have to be paid. Consequently, the “overhead” falls upon the family instead of the landlord. The landlord himself has enforced this monopoly by letting his farm go to the tenant or cropper having the largest family. . . . Now the tenantcroppers are charged with “over-population” by the economists and agriculturalists who disregard the unwholesome economic factors that have caused an increase in farm tenancy. . . . As one solution to the “over-population,” proponents of the sterilization racket are endeavoring to work up an agitation for sterilization of these cotton workers. In 1949, Claudia Jones, a leader in the Communist Party, argued for a classand race-based feminism. Her remarkable historical analysis, clearly articulating the triple oppression of race, class, and gender, anticipated the race, class, and gender theorists of the 1980s and 1990s. She analyzed the important role of negative representations of African-American women, presented an early formulation of “the personal is political,” and called for the organization of domestic workers. As women activists took militant and leading roles in the Civil Rights and Black Power movements—in SCLC, SNCC, and the Black Panther Party— they confronted real problems of how to deal in practice with the dilemmas of race, class, and gender. Activists such as Fannie Lou Hamer spoke eloquently xxviii I N T R O D U C T I O N of the solidarities of race and the contradictions of gender and class: “. . . we are here to work side by side with this black man in trying to bring liberation to all people” (section 4, document 10). In the 1980s there was a proliferation of work on gender that seriously attends to the centrality of race and racism in the lives of African-American women, and critiques the essentialist view put forward by Euro-American feminists. But divergent perspectives also emerged that reflect the differences in strategic social visions among the AfricanAmerican people as a whole. While most feminist theorists now write of the integration of race, class, and gender, there are clear differences in how women of diverse class backgrounds and experiences understand these relationships, their visions of a new society, and their notions of how to get there. This book is an attempt to compile a representative sample of a range of writings that reflect the political thought of black Americans in the United States from colonial times to the end of the twentieth century. We have attempted to include varied opinions from women and men, workers, and the intelligentsia. As in any anthology, there are limitations. This is not a typical encyclopedia of African-American thought. We wanted the book to reflect the full range of African-American thought, but as extensive as the scope of this volume is, there are some obvious omissions. In several cases copyright problems limited our access to certain materials. In another instance, one prominent black conservative economist refused to permit his published work to appear in this volume. Because it is a collection of social theory, the focus on thought, to some extent, abstracts it from practice. The purpose of this book is not to assess social and political movements, but rather to present the theories that informed them. Furthermore, the emphasis on available written sources omits a body of popular reflections that might tell us much about “organic” social theory. Section 1 begins with the period from 1768 to 1861. This was the era of slavery and the issue motivating African Americans was abolitionism and efforts at reform, resistance, and revolt against slavery. It was also the time of the birth of African-American culture and society. Section 2 covers 1861 to 1915. The Civil War, Reconstruction, and the establishment of Jim Crow segregation defined the politics of this period. African Americans were overwhelmingly rural and the majority continued to live in the South, as two generations of African Americans coped with the aftermath of slavery and the War. Section 3 concerns the years 1915 to 1954, which marks the period of the “great migration,” when African Americans in large numbers migrated from the rural South to the urban North. Two world wars, the “Red Summer” of 1919, the consolidation of the modern black working-class, the rise of black radicalism, and the emergence of the Civil Rights movement are also part of this era. During the period covered by section 4—1954 to 1975—the Black Freedom movement flourishes through the Civil Rights struggle and the Black Power movement. I N T R O D U C T I O N xxix The years since 1975, treated in section 5, have been described as the second post-Reconstruction era. A time of rapidly developing class stratification both globally and within the United States, it has been characterized by new divisions and ideological debates among African Americans. Whatever the site or political perspective from which African Americans theorize and struggle for freedom, resistance has had real consequences. In these pages you will read the words of people who, from different ideological vantage points, have fought for freedom. For those who have opposed the dominant society, taking a stand has often exacted a price: Marcus Garvey and Claudia Jones were exiled; W. E. B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson were severely harassed and denied passports; Henry Winston, Angela Davis, and Angelo Herndon spent years in jail; Fannie Lou Hamer and John Lewis were brutally beaten. From the mysterious death of David Walker to the executions and/or assassinations of Nat Turner, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Fred Hampton, the Attica Brothers, and countless known and unknown others, freedom for black people has always been won at a dear price. To these brave women and men we dedicate this book. New York City September 1999 – S E C T I O N O N E – FOUNDATIONS: SLAVERY AND ABOLITIONISM, 1768–1861 INTRODUCTION A frican Americans created themselves through a series of vast historical events and social forces that greatly transformed the global political economy over half a millennium. Chief among these were the development of the transatlantic slave trade, beginning at the dawn of the sixteenth century, which transported at least fifteen million Africans against their will into the Americas and the Caribbean; the subsequent institutionalization and expansion of monocrop agricultural production relying on forced labor; and, with these, the establishment of the new world settler societies based on the extermination of indigenous populations. These broad historical forces were the context for the development of the British colonies in North America, which in 1787 would become the United States. Within these states about 650,000 Africans were resettled as slaves between 1619 and the eve of the Civil War. The Africans were immediately confronted with the harsh realities of chattel enslavement, the brutal domination of their bodies and labor power for the benefit of others. Within this stratified social order, people of African descent were explicitly denied access to the courts, excluded from participation in public life, and legally categorized as private property. A process of racial stigmatization developed in which people of African descent were penalized for their physical appearance and phenotype, and Europeans began transforming themselves into the privileged racial category of whiteness. By the middle of the eighteenth century, the innate inferiority of black people was generally accepted by white Americans, including even most white critics of the slave trade, such as the Quakers. The relative permanence of physical markers combined with institutions of coercion helped to construct a social universe that in most respects confined African Americans to the most oppressive conditions within society. Several of the documents in section 1 present in moving detail the inhumanity of life as a slave in the American South. Approximately three-fourths of all slaves 4 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 worked in the fields, with the remainder assigned to household tasks, or laboring as mechanics and skilled workmen. Regardless of their tasks, all were expected to work without compensation. The slave was a commodity, and it was rare that a black person did not experience the loss of spouse, parents, children, or friends through sale. Document 10, “The Selling of Slaves,” is drawn from an advertisement posted in New Orleans in 1835, presenting individuals from the same family for sale to the highest bidder. On the auction block were Chole, thirty-six years old, with her daughter Fanny, age sixteen, who was described as bilingual, “a good seamstress and ladies’ maid . . . smart, intelligent and a first rate character.” Dandridge, a twenty-six-year-old carpenter and servant, was offered for sale along with his wife, Nancy, twenty-four years of age, and their seven-year-old daughter Mary Ann, who was termed “smart, active and intelligent.” The terms of this business transaction were straightforward: one-half cash, the rest paid within six months, “with special mortgage on the Slaves until final payment.” As indicated in document 7, slaveholders recognized the potential dangers of teaching African Americans to read and write, which created “a tendency to excite dissatisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and rebellion.” In 1831 North Carolina law mandated that slaves who were caught instructing other slaves in reading and writing “receive thirty-nine lashes on his or her bare back.” Whites who violated this prohibition against slave literacy were instead to be fined or imprisoned. How did African Americans respond to this structure of oppression? Resistance always assumed many forms. As the narrative of Equiano (document 2) suggests, it began aboard the slave ships as enslaved Africans attempted to starve themselves or jump overboard. Perhaps the most common manifestation of protest is what many historians have called “day-to-day resistance.” There is a large body of evidence from slaves’ narratives and other literature suggesting that most black people fought in ways that would not openly communicate hostility or anger against their masters. Instead of violent confrontations, many used other tactics to harm and disrupt the normal business of daily life. Slaves engaged in deliberate work slowdowns; the destruction of farming implements, tools, and other property; the burning of crops or food supplies; and the refusal to carry out commands. Slaves routinely pretended to be ill or physically incapacitated. Enslaved women practiced contraception and sometimes infanticide in order to control their fertility. Some slaves ran off to wooded areas outside whites’ settlements, in some instances creating maroon, or runaway slave, communities. Occasionally, black resistance took the form of outright revolt or rebellion. “The Statement of Nat Turner” (document 6) illustrates that slaves fully comprehended their exploitation and looked forward to the time “when the first should be last and the last should be first.” When asked whether he regretted his bloody actions against whites, Turner bluntly replied, “Was not Christ crucified?” I N T R O D U C T I O N 5 Resistance to slavery among the free black community in the North took the form of vigilance committees—networks that provided safe shelter, food, and transportation to runaway slaves. Even free blacks were always in danger of being arrested, claimed as property by whites, and transported back to the South. The free black community in the North also organized a series of regional and national conferences bringing together the leading voices of African-American public opinion. The documents and speeches from these “Negro Conventions” provide excellent insights into the political and social thought of antebellum black America. The famous speech by Henry Highland Garnet (document 13) at the 1843 Negro convention for example, emphasizes the right of the oppressed to “use every means, both moral, intellectual and physical, that promises success.” African Americans in the North and South alike were exhorted to use their power “to torment the God-cursed slaveholders, that they will be glad to let you go free. . . . Let your motto be resistance! resistance! RESISTANCE! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance.” Garnet’s militant rhetoric in many ways prefigures the protest language of Malcolm X and Huey P. Newton a century later. While resistance was essential, African Americans also understood that they would have to utilize any means at their disposal to modify the restrictions of white authority over the lives of black people. In other words, free blacks had to agitate for fundamentals that materially benefited African Americans within the existing political, economic, and social structure. The abolition of slavery could not be achieved by black people alone, and early on there was an awareness that a segment of the white population could be won to emancipation. The slave narratives, beginning with the classical 1789 account of Olaudah Equiano (document 2), were primarily designed to educate and inform European and white American audiences about the lives and perspectives of black people. African-American women were particularly effective in linking the struggles of black people with other reform movements, such as the pursuit of equality for women. Maria W. Stewart, a prominent public speaker in the 1830s, frequently linked the struggles of black people with other reform movements, such as temperance and women’s rights. Similarly, Sojourner Truth, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and Mary Ann Shadd Cary spoke powerfully for the rights of African-American women. The long-term goal of black reform was the redefinition of American democracy itself: the elimination of all restrictions to the full participation of African Americans in the larger society. David Walker’s “Appeal” (document 5) carries this thesis to its logical conclusion: that blacks, because of their experiences of suffering and struggle in this country, were more American than whites: “Will any of us leave our homes and go to Africa? I hope not. . . . Let no man of us budge one step, and let slaveholders come to beat us from our country. America is more our country, than it is the whites—we have enriched it with our blood and tears.” Making a similar point, Frederick Douglass’s well-known 1852 address, “What to the Slave Is the 6 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 Fourth of July?,” challenges white Americans to recognize their political hypocrisy by celebrating its democratic institution in a country filled with four million slaves (document 18). To the slave, Douglass declares, the national holiday “is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brassfronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery. . . .” The righteous anger in Douglass’s words should not obscure his real objective: to convince his white audience that “the great principle of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence,” should be extended to African Americans. To some extent, the struggle had to be waged within the paradigm and boundaries of debate set by the larger society. Slaveholders argued that enslaved people were an inferior species—African Americans asserted their humanity. Whites insisted that African Americans were not capable of voting— Frederick Douglass argued that they would develop the capabilities. Black survival in an aggressively racist society also depended on the ability of African Americans to create, preserve, and renew their communities. Enslaved Africans who were forced into servitude in the western hemisphere were not blank slates, but brought with them memories and cultural values. As Equiano’s account (document 2) demonstrates, his particularly detailed recollections ranged from family and religion to notions of beauty: “[I]deas of beauty are wholly relative. I remember while in Africa to have seen three Negro children who were tawny, and another quite white, who were universally regarded by myself and the natives in general, as far as related to their complexions, as deformed.” But it is within the structural constraints of slavery and discrimination that they must create a culture—utilizing, transforming, and giving new meanings to cultural material from Africa and the Americas as they seek to imagine and invent the institutions that would ensure their survival. For example, though nowhere did the enslaved people have the right to marry, they continued to affirm their bonds of family, community, and humanity (document 9). During slavery, the church was the only legal institution through which enslaved people could congregate and exchange information as well as worship. Throughout African-American history, the church continued to be a major site of political organizing, and charismatic leadership was a hallmark of black politics. In practical terms, this meant the constructing of socioeconomic institutions that provided goods, services, and resources to the black people. By the late eighteenth century, free blacks in several northern cities had established mutualbenefit associations—social organizations that helped black families in need. Free women of color were particularly active in organizing activities that would contribute to the abolition of slavery and black self-help. In April 1816, Richard Allen founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church (document 4), thereby laying the foundations of the black church, which to this day remains the largest and most influential force inside the black community. To a great extent it reshaped Christianity within the context of the needs of the African-American community. Prince Hall’s Masonic lodge for African Americans (document 3) would also grow P H I L L I S W H E AT L E Y, “ O N B E I N G B R O U G H T F R O M A F R I C A . . . ” 7 into a massive social network that was actively involved in all aspects of black civic and cultural life. From these early social institutions would ultimately derive the black press, schools and colleges, hospitals, insurance companies, banks, and commercial enterprises of all kinds. What is particularly interesting is that the construction of this elaborate internal black world of which most whites were ignorant was achieved through conscious appeals to black solidarity and collective self-help. It was necessary for African Americans to become the keepers of their own history. In his call for resistance, Henry Highland Garnet (document 13) recounts the stories of the leaders of slave rebellions: Denmark Vessey, Nat Turner, Joseph Cinque, and Madison Washington. Similarly, as we shall see in the next section (section 2, document 8), Mary Church Terrell recounted the successes of black women. There were boundaries of blackness: the expectations that African Americans should remain loyal to their race, that they should support the goals and values generally accepted as the cultural norm for their communities. One of the earliest expressions of the boundaries of blackness is by David Walker (document 5). He condemns some of his “brethren” who were “in league with tyrants, and who receive a great portion of their daily bread, of the moneys which they acquire from the blood and tears of their more miserable brethren, whom they scandalously delivered into the hands of our natural enemies!” An aspect of Walker’s exhortation was a frank belief in the innate superiority of black people over whites: “[G]lory, honour and praise to Heaven’s King . . . the sons and daughters of Africa, will, in spite of all the opposition of their enemies, stand forth in all the dignity and glory that is granted by the Lord to his creature man.” In a society so grounded and permeated with white-supremacist ideology, African Americans such as Walker—and later figures such as Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad, and Louis Farrakhan—emphasized the mental and physical superiority of black people in order to counter the allegations of inferiority. The outbreak of the Civil War led to the destruction of one form of racial domination—slavery—but would ultimately be replaced by another: Jim Crow segregation. Over 180,000 African Americans fought in the Union army to liberate their people. This section presents some of the key ideas and leaders who contributed to the black struggle for freedom. O1O “On Being Brought from Africa to America,” Phillis Wheatley, 1768 Phillis Wheatley (1753?–1784) was born in Gambia, West Africa, and is recognized as the first African American to publish a book. Transported to the 8 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 United States when she was about seven, Wheatley was an enslaved domestic servant in the household of John and Susanna Wheatley, who taught her to read and write and supported her interests in poetry. The public, however, could not believe that a domestic slave had the artistic and intellectual capabilities to create poetry. In 1772, Wheatley was brought before a courtroom in Boston to determine if she indeed could craft literature. The judges produced a written document that stated that “the poems specified . . . were . . . written by Phillis, a young Negro Girl.” This statement was instrumental in Wheatley’s ability to secure publication of her first book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. Controversy surrounding Wheatley’s poetry continues to this day. Though it has been criticized for its weak stance on slavery, recent interpretations are more sympathetic, pointing out that Wheatley was a product of her times. Wheatley’s second manuscript was lost, but in the past decade, remnants of this manuscript have surfaced. Despite her acclaim in both the United States and Britain, Wheatley died in abject poverty. O ‘TWAS mercy brought me from my Pagan land, Taught my benighted soul to understand That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too: Once I redemption neither sought nor knew. Some view our sable race with scornful eye, “Their colour is a diabolic die.” Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain, May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train Source: Phillis Wheatley, Complete Writings, ed. by Vincent Carretta (New York: Penguin Books, 2001), pg. 13. B I B L I O G R A P H I C R E S O U R C E S : Mukhtar Ali Isani, “‘Gambia on My Soul’: Africa and the African in the Writings of Phillis Wheatley,” MELUS 6, no. 1 (Spring 1979), pp. 64–72. Helen Burke, “Problematizing American Dissent: The Subject of Phillis Wheatley,” in Cohesion and Dissent in America, ed. by Carol Colatrella and Joseph Alkana (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994), pp. 193–209. Helen M. Burke, “The Rhetoric and Politics of Marginality: The Subject of Phillis Wheatley,” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 10, no. 1 (Spring 1991), pp. 31–45. Henry Louis Gates, “Phillis Wheatley on Trial,” The New Yorker (January 20, 2003). ———, The Trials of Phillis Wheatley: America’s First Black Poet and Her Encounters with the Founding Fathers (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2003). John C. Shields, ed., The Collected Works of Phillis Wheatley (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989). O L A U D A H E Q U I A N O , “ T H E I N T E R E S T I N G N A R R AT I V E . . . ” 9 O2O “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano,” Olaudah Equiano, 1789 There are questions about the birthplace and the life story of Olaudah Equiano (1745–1797). Recent scholarship suggests that Equiano was born not on the African continent but in South Carolina, and did not personally endure the Middle Passage. Nevertheless, he created a public persona rooted in an African past and slavery that was presented in his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vasa, the African, Written by Himself, first published in 1789. Equiano claimed that he was born in the African village of Essaka (now part of eastern Nigeria), and was captured and sold into slavery at the age of eleven. He was first owned by a lieutenant in the English navy, who gave him the name Gustavus Vasa, and was later purchased by a Philadelphia merchant and Quaker. In 1766, he was finally able to buy his own freedom. Over the years Equiano traveled extensively and established several successful business ventures. Notwithstanding the debates about his origins and experience of the Middle Passage, his autobiography represented an influential text in the abolitionist movement, going through thirty-six editions between 1789 and 1857. Equiano died in London in 1797. O That part of Africa known by the name of Guinea to which the trade of slaves is carried on extends along the coast above 3,400 miles, from the Senegal to Angola, and includes a variety of kingdoms. Of these the most considerable is the kingdom of Benin, both as to extent and wealth, the richness and cultivation of the soil, the power of its king, and the number and warlike disposition of the inhabitants. It is situated nearly under the line and extends along the coast about 170 miles, but runs back into the interior part of Africa to a distance hitherto I believe unexplored by any traveller, and seems only terminated at length by the empire of Abyssinia, near 1,500 miles from its beginning. This kingdom is divided into many provinces or districts, in one of the most remote and fertile of which, called Eboe, I was born in the year 1745, situated in a charming fruitful vale, named Essaka. The distance of this province from the capital of Benin and the sea coast must be very considerable, for I had never heard of white men or Europeans, nor of the sea, and our subjection to the king of Benin was little more than nominal; for every transaction of the government, as far as my slender observation extended, was conducted by the chiefs or elders of the place. The manners and government of a people who have little commerce with other countries are generally very simple, and the history of what passes in one family or village may serve as a specimen of a nation. My father was one of those elders or chiefs I have 10 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 spoken of and was styled Embrenché, a term as I remember importing the highest distinction, and signifying in our language a mark of grandeur. This mark is conferred on the person entitled to it by cutting the skin across at the top of the forehead and drawing it down to the eyebrows, and while it is in this situation applying a warm hand and rubbing it until it shrinks up into a thick weal across the lower part of the forehead. Most of the judges and senators were thus marked; my father had long borne it. I had seen it conferred on one of my brothers, and I was also destined to receive it by my parents. . . . We are almost a nation of dancers, musicians, and poets. Thus every great event such as a triumphant return from battle or other cause of public rejoicing is celebrated in public dances, which are accompanied with songs and music suited to the occasion. The assembly is separated into four divisions, which dance either apart or in succession, and each with a character peculiar to itself. The first division contains the married men, who in their dances frequently exhibit feats of arms and the representation of a battle. To these succeed the married women, who dance in the second division. The young men occupy the third and the maidens the fourth. Each represents some interesting scene of real life, such as a great achievement, domestic employment, a pathetic story, or some rural sport, and as the subject is generally founded on some recent event it is therefore ever new. This gives our dances a spirit and variety which I have scarcely seen elsewhere. We have many musical instruments, particularly drums of different kinds, a piece of music which resembles a guitar, and another much like a stickado. These last are chiefly used by betrothed virgins who play on them on all grand festivals. As our manners are simple, our luxuries are few. The dress of both sexes is nearly the same. It generally consists of a long piece of calico or muslin, wrapped loosely round the body somewhat in the form of a highland plaid. This is usually dyed blue, which is our favourite colour. It is extracted from a berry and is brighter and richer than any I have seen in Europe. Besides this our women of distinction wear golden ornaments, which they dispose with some profusion on their arms and legs. When our women are not employed with the men in tillage, their usual occupation is spinning and weaving cotton, which they afterwards dye and make into garments. They also manufacture earthen vessels, of which we have many kinds. Among the rest tobacco pipes, made after the same fashion and used in the same manner, as those in Turkey. Our manner of living is entirely plain, for as yet the natives are unacquainted with those refinements in cookery which debauch the taste: bullocks, goats, and poultry, supply the greatest part of their food. These constitute likewise the principal wealth of the country and the chief articles of its commerce. The flesh is usually stewed in a pan; to make it savoury we sometimes use also pepper and other spices, and we have salt made of wood ashes. Our vegetables are mostly plantains, eadas, yams, beans, and Indian corn. The head of the family usually eats alone; his wives and slaves have also their separate tables. Before we taste food we always wash our hands: indeed our cleanliness on all occasions is extreme, but on this it is an indispensable ceremony. After washing, libation is made by pour- O L A U D A H E Q U I A N O , “ T H E I N T E R E S T I N G N A R R AT I V E . . . ” 11 ing out a small portion of the drink on the floor, and tossing a small quantity of the food in a certain place for the spirits of departed relations, which the natives suppose to preside over their conduct and guard them from evil. They are totally unacquainted with strong or spirituous liquors, and their principal beverage is palm wine. This is got from a tree of that name by tapping it at the top and fastening a large gourd to it, and sometimes one tree will yield three or four gallons in a night. When just drawn it is of a most delicious sweetness, but in a few days it acquires a tartish and more spirituous flavour, though I never saw anyone intoxicated by it. The same tree also produces nuts and oil. Our principal luxury is in perfumes; one sort of these is an odoriferous wood of delicious fragrance, the other a kind of earth, a small portion of which thrown into the fire diffuses a more powerful odour. We beat this wood into powder and mix it with palm oil, with which both men and women perfume themselves. In our buildings we study convenience rather than ornament. Each master of a family has a large square piece of ground, surrounded with a moat or fence or enclosed with a wall made of red earth tempered, which when dry is as hard as brick. Within this are his houses to accommodate his family and slaves which if numerous frequently present the appearance of a village. In the middle stands the principal building, appropriated to the sole use of the master and consisting of two apartments, in one of which he sits in the day with his family. The other is left apart for the reception of his friends. He has besides these a distinct apartment in which he sleeps, together with his male children. On each side are the apartments of his wives, who have also their separate day and night houses. The habitations of the slaves and their families are distributed throughout the rest of the enclosure. These houses never exceed one story in height: they are always built of wood or stakes driven into the ground, crossed with wattles, and neatly plastered within and without. The roof is thatched with reeds. Our day-houses are left open at the sides, but those in which we sleep are always covered, and plastered in the inside with a composition mixed with cow-dung to keep off the different insects which annoy us during the night. The walls and floors also of these are generally covered with mats. Our beds consist of a platform raised three or four feet from the ground, on which are laid skins and different parts of a spungy tree called plantain. Our covering is calico or muslin, the same as our dress. The usual seats are a few logs of wood, but we have benches, which are generally perfumed to accommodate strangers: these compose the greater part of our household furniture. Houses so constructed and furnished require but little skill to erect them. Every man is a sufficient architect for the purpose. The whole neighborhood afford their unanimous assistance in building them and in return receive and expect no other recompense than a feast. As we live in a country where nature is prodigal of her favours, our wants are few and easily supplied; of course we have few manufactures. They consist for the most part of calicoes, earthenware, ornaments, and instruments of war and husbandry. But these make no part of our commerce, the principal articles of which, as I have observed, are provisions. In such a state money is of little use; however we have some small pieces of coin, if I may call them such. They are made something like an anchor, but I do not remember either their value or denomination. 12 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 We have also markets, at which I have been frequently with my mother. These are sometimes visited by stout mahogany-coloured men from the southwest of us: we call them Oye-Eboe, which term signifies red men living at a distance. They generally bring us firearms, gunpowder, hats, beads, and dried fish. The last we esteemed a great rarity as our waters were only brooks and springs. These articles they barter with us for odoriferous woods and earth, and our salt of wood ashes. They always carry slaves through our land, but the strictest account is exacted of their manner of procuring them before they are suffered to pass. Some times indeed we sold slaves to them, but they were only prisoners of war, or such among us as had been convicted of kidnapping, or adultery, and some other crimes which we esteemed heinous. This practice of kidnapping induces me to think that, notwithstanding all our strictness, their principal business among us was to trepan our people. I remember too they carried great sacks along with them, which not long after I had an opportunity of fatally seeing applied to that infamous purpose. Our land is uncommonly rich and fruitful, and produces all kinds of vegetables in great abundance. We have plenty of Indian corn, and vast quantities of cotton and tobacco. Our pineapples grow without culture; they are about the size of the largest sugar-loaf and finely flavoured. We have also spices of different kinds, particularly pepper, and a variety of delicious fruits which I have never seen in Europe, together with gums of various kinds and honey in abundance. All our industry is exerted to improve those blessings of nature. Agriculture is our chief employment, and everyone, even the children and women, are engaged in it. Thus we are all habituated to labour from our earliest years. Everyone contributes something to the common stock, and as we are unacquainted with idleness we have no beggars. The benefits of such a mode of living are obvious. The West India planters prefer the slaves of Benin or Eboe to those of any other part of Guinea for their hardiness, intelligence, integrity, and zeal. Those benefits are felt by us in the general healthiness of the people, and in their vigour and activity; I might have added too in their comeliness. Deformity is indeed unknown amongst us, I mean that of shape. Numbers of the natives of Eboe now in London might be brought in support of this assertion, for in regard to complexion, ideas of beauty are wholly relative. I remember while in Africa to have seen three negro children who were tawny, and another quite white, who were universally regarded by myself and the natives in general, as far as related to their complexions, as deformed. Our women too were in my eyes at least uncommonly graceful, alert, and modest to a degree of bashfulness; nor do I remember to have ever heard of an instance of incontinence amongst them before marriage. They are also remarkably cheerful. Indeed cheerfulness and affability are two of the leading characteristics of our nation. Our tillage is exercised in a large plain or common, some hours walk from our dwellings, and all the neighbours resort thither in a body. They use no beasts of husbandry, and their only instruments are hoes, axes, shovels, and beaks, or pointed iron to dig with. Sometimes we are visited by locusts, which come in large clouds so as to darken the air and destroy our harvest. This however happens rarely, but when it does a famine is produced by it. I remember an instance or two wherein this happened. This common is often the theatre of war, and therefore O L A U D A H E Q U I A N O , “ T H E I N T E R E S T I N G N A R R AT I V E . . . ” 13 when our people go out to till their land they not only go in a body but generally take their arms with them for fear of a surprise, and when they apprehend an invasion they guard the avenues to their dwellings by driving sticks into the ground, which are so sharp at one end as to pierce the foot and are generally dipped in poison. From what I can recollect of these battles, they appear to have been irruptions of one little state or district on the other to obtain prisoners or booty. Perhaps they were incited to this by those traders who brought the European goods I mentioned amongst us. Such a mode of obtaining slaves in Africa is common, and I believe more are procured this way and by kidnapping than any other. When a trader wants slaves he applies to a chief for them and tempts him with his wares. It is not extraordinary if on this occasion he yields to the temptation with as little firmness, and accepts the price of his fellow creatures liberty with as little reluctance as the enlightened merchant. Accordingly he falls on his neighbours and a desperate battle ensues. If he prevails and takes prisoners, he gratifies his avarice by selling them; but if his party be vanquished and he falls into the hands of the enemy, he is put to death: for as he has been known to foment their quarrels it is thought dangerous to let him survive, and no ransom can save him, though all other prisoners may be redeemed. . . . O The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast was the sea, and a slave ship, which was then riding at anchor, and waiting for its cargo. These filled me with astonishment, which was soon converted into terror, when I was carried on board I was immediately handled, and tossed up, to see if I were sound, by some of the crew; and I was now persuaded that I had got into a world of bad spirits, and that they were going to kill me. Their complexions too differing so much from ours, their long hair, and the language they spoke (which was very different from any I had ever heard) united to confirm me in this belief. Indeed such were the horrors of my views and fears at the moment, that, if ten thousand worlds had been my own, I would have freely parted with them all to have exchanged my condition with that of the meanest slave in my own country. When I looked round the ship too and saw a large furnace or copper boiling, and a multitude of black people of every description chained together, every one of their countenances expressing dejection and sorrow, I no longer doubted of my fate; and, quite overpowered with horror and anguish, I fell motionless on the deck and fainted. When I recovered a little I found some black people about me, who I believed were some of those who had brought me on board, and had been receiving their pay; they talked to me in order to cheer me, but all in vain. I asked them if we were not to be eaten by those white men with horrible looks, red faces, and long hair. They told me I was not; and one of the crew brought me a small portion of spirituous liquor in a wine-glass; but being afraid of him, I would not take it out of his hand. One of the blacks therefore took it from him and gave it to me, and I took a little down my palate, which, instead of reviving me, as they thought it would, threw me into the greatest consternation at the strange feeling it produced, having never tasted any such liquor before. Soon after this the blacks who brought 14 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 me on board went off, and left me abandoned to despair. I now saw myself deprived of all chance of returning to my native country, or even the least glimpse of hope of gaining the shore, which I now considered as friendly; and I even wished for my former slavery in preference to my present situation, which was filled with horrors of every kind, still heightened by my ignorance of what I was to undergo. I was not long suffered to indulge my grief; I was soon put down under the decks, and there I received such a salutation in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life: so that with the loathsomeness of the stench, and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste any thing. I now wished for the last friend, death, to relieve me; but soon, to my grief, two of the white men offered me eatables; and, on my refusing to eat, one of them held me fast by the hands, and laid me across, I think the windlass, and tied my feet, while the other flogged me severely. I had never experienced any thing of this kind before: and, although not being used to the water, I naturally feared that element the first time I saw it, yet, nevertheless, could I have got over the nettings, I would have jumped over the side, but I could not; and, besides, the crew used to watch us very closely who were not chained down to the decks, lest we should leap into the water: and I have seen some of these poor African prisoners most severely cut for attempting to do so, and hourly whipped for not eating. This indeed was often the case with myself. In a little time after, amongst the poor chained men, I found some of my own nation, which in a small degree gave ease to my mind. I inquired of these what was to be done with us? they gave me to understand we were to be carried to these white people’s country to work for them. I then was a little revived, and thought, if it were no worse than working, my situation was not so desperate: but still I feared I should be put to death, the white people looked and acted, as I thought, in so savage a manner; for I had never seen among any people such instances of brutal cruelty; and this not only shown towards us blacks, but also to some of the whites themselves. One white man in particular I saw, when we were permitted to be on deck, flogged so unmercifully with a large rope near the foremast, that he died in consequence of it; and they tossed him over the side as they would have done a brute. This made me fear these people the more; and I expected nothing less than to be treated in the same manner. I could not help expressing my fears and apprehensions to some of my countrymen: I asked them if these people had no country, but lived in this hollow place (the ship)? they told me they did not, but came from a distant one, “Then,” said I, “how comes it in all our country we never heard of them!” They told me, because they lived so very far off. I then asked where were their women? had they any like themselves? I was told they had: “And why,” said I, “do we not see them?” they answered, because they were left behind. I asked how the vessel could go? they told me they could not tell; but that there were cloth put upon the masts by the help of the ropes I saw, and then the vessel went on; and the white men had some spell or magic they put in the water when they liked in order to stop the vessel, I was exceedingly amazed at this account, and really thought they were spirits. I therefore wished much to be from amongst them, for I expected they would sacrifice me: but my wishes were vain; for we were so quartered that it was impossible for any of us to make our escape. While we stayed on the coast I was mostly on deck; and one day, O L A U D A H E Q U I A N O , “ T H E I N T E R E S T I N G N A R R AT I V E . . . ” 15 to my great astonishment, I saw one of these vessels coming in with the sails up. As soon as the whites saw it, they gave a great shout, at which we were amazed: and the more so as the vessel appeared larger by approaching nearer. At last she came to an anchor in my sight, and when the anchor was let go I and my countrymen who saw it were lost in astonishment to observe the vessel stop; and were now convinced it was done by magic. Soon after this the other ship got her boats out, and they came on board of us, and the people of both ships seemed very glad to see each other. Several of the strangers also shook hands with us black people, and made motions with their hands, signifying I suppose, we were to go to their country; but we did not understand them. At last, when the ship we were in, had got in all her cargo, they made ready with many fearful noises, and we were all put under deck, so that we could not see how they managed the vessel. But this disappointment was the least of my sorrow. The stench of the hold while we were on the coast was so intolerably loathsome, that it was dangerous to remain there for any time, and some of us had been permitted to stay on the deck for the fresh air; but now that the whole ship’s cargo were confined together, it became absolutely pestilential. The closeness of the place, and the heat of the climate, added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us. This produced copious perspirations, so that the air soon became unfit for respiration, from a variety of loathsome smells, and brought on a sickness amongst the slaves, of which many died, thus falling victims to the improvident avarice, as I may call it, of their purchasers. This wretched situation was again aggravated by the galling of the chains, now become insupportable; and the filth of the necessary tubs, into which the children often fell, and were almost suffocated. The shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying, rendered the whole a scene of horror almost inconceivable. Happily perhaps for myself I was soon reduced so low here that it was thought necessary to keep me almost always on deck; and from my extreme youth I was not put in fetters. In this situation I expected every hour to share the fate of my companions, some of whom were almost daily brought upon deck at the point of death, which I began to hope would soon put an end to my miseries. Often did I think many of the inhabitants of the deep much more happy than myself, I envied them the freedom they enjoyed, and as often wished I could change my condition for theirs. Every circumstance I met with served only to render my state more painful, and heightened my apprehensions and my opinion of the cruelty of the whites. One day they had taken a number of fishes; and when they had killed and satisfied themselves with as many as they thought fit, to our astonishment who were on the deck, rather than give any of them to us to eat, as we expected, they tossed the remaining fish into the sea again, although we begged and prayed for some as well as we could, but in vain; and some of my countrymen, being pressed by hunger, took an opportunity, when they thought no one saw them, of trying to get a little privately; but they were discovered, and the attempt procured them some very severe floggings. One day, when we had a smooth sea and moderate wind, two of my wearied countrymen who were chained together (I was near them at the time), preferring death to such a life of misery, somehow made through the nettings and jumped into the sea: immediately another quite dejected fellow, who on account of his illness, was suffered to be out of irons, 16 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 also followed their example; and I believe many more would very soon have done the same if they had not been prevented by the ship’s crew who were instantly alarmed. Those of us that were the most active were in a moment put down under the deck, and there was such a noise and confusion amongst the people of the ship as I never heard before, to stop her, and get the boat out to go after the slaves. However two of the wretches were drowned, but they got the other, and afterwards flogged him unmercifully for thus attempting to prefer death to slavery. In this manner we continued to undergo more hardships than I can now relate, hardships which are inseparable from this accursed trade. Many a time we were near suffocation from the want of fresh air, which we were often without for whole days together. This, and the stench of the necessary tubs, carried off many. During our passage I first saw flying fishes, which surprised me very much: they used frequently to fly across the ship, and many of them fell on the deck. I also now first saw the use of the quadrant; I had often with astonishment seen the mariners make observations with it, and I could not think what it meant. They at last took notice of my surprise: and one of them, willing to increase it, as well as to gratify my curiosity, made me one day look through it. The clouds appeared to me to be land, which disappeared as they passed along. This heightened my wonder; and I was now more persuaded than ever that I was in another world, and that every thing about me was magic. At last we came in sight of the island of Barbadoes, at which the whites on board gave a great shout, and made many signs of joy to us. We did not know what to think of this; but as the vessel drew nearer, we plainly saw the harbour, and other ships of different kinds and sizes; and we soon anchored amongst them off Bridge-Town. Many merchants and planters now came on board, though it was in the evening. They put us in separate parcels, and examined us attentively. They also made us jump, and pointed to the land, signifying we were to go there. We thought by this we should be eaten by these ugly men, as they appeared to us; and, when soon after we were all put down under the deck again, there was much dread and trembling among us, and nothing but bitter cries to be heard all the night from these apprehensions, insomuch that at last the white people got some old slaves from the land to pacify us. They told us we were not to be eaten, but to work, and were soon to go on land, where we should see many of our country people. This report eased us much; and sure enough, soon after we landed, there came to us Africans of all languages. We were conducted immediately to the merchant’s yard, where we were all pent up together like so many sheep in a fold, without regard to sex or age. As every object was new to me, every thing I saw filled me with surprise. What struck me first was that the houses were built with bricks and stories, and in every other respect different from those I had seen in Africa: but I was still more astonished on seeing people on horseback. I did not know what this could mean; and indeed I thought these people were full of nothing but magical arts. While I was in this astonishment one of my fellow prisoners spoke to a countryman of his about the horses, who said they were the same kind they had in their country. I understood them, though they were from a distant part of Africa, and I thought it odd I had not seen any horses there; but afterwards when I came to converse with different Africans, I found they had many horses amongst them, and much larger than those I saw. We were not many days in the merchant’s custody P R I N C E H A L L , “ T H U S D O T H E T H I O P I A S T R E T C H . . . ” 17 before we were sold after their usual manner, which is this:—On a signal given, (as the beat of a drum) the buyers rush at once into the yard where the slaves are confined, and make choice of that parcel they like best. The noise and clamour with which this is attended, and the eagerness visible in the countenances of the buyers, serve not a little to increase the apprehension of terrified Africans, who may well be supposed to consider them as the ministers of that destruction to which they think themselves devoted. In this manner, without scruple, are relations and friends separated, most of them never to see each other again. I remember in the vessel in which I was brought over, in the men’s apartment, there were several brothers, who, in the sale were sold in different lots; and it was very moving on this occasion to see and hear their cries at parting. O, ye nominal Christians! might not an African ask you, learned you this from your God, who says unto you, Do unto all men as you would men should do unto you? Is it not enough that we are torn from our country and friends, to toil for your luxury and lust of gain? Must every tender feeling be likewise sacrificed to your avarice? Are the dearest friends and relations, now rendered more dear by their separation from their kindred, still to be parted from each other, and thus prevented from cheering the gloom of slavery with the small comfort of being together, and mingling their sufferings and sorrows? Why are parents to lose their children, brothers their sisters, or husbands their wives? Surely this is a new refinement in cruelty, which, while it has no advantage to atone for it, thus aggravates distress, and adds fresh horrors even to the wretchedness of slavery. Source: Excerpt from Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustav Vasa, the African in 2 volumes (New York, 1789 and 1791). S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Houston Baker, The Journey Back: Issues in Black Literature and Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980). Stephen Butterfield, Black Autobiography in America (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1974). Alexander X. Byrd, “Captives & Voyagers Black Migrants Across the Eighteenth-Century World of Olaudah Equiano” (Ph.D. diss., Duke University, 2001). Vincent Carretta, Equiano, The African: Biography of a Self-Made Man (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005). Angelo Constanzo, Surprising Narrative: Olaudah Equiano and the Beginnings of Black Autobiography (New York: Greenwood Press, 1987). O3O “Thus Doth Ethiopia Stretch Forth Her Hand from Slavery, to Freedom and Equality,” Prince Hall, 1797 Questions remain about the birth, parentage, and early life of Prince Hall (1735?– 1807). It is generally accepted by historians that Prince Hall was owned by a 18 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 Boston leather-dresser, William Hall, who freed him on April 9, 1770, as a reward for twenty-one years’ service. In July 1775, Hall helped to initiate the first Masonic lodge for African Americans. Hall’s efforts would ultimately establish Masonry as one of the major social institutions in black America. Less well known, but equally important, were Hall’s contributions to the early abolitionist movement. Hall’s 1788 petition to the Massachusetts legislature calling for an end to the slave trade was a contributing factor in its abolition. This sermon, originally delivered to a black fraternal order in Menotomy (later West Cambridge), Massachusetts, is notable as one of the earliest published speeches of an African American. O Beloved brethren of the African Lodge: It is now five years since I delivered a charge to you on some parts and points of Masonry. As one branch of superstructure of the foundation, I endeavored to show you the duty of a mason to a mason, and of charity and love to all mankind, as the work and image of the great God and the Father of the human race. I shall now attempt to show you that it is our duty to sympathize with our fellow men under their troubles, and with the families of our brethren who are gone, we hope, to the Grand Lodge above. We are to have sympathy, but this, after all, is not to be confined to parties or colors, nor to towns or states, nor to a kingdom, but to the kingdoms of the whole earth, over whom Christ the King is head and Grand Master for all in distress. Among these numerous sons and daughters of a distress, let us see our friends and brethren; and first let us see them dragged from their native country, by the iron hand of tyranny and oppression, from their dear friends and connections, with weeping eyes and aching hearts, to a strange land, and among a strange people, whose tender mercies are cruel, and there to bear the iron yoke of slavery and cruelty, till death, as a friend, shall relieve them. And must not the unhappy condition of these, our fellow men, draw forth our hearty prayers and wishes for their deliverance from those merchants and traders, whose characters you have described in Revelations 17:11–13? And who knows but these same sort of traders may, in a short time, in like manner bewail the loss of the African traffic to their shame and confusion? The day dawns now in some of the West Indies Islands. God can and will change their condition and their hearts, too, and let Boston and the world know that He hath no respect of persons, and that that bulwark of envy, pride, scorn and contempt, which is so visible in some, shall fall. Jethro, an Ethiopian, gave instructions to his son-in-law, Moses, in establishing government. Exodus 18:22–24. Thus, Moses was not ashamed to be instructed by a black man. Phillip was not ashamed to take a seat beside the Ethiopian Eunuch and to instruct him in the gospel. The Grand Master Solomon was not ashamed to hold conference with the Queen of Sheba. Our Grand Master Solomon did not divide the living child, whatever he might do with the dead one; neither did he pretend to make a law to forbid the parties from having free intercourse with one another, without the fear of censure, or be turned out of the synagogue. Now, my brethren, nothing is stable; all things are changeable. Let us seek those things which are sure and steadfast, and let us pray God that, while we P R I N C E H A L L , “ T H U S D O T H E T H I O P I A S T R E T C H . . . ” 19 remain here, he would give us the grace of patience and strength to bear up under all our troubles, which, at this day, God knows, we have our share of. Patience, I say; for were we not possessed of a great measure of it, we could not bear up under the daily insults we meet with in the streets of Boston, much more on public days of recreation. How, at such times, are we shamefully abused, and that to such a degree that we may truly be said to carry our lives in our hands, and the arrows of death are flying about our heads. Helpless women have their clothes torn from their backs. . . . And by whom are these disgraceful and abusive actions committed? Not by the men born and bred in Boston—they are better bred—but by a mob or horde of shameless, low-lived, envious, spiteful persons, some of them not long since servants in gentlemen’s kitchens scouring knives, horse tenders, chaise drivers. I was told by a gentleman who saw the filthy behavior in the Common that, in all places he had been in, he never saw so cruel behavior in all his life; and that a slave in the West Indies on Sundays or holidays enjoys himself and friends without molestation. Not only this man, but many in town who have seen their behavior to us, and that without provocation twenty or thirty cowards have fallen upon one man. (Oh, the patience of the blacks!) ’Tis not for want of courage in you, for they know that they do not face you man for man; but in a mob, which we despise, and would rather suffer wrong than to do wrong, to the disturbance of the community, and the disgrace of our reputation; for every good citizen doth honor to the laws of the state where he resides. My brethren, let us not be cast down under these and many other abuses we at present are laboring under, for the darkest hour is just before the break of day. My brethren, let us remember what a dark day it was with our African brethren, six years ago, in the French West Indies. Nothing but the snap of the whip was heard, from morning to evening. Hanging, breaking on the wheel, burning, and all manner of tortures were inflicted upon those unhappy people. But, blessed be God, the scene is changed. They now confess that God hath no respect of person and, therefore, receive them as their friends and treat them as brothers. Thus doth Ethiopia stretch forth her hand from slavery, to freedom and equality. Source: Excerpt of speech delivered at black Masonic lodge, Menotomy, Massachusetts, June 24, 1797. Originally published in William C. Nell, The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution (Boston: R. F. Wallcut, 1855, pp. 61–64; also in Philip S. Foner, ed., The Voice of Black America (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972), pp. 13–15. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Joanna Brooks, “Prince Hall, Freemasonry, and Genealogy,” African American Review 34, no. 2 (2000), pp. 197–216. George Williamson Crawford, Prince Hall and His Followers: Being a Monograph on the Legitimacy of the Negro Masonry (New York: AMS Press, 1914; reprint, 1971). Harry E. Davis, A History of Freemasonary among Negroes in America (Published under auspices of the United Supreme Council, ancient and accepted Scottish rite of Freemasonry, Northern jurisdiction, U.S.A. [Prince Hall Affiliation] incorporated, 1946). Sidney Kaplan, The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution, 1770–1780, rev. ed. (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1989). Charles H. Wesley, Prince Hall, Life and Legacy (Washington, D.C.: United Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction, Prince Hall Affiliation, 1977). 20 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 O4O The Founding of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Richard Allen, 1816 Richard Allen (1760–1831) was born a slave in Philadelphia. At about the age of twenty, Allen joined the Methodist Church and quickly began to lead local meetings. Allen converted his master to Methodism, and eventually purchased his freedom. In 1787 Allen helped to establish the independent Free African Society, the first mutual and beneficial assistance association for African Americans. Allen’s greatest accomplishment was his leadership in founding the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in April 1816. Allen was active in antislavery efforts and helped sponsor the first national convention of black Americans in 1830. This document, taken from Allen’s biography, describes the establishment of the AME Church. O December 1784, General Conference sat in Baltimore, the first General Conference ever held in America. The English preachers just arrived from Europe were, Rev. Dr. Coke, Richard Whatcoat and Thomas Vassey. This was the beginning of the Episcopal Church amongst the Methodists. Many of the ministers were set apart in holy orders at this conference, and were said to be entitled to the gown; and I have thought religion has been declining in the church ever since. There was a pamphlet published by some person, which stated, that when the Methodists were no people, then they were a people; and now they have become a people they were no people; which had often serious weight upon my mind. In 1785 the Rev. Richard Whatcoat was appointed on Baltimore circuit. He was, I believe, a man of God. I found great strength in travelling with him—a father in Israel. In his advice he was fatherly and friendly. He was of a mild and serene disposition. My lot was cast in Baltimore, in a small meeting-house called Methodist Alley. I stopped at Richard Mould’s, and was sent to my lodgings, and lodged at Mr. McCannon’s. I had some happy meetings in Baltimore. I was introduced to Richard Russell, who was very kind and affectionate to me, and attended several meetings. Rev. Bishop Asbury sent for me to meet him at Henry Gaff’s. I did so. He told me he wished me to travel with him. He told me that in the slave countries, Carolina and other places, I must not intermix with the slaves, and I would frequently have to sleep in his carriage, and he would allow me my victuals and clothes. I told him I would not travel with him on these conditions. He asked me my reason. I told him if I was taken sick, who was to support me? and that I thought people ought to lay up something while they were able, to support themselves in time of sickness or old age. He said that was as much as he got, his victuals and clothes. I told him he would be taken care of, let his afflictions be as they were, or let him be taken sick where he would, he would be taken care of; but I doubted whether it would be the case with myself. He smiled, and told me he would give me from then until he returned from the eastward to make up my F O U N D I N G O F T H E A F R I C A N M E T H O D I S T E P I S C O PA L C H U R C H 21 mind, which would be about three months. But I made up my mind that I would not accept of his proposals. Shortly after I left Hartford Circuit, and came to Pennsylvania, on Lancaster circuit. I travelled several months on Lancaster circuit with the Rev. Peter Morratte and Irie Ellis. They were very kind and affectionate to me in building me up; for I had many trials to pass through, and I received nothing from the Methodist connection. My usual method was, when I would get bare of clothes, to stop travelling and go to work, so that no man could say I was chargeable to the connection. My hands administered to my necessities. The autumn of 1785 I returned again to Radnor. I stopped at George Giger’s, a man of God, and went to work. His family were all kind and affectionate to me. I killed seven beeves, and supplied the neighbors with meat; got myself pretty well clad through my own industry—thank God—and preached occasionally. The elder in charge in Philadelphia frequently sent for me to come to the city. February, 1786, I came to Philadelphia. Preaching was given out for me at five o’clock in the morning at St. George church. I strove to preach as well as I could, but it was a great cross to me; but the Lord was with me. We had a good time, and several souls were awakened, and were earnestly seeking redemption in the blood of Christ. I thought I would stop in Philadelphia a week or two. I preached at different places in the city. My labor was much blessed. I soon saw a large field open in seeking and instructing my African brethren, who had been a long forgotten people and few of them attended public worship. I preached in the commons, in Southwark, Northern Liberties, and wherever I could find an opening. I frequently preached twice a day, at 5 o’clock in the morning and in the evening, and it was not uncommon for me to preach from four to five times a day. I established prayer meetings; I raised a society in 1786 for forty-two members. I saw the necessity of erecting a place of worship for the colored people. I proposed it to the most respectable people of color in this city; but here I met with opposition. I had but three colored brethren that united with me in erecting a place of worship—the Rev. Absalom Jones, William White and Dorus Ginnings. These united with me as soon as it became public and known by the elder who was stationed in the city. The Rev. C— B— opposed the plan, and would not submit to any argument we could raise; but he was shortly removed from the charge. The Rev. Mr. W— took the charge, and the Rev. L— G—, Mr. W— was much opposed to an African church, and used very degrading and insulting language to us, to try and prevent us from going on. We all belonged to St. George’s church—Rev. Absalom Jones, William White and Dorus Ginnings. We felt ourselves much cramped; but my dear Lord was with us, and we believed, if it was his will, the work would go on, and that we would be able to succeed in building the house of the Lord. We established prayer meetings and meetings of exhortation, and the Lord blessed our endeavors, and many souls were awakened; but the elder soon forbid us holding any such meetings; but we viewed the forlorn state of our colored brethren, and that they were destitute of a place of worship. They were considered as a nuisance. A number of us usually attended St. George’s church in Fourth street; and when the colored people began to get numerous in attending the church, they moved us from the seats we usually sat on, and placed us around the wall, and on 22 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 Sabbath morning we went to church and the sexton stood at the door, and told us to go in the gallery. He told us to go, and we would see where to sit. We expected to take the seats over the ones we formerly occupied below, not knowing any better. We took those seats. Meeting had begun, and they were nearly done singing, and just as we got to the seats, the elder said, “Let us pray.” We had not been long upon our knees before I heard considerable scuffling and low talking. I raised my head up and saw one of the trustees, H— M—, having hold of the Rev. Absalom Jones, pulling him up off of his knees, and saying, “You must get up—you must not kneel here.” Mr. Jones replied, “Wait until prayer is over.” Mr. H— M— said, “No, you must get up now, or I will call for aid and force you away.” Mr. Jones said, “Wait until prayer is over, and I will get up and trouble you no more.” With that he beckoned to one of the other trustees, Mr. L— S— to come to his assistance. He came, and went to William White to pull him up. By this time prayer was over, and we all went out of the church in a body, and they were no more plagued with us in the church. This raised a great excitement and inquiry among the citizens, in so much that I believe they were ashamed of their conduct. But my dear Lord was with us, and we were filled with fresh vigor to get a house erected to worship God in. Seeing our forlorn and distressed situation, many of the hearts of our citizens were moved to urge us forward; notwithstanding we had subscribed largely towards finishing St. George’s church, in building the gallery and laying new floors, and just as the house was made comfortable, we were turned out from enjoying the comforts of worshipping therein. We then hired a store-room, and held worship by ourselves. Here we were pursued with threats of being disowned, and read publicly out of meeting if we did continue worship in the place we had hired; but we believed the Lord would be our friend. We got subscription papers out to raise money to build the house of the Lord. By this time we had waited on Dr. Rush and Mr. Robert Ralston, and told them of our distressing situation. We considered it a blessing that the Lord had put it into our hearts to wait upon those gentlemen. They pitied our situation, and subscribed largely towards the church, and were very friendly towards us, and advised us how to go on. We appointed Mr. Ralston our treasurer. Dr. Rush did much for us in public by his influence. I hope the name of Dr. Benjamin Rush and Robert Ralston will never be forgotten among us. They were the first two gentlemen who espoused the cause of the oppressed, and aided us in building the house of the Lord for the poor Africans to worship in. Here was the beginning and rise of the first African church in America. But the elder of the Methodist Church still pursued us. Mr. J— M— called upon us and told us if we did not erase our names from the subscription paper, and give up the paper, we would be publicly turned out of meeting. We asked him if we had violated any rules of discipline by so doing. He replied, “I have the charge given to me by the Conference, and unless you submit I will read you publicly out of meeting.” We told him we were willing to abide by the discipline of the Methodist Church, “And if you will show us where we have violated any law of discipline of the Methodist Church, we will submit; and if there is no rule violated in the discipline we will proceed on.” He replied, “We will read you all out.” We told him if he turned us out contrary to F O U N D I N G O F T H E A F R I C A N M E T H O D I S T E P I S C O PA L C H U R C H 23 rule of discipline, we should seek further redress. We told him we were dragged off of our knees in St. George’s church, and treated worse than heathens; and we were determined to seek out for ourselves, the Lord being our helper. He told us we were not Methodists, and left us. Finding we would go on in raising money to build the church, he called upon us again, and wished to see us all together. We met him. He told us that he wished us well, that he was a friend to us, and used many arguments to convince us that we were wrong in building a church. We told him we had no place of worship; and we did not mean to go to St. George’s church any more, as we were so scandalously treated in the presence of all the congregation present; “and if you deny us your name, you cannot seal up the scriptures from us, and deny us a name in heaven. We believe heaven is free for all who worship in spirit and truth.” And he said, “So you are determined to go on.” We told him “Yes, God being our helper.” He then replied, “We will disown you all from the Methodist connection.” We believed if we put our trust in the Lord, he would stand by us. This was a trial that I never had to pass through before. I was confident that the great head of the church would support us. My dear Lord was with us. . . . Robert R. Roberts, the resident elder, came to Bethel, insisted on preaching to us and taking the spiritual charge of the congregation, for we were Methodists he was told he should come on some terms with the trustees; his answer was, that “He did not come to consult with Richard Allen or other trustees, but to inform the congregation, that on next Sunday afternoon, he would come and take the spiritual charge.” We told him he could not preach for us under existing circumstances. However, at the appointed time he came, but having taken previous advice we had our preacher in the pulpit when he came, and the house was so fixed that he could not get but more than half way to the pulpit. Finding himself disappointed he appealed to those who came with him as witnesses, that “That man (meaning the preacher), had taken his appointment.” Several respectable white citizens who knew the colored people had been illused, were present, and told us not to fear, for they would see us righted, and not suffer Roberts to preach in a forcible manner, after which Roberts went away. The next elder stationed in Philadelphia was Robert Birch, who, following the example of his predecessor, came and published a meeting for himself. But the method just mentioned was adopted and he had to go away disappointed. In consequence of this, he applied to the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus, to know why the pulpit was denied him. Being elder, this brought on a lawsuit, which ended in our favor. Thus by the Providence of God we were delivered from a long, distressing and expensive suit, which could not be resumed, being determined by the Supreme Court. For this mercy we desire to be unfeignedly thankful. About this time, our colored friends in Baltimore were treated in a similar manner by the white preachers and trustees, and many of them driven away who were disposed to seek a place of worship, rather than go to law. Many of the colored people in other places were in a situation nearly like those of Philadelphia and Baltimore, which induced us, in April 1816, to call a general meeting, by way of Conference. Delegates from Baltimore and other places which met those of Philadelphia, and taking into consideration their grievances, 24 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 and in order to secure the privileges, promote union and harmony among themselves, it was resolved: “That the people of Philadelphia, Baltimore, etc., etc., should become one body, under the name of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.” We deemed it expedient to have a form of discipline, whereby we may guide our people in the fear of God, in the unity of the Spirit, and in the bonds of peace, and preserve us from that spiritual despotism which we have so recently experienced—remembering that we are not to lord it over God’s heritage, as greedy dogs that can never have enough. But with long suffering and bowels of compassion, to bear each other’s burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ, praying that our mutual striving together for the promulgation of the Gospel may be crowned with abundant success. . . . Source: Excerpt from Richard Allen, The Life, Experience and Gospel Labors of the Rt. Rev. Richard Allen (Philadelphia: Lee & Yocum, 1888), pp. 11–17, 23–24. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Carol V. R. George, Segregated Sabbaths: Richard Allen and the Emergence of Independent Black Churches, 1760–1840 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973). Harry Reed, Platforms for Change: The Foundations of the Northern Free Black Community (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1994). Charles H. Wesley, Richard Allen: Apostle of Freedom (Washington, D.C.: Associated Publishers, 1935). O5O David Walker’s “Appeal,” 1829–1830 David Walker (1785–1830) was born in Wilmington, Ohio, and moved to Boston in 1827, where he became a well-known spokesperson against slavery, and contributed to the first African-American newspaper, Freedom’s Journal. Walker was uncompromising in denouncing what he saw as the “evils” of slavery, and urged enslaved African Americans to employ any tactics, including violence, to achieve liberation. Walker’s militancy is clearly presented in his famous Appeal in Four Articles, which was reprinted several times in 1829 and 1830. Walker died mysteriously in 1830, possibly due to poisoning. O APPEAL, &c. PREAMBLE My dearly beloved Brethren and Fellow Citizens. Having travelled over a considerable portion of these United States, and having, in the course of my travels, taken the most accurate observations of things as D AV I D WA L K E R ’ S “ A P P E A L ” 25 they exist—the result of my observations has warranted the full and unshaken conviction, that we, (coloured people of these United States,) are the most degraded, wretched, and abject set of beings that ever lived since the world began; and I pray God that none like us ever may live again until time shall be no more. They tell us of the Israelites in Egypt, the Helots in Sparta, and of the Roman Slaves, which last were made up from almost every nation under heaven, whose sufferings under those ancient and heathen nations, were, in comparison with ours, under this enlightened and Christian nation, no more than a cypher— or, in other words, those heathen nations of antiquity, had but little more among them than the name and form of slavery; while wretchedness and endless miseries were reserved, apparently in a phial, to be poured out upon our fathers, ourselves and our children, by Christian Americans! These positions I shall endeavour, by the help of the Lord, to demonstrate in the course of this Appeal, to the satisfaction of the most incredulous mind—and may God Almighty, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, open your hearts to understand and believe the truth. The causes, my brethren, which produce our wretchedness and miseries, are so very numerous and aggravating, that I believe the pen only of a Josephus or a Plutarch, can well enumerate and explain them. Upon subjects, then, of such incomprehensible magnitude, so impenetrable, and so notorious, I shall be obliged to omit a large class of, and content myself with giving you an exposition of a few of those, which do indeed rage to such an alarming pitch, that they cannot but be a perpetual source of terror and dismay to every reflecting mind. I am fully aware, in making this appeal to my much afflicted and suffering brethren, that I shall not only be assailed by those whose greatest earthly desires are, to keep us in abject ignorance and wretchedness, and who are of the firm conviction that Heaven has designed us and our children to be slaves and beasts of burden to them and their children. I say, I do not only expect to be held up to the public as an ignorant, impudent and restless disturber of the public peace, by such avaricious creatures, as well as a mover of insubordination—and perhaps put in prison or to death, for giving a superficial exposition of our miseries, and exposing tyrants. But I am persuaded, that many of my brethren, particularly those who are ignorantly in league with slave-holders or tyrants, who acquire their daily bread by the blood and sweat of their more ignorant brethren—and not a few of those too, who are too ignorant to see an inch beyond their noses, will rise up and call me cursed—Yea, the jealous ones among us will perhaps use more abject subtlety, by affirming that this work is not worth perusing, that we are well situated, and there is no use in trying to better our condition, for we cannot. I will ask one question here.—Can our condition be any worse?—Can it be more mean and abject? If there are any changes, will they not be for the better, though they may appear for the worst at first? Can they get us any lower? Where can they get us? They are afraid to treat us worse, for they know well, the day they do it they are gone. But against all accusations which may or can be preferred against me, I appeal to Heaven for my motive in writing—who knows that my object is, if possible, to awaken in the breasts of my afflicted, degraded and slumbering brethren, 26 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 a spirit of inquiry and investigation respecting our miseries and wretchedness in this Republican Land of Liberty!!!!!! The sources from which our miseries are derived, and on which I shall comment, I shall not combine in one, but shall put them under distinct heads and expose them in their turn; in doing which, keeping truth on my side, and not departing from the strictest rules of morality, I shall endeavour to penetrate, search out, and lay them open for your inspection. If you cannot or will not profit by them, I shall have done my duty to you, my country and my God. And as the inhuman system of slavery, is the source from which most of our miseries proceed, I shall begin with that curse to nations, which has spread terror and devastation through so many nations of antiquity, and which is raging to such a pitch at the present day in Spain and in Portugal. It had one tug in England, in France, and in the United States of America; yet the inhabitants thereof, do not learn wisdom, and erase it entirely from their dwellings and from all with whom they have to do. The fact is, the labour of slaves comes so cheap to the avaricious usurpers, and is (as they think) of such great utility to the country where it exists, that those who are actuated by sordid avarice only, overlook the evils, which will as sure as the Lord lives, follow after the good. In fact, they are so happy to keep in ignorance and degradation, and to receive the homage and the labour of the slaves, they forget that God rules in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, having his ears continually open to the cries, tears and groans of his oppressed people; and being a just and holy Being will at one day appear fully in behalf of the oppressed, and arrest the progress of the avaricious oppressors; for although the destruction of the oppressors God may not effect by the oppressed, yet the Lord our God will bring other destructions upon them—for not unfrequently will he cause them to rise up one against another, to be split and divided, and to oppress each other, and sometimes to open hostilities with sword in hand. Some may ask, what is the matter with this united and happy people?— Some say it is the cause of political usurpers; tyrants, oppressors, &c. But has not the Lord an oppressed and suffering people among them? Does the Lord condescend to hear their cries and see their tears in consequence of oppression? Will he let the oppressors rest comfortably and happy always? Will he not cause the very children of the oppressors to rise up against them, and oftimes put them to death? “God works in many ways his wonders to perform.” All persons who are acquainted with history, and particularly the Bible, who are not blinded by the God of this world, and are not actuated solely by avarice—who are able to lay aside prejudice long enough to view candidly and impartially, things as they were, are, and probably will be—who are willing to admit that God made man to serve Him alone, and that man should have no other Lord or Lords but Himself—that God Almighty is the sole proprietor or master of the WHOLE human family, and will not on any consideration admit of a colleague, being unwilling to divide his glory with another—and who can dispense with prejudice long enough to admit that we are men, notwithstanding our improminent noses and woolly heads, and believe that we feel for our fathers, mothers, wives and children, as well as the whites do for theirs.—I say, D AV I D WA L K E R ’ S “ A P P E A L ” 27 all who are permitted to see and believe these things, can easily recognize the judgments of God among the Spaniards. Though others may lay the cause of the fierceness with which they cut each other’s throats, to some other circumstance, yet they who believe that God is a God of justice, will believe that SLAVERY is the principal cause. While the Spaniards are running about upon the field of battle cutting each other’s throats, has not the Lord an afflicted and suffering people in the midst of them, whose cries and groans in consequence of oppression are continually pouring into the ears of the God of justice? Would they not cease to cut each other’s throats, if they could? But how can they? The very support which they draw from government to aid them in perpetrating such enormities, does it not arise in a great degree from the wretched victims of oppression among them? And yet they are calling for Peace!—Peace!! Will any peace be given unto them? Their destruction may indeed be procrastinated awhile, but can it continue long, while they are oppressing the Lord’s people? Has He not the hearts of all men in His hand? Will he suffer one part of his creatures to go on oppressing another like brutes always, with impunity? And yet, those avaricious wretches are calling for Peace!!!! I declare, it does appear to me, as though some nations think God is asleep, or that he made the Africans for nothing else but to dig their mines and work their farms, or they cannot believe history, sacred or profane. I ask every man who has a heart, and is blessed with the privilege of believing—Is not God a God of justice to all his creatures? Do you say he is? Then if he gives peace and tranquillity to tyrants, and permits them to keep our fathers, our mothers, ourselves and our children in eternal ignorance and wretchedness, to support them and their families, would he be to us a God of justice? I ask, O ye Christians!!! who hold us and our children in the most abject ignorance and degradation, that ever a people were afflicted with since the world began—I say, if God gives you peace and tranquillity, and suffers you thus to go on afflicting us, and our children, who have never given you the least provocation—would he be to us a God of justice? If you will allow that we are MEN, who feel for each other, does not the blood of our fathers and of us their children, cry aloud to the Lord of Sabaoth against you, for the cruelties and murders with which you have, and do continue to afflict us. But it is time for me to close my remarks on the suburbs, just to enter more fully into the interior of this system of cruelty and oppression. . . . . . . I saw a paragraph, a few years since, in a South Carolina paper, which, speaking of the barbarity of the Turks, it said: “The Turks are the most barbarous people in the world—they treat the Greeks more like brutes than human beings.” And in the same paper was an advertisement, which said: “Eight well built Virginia and Maryland Negro fellows and four wenches will positively be sold this day, to the highest bidder!” And what astonished me still more was, to see in this same humane paper!! the cuts of three men, with clubs and budgets on their backs, and an advertisement offering a considerable sum of money for their apprehension and delivery. I declare, it is really so amusing to hear the Southerners and Westerners of this country talk about barbarity, that it is positively, enough to make a man smile. 28 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 The sufferings of the Helots among the Spartans, were somewhat severe, it is true, but to say that theirs, were as severe as ours among the Americans, I do most strenuously deny—for instance, can any man show me an article on a page of ancient history which specifies, that, the Spartans chained, and hand-cuffed the Helots, and dragged them from their wives and children, children from their parents, mothers from their suckling babes, wives from their husbands, driving them from one end of the country to the other? Notice the Spartans were heathens, who lived long before our Divine Master made his appearance in the flesh. Can Christian Americans deny these barbarous cruelties? Have you not, Americans, having subjected us under you, added to these miseries, by insulting us in telling us to our face, because we are helpless, that we are not of the human family? I ask you, O! Americans, I ask you in the name of the Lord, can you deny these charges? Some perhaps may deny, by saying, that they never thought or said that we were not men. But do not actions speak louder than words?—have they not made provisions for the Greeks, and Irish? Nations who have never done the least thing for them, while we, who have enriched their country with our blood and tears—have dug up gold and silver for them and their children, from generation to generation, and are in more miseries than any other people under heaven, are not seen, but by comparatively, a handful of the American people? There are indeed, more ways to kill a dog, besides choking it to death with butter. Further— The Spartans or Lacedemonians, had some frivolous pretext, for enslaving the Helots, for they (Helots) while being free inhabitants of Sparta, stirred up an intestine commotion, and were, by the Spartans subdued, and made prisoners of war. Consequently they and their children were condemned to perpetual slavery.1 I have been for years troubling the pages of historians, to find out what our fathers have done to the white Christians of America, to merit such condign punishment as they have inflicted on them, and do continue to inflict on us their children. But I must aver, that my researches have hitherto been to no effect. I have therefore, come to the immoveable conclusion, that they (Americans) have, and do continue to punish us for nothing else, but for enriching them and their country. For I cannot conceive of any thing else. Nor will I ever believe otherwise, until the Lord shall convince me. . . . O Article II: Our Wretchedness in Consequence of Ignorance Ignorance, my brethren, is a mist, low down into the very dark and almost impenetrable abyss in which, our fathers for many centuries have been plunged. The Christians, and enlightened of Europe, and some of Asia, seeing the ignorance and consequent degradation of our fathers, instead of trying to enlighten them, by teaching them that religion and light with which God had blessed them, they have plunged them into wretchedness ten thousand times more intolerable, than if they had left them entirely to the Lord, and to add to their miseries, deep down into which they have plunged them tell them, that they are an inferior and distinct race of beings, which they will be glad enough to recall and swallow by and D AV I D WA L K E R ’ S “ A P P E A L ” 29 by. Fortune and misfortune, two inseparable companions, lay rolled up in the wheel of events, which have from the creation of the world, and will continue to take place among men until God shall dash worlds together. When we take a retrospective view of the arts and sciences—the wise legislators—the Pyramids, and other magnificent buildings—the turning of the channel of the river Nile, by the sons of Africa or of Ham, among whom learning originated, and was carried thence into Greece, where it was improved upon and refined. Thence among the Romans, and all over the then enlightened parts of the world, and it has been enlightening the dark and benighted minds of men from then, down to this day. I say, when I view retrospectively, the renown of that once mighty people, the children of our great progenitor I am indeed cheered. Yea further, when I view that mighty son of Africa, HANNIBAL, one of the greatest generals of antiquity, who defeated and cut off so many thousands of the white Romans or murderers, and who carried his victorious arms, to the very gate of Rome, and I give it as my candid opinion, that had Carthage been well united and had given him good support, he would have carried that cruel and barbarous city by storm. But they were dis-united, as the coloured people are now, in the United States of America, the reason our natural enemies are enabled to keep their feet on our throats. Beloved brethren—here let me tell you, and believe it, that the Lord our God, as true as he sits on his throne in heaven, and as true as our Saviour died to redeem the world, will give you a Hannibal, and when the Lord shall have raised him up, and given him to you for your possession, O my suffering brethren! remember the divisions and consequent sufferings of Carthage and of Hayti. Read the history particularly of Hayti, and see how they were butchered by the whites, and do you take warning. The person whom God shall give you, give him your support and let him go his length, and behold in him the salvation of your God. God will indeed, deliver you through him from your deplorable and wretched condition under the Christians of America. I charge you this day before my God to lay no obstacle in his way, but let him go. The whites want slaves, and want us for their slaves, but some of them will curse the day they ever saw us. As true as the sun ever shone in its meridian splendor, my colour will root some of them out of the very face of the earth. They shall have enough of making slaves of, and butchering, and murdering us in the manner which they have. No doubt some may say that I write with a bad spirit, and that I being a black, wish these things to occur. Whether I write with a bad or a good spirit, I say if these things do not occur in their proper time, it is because the world in which we live does not exist, and we are deceived with regard to its existence.—It is immaterial however to me, who believe, or who refuse—though I should like to see the whites repent peradventure God may have mercy on them, some however, have gone so far that their cup must be filled. . . . Ignorance and treachery one against the other—a grovelling servile and abject submission to the lash of tyrants, we see plainly, my brethren, are not the natural elements of the blacks, as the Americans try to make us believe; but these are misfortunes which God has suffered our fathers to be enveloped in for many ages, no doubt in consequence of their disobedience to their Maker, and which do, 30 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 indeed, reign at this time among us, almost to the destruction of all other principles: for I must truly say, that ignorance, the mother of treachery and deceit, gnaws into our very vitals. Ignorance, as it now exits among us, produces a state of things, Oh my Lord! too horrible to present to the world. Any man who is curious to see the full force of ignorance developed among the coloured people of the United States of America, has only to go into the southern and western states of this confederacy, where, if he is not a tyrant, but has the feelings of a human being, who can feel for a fellow creature, he may see enough to make his very heart bleed! He may see there, a son take his mother, who bore almost the pains of death to give him birth, and by the command of a tyrant, strip her as naked as she came into the world, and apply the cow-hide to her, until she falls a victim to death in the road! He may see a husband take his dear wife, not unfrequently in a pregnant state, and perhaps far advanced, and beat her for an unmerciful wretch, until his infant falls a lifeless lump at her feet! Can the Americans escape God Almighty? If they do, can he be to us a God of Justice? God is just, and I know it—for he has convinced me to my satisfaction—I cannot doubt him. My observer may see fathers beating their sons, mothers their daughters, and children their parents, all to pacify the passions of unrelenting tyrants. He may also see them telling news and lies, making mischief one upon another. These are some of the productions of ignorance, which he will see practised among my dear brethren, who are held in unjust slavery and wretchedness, by avaricious and unmerciful tyrants, to whom, and their hellish deeds, I would suffer my life to be taken before I would submit. And when my curious observer comes to take notice of those who are said to be free, (which assertion I deny) and who are making some frivolous pretentions to common sense, he will see that branch of ignorance among the slaves assuming a more cunning and deceitful course of procedure.— He may see some of my brethren in league with tyrants, selling their own brethren into hell upon earth, not dissimilar to the exhibitions in Africa, but in a more secret, servile and abject manner. Oh Heaven! I am full!!! I can hardly move my pen!!! and as I expect some will try to put me to death, to strike terror into others, and to obliterate from their minds the notion of freedom, so as to keep my brethren the more secure in wretchedness, where they will be permitted to stay but a short time (whether tyrants believe it or not)—I shall give the world a development of facts, which are already witnessed in the courts of heaven. My observer may see some of those ignorant and treacherous creatures (coloured people) sneaking about in the large cities, endeavouring to find out all strange coloured people, where they work and where they reside, asking them questions, and trying to ascertain whether they are runaways or not, telling them, at the same time, that they always have been, are, and always will be, friends to their brethren; and, perhaps, that they themselves are absconders, and a thousand such treacherous lies to get the better information of the more ignorant!!! There have been and are at this day in Boston, New-York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, coloured men; who are in league with tyrants, and who receive a great portion of their daily bread, of the moneys which they acquire from the blood and tears of their more miserable D AV I D WA L K E R ’ S “ A P P E A L ” 31 brethren, whom they scandalously delivered into the hands of our natural enemies!!!!!! . . . . . . I say, from the beginning, I do not think that we were natural enemies to each other. But the whites having made us so wretched, by subjecting us to slavery, and having murdered so many millions of us, in order to make us work for them, and out of devilishness—and they taking our wives, whom we love as we do ourselves—our mothers, who bore the pains of death to give us birth—our fathers and dear little children, and ourselves, and strip and beat us one before the other—chain, hand-cuff, and drag us about like rattle-snakes—shoot us down like wild bears, before each other’s faces, to make us submissive to, and work to support them and their families. They (the whites) know well, if we are men—and there is a secret monitor in their hearts which tells them we are—they know, I say, if we are men, and see them treating us in the manner they do, that there can be nothing in our hearts but death alone, for them, notwithstanding we may appear cheerful, when we see them murdering our dear mothers and wives, because we cannot help ourselves. Man, in all ages and all nations of the earth, is the same. Man is a peculiar creature—he is the image of his God, though he may be subjected to the most wretched condition upon earth, yet the spirit and feeling which constitute the creature, man, can never be entirely erased from his breast, because the God who made him after his own image, planted it in his heart; he cannot get rid of it. The whites knowing this, they do not know what to do; they know that they have done us so much injury, they are afraid that we, being men, and not brutes, will retaliate, and woe will be to them; therefore, that dreadful fear, together with an avaricious spirit, and the natural love in them, to be called masters, (which term will yet honour them with to their sorrow) bring them to the resolve that they will keep us in ignorance and wretchedness, as long as they possibly can,2 and make the best of their time, while it lasts. Consequently they, themselves, (and not us) render themselves our natural enemies, by treating us so cruel. They keep us miserable now, and call us their property, but some of them will have enough of us by and by—their stomachs shall run over with us; they want us for their slaves, and shall have us to their fill. (We are all in the world together!!—I said above, because we cannot help ourselves, (viz. we cannot help the whites murdering our mothers and our wives) but this statement is incorrect—for we can help ourselves; for, if we lay aside abject servility, and be determined to act like men, and not brutes—the murders among the whites would be afraid to show their cruel heads. But O, my God!—in sorrow I must say it, that my colour, all over the world, have a mean, servile spirit. They yield in a moment to the whites, let them be right or wrong—the reason they are able to keep their feet on our throats. Oh! my coloured brethren, all over the world, when shall we arise from this death-like apathy?—And be men!! You will notice, if ever we become men, I mean respectable men, such as other people are,) we must exert ourselves to the full. For remember, that it is the greatest desire and object of the greater part of the whites, to keep us ignorant, and make us work to support them and their families. . . . Will any of us leave our homes and go to Africa? I hope not.3 Let them commence their attack 32 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 upon us as they did on our brethren in Ohio, driving and beating us from our country, and my soul for theirs, they will have enough of it. Let no man of us budge one step, and let slave-holders come to beat us from our country. America is more our country, than it is the whites—we have enriched it with our blood and tears. The greatest riches in all America have arisen from our blood and tears:—and will they drive us from our property and homes, which we have earned with our blood? They must look sharp or this very thing will bring swift destruction upon them. The Americans have got so fat on our blood and groans, that they have almost forgotten the God of armies. But let them go on. ADDITION.—I will give here a very imperfect list of the cruelties inflicted on us by the enlightened Christians of America.—First, no trifling portion of them will beat us nearly to death, if they find us on our knees praying to God,—They hinder us from going to hear the word of God—they keep us sunk in ignorance, and will not let us learn to read the word of God, nor write—If they find us with a book of any description in our hand, they will beat us nearly to death—they are so afraid we will learn to read, and enlighten our dark and benighted minds—They will not suffer us to meet together to worship the God who made us—they brand us with hot iron—they cram bolts of fire down our throats—they cut us as they do horses, bulls, or hogs—they crop our ears and sometimes cut off bits of our tongues—they chain and hand-cuff us, and while in that miserable and wretched condition, beat us with cow-hides and clubs— they keep us half naked and starve us sometimes nearly to death under their infernal whips or lashes (which some of them shall have enough of yet)—They put on us fifty-sixes and chains, and make us work in that cruel situation, and in sickness, under lashes to support them and their families.—They keep us three or four hundred feet under ground working in their mines, night and day to dig up gold and silver to enrich them and their children.—They keep us in the most death-like ignorance by keeping us from all source of information, and call us, who are free men and next to the Angels of God, their property!!!!!! They make us fight and murder each other, many of us being ignorant, not knowing any better,—They take us, (being ignorant,) and put us as drivers one over the other, and make us afflict each other as bad as they themselves afflict us—and to crown the whole of this catalogue of cruelties, they tell us that we the (blacks) are an inferior race of beings! incapable of self government!!—We would be injurious to society and ourselves, if tyrants should loose their unjust hold on us!!! That if we were free we would not work, but would live on plunder or theft!!!! that we are the meanest and laziest set of beings in the world!!!!! That they are obliged to keep us in bondage to do us good!!!!!!—That we are satisfied to rest in slavery to them and their children!!!!!!—That we ought not to be set free in America, but ought to be sent away to Africa!!!!!!!—That if we were set free in America, we would involve the country in a civil war, which assertion is altogether at variance with our feeling or design, for we ask them for nothing but the rights of man, viz. for them to set us free, and treat us like men, and there will be no danger, for we will love and respect them, and protect our country—but cannot conscientiously do these things until they treat us like men. D AV I D WA L K E R ’ S “ A P P E A L ” 33 How cunning slave-holders think they are!!!—How much like the king of Egypt who, after he saw plainly that God was determined to bring out his people, in spite of him and his, as powerful as they were. He was willing that Moses, Aaron and the Elders of Israel, but not all the people should go and serve the Lord. But God deceived him as he will Christian Americans, unless they are very cautious how they move. What would have become of the United States of America, was it not for those among the whites, who not in words barely, but in truth and in deed, love and fear the Lord?—Our Lord and Master said:—4 “Who so shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” But the Americans with this very threatening of the Lord’s, not only beat his little ones among the Africans, but many of them they put to death or murder. Now the avaricious Americans, think that the Lord Jesus Christ will let them off, because his words are no more than the words of a man!!! In fact, many of them are so avaricious and ignorant, that they do not believe in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Tyrants may think they are so skillful in State affairs is the reason that the government is preserved. But I tell you, that this country would have been given up long ago, was it not for the lovers of the Lord. They are indeed, the salt of the earth. Remove the people of God among the whites, from this land of blood, and it will stand until they cleverly get out of the way. . . . Notes: 1. See Dr. Goldsmith’s History of Greece, page 9. See also, Plutarch’s Lives. The Helots subdued by Agis, king of Sparta. 2. And still hold us up with indignity as being incapable of acquiring knowledge!!! See the inconsistency of the assertions of those wretches— they beat us inhumanely, sometimes almost to death, for attempting to inform ourselves, by reading the Word of our Maker, and at the same time tell us, that we are beings void of intellect!!!! How admirably their practices agree with their professions in this case. Let me cry shame upon you Americans, for such outrages upon human nature!!! If it were possible for the whites always to keep us ignorant and miserable, and make us work to enrich them and their children, and insult our feelings by representing us as talking Apes, what would they do? But glory, honour and praise to Heaven’s King, that the sons and daughters of Africa, will, in spite of all the opposition of their enemies, stand forth in all the dignity and glory that is granted by the Lord to his creature man. 3. Those who are ignorant enough to go to Africa, the coloured people ought to be glad to have them go, for if they are ignorant enough to let the whites fool them off to Africa, they would be no small injury to us if they reside in this country. 4. See St. Matthew’s Gospel, chap. xviii. 6. Source: Excerpt from David Walker, David Walker’s Appeal in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in Particular and Very Expressly, to those of the United States of America (Boston: Revised and published by David Walker, 3rd ed., 1830). S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Houston A. Baker, Jr., Long Black Song (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1972). Lerone Bennett, Pioneers in Protest (Chicago: Johnson Publishing Co., 1968). Hasan Crockett, “The Incendiary Pamphlet: David Walker’s Appeal in Georgia,” Journal of Negro History 86, no. 3 (2001), pp. 305–318. Peter P. Hinks, To Awaken My Affiliated Brethren: David Walker and the Problems of Antebellum Slave Resistance (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997). Vernon Loggins, The Negro Author (New York: Columbia University, 1931). 34 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 O6O The Statement of Nat Turner, 1831 Probably the most famous slave revolt in American history was led by Nat Turner (1800–1831). Turner was born in Southampton County, Virginia, the child of slave parents. On August 22, 1831, Turner and a group of sixty to eighty slaves initiated an insurrection, killing about sixty whites in the span of forty hours. The revolt was viciously suppressed by local and state authorities. Over two hundred slaves, most of whom had little knowledge of the uprising and had not participated in it, were killed in retaliation. Turner himself was captured on October 30, 1831, and summarily tried and executed on November 11, 1831. Before his trial, Turner was interviewed by a court-appointed attorney, Thomas Gray. The document produced by Gray, which was published as Turner’s Confessions, became the basis for a controversial novel by author William Styron depicting the revolt. Turner’s actions symbolized to successive generations of African Americans a fierce determination to achieve freedom. It is important to keep in mind that Gray’s account was surely influenced by his racism, and that there is no independent source that can verify the statements attributed to Turner. O . . . I was thirty-one years of age the second of October last, and born the property of Benjamin Turner, of this county. In my childhood a circumstance occurred which made an indelible impression on my mind, and laid the groundwork of that enthusiasm which has terminated so fatally to many, both white and black, and for which I am about to atone at the gallows. It is here necessary to relate this circumstance. Trifling as it may seem, it was the commencement of that belief which has grown with time; and even now, sir, in his dungeon, helpless and forsaken as I am, I cannot divest myself of. Being at play with other children, when three or four years old, I was telling them something, which my mother, overhearing, said it had happened before I was born. I stuck to my story, however, and related some things which went, in her opinion, to confirm it. Others being called on, were greatly astonished, knowing that these things had happened, and caused them to say, in my hearing, I surely would be a prophet, as the Lord had shown me things that had happened before my birth. And my mother and grandmother strengthened me in this my first impression, saying, in my presence, I was intended for some great purpose, which they had always thought from certain marks on my head and breast. . . . My grandmother, who was very religious, and to whom I was much attached— my master, who belonged to the church, and other religious persons who visited the house, and whom I often saw at prayers, noticing the singularity of my manners, I suppose, and my uncommon intelligence for a child, remarked I had too much sense to be raised, and, if I was, I would never be of any service to any one as a slave. To a mind like mine, restless, inquisitive, and observant of everything T H E S TAT E M E N T O F N AT T U R N E R 35 that was passing, it is easy to suppose that religion was the subject to which it would be directed; and, although this subject principally occupied my thoughts, there was nothing that I saw or heard of to which my attention was not directed. The manner in which I learned to read and write, not only had great influence on my own mind, as I acquired it with the most perfect ease,—so much so, that I have no recollection whatever of learning the alphabet; but, to the astonishment of the family, one day, when a book was shown me, to keep me from crying, I began spelling the names of different objects. This was a source of wonder to all in the neighborhood, particularly the blacks—and this learning was constantly improved at all opportunities. When I got large enough to go to work, while employed I was reflecting on many things that would present themselves to my imagination; and whenever an opportunity occurred of looking at a book, when the school-children were getting their lessons, I would find many things that the fertility of my own imagination had depicted to me before. All my time, not devoted to my master’s service, was spent either in prayer, or in making experiments in casting different things in moulds made of earth, in attempting to make paper, gunpowder, and many other experiments, that, although I could not perfect, yet convinced me of its practicability if I had the means.1 I was not addicted to stealing in my youth, nor have ever been; yet such was the confidence of the Negroes in the neighborhood, even at this early period of my life, in my superior judgment, that they would often carry me with them when they were going on any roguery, to plan for them. Growing up among them with this confidence in my superior judgment, and when this, in their opinions, was perfected by Divine inspiration, from the circumstances already alluded to in my infancy, and which belief was ever afterwards zealously inculcated by the austerity of my life and manners, which became the subject of remark by white and black; having soon discovered to be great, I must appear so, and therefore studiously avoided mixing in society, and wrapped myself in mystery, devoting my time to fasting and prayer. By this time, having arrived to man’s estate, and hearing the Scriptures commented on at meetings, I was struck with that particular passage which says, “Seek ye the kingdom of heaven, and all things shall be added unto you.” I reflected much on this passage, and prayed daily for light on this subject. As I was praying one day at my plough, the Spirit spoke to me, saying, “Seek ye the kingdom of heaven, and all things shall be added unto you.” Question. “What do you mean by the Spirit?” Answer. “The Spirit that spoke to the prophets in former days,”—and I was greatly astonished, and for two years prayed continually, whenever my duty would permit; and then again I had the same revelation, which fully confirmed me in the impression that I was ordained for some great purpose in the hands of the Almighty. Several years rolled round, in which many events occurred to strengthen me in this my belief. At this time I reverted in my mind to the remarks made of me in my childhood, and the things that had been shown me; and as it had been said of me in my childhood, by those by whom I had been taught to pray, both white and black, and in whom I had the greatest confidence, that I had too much sense to be raised, and if I was I would never be of any use 36 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 to any one as a slave; now, finding I had arrived to man’s estate, and was a slave, and these revelations being made known to me, I began to direct my attention to this great object, to fulfill the purpose for which, by this time, I felt assured I was intended. Knowing the influence I had obtained over the minds of my fellowservants—(not by the means of conjuring and such-like tricks—for to them I always spoke of such things with contempt), but by the communion of the Spirit, whose revelations I often communicated to them, and they believed and said my wisdom came from God,—I now began to prepare them for my purpose, by telling them something was about to happen that would terminate in fulfilling the great promise that had been made to me. About this time I was placed under an overseer, from whom I ran away, and after remaining in the woods thirty days, I returned, to the astonishment of the Negroes on the plantation, who thought I had made my escape to some other part of the country, as my father had done before. But the reason of my return was, that the Spirit appeared to me and said I had my wishes directed to the things of this world, and not to the kingdom of heaven, and that I should return to the service of my earthly master—“For he who knoweth his Master’s will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes, and thus have I chastened you.” And the Negroes found fault, and murmured against me, saying that if they had my sense they would not serve any master in the world. And about this time I had a vision— and I saw white spirits and black spirits engaged in battle, and the sun was darkened—the thunder rolled in the heavens, and blood flowed in streams—and I heard a voice saying, “Such is your luck, such you are called to see; and let it come rough or smooth, you must surely bear it.” I now withdrew myself as much as my situation would permit from the intercourse of my fellow-servants, for the avowed purpose of serving the Spirit more fully; and it appeared to me, and reminded me of the things it had already shown me, and that it would then reveal to me the knowledge of the elements, the revolution of the planets, the operation of tides, and changes of the seasons. After this revelation in the year 1825, and the knowledge of the elements being made known to me, I sought more than ever to obtain true holiness before the great day of judgment should appear, and then I began to receive the true knowledge of faith. And from the first steps of righteousness until the last, was I made perfect; and the Holy Ghost was with me, and said, “Behold me as I stand in the heavens.” And I looked and saw the forms of men in different attitudes; and there were lights in the sky, to which the children of darkness gave other names than what they really were; for they were the lights of the Saviour’s hands, stretched forth from east to west, even as they were extended on the cross on Calvary for the redemption of sinners. And I wondered greatly at these miracles, and prayed to be informed of a certainty of the meaning thereof; and shortly afterwards, while laboring in the field, I discovered drops of blood on the corn, as though it were dew from heaven; and I communicated it to many, both white and black, in the neighborhood—and I then found on the leaves in the woods hieroglyphic characters and numbers, with the forms of men in different attitudes, portrayed in blood, and representing the figures I had seen before in the heavens. And now the Holy Ghost had T H E S TAT E M E N T O F N AT T U R N E R 37 revealed itself to me, and made plain the miracles it had shown me; for as the blood of Christ had been shed on this earth, and had ascended to heaven for the salvation of sinners, and was now returning to earth again in the form of dew,— and as the leaves on the trees bore the impression of the figures I had seen in the heavens,—it was plain to me that the Saviour was about to lay down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and the great day of judgment was at hand. About this time I told these things to a white man (Etheldred T. Brantley), on whom it had a wonderful effect; and he ceased from his wickedness, and was attacked immediately with a cutaneous eruption, and blood oozed from the pores of his skin, and after praying and fasting nine days he was healed. And the Spirit appeared to me again, and said, as the Saviour had been baptized, so should we be also; and when the white people would not let us be baptized by the church, we went down into the water together, in the sight of many who reviled us, and were baptized by the Spirit. After this I rejoiced greatly, and gave thanks to God. And on the 12th of May, 1828, I heard a loud noise in the heavens, and the Spirit instantly appeared to me and said the Serpent was loosened, and Christ had laid down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I should take it on and fight against the Serpent, for the time was fast approaching when the first should be last and the last should be first. Ques. “Do you not find yourself mistaken now?”—Ans. “Was not Christ crucified?” And by signs in the heavens that it would make known to me when I should commence the great work, and until the first sign appeared I should conceal it from the knowledge of men; and on the appearance of the sign (the eclipse of the sun, last February 2 ), I should arise and prepare myself, and slay my enemies with their own weapons. And immediately on the sign appearing in the heavens, the seal was removed from my lips, and I communicated the great work laid out for me to do, to four in whom I had the greatest confidence (Henry, Hark, Nelson, and Sam). It was intended by us to have begun the work of death on the 4th of July last. Many were the plans formed and rejected by us, and it affected my mind to such a degree that I fell sick, and the time passed without our coming to any determination how to commence— still forming new schemes and rejecting them, when the sign appeared again, which determined me not to wait longer. Since the commencement of 1830 I had been living with Mr. Joseph Travis, who was to me a kind master, and placed the greatest confidence in me; in fact, I had no cause to complain of his treatment to me. On Saturday evening, the 20th of August, it was agreed between Henry, Hark, and myself, to prepare a dinner the next day for the men we expected, and then to concert a plan, as we had not yet determined on any. Hark, on the following morning, brought a pig, and Henry brandy; and being joined by Sam, Nelson, Will, and Jack, they prepared in the woods a dinner, where, about three o’clock, I joined them. Q. Why were you so backward in joining them? A. The same reason that had caused me not to mix with them years before, I saluted them on coming up, and asked Will how came he there. He answered, his life was worth no more than others, and his liberty as dear to him. I asked him if he thought to obtain it. He said he would, or lose his life. This was 38 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 enough to put him in full confidence. Jack, I knew, was only a tool in the hands of Hark. It was quickly agreed we should commence at home (Mr. J. Travis’) on that night; and until we had armed and equipped ourselves, and gathered sufficient force, neither age nor sex was to be spared—which was invariably adhered to. We remained at the feast until about two hours in the night, when we went to the house and found Austin. . . . I took my station in the rear, and, as it was my object to carry terror and devastation wherever we went, I placed fifteen or twenty of the best armed and most to be relied on in front, who generally approached the houses as fast as their horses could run. This was for two purposes—to prevent their escape, and strike terror to the inhabitants; on this account I never got to the houses, after leaving Mrs. Whitehead’s, until the murders were committed, except in one case. I sometimes got in sight in time to see the work of death completed; viewed the mangled bodies as they lay, in silent satisfaction, and immediately started in quest of other victims. Having murdered Mrs. Waller and ten children, we started for Mr. Wm. Williams’,—having killed him and two little boys that were there; while engaged in this, Mrs. Williams fled and got some distance from the house, but she was pursued, overtaken, and compelled to get up behind one of the company, who brought her back, and, after showing her the mangled body of her lifeless husband, she was told to get down and lay by his side, where she was shot dead. The white men pursued and fired on us several times. Hark had his horse shot under him, and I caught another for him as it was running by me; five or six of my men were wounded, but none left on the field. Finding myself defeated here, I instantly determined to go through a private way, and cross the Nottoway River at the Cypress Bridge, three miles below Jerusalem, and attack that place in the rear, as I expected they would look for me on the other road, and I had a great desire to get there to procure arms and ammunition. After going a short distance in this private way, accompanied by about twenty men, I overtook two or three, who told me the others were dispersed in every direction. On this, I gave up all hope for the present; and on Thursday night, after having supplied myself with provisions from Mr. Travis’, I scratched a hole under a pile of fence-rails in a field, where I concealed myself for six weeks, never leaving my hiding-place but for a few minutes in the dead of the night to get water, which was very near. Thinking by this time I could venture out, I began to go about in the night, and eavesdrop the houses in the neighborhood; pursuing this course for about a fortnight, and gathering little or no intelligence, afraid of speaking to any human being, and returning every morning to my cave before the dawn of day. I know not how long I might have led this life, if accident had not betrayed me. A dog in the neighborhood passing by my hiding-place one night while I was out, was attracted by some meat I had in my cave, and crawled in and stole it, and was coming out just as I returned. A few nights after, two Negroes having started to go hunting with the same dog, and passed that way, the dog came again to the place, and having just gone out to walk about, discov- S L AV E S A R E P R O H I B I T E D T O R E A D A N D W R I T E B Y L AW 39 ered me and barked; on which, thinking myself discovered, I spoke to them to beg concealment. On making myself known, they fled from me. Knowing then they would betray me, I immediately left my hiding-place, and was pursued almost incessantly, until I was taken, a fortnight afterwards, by Mr. Benjamin Phipps, in a little hole I had dug out with my sword, for the purpose of concealment, under the top of a fallen tree. During the time I was pursued, I had many hair-breadth escapes, which your time will not permit you to relate. I am here loaded with chains, and willing to suffer the fate that awaits me. Notes: 1. When questioned as to the manner of manufacturing those different articles, he was found well informed. [Footnote in original.] 2. An event which caused much alarm throughout the nation. Source: “Autobiographical Statement of Nat Turner,” published in Thomas R. Gray, ed., The Confessions of Nat Turner, the leader of the late insurrection in Southampton, Va. (Baltimore: 1831). S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Makungu M. Akinyela, “Battling the Serpent: Nat Turner, Africanized Christianity, and a Black Ethos,” Journal of Black Studies 33, no. 3 (January 2003), pp. 255–80. Herbert Aptheker, Nat Turner’s Slave Rebellion: Together with the text of the So-Called Confessions of Nat Turner Made in Prison in 1831 (New York: Humanities Press, 1966). John Henrik Clarke, ed., William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner: Ten Black Writers Respond (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968). John B. Duff and Peter M. Mitchell, eds., The Nat Turner Rebellion: The Historical Event and the Modern Controversy (New York: Harper & Row, 1971). Kenneth S. Greenberg, ed., Nat Turner a Slave Rebellion in History and Memory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). Stephen B. Oates, The Fires of Jubilee: Nat Turner’s Fierce Rebellion (New York: Harper & Row, 1975). William Styron, The Confessions of Nat Turner (New York: Random House, 1967). O7O Slaves Are Prohibited to Read and Write by Law Slavemasters understood that their social control of the slaves could not be based solely on physical coercion. Knowledge was power, and virtually all slave codes established in the United States set restrictions making it illegal to teach slaves to read or write. The statute below, passed by the state of North Carolina in 1830– 1831, was fairly typical. O 40 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 AN ACT TO PREVENT ALL PERSONS FROM TEACHING SLAVES TO READ OR WRITE, THE USE OF FIGURES EXCEPTED. Whereas the teaching of slaves to read and write, has a tendency to excite dissatisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and rebellion, to the manifest injury of the citizens of this State: Therefore, Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That any free person, who shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any slave within the State to read or write, the use of figures excepted, or shall give or sell to such slave or slaves any books or pamphlets, shall be liable to indictment in any court of record in this State having jurisdiction thereof, and upon conviction, shall, at the discretion of the court, if a white man or woman, be fined not less than one hundred dollars, nor more than two hundred dollars, or imprisoned; and if a free person of color, shall be fined, imprisoned, or whipped, at the discretion of the court, not exceeding thirty nine lashes, nor less than twenty lashes. II. Be it further enacted, That if any slave shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any other slave to read or write, the use of figures excepted, he or she may be carried before any justice of the peace, and on conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to receive thirty nine lashes on his or her bare back. III. Be it further enacted, That the judges of the Superior Courts and the justices of the County Courts shall give this act in charge to the grand juries of their respective counties. Source: “Act Passed by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina at the Session of 1830–1831” (Raleigh: 1831). S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Ira Berlin, ed., Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War (New York: New Press, 1992). Robert Starobin, ed., Blacks in Bondage: Letters of American Slaves (New York: New View Points, 1974). O8O “What If I Am a Woman?” Maria W. Stewart, 1833 Maria W. Stewart (1803–1879) was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and was orphaned at age five. Though she lacked any formal education, she played a brief but important political role as a public advocate of African Americans and of women— an achievement that is all the more notable given the social mores of her period, which generally limited the scope and content of women’s activism to temperance societies and literary clubs. In 1831 she published a small pamphlet, Religion and M . W. S T E WA RT, “ W H AT I F I A M A W O M A N ? ” 41 the Pure Principles of Mortality, the Sure Foundation on Which We Must Build, and in 1832–1833 traveled on the public lecture circuit. Later in life, Stewart was a public school teacher in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. O African rights and liberty is a subject that ought to fire the breast of every free man of color in these United States, and excite in his bosom a lively, deep, decided and heart-felt interest. When I cast my eyes on the long list of illustrious names that are enrolled on the bright annals of fame amongst the whites, I turn my eyes within, and ask my thoughts, “Where are the names of our illustrious ones?” It must certainly have been for the want of energy on the part of the free people of color that they have been long willing to bear the yoke of oppression. It must have been the want of ambition and force that has given the whites occasion to say that our natural abilities are not as good, and our capacities by nature inferior to theirs. They boldly assert that, did we possess a natural independence of soul, and feel a love for liberty within our breasts, some one of our sable race, long before this, would have testified it, notwithstanding the disadvantages under which we labor. We have made ourselves appear altogether unqualified to speak in our own defence, and are therefore looked upon as objects of pity and commiseration. We have been imposed upon, insulted and derided on every side; and now, if we complain, it is considered as the height of impertinence. We have suffered ourselves to be considered as dastards, cowards, mean, faint-hearted wretches; and on this account, (not because of our complexion,) many despise us and would gladly spurn us from their presence. These things have fired my soul with a holy indignation, and compelled me thus to come forward, and endeavor to turn their attention to knowledge and improvement; for knowledge is power. I would ask, is it blindness of mind, or stupidity of soul, or the want of education, that has caused our men who are 60 or 70 years of age, never to let their voices be heard nor their hands be raised in behalf of their color? Or has it been for the fear of offending the whites? If it has, O ye fearful ones, throw off your fearfulness, and come forth in the name of the Lord, and in the strength of the God of Justice, and make yourselves useful and active members in society; for they admire a noble and patriotic spirit in others—and should they not admire it in us? If you are men, convince them that you possess the spirit of men; and as your day, so shall your strength be. Have the sons of Africa no souls? feel they no ambitious desires? shall the chains of ignorance forever confine them? shall the insipid appellation of “clever negroes,” or “good creatures,” any longer content them? Where can we find amongst ourselves the man of science, or a philosopher, or an able statesman, or a counsellor at law? Show me our fearless and brave, our noble and gallant ones. Where are our lecturers on natural history, and our critics in useful knowledge? There may be a few such men amongst us, but they are rare. It is true, our fathers bled and died in the revolutionary war, and others fought bravely under the command of Jackson, in defence of liberty. But where is the man that has distinguished himself in these 42 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 modern days by acting wholly in the defence of African rights and liberty? There was one—although he sleeps, his memory lives. I am sensible that there are many highly intelligent gentlemen of color in these United States, in the force of whose arguments, doubtless, I should discover my inferiority; but if they are blest with wit and talent, friends and fortune, why have they not made themselves men of eminence, by striving to take all the reproach that is cast upon the people of color, and in endeavoring to alleviate the woes of their brethren in bondage? Talk, without effort, is nothing; you are abundantly capable, gentlemen, of making yourselves men of distinction; and this gross neglect, on your part, causes my blood to boil within me. Here is the grand cause which hinders the rise and progress of the people of color. It is their want of laudable ambition and requisite courage. Individuals have been distinguished according to their genius and talents, ever since the first formation of man, and will continue to be whilst the world stands. The different grades rise to honor and respectability as their merits may deserve. History informs us that we sprung from one of the most learned nations of the whole earth—from the seat, if not the parent of science; yes, poor, despised Africa was once the resort of sages and legislators of other nations, was esteemed the school for learning, and the most illustrious men in Greece flocked thither for instruction. But it was our gross sins and abominations that provoked the Almighty to frown thus heavily upon us, and give our glory unto others. Sin and prodigality have caused the downfall of nations, kings and emperors; and were it not that God in wrath remembers mercy, we might indeed despair; but a promise is left us; “Ethiopia shall again stretch forth her hands unto God.” But it is of no use for us to boast that we sprung from this learned and enlightened nation, for this day a thick mist of moral gloom hangs over millions of our race. Our condition as a people has been low for hundreds of years, and it will continue to be so, unless, by the true piety and virtue, we strive to regain that which we have lost. White Americans, by their prudence, economy and exertions, have sprung up and become one of the most flourishing nations in the world, distinguished for their knowledge of the arts and sciences, for their polite literature. Whilst our minds are vacant and starving for want of knowledge, theirs are filled to overflowing. Most of our color have been taught to stand in fear of the white man from their earliest infancy, to work as soon as they could walk, and call “master” before they scarce could lisp the name of mother. Continual fear and laborious servitude have in some degree lessened in us that natural force and energy which belong to man; or else, in defiance of opposition, our men before this would have nobly and boldly contended for their rights. But give the man of color an equal opportunity with the white, from the cradle to manhood, and from manhood to the grave, and you would discover the dignified statesman, the man of science, and the philosopher. But there is no such opportunity for the sons of Africa, and I fear that our powerful ones are fully determined that there never shall be. Forbid, ye Powers on High, that it should any longer be said that our men possess no force. O ye sons of Africa, when will your voices be heard in our legislative halls, in defiance of your enemies, contending for equal rights and liberty? M . W. S T E WA RT, “ W H AT I F I A M A W O M A N ? ” 43 How can you, when you reflect from what you have fallen, refrain from crying mightily unto God, to turn away from us the fierceness of his anger, and remember our transgressions against us no more forever. But a God of infinite purity will not regard the prayers of those who hold religion in one hand, and prejudice, sin and pollution in the other; he will not regard the prayers of self-righteousness and hypocrisy. Is it possible, I exclaim, that for the want of knowledge, we have labored for thousands of years to support others, and been content to receive what they chose to give us in return? Cast your eyes about—look as far as you can see—all, all is owned by the lordly white, except here and there a lowly dwelling which the man of color, midst deprivations, fraud and opposition, has been scarce able to procure. Like King Solomon, who put neither nail nor hammer to the temple, yet received the praise; so also have the white Americans gained themselves a name, like the names of the great men who are in the earth, whilst in reality we have been their principal foundation and support. We have pursued the shadow, they have obtained the substance; we have performed the labor, they have received the profits; we have planted the vines, they have eaten the fruits of them. I would implore our men, and especially our rising youth, to flee from the gambling board and the dance hall; for we are poor, and have no money to throw away. I do not consider dancing as criminal in itself, but it is astonishing to me that our young men are so blind to their own interest and the future welfare of their children, as to spend their hard earnings for this frivolous amusement; for it has been carried on among us to such an unbecoming extent that it has become absolutely disgusting. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Had those men amongst us, who have had an opportunity, turned their attention as assiduously to mental and moral improvement as they have to gambling and dancing, I might have remained quietly at home, and they stood contending in my place. These polite accomplishments will never enroll your names on the bright annals of fame, who admire the belle void of intellectual knowledge, or applaud the dandy that talks largely on politics, without striving to assist his fellow in the revolution, when the nerves and muscles of every other man forced him into the field of action. You have a right to rejoice, and to let your hearts cheer you in the days of your youth; yet remember that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. Then, O ye sons of Africa, turn your mind from these perishable objects, and contend for the cause of God and the rights of man. Form yourselves into temperance societies. There are temperate men amongst you; then why will you any longer neglect to strive, by your example, to suppress vice in all its abhorrent forms? You have been told repeatedly of the glorious results arising from temperance, and can you bear to see the whites arising in honor and respectability, without endeavoring to grasp after that honor and respectability also? But I forbear. Let our money, instead of being thrown away as heretofore, be appropriated for schools and seminaries of learning for our children and youth. We ought to follow the example of the whites in this respect. Nothing would raise our respectability, add to our peace and happiness and reflect so much honor upon us, as to be ourselves the promoters of temperance, and the supporters, as 44 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 far as we are able, of useful and scientific knowledge. The rays of light and knowledge have been hid from our view; we have been taught to consider ourselves as scarce superior to the brute creation; and have performed the most laborious part of American drudgery. Had we as people received one half the early advantages the whites have received, I would defy the government of these United States to deprive us any longer of our rights. I am informed that the agent of the Colonization Society has recently formed an association of young men, for the purpose of influencing those of us to go to Liberia who may feel disposed. The colonizationists are blind to their own interest, for should the nations of the earth make war with America, they would find their forces much weakened by our absence; or should we remain here, can our “brave soldiers” and “fellow citizens,” as they were termed in time of calamity, condescend to defend the rights of the whites, and be again deprived of their own, or sent to Liberia in return? O, if the colonizationists are real friends to Africa, let them expend the money which they collect in erecting a college to educate her injured sons in this land of gospel light and liberty; for it would be most thankfully received on our part, and convince us of the truth of their professions, and save time, expense and anxiety. Let them place before us noble objects, worthy of pursuit, and see if we prove ourselves to be those unambitious Negroes they term us. But ah! methinks their hearts are so frozen towards us, they had rather their money should be sunk in the ocean than to administer it to our relief; and I fear, if they dared, like Pharaoh king of Egypt, they would order every male child amongst us to be drowned. But the most high God is still as able to subdue the lofty pride of these white Americans, as He was the heart of that ancient rebel. They say though we are looked upon as things, yet we sprang from a scientific people. Had our men the requisite force and energy, they would soon convince them, by their efforts both in public and private, that they were men, or things in the shape of men. Well may the colonizationists laugh us to scorn for our negligence; well may they cry, “Shame to the sons of Africa.” As the burden of the Israelites was too great for Moses to bear, so also is our burden too great for our noble advocate to bear. You must feel interested, my brethren, in what he undertakes, and hold up his hands by your good words, or in spite of himself his soul will become discouraged, and his heart will die within him; for he has, as it were, the strong bulls of Bashan to contend with. It is of no use for us to wait any longer for a generation of well-educated men to arise. We have slumbered and slept too long already; the day is far spent; the night of death approaches; and you have sound sense and good judgment sufficient to begin with, if you feel disposed to make a right use of it. Let every man of color throughout the United States, who possesses the spirit and principles of a man, sign a petition to Congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, and grant you the rights and privileges of common free citizens; for if you had had faith as a grain of mustard seed, long before this the mountains of prejudice might have been removed. We are all sensible that the Anti-Slavery Society has taken hold of the arm of our whole population, in order to raise them out of the mire. Now all we have to do is, by a spirit of virtuous ambition to strive to raise our- M . W. S T E WA RT, “ W H AT I F I A M A W O M A N ? ” 45 selves; and I am happy to have it in my power thus publicly to say that the colored inhabitants of this city, in some respects, are beginning to improve. Had the free people of color in these United States nobly and boldly contended for their rights, and showed a natural genius and talent, although not so brilliant as some; had they held up, encouraged and patronized each other; nothing could have hindered us from being a thriving and flourishing people. There has been a fault amongst us. The reason why our distinguished men have not made themselves more influential is, because they fear the strong current of opposition through which they must pass, would cause their downfall and prove their overthrow. And what gives rise to this opposition? Envy. And what has it amounted to? Nothing. And who are the cause of it? Our whited sepulchres who want to be great, and don’t know how; who love to be called of men “Rabbi, Rabbi,” who put on false sanctity, and humble themselves to their brethren, for the sake of acquiring the highest place in the synagogue, and the uppermost seats at the feast. You, dearly beloved, who are the genuine followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, the salt of the earth and the light of the world, are not so culpable. As I told you, in the very first of my writing, I tell you again, I am but as one drop in the bucket—as one particle of the small dust of the earth. God will surely raise up those amongst us who will plead the cause of virtue, and the pure principles of morality, more eloquently than I am able to do. It appears to me that America has become like the great city of Babylon, for she has boasted in her heart,—“I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” She is indeed a seller of slaves and the souls of men; she has made the Africans drunk with the wine of her fornication; she has put them completely beneath her feet, and she means to keep them there; her right hand supports the reins of government, and her left hand the wheel of power, and she is determined not to let go her grasp. But many powerful sons and daughters of Africa will shortly arise, who will put down vice and immorality amongst us, and declare by Him that sitteth upon the throne, that they will have their rights; and if refused, I am afraid they will spread horror and devastation around. I believe that the oppression of injured Africa has come up before the majesty of Heaven; and when our cries shall have reached the ears of the Most High, it will be a tremendous day for the people of this land; for strong is the arm of the Lord God Almighty. Life has almost lost its charms for me; death has lost its sting and the grave its terrors; and at times I have a strong desire to depart and dwell with Christ, which is far better. Let me entreat my white brethren to awake and save our sons from dissipation, and our daughters from ruin. Lend the hand of assistance to feeble merit, and plead the cause of virtue amongst our sable race; so shall our curses upon you be turned into blessings; and though you shall endeavor to drive us from these shores, still we will cling to you the more firmly; nor will we attempt to rise above you; we will presume to be called equals only. The unfriendly whites first drove the native American from his much-loved home. Then they stole our fathers from their peaceful and quiet dwellings, and brought them hither and made bond men and bond women of them and their little ones; they have obliged our brethren to labor, kept them in utter ignorance, 46 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 nourished them in vice and raised them in degradation; and now that we have enriched their soil, and filled their coffers, they say that we are not capable of becoming like white men, and that we never can rise to respectability in this country. They would drive us to a strange land. But before I go, the bayonet shall pierce me through. African rights and liberty is a subject that ought to fire the breast of every free man of color in these United States, and excite in his bosom a lively, deep, decided and heartfelt interest. Source: “Mrs. Stewart’s Farewell Address to Her Friends in the City of Boston, Delivered September 21, 1833,” published as Productions of Mrs. Maria W. Stewart (Boston: William Lloyd Garrison and Knapp, 1832). S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Marilyn Richardson, ed., Maria W. Stewart: America’s First Black Woman Political Writer: Essays and Speeches (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987). Lora Romero, Home Fronts: Domesticity and Its Critics in the Antebellum United States (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997). Rodger Streitmatter, “Maria W. Stewart: The First Female African-American Journalist,” Historical Journal of Massachusetts 21, no. 2 (1993), pp. 44–59. O9O A Slave Denied the Rights to Marry, 1834 Although many African-American slaves married and had children, such marriages were never formally recognized by law and were always tenuous. Slaves were essentially private property, and most owners had little interest or concern about the family life of their chattel. In many instances, slaveowners simply refused to give their permission to allow their slaves to marry, especially if their intended partner was someone else’s property. Slaves always feared that their spouse or children could be sold. Many historians do not adequately present the terrible human dimensions that this form of coercion must have had upon the slave community. This letter illustrates one example of the larger tragedy of human bondage. O MILO THOMPSON (SLAVE) TO LOUISA BETHLEY Oct. 15th 1834 Miss Louisa Bethley I have got greatly disappointed in my expectations on next Saturday. I will be compelled to disappoint you at that time but I regret it very much. Master says I must put it off a little longer, until he can see farther into the matter. he says probably Mr. Birney may break up house keeping or something of the kind and he T H E S E L L I N G O F S L AV E S 47 dont know what may become of you, for that reason we must defer it a little longer. I will come up and see you shortly and then we will make some arrangements about it. it is with great reluctance that I put it off any longer, but I am compelled to do it owing to the circumstances I have related. I shall remain your affectionate lover until death. Milo Thompson Source: Letter from Milo Thompson (slave) to Louisa Bethley, October 15, 1834, in Dwight L. Diamond, ed., Letters of James G. Birney, 1831–1857, Vol. I (New York: Appleton-Century, 1938), p. 144. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Ira Berlin and Leslie S. Rowland, eds., Families and Freedom: A Documentary History of African-American Kinship in the Civil War Era (New York: New Press, 1977). B.A. Botkin, ed., Lay My Burden Down: Folk History of Slavery (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989). Herbert George Gutman, The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750–1925 (New York: Vintage Books, 1977). Julius Lester, ed., To Be a Slave (New York: Dial Press, 1968). Dylan Penningroth, “Claiming Kin and Property: African American Life Before and After Emancipation” (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 2000). O 10 O The Selling of Slaves, 1835 Although the transatlantic slave trade was technically outlawed in the early nineteenth century, the barter, sale, and transportation of slaves—the domestic slave trade—continued until the Civil War. Because slaves were legally defined as property, they could be exchanged for land, goods, or services. Slave auctions were advertised in local newspapers to attract potential buyers. O BY HEWLETT & BRIGHT SALE OF VALUABLE SLAVES (On account of departure) The Owner of the following named and valuable Slaves, being on the eve of departure for Europe, will cause the same to be offered for sale, at the NEW EXCHANGE, corner of St. Louis and Chartres streets, on Saturday, May 16, at Twelve o’Clock, viz. 1. SARAH, a mulatress, aged 45 years, a good cook and accustomed to house work in general, is an excellent and faithful nurse for sick persons, and in every respect a first rate character. 48 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 2. DENNIS, her son, a mulatto, aged 24 years, a first rate cook and steward for a vessel, having been in that capacity for many years on board one of the Mobile packets; is strictly honest, temperate, and a first rate subject. 3. CHOLE, a mulatress, aged 36 years, she is, without exception, one of the most competent servants in the country, a first rate washer and ironer, does up lace, a good cook, and for a bachelor who wishes a house-keeper she would be invaluable; she is also a good ladies’ maid, having travelled to the North in that capacity. 4. FANNY, her daughter, a mulatress, aged 16 years, speaks French and English, is a superior hair-dresser, (pupil of Guilliae,) a good seamstress and ladies’ maid, is smart, intelligent, and a first rate character. 5. DANDRIDGE, a mulatoo, aged 26 years, a first rate dining-room servant, a good painter and rough carpenter, and has but few equals for honesty and sobriety. 6. NANCY, his wife, aged about 24 years, a confidential house servant, good seamstress, mantuamaker and tailoress, a good cook, washer and ironer, etc. 7. MARY ANN, her child, a creole, aged 7 years, speaks French and English, is smart, active and intelligent. 8. FANNY or FRANCES, a mulatress, aged 22 years, is a first rate washer and ironer, good cook and house servant, and has an excellent character. 9. EMMA, an orphan, aged 10 or 11 years, speaks French and English, has been in the country 7 years, has been accustomed to waiting on table, sewing etc., is intelligent and active. 10. FRANK, a mulatto, aged about 32 years speaks French and English, is a first rate hostler and coachman, understands perfectly well the management of horses, and is, in every respect, a first rate character, with the exception that he will occasionally drink, though not an habitual drunkard. All the above named Slaves are acclimated and excellent subjects: they were purchased by their present vendor many years ago, and will, therefore, be severally warranted against all vices and maladies prescribed by law, save and except FRANK, who is fully guaranteed in every other respect but the one above mentioned. TERMS:—One-half Cash, and the other half in notes at Six months, drawn and endorsed to the satisfaction of the Vendor, with special mortgage on the Slaves until final payment. The Acts of Sale to be passed before WILLIAM BOSWELL, Notary Public, at the expense of the Purchaser. New-Orleans, May 13, 1835 Source: Advertisement, “Hewlett and Bright Sale of Valuable Slaves,” New Orleans, May 13, 1835. Copy at the New-York Historical Society. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Ira Berlin and Leslie S. Rowland, eds., Families and Freedom: A Documentary History of African-American Kinship in the Civil War Era (New York: New Press, 1997). B.A. Botkin, ed., Lay My Burden Down: Folk History of Slavery (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989). S O L O M O N N O RT H R U P D E S C R I B E S A S L AV E A U C T I O N 49 Vincent Harding, There Is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom in America (New York: Vintage Books, 1983). George Rawick, gen. ed.; Jan Milleagas, Ken Lawrence, eds., The American Slave: A Comprise Autobiography (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Publishing, 1978). O 11 O Solomon Northrup Describes a New Orleans Slave Auction, 1841 Solomon Northrup (1808–1862?) was born free in Sandy Hill (now Hudson Falls), New York. He led a quiet and undistinguished life as a manual laborer, learned to read and write, was married in 1829, and started a family. In 1841 he was suddenly kidnapped into slavery from Washington, D.C. Northrup was made to labor as human chattel for twelve years before he made a dramatic escape from a Louisiana plantation. As a result, Northrup’s 1853 narrative, Twelve Years a Slave, was a best-seller of its genre. Frederick Douglass at the time stated, “its truth is stranger than fiction.” O In the first place we were required to wash thoroughly, and those with beards to shave. We were then furnished with a new suit each, cheap, but clean. The men had hat, coat, shirt, pants and shoes; the women frocks of calico, and handkerchief to bind about their heads. We were now conducted into a large room in the front part of the building to which the yard was attached, in order to be properly trained, before the admission of customers. The men were arranged on one side of the room, the women at the other. The tallest was placed at the head of the row, then the next tallest, and so on in the order of their respective heights. Emily was at the foot of the line of women. Freeman [Theophilus Freeman, owner of the slave-pen.] charged us to remember our places; exhorted us to appear smart and lively,—sometimes threatening, and again, holding out various inducements. During the day he exercised us in the art of “looking smart,” and of moving to our places with exact precision. After being fed, in the afternoon, we were again paraded and made to dance. Bob, a colored boy, who had some time belonged to Freeman, played on the violin. Standing near him, I made bold to inquire if he could play the “Virginia Reel.” He answered he could not, and asked me if I could play. Replying in the affirmative, he handed me the violin. I struck up a tune, and finished it. Freeman ordered me to continue playing, and seemed well pleased, telling Bob that I far excelled him—a remark that seemed to grieve my musical companion very much. Next day many customers called to examine Freeman’s “new lot.” The latter gentleman was very loquacious, dwelling at much length upon our several good 50 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 points and qualities. He would make us hold up our heads, walk briskly back and forth, while customers would feel of our hands and arms and bodies, turn us about, ask us what we could do, make us open our mouths and show our teeth, precisely as a jockey examines a horse which he is about to barter for or purchase. Sometimes a man or woman was taken back to the small house in the yard, stripped, and inspected more minutely. Scars upon a slave’s back were considered evidence of a rebellious or unruly spirit, and hurt his sale. An old gentleman, who said he wanted a coachman, appeared to take a fancy to me. From his conversation with Burch [Freeman’s business associate], I learned he was a resident in the city. I very much desired that he would buy me, because I conceived it would not be difficult to make my escape from New Orleans on some northern vessel. Freeman asked him fifteen hundred dollars for me. The old gentleman insisted it was too much as times were very hard. Freeman, however, declared that I was sound of health, of a good constitution, and intelligent. He made it a point to enlarge upon my musical attainments. The old gentleman argued quite adroitly that there was nothing extraordinary about the Negro, and finally, to my regret, went out, saying he would call again. During the day, however, a number of sales were made. David and Caroline were purchased together by a Natchez planter. They left us, grinning broadly, and in a most happy state of mind, caused by the fact of their not being separated. Sethe was sold to a planter of Baton Rouge, her eyes flashing with anger as she was led away. The same man also purchased Randall. The little fellow was made to jump, and run across the floor, and perform many other feats, exhibiting his activity and condition. All the time the trade was going on, Eliza was crying aloud, and wringing her hands. She besought the man not to buy him, unless he also bought herself and Emily. She promised, in that case, to be the most faithful slave that ever lived. The man answered that he could not afford it, and then Eliza burst into a paroxysm of grief, weeping plaintively. Freeman turned round to her, savagely, with his whip in his uplifted hand, ordering her to stop her noise, or he would flog her. He would not have such work—such snivelling; and unless she ceased that minute, he would take her to the yard and give her a hundred lashes. Yes, he would take the nonsense out of her pretty quick—if he didn’t, might he be d—d. Eliza shrunk before him, and tried to wipe away her tears, but it was all in vain. She wanted to be with her children, she said, the little time she had to live. All the frowns and threats of Freeman, could not wholly silence the afflicted mother. She kept on begging and beseeching them, most piteously, not to separate the three. Over and over again she told them how she loved her boy. A great many times she repeated her former promises—how very faithful and obedient she would be; how hard she would labor day and night, to the last moment of her life, if he would only buy them all together. But it was of no avail; the man could not afford it. The bargain was agreed upon, and Randall must go alone. Then Eliza ran to him; embraced him passionately; kissed him again and again; told him to remember her—all the while her tears falling in the boy’s face like rain. Freeman damned her, calling her a blubbering, bawling wench, and ordered her to go to her place, and behave herself, and be somebody. He swore he wouldn’t C I N Q U E A N D T H E A M I S TA D R E V O LT 51 stand such stuff but a little longer. He would soon give her something to cry about, if she was not mighty careful, and that she might depend upon. The planter from Baton Rouge, with his new purchase, was ready to depart. “Don’t cry, mama. I will be a good boy. Don’t cry,” said Randall, looking back, as they passed out of the door. What has become of the lad, God knows. It was a mournful scene indeed. I would have cried myself if I had dared. Source: Solomon Northrup, Twelve Years a Slave (Auburn, N.Y.: 1853), p. 78. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Solomon Northrup, Twelve Years a Slave, ed. Sue Eakins and Joseph Logsdon (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1968). Carver Wendell Waters, “Voice into Slave Narratives of Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, and Solomon Northrup” (Ph.D. diss., University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1988). O 12 O Cinque and the Amistad Revolt, 1841 In 1839, a group of Africans who had been captured by slave traders and were being transported to a Cuban port seized control of the ship. The Spanish schooner Amistad eventually landed in the United States. President Martin Van Buren urged that the Africans be turned over to the Spanish authorities. However, former president John Quincy Adams represented the Africans before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1841 after reviewing the evidence, the court decided to free the Africans. Associate Justice Joseph Story held that when the revolt on the Amistad occurred, the “free native Africans” had been in effect kidnapped, and therefore they had the right to be free. Several artists, including filmmaker Steven Spielberg in 1997, have produced artistic depictions of the revolt. The Amistad incident symbolizes the coerced migrations of roughly 15 million African people to the western hemisphere, and illustrates that, despite the odds against them, many captives resisted. O MR. JUSTICE STORY, delivered the opinion of the court. This is the case of an appeal from the decree of the circuit court of the district of Connecticut, sitting in admiralty. The leading facts, as they appear upon the transcript of the proceedings, are as follows: On the 27th of June 1839, the schooner “L’Amistad,” being the property of Spanish subjects, cleared out from the port of Havana, in the island of Cuba, for Puerto Principe, in the same island. 52 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 On board of the schooner were the master, Ramon Ferrer, and Jose Ruiz and Pedro Montez, all Spanish subjects. The former had with him a negro boy, named Antonio, claimed to be his slave. Jose Ruiz had with him forty-nine negroes, claimed by him as his slaves, and stated to be his property, in a certain pass or document, signed by the governor-general of Cuba. Pedro Montez had with him four other negroes, also claimed by him as his slaves, and stated to be his property, in a similar pass or document, also signed by the governor-general of Cuba. On the voyage, and before the arrival of the vessel at her port of destination, the negroes rose, killed the master, and took possession of her. On the 26th of August, the vessel was discovered by Lieutenant Gedney, of the United States brig “Washington,” at anchor on the high seas, at the distance of half a mile from the shore of Long Island. A part of the negroes were then on shore, at Culloden Point, Long Island, who were seized by Lieutenant Gedney, and brought on board. The vessel, with the negroes and other persons on board, was brought by Lieutenant Gedney into the district of Connecticut, and there libelled for salvage in the district court of the United States. A libel for salvage was also filed by Henry Green and Pelatiah Fordham, of Sag Harbor, Long Island. On the 18th of September, Ruiz and Montez filed claims and libels, in which they asserted their ownership of the negroes as their slaves, and of certain parts of the cargo, and prayed that the same might be “delivered to them, or to the representatives of her Catholic Majesty, as might be most proper.” On the 19th of September, the attorney of the United States for the district of Connecticut filed an information or libel, setting forth, that the Spanish minister had officially presented to the proper department of the government of the United States, a claim for the restoration of the vessel, cargo, and slaves, as the property of Spanish subjects, which had arrived within the jurisdictional limits of the United States, and were taken possession of by the said public armed brig of the United States, under such circumstances as made it the duty of the United States to cause the same to be restored to the true proprietors, pursuant to the treaty between the United States and Spain; and praying the court, on its being made legally to appear that the claim of the Spanish minister was well founded, to make such order for the disposal of the vessel, cargo and slaves, as would best enable the United States to comply with their treaty stipulations. But if it should appear, that the negroes were persons transported from Africa, in violation of the laws of the United States, and brought within the United States, contrary to the same laws; he then prayed the court to make such order for their removal to the coast of Africa, pursuant to the laws of the United States, as it should deem fit. . . . On the 7th of January 1840, the negroes, Cinque and others, with the exception of Antonio, by their counsel, filed an answer, denying that they were slaves, or the property of Ruiz and Montez, or that the court could, under the constitution or laws of the United States, or under any treaty, exercise any jurisdiction over their persons, by reason of the premises; and praying that they might be dismissed. They specially set forth and insisted in this answer, that they were nativeborn Africans; born free, and still, of right, ought to be free and not slaves; that they were, on or about the 15th of April 1839, unlawfully kidnapped, and forcibly C I N Q U E A N D T H E A M I S TA D R E V O LT 53 and wrongfully carried on board a certain vessel, on the coast of Africa, which was unlawfully engaged in the slave-trade, and were unlawfully transported in the same vessel to the island of Cuba, for the purpose of being there unlawfully sold as slaves; that Ruiz and Montez, well knowing the premises, made a pretended purchase of them; that afterwards, on or about the 28th of June 1839, Ruiz and Montez, confederating with Ferrer (master of the Amistad), caused them, without law or right, to be placed on board of the Amistad, to be transported to some place unknown to them, and there to be enslaved for life; that, on the voyage, they rose on the master, and took possession of the vessel, intending to return therewith to their native country, or to seek an asylum in some free state; and the vessel arrived, about the 26th of August 1839, off Montauk Point, near Long Island; a part of them were sent on shore, and were seized by Lieutenant Gedney, and carried on board; and all of them were afterwards brought by him into the district of Connecticut. . . . No question has been here made, as to the proprietary interests in the vessel and cargo. It is admitted, that they belong to Spanish subjects, and that they ought to be restored. The only point on this head is, whether the restitution ought to be upon the payment of salvage, or not? The main controversy is, whether these negroes are the property of Ruiz and Montez, and ought to be delivered up; and to this, accordingly, we shall first direct our attention. It has been argued on behalf of the United States, that the court are bound to deliver them up, according to the treaty of 1795, with Spain, which has in this particular been continued in full force, by the treaty of 1819, ratified in 1821. The sixth article of that treaty seems to have had, principally in view, cases where the property of the subjects of either state had been taken possession of within the territorial jurisdiction of the other, during war. The eighth article provides for cases where the shipping of the inhabitants of either state are forced, through stress of weather, pursuit of pirates or enemies, or any other urgent necessity, to seek shelter in the ports of the other. There may well be some doubt entertained, whether the present case, in its actual circumstances, falls within the purview of this article. But it does not seem necessary, for reasons hereafter stated, absolutely to decide it. The ninth article provides, “that all ships and merchandize, of what nature soever, which shall be rescued out of the hands of any pirates or robbers, on the high seas, shall be brought into some port of either state, and shall be delivered to the custody of the officers of that port, in order to be taken care of and restored, entire, to the true proprietor, as soon as due and sufficient proof shall be made concerning the property thereof.” This is the article on which the main reliance is placed on behalf of the United States, for the restitution of these negroes. To bring the case within the article, it is essential to establish: 1st, That these negroes, under all the circumstances, fall within the description of merchandize, in the sense of the treaty. 2d, That there has been a rescue of them on the high seas, out of the hands of the pirates and robbers; which, in the present case, can only be, by showing that they themselves are pirates and robbers; and 3d, That Ruiz and Montez, the asserted proprietors, are the true proprietors, and have established their title by competent proof. 54 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 If these negroes were, at the time, lawfully held as slaves, under the laws of Spain, and recognised by those laws as property, capable of being lawfully bought and sold; we see no reason why they may not justly be deemed, within the intent of the treaty, to be included under the denomination of merchandize, and as such ought to be restored to the claimants; for upon that point the laws of Spain would seem to furnish the proper rule of interpretation. But admitting this, it is clear, in our opinion, that neither of the other essential facts and requisites has been established in proof; and the onus probandi of both lies upon the claimants to give rise to the casus foederis. It is plain, beyond controversy, if we examine the evidence, that these negroes never were the lawful slaves of Ruiz or Montez, or of any other Spanish subjects. They are natives of Africa, and were kidnapped there, and were unlawfully transported to Cuba, in violation of the laws and treaties of Spain, and the most solemn edicts and declarations of that government. By those laws and treaties, and edicts, the African slave-trade is utterly abolished; the dealing in that trade is deemed a heinous crime; and the negroes thereby introduced into the dominions of Spain, are declared to be free. Ruiz and Montez are proved to have made the pretended purchase of these negroes, with a full knowledge of all the circumstances. And so cogent and irresistible is the evidence in this respect, that the district-attorney has admitted in open court, upon the record, that these negroes were native Africans, and recently imported into Cuba, as alleged in their answers to the libels in the case. The supposed proprietary interest of Ruiz and Montez is completely displaced, if we are at liberty to look at the evidence, or the admissions of the district-attorney. If then, these negroes are not slaves, but are kidnapped Africans, who, by the laws of Spain itself, are entitled to their freedom, and were kidnapped and illegally carried to Cuba, and illegally detained and restrained on board the Amistad; there is no pretence to say, that they are pirates or robbers. We may lament the dreadful acts by which they asserted their liberty, and took possession of the Amistad, and endeavored to regain their native country; but they cannot be deemed pirates or robbers, in the sense of the law of nations, or the treaty with Spain, or the laws of Spain itself; at least, so far as those laws have been brought to our knowledge. Nor do the libels of Ruiz or Montez assert them to be such. This posture of the facts would seem, of itself, to put an end to the whole inquiry upon the merits. But it is argued, on behalf of the United States, that the ship and cargo, and negroes, were duly documented as belonging to Spanish subjects, and this court have no right to look behind these documents; that full faith and credit is to be given to them; and that they are to be held conclusive evidence in this cause, even although it should be established by the most satisfactory proofs, that they have been obtained by the grossest frauds and impositions upon the constituted authorities of Spain. To this argument, we can, in no wise, assent. There is nothing in the treaty which justifies or sustains the argument. We do not here meddle with the point, whether there has been any connivance in this illegal traffic, on the part of any of the colonial authorities or subordinate officers of Cuba; because, in our view, such an examination is unnecessary, and ought not to C I N Q U E A N D T H E A M I S TA D R E V O LT 55 be pursued, unless it were indispensable to public justice, although it has been strongly pressed at the bar. What we proceed upon is this, that although public documents of the government, accompanying property found on board of the private ships of a foreign nation, certainly are to be deemed prima facie evidence of the facts which they purport to state, yet they are always open to be impugned for fraud; and whether that fraud be in the original obtaining of these documents, or in the subsequent fraudulent and illegal use of them, when once it is satisfactorily established, it overthrows all their sanctity, and destroys them as proof. Fraud will vitiate any, even the most solemn, transactions; and an asserted title to property, founded upon it, is utterly void. The very language of the ninth article of the treaty of 1795, requires the proprietor to make due and sufficient proof of his property. And how can that proof be deemed either due or sufficient, which is but a connected and stained tissue of fraud? This is not a mere rule of municipal jurisprudence. Nothing is more clear in the law of nations, as an established rule to regulate their rights and duties, and intercourse, than the doctrine, that the ship’s papers are but prima facie evidence, and that, if they are shown to be fraudulent, they are not to be held proof of any valid title. This rule is familiarly applied, and, indeed, is of every-day’s occurrence in cases of prize, in the contests between belligerents and neutrals, as is apparent from numerous cases to be found in the reports of this court; and it is just as applicable to the transactions of civil intercourse between nations, in times of peace. If a private ship, clothed with Spanish papers, should enter the ports of the United States, claiming the privileges and immunities, and rights, belonging to bona fide subjects of Spain, under our treaties or laws, and she should, in reality, belong to the subjects of another nation, which was not entitled to any such privileges, immunities or rights, and the proprietors were seeking, by fraud, to cover their own illegal acts, under the flag of Spain; there can be no doubt, that it would be the duty of our courts to strip off the disguise, and to look at the case, according to its naked realities. In the solemn treaties between nations, it can never be presumed, that either state intends to provide the means of perpetrating or protecting frauds; but all the provisions are to be construed as intended to be applied to bona fide transactions. The 17th article of the treaty with Spain, which provides for certain passports and certificates, as evidence of property on board of the ships of both states, is, in its terms, applicable only to cases where either of the parties is engaged in a war. This article required a certain form of passport to be agreed upon by the parties, and annexed to the treaty; it never was annexed; and therefore, in the case of The Amiable Isabella, 6 Wheat. 1, it was held inoperative. It is also a most important consideration, in the present case, which ought not to be lost sight of, that, supposing these African negroes not to be slaves, but kidnapped, and free negroes, the treaty with Spain cannot be obligatory upon them; and the United States are bound to respect their rights as much as those of Spanish subjects. The conflict of rights between the parties, under such circumstances, becomes positive and inevitable, and must be decided upon the eternal principles of justice and international law. If the contest were about any goods on board of this ship, to which American citizens asserted a title, which was denied 56 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 by the Spanish claimants, there could be no doubt of the right of such American citizens to litigate their claims before any competent American tribunal, notwithstanding the treaty with Spain. A fortiori, the doctrine must apply, where human life and human liberty are in issue, and constitute the very essence of the controversy. The treaty with Spain never could have intended to take away the equal rights of all foreigners, who should contest their claims before any of our courts, to equal justice; or to deprive such foreigners of the protection given them by other treaties, or by the general law of nations. Upon the merits of the case, then, there does not seem to us to be any ground for doubt, that these negroes ought to be deemed free; and that the Spanish treaty interposes no obstacle to the just assertion of their rights. . . . Source: Excerpts from the United States Appellants v. the Libellants and Claimants of the Schooner Amistad, Supreme Court of the United States, 15 Pet. (40 U.S.) 581, 587 (1841). S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Arthur Abraham, The Amistad Revolt: An Historical Legacy of Sierra Leone and the United States (Freetown, Sierra Leone: U.S. Information Service, 1985). Matthew James Christensen, “Of Rebellions and Revolutions: Masculinity, Race, and Transnational Modernity in Late Twentieth-Century U.S. and Sierra Leonean Representations of the Amistad Slave Revolt” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 2002). Helen Kromer, Amistad: The Slave Uprising Aboard the Spanish Schooner (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1987). Christopher Martin, The Amistad Affair (London and New York: Abelard-Schuman, 1970). H. D. Motyl, The Voyage of La Amistad a Quest for Freedom [United States]: MPI Home Video, 2005. DVD Video. Iyunolu Folayan Osagie, The Amistad Revolt: Memory, Slavery, and the Politics of Identity in the United States and Sierra Leone (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2000). William A. Owens, Black Mutiny: The Revolt on the Schooner Amistad, with Introductions by Derrick Bell and Michael Eric Dyson (Baltimore: Black Classics Press, 1997). Steven Spielberg, Amistad, Universal City: DreamWorks, 1998. DVD Video. O 13 O “Let Your Motto Be Resistance!” Henry Highland Garnet, 1843 Henry Highland Garnet (1815–1882) was born in Maryland, where he and his family lived until they escaped to New York in 1825. Educated as a minister, Garnet became actively involved in antislavery organizing efforts. At the 1843 National Negro Convention, Garnet delivered a controversial speech, “Address to the Slaves of the United States of America.” In tones that a century later would be echoed by Malcolm X, Garnet called for the use of violence to overthrow the system of slavery. Garnet’s speech was published in 1848, along with the text of H . H . G A R N E T, “ L E T Y O U R M O T T O B E R E S I S TA N C E ! ” 57 Davis Walker’s Appeal. After the Compromise of 1850, Garnet became more pessimistic about the possibility of racial justice inside the United States, and actively explored the alternative of African-American colonization. During the Civil War, Garnet was an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln. Garnet helped to establish the Cuban Anti-Slavery Society in New York City in 1872. He was appointed United States Minister to Liberia and died there in 1882. O Brethren and Fellow-Citizens:—Your brethren of the North, East, and West have been accustomed to meet together in National Conventions, to sympathize with each other, and to weep over your unhappy condition. In these meetings we have addressed all classes of the free, but we have never, until this time, sent a word of consolation and advice to you. We have been contented in sitting still and mourning over your sorrows, earnestly hoping that before this day your sacred liberties would have been restored. But, we have hoped in vain. Years have rolled on, and tens of thousands have been borne on streams of blood and tears, to the shores of eternity. While you have been oppressed, we have also been partakers with you; nor can we be free while you are enslaved. We, therefore, write to you as being bound with you. Many of you are bound to us, not only by the ties of a common humanity, but we are connected by the more tender relations of parents, wives, husbands, children, brothers, and sisters, and friends. As such we most affectionately address you. Slavery has fixed a deep gulf between you and us, and while it shuts out from you the relief and consolation which your friends would willingly render, it afflicts and persecutes you with a fierceness which we might not expect to see in the fiends of hell. But still the Almighty Father of mercies has left to us a glimmering ray of hope, which shines out like a lone star in a cloudy sky. Mankind are becoming wiser, and better—the oppressor’s power is fading, and you, every day, are becoming better informed, and more numerous. Your grievances, brethren, are many. We shall not attempt, in this short address, to present to the world all the dark catalogue of this nation’s sins, which have been committed upon an innocent people. Nor is it indeed necessary, for you feel them from day to day, and all the civilized world look upon them with amazement. Two hundred and twenty-seven years ago, the first of our injured race were brought to the shores of America. They came not with glad spirits to select their homes in the New World. They came not with their own consent, to find an unmolested enjoyment of the blessings of this fruitful soil. The first dealings they had with men calling themselves Christians, exhibited to them the worst features of corrupt and sordid hearts: and convinced them that no cruelty is too great, no villainy and no robbery too abhorrent for even enlightened men to perform, when influenced by avarice and lust. Neither did they come flying upon the wings of Liberty, to a land of freedom. But they came with broken hearts, from their beloved native land, and were doomed to unrequited toil and deep degradation. 58 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 Nor did the evil of their bondage end at their emancipation by death. Succeeding generations inherited their chains, and millions have come from eternity into time, and have returned again to the world of spirits, cursed and ruined by American slavery. The propagators of the system, or their immediate ancestors, very soon discovered its growing evil, and its tremendous wickedness, and secret promises were made to destroy it. The gross inconsistency of a people holding slaves, who had themselves “ferried o’er the wave” for freedom’s sake, was too apparent to be entirely overlooked. The voice of Freedom cried, “Emancipate your slaves.” Humanity supplicated with tears for the deliverance of the children of Africa. Wisdom urged her solemn plea. The bleeding captive plead his innocence, and pointed to Christianity who stood weeping at the cross. Jehovah frowned upon the nefarious institution, and thunderbolts, red with vengeance, struggled to leap forth to blast the guilty wretches who maintained it. But all was vain. Slavery had stretched its dark wings of death over the land, the Church stood silently by—the priests prophesied falsely, and the people loved to have it so. Its throne is established, and now it reigns triumphant. Nearly three millions of your fellow-citizens are prohibited by law and public opinion, (which in this country is stronger than law,) from reading the Book of Life. Your intellect has been destroyed as much as possible, and every ray of light they have attempted to shut out from your minds. The oppressors themselves have become involved in the ruin. They have become weak, sensual, and rapacious—they have cursed you—they have cursed themselves—they have cursed the earth which they have trod. The colonists threw the blame upon England. They said that the mother country entailed the evil upon them, and that they would rid themselves of it if they could. The world thought they were sincere, and the philanthropic pitied them. But time soon tested their sincerity. In a few years the colonists grew strong, and severed themselves from the British Government. Their independence was declared, and they took their station among the sovereign powers of the earth. The declaration was a glorious document. Sages admired it, and the patriotic of every nation reverenced the God-like sentiments which it contained. When the power of Government returned to their hands, did they emancipate the slaves? No; they rather added new links to our chains. Were they ignorant of the principles of Liberty? Certainly they were not. The sentiments of their revolutionary orators fell in burning eloquence upon their hearts, and with one voice they cried, LIBERTY OR DEATH. Oh what a sentence was that! It ran from soul to soul like electric fire, and nerved the arm of thousands to fight in the holy cause of Freedom. Among the diversity of opinions that are entertained in regard to physical resistance, there are but a few found to gainsay that stern declaration. We are among those who do not. SLAVERY! How much misery is comprehended in that single word. What mind is there that does not shrink from its direful effects? Unless the image of God be obliterated from the soul, all men cherish the love of Liberty. The nice discerning political economist does not regard the sacred right more than the untutored H . H . G A R N E T, “ L E T Y O U R M O T T O B E R E S I S TA N C E ! ” 59 African who roams in the wilds of Congo. Nor has the one more right to the full enjoyment of his freedom than the other. In every man’s mind the good seeds of liberty are planted, and he who brings his fellow down so low, as to make him contented with a condition of slavery, commits the highest crime against God and man. Brethren, your oppressors aim to do this. They endeavor to make you as much like brutes as possible. When they have blinded the eyes of your mind— when they have embittered the sweet waters of life—when they have shut out the light which shines from the word of God—then, and not till then, has American slavery done its perfect work. TO SUCH DEGRADATION IT IS SINFUL IN THE EXTREME FOR YOU TO MAKE VOLUNTARY SUBMISSION. The divine commandments you are in duty bound to reverence and obey. If you do not obey them, you will surely meet with the displeasure of the Almighty. He requires you to love him supremely, and your neighbor as yourself—to keep the Sabbath day holy—to search the Scriptures—and bring up your children with respect for his laws, and to worship no other God but him. But slavery sets all these at nought, and hurls defiance in the face of Jehovah. The forlorn condition in which you are placed, does not destroy your moral obligation to God. You are not certain of heaven, because you suffer yourselves to remain in a state of slavery, where you cannot obey the commandments of the Sovereign of the universe. If the ignorance of slavery is a passport to heaven, then it is a blessing, and no curse, and you should rather desire its perpetuity than its abolition. God will not receive slavery, nor ignorance, nor any other state of mind, for love and obedience to him. Your condition does not absolve you from your moral obligation. The diabolical injustice by which your liberties are cloven down, NEITHER GOD, NOR ANGELS, OR JUST MEN, COMMAND YOU TO SUFFER FOR A SINGLE MOMENT. THEREFORE IT IS YOUR SOLEMN AND IMPERATIVE DUTY TO USE EVERY MEANS, BOTH MORAL, INTELLECTUAL, AND PHYSICAL, THAT PROMISES SUCCESS. If a band of heathen men should attempt to enslave a race of Christians, and to place their children under the influence of some false religion, surely, Heaven would frown upon the men who would not resist such aggression, even to death. If, on the other hand, a band of Christians should attempt to enslave a race of heathen men, and to entail slavery upon them, and to keep them in heathenism in the midst of Christianity, the God of heaven would smile upon every effort which the injured might make to disenthral themselves. Brethren, it is as wrong for your lordly oppressors to keep you in slavery, as it was for the man thief to steal our ancestors from the coast of Africa. You should therefore now use the same manner of resistance, as would have been just in our ancestors, when the bloody foot-prints of the first remorseless soul-thief was placed upon the shores of our fatherland. The humblest peasant is as free in the sight of God as the proudest monarch that ever swayed a sceptre. Liberty is a spirit sent out from God, and like its great Author, is no respecter of persons. Brethren, the time has come when you must act for yourselves. It is an old and true saying that, “if hereditary bondmen would be free, they must themselves strike the blow.” You can plead your own cause, and do the work of emancipation better than any others. The nations of the old world are moving in the great cause of uni- 60 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 versal freedom, and some of them at least will, ere long, do you justice. The combined powers of Europe have placed their broad seal of disapprobation upon the African slave trade. But in the slaveholding parts of the United States, the trade is as brisk as ever. They buy and sell you as though you were brute beasts. The North has done much—her opinion of slavery in the abstract is known. But in regard to the South, we adopt the opinion of the New York Evangelist—“We have advanced so far, that the cause apparently waits for a more effectual door to be thrown open than has been yet.” We are about to point you to that more effectual door. Look around you, and behold the bosoms of your loving wives heaving with untold agonies! Hear the cries of your poor children! Remember the stripes your fathers bore. Think of the torture and disgrace of your noble mothers. Think of your wretched sisters, loving virtue and purity, as they are driven into concubinage and are exposed to the unbridled lusts of incarnate devils. Think of the undying glory that hangs around the ancient name of Africa:—and forget not that you are native-born American citizens, and as such, you are justly entitled to all the rights that are granted to the freest. Think how many tears you have poured out upon the soil which you have cultivated with unrequited toil and enriched with your blood; and then go to your lordly enslavers and tell them plainly, that you are determined to be free. Appeal to their sense of justice, and tell them that they have no more right to oppress you, than you have to enslave them. Entreat them to remove the grievous burdens which they have imposed upon you, and to remunerate you for your labor. Promise them renewed diligence in the cultivation of the soil, if they will render to you an equivalent for your services. Point them to the increase of happiness and prosperity in the British West-Indies since the Act of Emancipation. Tell them in language which they cannot misunderstand, of the exceeding sinfulness of slavery, and of a future judgment, and of the righteous retributions of an indignant God. Inform them that all you desire is FREEDOM, and that nothing else will suffice. Do this, and for ever after cease to toil for the heartless tyrants, who give you no other reward but stripes and abuse. If they then commence the work of death, they, and not you, will be responsible for the consequences. You had far better all die—die immediately, than live slaves, and entail your wretchedness upon your posterity. If you would be free in this generation, here is your only hope. However much you and all of us may desire it, there is not much hope of redemption without the shedding of blood. If you must bleed, let it all come at once—rather die freemen, than live to be the slaves. It is impossible, like the children of Israel, to make a grand exodus from the land of bondage. The Pharaohs are on both sides of the blood-red waters! You cannot move en masse, to the dominions of the British Queen—nor can you pass through Florida and overrun Texas, and at last find peace in Mexico. The propagators of American slavery are spending their blood and treasure, that they may plant the black flag in the heart of Mexico and riot in the halls of Montezumas. In the language of the Rev. Robert Hall, when addressing the volunteers of Bristol, who were rushing forth to repel the invasion of Napoleon, who threatened to lay waste the fair homes of England, “Religion is too much interested in your behalf, not to shed over you her most gracious influences.” H . H . G A R N E T, “ L E T Y O U R M O T T O B E R E S I S TA N C E ! ” 61 You will not be compelled to spend much time in order to become inured to hardships. From the first moment that you breathed the air of heaven, you have been accustomed to nothing else but hardships. The heroes of the American Revolution were never put upon harder fare than a peck of corn and a few herrings per week. You have not become enervated by the luxuries of life. Your sternest energies have been beaten out upon the anvil of severe trial. Slavery has done this, to make you subservient to its own purposes; but it has done more than this, it has prepared you for any emergency. If you receive good treatment, it is what you could hardly expect; if you meet with pain, sorrow, and even death, these are the common lot of the slaves. Fellow-men! patient sufferers! behold your dearest rights crushed to the earth! See your sons murdered, and your wives, mothers and sisters doomed to prostitution. In the name of the merciful God, and by all that life is worth, let it no longer be a debatable question, whether it is better to choose Liberty or death. In 1822, Denmark Veazie, of South Carolina, formed a plan for the liberation of his fellow-men. In the whole history of human efforts to overthrow slavery, a more complicated and tremendous plan was never formed. He was betrayed by the treachery of his own people, and died a martyr to freedom. Many a brave hero fell, but history, faithful to her high trust, will transcribe his name on the same monument with Moses, Hampden, Tell, Bruce and Wallace, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Lafayette and Washington. That tremendous movement shook the whole empire of slavery. The guilty soul-thieves were overwhelmed with fear. It is a matter of fact, that at that time, and in consequence of the threatened revolution, the slave States talked strongly of emancipation. But they blew but one blast of the trumpet of freedom, and then laid it aside. As these men became quiet, the slaveholders ceased to talk about emancipation: and now behold your condition to-day! Angels sigh over it, and humanity has long since exhausted her tears in weeping on your account! The patriotic Nathaniel Turner followed Denmark Veazie. He was goaded to desperation by wrong and injustice. By despotism, his name has been recorded on the list of infamy, and future generations will remember him among the noble and brave. Next arose the immortal Joseph Cinque, the hero of the Amistad. He was a native African, and by the help of God he emancipated a whole ship-load of his fellow men on the high seas. And he now sings of liberty on the sunny hills of Africa and beneath his native palm-trees, where he hears the lion roar and feels himself as free as that king of the forest. Next arose Madison Washington, that bright star of freedom, and took his station in the constellation of true heroism. He was a slave on board the brig Creole, of Richmond, bound to New Orleans, that great slave mart, with a hundred and four others. Nineteen struck for liberty or death. But one life was taken, and the whole were emancipated, and the vessel was carried into Nassau, New Providence. Noble men! Those who have fallen in freedom’s conflict, their memories will be cherished by the true-hearted and the God-fearing in all future generations; those who are living, their names are surrounded by a halo of glory. 62 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 Brethren, arise, arise! Strike for your lives and liberties. Now is the day and the hour. Let every slave throughout the land do this, and the days of slavery are numbered. You cannot be more oppressed than you have been—you cannot suffer greater cruelties than you have already. Rather die freemen than live to be slaves. Remember that you are FOUR MILLIONS! It is in your power so to torment the God-cursed slaveholders, that they will be glad to let you go free. If the scale was turned, and black men were the masters and white men the slaves, every destructive agent and element would be employed to lay the oppressor low. Danger and death would hang over their heads day and night. Yes, the tyrants would meet with plagues more terrible than those of Pharaoh. But you are a patient people. You act as though you were made for the special use of these devils. You act as though your daughters were born to pamper the lusts of your masters and overseers. And worse than all, you tamely submit while your lords tear your wives from your embraces and defile them before your eyes. In the name of God, we ask, are you men? Where is the blood of your fathers? Has it all run out of your veins? Awake, awake; millions of voices are calling you! Your dead fathers speak to you from their graves. Heaven, as with a voice of thunder, calls on you to arise from the dust. Let your motto be resistance! resistance! RESISTANCE! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance. What kind of resistance you had better make, you must decide by the circumstances that surround you, and according to the suggestion of expediency. Brethren, adieu! Trust in the living God. Labor for the peace of the human race, and remember that you are FOUR MILLIONS. Source: “An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America,” 1843, reprinted in Garnet, A Memorial Discourse by Rev. Henry Highland Garnet (Philadelphia: Joseph M. Wilson, 1865), pp. 44–51. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Henry Highland Garnet, The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered (Philadelphia: Privately Printed, 1852). James Arthur Holmes, “Black Nationalism and Theodicy: A Comparison of the Thought of Henry Highland Garnet, Alexander Crummell, and Henry McNeal Turner” (Th.D. diss., Boston University School of Theology, 1997). Earl Ofari, Let Your Motto Be Resistance: The Life and Thought of Henry Highland Garnet (Boston: Beacon Press, 1972). Martin B. Pasternak, Rise Now and Fly to Arms: The Life of Henry Highland Garnet (New York: Garland Publishing, 1995). Joel Schor, Henry Highland Garnet: A Voice of Black Radicalism in the Nineteenth Century (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1977). Sterling Stuckey, “A Last Stern Struggle: Henry Highland Garnet and Liberation Theory,” in Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century, ed. Leon Litwack and August Meier (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988), pp. 129–48. W. W. B R O W N , “ S L AV E RY A S I T I S ” 63 O 14 O “Slavery as It Is,” William Wells Brown, 1847 William Wells Brown (1814?–1884) was born a slave near Lexington, Kentucky. After one unsuccessful escape attempt, Brown managed to free himself by escaping to Cleveland. Brown first came to prominence as an effective lecturer for the New York Anti-Slavery Society. Brown’s widely read 1848 autobiography, Narrative of William Wells Brown, A Fugitive Slave, and his novel Clotel: or, The President’s Daughter, published in 1853, were important contributions to early AfricanAmerican literature. Brown became a major leader in a variety of social reform movements, speaking on behalf of temperance and women’s suffrage. Brown’s most important, though neglected, work, Rising Son: or, The Antecedents and Advancement of the Colored Race, published after the Civil War, was one of the earliest texts presenting the history of black people from their own perspective. O . . . It is deplorable to look at the character of the American people, the character that has been given to them by the institution of slavery. The profession of the American people is far above the profession of the people of any other country. Here the people profess to carry out the principles of Christianity. The American people are a sympathizing people. They not only profess, but appear to be a sympathizing people to the inhabitants of the whole world. They sympathize with everything else but the American slave. When the Greeks were struggling for liberty, meetings were held to express sympathy. Now they are sympathizing with the poor downtrodden serfs of Ireland, and are sending their sympathy across the ocean to them. But what will the people of the Old World think? Will they not look upon the American people as hypocrites? Do they not look upon your professed sympathy as nothing more than hypocrisy? You may hold your meetings and send your words across the ocean; you may ask Nicholas of Russia to take the chains from his poor downtrodden serfs, but they look upon it all as nothing but hypocrisy. Look at our twenty thousand fugitive slaves, running from under the stars and stripes, and taking refuge in the Canadas; twenty thousand, some leaving their wives, some their husbands, some leaving their children, some their brothers, and some their sisters—fleeing to take refuge in the Canadas. Wherever the stars and stripes are seen flying in the United States of America, they point him out as a slave. If I wish to stand up and say, “I am a man,” I must leave the land that gave me birth. If I wish to ask protection as a man, I must leave the American stars and stripes. Wherever the stars and stripes are seen flying upon American soil, I can receive no protection; I am a slave, a chattel, a thing. I see your liberty poles 64 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 around in your cities. If tomorrow morning you are hoisting the stars and stripes upon one of your liberty poles, and I should see the man following me who claims my body and soul as his property, I might climb to the very top of your liberty pole, I might cut the cord that held your stars and stripes and bind myself with it as closely as I could to your liberty pole, I might talk of law and the Constitution, but nothing could save me unless there be public sentiment enough in Salem. I could not appeal to law or the Constitution; I could only appeal to public sentiment; and if public sentiment would not protect me, I must be carried back to the plantations of the South, there to be lacerated, there to drag the chains that I left upon the Southern soil a few years since. This is deplorable. And yet the American slave can find a spot where he may be a man—but it is not under the American flag. Fellow citizens, I am the last to eulogize any country where they oppress the poor. I have nothing to say in behalf of England or any other country, any further than as they extend protection to mankind. I say that I honor England for protecting the black man. I honor every country that shall receive the American slave, that shall protect him, and that shall recognize him as a man. I know that the United States will not do it; but I ask you to look at the efforts of other countries. Even the Bey of Tunis, a few years since, has decreed that there shall not be a slave in his dominions; and we see that the subject of liberty is being discussed throughout the world. People are looking at it; they are examining it; and it seems as though every country and every people and every government were doing something, excepting the United States. But Christian, democratic, republican America is doing nothing at all. It seems as though she would be the last. It seems as though she was determined to be the last to knock the chain from the limbs of the slave. Shall the American people be behind the people of the Old World? Shall they be behind those who are represented as almost living in the dark ages? Shall every flap of England’s flag Proclaim that all around are free, From farthest Ind to each blue crag That beetles o’er the western sea? And shall we scoff at Europe’s kings, When Freedom’s fire is dimmed with us; And round our country’s alter clings The damning shade of Slavery’s curse? Shall we, I ask, shall the American people be the last? I am here, not for the purpose of condemning the character of the American people, but for the purpose of trying to protect or vindicate their character. I would to God that there were some feature that I could vindicate. There is no liberty here for me; there is no liberty for those with whom I am associated; there is no liberty for the American slave; and yet we hear a great deal about liberty! How do the people of the Old World regard the American people? Only a short time since, an American W. W. B R O W N , “ S L AV E RY A S I T I S ” 65 gentleman, in traveling through Germany, passed the window of a bookstore where he saw a number of pictures. One of them was a cut representing an American slave on his knees, with chains upon his limbs. Over him stood a white man, with a long whip; and underneath was written, “the latest specimen of American democracy.” I ask my audience, Who placed that in the hands of those that drew it? It was the people of the United States. Slavery, as it is to be found in this country, has given the serfs of the Old World an opportunity of branding the American people as the most tyrannical people upon God’s footstool. Only a short time since, an American man-of-war was anchored in the bay opposite Liverpool. The English came down by the hundreds and thousands. The stars and stripes were flying; and there stood those poor persons that had never seen an American man-of-war, but had heard a great deal of American democracy. Some were eulogizing the American people; some were calling it the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” And while they stood there, one of their number rose up, and pointing his fingers to the American flag, said: United States, your banner wears Two emblems,—one of fame; Alas, the other that it bears, Reminds us of your shame. The white man’s liberty entyped, Stands blazoned by your stars; But what’s the meaning of your stripes? They mean your Negro scars. What put that in the mouth of that individual? It was the system of American slavery; it was the action of the American people; the inconsistency of the American people; their profession of liberty, and their practice in opposition to their profession. . . . Source: “A Lecture Delivered before the Female Anti-Slavery Society of Salem at Lyceum Hall, November 4, 1847, by William Wells Brown, A Fugitive Slave,” reported by Henry M. Parkhurst, Boston, 1847. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Bernard W. Bell, The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987). William Wells Brown, Narrative of William Wells Brown, A Fugitive Slave (Boston: AntiSlavery Office, 1848). ———, Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter (1853; reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1969). ———, Rising Son; or, The Antecedents and Advancement of the Colored Race (Boston: A.G. Brown, 1876). William Edward Farrison, William Wells Brown: Author and Reformer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969). Paul Jefferson, ed., The Travels of William Wells Brown (New York: Markus Weiner Publishing, 1991). L. H. Whelchel, My Chains Fell Off: William Wells Brown, Fugitive Abolitionist (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America). 66 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 O 15 O “A’n’t I a Woman?” Sojourner Truth, 1851 Sojourner Truth (c. 1799–1883) was a legendary figure in the struggle to abolish human bondage in the United States. Born in slavery as Isabella Bomefree, she was liberated by the New York State Emancipation Act of 1827. In 1843 she assumed the name Sojourner Truth, and began to travel across the country as an abolitionist itinerant preacher. Truth worked closely with leading abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass, and became involved in the early women’s rights movement. In the 1970s and 1980s, black feminist scholars such as bell hooks cited the example of Truth as a model of black feminism’s activism and courage within the male-dominated abolitionist movement. The memorable phrase “A’n’t I a Woman?” was underscored in a famous speech attributed to Truth at a women’s rights conventions held in Akron, Ohio, in May 1851. There are two different accounts of Truth’s address, the first published in The Anti-Slavery Bugle in June 1851, and the second, better-known version by feminist abolitionist France Dana Gage, published twelve years later. According to historian Nell Irvin Painter, the latter was a largely fictive narrative. We have provided both texts. O One of the most unique and interesting speeches of the Convention was made by Sojourner Truth, an emancipated slave. It is impossible to transfer it to paper, or convey any adequate idea of the effect it produced upon the audience. Those only can appreciate it who saw her powerful form, her whole-souled, earnest gesture, and listened to her strong and truthful tones. She came forward to the platform and addressing the President said with great simplicity: “May I say a few words?” Receiving an affirmative answer, she proceeded: I want to say a few words about this matter. I am a woman’s rights. I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man. I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that? I have heard much about the sexes being equal. I can carry as much as any man, and can eat as much too, if I can get it. I am as strong as any man that is now. As for intellect, all I can say is, if woman have a pint, and man a quart—why can’t she have her little pint full? You need not be afraid to give us our rights for fear we will take too much,—for we can’t take more than our pint’ll hold. The poor men seem to be all in confusion, and don’t know what to do. Why children, if you have woman’s rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won’t be so much trouble. I can’t read, but I can hear. I have heard the bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well, if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again. The Lady has spoken about Jesus, how he never spurned woman from him, and she was right. When Lazarus died, Mary and Martha came to him with faith and love and S O J O U R N E R T R U T H , “ A’ N ’ T I A W O M A N ? ” 67 besought him to raise their brother. And Jesus wept and Lazarus came forth. And how came Jesus into the world? Through God who created him and a woman who bore him. Man, where is your part? But the women are coming up blessed be God and a few of the men are coming up with them. But man is in a tight place, the poor slave is on him, woman is coming on him, he is surely between a hawk and a buzzard. O Wall, chilern, whar dar is so much racket dar must be somethin’ out of kilter. I tink dat ’twixt de niggers of de Souf and de womin at de Norf, all talkin’ ’bout rights, de white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all dis here talkin’ ’bout? Dat man ober dar say dat womin needs to be helped into carriages and lifted ober ditches, and to hab de best place everywhar. Nobody eber helps me into carriages, or ober mud puddles, or gibs me any best place! And a’n’t I a woman? Look at my arm! I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And a’n’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man—when I could get it—and bear de lash as well! And a’n’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen chilren, and seen ’em mos’ all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And a’n’t I a woman? Den dey talks ’bout dis ting in de head: what dis dey call it? (“Intellect,” whispered some one near.) Dat’s it, honey. What dat got to do wid womin’s rights or nigger’s rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yourn holds a quart, wouldn’t ye be mean not to let me have my little half-measure full? Den dat little man in black dar, he say women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wan’t a woman! Whar did your Christ come from? Whar did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothin’ to do wid Him! If de fust woman God ever made was strong enough to turn de world upside down all alone, dese women togedder (and she glanced her eye over the platform) ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now dey is asking to do it, de men better let ’em. Sources: (1) Excerpt from The Anti-Slavery Bugle, June 21, 1851; and (2) Reported in Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and M. J. Gage, History of Women Suffrage, Vol. I (Rochester, N.Y.: 1887). S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Jacqueline Bernard, Journey Toward Freedom: The Story of Sojourner Truth (New York: Feminist Press of the City University of New York, 1990). Nell Irvin Painter, “Representing Truth: Sojourner Truth’s Knowing and Becoming Known,” Journal of American History 81, no. 2 (September 1994), pp. 461–492. ———, Sojourner Truth: A Life, a Symbol (New York: W. W. Norton, 1998). Dorothy Sterling, We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W. W. Norton, 1984). 68 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 Erlene Stetson and Linda David, Glorying in Tribulation: The Lifework of Sojourner Truth (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1994). Sojourner Truth, with Francis W. Titus, ed., Narrative of Sojourner Truth; a Bondswoman of Olden Time, with a History of Her Labors and Correspondence Drawn from her “Book of Life” (Battle Creek, Mich.: Privately Published, 1875, 1878; republished, Jeffery Stewart, ed., 1991). O 16 O “A Plea for Emigration, or, Notes of Canada West,” Mary Ann Shadd Cary, 1852 Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823–1893) was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the eldest of thirteen children. Although Delaware was a slave state, the Shadd family was part of an elite free black community. Mary Ann Shadd’s parents were active supporters of the antislavery movement and their next home in West Chester, Pennsylvania, served as a way station on the Underground Railroad. Shadd was educated in a Quaker School, and in 1839 she began a career teaching African Americans. Shadd’s first essay, “Hints to the Colored People of the North” (1849) called for antislavery reform, and in particular, advised middle-class blacks to become “producers instead of mere consumers.” After the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Mary Ann Shadd fled to Canada, where she established a school educating former slaves and free blacks. In the pamphlet, “A Plea for Emigration or, Notes on Canada West,” published in 1852, Shadd presented a powerful plea to African Americans to move north. In 1854, she assumed management of The Provincial Freeman to become the first African-American woman editor and publisher in North America. With the outbreak of the American Civil War, Shadd Cary returned to the United States. She later became the first African-American woman to enroll in Howard University Law School, graduating in 1883. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS The increasing desire on the part of the coloured people to become thoroughly informed respecting the Canadas, and particularly that part of the Province called Canada West—to learn of the climate, soil and productions, and of the inducements offered generally to emigrants, and to them particularly, since that the passage of the odious Fugitive Slave Law has made a residence in the United States to many of them dangerous in the extreme—this consideration, and the absence of condensed information accessible to all, is my excuse for offering this tract to the notice of the public. The people are in a strait. On the one hand, a pro-slavery administration, with its entire controllable force, is bearing upon them with fatal effect. On the other, the Colonization Society, in the garb of Christianity and Philanthropy, is second- M A RY A N N S H A D D , “ A P L E A F O R E M I G R AT I O N , . . . ” 69 ing the efforts of the first named power, by bringing into the lists a vast social and immoral influence, thus making more effective the agencies employed. Information is needed. Tropical Africa, the land of promise of the colonizationists, teeming as she is with the breath of pestilence, a burning sun and fearful maladies, bids them welcome; she feelingly invites to moral and physical death, under a voluntary escort of their most bitter enemies at home. Again, many look with dreadful forebodings to the probability of worse than inquisitorial inhumanity in the Southern States from the operation of the Fugitive Law. Certain that neither a home in Africa, nor in the Southern States, is desirable under present circumstances, inquiry is made respecting Canada. I have endeavored to furnish information to a certain extent, to that end, and believing that more reliance would be placed upon a statement of facts obtained in the country, from reliable sources and from observation, than upon a repetition of current statement, made elsewhere, however honestly made, I determined to visit Canada, and to there collect such information as most persons desire. These pages contain the result of much inquiry: matter obtained both from individuals and from documents and papers of unquestionable character in the Province. THE FRENCH AND FOREIGN POPULATIONS . . . Persons emigrating to Canada need not hope to find the general state of society as it is in the States. There is, as in the old country, a strong class feeling—lines are as completely drawn between the different classes, and aristocracy in the Canadas is the same in its manifestations as aristocracy in England, Scotland and elsewhere. There is no approach to Southern chivalry, nor the sensitive democracy prevalent at the North; but there is an aristocracy of birth, not of skin, as with Americans. In the ordinary arrangements of society, from wealthy and titled immigrants and visitors from the mother country, down through the intermediate circles to Yankees and Indians, it appears to have been settled by common consent, that one class should not “see any trouble over another”; but the common ground on which all honest and respectable men meet is that of innate hatred of American Slavery. RECAPITULATION The conclusion arrived at in respect to Canada by an impartial person is that no settled country in America offers stronger inducements to coloured people. The climate is healthy, and they enjoy as good health as other settlers, or as the natives; the soil is of the first quality; the laws of the country give to them, at first, the same protection and privileges as to other persons not born subjects; and after compliance with Acts of Parliament affecting them, as taking oath, they may enjoy full “privileges of British birth in the Province.” The general tone of society is healthy; vice is discountenanced, and infractions of the law promptly punished; and, added to this, there is an increasing anti-slavery sentiment, and a progressive system of religion. Source: Excerpts from Mary Ann Shadd Cary, A Plea for Emigration, or, Notes of Canada West, ed. by Richard Almonte (Toronto: Mercury Press, 1998), pp. 43–44 and 88–89. 70 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY S E L E C T A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Richard Almonte, ed., A Plea for Emigration, or, Notes of Canada West (Toronto: Mercury Press, 1998). Jim Bearden, and Linda Jean Butler, Shadd: The Life and Times of Mary Shadd Cary (Toronto: NC Press, 1977). Jane Rhodes, Mary Ann Shadd Cary: The Black Press and Protest in the Nineteenth Century (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999). Shirley J. Yee, “Finding a Place: Mary Ann Shadd Cary and the Dilemmas of Black Migration to Canada, 1850–1870,” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 18, no. 3 (1997), pp. 1–16. O 17 O A Black Nationalist Manifesto, Martin R. Delany, 1852 Martin R. Delany (1812–1885) was a major theoretical and political architect of what today we call “black nationalism.” Born in Virginia, of Gullah and Mandingo descent, Delany assumed many different vocations throughout his long career, among them educator, physician, African explorer, unsuccessful political candidate, author, and journalist. In 1843 Delany produced one of the earliest AfricanAmerican newspapers, The Mystery. Although he worked briefly with Frederick Douglass to produce The North Star newspaper, the two black leaders differed sharply over the strategies and philosophies for the African-American community. Delany’s The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered presented a program of racial separatism and advocated colonization as the only long-term hope to achieve black freedom. In the Civil War, Delany became a major in the 104th U.S. colored troops. During Reconstruction he ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor of South Carolina. O THE CONDITION, ELEVATION, EMIGRATION, AND DESTINY OF THE COLORED PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, POLITICALLY CONSIDERED V. MEANS OF ELEVATION Moral theories have long been resorted to by us, as a means of effecting the redemption of our brethren in bonds, and the elevation of the free colored people in this country. Experience has taught us, that speculations are not enough; that the practical application of principles adduced, the thing carried out, is the only true and proper course to pursue. We have speculated and moralised much about equality—claiming to be as good as our neighbors, and everybody else—all of which, may do very well in ethics—but not in politics. We live in society among men, conducted by men, governed by rules and regulations. However arbitrary, there are certain policies that M . R . D E L A N Y, A B L A C K N AT I O N A L I S T M A N I F E S T O 71 regulate all well-organized institutions and corporate bodies. We do not intend here to speak of the legal political relations of society, for those are treated on elsewhere. The business and social, or voluntary and mutual policies, are those that now claim our attention. Society regulates itself—being governed by mind, which like water, finds its own level. “Like seeks like,” is a principle in the laws of matter, as well as of mind. There is such a thing as inferiority of things, and positions; at least society has made them so; and while we continue to live among men, we must agree to all just measures—all those we mean, that do not necessarily infringe on the rights of others. By the regulations of society, there is no equality of persons, where there is not an equality of attainments. By this, we do not wish to be understood as advocating the actual equal attainments of every individual; but we mean to say, that if these attainments be necessary for the elevation of the white man, they are necessary for the elevation of the colored man. That some colored men and women, in a like proportion to the whites, should be qualified in all the attainments possessed by them. It is one of the regulations of society the world over, and we shall have to conform to it, or be discarded as unworthy of the associations of our fellows. Cast our eyes about us and reflect for a moment, and what do we behold! every thing that presents to view gives evidence of the skill of the white man. Should we purchase a pound of groceries, a yard of linen, a vessel of crockeryware, a piece of furniture, the very provisions that we eat,—all, all are the products of the white man, purchased by us from the white man, consequently, our earnings and means, are all given to the white man. Pass along the avenues of any city or town, in which you live—behold the trading shops—the manufactories—see the operations of the various machinery—see the stage-coaches coming in, bringing the mails of intelligence—look at the railroads interlining every section, bearing upon them their mighty trains, flying with the velocity of the swallow, ushering in the hundreds of industrious, enterprising travelers. Cast again your eyes widespread over the ocean—see the vessels in every direction with their white sheets spread to the winds of heaven, freighted with the commerce, merchandise and wealth of many nations. Look as you pass along through the cities, at the great and massive buildings—the beautiful and extensive structures of architecture—behold the ten thousand cupolas, with their spires all reared up towards heaven, intersecting the territory of the clouds—all standing as mighty living monuments, of the industry, enterprise, and intelligence of the white man. And yet, with all these living truths, rebuking us with scorn, we strut about, place our hands akimbo, straighten up ourselves to our greatest height, and talk loudly about being “as good as any body.” How do we compare with them? Our fathers are their coachmen, our brothers their cookmen, and ourselves their waiting-men. Our mothers their nurse-women, our sisters their scrubwomen, our daughters their maid-women, and our wives their washer-women. Until colored men, attain to a position above permitting their mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters, to do the drudgery and menial offices of other men’s wives and daughters; it is useless, it is nonsense, it is pitiable mockery, to talk about 72 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 equality and elevation in society. The world is looking upon us, with feelings of commiseration, sorrow, and contempt. We scarcely deserve sympathy, if we peremptorily refuse advice, bearing upon our elevation. . . . White men are producers—we are consumers. They build houses, and we rent them. They raise produce, and we consume it. They manufacture clothes and wares, and we garnish ourselves with them. They build coaches, vessels, cars, hotels, saloons, and other vehicles and places of accommodation, and we deliberately wait until they have got them in readiness, then walk in, and contend with as much assurance for a “right,” as though the whole thing was bought by, paid for, and belonged to us. By their literary attainments, they are the contributors to, authors and teachers of, literature, science, religion, law, medicine, and all other useful attainments that the world now makes use of. We have no reference to ancient times—we speak of modern things. These are the means by which God intended man to succeed: and this discloses the secret of the white man’s success with all of his wickedness, over the head of the colored man, with all of his religion. We have been pointed and plain, on this part of the subject, because we desire our readers to see persons and things in their true position. Until we are determined to change the condition of things, and raise ourselves above the position in which we are now prostrated, we must hang our heads in sorrow, and hide our faces in shame. It is enough to know that these things are so; the causes we care little about. Those we have been examining, complaining about, and moralising over, all our life time. This we are weary of. What we desire to learn now is, how to effect a remedy; this we have endeavored to point out. Our elevation must be the result of self-efforts, and work of our own hands. No other human power can accomplish it. If we but determine it shall be so, it will be so. Let each one make the case his own, and endeavor to rival his neighbor, in honorable competition. These are the proper and only means of elevating ourselves and attaining equality in this country or any other, and it is useless, utterly futile, to think about going any where, except we are determined to use these as the necessary means of developing our manhood. The means are at hand, within our reach. Are we willing to try them? Are we willing to raise ourselves superior to the condition of slaves, or continue the meanest underlings, subject to the beck and call of every creature bearing a pale complexion? If we are, we had as well remained in the South, as to have come to the North in search of more freedom. What was the object of our parents in leaving the South, if it were not for the purpose of attaining equality in common with others of their fellow citizens, by giving their children access to all the advantages enjoyed by others? Surely this was their object. They heard of liberty and equality here, and they hastened on to enjoy it, and no people are more astonished and disappointed than they, who for the first time, on beholding the position we occupy here in the free North—what is called, and what they expect to find, the free States. They at once tell us, that they have as much liberty in the South as we have in the North—that there as free people, they are protected in their rights—that we have nothing more—that in other respects they have the same opportunity, indeed the preferred opportunity, of M . R . D E L A N Y, A B L A C K N AT I O N A L I S T M A N I F E S T O 73 being their maids, servants, cooks, waiters, and menials in general, there, as we have here—that had they known for a moment, before leaving, that such was to be the only position they occupied here, they would have remained where they were, and never left. Indeed, such is the disappointment in many cases, that they immediately return back again, completely insulted at the idea, of having us here at the north, assume ourselves to be their superiors. Indeed, if our superior advantages of the free States, do not induce and stimulate us to the higher attainments in life, what in the name of degraded humanity will do it? O VI. THE UNITED STATES OUR COUNTRY Our common country is the United States. Here were we born, here raised and educated; here are the scenes of childhood; the pleasant associations of our school going days; the loved enjoyments of our domestic and fireside relations, and the sacred graves of our departed fathers and mothers, and from here will we not be driven by any policy that may be schemed against us. We are Americans, having a birthright citizenship—natural claims upon the country—claims common to all others of our fellow citizens—natural rights, which may, by virtue of unjust laws, be obstructed, but never can be annulled. Upon these do we place ourselves, as immovably fixed as the decrees of the living God. But according to the economy that regulates the policy of nations, upon which rests the basis of justifiable claims to all freemen’s rights, it may be necessary to take another view of, and enquire into the political claims of colored men. . . . O XXI. CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA AND THE WEST INDIES Central and South America, are evidently the ultimate destination and future home of the colored race on this continent; the advantages of which in preference to all others, will be apparent when once pointed out.1 The advantages to the colored people of the United States, to be derived from emigration to Central, South America, and the West Indies, are incomparably greater than that of any other parts of the world at present. In the first place, there never have existed in the policy of any of the nations of Central or South America, an inequality on account of race or color, and any prohibition of rights, has generally been to the white, and not to the colored races.2 To the whites, not because they were white, not on account of their color, but because of the policy pursued by them towards the people of other races than themselves. The population of Central and South America, consist of fifteen millions two hundred and forty thousand, adding the ten millions of Mexico; twenty-five millions two hundred and forty thousand, of which vast population, but one-seventh are whites, or the pure European race. Allowing a deduction of one- seventh of this population for the European race that may chance to be in those countries, and we have in South and Central America alone, the vast colored population of thirteen millions one hundred 74 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 and seventy-seven thousand; and including Mexico, a colored population on this glorious continent of twenty-one millions, six hundred and forty thousand. This vast number of people, our brethren—because they are precisely the same people as ourselves and share the same fate with us, as the case of numbers of them have proven, who have been adventitiously thrown among us—stand ready and willing to take us by the hand—nay, are anxiously waiting, and earnestly importuning us to come, that they may make common cause with us, and we all share the same fate. There is nothing under heaven in our way—the people stand with open arms ready to receive us. The climate, soil, and productions—the vast rivers and beautiful sea-coast—the scenery of the landscape, and beauty of the starry heavens above—the song of the birds—the voice of the people say come— and God our Father bids us go.—Will we go? Go we must, and go we will, as there is no alternative. To remain here in North America, and be crushed to the earth in vassalage and degradation, we never will. Talk not about religious biases—we have but one reply to make. We had rather be a Heathen freeman, than a Christian slave. There need be no fear of annexation in these countries—the prejudices of the people are all against it, and with our influences infused among them, the aversion would be ten-fold greater. Neither need there be any fears of an attempt on the part of the United States, at a subjugation of these countries. Policy is against it, because the United States has too many colored slaves in their midst, to desire to bring under their government, twenty-one millions of disfranchised people, whom it would cost them more to keep under subjection, than ten-fold the worth of the countries they gained. Besides, let us go to whatever parts of Central and South America we may, we shall make common cause with the people, and shall hope, by one judicious and signal effort, to assemble one day—and a glorious day it will be—in a great representative convention, and form a glorious union of South American States, “inseparably connected one and forever.” This can be done, easily done, if the proper course be pursued, and necessity will hold them together as it holds together the United States of North America— self-preservation. As the British nation serves to keep in check the Americans; so would the United States serve to keep in Union the South American States. We should also enter into solemn treaties with Great Britain, and like other free and independent nations, take our chance, and risk consequences. Talk not of consequences; we are now in chains; shall we shake them off and go to a land of liberty? shall our wives and children be protected, secure, and affectionately cherished, or shall they be debased and degraded as our mothers and fathers were? By the light of heaven, no! By the instincts of nature, no! Talk not about consequences. White men seek responsibilities; shall we shun them? They brave dangers and risk consequences; shall we shrink from them? What are consequences, compared in the scale of value, with liberty and freedom; the rights and privileges of our wives and children? In defence of our liberty—the rights of my wife and children; had we the power, we would command the vault of a volcano, charged with the wrath of heaven, and blast out of existence, every M . R . D E L A N Y, A B L A C K N AT I O N A L I S T M A N I F E S T O 75 thing that dared obstruct our way. The time has now fully arrived, when the colored race is called upon by all the ties of common humanity, and all the claims of consummate justice, to go forward and take their position, and do battle in the struggle now being made for the redemption of the world. Our cause is a just one; the greatest at present that elicits the attention of the world. For if there is a remedy; that remedy is now at hand. God himself as assuredly as he rules the destinies of nations, and entereth measures into the “hearts of men,” has presented these measures to us. Our race is to be redeemed; it is a great and glorious work, and we are the instrumentalities by which it is to be done. But we must go from among our oppressors; it never can be done by staying among them. God has, as certain as he has ever designed any thing, has designed this great portion of the New World, for us, the colored races; and as certain as we stubborn our hearts, and stiffen our necks against it, his protecting arm and fostering care will be withdrawn from us. Shall we be told that we can live nowhere, but under the will of our North American oppressors; that this (the United States,) is the country most favorable to our improvement and progress? Are we incapable of self-government, and making such improvements for ourselves as we delight to enjoy after American white men have made them for themselves? No, it is not true. Neither is it true that the United States is the best country for our improvement. That country is the best, in which our manhood can be best developed; and that is Central and South America, and the West Indies—all belonging to this glorious Continent. . . . O XXII. NICARAGUA AND NEW GRENADA As it is not reasonable to suppose, that all who read this volume—especially those whom it is intended most to benefit—understand geography; it is deemed advisable, to name some particular places, as locality of destination. We consequently, to begin with, select NICARAGUA, in Central America, North, and NEW GRENADA, the Northern part of South America, South of Nicaragua, as the most favorable points at present, in every particular, for us to emigrate to. In the first place, they are the nearest points to be reached, and countries at which the California adventurers are now touching, on their route to that distant land, and not half the distance of California. In the second place, the advantages for all kinds of enterprise, are equal if not superior, to almost any other points—the climate being healthy and highly favorable. In the third place, and by no means the least point of importance, the British nation is bound by solemn treaty, to protect both of those nations from foreign imposition, until they are able to stand alone. Then there is nothing in the way, but everything in favor, and opportunities for us to rise to the full stature of manhood. Remember this fact, that in these countries, colored men now fill the highest places in the country: and colored people 76 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 have the same chances there, that white people have in the United States. All that is necessary to do, is to go, and the moment your foot touches the soil, you have all the opportunities for elevating yourselves as the highest, according to your industry and merits. Nicaragua and New Grenada, are both Republics, having a President, Senate, and Representatives of the people. The municipal affairs are well conducted; and remember, however much the customs of the country may differ, and appear strange to those you have left behind—remember that you are free; and that many who, at first sight, might think that they could not become reconciled to the new order of things, should recollect, that they were once in a situation in the United States, (in slavery,) where they were compelled to be content with customs infinitely more averse to their feelings and desires. And that customs become modified, just in proportion as people of different customs from different parts, settle in the same communities together. All we ask is Liberty—the rest follows as a matter of course. O XXIII. THINGS AS THEY ARE “And if thou boast TRUTH to utter, SPEAK, and leave the rest to God.” In presenting this work, we have but a single object in view, and that is, to inform the minds of the colored people at large, upon many things pertaining to their elevation, that but few among us are acquainted with. Unfortunately for us, as a body, we have been taught to believe, that we must have some person to think for us, instead of thinking for ourselves. So accustomed are we to submission and this kind of training, that it is with difficulty, even among the most intelligent of the colored people, an audience may be elicited for any purpose whatever, if the expounder is to be a colored person; and the introduction of any subject is treated with indifference, if not contempt, when the originator is a colored person. Indeed, the most ordinary white person, is almost revered, while the most qualified colored person is totally neglected. Nothing from them is appreciated. We have been standing comparatively still for years, following in the footsteps of our friends, believing that what they promise us can be accomplished, just because they say so, although our own knowledge should long since, have satisfied us to the contrary. Because even were it possible, with the present hate and jealousy that the whites have towards us in this country, for us to gain equality of rights with them; we never could have an equality of the exercise and enjoyment of those rights—because, the great odds of numbers are against us. We might indeed, as some at present, have the right of the elective franchise—nay, it is not the elective franchise, because the elective franchise makes the enfranchised, eligible to any position attainable; but we may exercise the right of voting only, which to us, is but poor satisfaction; and we by no means care to cherish the privilege of voting somebody into office, to help to make laws to degrade us. M . R . D E L A N Y, A B L A C K N AT I O N A L I S T M A N I F E S T O 77 In religion—because they are both translators and commentators, we must believe nothing, however absurd, but what our oppressors tell us. In Politics, nothing but such as they promulge; in Anti-Slavery, nothing but what our white brethren and friends say we must; in the mode and manner of our elevation, we must do nothing, but that which may be laid down to be done by our white brethren from some quarter or other; and now, even in the subject of emigration, there are some colored people to be found, so lost to their own interest and self-respect, as to be gulled by slave owners and colonizationists, who are led to believe there is no other place in which they can become elevated, but Liberia, a government of American slaveholders, as we have shown—simply, because white men have told them so. Upon the possibility, means, mode and manner, of our Elevation in the United States—Our Original Rights and Claims as Citizens—Our Determination not to be Driven from our Native Country—the Difficulties in the Way of our Elevation —Our Position in Relation to our Anti-Slavery Brethren—the Wicked Design and Injurious Tendency of the American Colonization Society—Objections to Liberia—Objections to Canada—Preferences to South America, &c., &c., all of which we have treated without reserve; expressing our mind freely, and with candor, as we are determined that as far as we can at present do so, the minds of our readers shall be enlightened. The custom of concealing information upon vital and important subjects, in which the interest of the people is involved, we do not agree with, nor favor in the least; we have therefore, laid this cursory treatise before our readers, with the hope that it may prove instrumental in directing the attention of our people in the right way, that leads to their Elevation. Go or stay— of course each is free to do as he pleases—one thing is certain; our Elevation is the work of our own hands. And Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, and South America, all present now, opportunities for the individual enterprise of our young men, who prefer to remain in the United States, in preference to going where they can enjoy real freedom, and equality of rights. Freedom of Religion, as well as of politics, being tolerated in all of these places. Let our young men and women, prepare themselves for usefulness and business; that the men may enter into merchandise, trading, and other things of importance; the young women may become teachers of various kinds, and otherwise fill places of usefulness. Parents must turn their attention more to the education of their children. We mean, to educate them for useful practical business purposes. Educate them for the Store and the Counting House—to do every-day practical business. Consult the children’s propensities, and direct their education according to their inclinations. It may be, that there is too great a desire on the part of parents, to give their children a professional education, before the body of the people, are ready for it. A people must be a business people, and have more to depend upon than mere help in people’s houses and Hotels, before they are either able to support, or capable of properly appreciating the services of professional men among them. This has been one of our great mistakes—we have gone in advance of ourselves. We have commenced at the superstructure of the building, instead of the foundation—at the top instead of the bottom. We should first 78 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 be mechanics and common tradesmen, and professions as a matter of course would grow out of the wealth made thereby. Young men and women, must now prepare for usefulness—the day of our Elevation is at hand—all the world now gazes at us—and Central and South America, and the West Indies, bid us come and be men and women, protected, secure, beloved and Free. The branches of Education most desirable for the preparation of youth, for practical useful every-day life, are Arithmetic and good Penmanship, in order to be Accountants; and a good rudimental knowledge of Geography—which has ever been neglected, and underestimated—and of Political Economy; which without the knowledge of the first, no people can ever become adventurous—nor of the second, never will be an enterprising people. Geography, teaches a knowledge of the world, and Political Economy, a knowledge of the wealth of nations; or how to make money. These are not abstruse sciences, or learning not easily acquired or understood; but simply, common School Primer learning, that every body may get. And, although it is the very Key to prosperity and success in common life, but few know anything about it. Unfortunately for our people, so soon as their children learn to read a Chapter in the New Testament, and scribble a miserable hand, they are pronounced to have “Learning enough”; and taken away from School, no use to themselves, nor community. This is apparent in our Public Meetings, and Official Church Meetings; of the great number of men present, there are but few capable of filling a Secretaryship. Some of the large cities may be an exception to this. Of the multitudes of Merchants, and Business men throughout this country, Europe, and the world, few are qualified, beyond the branches here laid down by us as necessary for business. What did John Jacob Astor, Stephen Girard, or do the millionaires and the greater part of the merchant princes, and mariners, know about Latin and Greek, and the Classics? Precious few of them know any thing. In proof of this, in 1841, during the Administration of President Tyler, when the mutiny was detected on board of the American Man of War Brig Somers, the names of the Mutineers, were recorded by young S—a Midshipman in Greek. Captain Alexander Slidell McKenzie, Commanding, was unable to read them; and in his despatches to the Government, in justification of his policy in executing the criminals, said that he “discovered some curious characters which he was unable to read,” &c.; showing thereby, that that high functionary, did not understand even the Greek Alphabet, which was only necessary, to have been able to read proper names written in Greek. What we most need then, is a good business practical Education; because, the Classical and Professional education of so many of our young men, before their parents are able to support them, and community ready to patronize them, only serves to lull their energy, and cripple the otherwise, praiseworthy efforts they would make in life. A Classical education, is only suited to the wealthy, or those who have a prospect of gaining a livelihood by it. The writer does not wish to be understood, as underrating a Classical and Professional education; this is not his intention; he fully appreciates them, having had some such advantages himself; but he desires to give a proper guide, and put a check to the extravagant idea that is fast obtaining, among our people especially, that a Classical, or as it is named, M . R . D E L A N Y, A B L A C K N AT I O N A L I S T M A N I F E S T O 79 a “finished education,” is necessary to prepare one for usefulness in life. Let us have an education, that shall practically develop our thinking faculties and manhood; and then, and not until then, shall we be able to vie with our oppressors, go where we may. We as heretofore, have been on the extreme; either no qualification at all, or a Collegiate education. We jumped too far; taking a leap from the deepest abyss to the highest summit; rising from the ridiculous to the sublime; without medium or intermission. Let our young women have an education; let their minds be well informed; well stored with useful information and practical proficiency, rather than the light superficial acquirements, popularly and fashionably called accomplishments. We desire accomplishments, but they must be useful. Our females must be qualified, because they are to be the mothers of our children. As mothers are the first nurses and instructors of children; from them children consequently, get their first impressions, which being always the most lasting, should be the most correct. Raise the mothers above the level of degradation, and the offspring is elevated with them. In a word, instead of our young men, transcribing in their blank books, recipes for Cooking; we desire to see them making the transfer of Invoices of Merchandise. Come to our aid then; the morning of our Redemption from degradation, adorns the horizon. In our selection of individuals, it will be observed, that we have confined ourself entirely to those who occupy or have occupied positions among the whites, consequently having a more general bearing as useful contributors to society at large. While we do not pretend to give all such worthy cases, we gave such as we possessed information of, and desire it to be understood, that a large number of our most intelligent and worthy men and women, have not been named, because from their more private position in community, it was foreign to the object and design of this work. If we have said aught to offend, “take the will for the deed,” and be assured, that it was given with the purest of motives, and best intention, from a true-hearted man and brother; deeply lamenting the sad fate of his race in this country, and sincerely desiring the elevation of man, and submitted to the serious consideration of all, who favor the promotion of the cause of God and humanity. O XXIV. A GLANCE AT OURSELVES—CONCLUSION With broken hopes—sad devastation; A race resigned to DEGRADATION! . . . If we did not love our race superior to others, we would not concern ourself about their degradation; for the greatest desire of our heart is, to see them stand on a level with the most elevated of mankind. No people are ever elevated above the condition of their females; hence, the condition of the mother determines the condition of the child. To know the position of a people, it is only necessary to know the condition of their females; and despite themselves, they cannot rise above their level. Then what is our condition? Our best ladies being washerwomen, chambermaids, children’s traveling nurses, and common house servants, 80 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 and menials, we are all a degraded, miserable people, inferior to any other people as a whole, on the face of the globe. These great truths, however unpleasant, must be brought before the minds of our people in its true and proper light, as we have been too delicate about them, and too long concealed them for fear of giving offence. It would have been infinitely better for our race, if these facts had been presented before us half a century ago—we would have been now proportionably benefitted by it. As an evidence of the degradation to which we have been reduced, we dare premise, that this chapter will give offence to many, very many, and why? Because they may say, “He dared to say that the occupation of a servant is a degradation.” It is not necessarily degrading; it would not be, to one or a few people of a kind; but a whole race of servants are a degradation to that people. Efforts made by men of qualifications for the toiling and degraded millions among the whites, neither gives offence to that class, nor is it taken unkindly by them; but received with manifestations of gratitude; to know that they are thought to be, equally worthy of, and entitled to stand on a level with the elevated classes; and they have only got to be informed of the way to raise themselves, to make the effort and do so as far as they can. But how different with us. Speak of our position in society, and it at once gives insult. Though we are servants; among ourselves we claim to be ladies and gentlemen, equal in standing, and as the popular expression goes, “Just as good as any body”—and so believing, we make no efforts to raise above the common level of menials; because the best being in that capacity, all are content with the position. We cannot at the same time, be domestic and lady; servant and gentleman. We must be the one or the other. Sad, sad indeed, is the thought, that hangs drooping in our mind, when contemplating the picture drawn before us. Young men and women, “we write these things unto you, because ye are strong,” because the writer, a few years ago, gave unpardonable offence to many of the young people of Philadelphia and other places, because he dared tell them, that he thought too much of them, to be content with seeing them the servants of other people. Surely, she that could be the mistress, would not be the maid; neither would he that could be the master, be content with being the servant; then why be offended, when we point out to you, the way that leads from the menial to the mistress or the master. All this we seem to reject with fixed determination, repelling with anger, every effort on the part of our intelligent men and women to elevate us, with true Israelitish degradation, in reply to any suggestion or proposition that may be offered, “Who made thee a ruler and judge?” The writer is no “Public Man,” in the sense in which this is understood among our people, but simply an humble individual, endeavoring to seek a livelihood by a profession obtained entirely by his own efforts, without relatives and friends able to assist him; except such friends as he gained by the merit of his course and conduct, which he here gratefully acknowledges; and whatever he has accomplished, other young men may, by making corresponding efforts, also accomplish. In our own country, the United States, there are three million five hundred thousand slaves; and we, the nominally free colored people, are six hundred thousand in number; estimating one-sixth to be men, we have one hundred thousand M . R . D E L A N Y, A B L A C K N AT I O N A L I S T M A N I F E S T O 81 able bodied freemen, which will make a powerful auxiliary in any country to which we may become adopted—an ally not to be despised by any power on earth. We love our country, dearly love her, but she doesn’t love us—she despises us, and bids us begone, driving us from her embraces; but we shall not go where she desires us; but when we do go, whatever love we have for her, we shall love the country none the less that receives us as her adopted children. For the want of business habits and training, our energies have become paralyzed; our young men never think of business, any more than if they were so many bondmen, without the right to pursue any calling they may think most advisable. With our people in this country, dress and good appearances have been made the only test of gentleman and ladyship, and that vocation which offers the best opportunity to dress and appear well, has generally been preferred, however menial and degrading, by our young people, without even, in the majority of cases, an effort to do better; indeed, in many instances, refusing situations equally lucrative, and superior in position; but which would not allow as much display of dress and personal appearance. This, if we ever expect to rise, must be discarded from among us, and a high and respectable position assumed. One of our great temporal curses is our consummate poverty. We are the poorest people, as a class, in the world of civilized mankind—abjectly, miserably poor, no one scarcely being able to assist the other. To this, of course, there are noble exceptions; but that which is common to, and the very process by which white men exist, and succeed in life, is unknown to colored men in general. In any and every considerable community may be found, some one of our white fellowcitizens, who is worth more than all the colored people in that community put together. We consequently have little or no efficiency. We must have means to be practically efficient in all the undertakings of life; and to obtain them, it is necessary that we should be engaged in lucrative pursuits, trades, and general business transactions. In order to be thus engaged, it is necessary that we should occupy positions that afford the facilities for such pursuits. To compete now with the mighty odds of wealth, social and religious preferences, and political influences of this country, at this advanced stage of its national existence, we never may expect. A new country, and new beginning, is the only true, rational, politic remedy for our disadvantageous position; and that country we have already pointed out, with triple golden advantages, all things considered, to that of any country to which it has been the province of man to embark. Every other than we, have at various periods of necessity, been a migratory people; and all when oppressed, shown a greater abhorrence of oppression, if not a greater love of liberty, than we. We cling to our oppressors as the objects of our love. It is true that our enslaved brethren are here, and we have been led to believe that it is necessary for us to remain, on that account. Is it true, that all should remain in degradation, because a part are degraded? We believe no such thing. We believe it to be the duty of the Free, to elevate themselves in the most speedy and effective manner possible; as the redemption of the bondman depends entirely upon the elevation of the freeman; therefore, to elevate the free colored people of America, anywhere upon this continent; forebodes the speedy redemption of the 82 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 slaves. We shall hope to hear no more of so fallacious a doctrine—the necessity of the free remaining in degradation, for the sake of the oppressed. Let us apply, first, the lever to ourselves; and the force that elevates us to the position of manhood’s considerations and honors, will cleft the manacle of every slave in the land. When such great worth and talents—for want of a better sphere—of men like Rev. Jonathan Robinson, Robert Douglass, Frederick A. Hinton, and a hundred others that might be named, were permitted to expire in a barber-shop; and such living men as may be found in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Richmond, Washington City, Charleston (S.C.), New Orleans, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, Pittsburg, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Utica, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago, Columbus, Zanesville, Wheeling, and a hundred other places, confining themselves to barber-shops and waiterships in Hotels; certainly the necessity of such a course as we have pointed out, must be cordially acknowledged; appreciated by every brother and sister of oppression; and not rejected as heretofore, as though they preferred inferiority to equality. These minds must become “unfettered,” and have “space to rise.” This cannot be in their present positions. A continuance in any position, becomes what is termed “Second Nature”; it begets an adaptation, and reconciliation of mind to such condition. It changes the whole physiological condition of the system, and adapts man and woman to a higher or lower sphere in the pursuits of life. The offsprings of slaves and peasantry, have the general characteristics of their parents; and nothing but a different course of training and education, will change the character. The slave may become a lover of his master, and learn to forgive him for continual deeds of maltreatment and abuse; just as the Spaniel would couch and fondle at the feet that kick him; because he has been taught to reverence them, and consequently, becomes adapted in body and mind to his condition. Even the shrubbery-loving Canary, and lofty-soaring Eagle, may be tamed to the cage, and learn to love it from habit of confinement. It has been so with us in our position among our oppressors; we have been so prone to such positions, that we have learned to love them. When reflecting upon this all important, and to us, all absorbing subject; we feel in the agony and anxiety of the moment, as though we could cry out in the langauge of a Prophet of old: “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the” degradation “of my people! Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them!” The Irishman and German in the United States, are very different persons to what they were when in Ireland and Germany, the countries of their nativity. There their spirits were depressed and downcast; but the instant they set their foot upon unrestricted soil; free to act and untrammelled to move; their physical condition undergoes a change, which in time becomes physiological, which is transmitted to the offspring, who when born under such circumstances, is a decidedly different being to what it would have been, had it been born under different circumstances. M . R . D E L A N Y, A B L A C K N AT I O N A L I S T M A N I F E S T O 83 A child born under oppression, has all the elements of servility in its constitution; who when born under favorable circumstances, has to the contrary, all the elements of freedom and independence of feeling. Our children then, may not be expected, to maintain that position and manly bearing; born under the unfavorable circumstances with which we are surrounded in this country; that we so much desire. To use the language of the talented Mr. Whipper, “they cannot be raised in this country, without being stoop shouldered.” Heaven’s pathway stands unobstructed, which will lead us into a Paradise of bliss. Let us go on and possess the land, and the God of Israel will be our God. The lessons of every school book, the pages of every history, and columns of every newspaper, are so replete with stimuli to nerve us on to manly aspirations, that those of our young people, who will now refuse to enter upon this great theatre of Polynesian adventure, and take their position on the stage of Central and South America, where a brilliant engagement, of certain and most triumphant success, in the drama of human equality awaits them; then, with the blood of slaves, write upon the lintel of every door in sterling Capitals, to be gazed and hissed at by every passer by— Doomed by the Creator To servility and degradation; The SERVANT of the white man, And despised of every nation! Notes: 1. The native language of these countries, as well as the greater part of South America, is Spanish, which is the easiest of all foreign languages to learn. It is very remarkable and worthy of note, that with a view of going to Mexico or South America, the writer several years ago paid some attention to the Spanish language; and now, a most singular coincidence, without preunderstanding, in almost every town, where there is any intelligence among them, there are some colored persons of both sexes, who are studying the Spanish language. Even the Methodist and other clergymen, among them. And we earnestly entreat all colored persons who can, to study, and have their children taught Spanish. No foreign language will be of such import to colored people, in a very short time, as the Spanish. Mexico, Central and South America, importune us to speak their language; and if nothing else, the silent indications of Cuba, urge us to learn the Spanish tongue. 2. The Brazilians have formed a Colonization Society, for the purpose of colonizing free blacks to Africa. The Brazilians are Portuguese, the only nation that can be termed white, and the only one that is a real slave holding nation in South America. Even the black and colored men have equal privileges with whites; and the action of this society will probably extend only to the sending back of such captives as may be taken from piratical slaves. Colonization in Brazil, has doubtless been got up under the influence of United States slaveholders and their abettors, such as the consuls and envoys, who are sent out to South America, by the government. Chevalier Niteroi, charge de affaires from Brazil near the government of Liberia, received by the President on the 28th of last January, is also charged with the mission of establishing a colony of free blacks in Liberia. The Chevalier was once a Captain in the Brazilian navy on the coast of Africa; and no doubt is conversant with the sentiments of Roberts, who was charged with the slave trade at one time. The scheme of United States slaveholders and President J.J. Roberts, their agent of Liberia, 84 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 will not succeed, in establishing prejudice against the black race; not even in slaveholding Brazil. We have no confidence in President Roberts of Liberia, believing him to be wholly without principle—seeking only self-aggrandizement; even should it be done, over the ruined prospects of his staggering infant country. The people of Liberia, should beware of this man. His privy councillors are to be found among slaveholders in the United States. Source: Excerpt from The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered (Philadelphia: Privately Printed, 1852). S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Tunde Adeleke, “Martin R. Delany’s Philosophy of Education: A Neglected Aspect of African American Liberation Thought,” Journal of Negro Education 63, no. 2 (Spring 1994), pp. 221–36. Benjamin G. Brawley, Early Negro American Writers (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1935). Cyril E. Griffith, The African Dream: Martin R. Delany and the Emergence of Pan-African Thought (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1975). Robert S. Levine Martin, ed., Martin R. Delany: A Documentary Reader (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003). Tolagbe Ogunleye, “Dr. Martin Robison Delany, 19th-Century Africana Womanists: Reflections on His Avant-Garde Politics Concerning Gender, Colorism, and Nation Building,” Journal of Black Studies 28, no. 5 (May 1998), pp. 628–49. Tommie Shelby, “Two Conceptions of Black Nationalism: Martin Delany on the Meaning of Black Political Solidarity,” Political Theory 31, no. 5 (October 2003), pp. 664–92. Dorothy Sterling, The Making of an Afro-American: Martin Robinson Delany, 1812–1885 (New York: Da Capo Press, 1996). Victor Ullman, Martin R. Delany: The Beginnings of Black Nationalism (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971). O 18 O “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” Frederick Douglass, 1852 Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) was the most influential African-American leader of the nineteenth century. After escaping from slavery in 1838, Douglass worked as an agent for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. Douglass was so eloquent as a public speaker that many whites doubted that he had ever been a slave. Partially to silence his critics, Douglass authored Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass in 1845. After the publication of the autobiography, Douglass was forced to leave the United States, living for two years in Great Britain. In 1847, returning to the United States, Douglass established The North Star newspaper, which was later renamed Frederick Douglass’ Paper. Douglass was a prominent abolitionist, but was also extensively involved in many other reform movements, especially women’s suffrage. After the Civil War, Douglass became a central figure in the national Republican Party. F. D O U G L A S S , “ W H AT T O T H E S L AV E . . . ” 85 O Fellow Citizens: Pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us? Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions. Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish that would not give his voice to swell the halleluiahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the “lame man leap like a hare.” But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you, that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable ruin. I can today take up the lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people. “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yes! We wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us, required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.” Fellow citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions, whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are today rendered more intolerable by the jubilant shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!” To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most 86 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow citizens, is “American Slavery.” I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave’s point of view. Standing here, identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July. Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity, which is outraged, in the name of liberty, which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery—the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate; I will not excuse”; I will use the severest language I can command, and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just. But I fancy I hear some of my audience say it is just in this circumstance that you and your brother Abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more and denounce less, would you persuade more and rebuke less, your cause would be much more likely to succeed. But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the antislavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia, which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of these same crimes will subject a white man to like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute-books are covered with enactments, forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read and write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then I will argue with you that the slave is a man! For the present it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are plowing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver, and gold; that while we are reading, writing, and cyphering, acting as clerks, merchants, and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators, and teachers; that while we are engaged in all the enterprises common to other men—digging gold F. D O U G L A S S , “ W H AT T O T H E S L AV E . . . ” 87 in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hillside, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives, and children, and above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave—we are called upon to prove that we are men? Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? That he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to understand? How should I look today in the presence of Americans, dividing and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom, speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively? To do so would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven who does not know that slavery is wrong for him. What! Am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the last, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood and stained with pollution is wrong? No; I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply. What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman cannot be divine. Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is past. At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation’s ear, I would today pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be denounced. What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy— a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is 88 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour. Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival. Source: Alice Moore Dunbar, ed., Masterpieces of Negro Eloquence (New York: Bookery Publishing, 1914), pp. 42–47. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: William L. Andrews, Critical Essays on Frederick Douglass (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1991). John Blassingame, ed., The Frederick Douglass Papers, 2 Vols. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1979). James A. Colaiaco, Frederick Douglass and the Fourth of July (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). Frederick Douglass, My Bondage, My Freedom (New York: Miller, Orton and Mulligan, 1885). ———, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. Written by Himself. His Early Life as a Slave, His Escape from Bondage, and His Complete History to the Present Time, including His Connection with the Anti-Slavery Movement (new revised edition, Boston: Dewolfe Fishe, 1892). Philip S. Foner, Frederick Douglass, a Biography (New York: Citadel Press, 1964). Nathan I. Huggins, Slave and Citizen: The Life of Frederick Douglass (New York: Harper Collins, 1980). Christoph K. Lohmann, ed., Radical Passion: Ottilie Assing’s Reports from America and Letters to Frederick Douglass, trans. Christoph K. Lohmann (New York: P. Lang, 1999). Waldo Martin, The Mind of Frederick Douglass (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984). James Oakes, The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2007). O 19 O “No Rights That a White Man Is Bound to Respect”: The Dred Scott Case and Its Aftermath Dred Scott (1795–1858) was born a slave in Southampton, Virginia, and later became a litigator in one of the most famous cases of the nineteenth century. Scott sued for his freedom, and in a second trial, won on the grounds that his slave status was nullified when his master took him to Illinois (a free state) and Wisconsin (a free territory). In 1857, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Scott. Because slaves were not legal citizens, they were deemed to have no standing in the courts. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s decision went well beyond the actual details of the case, by voiding the Missouri Compromise of 1820, and permitting the expansion of slavery into states that had been defined as T H E D R E D S C O T T C A S E A N D I T S A F T E R M AT H 89 free. The decision greatly accelerated political conflict over the issue of slavery, leading to the Civil War. Frederick Douglass and other abolitionists immediately denounced this decision. Immediately after the Supreme Court’s negative decision, Scott’s owner, Irene Emerson, freed him. O Dred Scott vs. Alex. Sandford, Saml. Russell, and Irene Emerson To the Honorable, the Circuit Court within and for the County of St. Louis. Your petitioner, Dred Scott, a man of color, respectfully represents that sometime in the year 1835 your petitioner was purchased as a slave by one John Emerson, since deceased, who afterwards, to-wit; about the year 1836 or 1837, conveyed your petitioner from the State of Missouri to Fort Snelling, a fort then occupied by the troops of the United States and under the jurisdiction of the United States, situated in the territory ceded by France to the United States under the name of Louisiana, lying north of 36 degrees and 30′ North latitude, now included in the State of Missouri, and resided and continued to reside at Fort Snelling upwards of one year, and held your petitioner in slavery at such Fort during all that time in violation of the Act of Congress of 1806 and 1820, entitled An Act to Authorize the People of Missouri Territory to form a Constitution and State Government, and for the admission of such State into the Union on an equal footing with the original states, and to Prohibit Slavery in Certain Territories. Your petitioner avers that said Emerson has since departed this life, leaving his widow Irene Emerson and an infant child whose name is unknown to your petitioner; and that one Alexander Sandford administered upon the estate of said Emerson and that your petitioner is now unlawfully held in slavery by said Sandford and by said administrator and said Irene Emerson claims your petitioner as part of the estate of said Emerson and by one Samuel Russell. Your petitioner therefore prays your Honorable Court to grant him leave to sue as a poor person, in order to establish his right to freedom, and that the necessary orders may be made in the premises. Dred Scott State of Missouri County of St. Louis This day personally came before me, the undersigned, a Justice of the Peace, Dred Scott, the person whose name is affixed to the foregoing petition, and made oath that the facts set forth in the above petition are true to the best of his knowledge and belief, that he is entitled to his freedom. Witness my hand this 1st day of July, 1847. his Dred X Scott mark Sworn to and subscribed before me this 1st day of July, 1847. Peter W. Johnstone Justice of the Peace 90 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 O ROGER B. TANEY, OPINION ON DRED SCOTT V. SANDFORD The question is simply this: Can a Negro, whose ancestors were imported into this country, and sold as slaves, become a member of the political community formed and brought into existence by the Constitution of the United States, and as such become entitled to all the rights, and privileges, and immunities, guaranteed by that instrument to the citizen? One of which rights is the privilege of suing in a court of the United States in the cases specified in the Constitution. It will be observed, that the plea applies to that class of persons only whose ancestors were Negroes of the African race, and imported into this country, and sold and held as slaves. The only matter in issue before the court, therefore, is whether the descendants of such slaves, when they shall be emancipated, or who are born of parents who had become free before their birth, are citizens of a State, in the sense in which the word citizen is used in the Constitution of the United States. . . . The words “people of the United States” and “citizens” are synonymous terms, and mean the same thing. They both describe the political body who, according to our republican institutions, from the sovereignty, and who hold the power and conduct the government through their representatives. They are what we familiarly call the “sovereign people,” and every citizen is one of this people, and a constituent member of this sovereignty. The question before us is, whether the class of persons described in the plea in abatement compose a portion of this people, and are constituent members of this sovereignty? We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word “citizens” in the Constitution, and can, therefore, claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the government might choose to grant them. . . . It is very clear, therefore, that no State can, by any Act or law of its own, passed since the adoption of the Constitution, introduce a new member into the political community created by the Constitution of the United States. It cannot make him a member of this community by making him a member of its own. And for the same reason it cannot introduce any person, or description of persons, who were not intended to be embraced in this new political family, which the Constitution brought into existence, but were intended to be excluded from it. . . . In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show, that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument. It is difficult at this day to realize the state of public opinion in relation to that T H E D R E D S C O T T C A S E A N D I T S A F T E R M AT H 91 unfortunate race, which prevailed in the civilized and enlightened portions of the world at the time of the Declaration of Independence, and when the Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted. . . . They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic whenever a profit could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race. It was regarded as an axiom in morals as well. . . . . . . A Negro of the African race was regarded . . . as an article of property and held and bought and sold as such in every one of the thirteen Colonies which united in the Declaration of Independence and afterward formed the Constitution of the United States. The slaves were more or less numerous in the different Colonies, as slave labor was found more or less profitable. But no one seems to have doubted the correctness of the prevailing opinion of the time. . . . The language of the Declaration of Independence is equally conclusive: It begins by declaring that “When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” It then proceeds to say: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The general words above quoted would seem to embrace the whole human family, and if they were used in a similar instrument at this day would be so understood. But it is too clear for dispute that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration; for if the language, as understood in that day, would embrace them, the conduct of the distinguished men who framed the Declaration of Independence would have been utterly and flagrantly inconsistent with the principles they asserted; and instead of the sympathy of mankind, to which they so confidently appealed, they would have deserved and received universal rebuke and reprobation. Yet the men who framed this declaration were great men—high in literary acquirements—high in their sense of honor, and incapable of asserting principles inconsistent with those on which they were acting. They perfectly understood the meaning of the language they used and how it would be understood by others; and they knew that it would not in any part of the civilized world be supposed to embrace the Negro race, which, by common consent, had been excluded from 92 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 civilized governments and the family of nations and doomed to slavery. They spoke and acted according to the then established doctrine and principles and in the ordinary language of the day, and no one misunderstood them. The unhappy black race were separated from the white by indelible marks, and laws long before established, and were never thought of or spoken of except as property and when the claims of the owner or the profit of the trader were supposed to need protection. This state of public opinion had undergone no change when the Constitution was adopted, as is equally evident from its provisions and language. The brief preamble sets forth by whom it was formed, for what purposes, and for whose benefit and protection. It declares that it is formed by the people of the United States; that is to say, by those who were members of the different political communities in the several states; and its great object is declared to be to secure the blessing of liberty to themselves and their posterity. It speaks in general terms of the people of the United States, and of citizens of the several states, when it is providing for the exercise of the powers granted or the privileges secured to the citizen. It does not define what description of persons are intended to be included under these terms, or who shall be regarded as a citizen and one of the people. It uses them as terms so well understood that no further description or definition was necessary. . . . But there are two clauses in the Constitution which point directly and specifically to the Negro race as a separate class of persons, and show clearly that they were not regarded as a portion of the people or citizens of the Government then formed. One of these clauses reserves to each of the thirteen States the right to import slaves until the year 1808, if it thinks it proper. And the importation which it thus sanctions was unquestionably of persons of the race of which we are speaking, as the traffic in slaves in the United States had always been confined to them. And by the other provision the States pledge themselves to each other to maintain the right of property of the master, by delivering up to him any slave who may have escaped from his service, and be found within their respective territories. . . . And these two provisions show, conclusively, that neither the description of persons therein referred to, nor their descendants, were embraced in any of the other provisions of the Constitution; for certainly these two clauses were not intended to confer on them or their posterity the blessings of liberty, or any of the personal rights so carefully provided for the citizen. . . . Indeed, when we look to the condition of this race in the several States at the time, it is impossible to believe that these rights and privileges were intended to be extended to them. . . . The legislation of the States therefore shows, in a manner not to be mistaken, the inferior and subject condition of that race at the time the Constitution was adopted, and long afterwards, throughout the thirteen States by which that instrument was framed; and it is hardly consistent with the respect due to these States, to suppose that they regarded at that time, as fellow-citizens and members of the sovereignty, a class of beings whom they had thus stigmatized. T H E D R E D S C O T T C A S E A N D I T S A F T E R M AT H 93 O FREDERICK DOUGLASS’S SPEECH DENOUNCING THE DECISION While four millions of our fellow countrymen are in chains—while men, women, and children are bought and sold on the auction-block with horses, sheep, and swine—while the remorseless slave-whip draws the warm blood of our common humanity—it is meet that we assemble as we have done today, and lift up our hearts and voices in earnest denunciation of the vile and shocking abomination. It is not for us to be governed by our hopes or our fears in this great work; yet it is natural on occasions like this, to survey the position of the great struggle which is going on between slavery and freedom, and to dwell upon such signs of encouragement as may have been lately developed, and the state of feeling these signs or events have occasioned in us and among the people generally. It is a fitting time to take an observation to ascertain where we are, and what our prospects are. To many, the prospects of the struggle against slavery seem far from cheering. Eminent men, North and South, in Church and State, tell us that the omens are all against us. Emancipation, they tell us, is a wild, delusive idea; the price of human flesh was never higher than now; slavery was never more closely entwined about the hearts and affections of the southern people than now; that whatever of conscientious scruple, religious conviction, or public policy, which opposed the system of slavery forty or fifty years ago, has subsided; and that slavery never reposed upon a firmer basis than now. Completing this picture of the happy and prosperous condition of this system of wickedness, they tell us that this state of things is to be set to our account. Abolition agitation has done it all. How deep is the misfortune of my poor, bleeding people, if this be so! How lost their condition, if even the efforts of their friends but sink them deeper in ruin! Without assenting to this strong representation of the increasing strength and stability of slavery, without denouncing what of untruth pervades it, I own myself not insensible to the many difficulties and discouragements that beset us on every hand. They fling their broad and gloomy shadows across the pathway of every thoughtful colored man in this country. For one, I see them clearly, and feel them sadly. With an earnest, aching heart, I have long looked for the realization of the hope of my people. Standing, as it were, barefoot, and treading upon the sharp and flinty rocks of the present, and looking out upon the boundless sea of the future, I have sought, in my humble way, to penetrate the intervening mists and clouds, and, perchance, to descry, in the dim and shadowy distance, the white flag of freedom, the precise speck of time at which the cruel bondage of my people should end, and the long entombed millions rise from the foul grave of slavery and death. But of that time I can know nothing, and you can know nothing. All is uncertain at that point. One thing, however, is certain; slaveholders are in earnest, and mean to cling to their slaves as long as they can, and to the bitter end. They show no sign of a wish to quit their iron grasp upon the sable throats of their victims. Their motto is, “a firmer hold and a tighter grip” for every new effort that is made to break their cruel power. The case is one of life or death with them, and they will give up only when they must do that or do worse. 94 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 In one view the slaveholders have a decided advantage over all opposition. It is well to notice this advantage—the advantage of complete organization. They are organized; and yet were not at the pains of creating their organizations. The State governments, where the system of slavery exists, are complete slavery organizations. The church organizations in those States are equally at the service of slavery; while the Federal Government, with its army and navy, from the chief magistracy in Washington, to the Supreme Court, and thence to the chief marshalship at New York, is pledged to support, defend, and propagate the crying curse of human bondage. The pen, the purse, and the sword, are united against the simple truth, preached by humble men in obscure places. This is one view. It is, thank God, only one view; there is another, and a brighter view. David, you know, looked small and insignificant when going to meet Goliath, but looked larger when he had slain his foe. The Malakoff was, to the eye of the world, impregnable, till the hour it fell before the shot and shell of the allied army. Thus hath it ever been. Oppression, organized as ours is, will appear invincible up to the very hour of its fall. Sir, let us look at the other side, and see if there are not some things to cheer our heart and nerve us up anew in the good work of emancipation. Take this fact—for it is a fact—the anti-slavery movement has, from first to last, suffered no abatement. It has gone forth in all directions, and is now felt in the remotest extremities of the Republic. It started small, and was without capital either in men or money. The odds were all against it. It literally had nothing to lose, and everything to gain. There was ignorance to be enlightened, error to be combatted, conscience to be awakened, prejudice to be overcome, apathy to be aroused, the right of speech to be secured, mob violence to be subdued, and a deep, radical change to be inwrought in the mind and heart of the whole nation. This great work, under God, has gone on, and gone on gloriously. Amid all changes, fluctuations, assaults, and adverses of every kind, it has remained firm in its purpose, steady in its aim, onward and upward, defying all opposition, and never losing a single battle. Our strength is in the growth of antislavery conviction, and this has never halted. There is a significant vitality about this abolition movement. It has taken a deeper, broader, and more lasting hold upon the national heart than ordinary reform movements. Other subjects of much interest come and go, expand and contract, blaze and vanish, but the huge question of American Slavery, comprehending, as it does, not merely the weal or the woe of four millions, and their countless posterity, but the weal or the woe of this entire nation, must increase in magnitude and in majesty with every hour of its history. From a cloud not bigger than a man’s hand, it has overspread the heavens. It has risen from a grain not bigger than a mustard seed. Yet see the fowls of the air, how they crowd its branches. Politicians who cursed it, now defend it; ministers, once dumb, now speak in its praise; and presses, which once flamed with hot denunciations against it, now surround the sacred cause as by a wall of living fire. Politicians go with it as a pil- T H E D R E D S C O T T C A S E A N D I T S A F T E R M AT H 95 lar of cloud by day, and the press as a pillar of fire by night. With these ancient tokens of success, I, for one, will not despair of our cause. Those who have undertaken to suppress and crush out this agitation for Liberty and humanity, have been most woefully disappointed. Many who have engaged to put it down, have found themselves put down. The agitation has pursued them in all their meanderings, broken in upon their seclusion, and, at the very moment of fancied security, it has settled down upon them like a mantle of unquenchable fire. Clay, Calhoun, and Webster each tried his hand at suppressing the agitation; and they went to their graves disappointed and defeated. Loud and exultingly have we been told that the slavery question is settled, and settled forever. You remember it was settled thirty-seven years ago, when Missouri was admitted into the Union with a slaveholding constitution, and slavery prohibited in all territory north of thirty-six degrees of north latitude. Just fifteen years afterwards, it was settled again by voting down the right of petition, and gagging down free discussion in Congress. Ten years after this it was settled again by the annexation of Texas, and with it the war with Mexico. In 1850 it was again settled. This was called a final settlement. By it slavery was virtually declared to be the equal of Liberty, and should come into the Union on the same terms. By it the right and the power to hunt down men, women, and children, in every part of this country, was conceded to our southern brethren, in order to keep them in the Union. Four years after this settlement, the whole question was once more settled, and settled by a settlement which unsettled all the former settlements. The fact is, the more the question has been settled, the more it has needed settling. The space between the different settlements has been strikingly on the decrease. The first stood longer than any of its successors. This last settlement must be called the Taney settlement. We are now—the second, ten years—the third, five years—the fourth stood four years—and the fifth has stood the brief space of two years. This last settlement must be called the Taney settlement. We are now told, in tones of lofty exultation, that the day is lost—all lost—and that we might as well give up the struggle. The highest authority has spoken. The voice of the Supreme Court has gone out over the troubled waves of the National Conscience, saying peace, be still. This infamous decision of the Slaveholding wing of the Supreme Court maintains that slaves are within the contemplation of the Constitution of the United States, property; that slaves are property in the same sense that horses, sheep, and swine are property; that the old doctrine that slavery is a creature of local law is false; that the right of the slaveholder to his slave does not depend upon the local law, but is secured wherever the Constitution of the United States extends; that Congress has no right to prohibit slavery anywhere; that slavery may go in safety anywhere under the star-spangled banner; that colored persons of African descent have no rights that white men are bound to respect; that colored men of African descent are not and cannot be citizens of the United States. 96 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 You will readily ask me how I am affected by this devilish decision—this judicial incarnation of wolfishness? My answer is, and no thanks to the slaveholding wing of the Supreme Court, my hopes were never brighter than now. I have no fear that the National Conscience will be put to sleep by such an open, glaring, and scandalous tissue of lies as that decision is, and has been, over and over, shown to be. The Supreme Court of the United States is not the only power in this world. It is very great, but the Supreme Court of the Almighty is greater. Judge Taney can do many things, but he cannot perform impossibilities. He cannot bale out the ocean, annihilate the firm old earth, or pluck the silvery star of liberty from our Northern sky. He may decide, and decide again; but he cannot reverse the decision of the Most High. He cannot change the essential nature of things— making evil good, and good evil. Happily for the whole human family, their rights have been defined, declared, and decided in a court higher than the Supreme Court. “There is a law,” says Brougham, “above all the enactments of human codes, and by that law, unchangeable and eternal, man cannot hold property in man.” Your fathers have said that man’s right to liberty is self-evident. There is no need of argument to make it clear. The voices of nature, of conscience, of reason, and of revelation, proclaim it as the right of all rights, the foundation of all trust, and of all responsibility. Man was born with it. It was his before he comprehended it. The deed conveying it to him is written in the center of his soul, and is recorded in Heaven. The sun in the sky is not more palpable to the sight than man’s right to liberty is to the moral vision. To decide against this right in the person of Dred Scott, or the humblest and most whip-scarred bondman in the land, is to decide against God. It is an open rebellion against God’s government. It is an attempt to undo what God has done, to blot out the broad distinction instituted by the Allwise between men and things, and to change the image and superscription of the everliving God into a speechless piece of merchandise. Such a decision cannot stand. God will be true though every man be a liar. We can appeal from this hell-black judgment of the Supreme Court, to the court of common sense and common humanity. We can appeal from man to God. If there is no justice on earth, there is yet justice in heaven. You may close your Supreme Court against the black man’s cry for justice, but you cannot, thank God, close against him the ear of a sympathising world, nor shut up the Court of Heaven. All that is merciful and just, on earth and in Heaven, will execrate and despise this edict of Taney. If it were at all likely that the people of these free States would tamely submit to this demoniacal judgment, I might feel gloomy and sad over it, and possibly it might be necessary for my people to look for a home in some other country. But as the case stands, we have nothing to fear. In one point of view, we, the abolitionists and colored people, should meet this decision, unlooked for and monstrous as it appears, in a cheerful spirit. This very attempt to blot out forever the hopes of an enslaved people may be one necessary T H E D R E D S C O T T C A S E A N D I T S A F T E R M AT H 97 link in the chain of events preparatory to the downfall and complete overthrow of the whole slave system. The whole history of the anti-slavery movement is studded with proof that all measures devised and executed with a view to ally and diminish the anti-slavery agitation, have only served to increase, intensify, and embolden that agitation. This wisdom of the crafty has been confounded, and the counsels of the ungodly brought to nought. It was so with the Fugitive Slave Bill. It was so with the Kansas-Nebraska Bill; and it will be so with this last and most shocking of all proslavery devices, this Taney decision. When great transactions are involved, where the fate of millions is concerned, where a long enslaved and suffering people are to be delivered, I am superstitious enough to believe that the finger of the Almighty may be seen bringing good out of evil, and making the wrath of man redound to his honor, hastening the triumph of righteousness. The American people have been called upon, in a most striking manner, to abolish and put away forever the system of slavery. The subject has been pressed upon their attention in all earnestness and sincerity. The cries of the slave have gone forth to the world, and up to the throne of God. This decision, in my view, is a means of keeping the nation awake on the subject. It is another proof that God does not mean that we shall go to sleep, and forget that we are a slaveholding nation. Step by step we have seen the slave power advancing; poisoning, corrupting, and perverting the institutions of the country; growing more and more haughty, imperious, and exacting. The white man’s liberty has been marked out for the same grave with the black man’s. The ballot box is desecrated, God’s law set at nought, armed legislators stalk the halls of Congress, freedom of speech is beaten down in the Senate. The rivers and highways are infested by border ruffians, and white men are made to feel the iron heel of slavery. This ought to arouse us to kill off the hateful thing. They are solemn warnings to which the white people, as well as the black people, should take heed. If these shall fail, judgment, more fierce or terrible, may come. The lightning, whirlwind, and earthquake may come. Jefferson said that he trembled for his country when he reflected that God is just, and his justice cannot sleep forever. The time may come when even the crushed worm may turn under the tyrant’s feet. Goaded by cruelty, stung by a burning sense of wrong, in an awful moment of depression and desperation, the bondman and bondwoman at the south may rush to one wild and deadly struggle for freedom. Already slaveholders go to bed with bowie knives, and apprehend death at their dinners. Those who enslave, rob, and torment their cooks, may well expect to find death in their dinner-pots. The world is full of violence and fraud, and it would be strange if the slave, the constant victim of both fraud and violence, should escape the contagion. He, too, may learn to fight the devil with fire, and for one, I am in no frame of mind to pray that this may be long deferred. 98 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 Two remarkable occurrences have followed the presidential election; one was the unaccountable sickness traced to the National Hotel at Washington, and the other was the discovery of a plan among the slaves, in different localities, to slay their oppressors. Twenty or thirty of the suspected were put to death. Some were shot, some hanged, some burned, and some died under the lash. One brave man owned himself well acquainted with the conspiracy, but said he would rather die than disclose the facts. He received seven hundred and fifty lashes, and his noble spirit went away to the God who gave it. The name of this hero has been by the meanness of tyrants suppressed. Such a man redeems his race. He is worthy to be mentioned with the Hoffers and Tells, the noblest heroes of history. These insurrectionary movements have been put down, but they may break out at any time, under the guidance of higher intelligence, and with a more invincible spirit. The fire thus kindled, may be revived again; The flames are extinguished, but the embers remain; One terrible blast may produce an ignition, Which shall wrap the whole South in wild conflagration. The pathway of tyrants lies over volcanoes The very air they breathe is heavy with sorrows; Agonizing heart-throbs convulse them while sleeping, And the wind whispers Death as over them sweeping. By all the laws of nature, civilization, and of progress, slavery is a doomed system. Not all the skill of politicians, North and South, not all the sophistries of Judges, not all the fulminations of a corrupt press, not all the hypocritical prayers, or the hypocritical refusals to pray of a hollow-hearted priesthood, not all the devices of sin and Satan, can save the vile thing from extermination. Already a gleam of hope breaks upon us from the southwest. One Southern city has grieved and astonished the whole South by a preference for freedom. The wedge has entered. Dred Scott, of Missouri, goes into slavery, but St. Louis declares for freedom. The judgment of Taney is not the judgment of St. Louis. It may be said that this demonstration in St. Louis is not to be taken as an evidence of sympathy with the slave; that it is purely a white man’s victory. I admit it. Yet I am glad that white men, bad as they generally are, should gain a victory over slavery. I am willing to accept a judgment against slavery, whether supported by white or black reasons—though I would much rather have it supported by both. He that is not against us, is on our part. Come what will, I hold it to be morally certain that, sooner or later, by fair means or foul means, in quiet or in tumult, in peace or in blood, in judgment or in mercy, slavery is doomed to cease out of this otherwise goodly land, and liberty is destined to become the settled law of this Republic. I base my sense of the certain overthrow of slavery, in part, upon the nature of the American Government, the Constitution, the tendencies of the age, and the character of the American people; and this, notwithstanding the important decision of Judge Taney. T H E D R E D S C O T T C A S E A N D I T S A F T E R M AT H 99 I know of no soil better adapted to the growth of reform than American soil. I know of no country where the conditions for affecting great changes in the settled order of things, for the development of right ideas of liberty and humanity, are more favorable than here in these United States. The very groundwork of this government is a good repository of Christian civilization. The Constitution, as well as the Declaration of Independence, and the sentiments of the founders of the Republic, give us a platform broad enough, and strong enough, to support the most comprehensive plans for the freedom and elevation of all the people of this country, without regard to color, class, or clime. There is nothing in the present aspect of the anti-slavery question which should drive us into the extravagance and nonsense of advocating a dissolution of the American Union as a means of overthrowing slavery, or freeing the North from the malign influence of slavery upon the morals of the Northern people. While the press is at liberty, and speech is free, and the ballot-box is open to the people of the sixteen free States; while the slaveholders are but four hundred thousand in number, and we are fourteen millions; while the mental and moral power of the nation is with us; while we are really the strong and they are the weak, it would look worse than cowardly to retreat from the Union. If the people of the North have not the power to cope with these four hundred thousand slaveholders inside the Union, I see not how they could get out of the Union. The strength necessary to move the Union must ever be less than is required to break it up. If we have got to conquer the slave power to get out of the Union, I for one would much rather conquer, and stay in the Union. The latter, it strikes me, is the far more rational mode of action. I make these remarks in no servile spirit, nor in any superstitious reverence for a mere human arrangement. If I felt the Union to be a curse, I should not be far behind the very chiefest of the disunion Abolitionists in denouncing it. But the evil to be met and abolished is not in the Union. The power arrayed against us is not a parchment. It is not in changing the dead form of the Union, that slavery is to be abolished in this country. We have to do not with the dead, but the living; not with the past, but the living present. Those who seek slavery in the Union, and who are everlastingly dealing blows upon the Union, in the belief that they are killing slavery, are most woefully mistaken. They are fighting a dead form instead of a living and powerful reality. It is clearly not because of the peculiar character of our Constitution that we have slavery, but the wicked pride, love of power, and selfish perverseness of the American people. Slavery lives in this country not because of any paper Constitution, but in the moral blindness of the American people, who persuade themselves that they are safe, though the rights of others may be struck down. Besides, I think it would be difficult to hit upon any plan less likely to abolish slavery than the dissolution of the Union. The most devoted advocates of slavery, those who make the interests of slavery their constant study, seek a dissolution of the Union as their final plan for preserving slavery from Abolition, and their ground is well taken. Slavery lives and flourishes best in the absence of civilization; 100 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 a dissolution of the Union would shut up the system in its own congenial barbarism. The dissolution of the Union would not give the North one single additional advantage over slavery to the people of the North, but would manifestly take from them many which they now certainly possess. Within the Union we have a firm basis of anti-slavery operation. National welfare, national prosperity, national reputation and honor, and national scrutiny; common rights, common duties, and common country, are so many bridges over which we can march to the destruction of slavery. To fling away these advantages because James Buchanan is President or Judge Taney gives a lying decision in favor of slavery, does not enter into my notion of common sense. Mr. Garrison and his friends have been telling us that, while in the Union, we are responsible for slavery; and in so telling us, he and they have told us the truth. But in telling us that we shall cease to be responsible for slavery by dissolving the Union, he and they have not told us the truth. There now, clearly, is no freedom from responsibility for slavery, but in the Abolition of slavery. We have gone too far in this business now to sum up our whole duty in the cant phrase of “no Union with slaveholders.” To desert the family hearth may place the recreant husband out of the sight of his hungry children, but it cannot free him from responsibility. Though he should roll the waters of three oceans between him and them, he could not roll from his soul the burden of his responsibility to them; and, as with the private family, so in this instance with the national family. To leave the slave in his chains, in the hands of cruel masters who are too strong for him, is not to free ourselves from responsibility. Again: If I were on board of a pirate ship, with a company of men and women whose lives and liberties I had put in jeopardy, I would not clear my soul of their blood by jumping in the long boat, and singing out no union with pirates. My business would be to remain on board, and while I never would perform a single act of piracy again, I should exhaust every means given me by my position, to save the lives and liberties of those against whom I had committed piracy. In like manner, I hold it is our duty to remain inside this Union, and use all the power to restore to enslaved millions their precious and God-given rights. The more we have done by our voice and our votes, in times past, to rivet their galling fetters, the more clearly and solemnly comes the sense of duty to remain, to undo what we have done. Where, I ask, could the slave look for release from slavery if the Union were dissolved? I have an abiding conviction founded upon long and careful study of the certain effects of slavery upon the moral sense of slaveholding communities, that if the slaves are ever delivered from bondage, the power will emanate from the free States. All hope that the slaveholders will be self-moved to this great act of justice, is groundless and delusive. Now, as of old, the Redeemer must come from above, not from beneath. To dissolve the Union would be to withdraw the emancipating power from the field. But I am told this is the argument of expediency. I admit it, and am prepared to show that what is expedient in this instance is right. “Do justice, though the heavens fall.” Yes, that is a good motto, but I deny that it would be doing justice T H E D R E D S C O T T C A S E A N D I T S A F T E R M AT H 101 to the slave to dissolve the Union and leave the slave in his chains to get out by the clemency of his master, or the strength of his arms. Justice to the slave is to break his chains, and going out of the union is to leave him in his chains, and without any probable chance of getting out of them. But I come now to the great question as to the constitutionality of slavery. The recent slaveholding decision, as well as the teachings of anti-slavery men, make this a fit time to discuss the constitutional pretensions of slavery. The people of the North are a law-abiding people. They love order and respect the means to that end. This sentiment has sometimes led them to the folly and wickedness of trampling upon the very life of law, to uphold its dead form. This was so in the execution of that thrice accursed Fugitive Slave Bill. Burns and Simms were sent back to the hell of slavery after they had looked upon Bunker Hill, and heard liberty thunder in Faneuil Hall. The people permitted this outrage in obedience to the popular sentiment of reverence for law. While men thus respect law, it becomes a serious matter so to interpret the law as to make it operate against liberty. I have a quarrel with those who fling the Supreme Law of this land between the slave and freedom. It is a serious matter to fling the weight of the Constitution against the cause of human liberty, and those who do it, take upon them a heavy responsibility. Nothing but absolute necessity, shall, or ought to drive me to such a concession to slavery. When I admit that slavery is constitutional, I must see slavery recognized in the Constitution. I must see that it is there plainly stated that one man of a certain description has a right of property in the body and soul of another man of a certain description. There must be no room for a doubt. In a matter so important as the loss of liberty, everything must be proved beyond all reasonable doubt. The well-known rules of legal interpretation bear me out in this stubborn refusal to see slavery where slavery is not, and only to see slavery where it is. The Supreme Court has, in its day, done something better than make slaveholding decisions. It has laid down rules of interpretation which are in harmony with the true idea and object of law and liberty. It has told us that the intention of legal instruments must prevail; and that this must be collected from its words. It has told us that language must be construed strictly in favor of liberty and justice. It has told us where rights are infringed, where fundamental principles are overthrown, where the general system of the law is departed from, the Legislative intention must be expressed with irresistible clearness, to induce a court of justice to suppose a design to effect such objects. These rules are as old as law. They rise out of the very elements of law. It is to protect human rights, and promote human welfare. Law is in its nature opposed to wrong, and must everywhere be presumed to be in favor of the right. The pound of flesh, but not one drop of blood, is a sound rule of legal interpretation. Besides there is another rule of law as well of common sense, which requires us to look to the ends for which a law is made, and to construe its details in harmony with the ends sought. 102 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 Now let us approach the Constitution from the standpoint thus indicated, and instead of finding in it a warrant for the stupendous system of robbery, comprehended in the term slavery, we shall find it strongly against that system. “We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Such are the objects announced by the instrument itself, and they are in harmony with the Declaration of Independence, and the principles of human wellbeing. Six objects are here declared, “Union,” “defence,” “welfare,” “tranquility,” and “justice,” and “liberty.” Neither in the preamble nor in the body of the Constitution is there a single mention of the term slave or slave holder, slave master or slave state, neither is there any reference to the color, or the physical peculiarities of any part of the people of the United States. Neither is there anything in the Constitution standing alone, which would imply the existence of slavery in this country. “We, the people”—not we, the white people—not we, the citizens, or the legal voters—not we, the privileged class, and excluding all other classes but we, the people; not we, the horses and cattle, but we the people—the men and women, the human inhabitants of the United States, do ordain and establish this Constitution, &c. I ask, then, any man to read the Constitution, and tell me where, if he can, in what particular that instrument affords the slightest sanction of slavery? Where will he find a guarantee for slavery? Will he find it in the declaration that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law? Will he find it in the declaration that the Constitution was established to secure the blessing of liberty? Will he find it in the right of the people to be secure in their persons and papers, and houses, and effects? Will he find it in the clause prohibiting the enactment by any State of a bill of attainder? These all strike at the root of slavery, and any one of them, but faithfully carried out, would put an end to slavery in every State in the American Union. Take, for example, the prohibition of a bill of attainder. That is a law entailing on the child the misfortunes of the parent. This principle would destroy slavery in every State of the Union. The law of slavery is a law of attainder. The child is property because its parent was property, and suffers as a slave because its parent suffered as a slave. Thus the very essence of the whole slave code is in open violation of a fundamental provision of the Constitution, and is in open and flagrant violation of all the objects set forth in the Constitution. While this and much more can be said, and has been said, and much better said, by Lysander Spooner, William Goodell, Beriah Green, and Gerrit Smith, in favor of the entire unconstitutionality of slavery, what have we on the other side? T H E D R E D S C O T T C A S E A N D I T S A F T E R M AT H 103 How is the constitutionality of slavery made out, or attempted to be made out? First, by discrediting and casting away as worthless the most beneficent rules of legal interpretation; by disregarding the plain and common-sense reading of the instrument itself; by showing that the Constitution does not mean what it says, and says what it does not mean, by assuming that the written Constitution is to be interpreted in the light of a secret and unwritten understanding of its framers, which understanding is declared to be in favor of slavery. It is in this mean, contemptible, underhand method that the Constitution is pressed into the service of slavery. They do not point us to the Constitution itself, for the reason that there is nothing sufficiently explicit for their purpose; but they delight in supposed intentions— intentions nowhere expressed in the Constitution, and everywhere contradicted in the Constitution. Judge Taney lays down this system of interpreting in this wise: “The general words above quoted would seem to embrace the whole human family, and, if they were used in a similar instrument at this day, would be so understood. But it is too clear for dispute that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration; for if the language, as understood in that day, would embrace them, the conduct of the distinguished men who framed the Declaration of Independence would have been utterly and flagrantly inconsistent with the principles they asserted; and instead of the sympathy of mankind, to which they appealed, they would have deserved and received universal rebuke and reprobation. “It is difficult, at this day, to realize the state of public opinion respecting that unfortunate class with the civilized and enlightened portion of the world at the time of the Declaration of Independence and the adoption of the Constitution; but history shows they had, for more than a century, been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and unfit associates for the white race, either socially or politically, and had no rights which white men are bound to respect; and the black man might be reduced to slavery, bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise. This opinion, at that time, was fixed and universal with the civilized portion of the white race. It was regarded as an axiom of morals, which no one thought of disputing, and everyone habitually acted upon it, without doubting, for a moment, the correctness of the opinion. And in no nation was this opinion more fixed, and generally acted upon, than in England; the subjects of which government not only seized them on the coast of Africa, but took them, as ordinary merchandise, to where they could make a profit on them. The opinion, thus entertained, was universally maintained on the colonies this side of the Atlantic; accordingly, Negroes of the African race were regarded by them as property, and held and bought and sold as such in every one of the thirteen colonies, which united in the Declaration of Independence, and afterwards formed the Constitution.” The argument here is, that the Constitution comes down to us from a slaveholding period and a slaveholding people; and that, therefore, we are bound to suppose that the Constitution recognizes colored persons of African descent, the 104 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 victims of slavery at that time, as debarred forever from all participation in the benefit of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, although the plain reading of both includes them in their beneficent range. As a man, an American, a citizen, a colored man of both Anglo-Saxon and African descent, I denounce this representation as a most scandalous and devilish perversion of the Constitution, and a brazen misstatement of the facts of history. But I will not content myself with mere denunciation; I invite attention to the facts. It is a fact, a great historic fact, that at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, the leading religious denominations in this land were anti-slavery, and were laboring for the emancipation of the colored people of African descent. The church of a country is often a better index of the state of opinion and feeling than is even the government itself. The Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and the denomination of Friends, were actively opposing slavery, denouncing the system of bondage, with language as burning and sweeping as we employ at this day. Take the Methodists. In 1780, that denomination said: “The Conference acknowledges that slavery is contrary to the laws of God, man, and nature, and hurtful to society—contrary to the dictates of conscience and true religion, and doing to others that we would not do unto us.” In 1784, the same church declared, “that those who buy, sell, or give slaves away, except for the purpose to free them, shall be expelled immediately.” In 1785, it spoke even more stringently on the subject. It then said: “We hold in the deepest abhorrence the practice of slavery, and shall not cease to seek its destruction by all wise and proper means.” So much for the position of the Methodist Church in the early history of the Republic, in those days of darkness to which Judge Taney refers. Let us now see how slavery was regarded by the Presbyterian Church at that early date. In 1794, the General Assembly of that body pronounced the following judgment in respect to slavery, slaveholders, and slaveholding. “1st Timothy, 1st chapter, 10th verse: ‘The law was made for manstealers.’ ‘This crime among the Jews exposed the perpetrators of it to capital punishment.’ Exodus, xxi, 15.—And the apostle here classes them with sinners of the first rank. The word he uses in its original import, comprehends all who are concerned in bringing any of the human race into slavery, or in retaining them in it. Stealers of men are all those who bring off slaves or freemen, and keep, sell, or buy them. ‘To steal a freeman,’ says Grotius, ‘is the highest kind of theft.’ In other instances, we only steal human property, but when we steal or retain men in slavery, we seize those who, in common with ourselves, are constituted, by the original grant, lords of the earth.” I might quote, at length, from the sayings of the Baptist Church and the sayings of eminent divines at this early period, showing that Judge Taney has grossly falsified history, but will not detain you with these quotations. The testimony of the church, and the testimony of the founders of this Republic, from the declaration downward, prove Judge Taney false; as false to history as he is to law. T H E D R E D S C O T T C A S E A N D I T S A F T E R M AT H 105 Washington and Jefferson, and Adams, and Jay, and Franklin, and Rush, and Hamilton, and a host of others, held no such degrading views on the subject of slavery as are imputed by Judge Taney to the Fathers of the Republic. All, at that time, looked for the gradual but certain abolition of slavery, and shaped the constitution with a view to this grand result. George Washington can never be claimed as a fanatic, or as the representative of fanatics. The slaveholders impudently use his name for the base purpose of giving respectability to slavery. Yet, in a letter to Robert Morris, Washington uses this language—language which, at this day, would make him a terror of the slaveholders, and the natural representative of the Republican party. “There is not a man living, who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see some plan adopted for the abolition of slavery; but there is only one proper and effectual mode by which it can be accomplished, and that is by Legislative authority; and this, as far as my suffrage will go, shall not be wanting.” Washington only spoke the sentiment of his times. There were, at that time, Abolition societies in the slave States—Abolition societies in Virginia, in North Carolina, in Maryland, in Pennsylvania, and in Georgia—all slaveholding States. Slavery was so weak, and liberty so strong, that free speech could attack the monster to its teeth. Men were not mobbed and driven out of the presence of slavery, merely because they condemned the slave system. The system was then on its knees imploring to be spared, until it could get itself decently out of the world. In the light of these facts, the Constitution was framed, and framed in conformity to it. It may, however, be asked, if the Constitution were so framed that the rights of all the people were naturally protected by it, how happens it that a large part of the people have been held in slavery ever since its adoption? Have the people mistaken the requirements of their own Constitution? The answer is ready. The Constitution is one thing, its administration is another, and, in this instance, a very different and opposite thing. I am here to vindicate the law, not the administration of the law. It is the written Constitution, not the unwritten Constitution, that is now before us. If, in the whole range of the Constitution, you can find no warrant for slavery, then we may properly claim it for liberty. Good and wholesome laws are often found dead on the statute book. We may condemn the practice under them and against them, but never the law itself. To condemn the good law with the wicked practice, is to weaken, not to strengthen our testimony. It is no evidence that the Bible is a bad book, because those who profess to believe the Bible are bad. The slaveholders of the South, and many of their wicked allies at the North, claim the Bible for slavery; shall we, therefore, fling the Bible away as a pro-slavery book? It would be as reasonable to do so as it would be to fling away the Constitution. We are not the only people who have illustrated the truth, that a people may have excellent law, and detestable practices. Our Savior denounces the Jews, because they made void the law by their traditions. We have been guilty of the same sin. 106 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 The American people have made void our Constitution by just such traditions as Judge Taney and Mr. Garrison have been giving to the world of late, as the true light in which to view the Constitution of the United States. I shall follow neither. It is not what Moses allowed for the hardness of heart, but what God requires, ought to be the rule. It may be said that it is quite true that the Constitution was designed to secure the blessings of liberty and justice to the people who made it, and to the posterity of the people who made it, but was never designed to do any such thing for the colored people of African descent. This is Judge Taney’s argument, and it is Mr. Garrison’s argument, but it is not the argument of the Constitution. The Constitution imposes no such mean and satanic limitations upon its own beneficent operation. And, if the Constitution makes none, I beg to know what right has anybody, outside of the Constitution, for the special accommodation of slaveholding villainy, to impose such a construction upon the Constitution? The Constitution knows all the human inhabitants of this country as “the people.” It makes, as I have said before, no discrimination in favor of, or against, any class of the people, but is fitted to protect and preserve the rights of all, without reference to color, size, or any physical peculiarities. Besides, it has been shown by William Goodell and others, that in eleven out of the old thirteen States, colored men were legal voters at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. In conclusion, let me say, all I ask of the American people is, that they live up to the Constitution, adopt its principles, imbibe its spirit, and enforce its provisions. When this is done, the wounds of my bleeding people will be healed, the chain will no longer rust on their ankles, their backs will no longer be torn by the bloody lash, and liberty, the glorious birthright of our common humanity, will become the inheritance of all the inhabitants of this highly favored country—May 1857. Sources: (1) Dred Scott petitions for his freedom, July 1847, Missouri Court Records, St. Louis; (2) Roger B. Taney, excerpt from “Obiter Dictum on Dred Scott v. Sandford,” 1857; and (3) excerpt from Frederick Douglass, “A Most Scandalous and Devilish Perversion of the Constitution,” speech denouncing the Dred Scott decision, May,1857. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Austin Allen, Origins of the Dred Scott Case: Jacksonian Jurisprudence and the Supreme Court, 1837–1857 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006). Walter Ehrlich, They Have No Rights: Dred Scott’s Struggle for Freedom (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979). Don E. Fehrenbacher, The Dred Scott Case: Its Significance in American Law and Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978). Paul Finkelman, Dred Scott v. Sandford: A Brief History with Documents (Boston: Bedford Books, 1997). Stanley Kutler, ed., The Dred Scott Decision: Law or Politics? (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997). Earl M. Maltz, Dred Scott and the Politics of Slavery (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2007). J . S . R O C K , “ W H E N E V E R T H E C O L O R E D M A N I S E L E VAT E D ” 107 O 20 O “Whenever the Colored Man Is Elevated, It Will Be by His Own Exertions,” John S. Rock, 1858 John S. Rock (1825–1866) was an abolitionist, teacher, dentist, physician, and lawyer. In 1865 he became the first African American to be accorded the privilege of pleading before the Supreme Court. In the speech that follows, which was originally presented to an audience in Boston’s Faneuil Hall in March 1858, Rock proved prescient both in his analysis of racism and in his anticipation of much of the discourse on “black pride” that became a central part of the Black Power movement a century later. O Ladies and Gentlemen: YOU WILL not expect a lengthened speech from me to-night. My health is too poor to allow me to indulge much in speech-making. But I have not been able to resist the temptation to unite with you in this demonstration of respect for some of my noble but misguided ancestors. White Americans have taken great pains to try to prove that we are cowards. We are often insulted with the assertion, that if we had had the courage of the Indians or the white man, we would never have submitted to be slaves. I ask if Indians and white men have never been slaves? The white man tested the Indian’s courage here when he had his organized armies, his battle-grounds, his places of retreat, with everything to hope for and everything to lose. The position of the African slave has been very different. Seized a prisoner of war, unarmed, bound hand and foot, and conveyed to a distant country among what to him were worse than cannibals; brutally beaten, half-starved, closely watched by armed men, with no means of knowing their own strength or the strength of their enemies, with no weapons, and without a probability of success. But if the white man will take the trouble to fight the black man in Africa or in Hayti, and fight him as fair as the black man will fight him there—if the black man does not come off victor, I am deceived in his prowess. But, take a man, armed or unarmed, from his home, his country, or his friends, and place him among savages, and who is he that would not make good his retreat? ‘Discretion is the better part of valor,’ but for a man to resist where he knows it will destroy him, shows more fool-hardiness than courage. There have been many Anglo-Saxons and Anglo-Americans enslaved in Africa, but I have never heard that they successfully resisted any government. They always resort to running indispensables. The courage of the Anglo-Saxon is best illustrated in his treatment of the negro. A score or two of them can pounce upon a poor negro, tie and beat him, and then call him a coward because he submits. Many of their most brilliant victories have been achieved in the same manner. But the greatest battles which they have fought have been upon paper. We can easily account for this; their trumpeter is dead. He 108 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 died when they used to be exposed for sale in the Roman market, about the time that Cicero cautioned his friend Atticus not to buy them, on account of their stupidity. A little more than half a century ago, this race, in connection with their Celtic neighbors, who have long been considered (by themselves, of course,) the bravest soldiers in the world, so far forgot themselves, as to attack a few cowardly, stupid negro slaves, who, according to their accounts, had not sense enough to go to bed. And what was the result? Why, sir, the negroes drove them out from the island like so many sheep, and they have never dared to show their faces, except with hat in hand. Our true and tried friend, Rev. Theodore Parker, said, in his speech at the State House, a few weeks since, that ‘the stroke of the axe would have settled the question long ago, but the black man would not strike.’ Mr. Parker makes a very low estimate of the courage of his race, if he means that one, two or three millions of these ignorant and cowardly black slaves could, without means, have brought to their knees five, ten, or twenty millions of intelligent, brave white men, backed up by a rich oligarchy. But I know of no one who is more familiar with the true character of the Anglo-Saxon race than Mr. Parker. I will not dispute this point with him, but I will thank him or any one else to tell us how it could have been done. His remark calls to my mind the day which is to come, when one shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight. But when he says that ‘the black man would not strike,’ I am prepared to say that he does us great injustice. The black man is not a coward. The history of the bloody struggles for freedom in Hayti, in which the blacks whipped the French and the English, and gained their independence, in spite of the perfidy of that villainous First Consul, will be a lasting refutation of the malicious aspersions of our enemies. The history of the struggles for the liberty of the U.S. ought to silence every American calumniator. I have learned that even so late as the Texan war, a number of black men were silly enough to offer themselves as living sacrifices for our country’s shame. A gentleman who delivered a lecture before the New York Legislature, a few years since, whose name I do not now remember, but whose language I give with some precision, said, ‘In the Revolution, colored soldiers fought side by side with you in your struggles for liberty, and there is not a battle-field from Maine to Georgia that has not been crimsoned with their blood, and whitened with their bones.’ In 1814, a bill passed the Legislature of New York, accepting the services of 2000 colored volunteers. Many black men served under Com. McDonough when he conquered on lake Champlain. Many were in the battles of Plattsburgh and Sackett’s Harbor, and General Jackson called out colored troops from Louisiana and Alabama, and in a solemn proclamation attested to their fidelity and courage. The white man contradicts himself who says, that if he were in our situation, he would throw off the yoke. Thirty millions of white men of this proud Caucasian race are at this moment held as slaves, and bought and sold with horses and cattle. The iron heel of oppression grinds the masses of all European races to the dust. They suffer every kind of oppression, and no one dares to open his mouth to protest against it. Even in the Southern portion of this boasted land of liberty, J . S . R O C K , “ W H E N E V E R T H E C O L O R E D M A N I S E L E VAT E D ” 109 no white man dares advocate so much of the Declaration of Independence as declares that ‘all men are created free and equal, and have an inalienable right to life, liberty,’ &c. White men have no room to taunt us with tamely submitting. If they were black men, they would work wonders; but, as white men, they can do nothing. ‘O, Consistency, thou art a jewel!’ Now, it would not be surprising if the brutal treatment which we have received for the past two centuries should have crushed our spirits. But this is not the case. Nothing but a superior force keeps us down. And when I see the slaves rising up by hundreds annually, in the majesty of human nature, bidding defiance to every slave code and its penalties, making the issue Canada or death, and that too while they are closely watched by paid men armed with pistols, clubs and bowie-knives, with the army and navy of this great Model Republic arrayed against them, I am disposed to ask if the charge of cowardice does not come with ill-grace. But some men are so steeped in folly and imbecility; so lost to all feelings of their own littleness; so destitute of principle, and so regardless of humanity, that they dare attempt to destroy everything which exists in opposition to their interests or opinions which their narrow comprehensions cannot grasp. We ought not to come here simply to honor those brave men who shed their blood for freedom, or to protest against the Dred Scott decision, but to take counsel of each other, and to enter into new vows of duty. Our fathers fought nobly for freedom, but they were not victorious. They fought for liberty, but they got slavery. The white man was benefitted, but the black man was injured. I do not envy the white American the little liberty which he enjoys. It is his right, and he ought to have it. I wish him success, though I do not think he deserves it. But I would have all men free. We have had much sad experience in this country, and it would be strange indeed if we do not profit by some of the lessons which we have so dearly paid for. Sooner or later, the clashing of arms will be heard in this country, and the black man’s services will be needed: 150,000 freemen capable of bearing arms, and not all cowards and fools, and three quarters of a million slaves, wild with the enthusiasm caused by the dawn of the glorious opportunity of being able to strike a genuine blow for freedom, will be a power which white men will be “bound to respect.” Will the blacks fight? Of course they will. The black man will never be neutral. He could not if he would, and he would not if he could. Will he fight for this country, right or wrong? This the common sense of every one answers; and when the time comes, and come it will, the black man will give an intelligent answer. Judge Taney may outlaw us; Caleb Cushing may show the depravity of his heart by abusing us; and this wicked government may oppress us; but the black man will live when Judge Taney, Caleb Cushing and this wicked government are no more. White man may despise, ridicule, slander and abuse us; they may seek as they always have done to divide us, and make us feel degraded; but no man shall cause me to turn my back upon my race. With it I will sink or swim. The prejudice which some white men have, or affected to have, against my color gives me no pain. If any man does not fancy my color, that is his business, 110 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 and I shall not meddle with it. I shall give myself no trouble because he lacks good taste. If he judges my intellectual capacity by my color, he certainly cannot expect much profundity, for it is only skin deep, and is really of no very great importance to any one but myself. I will not deny that I admire the talents and noble characters of many white men. But I cannot say that I am particularly pleased with their physical appearance. If old mother nature had held out as well as she commenced, we should, probably, have had fewer varieties in the races. When I contrast the fine tough muscular system, the beautiful, rich color, the full broad features, and the gracefully frizzled hair of the Negro, with the delicate physical organization, wan color, sharp features and lank hair of the Caucasian, I am inclined to believe that when the white man was created, nature was pretty well exhausted—but determined to keep up appearances, she pinched up his features, and did the best she could under the circumstances. (Great laughter.) I would have you understand, that I not only love my race, but am pleased with my color; and while many colored persons may feel degraded by being called negroes, and wish to be classed among other races more favored, I shall feel it my duty, my pleasure and my pride, to concentrate my feeble efforts in elevating to a fair position a race to which I am especially identified by feelings and by blood. My friends, we can never become elevated until we are true to ourselves. We can come here and make brilliant speeches, but our field of duty is elsewhere. Let us go to work—each man in his place, determined to do what he can for himself and his race. Let us try to carry out some of the resolutions which we have made, and are so fond of making. If we do this, friends will spring up in every quarter, and where we least expect them. But we must not rely on them. They cannot elevate us. Whenever the colored man is elevated, it will be by his own exertions. Our friends can do what many of them are nobly doing, assist us to remove the obstacles which prevent our elevation, and stimulate the worthy to persevere. The colored man who, by dint of perseverance and industry, educates and elevates himself, prepares the way for others, gives character to the race, and hastens the day of general emancipation. While the negro who hangs around the corners of the streets, or lives in the grog-shops or by gambling, or who has no higher ambition than to serve, is by his vocation forging fetters for the slave, and is ‘to all intents and purposes’ a curse to his race. It is true, considering the circumstances under which we have been placed by our white neighbors, we have a right to ask them not only to cease to oppress us, but to give us that encouragement which our talents and industry may merit. When this is done, they will see our minds expand, and our pockets filled with rocks. How very few colored men are encouraged in their trades or business! Our young men see this, and become disheartened. In this country, where money is the great sympathetic nerve which ramifies society, and has a ganglia in every man’s pocket, a man is respected in proportion to his success in business. When the avenues to wealth are opened to us, we will then become educated and wealthy, and then the roughest looking colored man that you ever saw, or ever will see, will be pleasanter than the harmonies of Orpheus, and black will be a very pretty color. It will make our jargon, wit—our words, oracles; flattery will then take the place of slander, and you will find no T H E S P I R I T U A L S 111 prejudice in the Yankee whatever. We do not expect to occupy a much better position than we now do, until we shall have our educated and wealthy men, who can wield a power that cannot be misunderstood. Then, and not till then, will the tongue of slander be silenced, and the lip of prejudice sealed. Then, and not till then, will we be able to enjoy true equality, which can exist only among peers. Source: Speech from The Liberator, March 12, 1858. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: J. Harlan Buzby, John Stewart Rock: Teacher, Healer, Counselor (Salem: Salem County Historical Society, 2002). George S. Levesque, “Boston’s Black Brahmin: Dr. John S. Rock,” Civil War History 26, no. 4 (1980), pp. 326–46. Benjamin Quarles, The Black Abolitionists (New York: Oxford University Press, 1969). Paul E. Teed, “Racial Nationalism and Its Challengers: Theodore Parker, John Rock, and the Antislavery Movement,” Civil War History 41, no. 2 (1995), pp. 142–60. Louise Tompkins Wright, “The Civil Rights Activities of Three Great Negro Physicians (1840–1940),” Journal of Negro History 52, no. 3 (1967), pp. 169–84. O 21 O The Spirituals: “Go Down, Moses” and “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel” Throughout the African-American experience, spirituality has been a source for human renewal, survival, and resistance. The meaning of faith in the black mind in slavery was a rock upon which the oppressed could find human dignity and hope for the future. The slaves logically interpreted the stories of the Old Testament in the context of their own collective suffering. They came to believe that their faith in God and themselves would create a path leading eventually toward freedom. Many historians have observed that the same spirituals contained hidden meanings or messages that could serve as a coded language, communicating information among slaves without the knowledge of overseers and masters. The themes of suffering and struggle, faith and transcendence, are all pivotal in the development of the African-American spirituals. O “Go Down, Moses” Go down, Moses, ’Way down in Egypt land, Tell ole Pharaoh, To let my people go. Go down, Moses, 112 F O U N D AT I O N S : S L AV E RY A N D A B O L I T I O N I S M , ’Way down in Egypt land, Tell ole Pharaoh, To let my people go. When Israel was in Egypt land, Let my people go, Oppressed so hard they could not stand, Let my people go, Thus spoke the Lord, bold Moses said, Let my people go, If not I’ll smite your first-born dead, Let my people go. Go down, Moses, ’Way down in Egypt land, Tell ole Pharaoh, To let my people go. O “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel” Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel, Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel, An’ why not every man. He delivered Daniel from the lion’s den, Jonah from the belly of the whale, An’ the Hebrew chillun from the fiery furnace, An’ why not every man. Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel, Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel, An’ why not every man. The moon run down in a purple stream, The sun forbear to shine, An’ every star disappear, King Jesus shall-a be mine. The win’ blows eas’ an’ the win’ blows wes’, It blows like the judg-a-ment day, An’ ev’ry po’ soul that never did pray’ll Be glad to pray that day. Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel, 1 7 6 8 – 1 8 6 1 T H E S P I R I T U A L S 113 Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel, An’ why not every man. Source: Traditional spirituals. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: William Francis Allen, Slave Songs of the United States (New York: Dover, 1995). Richard Newman, Go Down Moses: A Celebration of the African-Spiritual (New York: Clarkson Potter, 1998). Erskine Peters, ed., Lyrics of the Afro-American Spiritual (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993). Albert J. Raboteau, Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978). A D D I T I O N A L R E S O U R C E S : Ed Bell and Thomas Lennon, Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives: HBO Documentary Films, 2003. DVD Video. Ira Berlin, Generations of Captivity: A History of African-American Slaves (Cambridge, Mass.; London: Belknap, 2004). ———, Slaves without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South (New York: New Press, 2007). Sylvia R. Frey, Water from the Rock: Black Resistance in a Revolutionary Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991). Library of Congress, “Voices from the Days of Slavery,” http://memory.loc.gov/ammem /collections/voices/. Jennifer L. Morgan, Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton, In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community and Protest among Northern Free Blacks, 1700–1860 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998). PBS, “The Africans in America Web Site,” www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/home.html. ———, “Slavery and the Making of America” http://www.pbs.org/wnet/slavery/index.html. “Race and Slavery Petition Project,” library.uncg.edu/slavery_petitions/index.asp. “Recovered Histories: Reawakening the Narratives of Enslavement, Resistance and the Fight for Freedom,” www.recoveredhistories.org/index.php. “Suolair—Africa South of the Sahara,” www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/ssrg/africa/history/ hislavery.html. Deborah G. White, Ar’n’t I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South, rev. ed. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1999). – S E C T I O N T W O – RECONSTRUCTION AND REACTION: THE AFTERMATH OF SLAVERY AND THE DAWN OF SEGREGATION, 1861–1915 INTRODUCTION T he human toll exacted by the Civil War was, by any standard, enormous. Over 600,000 Americans were killed in combat; and there was the destruction of property that would today be equivalent to billions of dollars. Most white Northerners fought the war, as Lincoln insisted, “to preserve the Union,” rather than to extend full equality to the Negro. But once slavery had been destroyed, black people had no intention of being confined to a social and political status of permanent servitude. Even before the military conflict ended, black leaders were pressuring the government to go well beyond the Emancipation Proclamation, to full voting rights and political representation for black men. As Douglass warned in 1865 (document 1), “if abolitionists fail to press it [black male suffrage] now, we may not see, for centuries to come, the same disposition that exists at this moment.” Once the right to vote was guaranteed, Douglass believed that black men could be expected to compete fairly within society. “What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice,” Douglass emphasized. “If you will only untie his hands, and give him a chance . . . he will work as readily for himself as the white man.” The essence of Reconstruction was a concerted effort by African Americans and their white allies to extend the principles of democratic government to black people, and to give them, at the minimum, the basic educational skills and economic resources necessary for their future development. For more than two decades, African Americans fought vigorously in southern state legislatures and in the U.S. Congress for the legal protections they needed to preserve their newly won freedom. Yet in pursuing these objectives, the majority of black leaders did not seek to achieve an economic revolution. They respected the rights of private property, and sought opportunity rather than redistribution. One typical example of this moderate perspective is the 1868 speech of Henry McNeal Turner, given just before he and other black elected officials were expelled from the Georgia state legislature by racist whites: “We have built up your country; we have worked in your fields, and garnered your harvests, for two hundred and fifty years!” Turner declared. “And what do we ask of you in return? Do we ask you for compensation for the sweat our fathers bore for you—for the tears you have caused, and the hearts you have broken, and the lives you have curtailed, and the blood 118 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 you have spilled? We ask it not. We are willing to let the dead past bury its dead, but we ask you now for our RIGHTS” (document 2). Despite the efforts of black reformers, the Compromise of 1877 and the withdrawal of federal troops from the South effectively ended the gains of Reconstruction. For the next quarter-century, African Americans experienced the steady erosion of their political and civil rights, gradually usurped by state legislatures, courts, and law enforcement agencies. Mississippi led the way in 1890 with the adoption of its white-supremacist state constitution, largely excluding black males from voting. By 1904, all other southern states had also held new racist constitutional conventions or had adopted restrictive legislation, such as “Grandfather clauses” or all-white primary elections. Blacks were soon eliminated from state legislatures, and were ejected from the U.S. Congress by 1901. Economically, millions of poor southern blacks were trapped in sharecropping, a system structured to ensure that they provided cheap agricultural labor for the benefit of white landlords. The sharecropping system often degenerated into debt peonage, in which black families would be permanently indentured to their landlords through financial obligation, creating conditions barely different from enslavement. Throughout the South, blacks began to be excluded from all public accommodations, denied access to schools and other essential services, and restricted from living in certain residential areas. Thousands of skilled black workers—plumbers, carpenters, brick masons, mechanics—lost their jobs when these vocations were redefined as “white men’s work.” Essential to the racist assault against black people’s rights was lynching. Thousands of African Americans were executed without trials, convictions, or, sometimes, even accusations of having committed crimes; many were mutilated and sometimes even burned at the stake. It was as if white America had turned viciously against black interests in every quarter. During this reactionary period, black leaders were forced to rethink their political and social agendas. If racial integration was out of the question, how could the black community empower itself or even survive in a hostile white environment? One widespread response was the rebirth of black nationalism: the ideas of racial uplift, self-help, and black cultural pride that were embedded in the ideology of earlier nationalists such as Delany. Many African-American leaders could see progress only in the repatriation of blacks to the African continent. Two such leaders were Edward Wilmot Blyden and Alexander Crummell. Blyden was in many respects the first authentic “Pan-Africanist,” espousing the goals of West African political unity and the migration of blacks from the Caribbean and the Americas to Africa (document 5). Crummell was a noted Episcopalian minister who had lived and worked in Liberia for twenty years, and whose appeals to the cultivation of “the Negro intellect” prefigured W. E. B. Du Bois’s theory of the “Talented Tenth” (document 6). The central African-American leader during this period was Booker T. Washington. A profoundly pragmatic man, Washington cautioned blacks against protesting segregation and disenfranchisement. In exchange for accepting white supremacy, Washington sought the public space to develop black-owned busi- I N T R O D U C T I O N 119 nesses, banks, and other enterprises. He astutely realized that racial segregation would, in this context, be beneficial, as it would create a black consumer market for black businesses. Washington’s conservative ideas gained widespread acceptance through his control of several major black newspapers, his influence in black churches, and his founding of the Tuskegee Institute in 1881—an institution dedicated to industrial and agricultural training for African Americans. As Washington declared in his Atlanta Exposition address in 1895: “In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress. . . . The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremist folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than artificial forcing” (document 10). Washington’s policies of racial self-help and political accommodation were criticized by a number of black intellectuals, journalists, and political leaders. The crusading journalist and newspaper editor Ida B. Wells-Barnett wrote exposés documenting the crime of lynching across the South. In her essay included here (document 13), Wells-Barnett calls for federal anti-lynching legislation. William Monroe Trotter, editor of the Boston Guardian, repeatedly denounced Washington as “this Benedict Arnold of the Negro race” (document 11). Du Bois was slowly drawn into the public struggle against Washington’s influence, but never attacked him with the angry rhetoric of Trotter. Indeed, it was Du Bois’s more nuanced and measured criticism of the Tuskegee philosophy of accommodation that won him significant support. Du Bois’s central argument against Washington was threefold: first, economic power did not translate directly or even necessarily into political power, and black-owned businesses and farms, while necessary, would always be vulnerable to white authority in a rigidly segregated society; second, that a political movement had to be constructed to challenge the legitimacy and legality of Jim Crow; and third, that a liberal-arts–educated black middle class, the “Talented Tenth,” should be the vanguard in the struggle to achieve a genuinely multiracial democracy (document 14). Many critics of Washington, including Du Bois, came together in 1905 to initiate the Niagara Movement, a group of several hundred intellectuals, clergymen, journalists, and lawyers who opposed accommodation and Jim Crow segregation. The Declaration of Principles of the Niagara Movement presented a striking alternative to the Tuskegee philosophy: “We believe in manhood suffrage; we believe that no man is so good, intelligent, or wealthy as to be entrusted wholly with the welfare of his neighbor. . . . All American citizens have the right to equal treatment in places of public entertainment. . . . We demand upright judges in courts, juries selected without discrimination on account of color, and the same measure of punishment and the same efforts of reformation for black as for white offenders. . . . Any discrimination based simply on race or color is barbarous, we care not how hallowed it be by custom, expediency, or prejudice” (document 15). The Niagara Movement never succeeded in offering more than token opposition to Washington’s political organization, the “Tuskegee Machine.” Yet within five years the Niagara Movement would help set into 120 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 motion another reform organization coalesced around a similarly liberal racial program—the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Although the period between the demise of Reconstruction and World War I has often been characterized in African-American historiography by the conflict between Washington and Du Bois, there were many significant social movements and cultural currents that existed outside this debate. Both Washington and Du Bois were in certain respects trapped in a racial discourse, and conceived of their politics in racial categories. Washington had reluctantly accepted the reality of racial segregation and worked to maneuver around it. Du Bois rejected Jim Crow, but sought to supersede race by dismantling its legal and social structures of inequality. Like Douglass before them, both men were largely engaged in a political discourse with sections of the white establishment: Washington appealed to the Republican Party, philanthropists, and industrialists, while Du Bois sought the support of white reformers, liberals, and the intelligentsia. Well before 1900, however, the objective conditions existed for a different kind of black politics that was grounded not solely in racial terminologies and categories, but in the language of gender and class. African-American middle-class women had been active for decades in both the antislavery movement and the struggle for women’s equality. In the years immediately after Reconstruction, black women leaders began to establish local associations promoting racial uplift and women’s rights as well as addressing the negative representations of black women that rationalized their exploitation. In 1894, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin organized the Women’s Era Club, bringing together sixty prominent blacks in the Boston area. Mary Church Terrell helped form the Colored Women’s League in Washington, D.C., and was the central leader in bringing together black women’s groups from all over the country to establish the National Association of Colored Women in 1896. Margaret Murray Washington (the wife of Booker T. Washington) and Terrell served, respectively, as president and second vice president of the International Council of Women of the Darker Races in the 1920s. In her 1904 speech cited here (document 8), Terrell eloquently makes the case for a politics based on gender emancipation as well as race: “Not only are colored women with ambition and aspiration handicapped on account of their sex, but they are almost everywhere baffled and mocked because of their race. Not only because they are women, but because they are colored women are discouragement and disappointment meeting them at every turn. . . . [Yet] with tireless energy and eager zeal, colored women have worked in every conceivable way to elevate their race.” Black women were in the forefront of struggles to halt the convict-leasing system and the petitioning of southern legislatures to repeal “the obnoxious Jim-Crow-car laws.” Through these and other organized efforts, “colored women who are working for the emancipation and elevation of their race know where their duty lies.” One of the most significant black intellectuals of this period was Anna Julia Cooper. Her 1892 book, A Voice from the South, could be described as the first text of African-American feminist thought. Cooper writes (document 7): I N T R O D U C T I O N 121 The colored woman of today occupies, one may say, a unique position in the country. In a period of itself transitional and unsettled, her status seems one of the least ascertainable and definitive of all forces which make for our civilization. She is confronted by both a woman question and a race problem, and is as yet an unknown or an unacknowledged factor in both. . . . But no woman can possibly put herself or her sex outside any of the interests that affect humanity. All departments in the new era are to be hers, in the sense that her interests are in all and through all; and it is incumbent on her to keep intelligently and sympathetically en rapport with all the great movements of her time, that she may know on which side to throw the weight of her influence. . . . To be a woman in such an age carries with it a privilege and an opportunity never implied before. But to be a woman of the Negro race in America, and to be able to grasp the deep significance of the possibilities of the crisis, is to have a heritage . . . unique in the ages. In her extraordinary public career, Cooper was the only woman to be selected for membership in the American Negro Academy, the first black intellectual society, established in 1897 by Crummell. She was only one of two black women to speak at the first Pan-African Conference held in London in 1900, giving a presentation on “The Negro Problem in America.” In 1925, Cooper became the fourth African-American woman to receive a doctorate degree. During this period, African-American workers began to create their own organizations to fight for increased wages and improved working conditions. They were confronted with blatant racial discrimination in hiring policies and in union membership. Nevertheless, a growing number of black working women and men began defining their political interests in terms of class as much as in terms of race. In 1869, the Colored National Labor Union, a precursor to other black labor formations, was formed in Washington, D.C. In this section, we have included “The Race Question a Class Question,” first published in the journal The Worker in October 1904 (document 12), which makes a frank appeal to African Americans to join workers’ movements: “It is part of the instinctive policy of the capital class to perpetuate itself by creating and playing upon race hatred in order to keep working men of all races and nationalities from uniting to overthrow the infamous industrial system by which the capitalists profit.” The document issued in 1912 by the Brotherhood of Timber Workers in Alexandria, Louisiana, exhorts black laborers to join with white workers to help “blaze freedom’s pathway through the jungles of the South.” White Supremacy was an empty slogan to impoverished white workers, meaning “starvation wages and child slavery . . . the supremacy of misery and the equality of rags.” Black and white unity was thought to be essential for the empowerment of the entire working class: “Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing but your chains to lose! You have a world to gain!” The socialist-inspired appeals of white workers’ movements frequently underestimated the significance of racism as a barrier to constructing multiracial trade unions. Although some black workers, intellectuals, and journalists such as T. Thomas Fortune (document 4) were attracted to socialism, many were wary of the racism of white workers and the racially exclusionary policies of the trade unions. In 1904, Du Bois declared himself a “socialist-of-the-path” and in 1911 122 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 joined the Socialist Party, but left it a year later. One of the first African-American radicals who tried to bridge the political divide between race-conscious protest and the class struggle of the workers’ movements was Hubert Henry Harrison. Harrison recognized that “the great labor problem with which all working people are faced is made harder for black working people by the addition of a race problem.” But in reality, one problem “grows out of the other. . . . It pays the capitalist to keep the workers divided. So he creates and keeps alive these prejudices. He gets them to believe that their interests are different” (document 16). But eventually, Harrison concluded that racism was so strong within the white left and labor movement that it was necessary for the African Americans to develop their own race-based protest organizations. This led Harrison to support the black nationalist movement of Marcus Garvey, and he served for a time as editor of Garvey’s publication, The Negro World. The boundaries of blackness still largely set the parameters for social and political thought within the African-American community. The omnipresence of segregation and the racialization of nearly every aspect of public life forced the vast majority of black people to frame their political ideas and practices in reference to the racial state, either by accommodating to it, as counseled by Washington, or demanding reforms within it, as pursued by Du Bois. But a new politics, based on gender and class, also found a small yet growing constituency in black America. But as long as Jim Crow was hegemonic within U.S. society, the political discourse of black America would continue to be articulated through the context of race. O1O “What the Black Man Wants,” Frederick Douglass, 1865 By the end of the Civil War, Douglass had become the most influential spokesperson for African Americans’ rights. In this address, Douglass attempts to identify some of the major issues and objectives for the black community in the aftermath of slavery’s demise. He puts forward a radical democratic program of black empowerment that unfortunately was never achieved during the Reconstruction period. O I came here, as I come always to the meetings in New England, as a listener, and not as a speaker; and one of the reasons why I have not been more frequently to the meetings of this society, has been because of the disposition on the part of some of my friends to call me out upon the platform, even when they knew that there was some difference of opinion and of feeling between those who rightfully belong to this platform and myself; and for fear of being misconstrued, as desir- F. D O U G L A S S , “ W H AT T H E B L A C K M A N WA N T S ” 123 ing to interrupt or disturb the proceedings of these meetings, I have usually kept away, and have thus been deprived of that educating influence, which I am always free to confess is of the highest order, descending from this platform. I have felt, since I have lived out West, that in going there I parted from a great deal that was valuable; and I feel, every time I come to these meetings, that I have lost a great deal by making my home west of Boston, west of Massachusetts; for, if anywhere in the country there is to be found the highest sense of justice, or the truest demands for my race, I look for it in the East, I look for it here. The ablest discussions of the whole question of our rights occur here, and to be deprived of the privilege of listening to those discussions is a great deprivation. I do not know, from what has been said, that there is any difference of opinion as to the duty of abolitionists, at the present moment. How can we get up any difference at this point, or any point, where we are so united, so agreed? I went especially, however, with that word of Mr. Phillips, which is the criticism of Gen. Banks and Gen. Banks’ policy. I hold that that policy is our chief danger at the present moment; that it practically enslaves the Negro, and makes the Proclamation of 1863 a mockery and delusion. What is freedom? It is the right to choose one’s own employment. Certainly it means that, if it means anything; and when any individual or combination of individuals undertakes to decide for any man when he shall work, where he shall work, at what he shall work, and for what he shall work, he or they practically reduce him to slavery. He is a slave. That I understand Gen. Banks to do—to determine for the so-called freedman, when, and where, and at what, and for how much he shall work, when he shall be punished, and by whom punished. It is absolute slavery. It defeats the beneficent intention of the Government, if it has beneficent intentions, in regards to the freedom of our people. I have had but one idea for the last three years to present to the American people, and the phraseology in which I clothe it is the old abolition phraseology. I am for the “immediate, unconditional, and universal” enfranchisement of the black man, in every State in the Union. Without this, his liberty is a mockery; without this, you might as well almost retain the old name of slavery for his condition; for in fact, if he is not the slave of the individual master, he is the slave of society, and holds his liberty as a privilege, not as a right. He is at the mercy of the mob, and has no means of protecting himself. It may be objected, however, that this pressing of the Negro’s right to suffrage is premature. Let us have slavery abolished, it may be said, let us have labor organized, and then, in the natural course of events, the right of suffrage will be extended to the Negro. I do not agree with this. The constitution of the human mind is such, that if it once disregards the conviction forced upon it by a revelation of truth, it requires the exercise of a higher power to produce the same conviction afterwards. The American people are now in tears. The Shenandoah has run blood—the best blood of the North. All around Richmond, the blood of New England and of the North has been shed—of your sons, your brothers and your fathers. We all feel, in the existence of this Rebellion, that judgments terrible, wide-spread, far-reaching, overwhelming, are abroad in the land; and we feel, in 124 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 view of these judgments, just now, a disposition to learn righteousness. This is the hour. Our streets are in mourning, tears are falling at every fireside, and under the chastisement of this Rebellion we have almost come up to the point of conceding this great, this all-important right of suffrage. I fear that if we fail to do it now, if abolitionists fail to press it now, we may not see, for centuries to come, the same disposition that exists at this moment. Hence, I say, now is the time to press this right. It may be asked, “Why do you want it? Some men have got along very well without it. Women have not this right.” Shall we justify one wrong by another? This is a sufficient answer. Shall we at this moment justify the deprivation of the Negro of the right to vote, because some one else is deprived of that privilege? I hold that women, as well as men, have the right to vote, and my heart and my voice go with the movement to extend suffrage to woman; but that question rests upon another basis than that on which our right rests. We may be asked, I say, why we want it. I will tell you why we want it. We want it because it is our right, first of all. No class of men can, without insulting their own nature, be content with any deprivation of their rights. We want it again, as a means for educating our race. Men are so constituted that they derive their conviction of their own possibilities largely from the estimate formed of them by others. If nothing is expected of a people, that people will find it difficult to contradict that expectation. By depriving us of suffrage, you affirm our incapacity to form an intelligent judgment respecting public men and public measures; you declare before the world that we are unfit to exercise the elective franchise, and by this means lead us to undervalue ourselves, to put a low estimate upon ourselves, and to feel that we have no possibilities like other men. Again, I want the elective franchise, for one, as a colored man, because ours is a peculiar government, based upon a peculiar idea, and that idea is universal suffrage. If I were in a monarchial government, or an autocratic or aristocratic government, where the few bore rule and the many were subject, there would be no special stigma resting upon me, because I did not exercise the elective franchise. It would do me no great violence. Mingling with the mass I should partake of the strength of the mass; I should be supported by the mass, and I should have the same incentives to endeavor with the mass of my fellow-men; it would be no particular burden, no particular deprivation; but here where universal suffrage is the rule, where that is the fundamental idea of the Government, to rule us out is to make us an exception, to brand us with the stigma of inferiority, and to invite to our heads the missiles of those about us; therefore, I want the franchise for the black man. There are, however, other reasons, not derived from any consideration merely of our rights, but arising out of the conditions of the South, and of the country— considerations which have already been referred to by Mr. Phillips—considerations which must arrest the attention of statesmen. I believe that when the tall heads of this Rebellion shall have been swept down, as they will be swept down, when the Davises and Toombses and Stephenses, and others who are leading this Rebellion shall have been blotted out, there will be this rank undergrowth of treason, to which reference has been made, growing up there, and interfering with, F. D O U G L A S S , “ W H AT T H E B L A C K M A N WA N T S ” 125 and thwarting the quiet operation of the Federal Government in those States. You will see those traitors, handing down, from sire to son, the same malignant spirit which they have manifested, and which they are now exhibiting, with malicious hearts, broad blades, and bloody hands in the field, against our sons and brothers. That spirit will still remain; and whoever sees the Federal Government extended over those Southern States will see that Government in a strange land, and not only in a strange land, but in an enemy’s land. A post-master of the United States in the South will find himself surrounded by a hostile spirit; a collector in a Southern port will find himself surrounded by a hostile spirit; a United States marshal or United States judge will be surrounded there by a hostile element. That enmity will not die out in a year, will not die out in an age. The Federal Government will be looked upon in those States precisely as the Governments of Austria and France are looked upon in Italy at the present moment. They will endeavor to circumvent, they will endeavor to destroy, the peaceful operation of this Government. Now, where will you find the strength to counterbalance this spirit, if you do not find it in the Negroes of the South? They are your friends, and have always been your friends. They were your friends even when the Government did not regard them as such. They comprehended the genius of this war before you did. It is a significant fact, it is a marvellous fact, it seems almost to imply a direct interposition of Providence, that this war, which began in the interest of slavery on both sides, bids fair to end in the interest of liberty on both sides. It was begun, I say, in the interest of slavery on both sides. The South was fighting to take slavery out of the Union, and the North fighting to keep it in the Union; the South fighting to get it beyond the limits of the United States Constitution, and the North fighting to retain it within those limits; the South fighting for new guarantees, and the North fighting for the old guarantees;—both despising the Negro, both insulting the Negro. Yet, the Negro, apparently endowed with wisdom from on high, saw more clearly the end from the beginning than we did. When Seward said the status of no man in the country would be changed by the war, the Negro did not believe him. When our generals sent their underlings in shoulder-straps to hunt the flying Negro back from our lines into the jaws of slavery, from which he had escaped, the Negroes thought that a mistake had been made, and that the intentions of the Government had not been rightly understood by our officers in shoulder-straps, and they continued to come into our lines, threading their way through bogs and fens, over briers and thorns, fording streams, swimming rivers, bringing us tidings as to the safe path to march, and pointing out the dangers that threatened us. They are our only friends in the South, and we should be true to them in this their trial hour, and see to it that they have the elective franchise. I know that we are inferior to you in some things—virtually inferior. We walk about among you like dwarfs among giants. Our heads are scarcely seen above the great sea of humanity. The Germans are superior to us; the Irish are superior to us; the Yankees are superior to us; they can do what we cannot, that is, what we have not hitherto been allowed to do. But while I make this admission, I utterly deny, that we are originally, or naturally, or practically, or in any way, or in any 126 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 important sense, inferior to anybody on this globe. This charge of inferiority is an old dodge. It has been made available for oppression on many occasions. It is only about six centuries since the blue-eyed and fair-haired Anglo-Saxons were considered inferior by the haughty Normans, who once trampled upon them. If you read the history of the Norman Conquest, you will find that this proud Anglo-Saxon was once looked upon as of coarser clay than his Norman master, and might be found in the highways and byways of old England laboring with a brass collar on his neck, and the name of his master marked upon it. You were down then! You are up now. I am glad you are up, and I want you to be glad to help us up also. The story of our inferiority is an old dodge, as I have said; for wherever men oppress their fellows, wherever they enslave them, they will endeavor to find the needed apology for such enslavement and oppression in the character of the people oppressed and enslaved. When we wanted, a few years ago, a slice of Mexico, it was hinted that the Mexicans were an inferior race, that the old Castilian blood had become so weak that it would scarcely run down hill, and that Mexico needed the long, strong and beneficent arm of the Anglo-Saxon care extended over it. We said that it was necessary to its salvation, and a part of the “manifest destiny” of this Republic, to extend our arm over that dilapidated government. So, too, when Russia wanted to take possession of a part of the Ottoman Empire, the Turks were “an inferior race.” So, too, when England wants to set the heel of her power more firmly in the quivering heart of old Ireland, the Celts are an “inferior race.” So, too, the Negro, when he is to be robbed of any right which is justly his, is an “inferior man.” It is said that we are ignorant; I admit it. But if we know enough to be hung, we know enough to vote. If the Negro knows enough to pay taxes to support the government, he knows enough to vote; taxation and representation should go together. If he knows enough to shoulder a musket and fight for the flag, fight for the government, he knows enough to vote. If he knows as much when he is sober as an Irishman knows when drunk, he knows enough to vote, on good American principles. But I was saying that you needed a counterpoise in the persons of the slaves to the enmity that would exist at the South after the Rebellion is put down. I hold that the American people are bound, not only in self-defence, to extend this right to the freedmen of the South, but they are bound by their love of country, and by all their regard for the future safety of those Southern States, to do this—to do it as a measure essential to the preservation of peace there. But I will not dwell upon this. I put it to the American sense of honor. The honor of a nation is an important thing. It is said in the Scriptures, “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” It may be said, also, What doth it profit a nation if it gain the whole world, but lose its honor? I hold that the American government has taken upon itself a solemn obligation of honor, to see that this war—let it be long or let it be short, let it cost much or let it cost little—that this war shall not cease until every freedman at the South has the right to vote. It has bound itself to it. What have you asked the black men of the South, the black men of the whole country, to do? Why, you have asked them to incur the deadly enmity F. D O U G L A S S , “ W H AT T H E B L A C K M A N WA N T S ” 127 of their masters, in order to befriend you and to befriend this Government. You have asked us to call down, not only upon ourselves, but upon our children’s children, the deadly hate of the entire Southern people. You have called upon us to turn our backs upon our masters, to abandon their cause and espouse yours; to turn against the South and in favor of the North; to shoot down the Confederacy and uphold the flag—the American flag. You have called upon us to expose ourselves to all the subtle machinations of their malignity for all time. And now, what do you propose to do when you come to make peace? To reward your enemies, and trample in the dust your friends? Do you intend to sacrifice the very men who have come to the rescue of your banner in the South, and incurred the lasting displeasure of their masters thereby? Do you intend to sacrifice them and reward your enemies? Do you mean to give your enemies the right to vote, and take it away from your friends? Is that wise policy? Is that honorable? Could American honor withstand such a blow? I do not believe you will do it. I think you will see to it that we have the right to vote. There is something too mean in looking upon the Negro, when you are in trouble, as a citizen, and when you are free from trouble, as an alien. When this nation was in trouble, in its early struggles, it looked upon the Negro as a citizen. In 1776 he was a citizen. At the time of the formation of the Constitution the Negro had the right to vote in eleven States out of the old thirteen. In your trouble you have made us citizens. In 1812 Gen. Jackson addressed us as citizens—“fellow-citizens.” He wanted us to fight. We were citizens then! And now, when you come to frame a conscription bill, the Negro is a citizen again. He has been a citizen just three times in the history of this government, and it has always been in time of trouble. In time of trouble we are citizens. Shall we be citizens in war, and aliens in peace? Would that be just? I ask my friends who are apologizing for not insisting upon this right, where can the black man look, in this country, for the assertion of his right, if he may not look to the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society? Where under the whole heavens can he look for sympathy, in asserting this right, if he may not look to this platform? Have you lifted us up to a certain height to see that we are men, and then are any disposed to leave us there, without seeing that we are put in possession of all our rights? We look naturally to this platform for the assertion of all our rights, and for this one especially. I understand the anti-slavery societies of this country to be based on two principles,—first, the freedom of the blacks of this country; and, second, the elevation of them. Let me not be misunderstood here. I am not asking for sympathy at the hands of abolitionists, sympathy at the hands of any. I think the American people are disposed often to be generous rather than just. I look over this country at the present time, and I see Educational Societies, Sanitary Commissions, Freedmen’s Associations, and the like,—all very good: but in regard to the colored people there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us. Gen. Banks was distressed with solicitude as to what he should do with the Negro. Everybody has 128 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 asked the question, and they learned to ask it early of the abolitionists, “What shall we do with the Negro?” I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! If you see him on his way to school, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going to the dinner-table at a hotel, let him go! If you see him going to the ballot-box, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going into a work-shop, just let him alone,—your interference is doing him a positive injury. Gen. Banks’ “preparation” is of a piece with this attempt to prop up the Negro. Let him fall if he cannot stand alone! If the Negro cannot live by the line of eternal justice, so beautifully pictured to you in the illustration used by Mr. Phillips, the fault will not be yours, it will be his who made the Negro, and established that line for his government. Let him live or die by that. If you will only untie his hands, and give him a chance, I think he will live. He will work as readily for himself as the white man. A great many delusions have been swept away by this war. One was, that the Negro would not work; he has proved his ability to work. Another was, that the Negro would not fight; that he possessed only the most sheepish attributes of humanity; was a perfect lamb, or an “Uncle Tom”; disposed to take off his coat whenever required, fold his hands, and be whipped by anybody who wanted to whip him. But the war has proved that there is a great deal of human nature in the Negro, and that “he will fight,” as Mr. Quincy, our President, said, in earlier days than these, “when there is a reasonable probability of his whipping anybody.” Source: Excerpt from “What the Black Man Wants,” speech delivered in 1865. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: William Andrews, ed., Critical Essays on Frederick Douglass (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1991). David W. Blight, Frederick Douglass’ Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989). Eric J. Sundquist, ed., Frederick Douglass: New Literary and Historical Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990). O2O Henry McNeal Turner, Black Christian Nationalist Henry McNeal Turner (1834–1915) was born near Abbeville, South Carolina, the son of free black parents. His father died when he was young, and he was forced H . M . T U R N E R , B L A C K C H R I S T I A N N AT I O N A L I S T 129 to work picking cotton with slaves. After running away from home as a teenager, Turner first found employment as an office boy in a law firm. In 1851 he became an itinerant minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and seven years later joined the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Turner’s rise in the church was rapid. In 1862, he became pastor of the Union Bethel AME Church, the capital’s largest African-American congregation. President Abraham Lincoln appointed Turner the first black U.S. army chaplain. Turner accompanied black troops into battle, and briefly served in the Freedman’s Bureau. During Reconstruction, Turner was assigned to build the AME Church in Georgia. Elected to the Georgia constitutional convention in 1867, Turner quickly became a central figure in black politics in the state. After being elected to the Georgia state legislature in 1868, Turner and twenty-six other African Americans were expelled from office by racist white legislators. Moments before Turner led the black delegation from the capitol building in protest, he made the following address. In later life, Turner become an AME bishop in 1880, and the founder and first president of Morris Brown College in Atlanta in 1890. Traveling to Africa four times between 1891 and 1898, Turner became a noted proponent of black emigration to Africa. In 1906, Turner, W. E. B. Du Bois, and other black leaders established the Georgia Equal Rights Association. O Mr. Speaker: Before proceeding to argue this question upon its intrinsic merits, I wish the members of this House to understand the position that I take. I hold that I am a member of this body. Therefore, sir, I shall neither fawn or cringe before any party, nor stoop to beg them for my rights. Some of my colored fellow members, in the course of their remarks, took occasion to appeal to the sympathies of Members on the opposite side, and to eulogize their character for magnanimity. It reminds me very much, sir, of slaves begging under the lash. I am here to demand my rights, and to hurl thunderbolts at the men who would dare to cross the threshold of my manhood. There is an old aphorism which says, “Fight the Devil with fire,” and if I should observe the rule in this instance, I wish gentlemen to understand that it is but fighting them with their own weapon. The scene presented in this House, to-day, is one unparalleled in the history of the world. From this day, back to the day when God breathed the breath of life into Adam, no analogy for it can be found. Never, in the history of the world, has a man been arraigned before a body clothed with legislative, judicial or executive functions, charged with the offence of being of a darker hue than his fellowmen. I know that questions have been before the Courts of this country, and of other countries, involving topics not altogether dissimilar to that which is being discussed here to-day. But, sir, never in all the history of the great nations of this world—never before—has a man been arraigned, charged with an offence committed by the God of Heaven Himself. Cases may be found where men have been deprived of their rights for crimes and misdemeanors; but it has remained for the 130 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 State of Georgia, in the very heart of the nineteenth century, to call a man before the bar, and there charge him with an act for which he is no more responsible than for the head which he carries upon his shoulders. The Anglo-Saxon race, sir, is a most surprising one. No man has ever been more deceived in that race than I have been for the last three weeks. I was not aware that there was in the character of that race so much cowardice, or so much pusillanimity. The treachery which has been exhibited in it by gentlemen belonging to that race has shaken my confidence in it more than anything that has come under my observation from the day of my birth. What is the question at issue? Why, sir, this Assembly, to-day, is discussing and deliberating on a judgment; there is not a Cherubim that sits around God’s eternal Throne, to-day, that would not tremble—even were an order issued by the Supreme God Himself—to come down here and sit in judgment on my manhood. Gentlemen may look at this question in whatever light they choose, and with just as much indifference as they may think proper to assume, but I tell you, sir, that this is a question which will not die to-day. This event shall be remembered by posterity for ages yet to come, and while the sun shall continue to climb the hills of heaven. Whose Legislature is this? Is it a white man’s Legislature, or is it a black man’s Legislature? Who voted for a Constitutional Convention, in obedience to the mandate of the Congress of the United States? Who first rallied around the standard of Reconstruction? Who set the ball of loyalty rolling in the State of Georgia? And whose voice was heard on the hills and in the valleys of this State? It was the voice of the brawny-armed Negro, with the few humanitarian-hearted white men who came to our assistance. I claim the honor, sir, of having been the instrument of convincing hundreds—yea, thousands—of white men, that to reconstruct under the measures of the United States Congress was the safest and the best course for the interest of the State. Let us look at some facts in connection with this matter. Did half the white men of Georgia vote for this Legislature? Did not the great bulk of them fight, with all their strength, the Constitution under which we are acting? And did they not fight against the organization of this Legislature? And further, sir, did they not vote against it? Yes, sir! And there are persons in this Legislature to-day, who are ready to spit their poison in my face, while they themselves opposed, with all their power, the ratification of this Constitution. They question my right to a seat in this body, to represent the people whose legal votes elected me. This objection, sir, is an unheard of monopoly of power. No analogy can be found for it, except it be the case of a man who should go into my house, take possession of my wife and children, and then tell me to walk out. I stand very much in the position of a criminal before your bar, because I dare to be the exponent of the views of those who sent me here. Or, in other words, we are told that if black men want to speak, they must speak through white trumpets; if black men want their sentiments expressed, they must be adulterated and sent through white messengers, who will quibble, and equivocate, and evade, as rapidly as the pendulum of a clock. If this be not done, then the black men have committed an outrage, and their H . M . T U R N E R , B L A C K C H R I S T I A N N AT I O N A L I S T 131 Representatives must be denied the right to represent their constituents. The great question, sir, is this: Am I a man? If I am such, I claim the rights of a man. Am I not a man because I happen to be of a darker hue than honorable gentlemen around me? . . . But Mr. Speaker, I do not regard this movement as a thrust at me, it is a thrust at the Bible—a thrust at the God of the Universe, for making a man and not finishing him; it is simply calling the Great Jehovah a fool. Why, sir, though we are not white, we have accomplished much. We have pioneered civilization here; we have built up your country; we have worked in your fields, and garnered your harvests, for two hundred and fifty years! And what do we ask of you in return? Do we ask you for compensation for the sweat our fathers bore for you—for the tears you have caused, and the hearts you have broken, and the lives you have curtailed, and the blood you have spilled? Do we ask retaliation? We ask it not. We are willing to let the dead past bury its dead; but we ask you now for our RIGHTS. You have all the elements of superiority upon your side; you have our money and your own; you have our education and your own; and you have your land and our own, too. We, who number hundreds of thousands in Georgia, including our wives and families, with not a foot of land to call our own— strangers in the land of our birth; without money, without education, without aid, without a roof to cover us while we live, nor sufficient clay to cover us when we die! It is extraordinary that a race such as yours, professing gallantry, and chivalry, and education, and superiority, living in a land where ringing chimes call child and sire to the Church of God—a land where Bibles are read and Gospels truths are spoken, and where courts of justice are presumed to exist; it is extraordinary to say, that, with all these advantages on your side, you can make war upon the poor defenseless black man. . . . You may expel us, gentlemen, but I firmly believe that you will someday repent it. The black man cannot protect a country, if the country doesn’t protect him; and if, tomorrow, a war should arise, I would not raise a musket to defend a country where my manhood is denied. The fashionable way in Georgia when hard work is to be done, is, for the white man to sit at his ease, while the black man does the work; but, sir, I will say this much to the colored men of Georgia, as if I should be killed in this campaign, I may have no opportunity of telling them at any other time: Never lift a finger nor raise a hand in defense of Georgia, unless Georgia acknowledges that you are men, and invests you with the rights pertaining to manhood. Pay your taxes, however, obey all orders from your employers, take good counsel from friends, work faithfully, earn an honest living, and show, by your conduct, that you can be good citizens. . . . You may expel us, gentlemen, by your votes, today; but while you do it, remember that there is a just God in Heaven, whose All-Seeing Eye beholds alike the acts of the oppressor and the oppressed, and who, despite the machinations of the wicked, never fails to vindicate the cause of Justice, and the sanctity of His own handiwork. Source: Speech delivered on September 3, 1868, before the Georgia State Legislature. 132 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N S E L E C T A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Stephen Ward Angell, Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and African American Religion in the South (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992). Gregory Mixon, “Henry McNeal Turner Versus the Tuskegee Machine: Black Leadership in the Nineteenth Century,” Journal of Negro History 79, no. 4 (Autumn 1994), pp. 363–80. Mongo Melanchthron Ponton, Life and Times of Henry M. Turner (Atlanta: A.B. Caldwell Publishing, 1917). Edwin S. Redkey, Black Exodus: Black Nationalist and Back-to-Africa Movements (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1969). ———, ed., Respect Black: The Writings and Speeches of Henry McNeal Turner (New York: Arno Press, 1971). Henry McNeal Turner, Methodist Polity, or the Genius and Theory of Methodism (Philadelphia: A.M.E. Book Concern, 1885). Robert R. Wright, Jr., The Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (Nashville, Tenn.: A.M.E. Sunday School Union, 1963). O3O Black Urban Workers during Reconstruction In the aftermath of the Civil War, large numbers of African Americans migrated to northern cities. In most cases, these black workers were trying to escape the oppressive labor conditions of the South. Yet increased competition from foreign-born whites, who largely outnumbered African Americans in the North, meant that labor conditions were difficult there as well. In December 1869, African Americans gathered in Washington, D.C., to organize the National Colored Labor Union, which lasted until 1872. Subsequently, for many decades the majority of black urban workers was marginalized in segregated unions, or shut out of unions altogether. O ANONYMOUS DOCUMENT ON THE NATIONAL COLORED LABOR CONVENTION, 1869 The Convention of colored men at Washington last week was in some respects the most remarkable one we ever attended. We had always had full faith in the capacity of the negro for self-improvement, but were not prepared to see, fresh from slavery, a body of two hundred men, so thoroughly conversant with public affairs, so independent in spirit, and so anxious apparently to improve their social condition, as the men who represented the South, in that convention. . . . The convention was called to order by Mr. Myers, of Baltimore, and Geo. T. Downing, of Rhode Island, was chosen temporary chairman. . . . . . . rare tact [was] shown by their permanent president, the Hon. John B. Harris of North Carolina. . . . B L A C K U R B A N W O R K E R S D U R I N G R E C O N S T R U C T I O N 133 . . . they formed a National Labor Union . . . and may be said to be fairly in the field as an organized body of laborers. Isaac Myers, a member of the present Labor Union, was chosen their permanent President for the ensuing year, with a good list of other officers. . . . Washington, D.C. (1869) O NEW YORK TRIBUNE ARTICLE ON AFRICAN-AMERICAN WORKERS, 1870 . . . Baltimore contains a larger proportion of skilled colored labor than any portion of the country, New Orleans not excepted. . . . One of the best evidences of thrift and enterprise I have noticed . . . are the building and other self-help associations which exist here. The first-named societies were inspired by the successful economy and activity of the Germans. There are at least 25 colored societies in the city. There are several known as “The National Relief Association No. 1,” etc. The admission fee is $2.50 and ten cents a week is required thereafter. . . . Among the noteworthy efforts is an operative brickyard, owned in five-dollar shares, and run by the share-holders themselves. It is doing very well. . . . . . . The most interesting movement I have found is that known as the Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company, which, as it illustrates the tyranny of caste and the manner by which it can be defeated, when even energy, industry, skill, and determination [are] combined, deserves some extended notice. The company, or rather its leading corporators, have already attained more than a local fame, from the fact that from among them came the movement which resulted in the recognition last year at the Philadelphia Labor Congress of colored labor delegates, and subsequently of the organization at Washington, in December following, of the National Colored Labor union. Now for the origin of this enterprise. Baltimore had always been famous as a ship-building and repairing entrepot. In slave times a large portion of the ship caulkers especially were colored men, as were also many ship-carpenters. In all other trade connected with this interest, a considerable share of the skilled, and nearly all of the unskilled labor, was colored. As a rule they were and are excellent mechanics. Frederick Douglass once worked in the very yard now owned by colored men. When last in Baltimore, he visited the yard, and took the caulker’s tool in hand once again. The slave power was strong enough to protect these colored mechanics, many of them being slaves. When the war terminated, however, the bitter hostility, hitherto suppressed, against colored labor, manifested itself in violent combinations. As Mr. Gaines, the present manager of the company, informed me, extermination of colored mechanics was openly declared to be the aim of their white rivals. The combination was against all labor, but manifested mostly in the shipbuilding trades. The white mechanics all struck, even refusing to work, where colored cartmen and stevedores were employed. There was no antagonism or complaint on account of wages, as the colored men were as strenuous as the whites in demanding full pay. The Trades Unions, to which, of course, colored men were not admitted, organized the movement. In the 134 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 yards on one side of the Patapaco River the colored caulkers were driven off in 1865. In 1866 the general strike was organized. The bosses did not sympathize with the white mechanics, and to the credit of many . . . they stood out as long as possible. Very soon the strike threatened to become general against all colored labor, mechanical or otherwise; the violence threatened to be extended even to hotel waiters of the proscribed race. This atrocious movement was industriously fomented by the active men in Andrew Jackson’s reaction. At last the leading colored caulkers, carpenters, and mechanics, seeing what the crusade meant, determined on a vigorous protective effort. Their conclusion was reached in the organization of the Maryland Mutual Joint Stock Railway Company, whose capital was to consist of 10,000 shares at $50. About 2000 shares were taken within a few days, and $10,000 subscribed, 100 shares being the largest amount taken by any one person. Most of the shares were taken in ones, twos, and threes, by mechanics, caulkers, laborers, even the barbers and washerwomen being represented. The shipyard and marine railway they now own belonged to Jas. L. Mullen and Son, earnest Union men and warm defenders of equal rights to their workmen. They offered to sell and asked no more than the place was worth—$40,000. The bargain was closed; another honorable gentleman, Capt. Sipplegarth, ship-owner, builder and navigator, came forward and loaned them the remaining $30,000, on six years’ time, at moderate interest, with the privilege of paying at any time within the six years, taking a mortgage on the property itself. . . . The Company was organized and got to work by Feb. 2, 1866, employing at first 62 hands, nearly all skilled men, and some of them white. Business was depressed, the outrageous strike having driven it away from the port, and the work did not average for some months more than four days per week, at the average wages of $3 per day. At the present time the Company are able to employ, fulltime, 75 hands. From Feb. 2, 1866, to Jan. 1, 1867, its business amounted to about $60,000, on which the profits were nearly or quite 25 percent or $15,000. The next year was better for them, though business was generally very dull. In carrying on their work and paying their men, they had to resort to borrowing as a rule. They never had a note protested. Within four years from organization they completed the payment for their yard and railway, lifting the mortgage in June last. In 1868 they were incorporated by the title I have given, having done business previously under the firm name of John H. Smith and Co. Most of their trade is with Eastern ship-owners and masters. At the present time they do, and have done for three years past, more repairing than any other company on the Patapaco River. This success has not been achieved without serious trouble. Intimidation has been practiced on their patrons. In two instances, where profitable jobs were pending they have been driven off by white mobs; in one case a white man who took charge of their working force was shot dead. What added point to the act was the fact that he was ordinarily one of their bitterest antagonists. On another occasion, having hired the Canton Marine Railway to take up a large ship which they were caulking and repairing, the whites threatened to strike, and so the Railway Company refused to allow its use. Still they have persevered, and T. T. F O RT U N E , “ L A B O R A N D C A P I TA L . . . ” 135 today are masters of the situation. They have had some good contracts, in one case repairing Government dredges and tugs. The managers think the feeling against them decidedly subsiding. They accredited this fact mainly to their ability to employ labor and pay for it promptly. They think that men have been forced to a sense of shame by finding no resentments cherished on the part of the corporators of the Chesapeake Company. To some extent, more recently, they believe that the dread of Chinese labor induces the ultra-trades unionists to desire their (the colored mechanics’) favor. It is worth noting that they are not, and never have been, members of the trades unions. Their business rules, as stated to me by the manager, are simple. Asking why they did more ship repair work than other firms or companies possessing equal facilities, the reply was: 1st, because our labor is of the best; the men we employ are thoroughly skilled, and 2nd, we seek to retain custom as well as make money. We have never lost a patron except by outside intimidation. We try to accommodate, work hard and overtime to finish jobs, and always use the best materials. These are good rules, and this is a good record. . . . Sources: (1) Excerpt, “The National Colored Labor Convention, 1869,” American Workman, Boston (December 25, 1869), p. 2; and (2) excerpt, article on African-American workers in Baltimore, New York Tribune (September 1, 1870). S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: John H. Bracey, ed., Black Workers and Organized Labor (Belmont, Ca.: Wadsworth Publishing, 1971). Philip S. Foner, ed., Organized Labor and the Black Worker, 1619–1973 (New York: International Publishers, 1976). Philip S. Foner and Ronald L. Lewis, eds., Black Workers: A Documentary History from Colonial Times to the Present (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989). Michael K. Honey, Black Workers Remember: An Oral History of Segregation, Unionism, and the Freedom Struggle (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999). Bruce Nelson, Divided We Stand: American Workers and the Struggle for Black Equality, Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001). Elizabeth H. Pleck, Black Migration and Poverty: Boston, 1865–1900 (New York: Academic Press, 1979). O4O “Labor and Capital Are in Deadly Conflict,” T. Thomas Fortune, 1886 T. Thomas Fortune (1856–1928) was considered the leading African-American journalist of his day. Born a slave in Marianna, Florida, he began his career as a compositor on the New York Witness without any formal education but with a practical knowledge of the printer’s trade. In 1879 he became the founding editor 136 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 of the New York Globe (later renamed the New York Age). Karl Marx was an important influence on Fortune’s thought, and in 1884 he authored the important book, Black and White: Land, Labor, and Politics in the South. As Jim Crow segregation became consolidated in the South, the political environment for Fortune’s radical politics virtually disappeared. Personal and economic problems may have contributed to Fortune’s growing dependency on the support of conservative educator Booker T. Washington. By the early 1900s Fortune edited many of Washington’s addressees and was a ghostwriter for some of his major articles. O I do not exaggerate the gravity of the subject when I say that it is now the very first in importance not only in the United States but in every country in Europe. Indeed the wall of industrial discontent encircles the civilized globe. The iniquity of privileged class and concentrated wealth has become so glaring and grievous to be borne that a thorough agitation and an early readjustment of the relation which they sustain to labor can no longer be delayed with safety to society. It does not admit of argument that every man born into the world is justly entitled to so much of the produce of nature as will satisfy his physical necessities; it does not admit of argument that every man, by reason of his being, is justly entitled to the air he must breathe, the water he must drink, the food he must eat and the covering he must have to shield him from the inclemency of the weather. These are self-evident propositions, not disputed by the most orthodox advocate of excessive wealth on the one hand and excessive poverty on the other. That nature intended these as the necessary correlations of physical being is abundantly proved in the primitive history of mankind and in the freedom and commonality of possession which now obtain everywhere among savage people. The moment you deny to a man the unrestricted enjoyment of all the elements upon which the breath he draws is dependent, that moment you deny to him the inheritance to which he was born. I maintain that organized society, as it obtains today, based as it is upon feudal conditions, is an outrageous engine of torture and an odious tyranny; that it places in the hands of a few the prime elements of human existence, regardless of the great mass of mankind; that the whole aim and necessity of the extensive and costly machinery of the law we are compelled to maintain grows out of the fact that this fortunate or favored minority would otherwise be powerless to practice upon the masses of society the gross injustice which everywhere prevails. For centuries the aim and scope of all law have been to more securely hedge about the capitalist and the landowner and to repress labor within a condition wherein bare subsistence was the point aimed at. From the institution of feudalism to the present time the inspiration of all conflict has been that of capitalist, landowner and hereditary aristocracy against the larger masses of society—the untitled, the disinherited proletariat of the world. T. T. F O RT U N E , “ L A B O R A N D C A P I TA L . . . ” 137 This species of oppression received its most memorable check in the great French Revolution, wherein a new doctrine became firmly rooted in the philosophy of civil government—that is, that the toiling masses of society possessed certain inherent rights which kingcraft, hereditary aristocracy, landlordism and usury mongers must respect. As a result of the doctrine studiously inculcated by the philosophers of the French Revolution, we had the revolt of the blacks of Haiti, under the heroic Touissaint L’Ouverture, the bloody Dessalines and the suave, diplomatic and courtly Christophe, by which the blacks secured forever their freedom as free men and their independence as a people; and our own great Revolution, wherein the leading complaint was taxation by the British government of the American colonies without conceding them proportionate representation. At bottom in each case, bread and butter was the main issue. So it has always been. So it will continue to be, until the scales of justice are made to strike a true balance between labor on the one hand and the interest on capital invested and the wages of superintendence on the other. Heretofore the interest on capital and the wages of superintendence have absorbed so much of the wealth produced as to leave barely nothing to the share of labor. It should be borne in mind that of this trinity labor is the supreme potentiality. Capital, in the first instance, is the product of labor. If there had never been any labor there would not now be any capital to invest. Again, if a bonfire were made of all the so-called wealth of the world it would only require a few years for labor to reproduce it; but destroy the brawn and muscle of the world and it could not be reproduced by all the gold ever delved from the mines of California and Australia and the fabulous gems from the diamond fields of Africa. In short, labor has been and is the producing agency, while capital has been and is the absorbing or parasitical agency. Should we, therefore, be surprised that with the constantly growing intelligence and democratization of mankind labor should have grown discontented at the systematic robbery practiced upon it for centuries, and should now clamor for a more equitable basis of adjustment of the wealth it produces? I could name you a dozen men who have in the last forty or fifty years amassed among them a billion dollars, so that a millionaire has become as common a thing almost as a pauper. How came they by their millions? Is it possible for a man in his lifetime, under the most favorable circumstances, to amass a million dollars? Not at all! The constitution of our laws must be such that they favor one as against the other to permit of such a glaring disparity. I have outlined for you the past and present relations of capital and labor. The widespread discontent of the labor classes in our own country and in Europe gives emphasis to the position here taken. I abhor injustice and oppression wherever they are to be found, and my best sympathies go out freely to the struggling poor and the tyranny-ridden of all races and lands. I believe in the divine right of man, not of caste or class, and I believe that any law made to perpetuate or to give immunity to these as against the masses of mankind is an infamous and not-to-be-borne infringement of the just 138 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 laws of the Creator, who sends each of us into the world as naked as a newly fledged jay bird and crumbles us back into the elements of Mother Earth by the same processes of mutation and final dissolution. The social and material differences which obtain in the relations of mankind are the creations of man, not of God. God never made such a spook as a king or a duke; he never made such an economic monstrosity as a millionaire; he never gave John Jones the right to own a thousand or a hundred thousand acres of land, with their complement of air and water. These are the conditions of man, who has sold his birthright to the Shylocks of the world and received not even a mess of pottage for his inheritance. The thing would really be laughable, if countless millions from the rice swamps of the Carolinas to the delvers in the mines of Russian Siberia, were not ground to powder to make a holiday for some selfish idler. Everywhere labor and capital are in deadly conflict. The battle has been raging for centuries, but the opposing forces are just now in a position for that death struggle which it was inevitable must come before the end was. Nor is it within the scope of finite intelligence to forecast the lines upon which the settlement will be made. Capital is entrenched behind ten centuries of law and conservatism, and controlled withal by the wisest and coolest heads in the world. The inequality of the forces joined will appear very obvious. Yet the potentiality of labor will be able to force concessions from time to time, even as the commoners of England have through centuries been able to force from royalty relinquishment of prerogative after prerogative, until, from having been among the most despotic of governments under Elizabeth, the England of today under Queen Victoria is but a royal shadow. So the time may come when the forces of labor will stand upon absolute equality with those of capital, and that harmony between them obtain which has been sought for by wise men and fools for a thousand years. Source: Speech delivered on April 20, 1886, Brooklyn Literary Union, printed in the New York Freeman, May 1, 1886. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: T. Thomas Fortune, Black and White: Land, Labor, and Politics in the South (New York: Fords, Howard & Hubert, 1884; reprinted, New York: Arno, 1968). August Meier, Negro Thought in America, 1880–1915 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1966). Emma Lou Thornbrough, T. Thomas Fortune: Militant Abolitionist (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972). O5O Edward Wilmot Blyden and the African Diaspora Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832–1912) was in many respects the first important theorist of Pan-Africanism—the concept that people of African descent have a com- E . W. B LY D E N A N D T H E A F R I C A N D I A S P O R A 139 mon cultural, social, and political destiny, and that struggles for black empowerment and nationalism must transcend geographical boundaries. Born in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Danish Virgin Islands, of free parents, Blyden moved to Liberia in 1851. He rose rapidly as an educator, minister, and journalist. In 1855 he edited the Liberia Herald, and in 1864 was named Liberia’s Secretary of State. As a professor of classics, Greek, and Latin at Liberia College from 1861 to 1871, he actively encouraged blacks in the United States to emigrate to Liberia. In his later career, Blyden served as Liberia’s Ambassador to Great Britain and as President of the American Colonization Society. Blyden’s most famous work, Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race, published in 1887, promoted Islam as a religion that could unify and advance the black world. Negro, a periodical published by Blyden, was the first journal that openly advocated the ideas of Pan-Africanism. O THE AFRICAN PROBLEM AND THE METHOD OF ITS SOLUTION I am seriously impressed with a sense of the responsibility of my position to-night. I stand in the presence of the representatives of that great organization which seems first of all the associations in this country to have distinctly recognized the hand of God in the history of the Negro race in America—to have caught something of the meaning of the Divine purpose in permitting their exile to and bondage in this land. I stand also in the presence of what, for the time being at least, must be considered the foremost congregation of the land—the religious home of the President of the United States. There are present, also, I learn, on this occasion, some of the statesmen and lawmakers of the land. My position, then, is one of honor as well as of responsibility, and the message I have to deliver, I venture to think, concerns directly or indirectly the whole human race. I come from that ancient country, the home of one of the great original races, occupied by the descendants of one of the three sons to whom, according to Biblical history, the whole world was assigned—a country which is now engaging the active attention of all Europe. I come, also, from the ancestral home of at least five millions in this land. Two hundred millions of people have sent me on an errand of invitation to their blood relations here. Their cry is, “Come over and help us.” And I find among hundreds of thousands of the invited an eager and enthusiastic response. . . . . . . It would appear that the world outside of Africa has not yet stopped to consider the peculiar conditions which lift that continent out of the range of the ordinary agencies by which Europe has been able to occupy other countries and subjugate or exterminate their inhabitants. They have not stopped to ponder the providential lessons on this subject scattered through the pages of history, both past and contemporary. First. Let us take the most obvious lesson as indicated in the climatic conditions. Perhaps in no country in the world is it so necessary (as in Africa) that the stranger or new comer should possess the mens sana in corpore sano—the sound mind in sound body; for the climate is most searching, bringing to the surface any and every latent physical or mental defect. If a man has any chronic or hereditary 140 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 disease it is sure to be developed, and if wrong medical treatment is applied it is very apt to be exaggerated and often to prove fatal to the patient. And as with the body so with the mind. Persons of weak minds, either inherited or brought on by excessive mental application or troubles of any kind, are almost sure to develop an impatience or irritability, to the surprise and annoyance of their friends who knew them at home. The Negro immigrant from a temperate region sometimes suffers from these climatic inconveniences, only in his case, after a brief process of acclimatization, he becomes himself again, while the white man never regains his soundness in that climate, and can retain his mental equilibrium only by periodical visits to his native climate. The regulation of the British Government for West Africa is that their officials are allowed six months’ leave of absence to return to Europe after fifteen month’s residence at Sierra Leone and twelve months on the Gold Coast or Lagos; and for every three days during which they are kept on the coast after the time for their leave arrives, they are allowed one day in Europe. The neglect of this regulation is often attended with most serious consequences. Second. When we come into the moral and intellectual world it would seem as if the Almighty several times attempted to introduce the foreigner and a foreign civilization into Africa and then changed his purpose. The Scriptures seem to warrant the idea that in some way inexplicable to us, and incompatible with our conception of the character of the Sovereign of the Universe, the unchangeable Being sometimes reverses His apparent plans. We read that, “it repented God,” &c. For thousands of years the northeastern portion of Africa witnessed a wonderful development of civilization. The arts and sciences flourished in Egypt for generations, and that country was the centre of almost universal influence; but there was no effect produced upon the interior of Africa. So North Africa became the seat of a great military and commercial power which flourished for 700 years. After this the Roman Catholic Church constructed a mighty influence in the same region, but the interior of the continent received no impression from it. In the fifteenth century the Congo country, of which we now hear so much, was the scene of extensive operations of the Roman Catholic Church. Just a little before the discovery of America thousands of the natives of the Congo, including the most influential families, were baptized by Catholic missionaries; and the Portuguese, for a hundred years, devoted themselves to the work of African evangelization and exploration. It would appear that they knew just as much of interior Africa as is known now after the great exploits of Speke and Grant and Livingstone, Baker and Cameron and Stanley. It is said that there is a map in the Vatican, three hundred years old, which gives all the general physical relief and the river and lake systems of Africa with more or less accuracy; but the Arab geographers of a century before had described the mountain system, the great lakes, and the course of the Nile. Just about the time that Portugal was on the way to establish a great empire on that continent, based upon the religious system of Rome, America was discovered, and, instead of the Congo, the Amazon became the seat of Portuguese power. Neither Egyptian, Carthaginian, Persian, or Roman influence was allowed to establish itself on that continent. It would seem that in the providential pur- E . W. B LY D E N A N D T H E A F R I C A N D I A S P O R A 141 pose no solution of the African problem was to come from alien sources. Africans were not doomed to share the fate of some other dark races who have come in contact with the aggressive European. Europe was diverted to the Western Hemisphere. The energies of that conquering race, it was decreed, should be spent in building up a home for themselves on this side. Africa followed in chains. The Negro race was to be preserved for a special and important work in the future. Of the precise nature of that work no one can form any definite conception. It is probable that if foreign races had been allowed to enter their country they would have been destroyed. So they were brought over to be helpers in this country and at the same time to be preserved. It was not the first time in the history of the world that a people have been preserved by subjection to another people. We know that God promised Abraham that his seed should inherit the land of Canaan; but when He saw that in their numerically weak condition they would have been destroyed in conflicts with the indigenous inhabitants, he took them down to Egypt and kept them there in bondage four hundred years that they might be fitted, both by discipline and numerical increase, for the work that would devolve upon them. Slavery would seem to be a strange school in which to preserve a people; but God has a way of salting as well as purifying by fire. The Europeans, who were fleeing from their own country in search of wider areas of freedom and larger scope for development, found here an aboriginal race unable to co-operate with them in the labors required for the construction of the material framework of the new civilization. The Indians would not work, and they have suffered the consequences of that indisposition. They have passed away. To take their place as accessories in the work to be done God suffered the African to be brought hither, who could work and would work, and could endure the climatic conditions of a new southern country, which Europeans could not. Two currents set across the Atlantic towards the west for nigh three hundred years—the one from Europe, the other from Africa. The one from Africa had a crimson color. From that stream of human beings millions fell victims to the cruelties of the middle passage, and otherwise suffered from the brutal instincts of their kidnappers and enslavers. I do not know whether Africa has been invited to the celebration of the fourth centenary of the discovery of America; but she has quite as much reason, if not as much right, to participate in the demonstration of that occasion as the European nations. Englishman, Hollander, and Huguenot, Nigritian and Congo came together. If Europe brought the head, Africa furnished the hands for a great portion of the work which has been achieved here, though it was the opinion of an African chief that the man who discovered America ought to have been imprisoned for having uncovered one people for destruction and opened a field for the oppression and suffering of another. But when the new continent was opened Africa was closed. The veil, which was being drawn aside, was replaced, and darkness once more enveloped the land, for then not the country but the people were needed. They were to do a work elsewhere, and meanwhile their country was to be shut out from the view of the outside world. 142 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 The first Africans landed in this country in the State of Virginia in the year 1619. Then began the first phase of what is called the Negro problem. These people did not come hither of their own accord. Theirs was not a voluntary but a compulsory expatriation. The problem, then, on their arrival in this country, which confronted the white people was how to reduce to effective and profitable servitude an alien race which it was neither possible nor desirable to assimilate. This gave birth to that peculiar institution, established in a country whose raison d’etre was that all men might enjoy the “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Laws had to be enacted by Puritans, Cavaliers, and Roundheads for slaves, and every contrivance had to be devised for the safety of the institution. It was a difficult problem, in the effort to solve which both master and slave suffered. It would seem, however, that in the first years of African slavery in this country, the masters upon many of whom the relationship was forced, understood its providential origin and purpose, until after a while, avarice and greed darkened their perceptions, and they began to invent reasons, drawn even from the Word of God, to justify their holding these people in perpetual bondage for the advantage of themselves and their children forever. But even after a blinding cupidity had captured the generality by its bewitching spell, there were those (far-sighted men, especially after the yoke of Great Britain had been thrown off) who saw that the abnormal relation could not be permanent under the democratic conditions established by the fundamental law of the land. It was Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the Declaration of Independence, who made the celebrated utterance: “Nothing is more clearly written in the Book of Destiny than the emancipation of the blacks; and it is equally certain that the two races will never live in a state of equal freedom under the same Government, so insurmountable are the barriers which nature, habit, and opinion have established between them.” For many years, especially in the long and weary period of the antislavery conflict, the latter part of this dictum of Jefferson was denounced by many good and earnest men. The most intelligent of the colored people resented it as a prejudiced and anti-Christian conception. But as the years go by and the Negroes rise in education and culture, and therefore in love and pride of race, and in proper conception of race gifts, race work and race destiny, the latter clause of that famous sentence is not only being shorn of its obscurity and repulsiveness, but is being welcomed as embodying a truth indispensable to the preservation and prosperity of both races, and as pointing to the regeneration of the African Fatherland. There are some others of the race who, recognizing Jefferson’s principle, would make the races one by amalgamation. It was under the conviction of the truth expressed by that statesman that certain gentlemen of all political shades and differing religious views, met together in this city in the winter of 1816–’17, and organized the American Colonization Society. Though friendly to the antislavery idea, and anxious for the extinction of the abnormal institution, these men did not make their views on that subject prominent in their published utterances. They were not Abolitionists in the political or technical sense of that phrase. But their labors furnished an outlet and encouragement for persons desiring to free their slaves, giving them the assur- E . W. B LY D E N A N D T H E A F R I C A N D I A S P O R A 143 ance that their freedmen would be returned to their Fatherland, carrying thither what light of Christianity and civilization they had received. It seems a pity that this humane, philanthropic, and far-seeing work should have met with organized opposition from another band of philanthropists, who, anxious for a speedy deliverance of the captives, thought they saw in the Colonization Society an agency for riveting instead of breaking the fetters of the slave, and they denounced it with all the earnestness and eloquence they could command, and they commanded, both among whites and blacks, some of the finest orators the country has ever produced. And they did a grand work, both directly and indirectly, for the Negro and for Africa. They did their work and dissolved their organization. But when their work was done the work of the Colonization Society really began. In the development of the Negro question in this country the colonizationists might be called the prophets and philosophers; the abolitionists, the warriors and politicians. Colonizationists saw what was coming and patiently prepared for its advent. Abolitionists attacked the first phase of the Negro problem and labored for its immediate solution; colonizationists looked to the last phase of the problem and labored to get both the whites and blacks ready for it. They labored on two continents, in America and in Africa. Had they not begun as early as they did to take up lands in Africa for the exiles, had they waited for the abolition of slavery, it would now have been impossible to obtain a foothold in their fatherland for the returning hosts. The colonizationist, as prophet, looked at the State as it would be; the abolitionist, as politician, looked at the State as it was. The politician sees the present and is possessed by it. The prophet sees the future and gathers inspiration from it. The politician may influence legislation; the prophet, although exercising great moral influence, seldom has any legislative power. The agitation of the politician may soon culminate in legal enactments; the teachings of the prophet may require generations before they find embodiment in action. The politician has today; the prophet, to-morrow. The politician deals with facts, the prophet with ideas, and ideas take root very slowly. Though nearly three generations have passed away since Jefferson made his utterance, and more than two since the organization of the Colonization Society, yet the conceptions they put forward can scarcely be said to have gained maturity, much less currency, in the public mind. But the recent discussions in the halls of Congress show that the teachings of the prophet are now beginning to take hold of the politician. It may take many years yet before the people come up to these views, and, therefore, before legislation upon them may be possible, but there is evidently movement in that direction. The first phase of the Negro problem was solved at Appomattox, after the battle of the warrior, with confused noise and garments rolled in blood. The institution of slavery, for which so many sacrifices had been made, so many of the principles of humanity had been violated, so many of the finer sentiments of the heart had been stifled, was at last destroyed by violence. Now the nation confronts the second phase, the educational, and millions are being poured out by State governments and by individual philanthropy for the education of the freedmen, preparing them for the third and last phase of the problem, viz: EMIGRATION. 144 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 In this second phase, we have that organization, which might be called the successor of the old Anti-Slavery Society, taking a most active and effective part. I mean the American Missionary Association. I have watched with constant gratitude and admiration the course and operations of that Society, especially when I remember that, organized in the dark days of slavery, twenty years before emancipation, it held aloft courageously the banner on which was inscribed freedom for the Negro and no fellowship with his oppressors. And they, among the first, went South to lift the freedmen from the mental thraldom and moral degradation in which slavery had left him. They triumphed largely over the spirit of their opponents. They braved the dislike, the contempt, the apprehension with which their work was at first regarded, until they succeeded by demonstrating the advantages of knowledge over ignorance, to bring about that state of things to which Mr. Henry Grady, in his last utterances, was able to refer with such satisfaction, viz., that since the war the South has spent $122,000,000 in the cause of public education, and this year it is pledged to spend $37,000,000, in the benefits of which the Negro is a large participant. It is not surprising that some of those who, after having been engaged in the noble labors of solving the first phase of the problem—in the great anti-slavery war—and are now confronting the second phase, should be unable to receive with patience the suggestion of the third, which is the emigration phase, when the Negro, freed in body and in mind, shall bid farewell to these scenes of his bondage and discipline and betake himself to the land of his fathers, the scene of larger opportunities and loftier achievements. I say it is not surprising that the veterans of the past and the present should be unable to give much enthusiasm to the work of the future. It is not often given to man to labor successfully in the land of Egypt, in the wilderness and across the Jordan. Some of the most effective workers, must often, with eyes undimmed and natural force unabated, lie down and die on the borders of full freedom, and if they live, life to them is like a dream. The young must take up the work. To old men the indications of the future are like a dream. Old men are like them that dream. Young men see visions. They catch the spirit of the future and are able to place themselves in accord with it. But things are not yet ready for the solution of the third and last phase of the problem. Things are not ready in this country among whites or blacks. The industrial condition of the South is not prepared for it. Things are not yet ready in Africa for a complete exodus. Europe is not yet ready; she still thinks that she can take and utilize Africa for her own purposes. She does not yet understand that Africa is to be for the African or for nobody. Therefore she is taking up with renewed vigor, and confronting again, with determination, the African problem. Englishmen, Germans, Italians, Belgians, are taking up territory and trying to wring from the grey-haired mother of civilization the secret of the ages. Nothing has come down from Egypt so grand and impressive as the Sphinxes that look at you with calm and emotionless faces, guarding their secret to-day as they formerly guarded the holy temples. They are a symbol of Africa. She will not be forced. She E . W. B LY D E N A N D T H E A F R I C A N D I A S P O R A 145 only can reveal her secret. Her children trained in the house of bondage will show it to the world. Some have already returned and have constructed an independent nation as a beginning of this work on her western borders. It is a significant fact that Africa was completely shut up until the time arrived for the emancipation of her children in the Western World. When Jefferson and Washington and Hamilton and Patrick Henry were predicting and urging the freedom of the slave, Mungo Park was beginning that series of explorations by English enterprise which has just ended in the expedition of Stanley. Just about the time that England proclaimed freedom throughout her colonies, the brothers Lander made the great discovery of the mouth of the Niger; and when Lincoln issued the immortal proclamation, Livingstone was unfolding to the world that wonderful region which Stanley has more fully revealed and which is becoming now the scene of the secular and religious activities of Christendom. The King of the Belgians has expended fortunes recently in opening the Congo and in introducing the appliances of civilization, and by a singular coincidence a bill has been brought forward in the U.S. Senate to assist the emigration of Negroes to the Fatherland just at the time when that philanthropic monarch has despatched an agent to this country to invite the co-operation in his great work of qualified freedmen. This is significant. What the King of the Belgians has just done is an indication of what other European Powers will do when they have exhausted themselves in costly experiments to utilize white men as colonists in Africa. They will then understand the purpose of the Almighty in having permitted the exile and bondage of the Africans, and they will see that for Africa’s redemption the Negro is the chosen instrument. They will encourage the establishment and building up of such States as Liberia. They will recognize the scheme of the Colonization Society as the providential one. The little nation which has grown up on that coast as a result of the efforts of this Society, is now taking hold upon that continent in a manner which, owing to inexperience, it could not do in the past. The Liberians have introduced a new article into the commerce of the world—the Liberian coffee. They are pushing to the interior, clearing up the forests, extending the culture of coffee, sugar, cocoa, and other tropical articles, and are training the aborigines in the arts of civilization and in the principles of Christianity. The Republic occupies five hundred miles of coast with an elastic interior. It has a growing commerce with various countries of Europe and America. No one who has visited that country and has seen the farms on the banks of the rivers and in the interior, the workshops, the schools, the churches, and other elements and instruments of progress will say that the United States, through Liberia, is not making a wholesome impression upon Africa—an impression which, if the members of the American Congress understood, they would not begrudge the money required to assist a few hundred thousand to carry on in that country the work so well begun. They would gladly spare them from the laboring element of this great nation to push forward the enterprises of civilization in their Fatherland, and to build themselves up on the basis of their race manhood. 146 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 If there is an intelligent Negro here to-night I will say to him, let me take you with me in imagination to witness the new creation or development on that distant shore; I will not paint you an imaginary picture, but will describe an historical fact; I will tell you of reality. Going from the coast, through those depressing alluvial plains which fringe the eastern and western borders of the continent, you reach, after a few miles’ travel, the first high or undulating country, which, rising abruptly from the swamps, enchants you with its solidity, its fertility, its verdure, its refreshing and healthful breezes. You go further, and you stand upon a higher elevation where the wind sings more freshly in your ears, and your heart beats fast as you survey the continuous and unbroken forests that stretch away from your feet to the distant horizon. The melancholy cooing of the pigeons in some unseen retreat or the more entrancing music of livelier and picturesque songsters alone disturb the solemn and almost oppressive solitude. You hear no human sound and see the traces of no human presence. You decline to pursue your adventurous journey. You refuse to penetrate the lonely forest that confronts you. You return to the coast, thinking of the long ages which have elapsed, the seasons which, in their onward course, have come and gone, leaving those solitudes undisturbed. You wonder when and how are those vast wildernesses to be made the scene of human activity and to contribute to human wants and happiness. Finding no answer to your perplexing question you drop the subject from your thoughts. After a few years—a very few it may be—you return to those scenes. To your surprise and gratification your progress is no longer interrupted by the inconvenience of bridle-paths and tangled vines. The roads are open and clear. You miss the troublesome creeks and drains which, on your previous journey, harassed and fatigued you. Bridges have been constructed, and without any of the former weariness you find yourself again on the summit, where in loneliness you had stood sometime before. What do you now see? The gigantic trees have disappeared, houses have sprung up on every side. As far as the eye can see the roofs of comfortable and homelike cottages peep through the wood. The waving corn and rice and sugar-cane, the graceful and fragrant coffee tree, the unbrageous cocoa, orange, and mango plum have taken the place of the former sturdy denizens of the forest. What has brought about the change? The Negro emigrant has arrived from America, and, slender though his facilities have been, has produced these wonderful revolutions. You look beyond and take in the forests that now appear on the distant horizon. You catch glimpses of native villages embowered in plantain trees, and you say these also shall be brought under civilized influences, and you feel yourself lifted into manhood, the spirit of the teacher and guide and missionary comes upon you, and you say, “There, below me and beyond lies the world into which I must go. There must I cast my lot. I feel I have a message to it, or a work in it”; and the sense that there are thousands dwelling there, some of whom you may touch, some of whom you may influence, some of whom may love you or be loved by you, thrills you with a strange joy and expectation, and it is a thrill which you can never forget; for ever and anon it comes upon you with increased intensity. In that hour you are born again. You hear forevermore the call ringing in your ears, “Come over and help us.” E . W. B LY D E N A N D T H E A F R I C A N D I A S P O R A 147 These are the visions that rise before the Liberian settler who has turned away from the coast. This is the view that exercises such an influence upon his imagination, and gives such tone to his character, making him an independent and productive man on the continent of his fathers. As I have said, this is no imaginary picture, but the embodiment of sober history. Liberia, then, is a fact, an aggressive and progressive fact, with a great deal in its past and everything in its future that is inspiring and uplifting. It occupies one of the most charming countries in the western portion of that continent. It has been called by qualified judges the garden spot of West Africa. I love to dwell upon the memories of scenes which I have passed through in the interior of that land. I have read of countries which I have not visited—the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains and the charms of the Yosemite Valley, and my imagination adds to the written description and becomes a gallery of delightful pictures. But of African scenes my memory is a treasure-house in which I delight to revel. I have distinctly before me the days and dates when I came into contact with their inexhaustible beauties. Leaving the coast line, the seat of malaria, and where are often seen the remains of the slaver’s barracoons, which always give an impression of the deepest melancholy, I come to the high tablelands with their mountain scenery and lovely valleys, their meadow streams and mountain rivulets, and there amid the glories of a changeless and unchanging nature, I have taken off my shoes and on that consecrated ground adored the God and Father of the Africans. This is the country and this is the work to which the American Negro is invited. This is the opening for him which, through the labors of the American Colonization Society, has been effected. This organization is more than a colonization society, more than an emigration society. It might with equal propriety and perhaps with greater accuracy be called the African Repatriation Society; or since the idea of planting towns and introducing extensive cultivation of the soil is included in its work, it might be called the African Repatriation and Colonization Society, for then you bring in a somewhat higher idea than mere colonization—the mere settling of a new country by strangers—you bring in the idea of restoration, of compensation to a race and country much and long wronged. Colonizationists, notwithstanding all that has been said against them, have always recognized the manhood of the Negro and been willing to trust him to take care of himself. They have always recognized the inscrutable providence by which the African was brought to these shores. They have always taught that he was brought hither to be trained out of his sense of irresponsibility to a knowledge of his place as a factor in the great work of humanity; and that after having been thus trained he could find his proper sphere of action only in the land of his origin to make a way for himself. They have believed that it has not been given to the white man to fix the intellectual or spiritual status of this race. They have recognized that the universe is wide enough and God’s gifts are varied enough to allow the man of Africa to find out a path of his own within the circle of genuine human interests, and to contribute from the field of his particular enterprise to the resources—material, intellectual, and moral—of the great human family. 148 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 But will the Negro go to do this work? Is he willing to separate himself from a settled civilization which he has helped to build up to betake himself to the wilderness of his ancestral home and begin anew a career on his own responsibility? I believe that he is. And if suitable provision were made for their departure tomorrow hundreds of thousands would avail themselves of it. The African question, or the Negro problem, is upon the country, and it can no more be ignored than any other vital interest. The chief reason, it appears to me, why it is not more seriously dealt with is because the pressure of commercial and political exigencies does not allow time and leisure to the stronger and richer elements of the nation to study it. It is not a question of color simply—that is a superficial accident. It lies deeper than color. It is a question of race, which is the outcome not only of climate, but of generations subjected to environments which have formed the mental and moral constitution. It is a question in which two distinct races are concerned. This is not a question then purely of reason. It is a question also of instinct. Races feel; observers theorize. The work to be done beyond the seas is not to be a reproduction of what we see in this country. It requires, therefore, distinct race perception and entire race devotion. It is not to be the healing up of an old sore, but the unfolding of a new bud, an evolution; the development of a new side of God’s character and a new phase of humanity. God said to Moses, “I am that I am”; or, more exactly, “I shall be that I shall be.” Each race sees from its own standpoint a different side of the Almighty. The Hebrews could not see or serve God in the land of the Egyptians; no more can the Negro under the Anglo-Saxon. He can serve man here. He can furnish the labor of the country, but to the inspiration of the country he must ever be an alien. In that wonderful sermon of St. Paul on Mars Hill in which he declared that God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth and hath determined the bounds of their habitation, he also said, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” Now it cannot be supposed that in the types and races which have already displayed themselves God has exhausted himself. It is by God in us, where we have freedom to act out ourselves, that we do each our several work and live out into action, through our work, whatever we have within us of noble and wise and true. What we do is, if we are able to be true to our nature, the representation of some phase of the Infinite Being. If we live and move and have our being in Him, God also lives, and moves and has His being in us. This is why slavery of any kind is an outrage. It spoils the image of God as it strives to express itself through the individual or the race. As in the Kingdom of Nature, we see in her great organic types of being, in the movement, changes, and order of the elements, those vast thoughts of God, so in the great types of man, in the various races of the world, as distinct in character as in work, in the great divisions of character, we see the will and character and consciousness of God disclosed to us. According to this truth a distinct phase of God’s character is set forth to be wrought out into perfection in every separate character. As E . W. B LY D E N A N D T H E A F R I C A N D I A S P O R A 149 in every form of the inorganic universe we see some noble variation of God’s thought and beauty, so in each separate man, in each separate race, something of the absolute is incarnated. The whole of mankind is a vast representation of the Deity. Therefore we cannot extinguish any race either by conflict or amalgamation without serious responsibility. You can easily see then why one race overshadowed by another should long to express itself—should yearn for the opportunity to let out the divinity that stirs within it. This is why the Hebrews cried to God from the depths of their affliction in Egypt, and this is why thousands and thousands of Negroes in the South are longing to go to the land of their fathers. They are not content to remain where everything has been done on the line of another race. They long for the scenes where everything is to be done under the influence of a new racial spirit, under the impulse of new skies and the inspiration of a fresh development. Only those are fit for this new work who believe in the race—have faith in its future—a prophetic insight into its destiny from a consciousness of its possibilities. The inspiration of the race is in the race. Only one race has furnished the prophets for humanity—the Hebrew race; and before they were qualified to do this they had to go down to the depths of servile degradation. Only to them were revealed those broad and pregnant principles upon which every race can stand and work and grow; but for the special work of each race the prophets arise among the people themselves. What is pathetic about the situation is, that numbers among whites and blacks are disposed to ignore the seriousness and importance of the question. They seem to think it a question for political manipulation and to be dealt with by partisan statesmanship, not recognizing the fact that the whole country is concerned. I freely admit the fact, to which attention has been recently called, that there are many Afro-Americans who have no more to do with Africa than with Iceland, but this does not destroy the truth that there are millions whose life is bound up with that continent. It is to them that the message comes from their brethren across the deep, “Come over and help us.” Source: Lecture delivered at the American Colonization Society, Washington, D.C., January 19, 1890. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Edward Wilmot Blyden, Black Spokesman: Select Published Writings of Edward Wilmot Blyden, ed. Hollis R. Lynch (New York: Humanities Press, 1971). Howard Brotz, ed., Negro Social and Political Thought: 1850–1920 (New York: Basic Books, 1966). James Conyers, “An Afrocentric Study of the Philosophy of Edward Wilmot Blyden” (Ph.D. diss., Temple University, 1998). Hollis R. Lynch, Edward Wilmot Blyden: Pan-Negro Patriot, 1832–1912 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967). Richard Brent Turner, “Edward Wilmot Blyden and Pan-Africanism: The Ideological Roots of Islam and Black Nationalism in the United States,” Muslim World: A Quarterly Review of History, Culture, Religions & the Christian Mission in Islamdom 87 (April 1997), pp. 169–82. 150 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 O6O “The Democratic Idea Is Humanity,” Alexander Crummell, 1888 Alexander Crummell (1819–1898) was born in New York City, and as a young man was trained to become an Episcopal priest. Refused admission to the Diocese of Pennsylvania because of his race, he traveled to England in 1848. He enrolled in Cambridge University, graduating in 1853. For nearly two decades, Crummell lived in Liberia. Appointed as a professor at Liberia College in 1861, he authored several books on African-American and African issues. Returning to the United States in 1872, he founded and pastored St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Crummell taught at Howard University from 1895 to 1897. One of his major achievements was the establishment of the American Negro Academy in 1897, which was the first society of black scholars in the United States. Crummell deeply influenced the thinking of the young W. E. B. Du Bois, who dedicated a chapter to his mentor in The Souls of Black Folk. O THE RACE PROBLEM IN AMERICA The residence of various races of men in the same national community, is a fact which has occurred in every period of time and in every quarter of the globe. So well known is this fact of history that the mention of a few special instances will be sufficient for this occasion. It took place in earliest times on the plains of Babylon. It was seen on the banks of the Nile, in the land of the Pharaohs. The same fact occurred again when the barbarian hosts of the North fell upon effete Roman society, and changed the fate of Europe. Once more we witness the like fact when the Moors swept along the banks of the Mediterranean, and seated themselves in might and majesty on the hills of Granada and along the fertile slopes of Arragon and Castile. And now, in the 19th century, we have the largest illustration of the same fact in our own Republic, where are gathered together, in one national community, sixty millions of people of every race and kindred under the sun. It might be supposed that an historical fact so large and multiform would furnish a solution of the great raceproblem, which now invites attention in American society. We read the future by the past. And without doubt there are certain principles of population which are invariable in their working and universal in their results. Such principles are inductions from definite conditions, and may be called the laws of population. They are, too, both historical and predictive. One cannot only ascertain through them the past condition of States and peoples, but they give a light which opens up with clearness the future of great commonwealths. But, singular as it may seem, there is no fixed law of history by which to determine the probabilities of the race-problem in the United States. We can find nowhere such invariability of result as to set a principle or determine what may be called an historical axiom. A . C R U M M E L L , “ T H E D E M O C R AT I C I D E A I S H U M A N I T Y ” 151 Observe just here the inevitable confusion which is sure to follow the aim after historical precedent in this problem. The descendants of Nimrod and Assur, people of two different stocks, settled in Babylon; and the result was amalgamation.1 The Jews and the Egyptians under the Pharaohs inhabited the same country 400 years; but antagonism was the result, and expulsion the final issue. The Tartars overran China in the tenth century, and the result has been amalgamation. The Goths and Vandals poured into Italy like a flood, and the result has been absorption. The Celts and Scandinavians clustered like bees from the fourth to the sixth centuries in the British Isles, and the result has been absorption. The Northmen and Gauls have lived side by side in Normandy since the tenth century, and the result has been absorption. The Moors and Spaniards came into the closest contact in the sixth century, and it resulted in constant antagonism and in final expulsion. The Caucasian and the Indian have lived in close neighborhood on this continent since 1492, and the result has been the extinction of the Indian. The Papuan and the Malay have lived side by side for ages in the tropical regions of the Pacific, and have maintained every possible divergence of tribal life, of blood, government, and religion, down to the present, and yet have remained perpetually and yet peacefully separate and distinct.2 These facts, circling deep historic ages, show that we can find no definite historical precedent or principle applicable to the race-problem in America. Nevertheless we are not entirely at sea with regard to this problem. There are certain tendencies, seen for over 200 years in our population, which indicate settled, determinate proclivities, and which show, if I mistake not, the destiny of races. What, then, are the probabilities of the future? Do the indications point to amalgamation or to absorption as the outcome of race-life in America? Are we to have the intermingling of our peoples into one common blood or the perpetuity of our diverse stocks, with the abiding integrity of race, blood, and character? I might meet the theory which anticipates amalgamation by the great principle manifested in every sphere, viz: “That nature is constantly departing from the simple to the complex; starting off in new lines from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous”; striking out in divers ways into variety; and hence we are hedged in, in the aim after blood-unity, by a law of nature which is universal, and which excludes the notion of amalgamation. But I turn from the abstract to history. It is now about 268 years since the tides of immigration began to beat upon our shores. This may be called a brief period, but 268 years is long enough to fix a new type of man. Has such a new type sprung up here to life? Has a new commingled race, the result of our diverse elements, come forth from the crucible of our heterogeneous nationality? We will indulge in no speculation upon this subject. We will exclude even the faintest tinge of the imagination. The facts alone shall speak for themselves. 152 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 First of all is the history of the Anglo-Saxon race in America. In many respects it has been the foremost element in the American population; in largeness of numbers, in civil polity and power, in educational impress, and in religious influence. What has become of this element of our population? Has it been lost in the current of the divergent streams of life which have been spreading abroad throughout the land? Why, every one knows that in New England, in Virginia, in the Far West, along the Atlantic Seaboard, that fully three-fifths of the whole American population are the offspring of this same hardy, plodding, common-sense people that they were centuries ago, when their fathers pressed through the forests of Jamestown or planted their feet upon the sterile soil of Plymouth. Some of you may remember the remark of Mr. Lowell, on his return in 1885 from his mission to England. He said that when English people spoke to him of Americans as a people different from themselves, he always told them that in blood he was just as much an Englishman as they were; and Mr. Lowell in this remark was the spokesman of not less than thirty-six millions of men of as direct Anglo-Saxon descent as the men of Kent or the people of Yorkshire. The Celtic element came to America in two separate columns. The French entered Canada in 1607. They came with all that glow, fervor, gallantry, social aptitudes, and religious loyalty which, for centuries, have characterized the Gallic blood, and which are still conspicuous features on both sides of the Atlantic. The other section of the Celtic family began their immigration about 1640; and they have almost depopulated Ireland to populate America; and their numbers now are millions. One or two facts are observable concerning the French and Irish, viz: (1) That, although kindred in blood, temperament, and religion, they have avoided both neighborhood of locality and marital alliance; and (2) so great has been the increase of the Hibernian family that in Church life and political importance they form a vast solidarity in the nation. The German, like the Celtic family, came over in two sections. The Batavian stock came first from Holland in 1608, and made New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania their habitat. The Germans proper, or High Germans, have been streaming into the Republic since 1680, bringing with them that steadiness and sturdiness, that thrift and acquisitiveness, that art and learning, that genius and acumen, which have given an elastic spring to American culture, depth to philosophy, and inspiration to music and to art. And here they are in great colonies in the Middle and Western States, and in vast sections of our great cities. And yet where can one discover any decline in the purity of German blood, or the likelihood of its ultimate loss in the veins of alien people? The Negro contingent was one of the earliest contributions to the American population. The black man came quickly on the heel of the Cavalier at Jamestown, and before the arrival of the Puritan in the east. “That fatal, that perfidious bark” of Sir John Hawkins, that “ferried the slave captive o’er the sea” from A . C R U M M E L L , “ T H E D E M O C R AT I C I D E A I S H U M A N I T Y ” 153 Africa, preceded the Mayflower one year and five months. From that small cargo and its after arrivals have arisen the large black population, variously estimated from 8 to 10,000,000. It is mostly, especially in the wide rural areas of the South, a purely Negro population. In the large cities there is a wide intermixture of blood. This, by some writers, is taken as the indication of ultimate and entire amalgamation. But the past in this incident is no sign of the future. The gross and violent intermingling of the blood of the southern white man cannot be taken as an index of the future of the black race. Amalgamation in its exact sense means the approach of affinities. The word applied to human beings implies will, and the consent of two parties. In this sense there has been no amalgamation of the two races; for the Negro in this land has ever been the truest of men, in marital allegiance, to his own race. Intermixture of blood there has been—not by the amalgamation, which implies consent, but through the victimizing of the helpless black woman. But even this has been limited in extent. Out of 4,500,000 of this race in the census of 1861, 400,000 were set down as of mixed blood. Thousands of these were the legitimate offspring of colored parents; and the probability is that not more than 150,000 had white fathers. Since emancipation the black woman has gained possession of her own person, and it is the testimony of Dr. Haygood and other eminent Southerners that the base process of intermixture has had a wide and sudden decline, and that the likelihood of the so-called amalgamation of the future is fast dying out. And now, after this survey of race tides and race life during 268 years, I repeat the question: “Has a new race, the product of our diverse elements, sprung up here in America? Or, is there any such a probability for the future?” Let me answer this question by a recent and striking reference. Dr. Strong, in his able, startling, striking Tractate, entitled “Our Country,” speaks, in ch. 4, p. 44, of the Helvetian settlement in southern Wisconsin. He deprecates the preservation of its race, its language, its worship, and its customs in their integrity. In this, you see, he forgets the old Roman adage that “though men cross the seas they do not change their nature.” He then protests (and rightly, too) against the perpetuation of race antipathies, and closes his criticism with the suggestion, similar to that of Canon Rawlinson, of Oxford, viz., that the American people should seek the solution of the race-problem by universal assimilation of blood. Dr. Strong evidently forgets that the principle of race is one of the most persistent of all things in the constitution of man. It is one of those structural facts in our nature which abide with a fixed, vital, and reproductive power. Races, like families, are the organisms and the ordinance of God; and race feeling, like the family feeling, is of divine origin. The extinction of race feeling is just as possible as the extinction of family feeling. Indeed, a race is a family. The principle of continuity is as masterful in races as it is in families—as it is in nations. History is filled with the attempts of kings and mighty generals and great statesmen to extinguish this instinct. But their failures are as numerous as their futile attempts; for this sentiment, alike subtle and spontaneous, has both pervaded and 154 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 stimulated society in every quarter. Indeed, as Lord Beaconsfield says, “race is the key to history.” When once the race-type gets fixed as a new variety, then it acts precisely as the family life; for, 1ST, it propagates itself by that divine instinct of reproduction, vital in all living creatures, and next, 2ND, it has a growth as a “seed after its own kind and in itself,” whereby the race-type becomes a perpetuity, with its own distinctive form, constitution, features, and structure. Heredity is just as true a fact in races as in families, as it is in individuals. Nay, we see, not seldom, a special persistency in the race life. We see families and tribes and clans swept out of existence, while race “goes on forever.” Yea, even nations suffer the same fate. Take, for instance, the unification of States now constantly occurring. One small nation after another is swallowed up by another to magnify its strength and importance, and thus the great empires of the world become colossal powers. But it is observable that the process of unification leaves untouched the vitality and the persistency of race. You have only to turn to Great Britain and to Austria to verify this statement. In both nations we see the intensity of race cohesion, and at the same time the process of unification. Indeed, on all sides, in Europe, we see the consolidation of States; and at the same time the integration of race: Nature and Providence thus developing that principle of unity which binds the universe, and yet at the same time manifesting that conserving power which tends everywhere to fixity of type. And this reminds us of the lines of Tennyson: That nature lends such evil dreams? Are God and nature, then, at strife, So careful of the type she seems, So careless of the single life. Hence, when a race once seats itself permanently in a land it is almost as impossible to get rid of it as it is to extirpate a plant that is indigenous to its soil. You can drive out a family from a community. You can rid yourself of a clan or a single tribe by expulsion. You can swallow up by amalgamation a simple emigrant people. But when a RACE, i.e., a compact, homogeneous population of one blood, ancestry, and lineage—numbering, perchance, some eight or ten millions—once enters a land and settles therein as its home and heritage, then occurs an event as fixed and abiding as the rooting of the Pyrenees in Spain or the Alps in Italy. The race-problem, it will thus be seen, cannot be settled by extinction of race. No amalgamating process can eliminate it. It is not a carnal question—a problem of breeds, or blood, or lineage. And even if it were, amalgamation would be an impossibility. How can any one persuade seven or eight millions of people to forget the ties of race? No one could force them into the arms of another race. And even then it would take generations upon generations to make the American people homogeneous in blood and essential qualities. Thus take one single case: There are thirty millions of Negroes on the American continent (eight or more millions in the United States of A . C R U M M E L L , “ T H E D E M O C R AT I C I D E A I S H U M A N I T Y ” 155 America), and constantly increasing at an immense ratio. Nothing but the sheerest, haziest imagination can anticipate the future dissolution of this race and its final loss; and so, too, of the other races of men in America. Indeed, the race-problem is a moral one. It is a question entirely of ideas. Its solution will come especially from the domain of principles. Like all the other great battles of humanity, it is to be fought out with the weapons of truth. The race-problem is a question of organic life, and it must be dealt with as an ethical matter by the laws of the Christian system. “As diseases of the mind are invisible, so must their remedies be.” And this brings me to the one vast question that still lingers, i.e., the question of AMITY. Race-life is a permanent element in our system. Can it be maintained in peace? Can these races give the world the show of brotherhood and fraternity? Is there a moral remedy in this problem? Such a state of concord is, we must admit, a rare sight, even in christendom. There is great friction between Celt and Saxon in Britain. We see the violence of both Russ and German against the Jew. The bitterness is a mutual one between Russia on the one hand and Bulgaria and the neighboring dependent principalities on the other, and France and Germany stand facing one another like great fighting cocks. All this is by no means assuring, and hence we cannot dismiss this question in an off-hand and careless manner. The current, however, does not set all one way. There is another aspect to this question. Thus, the Norman and the Frank have lived together harmoniously for centuries; the Welsh, English, and Scotch in England; the Indian, the Spaniard, and Negro in Brazil, and people of very divergent lineage in Spain. And now the question arises: What are the probabilities of amity in a land where exists such wide divergence of race as the Saxon on the one hand and the Negro on the other? First of all, let me say that the social idea is to be entirely excluded from consideration. It is absolutely a personal matter, regulated by taste, condition, or either by racial or family affinities; and there it must remain undisturbed forever. The Jews in this land are sufficient for themselves. So are the Germans, the Italians, the Irish, and so are the Negroes. Civil and political freedom trench in no way upon the domestic state or social relations. Besides, there is something ignoble in any man, any class, any race of men whining and crying because they cannot move in spheres where they are not wanted. But, beyond the social range there should be no compromise; and this country should be agitated and even convulsed till the battle of liberty is won, and every man in the land is guaranteed fully every civil and political right and prerogative. The question of equality pertains entirely to the two domains of civil and political life and prerogative. Now, I wish to show that the probabilities tend toward the complete and entire civil and political equality of all the peoples of this land. 156 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 1st. Observe that this is the age of civil freedom. It has not as yet gained its fullest triumphs; neither yet has Christianity. But it is to be observed in the history of man that, in due time, certain principles get their set in human society, and there is no such thing as successfully resisting them. Their rise is not a matter of chance or haphazard. It is God’s hand in history. It is the providence of the Almighty, and no earthly power can stay it. Such, pre-eminently, was the entrance of Christianity in the centre of the world’s civilization, and the planting of the idea of human brotherhood amid the ideas in the laws and legislation of great nations. That was the seed from which have sprung all the great revolutions in thought and governmental policies during the Christian era. Its work has been slow, but it has been certain and unfailing. I cannot pause to narrate all its early victories. We will take a limited period. We will begin at the dawn of modern civilization, and note the grand achievements of the idea of Christian brotherhood. It struck at the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings, and mortally wounded it. It demanded the extinction of Feudalism, and it got it. It demanded the abolition of the Slave Trade, and it got it. It demanded the abolition of Russian Serfage, and it got it. It demanded the education of the masses, and it got it. In the early part of the eighteenth century this principle of brotherhood sprouted forth into a grander and more consummate growth, and generated the spirit of democracy. When I speak of the spirit of democracy I have no reference to that spurious, blustering, self-sufficient spirit which derides God and authority on the one hand, and crushes the weak and helpless on the other. The democratic spirit I am speaking of is that which upholds the doctrine of human rights; which demands honor to all men; which recognizes manhood in all conditions; which uses the State as the means and agency for the unlimited progress of humanity. This principle has its root in the Scriptures of God, and it has come forth in political society to stay! In the hands of man it has indeed suffered harm. It has been both distorted and exaggerated, and without doubt it needs to be chastised, regulated, and sanctified. But the democratic principle in its essence is of God, and in its normal state it is the consummate flower of Christianity, and is irresistible because it is the mighty breath of God. It is democracy which has demanded the people’s participation in government and the extension of suffrage, and it got it. It has demanded a higher wage for labor, and it has got it, and will get more. It has demanded the abolition of Negro slavery, and it has got it. Its present demand is the equality of man in the State, irrespective of race, condition, or lineage. The answer to this demand is the solution of the race-problem. In this land the crucial test in the race-problem is the civil and political rights of the black man. The only question now remaining among us for the full triumph of Christian democracy is the equality of the Negro. Nay, I take back my own words. It is NOT the case of the Negro in this land. It is the nation which is on trial. The Negro is only the touch-stone. By this black man she stands or falls. A . C R U M M E L L , “ T H E D E M O C R AT I C I D E A I S H U M A N I T Y ” 157 If the black man cannot be free in this land, if he cannot tread with firmness every pathway to preferment and superiority, neither can the white man. “A bridge is never stronger than its weakest point.” In nature’s chain, whatever link you strike, Tenth or ten-thousandth, breaks the chain alike. So compact a thing is humanity that the despoiling of an individual is an injury to society. This nation has staked her existence on this principle of democracy in her every fundamental political dogma, and in every organic State document. The democratic idea is neither Anglo-Saxonism, nor Germanism, nor Hibernianism, but HUMANITY, and humanity can live when Anglo-Saxonism or any class of the race of man has perished. Humanity anticipated all human varieties by thousands of years, and rides above them all, and outlives them all, and swallows up them all! If this nation is not truly democratic then she must die! Nothing is more destructive to a nation than an organic falsehood! This nation cannot live—this nation does not deserve to live—on the basis of a lie! Her fundamental idea is democracy; and if this nation will not submit herself to the domination of this idea—if she refuses to live in the spirit of this creed— then she is already doomed, and she will certainly be damned. But neither calamity, I ween, is her destiny. The democratic spirit is of itself a prophecy of its own fulfillment. Its disasters are trivialities; its repulses only temporary. In this nation the Negro has been the test for over 200 years. But see how far the Negro has traveled this time. In less than the lifetime of such a man as the great George Bancroft, observe the transformation in the status of the Negro in this land. When he was a child the Negro was a marketable commodity, a beast of the field, a chattel in the shambles, outside of the pale of the law, and ignorant as a pagan. Nay, when I was a boy of 13, I heard the utterance fresh from the lips of the great J. C. Calhoun, to wit, that if he could find a Negro who knew the Greek syntax he would then believe that the Negro was a human being and should be treated as a man. If he were living to-day he would come across scores of Negroes, not only versed in the Greek syntax, but doctors, lawyers, college students, clergymen, some learned professors, and one the author of a new Greek Grammar. But just here the caste spirit interferes in this race-problem and declares: “You Negroes may get learning; you may get property; you may have churches and religion; but this is your limit! This is a white man’s Government! No matter how many millions you may number, we Anglo-Saxons are to rule!” This is the edict constantly hissed in the Negro’s ear, in one vast section of the land. Let me tell you of a similar edict in another land: Some sixty years ago there was a young nobleman, an undergraduate at Oxford University, a youth of much talent, learning, and political ambition; but, at the same time, he was then a foolish youth! His patrician spirit rose in bitter protest against the Reform Bill of that day, which lessened the power of the British aristocracy and 158 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 increased the suffrages of the Commons. He was a clever young fellow, and he wrote a brilliant poem in defense of his order, notable, as you will see, for its rhythm, melody, and withal for its—silliness! Here are two lines from it: Let Laws and Letters, Arts and Learning die; But give us still our old Nobility. Yes, let everything go to smash! Let civilization itself go to the dogs, if only an oligarchy may rule, flourish, and dominate! We have a blatant provincialism in our own country, whose only solution of the race-problem is the eternal subjection of the Negro, and the endless domination of a lawless and self-created aristocracy. Such men forget that the democratic spirit rejects the factious barriers of caste, and stimulates the lowest of the kind to the very noblest ambitions of life. They forget that nations are no longer governed by races, but by ideas. They forget that the triumphant spirit of democracy has bred an individualism which brooks not the restraints of classes and aristocracies. They forget that, regardless of “Pope, Consul, King,” or oligarchy, this same spirit of democracy lifts up to place and power her own agents for the rule of the world; and brings to the front, now a Dane as King of Greece, and now a Frenchman as King of Sweden; now a Jewish D’Israeli as Prime Minister of England, and now a Gallatin and a Schurz as cabinet ministers in America. They forget that a Wamba and a Gurth in one generation, whispering angry discontent in secret places, become, by the inspiration of democracy, the outspoken Hampdens and Sydneys of another. They forget that, as letters ripen and education spreads, the “Sambos” and “Pompeys” of to-day will surely develop into the Touissants and the Christophes, the Wards and the Garnets of the morrow, champions of their race and vindicators of their rights. They forget that democracy, to use the words of De Tocqueville, “has severed every link of the chain” by which aristocracy had fixed every member of the community, “from the peasant to the king.” 3 They forget that the Church of God is in the world; that her mission is, by the Holy Ghost, “to take the weak things of the world to confound the mighty,” “to put down the mighty from their seats, and to exalt them of low degree”; that now, as in all the ages, she will, by the Gospel, break up tyrannies and useless dynasties, and lift up the masses to nobleness of life, and exalt the humblest of men to excellence and superiority. Above all things, they forget that “the King invisible, immortal, eternal” is upon the throne of the universe; that thither caste, and bigotry, and race-hate can never reach; that He is everlastingly committed to the interests of the oppressed; that He is constantly sending forth succors and assistances for the rescue of the wronged and injured; that He brings all the forces of the universe to grind to powder all the enormities of earth, and to rectify all the ills of humanity, and so hasten on the day of universal brotherhood. By the presence and the power of that Divine Being all the alienations and disseverances of men shall be healed; all the race-problems of this land easily be solved; and love and peace prevail among men. A . J . C O O P E R , “ A V O I C E F R O M T H E S O U T H ” 159 Notes: 1. “Duties of Higher toward Lower Races.” Canon Rawlinson, Princeton Review. Nov., 1878. 2. See “Physics and Politics,” by Bagehot, pp. 84, 85. 3. Democracy in America, B. 2, Ch. 2. Source: Excerpt from 1888 speech, “The Race Problem in America,” in Africa and America: Addresses and Discourses (Springfield, Mass.: Wiley, 1891), pp. 39–57. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Alexander Crummell, Africa and America (Springfield, Mass.: Wiley, 1891). ———, The Relations and Duties of Free Colored Men in America to Africa (Hartford, Conn.: Lockwood, 1861). Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982). William Jeremiah Moses, Alexander Crummell: A Study of Civilization and Discontent (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989). ———, ed., Destiny and Race: Selected Writings, 1840–1898 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992). J. R. Oldfield, Alexander Crummell (1819–1898) and the Creation of an African-American Church in Liberia (Lewiston: E. Mellen Press, 1990). ———, ed., Civilization and Black Progress: Selected Writings of Alexander Crummell on the South (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995). Gregory U. Rigsby, Alexander Crummell: A Pioneer in Nineteenth-Century Pan-African Thought (New York: Greenwood Press, 1987). O7O “A Voice from the South,” Anna Julia Cooper, 1892 Anna Julia Cooper (1858–1964) was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, the daughter of a free black woman and a slave father. She was educated at St. Augustine’s Normal and Collegiate Institute in Raleigh. In 1877 she married an Episcopal clergyman, George Christopher Cooper, who died two years later. Cooper enrolled in Oberlin College in 1881, received her B.A. degree in 1884 and master’s degree in 1887. Cooper’s outstanding career as an educator, scholar, and public lecturer was unequaled for her time. For 39 years she taught mathematics and later Latin at the M Street High School in Washington, D.C. Cooper participated in the Pan-African Conference held in London in 1900. She undertook graduate studies at Columbia University from 1913 to 1916, and received her doctorate from the University of Paris in 1925. In the 1930s she served as president of Frelinghuysen University. Her 1892 book, A Voice from the South, is one of the pivotal early texts in the development of black feminist thought. O To-day America counts her millionaires by the thousand; questions of tariff and questions of currency are the most vital ones agitating the public mind. In this period, when material prosperity and well earned ease and luxury are assured 160 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 facts from a national standpoint, woman’s work and woman’s influence are needed as never before; needed to bring a heart power into this money getting, dollarworshipping civilization; needed to bring a moral force into the utilitarian motives and interests of the time; needed to stand for God and Home and Native Land versus gain and greed and grasping selfishness. There can be no doubt that this fourth centenary of America’s discovery which we celebrate at Chicago, strikes the keynote of another important transition in the history of this nation; and the prominence of woman in the management of its celebration is a fitting tribute to the part she is is destined to play among the forces of the future. This is the first congressional recognition of woman in this country, and this Board of Lady Managers constitute the first women legally appointed by any government to act in a national capacity. This of itself marks the dawn of a new day. Now the periods of discovery, of settlement, of developing resources and accumulating wealth have passed in rapid succession. Wealth in the nation as in the individual brings leisure, repose, reflection. The struggle with nature is over, the struggle with ideas begins. We stand then, it seems to me, in this last decade of the nineteenth century, just in the portals of a new and untried movement on a higher plain and in a grander strain than any the past has called forth. It does not require a prophet’s eye to divine its trend and image its possibilities from the forces we see already at work around us; nor is it hard to guess what must be the status of woman’s work under the new regime. In the pioneer days her role was that of a camp-follower, an additional something to fight for and be burdened with, only repaying the anxiety and labor she called forth by her own incomparable gifts of sympathy and appreciative love; unable herself ordinarily to contend with the bear and the Indian, or to take active part in clearing the wilderness and constructing the home. In the second or wealth producing period her work is abreast of man’s, complementing and supplementing, counteracting excessive tendencies, and mollifying over rigorous proclivities. In the era now about to dawn, her sentiments must strike the keynote and give the dominant tone. And this because of the nature of her contribution to the world. Her kingdom is not over physical forces. Not by might, nor by power can she prevail. Her position must ever be inferior where strength of muscle creates leadership. If she follows the instincts of her nature, however, she must always stand for the conservation of those deeper moral forces which make for the happiness of homes and the righteousness of the country. In a reign of moral ideas she is easily queen. There is to my mind no grander and surer prophecy of the new era and of woman’s place in it, than the work already begun in the waning years of the nineteenth century by the W.C.T.U.1 in America, an organization which has even now reached not only national but international importance, and seems destined to permeate and purify the whole civilized world. It is the living embodiment of woman’s activities and woman’s ideas, and its extent and strength rightly prefigure her increasing power as a moral factor. A . J . C O O P E R , “ A V O I C E F R O M T H E S O U T H ” 161 The colored woman of to-day occupies, one may say, a unique position in this country. In a period of itself transitional and unsettled, her status seems one of the least ascertainable and definitive of all the forces which make for our civilization. She is confronted by both a woman question and a race problem, and is as yet an unknown or an unacknowledged factor in both. While the women of the white race can with calm assurance enter upon the work they feel by nature appointed to do, while their men give loyal support and appreciative countenance to their efforts, recognizing in most avenues of usefulness the propriety and the need of woman’s distinctive co-operation, the colored woman too often finds herself hampered and shamed by a less liberal sentiment and a more conservative attitude on the part of those for whose opinion she cares most. That this is not universally true I am glad to admit. There are to be found both intensely conservative white men and exceedingly liberal colored men. But as far as my experience goes the average man of our race is less frequently ready to admit the actual need among the sturdier forces of the world for woman’s help or influence. That great social and economic questions await her interference, that she could throw any light on problems of national import, that her intermeddling could improve the management of school systems, or elevate the tone of public institutions, or humanize and sanctify the far reaching influence of prisons and reformatories and improve the treatment of lunatics and imbeciles,—that she has a word worth hearing on mooted questions in political economy, that she could contribute a suggestion on the relations of labor and capital, or offer a thought on honest money and honorable trade, I fear the majority of “Americans of the colored variety” are not yet prepared to concede. It may be that they do not yet see these questions in their right perspective, being absorbed in the immediate needs of their own political complications. A good deal depends on where we put the emphasis in this world; and our men are not perhaps to blame if they see everything colored by the light of those agitations in the midst of which they live and move and have their being. The part they have had to play in American history during the last twenty-five or thirty years has tended rather to exaggerate the importance of mere political advantage, as well as to set a fictitious valuation on those able to secure such advantage. It is the astute politician, the manager who can gain preferment for himself and his favorites, the demagogue known to stand in with the powers at the White House and consulted on the bestowal of government plums, whom we set in high places and denominate great. It is they who receive the hosannas of the multitude and are regarded as leaders of the people. The thinker and the doer, the man who solves the problem by enriching his country with an invention worth thousands or by a thought inestimable and precious is given neither bread nor a stone. He is too often left to die in obscurity and neglect even if spared in his life the bitterness of fanatical jealousies and detraction. And yet politics, and surely American politics, is hardly a school for great minds. Sharpening rather than deepening, it develops the faculty of taking advantage of present emergencies rather than the insight to distinguish between the true and the false, the lasting and the ephemeral advantage. Highly cultivated 162 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 selfishness rather than consecrated benevolence is its passport to success. Its votaries are never seers. At best they are but manipulators—often only jugglers. It is conducive neither to profound statesmanship nor to the higher type of manhood. Altruism is its mauvais succès and naturally enough it is indifferent to any factor which cannot be worked into its own immediate aims and purposes. As woman’s influence as a political element is as yet nil in most of the commonwealth of our republic, it is not surprising that with those who place the emphasis on mere political capital she may yet seem almost a nonentity so far as it concerns the solution of great national or even racial perplexities. There are those, however, who value the calm elevation of the thoughtful spectator who stands aloof from the heated scramble; and, above the turmoil and din of corruption and selfishness, can listen to the teachings of eternal truth and righteousness. There are even those who feel that the black man’s unjust and unlawful exclusion temporarily from participation in the elective franchise in certain states is after all but a lesson “in the desert” fitted to develop in him insight and discrimination against the day of his own appointed time. One needs occasionally to stand aside from the hum and rush of human interests and passions to hear the voices of God. And it not unfrequently happens that the All-loving gives a great push to certain souls to thrust them out, as it were, from the distracting current for awhile to promote their discipline and growth, or to enrich them by communion and reflection. And similarly it may be woman’s privilege from her peculiar coigne of vantage as a quiet observer, to whisper just the needed suggestion or the almost forgotten truth. The colored woman, then, should not be ignored because her bark is resting in the silent waters of the sheltered cove. She is watching the movements of the contestants none the less and is all the better qualified, perhaps, to weigh and judge and advise because not herself in the excitement of the race. Her voice, too, has always been heard in clear, unfaltering tones, ringing the changes on those deeper interests which make for permanent good. She is always sound and orthodox on questions affecting the well-being of her race. You do not find the colored woman selling her birthright for a mess of pottage. Nay, even after reason has retired from the contest, she has been known to cling blindly with the instinct of a turtle dove to those principles and policies which to her mind promise hope and safety for children yet unborn. It is notorious that ignorant black women in the South have actually left their husbands’ homes and repudiated their support for what was understood by the wife to be race disloyalty, or “voting away,” as she expresses it, the privileges of herself and little ones. It is largely our women in the South to-day who keep the black men solid in the Republican party. The latter as they increase in intelligence and power of discrimination would be more apt to divide on local issues at any rate. They begin to see that the Grand Old Party regards the Negro’s cause as an outgrown issue, and on Southern soil at least finds a too intimate acquaintanceship with him a somewhat unsavory recommendation. Then, too, their political wits have been sharpened to appreciate the fact that it is good policy to cultivate one’s neighbors and not depend too much on a distant friend to fight one’s home battles. But the black woman can never forget—however lukewarm the party may to-day appear—that A . J . C O O P E R , “ A V O I C E F R O M T H E S O U T H ” 163 it was a Republican president who struck the manacles from her own wrists and gave the possibilities of manhood to her helpless little ones; and to her mind a Democratic Negro is a traitor and a time-server. Talk as much as you like of venality and manipulation in the South, there are not many men, I can tell you, who would dare face a wife quivering in every fiber with the consciousness that her husband is a coward who could be paid to desert her deepest and dearest interests. Not unfelt, then, if unproclaimed has been the work and influence of the colored women of America.2 Our list of chieftains in the service, though not long, is not inferior in strength and excellence, I dare believe, to any similar list which this country can produce. Among the pioneers, Frances Watkins Harper could sing with prophetic exaltation in the darkest days, when as yet there was not a rift in the clouds overhanging her people: Yes, Ethiopia shall stretch Her bleeding hands abroad; Her cry of agony shall reach the burning throne of God. Redeemed from dust and freed from chains Her sons shall lift their eyes, From cloud-capt hills and verdant plains Shall shouts of triumph rise. Among preachers of righteousness, an unanswerable silencer of cavilers and objectors, was Sojourner Truth, that unique and rugged genius who seemed carved out without hand or chisel from the solid mountain mass; and in pleasing contrast, Amanda Smith, sweetest of natural singers and pleaders in dulcet tones for the things of God and of His Christ. Sarah Woodson Early and Martha Briggs, planting and watering in the school room, and giving off from their matchless and irresistible personality an impetus and inspiration which can never die so long as there lives and breathes a remote descendant of their disciples and friends. Charlotte Forten Grimké, the gentle spirit whose verses and life link her so beautifully with America’s great Quaker poet and loving reformer. Hallie Quinn Brown, charming reader, earnest, effective lecturer and devoted worker of unflagging zeal and unquestioned power. Fanny Jackson Coppin, the teacher and organizer, pre-eminent among women of whatever country or race in constructive and executive force. These women represent all shades of belief and as many departments of activity; but they have one thing in common—their sympathy with the oppressed race in America and the consecration of their several talents in whatever line to the work of its deliverance and development. Fifty years ago woman’s activity according to orthodox definitions was on a pretty clearly cut “sphere,” including primarily the kitchen and the nursery, and rescued from the barrenness of prison bars by the womanly mania for adorning every discoverable bit of china or canvass with forlorn looking cranes balanced 164 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 idiotically on one foot. The woman of today finds herself in the presence of responsibilities which ramify through the profoundest and most varied interests of her country and race. Not one of the issues of this plodding, toiling, sinning, repenting, falling, aspiring humanity can afford to shut her out, or can deny the reality of her influence. No plan for renovating society, no scheme for purifying politics, no reform in church or in state, no moral, social, or economic question, no movement upward or downward in the human plane is lost on her. A man once said when told his house was afire: “Go tell my wife; I never meddle with household affairs.” But no woman can possibly put herself or her sex outside any of the interests that affect humanity. All departments in the new era are to be hers, in the sense that her interests are in all and through all; and it is incumbent on her to keep intelligently and sympathetically en rapport with all the great movements of her time, that she may know on which side to throw the weight of her influence. She stands now at the gateway of this new era of American civilization. In her hands must be moulded the strength, the wit, the statesmanship, the morality, all the psychic force, the social and economic intercourse of that era. To be alive at such an epoch is a privilege, to be a woman then is sublime. In this last decade of our century, changes of such moment are in progress, such new and alluring vistas are opening out before us, such original and radical suggestions for the adjustment of labor and capital, of government and the governed, of the family, the church and the state, that to be a possible factor though an infinitesimal in such a movement is pregnant with hope and weighty with responsibility. To be a woman in such an age carries with it a privilege and an opportunity never implied before. But to be a woman of the Negro race in America, and to be able to grasp the deep significance of the possibilities of the crisis, is to have a heritage, it seems to me, unique in the ages. In the first place, the race is young and full of the elasticity and hopefulness of youth. All its achievements are before it. It does not look on the masterly triumphs of nineteenth-century civilization with that blasé world-weary look which characterized the old washed out and worn out races which have already, so to speak, seen their best days. . . . Notes: 1. W.C.T.U.: Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, an organization of women that crusaded against saloons and the drinking of alcohol. 2. In the paragraphs following, Cooper discusses the nineteenth century’s most influential “colored women of America”: Frances Watkins Harper (1825–1911), writer, lecturer, and poet, author of the quoted “Yes, Ethiopia . . .”; Sojourner Truth (1797–1883), evangelist, abolitionist, and feminist; Amanda Smith (1837–1915), evangelist and reformer; Sarah Woodson Early (1825–1907), pioneer black feminist-nationalist; Martha Briggs (1838–1889), faculty member and public school administrator; Charlotte Forten Grimké (1837–1914), antislavery poet, educator, and minister’s wife; Hallie Quinn Brown (1845–1949), educator and social reformer, a founder of the National Association of Colored Women; and Fanny Jackson Coppin (1837–1913), educator and missionary. Source: Excerpt from A Voice from the South, By a Black Woman from the South (Xenia, Ohio: Aldine Printing House, 1892). T H E N AT I O N A L A S S O C I AT I O N S E L E C T O F C O L O R E D W O M E N 165 B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Cathryn Bailey, “Anna Julia Cooper: ‘Dedicated in the Name of My Slave Mother to the Education of Colored Working People,’” Hypatia 19, no. 2 (Spring 2004), pp. 56–73. Karen Baker-Fletcher, A Singing Something: Womanist Reflections on Anna Julia Cooper (New York: Crossroad, 1994). Ruth Bogin and Bert Lowenburg, Black Women in Nineteenth-Century American Life: Their Words, Their Thoughts, Their Feelings (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1985). Kevin Gaines, Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics and Culture in the Twentieth Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996). Kathy L. Glass, “Tending to the Roots: Anna Julia Cooper’s Sociopolitical Thought and Activism,” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 6, no. 1 (October 2005), pp. 23–55. LaRese Charmell Hubbard, “An Afrocentric Study of the Intellectual Thought of Anna Julia Cooper” (Ph.D. diss., Temple University, 2005). Charles C. Lemert, and Esme Bhan, eds., The Voice of Anna Julia Cooper: Including a Voice from the South and Other Important Essays, Papers, and Letters (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998). Vivian M. May, Anna Julia Cooper, Visionary Black Feminist: A Critical Introduction (London: Routledge, 2007). ———, “Thinking from the Margins, Acting at the Intersections: Anna Julia Cooper’s a Voice from the South,” Hypatia 19, no. 2 (Spring 2004), pp. 74–91. Christiane Warren-Christian, “Anna Julia Cooper: Feminist and Scholar” (Ph.D. diss., Drew University, 2003). O8O The National Association of Colored Women: Mary Church Terrell and Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin Mary Church Terrell (1863–1954) was born in Memphis, Tennessee, into an affluent black family. Educated at Oberlin College, she received her bachelor’s degree in 1884 and her master’s degree four years later. In 1892 she was the first woman president of the Bethel Literary and Historical Association. In 1895 Terrell was appointed to the Board of Education in Washington, D.C., probably the first black women to be named to a school board in the United States. Terrell was a cofounder and the first president of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) in 1896. She was active in civil rights and women’s rights causes. While her husband, Robert Terrell, was a judge and a political ally of Booker T. Washington, she fearlessly attacked racial segregation. Terrell was for many years the vice president of the NAACP. At the age of ninety she led and participated in desegregation demonstrations and picket lines. Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin (1842–1924) was born and educated in Boston, worked locally as an advocate of civil rights and women’s suffrage, and maintained friendships with Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. She 166 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 gained further prominence through her interest in the Women’s Club Movement, and she served as president of the National Federation of AfroAmerican Women. In 1896, her organization merged into Terrell’s NACW, where she became vice-president. Ruffin died in Boston in 1924. O “THE PROGRESS OF COLORED WOMEN,” MARY CHURCH TERRELL When one considers the obstacles encountered by colored women in their effort to educate and cultivate themselves, since they became free, the work they have accomplished and the progress they have made will bear favorable comparison, at least with that of their more fortunate sisters, from whom the opportunity of acquiring knowledge and the means of self-culture have never been entirely withheld. Not only are colored women with ambition and aspiration handicapped on account of their sex, but they are almost everywhere baffled and mocked because of their race. Not only because they are women, but because they are colored women are discouragement and disappointment meeting them at every turn. But in spite of the obstacles encountered, the progress made by colored women along many lines appears like a veritable miracle of modern times. Forty years ago for the great masses of colored women there was no such thing as home. Today in each and every section of the country there are hundreds of homes among colored people, the mental and moral tone of which is as high and as pure as can be found among the best people of any land. To the women of the race may be attributed in large measure the refinement and purity of the colored home. The immorality of colored women is a theme upon which those who know little about them or those who maliciously misrepresent them love to descant. Foul aspersions upon the character of colored women are assiduously circulated by the press of certain sections and especially by the direct descendants of those who in years past were responsible for the moral degradation of their female slaves. And yet, in spite of the fateful heritage of slavery, even though the safeguards usually thrown around maidenly youth and innocence are in some sections entirely withheld from colored girls, statistics compiled by men not inclined to falsify in favor of my race show that immorality among the colored women of the United States is not so great as among women with similar environment and temptations in Italy, Germany, Sweden and France. Scandals in the best colored society are exceedingly rare, while the progressive game of divorce and remarriage is practically unknown. The intellectual progress of colored women has been marvelous. So great has been their thirst for knowledge and so Herculean their efforts to acquire it that there are few colleges, universities, high and normal schools in the North, East and West from which colored girls have not graduated with honor. In Wellesley, Vassar, Ann Arbor, Cornell and in Oberlin, my dear alma mater, whose name will always be loved and whose praise will always be sung as the first college in the country broad, just and generous enough to extend a cordial welcome to the Negro and to open its doors to women on an equal footing with the men, colored T H E N AT I O N A L A S S O C I AT I O N O F C O L O R E D W O M E N 167 girls by their splendid records have forever settled the question of their capacity and worth. The instructors in these and other institutions cheerfully bear testimony to their intelligence, their diligence and their success. As the brains of colored women expanded, their hearts began to grow. No sooner had the heads of a favored few been filled with knowledge than their hearts yearned to dispense blessings to the less fortunate of their race. With tireless energy and eager zeal, colored women have worked in every conceivable way to elevate their race. Of the colored teachers engaged in instructing our youth it is probably no exaggeration to say that fully 80 percent are women. In the backwoods, remote from the civilization and comforts of the city and town colored women may be found courageously battling with those evils which such conditions always entail. Many a heroine of whom the world will never hear has thus sacrificed her life to her race amid surroundings and in the face of privations which only martyrs can bear. Through the medium of their societies in the church, beneficial organizations out of it and clubs of various kinds, colored women are doing a vast amount of good. It is almost impossible to ascertain exactly what the Negro is doing in any field, for the records are so poorly kept. This is particularly true in the case of the women of the race. During the past forty years there is no doubt that colored women in their poverty have contributed large sums of money to charitable and educational institutions as well as to the foreign and home missionary work. Within the twenty-five years in which the educational work of the African Methodist Episcopal Church has been systematized, the women of that organization have contributed at least five hundred thousand dollars to the cause of education. Dotted all over the country are charitable institutions for the aged, orphaned and poor which have been established by colored women. Just how many it is difficult to state, owing to the lack of statistics bearing on the progress, possessions and prowess of colored women. Among the charitable institutions either founded, conducted or supported by colored women, may be mentioned the Hale Infirmary of Montgomery, Alabama, the Carrie Steel Orphanage of Atlanta, the Reed Orphan Home of Covington, and the Hains Industrial School of Augusta, all three in the state of Georgia; a home for the aged of both races in New Bedford, and St. Monica’s Home of Boston, in Massachusetts, Old Folks Home of Memphis, Tennessee, and the Colored Orphan’s Home of Lexington, Kentucky, together with others which lack of space forbids me to mention. Mt. Meigs Institute is an excellent example of a work originated and carried into successful execution by a colored woman. The school was established for the benefit of colored people on the plantations in the black belt of Alabama. In the township of Mt. Meigs the population is practically all colored. Instruction given in this school is of the kind best suited to the needs of the people for whom it was established. Along with some scholastic training, girls are taught everything pertaining to the management of the home, while boys are taught practical farming, wheelwrighting, blacksmithing, and have some military training. Having started with almost nothing, at the end of eight years the trustees of the school owned nine acres of land 168 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 and five buildings in which several thousand pupils had received instructions, all through the energy, the courage and the sacrifice of one little woman. Up to date, politics have been religiously eschewed by colored women, although questions affecting our legal status as a race is sometimes agitated by the most progressive class. In Louisiana and Tennessee colored women have several times petitioned the legislatures of their respective states to repel the obnoxious Jim-Crow-car laws. Against the convict-lease system, whose atrocities have been so frequently exposed of late, colored women here and there in the South are waging a ceaseless war. So long as hundreds of their brothers and sisters, many of whom have committed no crime or misdemeanor whatever, are thrown into cells whose cubic contents are less than those of a good-size grave, to be overworked, underfed and only partially covered with vermin-infested rags, and so long as children are born to the women in those camps who breathe the polluted atmosphere of these dens of horror and vice from the time they utter their first cry in the world till they are released from their suffering by death, colored women who are working for the emancipation and elevation of their race know where their duty lies. By constant agitation of this painful and hideous subject they hope to touch the conscience of the country, so that this stain upon its escutcheon shall be forever wiped away. Alarmed at the rapidity with which the Negro is losing ground in the world of trade, some of the farsighted women are trying to solve the labor question, so far as it concerns the women at least, by urging the establishment of schools of domestic science wherever means therefor can be secured. Those who are interested in this particular work hope and believe that if colored women and girls are thoroughly trained in domestic service, the boycott which has undoubtedly been placed upon them in many sections of the country will be removed. With so few vocations open to the Negro and with the labor organizations increasingly hostile to him, the future of the boys and girls of the race appears to some of our women very foreboding and dark. The cause of temperance has been eloquently espoused by two women, each of whom has been appointed national superintendent of work among colored people by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. In business, colored women have had signal success. There is in Alabama a large milling and cotton business belonging to and controlled by a colored woman, who has sometimes as many as seventy-five men in her employ. Until a few years ago the principal ice plant of Nova Scotia was owned and managed by a colored woman, who sold it for a large amount. In the professions there are dentists and doctors whose practice is lucrative and large. Ever since a book was published in 1773 entitled “Poems on Various Subjects. Religious and Moral by Phillis Wheatley, Negro Servant of Mr. John Wheatley,” of Boston, colored women have given abundant evidence of literary ability. In sculpture we are represented by a woman upon whose chisel Italy has set her seal of approval; in painting by one of Bouguereau’s pupils and in music by young women holding diplomas from the best conservatories in the land. T H E N AT I O N A L A S S O C I AT I O N O F C O L O R E D W O M E N 169 In short, to use a thought of the illustrious Frederick Douglass, if judged by the depths from which they have come, rather than by the heights to which those blessed with centuries of opportunities have attained, colored women need not hang their heads in shame. They are slowly but surely making their way up to the heights, wherever they can be scaled. In spite of handicaps and discouragements they are not losing heart. In a variety of ways they are rendering valiant service to their race. Lifting as they climb, onward and upward they go struggling and striving and hoping that the buds and blossoms of their desires may burst into glorious fruition ere long. Seeking no favors because of their color nor charity because of their needs they knock at the door of Justice and ask for an equal chance. O LETTER TO THE LADIES OF THE GEORGIA EDUCATIONAL LEAGUE, JOSEPHINE ST. PIERRE RUFFIN Ladies of the Georgia Educational League: The telegram which you sent to Governor Northern to read to his audience, informing the people of the North of your willingness to undertake the moral training of the colored children of Georgia, merits more than a passing notice. It is the first time, we believe, in the history of the South where a body of representative Southern white women have shown such interest in the moral welfare of the children of their former slaves as to be willing to undertake to make them more worthy the duties and responsibilities of citizenship. True, there have been individual cases where courageous women have felt their moral responsibility, and have nobly met it, but one of the saddest things about the sad condition of affairs in the South has been the utter indifference which Southern women, who were guarded with unheard of fidelity during the war, have manifested to the mental and moral welfare of the children of their faithful slaves, who, in the language of Henry Grady, placed a black mass of loyalty between them and dishonor. This was a rare opportunity for you to have shown your gratitude to your slaves and your interest in their future welfare. The children would have grown up in utter ignorance had not the North sent thousands of her noblest daughters to the South on this mission of heroic love and mercy; and it is worthy of remark of those fair daughters of the North, that, often eating with Negroes, and in the earlier days sleeping in their humble cabins, and always surrounded by thousands of them, there is not one recorded instance where one has been the victim of violence or insult. If because of the bitterness of your feelings, of your deep poverty at the close of the war, conditions were such that you could not do this work yourselves, you might have give a Christian’s welcome to the women who came a thousand miles to do the work, that, in all gratitude and obligation belonged to you,—but instead, these women were often persecuted, always they have been ruthlessly ostracised, even until this day; often they were lonely, often longed for a word of sympathy, often craved association with their own race, but for thirty years they have been treated by the Christian 170 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 white women of the South,—simply because they were doing your work,—the work committed to you by your Saviour, when he said, “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it unto me,”—with a contempt that would serve to justify a suspicion that instead of being the most cultured women, the purest, bravest missionaries in America, they were outcasts and lepers. But at last a change has come. And so you have “decided to take up the work of moral and industrial training of the Negroes,” as you “have been doing this work among the whites with splendid results.” This is one of the most hopeful stars that have shot through the darkness of the Southern sky. What untold blessings might not the educated Christian women of the South prove to the Negro groping blindly in the darkness of the swamps and bogs of prejudice for a highway out of servitude, oppression, ignorance, and immorality! The leading women of Georgia should not ask Northern charity to do what they certainly must have the means for making a beginning of themselves. If your heart is really in this work—and we do not question it—the very best way for you to atone for your negligence in the past is to make a start yourselves. Surely if the conditions are as serious as you represent them to be, your husbands, who are men of large means, who are able to run great expositions and big peace celebrations, will be willing to provide you with the means to protect your virtue and that of your daughters by the moral training you propose to give in the kindergartens. There is much you might do without the contribution of a dollar from any pocket, Northern or Southern. On every plantation there are scores, if not hundreds, of little colored children who could be gathered about you on a Sabbath afternoon and given many helpful inspiring lessons in morals and good conduct. It is a good augury of better days, let us hope, when the intelligent, broadminded women of Georgia, spurning the incendiary advice of that human firebrand who would lynch a thousand Negroes a month, are willing to join in this great altruistic movement of the age and endeavor to lift up the degraded and ignorant, rather than to exterminate them. Your proposition implies that they may be uplifted and further, imports a tacit confession that if you had done your duty to them at the close of the war, which both gratitude and prudence should have prompted you to do, you would not now be confronted with a condition which you feel it necessary to check, in obedience to the great first law of nature—selfprotection. If you enter upon this work you will doubtless be criticised by a class of your own people who think you are lowering your own dignity, but the South has suffered too much already from that kind of false pride to let it longer keep her recreant to the spirit of the age. If, when you have entered upon it, you need the cooperation, either by advice or other assistance, of the colored women of the North, we beg to assure you that they will not be lacking,—until then, the earnest hope goes out that you will bravely face and sternly conquer your former prejudices and quickly undertake this missionary work which belongs to you. Sources: (1) Mary Church Terrell, “The Progress of Colored Women,” excerpt from a speech originally published in The Voice of the Negro (July 1904), pp. 292–94; and (2) Josephine St. P. L . D U N B A R , “ I K N O W W H Y T H E C A G E D B I R D S I N G S ” 171 Pierre Ruffin, excerpt from “Letter to the Ladies of the Georgia Educational League,” June 1889, published in Alice Moore Dunbar, ed., Masterpieces of Negro Eloquence (New York: Bookery Publishing, 1914), pp. 173–76. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Sharon Harley, “Mary Church Terrell: Genteel Militant,” in Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century, ed. Leon Litwack and August Meier (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988), pp. 291–307. Beverly Washington Jones, Quest for Equality: The Life and Writings of Mary Eliza Church Terrell, 1863–1954 (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Carlson Publishing, 1990). Gladys B. Shepperd, Mary Church Terrell: Respectable Person (Baltimore: Human Relations Press, 1959). Dorothy Sterling, Black Foremothers: Three Lives (Old Westbury, N.Y.: Feminist Press, 1979). Mary Church Terrell, A Colored Woman in a White World (Washington, D.C.: Ransdell, 1940). Teresa Blue Holden, “‘Earnest Women Can Do Anything’: The Public Career of Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, 1842–1904” (Ph.D. diss., St. Louis University, 2006). O9O “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” Paul Laurence Dunbar Born in Dayton, Ohio, Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906) would become the most popular African-American poet in the early twentieth century. In 1893 his poetry began to receive favorable attention in the press. But it was Dunbar’s Majors and Minors (1895) that catapulted him to prominence as one of America’s most prominent poets. Dunbar was best known for his “dialect poetry,” which was based on the language and idioms of rural black culture. At least half of Dunbar’s prose and poetry was not written in the dialect style, and some of his work, such as his famous poem “We Wear the Mask,” hints at a political and social critique of white racism. Unfairly criticized by some for representing African Americans solely as racial stereotypes, Dunbar’s best work still retains its creativity and originality. This space left intentionally blank. O “Ode to Ethiopia” O Mother Race! to thee I bring This pledge of faith unwavering, This tribute to thy glory. I know the pangs which thou didst feel, When Slavery crushed thee with its heel, With thy dear blood all gory. Sad days were those—ah, sad indeed! But through the land the fruitful seed 172 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , Of better times was growing. The plant of freedom upward sprung, And spread its leaves so fresh and young— Its blossoms now are blowing. On every hand in this fair land, Proud Ethiope’s swarthy children stand Beside their fairer neighbour; The forests flee before their stroke, Their hammers ring, their forges smoke,— they stir in honest labour. They tread the fields where honour calls; Their voices sound through senate halls In majesty and power. To right they cling; the hymns they sing Up to the skies in beauty ring, And bolder grow each hour. Be proud, my Race, in mind and soul; Thy name is writ on Glory’s scroll In characters of fire. High ’mid the clouds of Fame’s bright sky Thy banner’s blazoned folds now fly, And truth shall lift them higher. Thou hast the right to noble pride. Whose spotless robes were purified By blood’s severe baptism. Upon thy brow the cross was laid, And labour’s painful sweat-beads made A consecrating chrism. No other race, or white or black, When bound as thou wert, to the rack, So seldom stooped to grieving; No other race, when free again, Forgot the past and proved them men So noble in forgiving. Go on and up! Our souls and eyes Shall follow thy continuous rise; Our ears shall list thy story From bards who from thy root shall spring, And proudly tune their lyres to sing Of Ethiopia’s glory. 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 This space left intentionally blank. O P. L . D U N B A R , “ I K N O W W H Y T H E C A G E D B I R D S I N G S ” “We Wear the Mask” We wear the mask that grins and lies, It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,— this Debt we pay to human guile; With torn and bleeding hearts we smile, And mouth with myriad subtleties. Why should the world be overwise, In counting all our tears and sighs? Nay, let them only see us, while We wear the mask. We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries To thee from tortured souls arise. We sing, but oh the clay is vile Beneath our feet, and long the mile; But let the world dream otherwise, We wear the mask! O “Sympathy” This space left intentionally blank. I know what the caged bird feels, alas! When the sun is bright on the upland slopes; When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass, And the river flows like a stream of glass; When the first bird sings and the first bud opes, And the faint perfume from its chalice steals: I know what the caged bird feels! I know why the caged bird beats his wing Till its blood is red on the cruel bars; For he must fly back to his perch and cling When he fain would be on the bough a-swing; And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars And they pulse again with a keener sting: I know why he beats his wing! I know why the caged bird sings, ah me, When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore: When he beats his bars and he would be free; It is not a carol of joy or glee, But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core, But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings: I know why the caged bird sings! 173 174 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 Source: “Ode to Ethiopia” (1893), “We Wear the Mask” (1895), and “Sympathy” (1899) from Joanne M. Braxton, ed., Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993). Reprinted by permission of the University Press of Virginia. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Virginia Cunningham, Paul Laurence Dunbar and His Song (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1974). Kevin Gaines, Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture in the 20th Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996). Jay Martin, ed., Singer in the Dawn: A Reinterpretation of Paul Laurence Dunbar (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1975). Jay Martin and Gossie H. Hudson, eds., The Paul Laurence Dunbar Reader (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1975). E. W. Metcalf, Paul Laurence Dunbar: A Bibliography (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1975). Peter Revell, Paul Laurence Dunbar (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1979). Herbert Woodward Martin and Ronald Primeau, eds., In His Own Voice: The Dramatic and Other Uncollected Works of Paul Laurence Dunbar (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2002). This space left intentionally blank. O 10 O Booker T. Washington and the Politics of Accommodation Booker T. Washington (1856–1915) was the most powerful and influential AfricanAmerican politician from the end of Reconstruction until the emergence of the Civil Rights movement. Born in slavery, Washington’s remarkable climb to personal prominence was in many ways a Horatio Alger story. Working his way through Hampton Institute, at the age of twenty-six Washington founded Tuskegee Institute in the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt. With few resources, within twenty years he had built the largest black vocational and agricultural school in the United States. Washington first became famous among whites for his “Atlanta Compromise” address of 1895, where he appeared to renounce civil rights and racial equality in favor of segregated economic development. Washington’s ideology of hard work, self-help, and black capitalism appealed to white business, philanthropic, and political leaders, who lavished resources on Tuskegee. Washington founded the National Negro Business League in 1900. His network of supporters formed the powerful “Tuskegee Machine,” which had a vast influence among African-American institutions in the early 1900s. Although Washington privately lobbied against the political disfranchisement of blacks, he was accused of directly contributing to lynchings and racial segregation by critics such as William Monroe Trotter. Washington’s real influence rested with his strong support from Republican presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt, and philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie. But with the presidential election of Woodrow Wilson in 1912, much of Washington’s patronage diminished. Washington’s last major essay, “My View of B . T. WA S H I N G T O N A N D T H E P O L I T I C S O F A C C O M M O D AT I O N 175 Segregation Laws,” which is excerpted here, represented a modest move away from his accommodationist stance on Jim Crow. O ATLANTA EXPOSITION ADDRESS One-third of the population of the South is of the Negro race. No enterprise seeking the material, civil, or moral welfare of this section can disregard this element of our population and reach the highest success. I but convey to you, Mr. President and Directors, the sentiment of the masses of my race when I say that in no way have the value and manhood of the American Negro been more fittingly and generously recognized than by the managers of this magnificent exposition at every stage of its progress. It is a recognition that will do more to cement the friendship of the two races than any occurrence since the dawn of our freedom. Not only this, but the opportunity here afforded will awaken among us a new era of industrial progress. Ignorant and inexperienced, it is not strange that in the first years of our new life we began at the top instead of at the bottom; that a seat in Congress or the State Legislature was more sought than real estate or industrial skill; that the political convention or stump-speaking had more attraction than starting a dairy farm or truck garden. A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal: “Water, water; we die of thirst!” The answer from the friendly vessel at once came back: “Cast down your bucket where you are.” A second time the signal, “Water, water; send us water!” ran up from the distressed vessel, and was answered: “Cast down your bucket where you are.” And a third and fourth signal for water was answered, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” The captain of the distressed vessel, at last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket, and it came up full of fresh, sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon River. To those of my race who depend upon bettering their condition in a foreign land, or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man who is their next-door neighbor, I would say: “Cast down your bucket where you are”—cast it down in making friends, in every manly way, of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded. Cast it down in agriculture, mechanics, in commerce, in domestic service, and in the professions. And in this connection it is well to bear in mind that whatever other sins the South may be called to bear, when it comes to business, pure and simple, it is in the South that the Negro is given a man’s chance in the commercial world, and in nothing is this Exposition more eloquent than in emphasizing this chance. Our greatest danger is that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labor, and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life; shall prosper in proportion as we learn to draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental gewgaws of life and 176 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 the useful. No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top. Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities. To those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South, were I permitted, I would repeat what I say to my own race, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” Cast it down among the eight million Negroes whose habits you know, whose fidelity and love you have tested in days when to have proved treacherous meant the ruin of your firesides. Cast down your bucket among these people who have without strikes and labor wars tilled your fields, cleared your forests, builded your railroads and cities, brought forth treasures from the bowels of the earth, and helped make possible this magnificent representation of the progress of the South. Casting down your bucket among my people, helping and encouraging them as you are doing on these grounds, and, with education of head, hand, and heart, you will find that they will buy your surplus land, make blossom the waste places in your fields, and run your factories. While doing this, you can be sure in the future, as in the past, that you and your families will be surrounded by the most patient, faithful, law-abiding, and unresentful people that the world has seen. As we have proved our loyalty to you in the past, in nursing your children, watching by the sick bed of your mothers and fathers, and often following them with tear-dimmed eyes to their graves, so in the future, in our humble way, we shall stand by you with a devotion that no foreigner can approach, ready to lay down our lives, if need be, in defense of yours, interlacing our industrial, commercial, civil, and religious life with yours in a way that shall make the interests of both races one. In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress. There is no defense or security for any of us except in the highest intelligence and development of all. If anywhere there are efforts tending to curtail the fullest growth of the Negro, let these efforts be turned into stimulating, encouraging, and making him the most useful and intelligent citizen. Effort or means so invested will pay a thousand per cent interest. These efforts will be twice blessed —“Blessing him that gives and him that takes.” There is no escape through law of man or God from the inevitable: The laws of changeless justice bind Oppressor with oppressed; And close as sin and suffering joined We march to fare abreast. Nearly sixteen millions of hands will aid you in pulling the load upward, or they will pull, against you, the load downward. We shall constitute one-third and more of the ignorance and crime of the South, or one-third its intelligence and progress; we shall contribute one-third to the business and industrial prosperity of the South, or we shall prove a veritable body of death, stagnating, depressing, retarding every effort to advance the body politic. B . T. WA S H I N G T O N A N D T H E P O L I T I C S O F A C C O M M O D AT I O N 177 Gentlemen of the Exposition, as we present to you our humble effort at an exhibition of our progress, you must not expect overmuch. Starting thirty years ago with ownership here and there in a few quilts and pumpkins and chickens (gathered from miscellaneous sources), remember, the path that has led from these to the inventions and production of agricultural implements, buggies, steam engines, newspapers, books, statuary carving, paintings, the management of drugstores and banks, has not been trodden without contact with thorns and thistles. While we take pride in what we exhibit as a result of our independent efforts, we do not for a moment forget that our part in this exhibition would fall far short of your expectations but for the constant help that has come to our educational life, not only from the Southern states, but especially from Northern philanthropists, who have made their gifts a constant stream of blessing and encouragement. The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing. No race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long, in any degree, ostracized. It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of those privileges. The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera house. In conclusion, may I repeat that nothing in thirty years has given us more hope and encouragement, and drawn us so near to you of the white race, as this opportunity offered by the Exposition; and here bending, as it were, over the altar that represents the results of the struggles of your race and mine, both starting practically empty-handed three decades ago, I pledge that, in your effort to work out the great and intricate problem which God has laid at the doors of the South, you shall have at all times the patient, sympathetic help of my race; only let this be constantly in mind, that while, from representations in these buildings of the product of field, of forest, of mine, of factory, letters, and art, much good will come, yet far above and beyond material benefits will be that higher good, that, let us pray God, will come in a blotting out of sectional differences and racial animosities and suspicions, in a determination to administer absolute justice, in a willing obedience among all classes to the mandates of law. This, coupled with our material prosperity, will bring into our beloved South a new heaven and a new earth. O MY VIEW OF SEGREGATION LAWS In all of my experience I have never yet found a case where the masses of the people of any given city were interested in the matter of the segregation of white and colored people; that is, there has been no spontaneous demand for segregation ordinances. In certain cities politicians have taken the leadership in introducing such segregation ordinances into city councils, and after making an appeal to racial prejudices have succeeded in securing a backing for ordinances 178 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 which would segregate the Negro people from their white fellow citizens. After such ordinances have been introduced it is always difficult, in the present state of public opinion in the South, to have any considerable body of white people oppose them, because their attitude is likely to be misrepresented as favoring Negroes against white people. They are, in the main, afraid of the stigma, “Negro-lover.” It is probably useless to discuss the legality of segregation; that is a matter which the courts will finally pass upon. It is reasonably certain, however, that the courts in no section of the country would uphold a case where Negroes sought to segregate white citizens. This is the most convincing argument that segregation is regarded as illegal, when viewed on its merits by the whole body of our white citizens. Personally I have little faith in the doctrine that it is necessary to segregate the whites from the blacks to prevent race mixture. The whites are the dominant race in the South, they control the courts, the industries and the government in all of the cities, counties and states except in those few communities where the Negroes, seeking some form of self-government, have established a number of experimental towns or communities. I have never viewed except with amusement the sentiment that white people who live next to Negro populations suffer physically, mentally and morally because of their proximity to colored people. Southern white people who have been brought up in this proximity are not inferior to other white people. The President of the United States was born and reared in the South in close contact with black people. Five members of the present Cabinet were born in the South; and many of them, I am sure, had black “mammies.” The Speaker of the House of Representatives is a Southern man, the chairman of leading committees in both the United States Senate and the Lower House of Congress are Southern men. Throughout the country to-day, people occupying the highest positions not only in the government but in education, industry and science, are persons born in the South in close contact with the Negro. Attempts at legal segregation are unnecessary for the reason that the matter of residence is one which naturally settles itself. Both colored and whites are likely to select a section of the city where they will be surrounded by congenial neighbors. It is unusual to hear of a colored man attempting to live where he is surrounded by white people or where he is not welcome. Where attempts are being made to segregate the races legally, it should be noted that in the matter of business no attempt is made to keep the white man from placing his grocery store, his dry goods store, or other enterprise right in the heart of a Negro district. This is another searching test which challenges the good faith of segregationists. It is true that the Negro opposes these attempts to restrain him from residing in certain sections of a city or community. He does this not because he wants to mix with the white man socially, but because he feels that such laws are unnecessary. The Negro objects to being segregated because it usually means that he will receive inferior accommodations in return for the taxes he pays. If the Negro is segregated, it will probably mean that the sewerage in his part of the city will be inferior; that the streets and sidewalks will be neglected, that the street lighting B . T. WA S H I N G T O N A N D T H E P O L I T I C S O F A C C O M M O D AT I O N 179 will be poor; that his section of the city will not be kept in order by the police and other authorities, and that the “undesirables” of other races will be placed near him, thereby making it difficult for him to rear his family in decency. It should always be kept in mind that while the Negro may not be directly a large taxpayer, he does pay large taxes indirectly. In the last analysis, all will agree that the man who pays house rent pays large taxes, for the price paid for the rent includes payment of the taxes on the property. Right here in Alabama nobody is thinking or talking about land and home segregation. It is rather remarkable that in the very heart of the Black Belt where the black man is most ignorant the white people should not find him so repulsive as to set him away off to himself. If living side by side is such a menace as some people think, it does seem as if the people who have had the bulk of the race question to handle during the past fifty years would have discovered the danger and adjusted it long ago. A segregated Negro community is a terrible temptation to many white people. Such a community invariably provides certain types of white men with hidingplaces—hiding-places from the law, from decent people of their own race, from their churches and their wives and daughters. In a Negro district in a certain city in the South a house of ill-repute for white men was next door to a Negro denominational school. In another town a similar kind of house is just across the street from the Negro grammar school. In New Orleans the legalized vice section is set in the midst of the Negro section, and near the spot where stood a Negro school and a Negro church, and near the place where the Negro orphanage now operates. Now when a Negro seeks to buy a house in a reputable street he does it not only to get police protection, lights and accommodations, but to remove his children to a locality in which vice is not paraded. In New Orleans, Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis—indeed in nearly every large city in the South—I have been in the homes of Negroes who live in white neighborhoods, and I have yet to find any race friction; the Negro goes about his business, the white man about his. Neither the wives nor the children have the slightest trouble. White people who argue for the segregation of the masses of black people forget the tremendous power of objective teaching. To hedge any set of people off in a corner and sally among them now and then with a lecture or a sermon is merely to add misery to degradation. But put the black man where day by day he sees how the white man keeps his lawns, his windows; how he treats his wife and children, and you will do more real helpful teaching than a whole library of lectures and sermons. Moreover, this will help the white man. If he knows that his life is to be taken as a model, that his hours, dress, manners, are all to be patterns for someone less fortunate, he will deport himself better than he would otherwise. Practically all the real moral uplift the black people have got from the whites—and this has been great indeed—has come from this observation of the white man’s conduct. The South to-day is still full of the type of Negro with gentle manners. Where did he get them? From some master or mistress of the same type. 180 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 Summarizing the matter in the large, segregation is ill-advised because 1. It is unjust. 2. It invites other unjust measures. 3. It will not be productive of good, because practically every thoughtful Negro resents its injustice and doubts its sincerity. Any race adjustment based on injustice finally defeats itself. The Civil War is the best illustration of what results where it is attempted to make wrong right or seem to be right. 4. It is unnecessary. 5. It is inconsistent. The Negro is segregated from his white neighbor, but white business men are not prevented from doing business in Negro neighborhoods. 6. There has been no case of segregation of Negroes in the United States that has not widened the breach between the two races. Wherever a form of segregation exists it will be found that it has been administered in such a way as to embitter the Negro and harm more or less the moral fibre of the white man. That the Negro does not express this constant sense of wrong is no proof that he does not feel it. It seems to me that the reasons given above, if carefully considered, should serve to prevent further passage of such segregation ordinances as have been adopted in Norfolk, Richmond, Louisville, Baltimore, and one or two cities in South Carolina. Finally, as I have said in another place, as white and black learn daily to adjust, in a spirit of justice and fair play, those interests which are individual and racial, and to see and feel the importance of those fundamental interests which are common, so will both races grow and prosper. In the long run no individual and no race can succeed which sets itself at war against the common good; for “in the gain or loss of one race, all the rest have equal claim.” Sources: (1) Excerpt from “Atlanta Exposition Address,” delivered in Atlanta, Georgia, September 18, 1895, reprinted in Washington, Up from Slavery: An Autobiography (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1900); and (2) “My View of Segregation Laws,” New Republic 5, no. 57 (December 4, 1915), pp. 113–14. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Kevin Gaines, Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture in the 20th Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996). Louis R. Harlan, Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 1865–1901 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972). ———, Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901–1915 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983). ———, ed., Booker T. Washington Papers, 14 Vols. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1972–1989). August Meier, Negro Thought in America, 1980–1915 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1963). Booker T. Washington, Up from Slavery: An Autobiography (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1900). W. M . T R O T T E R A N D T H E B O S T O N G U A R D I A N 181 Houston A. Baker, Turning South Again: Re-Thinking Modernism/Re-Reading Booker T. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001). W. Fitzhugh Brundage, ed., Booker T. Washington and Black Progress: Up from Slavery 100 Years Later (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003). Rebecca Carroll, ed., Uncle Tom or New Negro? African Americans Reflect on Booker T. Washington and Up from Slavery One Hundred Years Later (New York: Broadway Books/Harlem Moon, 2006). Michael Rudolph West, The Education of Booker T. Washington: American Democracy and the Idea of Race Relations (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006). O 11 O William Monroe Trotter and the Boston Guardian The most bitter critic of Booker T. Washington was William Monroe Trotter (1872–1934). Born in Springfield Township, Ohio, Trotter received his B.A. degree from Harvard, graduating magna cum laude in 1895, and earned his M.A. from Harvard the following year. Trotter hated all forms of racial segregation and believed that Washington was nothing less than a traitor to his people. Trotter’s publication, the Boston Guardian, became a leading voice for black radicalism. With W. E. B. Du Bois he initiated the Niagara Movement in 1905. Trotter was active in the Negro American Political League from 1908 to 1913. Trotter’s confrontational style created as many enemies as friends, yet his ideas were instrumental in the development of the modern black freedom movement. O Under the caption, “Principal Washington Defines His Position,” the Tuskegee Student, the official organ of Tuskegee, prints the institute letter in which Mr. Washington said: “We cannot elevate and make useful a race of people unless there is held out to them the hope of reward for right living. Every revised constitution throughout the southern states has put a premium upon intelligence, ownership of property, thrift and character.” This little sheet begins by saying that the letter “appeared in all of the important papers of the country on Nov. 28. It has been unstintingly praised from one section of the country to the other for its clarity and forcefulness of statement, and for its ringing note of sincerity.” Although such words are to be expected from the employees of the school they are for the most part only too true. It is true that, although the letter was sent to the Age Herald of Birmingham, Alabama, it appeared simultaneously “in all the important papers of the country.” Then its effect must be admitted to have been greater than if any other Negro had written it, for admittedly no other Negro’s letter could have obtained such wide publicity. If it had in it aught that was injurious to the Negro’s welfare or to his manhood rights, therefore, such worked far 182 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 more damage than if any other Negro or any other man, save the president himself, had written the words. What man is there among us, whether friend or foe of the author of the letter, who was not astounded at the reference to the disfranchising constitutions quoted above. “Every revised constitution throughout the southern states has put a premium upon intelligence, ownership of property, thrift and character,” and all the more so because Mr. Washington had not been accused by even the southerners of opposing these disfranchising constitutions. . . . If the statement is false, if it is misleading, if it is injurious to the Negro, all the more blamable and guilty is the author because the statement was gratuitous on his part. Is it the truth? Do these constitutions encourage Negroes to be thrifty, to be better and more intelligent? For this sort of argument is the most effective in favor of them. . . . Where is the Negro who says the law was or is ever intended to be fairly applied? . . . If so, then every reputable Negro orator and writer, from Hon. A. H. Grimke on, have been mistaken. If so, every Negro clergyman of standing, who has spoken on the subject . . . have been misinformed. We happen to know of an undertaker who has an enormous establishment in Virginia, who now can’t vote. Is that encouraging thrift? Two letter carriers, who have passed the civil service examinations, are now sueing because disfranchised. Is that encouraging intelligence? . . . Even a Republican candidate for governor in Virginia recently said Negro domination was to be feared if 10 Negroes could vote because they could have the balance of power. Mr. Washington’s statement is shamefully false and deliberately so. But even were it true, what man is a worse enemy to a race than a leader who looks with equanimity on the disfranchisement of his race in a country where other races have universal suffrage by constitutions that make one rule for his race and another for the dominant race, by constitutions made by conventions to which his race is not allowed to send its representatives, by constitutions that his race although endowed with the franchise by law are not allowed to vote upon, and are, therefore, doubly illegal, by constitutions in violation to the national constitution, because, forsooth, he thinks such disfranchising laws will benefit the moral character of his people. Let our spiritual advisers condemn this idea of reducing a people to serfdom to make them good. But what was the effect of Mr. Washington’s letter on the northern white people? . . . No thinking Negro can fail to see that, with the influence Mr. Washington yields [wields] in the North and the confidence reposed in him by the white people on account of his school, a fatal blow has been given to the Negro’s political rights and liberty by his statement. The benevolence idea makes it all the more deadly in its effect. It comes very opportunely for the Negro, too, just when Roosevelt declares the Negro shall hold office, . . . when Congress is being asked to enforce the Negro’s constitutional rights, when these laws are being carried to the Supreme Court. And here Mr. Washington, having gained sufficient influence through his doctrines, his school and his elevation by the President, makes all these efforts sure of failure by killing public sentiment against the disfranchising constitutions. R A C E A N D T H E S O U T H E R N W O R K E R 183 And Mr. Washington’s word is the more effective for, discreditable as it may seem, not five Negro papers even mention a statement that belies all their editorials and that would have set aflame the entire Negro press of the country, if a less wealthy and less powerful Negro had made it. Nor will Negro orators nor Negro preachers dare now to pick up the gauntlet thrown down by the great “educator.” Instead of being universally repudiated by the Negro race his statement will be practically universally endorsed by its silence because Washington said it, though it sounds the death-knell of our liberty. The lips of our leading politicians are sealed, because, before he said it, Mr. Washington, through the President, put them under obligation to himself. Nor is there that heroic quality now in our race that would lead men to throw off the shackles of fear, of obligation, of policy and denounce a traitor though he be a friend, or even a brother. It occurs to none that silence is tantamount to being virtually an accomplice in the treasonable act of this Benedict Arnold of the Negro race. O, for a black Patrick Henry to save his people from this stigma of cowardice; to rouse them from their lethargy to a sense of danger; to score the tyrant and to inspire his people with the spirit of those immortal words: “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.” Source: Excerpt from editorial, Boston Guardian, December 20, 1902. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Stephen R. Fox, Guardian of Boston: William Monroe Trotter (New York: Atheneum, 1970). August Meier, Negro Thought in America, 1880–1915 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1963). William Jeremiah Moses, The Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850–1925 (New York: Archon Books, 1978). O 12 O Race and the Southern Worker The demise of Reconstruction and the consolidation of Jim Crow segregation did not destroy efforts to build coalitions between black and white working-class and poor people in the South. The rapid expansion of industries in southern states created the basis for the growth of biracial unions. The documents reprinted here illustrate that a significant number of African-American and white workers recognized their common class interests. O A NEGRO WOMAN SPEAKS I am a colored woman, wife and mother. I have lived all my life in the South, and have often thought what a peculiar fact it is that the more ignorant the Southern 184 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 whites are of us the more vehement they are in their denunciation of us. They boast that they have little intercourse with us, never see us in our homes, churches or places of amusement, but still they know us thoroughly. They also admit that they know us in no capacity except as servants, yet they say that we are at our best in that single capacity. What philosophers they are! The Southerners saw we Negroes are a happy, laughing set of people, with no thought of tomorrow. How mistaken they are! The educated, thinking Negro is just the opposite. There is a feeling of unrest, insecurity, almost panic among the best class of Negroes in the South. In our homes, in our churches, wherever two or three are gathered together, there is a discussion of what is best to do. Must we remain in the South or go elsewhere? Where can we go to feel that security which other people feel? Is it best to go in great numbers or only in several families? These and many other things are discussed over and over. People who have security in their homes, whose children can go on the street unmolested, whose wives and daughters are treated as women, cannot, perhaps, sympathize with the Southern Negro’s anxieties and complaints. I ask forbearance of such people. . . . I know of houses occupied by poor Negroes in which a respectable farmer would not keep his cattle. It is impossible for them to rent elsewhere. All Southern real estate agents have “white property” and “colored property.” In one of the largest Southern cities there is a colored minister, a graduate of Harvard, whose wife is an educated, Christian woman, who lived for weeks in a tumble-down rookery because he could neither rent nor buy in a respectable locality. Many colored women who wash, iron, scrub, cook or sew all the week to help pay the rent for these miserable hovels and help fill the many small mouths, would deny themselves some of the necessaries of life if they could take their little children and teething babies on the cars to the parks of a Sunday afternoon and sit under the trees, enjoy the cool breezes and breathe God’s pure air for only two or three hours; but this is denied them. Some of the parks have signs, “No Negroes allowed on these grounds except as servants.” Pitiful, pitiful customs and laws that make war on women and babes! There is no wonder that we die; the wonder is that we persist in living. Fourteen years ago I had just married. My husband had saved sufficient money to buy a small home. On account of our limited means we went to the suburbs, on unpaved streets, to look for a home, only asking for a high, healthy locality. Some real estate agents were “sorry, but had nothing to suit,” some had “just the thing,” but we discovered on investigation that they had “just the thing” for an unhealthy pigsty. Others had no “colored property.” One agent said that he had what we wanted, but we should have to go to see the lot after dark, or walk by and give the place a casual look; for, he said, “all the white people in the neighborhood would be down on me.” Finally we bought this lot. When the house was being built we went to see it. Consternation reigned. We had ruined this neighborhood of poor people; poor as we, poorer in manners at least. The R A C E A N D T H E S O U T H E R N W O R K E R 185 people who lived next door received the sympathy of their friends. When we walked on the street (there were no sidewalks) we were embarrassed by the stare of many unfriendly eyes. Two years passed before a single woman spoke to me, and only then because I helped one of them when a little sudden trouble came to her. Such was the reception, I a happy young woman, just married, received from people among whom I wanted to make a home. Fourteen years have now passed, four children have been born to us, and one has died in this same home, among these same neighbors. Although the neighbors speak to us, and occasionally one will send a child to borrow the morning’s paper or ask the loan of a pattern, not one woman has ever been inside of my house, not even at the times when a woman would doubly appreciate the slightest attention of a neighbor. The Southerner boasts that he is our friend; he educates our children, he pays us for work and is most noble and generous to us. Did not the Negro by his labor for over three hundred years help to educate the white man’s children? Is thirty equal to three hundred? Does a white man deserve praise for paying a black man for his work? The Southerner also claims that the Negro get justice. Not long ago a Negro man was cursed and struck in the face by an electric-car conductor. The Negro knocked the conductor down and although it was clearly proven in a court of “justice” that the conductor was in the wrong the Negro had to pay a fine of $10. The judge told him “I fine you that much to teach you that you must respect white folks.” The conductor was acquitted. “Most noble judge! A second Daniel!” This is the South’s idea of justice. A noble man, who has established rescue homes for fallen women all over the country, visited a Southern city. The women of the city were invited to meet him in one of the churches. The fallen women were especially invited and both good and bad went. They sat wherever they could find a seat, so long as their faces were white; but I, a respectable married woman, was asked to sit apart. A colored woman, however respectable, is lower than the white prostitute. The Southern white woman will declare that no Negro women are virtuous, yet she places her innocent children in their care. . . . The Southerner says “the Negro must keep in his place.” That means the particular place the white man says is his. . . . A self-respecting colored man who does not cringe but walks erect, supports his family, educates his children, and by example and precept teaches them that God made all men equal, is called a “dangerous Negro”; “he is too smart”; “he wants to be white and act like white people.” Now we are told that the Negro has the worst traits of the whole human family and the Southern white man the best; but we must not profit by his example or we are regarded as “dangerous Negroes.” White agents and other chance visitors who come into our homes ask questions that we must not dare ask their wives. They express surprise that our children have clean faces and that their hair is combed. You cannot insult a colored woman, you know. . . . 186 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 There are aristocrats in crime, in poverty and in misfortune in the South. The white criminal cannot think of eating or sleeping in the same part of the penitentiary with the Negro criminal. The white pauper is just as exclusive; and although the blind cannot see color, nor the insane care about it, they must be kept separate, at great extra expense. Lastly, the dead white man’s bones must not be contaminated with the dead black man’s. . . . Whenever a crime is committed, in the South the policemen look for the Negro in the case. A white man with face and hands blackened can commit any crime in the calendar. The first friendly stream soon washes away his guilt and he is ready to join in the hunt to lynch the “big, black burly brute.” When a white man in the South does commit a crime, that is simply one white man gone wrong. If his crime is especially brutal he is a freak or temporarily insane. If one low, ignorant black wretch commits a crime, that is different. All of us must bear his guilt. A young white boy’s badness is simply the overflowing of young animal spirits; the black boy’s badness is badness, pure and simple. . . . When we were shouting for Dewey, Sampson, Schley and Hobson, and were on tiptoe to touch the hem of their garments, we were delighted to know that some of our Spanish-American heroes were coming where we could get a glimpse of them. Had not black men helped in a small way to give them their honors? In the cities of the South, where these heroes went, the white school children were assembled, flags were waved, flowers strewn, speeches made, and “My Country, ’tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Liberty,” was sung. Our children who need to be taught so much, were not assembled, their hands waved no flags, they threw no flowers, heard no thrilling speech, sang no song of their country. And this is the South’s idea of justice. Is it surprising that feeling grows more bitter, when the white mother teaches her boy to hate my boy, not because he is mean, but because his skin is dark? I have seen very small white children hang their black dolls. It is not the child’s fault, he is simply an apt pupil. Someone will at last arise who will champion our cause and compel the world to see that we deserve justice; as other heroes compelled it to see that we deserved freedom. O THE RACE QUESTION A CLASS QUESTION “There is no clash between the white man of the South and the negro of MY CLASS!” said John Mitchell, Jr., President of the Mechanics’ Savings Bank of Richmond, Va., at the convention of the Bankers’ Association in New York City. Mr. Mitchell declared that no color line was drawn between the “better class” of whites and the “better class” of blacks, and that the negro was learning that as a business man the negro would be respected and not discriminated against. “He was received with enthusiasm and his brief remarks proved to be one of the memorable features of the convention. Among the Southern delegates a feeling of genuine satisfaction was expressed and they united in praising Mr. Mitchell’s speech,” says the New York Evening Post. And when the colored banker had finished and R A C E A N D T H E S O U T H E R N W O R K E R 187 was being cheered and congratulated on all sides, the bankers were roused to new enthusiasm by a response from one of the South’s best-known financiers, Col. Robert J. Lowry of Atlanta, who said: “I am delighted to hear from my Southern brother. There is no fight, no hostility, between his class and my race in Georgia— or anywhere else. I am glad to hear this gentleman from Virginia. The gentleman is right in what he says.” This touching scene in which the Southern white capitalist greeted the black capitalist as a gentleman and a brother in a striking proof of the fact that the race question is at bottom, like all other questions, a class question. It is undoubtedly true that the negro has suffered much discrimination and outrage merely because of race feeling, and on the surface it may seem that the hatred of blacks is wholly caused, by repugnance to those of another race. But the real source of this race feeling is to be found in the fact that the negroes AS A RACE were once, as slaves, almost the sole working class in the North together with the fact that most of them are now working people—wage slaves instead of chattel slaves. The nonproductive ruling class, whether it be a slave-holding class or capitalist class, always looks down upon and despises the other class which toils and sweats for it and feeds it and produces all the wealth upon which it lives in luxury. The capitalist’s contempt of the white workingman is restrained only by the consideration that it is necessary to get his vote, by the fact that it is necessary to maintain the illusion of social and political equality in order to keep the white workingman contented with his lot. The white workingman is used to believing himself “as good as any man” and it is therefore necessary for the capitalists to keep up this flattering illusion in order to persuade him to continue to submit to the present industrial system of legalized robbery. But because the negro working class is not long used to political freedom, and because the master class of the South once owned him bodily as a chattel slave, the contempt of the Southern ruling class for the negro workingman is entirely unrestrained, and the negro’s age-long habit of submission is taken advantage of to throw out his vote or disfranchise him. That the Southerner’s contempt for the negro is not really based on any physical repugnance to him as a person is proven by the fact that the rich whites of the South think nothing of tolerating the presence of the black man as a personal servant waiting upon them, shaving them, attending them in baths and performing all sorts of services which bring the colored man into the closest personal contact with his master. And the thousands of mulattoes in the South are living proofs that many of the white men who express their horror at the thought of “social equality” freely enter into the most intimate of all personal relations with the women of the black race, as did many of the old slaveholders who considered their female slaves as sexual property as well as sources of material profit. As a matter of fact there is no “social equality” between the workingmen and the rich men of any race. The white capitalist moves in the “cultured and respectable society” of his own class and would regard as preposterous and abhorrent the idea of receiving the “coarse and vulgar workingman” on a basis of equality; the workingman 188 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 is admitted to his circles only in a despised menial capacity in some places special street cars for workingmen have been proposed (just as the South has its “Jim Crow” cars for negroes) in order that the fine ladies and gentlemen of the capitalist class may not have to soil themselves by riding in the same cars with “the dirty, ignorant workingmen.” That the Southern capitalist has no more regard for the workingman of his own race than he has for the negro is shown by the fact that wherever white workingmen go on strike, the capitalists never hesitate to replace them with negro scabs, and the black man who will do any equal amount of work for less wages can always get the job of the white. When a question of capitalist profit is involved race lines disappear and class division, regardless of race, stands out clearly for all to see. And that the negro is despised by the Southern upper class really for the reason that he is a workingman, and consequently poor, is proven by the fact that both the negroes and the prosperous whites consider the “poor white trash” of the South still lower than the black race itself. The speech of the colored capitalist at the convention of the Bankers’ Association, and the way to which it was received by the Southern gentry present, prove that the Southern capitalist does not say: “All ‘coons’ look alike to me.” To the Southern capitalist the black banker is evidently a “gentleman” and a brother in the fraternity of capitalist parasites, but the black workingman is despised as a “loafer” and an inferior being, as is the white workingman. And the black banker has a delightfully simple solution of the race problem: Just let all negroes become bankers or business men and then they will be respected and race hatred will disappear. White workingmen are familiar with the same advice: Just let them save enough capital out of their wages, by the practise of industry, thrift, frugality and other capitalist virtues, to compete with multi-million-dollar trusts and then they will be eminently respectable citizens. It is part of the instinctive policy of the capitalist class to perpetuate itself by creating and playing upon race hatred in order to keep workingmen of all races and nationalities from uniting to overthrow the infamous industrial system by which the capitalists profit. And it is also part of capitalist policy to use a weaker race to undermine the efforts of the more intelligent workingmen to better their conditions and emancipate their class. So it happens that Booker T. Washington and other prominent colored men are coddled by the ruling capitalist class and need to teach the colored men to be hardworking, submissive and contented under the tyranny of capitalism. . . . Booker T. Washington, the best type of the negro leader who is entirely satisfactory to the capitalist, has recently been put to a crucial test on the question of working class vs. capitalist class. During the recent great meat strike, in which so many of his race were used as strike breakers, he was asked by the union of the workers in the stockyards to address a meeting, which both union and non-union workingmen were invited to attend, on the question: “Should negroes act as strike breakers?” In this position, so awkward for a man who has dined with the capitalist President who stands for the “open shop,” Booker escaped by pleading the R A C E A N D T H E S O U T H E R N W O R K E R 189 convenient excuse of “a previous engagement” which would prevent his being present. Some negro papers openly advise the colored man to show his “faithfulness” and his industrial power by taking a job wherever he can get it, even if he is thus helping to break a strike, and promise that this will result in capitalist favor and respect; notwithstanding the fact that the strike breaker is always despised even by the capitalist himself and kicked out when he can no longer be used. The Socialist movement, on the other hand, appeals to all workingmen, without regard to race, color, or previous condition of servitude (but with very lively regard to present condition of servitude), to realize that their interests are in common and against the interests of all capitalists and to unite to overthrow capitalist rule. Many of the Southern trade unions are realizing this, in some measure, by admitting the negroes to membership equally with the white, just as the bankers recognize their common class interest by welcoming the negro banker. To the negro Socialism says: As a workingman you are oppressed by your capitalist boss as you were as a slave by your master, you are enslaved and robbed of the product of your labor under wage-slavery as you were under chattel slavery; you must unite with all other workingmen in the Socialist movement to free yourselves. To the white workingman Socialism says: “If you do not realize your common interests with your black fellow-workman he will be used against you by the capitalist, who is the enemy of both of you. You must recognize that his interests as a workingman are the same as yours and must enroll him as a comrade in the fight against capitalism. And to the white Southerner who fears the bugaboo of “social equality” with the negro, and objects to Socialism on that ground, it may be said. No one who objects to “social equality” with the negro, or with anyone else, can be forced to associate with those who are uncongenial to them under Socialism or under any other system. No one need invite to his home or seek the company of those who are displeasing to him. Socialism stands for political and economic equality, and in all public relations men of all races must have the same rights as human beings; but private association is a matter for each individual to decide for himself. And finally it should be remembered that as repugnance to the colored man has its chief source in his subservient position as a worker, together with all the lack of advantages which that position implies, therefore under Socialism, when opportunity for education and culture will be open to all, the negro and all others who are now crushed and degraded by capitalism will develop to a point where they will no longer be “inferior,” and consequently no longer repellent or uncongenial. O NEGRO WORKERS! Don’t Allow Yourselves to be Divided from Your Fellow Workers by the Vicious Lumber Trust. 190 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 To all Negro Workers, and especially to the Negro Forest and Lumber Workers of the South, we send this message and appeal: Fellow Worker: When the forest slaves of Louisiana and Texas revolted against peonage and began, about two years ago, the organization of the Brotherhood of Timber Workers, an industrial union taking in all the workers in the sawmills and camps, the lumber kings at once recognized the power inherent in such a movement and immediately began a campaign of lying and violence against the Union and all persons connected with it or suspected of sympathizing with us. First among the cries they raised against us was, of course, the bunco cries of “white supremacy” and “social equality” coupled with that other cry: “They are organizing negroes against whites!” which the capitalists and landlords of the South and their political buzzard and social carrion crows always raise in order to justify the slugging and assassination of white and colored working men who seek to organize and better the condition of their class. From the day you, the negro workers were “freed,” down to the present hour these cries have been used to cloak the vilest crimes against workers, white and colored, and to hide the wholesale rape of the commonwealth of the South by as soulless and cold blooded a set of industrial scalawags and carpetbaggers as ever drew the breath of life. For a generation, under the influence of these specious cries, they have kept us fighting each other—we to secure the “white supremacy” of a tramp and YOU the “social equality” of a vagrant. Our fathers “feel for it,” but we, their children, have come to the conclusion that porterhouse steaks and champagne will look as well on your tables as on those of the industrial scalawags and carpetbaggers; that the “white supremacy” that means starvation wages and child slavery for us and the “social equality” that means the same for you, though they may mean the “high life” and “Christian civilization” to the lumber kings and landlords, will have to go. As far as we, the workers of the South, are concerned, the only “supremacy” and “equality” they have ever granted us is the supremacy of misery and the equality of rags. This supremacy and this equality we, the Brotherhood of Timber Workers, mean to stand no longer than we have an organization big and strong enough to enforce our demands, chief among which is “A man’s life for all the workers in the mills and forests of the South.” Because the negro workers comprise one-half or more of the labor employed in the Southern lumber industry, this battle cry of ours, “A man’s life for all the workers,” has been considered a menace and therefore a crime in the eyes of the Southern oligarchy, for they, as well as we, are fully alive to the fact that we can never raise our standard of living and better our conditions so long as they can keep us split, whether on race, craft, religions or national lines, and they have tried and are trying all these methods of division in addition to their campaign of terror, wherein deeds have been and are being committed that would make Diaz blush with shame, they are so atrocious in their white-livered cruelty. For this reason, that they sought to organize all the workers, A. L. Emerson, president of the Brotherhood, and 63 other Union men, are now in prison at Lake Charles, La. under indictment, as a result of the Massacre of Grabow where three Union men and one Association gunman were killed, charged with murder in the first degree, indicted for killing their own brothers, I . B . W E L L S - B A R N E T T, C R U S A D E R F O R J U S T I C E 191 and they will be sent to the gallows, or, worse, to the frightful penal farms and levees of Louisiana, unless a united working class comes to their rescue with the funds necessary to defend them and the action that will bring them all free of the grave and levees. Further words are idle. It is a useless waste of paper to tell you, the negro workers, of the merciless injustice of the Southern Lumber Operators’ Association, for YOUR RACE has learned through tears and blood the hyenaism we are fighting. Enough. Emerson and his associates are in prison because they fought for the unity of all the workers. Will you remain silent, turn no hand to help them in this, their hour of great danger? Our fight is your fight, and we appeal to you to do your duty by these men, the bravest of the brave! Help us free them all. Join the Brotherhood and help us blaze freedom’s pathway through the jungles of the South. “Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing but your chains to lose! You have a world to gain!” COMMITTEE OF DEFENSE, BROTHERHOOD OF TIMBER WORKERS, Box 78, Alexandria, La. Solidarity, September 28, 1912 Sources: (1) “A Negro Woman Speaks,” The Independent 54 (September 18, 1902), pp. 2221–24; (2) “The Race Question a Class Question,” The Worker (October 2, 1904); and (3) “Negro Workers!” appeal drafted by the Committee of Defense, Brotherhood of Timber Workers, Alexandria, Louisiana, published in Solidarity (September 28, 1912). S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: John Bracey, August Meier, and Elliot Rudwick, Black Workers and Organized Labor (Belmont, Ca.: Wadsworth Publishing, 1971). Lawrence Goodwyn, The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978). Jacqueline Jones, The Dispossessed: America’s Underclass from the Civil War to the Present (New York: Basic Books, 1992). ———, A Social History of the Laboring Classes: From Colonial Times to the Present, Problems in American History (Malden: Blackwell Publishers, 1999). Sterling D. Spero and Abram L. Harris, The Black Worker: The Negro and the Labor Movement (New York: Columbia University Press, 1931). O 13 O Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Crusader for Justice Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862–1931) was, in our opinion, the greatest AfricanAmerican political journalist in history. Wells was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, during the Civil War. Her parents died when she was a teenager. Wells 192 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 worked as a teacher and journalist. In 1891 she moved to Memphis, where she became co-owner of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight newspaper. Wells’s fiery editorials and investigative reporting outraged the local white establishment. In 1892, after white racists destroyed her printing press, Wells moved to the North and continued her campaign against lynching. Wells was an associate of Susan B. Anthony, an outspoken supporter of women’s rights. She was an active member of the Niagara Movement, and a cofounder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Her popular political essays and journalistic commentaries inspired several generations of black activists. O The lynching record for a quarter of a century merits the thoughtful study of the American people. It presents three salient facts: First: Lynching is color-line murder. Second: Crimes against women is the excuse, not the cause. Third: It is a national crime and requires a national remedy. Proof that lynching follows the color line is to be found in the statistics which have been kept for the past twenty-five years. During the few years preceding this period and while frontier lynch law existed, the executions showed a majority of white victims. Later, however, as law courts and authorized judiciary extended into the far West, lynch law rapidly abated, and its white victims became few and far between. Just as the lynch-law regime came to a close in the West, a new mob movement started in the South. This was wholly political, its purpose being to suppress the colored vote by intimidation and murder. Thousands of assassins banded together under the name of Ku Klux Klans, “Midnight Raiders,” “Knights of the Golden Circle,” et cetera, et cetera, spread a reign of terror, by beating, shooting and killing colored people by the thousands. In a few years, the purpose was accomplished, and the black vote was suppressed. But mob murder continued. From 1882, in which year fifty-two were lynched, down to the present, lynching has been along the color line. Mob murder increased yearly until in 1892 more than two hundred victims were lynched and statistics show that 3,284 men, women and children have been put to death in this quarter of a century. During the last ten years from 1899 to 1908 inclusive the number lynched was 959. Of this number 102 were white, while the colored victims numbered 857. No other nation, civilized or savage, burns its criminals: only under the Stars and Stripes is the human holocaust possible. Twenty-eight human beings burned at the stake, one of them a woman and two of them children, is the awful indictment against American civilization—the gruesome tribute which the nation pays to the color line. Why is mob murder permitted by a Christian nation? What is the cause of this awful slaughter? This question is answered almost daily—always the same shameless falsehood that “Negroes are lynched to protect womanhood.” Standing I . B . W E L L S - B A R N E T T, C R U S A D E R F O R J U S T I C E 193 before a Chautauqua assemblage, John Temple Graves, at once champion of lynching and apologist for lynchers, said: “The mob stands today as the most potential bulwark between the women of the South and such a carnival of crime as would infuriate the world and precipitate the annihilation of the Negro race. This is the never-varying answer of lynchers and their apologists. All know that it is untrue. The cowardly lyncher revels in murder, then seeks to shield himself from public execration by claiming devotion to woman. But truth is mighty and the lynching record discloses the hypocrisy of the lyncher as well as his crime. The Springfield, Illinois, mob rioted for two days, the militia of the entire state was called out, two men were lynched, hundreds of people driven from their homes, all because a white woman said a Negro assaulted her. A mad mob went to the jail, tried to lynch the victim of her charge and, not being able to find him, proceeded to pillage and burn the town and to lynch two innocent men. Later, after the police had found that the woman’s charge was false, she published a retraction, the indictment was dismissed and the intended victim discharged. But the lynched victims were dead. Hundreds were homeless and Illinois was disgraced. As a final and complete refutation of the charge that lynching is occasioned by crimes against women, a partial record of lynchings is cited; 285 persons were lynched for causes as follows: Unknown cause, 92; no cause, 10; race prejudice, 49; miscegenation, 7; informing, 12; making threats, 11; keeping saloon, 3; practicing fraud, 5; practicing voodooism, 2; bad reputation, 8; unpopularity, 3; mistaken identity, 5; using improper language, 3; violation of contract, 1; writing insulting letter, 2; eloping, 2; poisoning horse, 1; poisoning well, 2; by white caps, 9; vigilantes, 14; Indians, 1; moonshining, 1; refusing evidence, 2; political causes, 5; disputing, 1; disobeying quarantine regulations, 2; slapping a child, 1; turning state’s evidence, 3; protecting a Negro, 1; to prevent giving evidence, 1; knowledge of larceny, 1; writing letter to white woman, 1; asking white woman to marry, 1; jilting girl, 1; having smallpox, 1; concealing criminal, 2; threatening political exposure, 1; self-defense, 6; cruelty, 1; insulting language to woman, 5; quarreling with white man, 2; colonizing Negroes, 1; throwing stones, 1; quarreling, 1; gambling, 1. Is there a remedy, or will the nation confess that it cannot protect its protectors at home as well as abroad? Various remedies have been suggested to abolish the lynching infamy, but year after year, the butchery of men, women and children continues in spite of plea and protest. Education is suggested as a preventive, but it is as grave a crime to murder an ignorant man as it is a scholar. True, few educated men have been lynched, but the hue and cry once started stops at no bounds, as was clearly shown by the lynchings in Atlanta, and in Springfield, Illinois. Agitation, though helpful, will not alone stop the crime. Year after year statistics are published, meetings are held, resolutions are adopted and yet lynchings go on. Public sentiment does measurably decrease the sway of mob law, but the irresponsible bloodthirsty criminals who swept through the streets of Springfield, beating an inoffensive law-abiding citizen to death in one part of the town, and in another torturing and shooting to death a man who for threescore years had made 194 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 a reputation for honesty, integrity and sobriety, had raised a family and had accumulated property, were not deterred from their heinous crimes by either education or agitation. The only certain remedy is an appeal to law. Lawbreakers must be made to know that human life is sacred and that every citizen of this country is first a citizen of the United States and secondly a citizen of the state in which he belongs. This nation must assert itself and defend its federal citizenship at home as well as abroad. The strong arm of the government must reach across state lines whenever unbridled lawlessness defies state laws and must give to the individual citizen under the Stars and Stripes the same measure of protection which it gives to him when he travels in foreign lands. Federal protection of American citizenship is the remedy for lynching. Foreigners are rarely lynched in America. If, by mistake, one is lynched, the national government quickly pays the damages. The recent agitation in California against the Japanese compelled this nation to recognize that federal power must yet assert itself to protect the nation from the treason of sovereign states. Thousands of American citizens have been put to death and no President has yet raised his hand in effective protest, but a simple insult to a native of Japan was quite sufficient to stir the government at Washington to prevent the threatened wrong. If the government has power to protect a foreigner from insult, certainly it has power to save a citizen’s life. The practical remedy has been more than once suggested in Congress. Senator Gallinger, of New Hampshire, in a resolution introduced in Congress called for an investigation “with the view of ascertaining whether there is a remedy for lynching which Congress may apply.” The Senate Committee has under consideration a bill drawn by A. E. Pillsbury, formerly Attorney General of Massachusetts, providing for federal prosecution of lynchers in cases where the state fails to protect citizens or foreigners. Both of these resolutions indicate that the attention of the nation has been called to this phase of the lynching question. As a final word, it would be a beginning in the right direction if this conference can see its way clear to establish a bureau for the investigation and publication of the details of every lynching, so that the public could know that an influential body of citizens has made it a duty to give the widest publicity to the facts in each case; that it will make an effort to secure expressions of opinion all over the country against lynching for the sake of the country’s fair name; and lastly, but by no means least, to try to influence the daily papers of the country to refuse to become accessory to mobs either before or after the fact. Several of the greatest riots and most brutal burnt offerings of the mobs have been suggested and incited by the daily papers of the offending community. If the newspaper which suggests lynching in its accounts of an alleged crime, could be held legally as well as morally responsible for reporting that “threats of lynching were heard”; or, “it is feared that if the guilty one is caught, he will be lynched”; or, “there were cries of ‘lynch him,’ and the only reason the threat was not carried out was because no leader appeared,” a long step toward a remedy will have been taken. W. E . B . D U B O I S 195 In a multitude of counsel there is wisdom. Upon the grave question presented by the slaughter of innocent men, women and children there should be an honest, courageous conference of patriotic, law-abiding citizens anxious to punish crime promptly, impartially and by due process of law, also to make life, liberty and property secure against mob rule. Time was when lynching appeared to be sectional, but now it is national—a blight upon our nation, mocking our laws and disgracing our Christianity. “With malice toward none but with charity for all” let us undertake the work of making the “law of the land” effective and supreme upon every foot of American soil—a shield to the innocent; and to the guilty, punishment swift and sure. Source: Excerpt from a speech delivered at the National Negro Conference, 1909 (Proceedings: National Negro Conference, 1909, pp. 174–79). S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Carolyn Karcher, “Ida B. Wells and Her Allies against Lynching,” Comparative American Studies 3, no. 2 (June 2005), pp. 131–151. Patricia Ann Schechter, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and American Reform, 1880–1930 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001). Dorothy Sterling, Black Foremothers: Three Lives (Old Westbury, N.Y.: Feminist Press, 1979). Mildred I. Thompson, Ida B. Wells-Barnett: An Exploratory Study of an American Black Woman (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Carlson Publishing, 1990). Emilie M. Townes, Womanist Justice, Womanist Hope (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1993). James West Davidson, ‘They Say’: Ida B. Wells and the Reconstruction of Race (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). O 14 O William Edward Burghardt Du Bois The most influential black intellectual of the twentieth century was unquestionably W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963). Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Du Bois received bachelor’s degrees from Fisk University in 1888 and from Harvard College two years later. He completed graduate studies at the University of Berlin and received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University in 1895. Du Bois taught for two years at Wilberforce University, and after holding a research position at the University of Pennsylvania, accepted a professorship at Atlanta University in 1897. Du Bois’s sociological research, notably his study of the black urban community of Philadelphia, and his annual research conferences and edited volumes produced at Atlanta University, established the field of African-American sociology. Du Bois helped to initiate the Pan-Africanist movement in 1900. He was founder of the Niagara Movement in 1905 and was the most prominent black leader in the establishment of 196 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 the NAACP in 1910. Reluctantly, Du Bois left his academic research at Atlanta University to assume the editorship of the NAACP’s journal, Crisis, from 1910 until 1934. Du Bois is perhaps best known for his collection of essays, The Souls of Black Folk, which was written between 1897 and 1903. The documents cited here illustrate the evolution of Du Bois’s ideas about race and the obligations of the AfricanAmerican middle class and intelligentsia, that he would soon term the “Talented Tenth,” to uplift the masses of black people. O EXCERPTS FROM “THE CONSERVATION OF RACES” The American Negro has always felt an intense personal interest in discussions as to the origins and destinies of races: primarily because back of most discussions of race with which he is familiar, have lurked certain assumptions as to his natural abilities, as to his political, intellectual and moral status, which he felt were wrong. He has, consequently, been led to deprecate and minimize race distinctions, to believe intensely that out of one blood God created all nations, and to speak of human brotherhood as though it were the possibility of an already dawning to-morrow. Nevertheless, in our calmer moments we must acknowledge that human beings are divided into races; that in this country the two most extreme types of the world’s races have met, and the resulting problem as to the future relations of these types is not only of intense and living interest to us, but forms an epoch in the history of mankind. It is necessary, therefore, in planning our movements, in guiding our future development, that at times we rise above the pressing, but smaller questions of separate schools and cars, wage-discrimination and lynch law, to survey the whole question of race in human philosophy and to lay, on a basis of broad knowledge and careful insight, those large lines of policy and higher ideals which may form our guiding lines and boundaries in the practical difficulties of every day. For it is certain that all human striving must recognize the hard limits of natural law, and that any striving, no matter how intense and earnest, which is against the constitution of the world, is vain. The question, then, which we must seriously consider is this: What is the real meaning of Race; what has, in the past, been the law of race development, and what lessons has the past history of race development to teach the rising Negro people? When we thus come to inquire into the essential difference of races we find it hard to come at once to any definite conclusion. Many criteria of race differences have in the past been proposed, as color, hair, cranial measurements and language. And manifestly, in each of these respects, human beings differ widely. They vary in color, for instance, from the marble-like pallor of the Scandinavian to the rich, dark brown of the Zulu, passing by the creamy Slav, the yellow Chinese, the light brown Sicilian and the brown Egyptian. Men vary, too, in the texture of hair from the obstinately straight hair of the Chinese to the obstinately tufted and frizzled hair of the Bushman. In measurement of heads, again, men W. E . B . D U B O I S 197 vary; from the broad-headed Tartar to the medium-headed European and the narrow-headed Hottentot; or, again in language, from the highly-inflected Roman tongue to the monosyllabic Chinese. All these physical characteristics are patent enough, and if they agreed with each other it would be very easy to classify mankind. Unfortunately for scientists, however, these criteria of race are most exasperatingly intermingled. Color does not agree with texture of hair, for many of the dark races have straight hair; nor does color agree with the breadth of the head, for the yellow Tartar has a broader head than the German; nor, again, has the science of language as yet succeeded in clearing up the relative authority of these various and contradictory criteria. The final word of science, so far, is that we have at least two, perhaps three, great families of human beings—the whites and Negroes, possibly the yellow race. That other races have arisen from the intermingling of the blood of these two. This broad division of the world’s races which men like Huxley and Raetzel have introduced as more nearly true than the old five-race scheme of Blumenbach, is nothing more than an acknowledgment that, so far as purely physical characteristics are concerned, the differences between men do not explain all the differences of their history. It declares, as Darwin himself said, that great as is the physical unlikeness of the various races of men their likenesses are greater, and upon this rests the whole scientific doctrine of Human Brotherhood. Although the wonderful developments of human history teach that the grosser physical differences of color, hair and bone go but a short way toward explaining the different roles which groups of men have played in Human Progress, yet there are differences—subtle, delicate and elusive, though they may be—which have silently but definitely separated men into groups. While these subtle forces have generally followed the natural cleavage of common blood, descent and physical peculiarities, they have at other times swept across and ignored these. At all times, however, they have divided human beings into races, which, while they perhaps transcend scientific definition, nevertheless, are clearly defined to the eye of the Historian and Sociologist. If this be true, then the history of the world is the history, not of individuals, but of groups, not of nations, but of races, and he who ignores or seeks to override the race idea in human history ignores and overrides the central thought of all history. What, then, is a race? It is a vast family of human beings, generally of common blood and language, always of common history, traditions and impulses, who are both voluntarily and involuntarily striving together for the accomplishment of certain more or less vividly conceived ideals of life. Turning to real history, there can be no doubt, first, as to the widespread, nay, universal, prevalence of the race idea, the race spirit, the race ideal, and as to its efficiency as the vastest and most ingenious invention for human progress. We, who have been reared and trained under the individualistic philosophy of the Declaration of Independence and the laisser-faire philosophy of Adam Smith, are loath to see and loath to acknowledge this patent fact of human history. We see the Pharaohs, Caesars, Toussaints and Napoleons of history and forget the vast races of which they were but epitomized expressions. We are apt to think in our 198 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 American impatience, that while it may have been true in the past that closed race groups made history, that here in conglomerate America nous avons changer tout cela—we have changed all that, and have no need of this ancient instrument of progress. This assumption of which the Negro people are especially fond, can not be established by a careful consideration of history. We find upon the world’s stage today eight distinctly differentiated races, in the sense in which History tells us the word must be used. They are, the Slavs of eastern Europe, the Teutons of middle Europe, the English of Great Britain and America, the Romance nations of Southern and Western Europe, the Negroes of Africa and America, the Semitic people of Western Asia and Northern Africa, the Hindoos of Central Asia and the Mongolians of Eastern Asia. There are, of course, other minor race groups, as the American Indians, the Esquimaux and the South Sea Islanders; these larger races, too, are far from homogeneous; the Slav includes the Czech, the Magyar, the Pole and the Russian; the Teuton includes the German, the Scandinavian and the Dutch; the English include the Scotch, the Irish and the conglomerate American. Under Romance nations the widely differing Frenchman, Italian, Sicilian and Spaniard are comprehended. The term Negro is, perhaps, the most indefinite of all, combining the Mulattoes and Zamboes of America and the Egyptians, Bantus and Bushmen of Africa. Among the Hindoos are traces of widely differing nations, while the great Chinese, Tartar, Corean and Japanese families fall under the one designation—Mongolian. The question now is: What is the real distinction between these nations? Is it the physical differences of blood, color and cranial measurements? Certainly we must all acknowledge that physical differences play a great part, and that, with wide exceptions and qualifications, these eight great races of to-day follow the cleavage of physical race distinctions; the English and Teuton represent the white variety of mankind; the Mongolian, the yellow; the Negroes, the black. Between these are many crosses and mixtures, where Mongolian and Teuton have blended into the Slav, and other mixtures have produced the Romance nations and the Semites. But while race differences have followed mainly physical race lines, yet no mere physical distinctions would really define or explain the deeper differences—the cohesiveness and continuity of these groups. The deeper differences are spiritual, psychical, differences—undoubtedly based on the physical, but infinitely transcending them. The forces that bind together the Teuton nations are, then, first, their race identity and common blood; secondly, and more important, a common history, common laws and religion, similar habits of thought and a conscious striving together for certain ideals of life. The whole process which has brought about these race differentiations has been a growth, and the great characteristic of this growth has been the differentiation of spiritual and mental differences between great races of mankind and the integration of physical differences. The age of nomadic tribes of closely related individuals represents the maximum of physical differences. They were practically vast families, and there were as many groups as families. As the families came together to form cities the physical differences lessened, purity of blood was replaced by the requirement of W. E . B . D U B O I S 199 domicile, and all who lived within the city bounds became gradually to be regarded as members of the group; i.e., there was a slight and slow breaking down of physical barriers. This, however, was accompanied by an increase of the spiritual and social differences between cities. This city became husbandmen, this, merchants, another warriors, and so on. The ideals of life for which the different cities struggled were different. When at last cities began to coalesce into nations there was another breaking down of barriers which separated groups of men. The larger and broader differences of color, hair and physical proportions were not by any means ignored, but myriads of minor differences disappeared, and the sociological and historical races of men began to approximate the present division of races as indicated by physical researches. At the same time the spiritual and physical differences of race groups which constituted the nations became deep and decisive. The English nation stood for constitutional liberty and commercial freedom; the German nation for science and philosophy; the Romance nations stood for literature and art, and the other race groups are striving, each in its own way, to develop for civilization its particular message, its particular ideal, which shall help to guide the world nearer and nearer that perfection of human life for which we all long, that “one far off Divine event.” This has been the function of race differences up to the present time. What shall be its function in the future? Manifestly some of the great races of today— particularly the Negro race—have not as yet given to civilization the full spiritual message which they are capable of giving. I will not say that the Negro race has as yet given no message to the world, for it is still a mooted question among scientists as to just how far Egyptian civilization was Negro in its origin; if it was not wholly Negro, it was certainly very closely allied. Be that as it may, however the fact still remains that the full, complete Negro message of the whole Negro race has not as yet been given to the world: that the messages and ideal of the yellow race have not been completed, and that the striving of the mighty Slavs has but begun. The question is, then: How shall this message be delivered; how shall these various ideals be realized? The answer is plain: By the development of these race groups, not as individuals, but as races. For the development of Japanese genius, Japanese literature and art, Japanese spirit, only Japanese, bound and welded together, Japanese inspired by one vast ideal, can work out in its fullness the wonderful message which Japan has for the nations of the earth. For the development of Negro genius, of Negro literature and art, of Negro spirit, only Negroes bound and welded together, Negroes inspired by one vast ideal, can work out in its fullness the great message we have for humanity. We cannot reverse history; we are subject to the same natural laws as other races, and if the Negro is ever to be a factor in the world’s history—if among the gaily-colored banners that deck the broad ramparts of civilization is to hang one uncompromising black, then it must be placed there by black hands, fashioned by black heads and hallowed by the travail of 200,000,000 black hearts beating in one glad song of jubilee. For this reason, the advance guard of the Negro people—the 8,000,000 people of Negro blood in the United States of America—must soon come to realize that 200 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 if they are to take their just place in the van of Pan-Negroism, then their destiny is not absorption by the white Americans. That if in America it is to be proven for the first time in the modern world that not only Negroes are capable of evolving individual men like Toussaint, the Saviour, but are a nation stored with wonderful possibilities of culture, then their destiny is not a servile imitation of Anglo-Saxon culture, but a stalwart originality which shall unswervingly follow Negro ideals. It may, however, be objected here that the situation of our race in America renders this attitude impossible; that our sole hope of salvation lies in our being able to lose our race identity in the commingled blood of the nation; and that any other course would merely increase the friction of races which we call race prejudice, and against which we have so long and so earnestly fought. Here, then, is the dilemma, and it is a puzzling one, I admit. No Negro who has given earnest thought to the situation of his people in America has failed, at some time in life, to find himself at these cross-roads; has failed to ask himself at some time: What, after all, am I? Am I an American or am I a Negro? Can I be both? Or is it my duty to cease to be a Negro as soon as possible and be an American? If I strive as a Negro, am I not perpetuating the very cleft that threatens and separates Black and White America? Is not my only possible practical aim the subduction of all that is Negro in me to the American? Does my black blood place upon me any more obligation to assert my nationality than German, or Irish or Italian blood would? It is such incessant self-questioning and the hesitation that arises from it, that is making the present period a time of vacillation and contradiction for the American Negro; combined race action is stifled, race responsibility is shirked, race enterprises languish, and the best blood, the best talent, the best energy of the Negro people cannot be marshalled to do the bidding of the race. They stand back to make room for every rascal and demagogue who chooses to cloak his selfish deviltry under the veil of race pride. Is this right? Is it rational? Is it good policy? Have we in America a distinct mission as a race—a distinct sphere of action and an opportunity for race development, or is self-obliteration the highest end to which Negro blood dare aspire? If we carefully consider what race prejudice really is, we find it, historically, to be nothing but the friction between different groups of people; as is the difference in aim, in feeling, in ideals of two different races; if, now, this difference exists touching territory, laws, language, or even religion, it is manifest that these people cannot live in the same territory without fatal collision; but if, on the other hand, there is substantial agreement in laws, language and religion; if there is a satisfactory adjustment of economic life, then there is no reason why, in the same country and on the same street, two or three great national ideals might not thrive and develop, that man of different races might not strive together for their race ideals as well, perhaps even better, than in isolation. Here, it seems to me, is the reading of the riddle that puzzles so many of us. We are Americans, not only by birth and by citizenship, but by our political ideals, our language, our religion. Farther than that, our Americanism does not go. At that point, we are Negroes, members of a vast historic race that from the very dawn of creation has slept, but W. E . B . D U B O I S 201 half awakening in the dark forests of its African fatherland. We are the first fruits of this new nation, the harbinger of that black to-morrow which is yet destined to soften the whiteness of the Teutonic to-day. We are that people whose subtle sense of song has given America its only American music, its only American fairy tales, its only touch of pathos and humor amid its mad money-getting plutocracy. As such, it is our duty to conserve our physical powers, our intellectual endowments, our spiritual ideals; as a race we must strive by race organization, by race solidarity, by race unity to the realization of that broader humanity which freely recognizes differences in men, but sternly deprecates inequality in their opportunities of development. For the accomplishment of these ends we need race organizations: Negro colleges, Negro newspapers, Negro business organizations, a Negro school of literature and art, and an intellectual clearing house, for all these products of the Negro mind, which we may call a Negro Academy. Not only is all this necessary for positive advance, it is absolutely imperative for negative defense. Let us not deceive ourselves at our situation in this country. Weighted with a heritage of moral iniquity from our past history, hard pressed in the economic world by foreign immigrants and native prejudice, hated here, despised there and pitied everywhere; our one haven of refuge is ourselves, and but one means of advance, our own belief in our great destiny, our own implicit trust in our ability and worth. There is no power under God’s high heaven that can stop the advance of eight thousand thousand honest, earnest, inspired and united people. But—and here is the rub—they must be honest, fearlessly criticising their own faults, zealously correcting them; they must be earnest. No people that laughs at itself, and ridicules itself, and wishes to God it was anything but itself ever wrote its name in history; it must be inspired with the Divine faith of our black mothers, that out of the blood and dust of battle will march a victorious host, a mighty nation, a peculiar people, to speak to the nations of earth a Divine truth that shall make them free. And such a people must be united; not merely united for the organized theft of political spoils, not united to disgrace religion with whoremongers and wardheelers; not united merely to protest and pass resolutions, but united to stop the ravages of consumption among the Negro people, united to keep black boys from loafing, gambling and crime; united to guard the purity of black women and to reduce that vast army of black prostitutes that is today marching to hell; and united in serious organizations, to determine by careful conference and thoughtful interchange of opinion the broad lines of policy and action for the American Negro. This is the reason for being which the American Negro Academy has. It aims at once to be the epitome and expression of the intellect of the black-blooded people of America, the exponent of the race ideals of one of the world’s great races. As such, the Academy must, if successful, be (a). Representative in character. (b). Impartial in conduct. (c). Firm in leadership. 202 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 It must be representative in character; not in that it represents all interests or all factions, but in that it seeks to comprise something of the best thought, the most unselfish striving and the highest ideals. There are scattered in forgotten nooks and corners throughout the land, Negroes of some considerable training, of high minds, and high motives, who are unknown to their fellows, who exert far too little influence. These the Negro Academy should strive to bring into touch with each other and to give them a common mouthpiece. The Academy should be impartial in conduct; while it aims to exalt the people it should aim to do so by truth—not by lies, by honesty—not by flattery. It should continually impress the fact upon the Negro people that they must not expect to have things done for them—they MUST DO FOR THEMSELVES; that they have on their hands a vast work of self-reformation to do, and that a little less complaint and whining, and a little more dogged work and manly striving would do us more credit and benefit than a thousand Force or Civil Rights bills. Finally, the American Negro Academy must point out a practical path of advance to the Negro people; there lie before every Negro today hundreds of questions of policy and right which must be settled and which each one settles now, not in accordance with any rule, but by impulse or individual preference; for instance: What should be the attitude of Negroes toward the educational qualification for voters? What should be our attitude toward separate schools? How should we meet discriminations on railways and in hotels? Such questions need not so much specific answers for each part as a general expression of policy, and nobody should be better fitted to announce such a policy than a representative honest Negro Academy. All this, however, must come in time after careful organization and long conference. The immediate work before us should be practical and have direct bearing upon the situation of the Negro. The historical work of collecting the laws of the United States and of the various States of the Union with regard to the Negro is a work of such magnitude and importance that no body but one like this could think of undertaking it. If we could accomplish that one task we would justify our existence. In the field of Sociology an appalling work lies before us. First, we must unflinchingly and bravely face the truth, not with apologies, but with solemn earnestness. The Negro Academy ought to sound a note of warning that would echo in every black cabin in the land: Unless we conquer our present vices they will conquer us; we are diseased, we are developing criminal tendencies, and an alarmingly large percentage of our men and women are sexually impure. The Negro Academy should stand and proclaim this over the housetops, crying with Garrison: I will not equivocate, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard. The Academy should seek to gather about it the talented, unselfish men, the pure and noble-minded women, to fight an army of devils that disgraces our manhood and our womanhood. There does not stand today upon God’s earth a race more capable in muscle, in intellect, in morals, than the American Negro, if he will bend his energies in the right direction; if he will W. E . B . D U B O I S 203 Burst his birth’s invidious bar And grasp the skirts of happy chance, And breast the blows of circumstance, And grapple with his evil star. In science and morals, I have indicated two fields of work for the Academy. Finally, in practical policy, I wish to suggest the following Academy Creed: 1. We believe that the Negro people, as a race, have a contribution to make to civilization and humanity, which no other race can make. 2. We believe it the duty of the Americans of Negro descent, as a body, to maintain their race identity until this mission of the Negro people is accomplished, and the ideal of human brotherhood has become a practical possibility. 3. We believe that, unless modern civilization is a failure, it is entirely feasible and practicable for two races in such essential political, economic, and religious harmony as the white and colored people of America, to develop side by side in peace and mutual happiness, the peculiar contribution which each has to make to the culture of their common country. 4. As a means to this end we advocate, not such social equality between these races as would disregard human likes and dislikes, but such a social equilibrium as would, throughout all the complicated relations of life, give due and just consideration to culture, ability, and moral worth, whether they be found under white or black skins. 5. We believe that the first and greatest step toward the settlement of the present friction between the races—commonly called the Negro Problem—lies in the correction of the immorality, crime, and laziness among the Negroes themselves, which still remains as a heritage from slavery. We believe that only earnest and long-continued efforts on our own part can cure these social ills. 6. We believe that the second great step toward a better adjustment of the relations between the races should be a more impartial selection of ability in the economic and intellectual world, and a greater respect for personal liberty and worth, regardless of race. We believe that only earnest efforts on the part of the white people of this country will bring much-needed reform in these matters. 7. On the basis of the foregoing declaration, and firmly believing in our high destiny, we, as American Negroes, are resolved to strive in every honorable way for the realization of the best and highest aims, for the development of strong manhood and pure womanhood, and for the rearing of a race ideal in America and Africa, to the glory of God and the uplifting of the Negro people. O EXCERPTS FROM THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK O water, voice of my heart, crying in the sand, All night long crying with a mournful cry, As I lie and listen, and cannot understand The voice of my heart in my side or the voice of the sea, 204 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 O water, crying for rest, is it I, is it I? All night long the water is crying to me. Unresting water, there shall never be rest Till the last moon droop and the last tide fail, And the fire of the end begin to burn in the west; And the heart shall be weary and wonder and cry like the sea, All life long crying without avail, As the water all night long is crying to me. ARTHUR SIMONS Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it. They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, How does it feel to be a problem? they say, I know an excellent colored man in my town; or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil? At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word. And yet, being a problem is a strange experience,—peculiar even for one who has never been anything else, save perhaps in babyhood and in Europe. It is in the early days of rollicking boyhood that the revelation first bursts upon one, all in a day, as it were. I remember well when the shadow swept across me. I was a little thing, away up in the hills of New England, where the dark Housatonic winds between Hoosac and Taghkanic to the sea. In a wee wooden schoolhouse, something put it into the boys’ and girls’ heads to buy gorgeous visiting-cards—ten cents a package—and exchange. The exchange was merry, till one girl, a tall newcomer, refused my card,—refused it peremptorily, with a glance. Then it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil. I had thereafter no desire to tear down that veil, to creep through; I held all beyond it in common contempt, and lived above it in a region of blue sky and great wandering shadows. That sky was bluest when I could beat my mates at examination-time, or beat them at a foot-race, or even beat their stringy heads. Alas, with the years all this fine contempt began to fade; for the worlds I longed for, and all their dazzling opportunities, were theirs, not mine. But they should not keep these prizes, I said; some, all, I would wrest from them. Just how I would do it I could never decide: by reading law, by healing the sick, by telling the wonderful tales that swam in my head,—some way. With other black boys the strife was not so fiercely sunny: their youth shrunk into tasteless sycophancy, or into silent hatred of the pale world about them and mocking distrust of everything white; or wasted itself in a bitter cry, Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in mine own house? The shades of the prison-house closed round about us all: walls strait and stubborn to the whitest, but relentlessly narrow, tall, and unscalable to sons of night who must plod darkly on in resignation, or beat unavailing palms against the stone, or steadily, half hopelessly, watch the streak of blue above. W. E . B . D U B O I S 205 After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him no true selfconsciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,—this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face. This, then, is the end of his striving: to be a co-worker in the kingdom of culture, to escape both death and isolation, to husband and use his best powers and his latent genius. These powers of body and mind have in the past been strangely wasted, dispersed, or forgotten. The shadow of a mighty Negro past flits through the tale of Ethiopia the Shadowy and of Egypt the Sphinx. Throughout history, the powers of single black men flash here and there like falling stars, and die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged their brightness. Here in America, in the few days since Emancipation, the black man’s turning hither and thither in hesitant and doubtful striving has often made his very strength to lose effectiveness, to seem like absence of power, like weakness. And yet it is not weakness,— it is the contradiction of double aims. The double-aimed struggle of the black artisan—on the one hand to escape white contempt for a nation of mere hewers of wood and drawers of water, and on the other hand to plough and nail and dig for a poverty-stricken horde—could only result in making him a poor craftsman, for he had but half a heart in either cause. By the poverty and ignorance of his people, the Negro minister or doctor was tempted toward quackery and demagogy; and by the criticism of the other world, toward ideals that made him ashamed of his lowly tasks. The would-be black savant was confronted by the paradox that the knowledge his people needed was a twice-told tale to his white neighbors, while the knowledge which would teach the white world was Greek to his own flesh and blood. The innate love of harmony and beauty that set the ruder souls of his people a-dancing and a-singing raised but confusion and doubt in the soul of the black artist; for the beauty revealed to him was the soul-beauty of a race which his larger audience despised, and he could not articulate the message of another people. This waste of double aims, this seeking to satisfy two unreconciled ideals, has wrought sad havoc with the courage and faith and deeds of ten thousand thousand people,—has sent them often wooing false gods and 206 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 invoking false means of salvation, and at times has even seemed about to make them ashamed of themselves. Away back in the days of bondage they thought to see in one divine event the end of all doubt and disappointment; few men ever worshipped Freedom with half such unquestioning faith as did the American Negro for two centuries. To him, so far as he thought and dreamed, slavery was indeed the sum of all villainies, the cause of all sorrow, the root of all prejudice; Emancipation was the key to a promised land of sweeter beauty than ever stretched before the eyes of wearied Israelites. In song and exhortation swelled one refrain—Liberty; in his tears and curses the God he implored had Freedom in his right hand. At last it came,— suddenly, fearfully, like a dream. With one wild carnival of blood and passion came the message in his own plaintive cadences:— “Shout, O children! Shout, you’re free! For God has bought your liberty!” Years have passed away since then,—ten, twenty, forty; forty years of national life, forty years of renewal and development, and yet the swarthy spectre sits in its accustomed seat at the Nation’s feast. In vain do we cry to this our vastest social problem:— “Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves Shall never tremble!” The Nation has not yet found peace from its sins; the freedman has not yet found in freedom his promised land. Whatever of good may have come in these years of change, the shadow of a deep disappointment rests upon the Negro people,—a disappointment all the more bitter because the unattained ideal was unbounded save by the simple ignorance of a lowly people. The first decade was merely a prolongation of the vain search for freedom, the boon that seemed ever barely to elude their grasp,—like a tantalizing will-o’-thewisp, maddening and misleading the headless host. The holocaust of war, the terrors of the Ku-Klux Klan, the lies of carpet-baggers, the disorganization of industry, and the contradictory advice of friends and foes, left the bewildered serf with no new watchword beyond the old cry for freedom. As the time flew, however, he began to grasp a new idea. The ideal of liberty demanded for its attainment powerful means, and these the Fifteenth Amendment gave him. The ballot, which before he had looked upon as a visible sign of freedom, he now regarded as the chief means of gaining and perfecting the liberty with which war had partially endowed him. And why not? Had not votes made war and emancipated millions? Had not votes enfranchised the freedmen? Was anything impossible to a power that had done all this? A million black men started with renewed zeal to vote themselves into the kingdom. So the decade flew away, the revolution of 1876 came, and left the half-free serf weary, wondering, but still inspired. Slowly but steadily, in the following years, a new vision began gradually to replace the dream of political power,—a powerful movement, the rise of another ideal to guide the W. E . B . D U B O I S 207 unguided, another pillar of fire by night after a clouded day. It was the ideal of “book-learning”; the curiosity, born of compulsory ignorance, to know and test the power of the cabalistic letters of the white man, the longing to know. Here at last seemed to have been discovered the mountain path to Canaan; longer than the highway of Emancipation and law, steep and rugged, but straight, leading to heights high enough to overlook life. Up the new path the advance guard toiled, slowly, heavily, doggedly; only those who have watched and guided the faltering feet, the misty minds, the dull understandings, of the dark pupils of these schools know how faithfully, how piteously, this people strove to learn. It was weary work. The cold statistician wrote down the inches of progress here and there, noted also where here and there a foot had slipped or some one had fallen. To the tired climbers, the horizon was ever dark, the mists were often cold, the Canaan was always dim and far away. If, however, the vistas disclosed as yet no goal, no resting-place, little but flattery and criticism, the journey at least gave leisure for reflection and self-examination; it changed the child of Emancipation to the youth with dawning self-consciousness, self-realization, self-respect. In those sombre forests of his striving his own soul rose before him, and he saw himself,—darkly as through a veil; and yet he saw in himself some faint revelation of his power, of his mission. He began to have a dim feeling that, to attain his place in the world, he must be himself, and not another. For the first time he sought to analyze the burden he bore upon his back, that deadweight of social degradation partially masked behind a half-named Negro problem. He felt his poverty; without a cent, without a home, without land, tools, or savings, he had entered into competition with rich, landed, skilled neighbors. To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships. He felt the weight of his ignorance,—not simply of letters, but of life, of business of the humanities; the accumulated sloth and shirking and awkwardness of decades and centuries shackled his hands and feet. Nor was his burden all poverty and ignorance. The red stain of bastardy, which two centuries of systematic legal defilement of Negro women had stamped upon his race, meant not only the loss of ancient African chastity, but also the hereditary weight of a mass of corruption from white adulterers, threatening almost the obliteration of the Negro home. A people thus handicapped ought not to be asked to race with the world, but rather allowed to give all its time and thought to its own social problems. But alas! while sociologists gleefully count his bastards and his prostitutes, the very soul of the toiling, sweating black man is darkened by the shadow of a vast despair. Men call the shadow prejudice, and learnedly explain it as the natural defence of culture against barbarism, learning against ignorance, purity against crime, the “higher” against the “lower” races. To which the Negro cries Amen! and swears that to so much of this strange prejudice as is founded on just homage to civilization, culture, righteousness, and progress, he humbly bows and meekly does obeisance. But before that nameless prejudice that leaps beyond all this he stands helpless, dismayed, and well-nigh speechless; before that personal disrespect and mockery, the ridicule and systematic humiliation, the distortion of fact and wan- 208 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 ton license of fancy, the cynical ignoring of the better and the boisterous welcoming of the worse, the all-pervading desire to inculcate disdain for everything black, from Toussaint to the devil,—before this there rises a sickening despair that would disarm and discourage any nation save that black host to whom “discouragement” is an unwritten word. But the facing of so vast a prejudice could not but bring the inevitable selfquestioning, self-disparagement, and lowering of ideals which ever accompany repression and breed in an atmosphere of contempt and hate. Whisperings and portents came borne upon the four winds: Lo! we are diseased and dying, cried the dark hosts; we cannot write, our voting is vain; what need of education, since we must always cook and serve? And the Nation echoed and enforced this selfcriticism, saying: Be content to be servants, and nothing more; what need of higher culture for half-men? Away with the black man’s ballot, by force or fraud,—and behold the suicide of a race! Nevertheless, out of the evil came something of good,—the more careful adjustment of education to real life, the clearer perception of the Negroes’ social responsibilities, and the sobering realization of the meaning of progress. So dawned the time of Sturm und Drang: storm and stress to-day rocks our little boat on the mad waters of the world-sea; there is within and without the sound of conflict, the burning of body and rending of soul; inspiration strives with doubt, and faith with vain questionings. The bright ideals of the past,—physical freedom, political power, the training of brains and the training of hands,—all these in turn have waxed and waned, until even the last grows dim and overcast. Are they all wrong,—all false? No, not that, but each alone was over-simple and incomplete,—the dreams of a credulous race-childhood, or the fond imaginings of the other world which does not know and does not want to know our power. To be really true, all these ideals must be melted and welded into one. The training of the schools we need to-day more than ever,—the training of deft hands, quick eyes and ears, and above all the broader, deeper, higher culture of gifted minds and pure hearts. The power of the ballot we need in sheer self-defence,—else what shall save us from a second slavery? Freedom, too, the long-sought, we still seek,—the freedom of life and limb, the freedom to work and think, the freedom to love and aspire. Work, culture, liberty,—all these we need, not singly but together, not successively but together, each growing and aiding each, and all striving toward that vaster ideal that swims before the Negro people, the ideal of human brotherhood, gained through the unifying ideal of Race; the ideal of fostering and developing the traits and talents of the Negro, not in opposition to or contempt for other races, but rather in large conformity to the greater ideals of the American Republic, in order that some day on American soil two world-races may give each to each those characteristics both so sadly lack. We the darker ones come even now not altogether empty-handed: there are to-day no truer exponents of the pure human spirit of the Declaration of Independence than the American Negroes; there is no true American music but the wild sweet melodies of the Negro slave; the American fairy tales and folk-lore are Indian and African; and, all in all, we black men seem the sole oasis of simple faith and reverence in T H E N I A G A R A M O V E M E N T 209 a dusty desert of dollars and smartness. Will America be poorer if she replace her brutal dyspeptic blundering with light-hearted but determined Negro humility? or her coarse and cruel wit with loving jovial good-humor? or her vulgar music with the soul of the Sorrow Songs? Merely a concrete test of the underlying principles of the great republic is the Negro Problem, and the spiritual striving of the freedmen’s sons is the travail of souls whose burden is almost beyond the measure of their strength, but who bear it in the name of an historic race, in the name of this the land of their fathers’ fathers, and in the name of human opportunity. And now what I have briefly sketched in large outline let me on coming pages tell again in many ways, with loving emphasis and deeper detail, that men may listen to the striving in the souls of black folk. Sources: Excerpts from “The Conservation of Races,” paper presented to the American Negro Academy, Occasional Papers, No. 2 (Washington, D.C., 1897); and (2) excerpts from chapter I, “Of Our Spiritual Strivings,” and chapter II, “Of the Dawn of Freedom,” from The Souls of Black Folk (Chicago: A.C. McClurg, 1903). S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: W. E. B. Du Bois, The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade to the United States of America, 1638–1870 (New York: Longmans, Green, 1896). ———, The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1899). ———, The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches (Chicago: A.C. McClurg, 1903). ———, Darkwater: Voices from the Veil (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Stratford, 1920). David Levering Lewis, ed., W. E. B. Du Bois: A Reader (New York: Holt, 1995). Manning Marable, W.E.B. Du Bois: Black Radical Democrat (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2005). Adolph Reed, W. E. B. Du Bois and American Political Thought: Fabianism and the Color Line (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997). Eric J. Sundquist, ed., The Oxford W. E. B. Du Bois Reader (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). Raymond Wolters, Du Bois and His Rivals (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2002). O 15 O The Niagara Movement, 1905 At the invitation of W. E. B. Du Bois, a group of socially conscious black intellectuals and leaders gathered together at Niagara Falls in 1905. This meeting initiated the Niagara Movement. Many participants were motivated by their opposition to the 210 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 conservative leadership of Booker T. Washington, who was widely criticized in some circles not simply for his policy of racial accommodationism but also for his heavyhanded political tactics against those who dared to challenge him. Though the Niagara Movement represented the growing voice of dissent within black America and forcefully challenged the racial oppression of Jim Crow, the success of the project was limited. Washington used his influence with major African-American newspapers, churches, and colleges to undermine and discredit his opponents. Tensions between Du Bois and Trotter also contributed to the demise of this group. O PROGRESS: The members of the conference, known as the Niagara Movement, assembled in annual meeting at Buffalo, July 11th, 12th and 13th, 1905, congratulate the Negro-Americans on certain undoubted evidences of progress in the last decade, particularly the increase of intelligence, the buying of property, the checking of crime, the uplift in home life, the advance in literature and art, and the demonstration of constructive and executive ability in the conduct of great religious, economic and educational institutions. Suffrage: At the same time, we believe that this class of American citizens should protest emphatically and continually against the curtailment of their political rights. We believe in manhood suffrage; we believe that no man is so good, intelligent or wealthy as to be entrusted wholly with the welfare of his neighbor. Civil Liberty: We believe also in protest against the curtailment of our civil rights. All American citizens have the right to equal treatment in places of public entertainment according to their behavior and deserts. Economic Opportunity: We especially complain against the denial of equal opportunities to us in economic life; in the rural districts of the South this amounts to peonage and virtual slavery; all over the South it tends to crush labor and small business enterprises; and everywhere American prejudice, helped often by iniquitous laws, is making it more difficult for Negro-Americans to earn a decent living. Education: Common school education should be free to all American children and compulsory. High school training should be adequately provided for all, and college training should be the monopoly of no class or race in any section of our common country. We believe that, in defense of our own institutions, the United States should aid common school education, particularly in the South, and we especially recommend concerted agitation to this end. We urge an increase in public high school facilities in the South, where the Negro-Americans are almost wholly without such provisions. We favor well-equipped trade and technical schools for the training of artisans, and the need of adequate and liberal endowment for a few institutions of higher education must be patent to sincere wellwishers of the race. Courts: We demand upright judges in courts, juries selected without discrimination on account of color and the same measure of punishment and the same T H E N I A G A R A M O V E M E N T 211 efforts at reformation for blacks as for white offenders. We need orphanages and farm schools for dependent children, juvenile reformatories for delinquents, and the abolition of the dehumanizing convict-lease system. Public Opinion: We note with alarm the evident retrogression in this land of sound public opinion on the subject of manhood rights, republican government and human brotherhood, and we pray God that this nation will not degenerate into a mob of boasters and oppressors, but rather will return to the faith of the fathers, that all men were created free and equal, with certain unalienable rights. Health: We plead for health—for an opportunity to live in decent houses and localities, for a chance to rear our children in physical and moral cleanliness. Employers and Labor Unions: We hold up for public execration the conduct of two opposite classes of men: The practice among employers of importing ignorant Negro-American laborers in emergencies, and then affording them neither protection nor permanent employment; and the practice of labor unions in proscribing and boycotting and oppressing thousands of their fellow-toilers, simply because they are black. These methods have accentuated and will accentuate the war of labor and capital, and they are disgraceful to both sides. Protest: We refuse to allow the impression to remain that the Negro-American assents to inferiority, is submissive under oppression and apologetic before insults. Through helplessness we may submit, but the voice of protest of ten million Americans must never cease to assail the ears of their fellows, so long as America is unjust. Color-Line: Any discrimination based simply on race or color is barbarous, we care not how hallowed it be by custom, expediency or prejudice. Differences made on account of ignorance, immorality, or disease are legitimate methods of fighting evil, and against them we have no word of protest; but discriminations based simply and solely on physical peculiarities, place of birth, color of skin, are relics of that unreasoning human savagery of which the world is and ought to be thoroughly ashamed. “Jim Crow” Cars: We protest against the “Jim Crow” car, since its effect is and must be to make us pay first-class fare for third-class accommodations, render us open to insults and discomfort and to crucify wantonly our manhood, womanhood and self-respect. Soldiers: We regret that this nation has never seen fit adequately to reward the black soldiers who, in its five wars, have defended their country with their blood, and yet have been systematically denied the promotions which their abilities deserve. And we regard as unjust, the exclusion of black boys from the military and naval training schools. War Amendments: We urge upon Congress the enactment of appropriate legislation for securing the proper enforcement of those articles of freedom, the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth amendments of the Constitution of the United States. Oppression: We repudiate the monstrous doctrine that the oppressor should be the sole authority as to the rights of the oppressed. The Negro race in America stolen, ravished and degraded, struggling up through difficulties and 212 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 oppression, needs sympathy and receives criticism; needs help and is given hindrance, needs protection and is given mob-violence, needs justice and is given charity, needs leadership and is given cowardice and apology, needs bread and is given a stone. This nation will never stand justified before God until these things are changed. The Church: Especially are we surprised and astonished at the recent attitude of the church of Christ—of an increase of a desire to bow to racial prejudice, to narrow the bounds of human brotherhood, and to segregate black men to some outer sanctuary. This is wrong, unchristian and disgraceful to the twentieth century civilization. Agitation: Of the above grievances we do not hesitate to complain, and to complain loudly and insistently. To ignore, overlook, or apologize for these wrongs is to prove ourselves unworthy of freedom. Persistent manly agitation is the way to liberty, and toward this goal the Niagara Movement has started and asks the cooperation of all men of all races. Help: At the same time we want to acknowledge with deep thankfulness the help of our fellowmen from the abolitionist down to those who today still stand for equal opportunity and who have given and still give of their wealth and of their poverty for our advancement. Duties: And while we are demanding, and ought to demand, and will continue to demand the rights enumerated above, God forbid that we should ever forget to urge corresponding duties upon our people: The duty to vote. The duty to respect the rights of others. The duty to work. The duty to obey the laws. The duty to be clean and orderly. The duty to send our children to school. The duty to respect ourselves, even as we respect others. This statement, complaint and prayer we submit to the American people, and Almighty God. Source: “The Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles,” 1905. Originally published in the Cleveland Gazette, July 22, 1905. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: W. E. B. Du Bois, The Oxford W. E. B. Du Bois Reader, ed. Eric J. Sundquist (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). David Levering Lewis, W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868–1919 (New York: Holt, 1993). Manning Marable, W. E. B. Du Bois: Black Radical Democrat (Boulder: Parodiem Publishers, 2005). August Meier, Negro Thought in America, 1880–1915: Racial Ideologies in the Age of Booker T. Washington (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1963). Elliot M. Rudwick, “The Niagara Movement,” Journal of Negro History 42, no. 3 (1957), pp. 177–200. H . H . H A R R I S O N , B L A C K R E V O L U T I O N A RY N AT I O N A L I S T 213 ———, W. E. B. Du Bois: A Study in Minority Group Leadership (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1960). O 16 O Hubert Henry Harrison, Black Revolutionary Nationalist Hubert Henry Harrison (1883–1927) was born in St. Croix, Danish West Indies, and moved to New York as a teenager. Harrison read widely in history, literature, and the social sciences, and became a socialist after arriving at the conclusion that racism was largely driven by class exploitation. Harrison acquired a popular following as a charismatic street speaker both on Harlem’s Lenox Avenue and at Madison Square in Manhattan. The racial prejudice Harrison encountered among white socialists pushed him in the direction of black nationalism. Harrison served for a time as editor of Marcus Garvey’s newspaper, The Negro World. His most ambitious book, When Africa Awakes, presents a powerful perspective of what would later be defined as “revolutionary nationalism.” O . . . Today, fellow sufferers, they tell us that we are free. But are we? If you will think for a moment you will see that we are not free at all. We have simply changed one form of slavery for another. Then it was chattel slavery, now it is wage slavery. For that which was the essence of chattel slavery is the essence of wage slavery. It is only a difference in form. The chattel slave was compelled to work by physical force; the wage slave is compelled to work by starvation. The product of the chattel slave’s labor was taken by his master; the product of the wage slave’s labor is taken by the employer. The United States government has made a study of the wealth-producing power of the wage slaves and has shown that the average worker produces $2,451 a year. The government has also made a study of wages in the United States, and that study shows that the average worker gets $437 a year. This means that the average employer takes away from the average wage slave $2,014 a year. In the good old days the master took away the wealth produced by the slave in the simplest form; today he takes it away in the form of profits. But in one respect the wage slave is worse off than the chattel slave. Under chattel slavery the master owned the man and the land; he had to feed and clothe the man. Under wage slavery the man feeds and clothes himself. Under chattel slavery it was to the interest of the owner to give the slave work and to keep him from starving to death. Under wage slavery, if the man is out of work the employer doesn’t care; that is no loss to him; and if the man dies, there are millions of others eager to take his place, because, as I said before, they must either work for him or starve. 214 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 There is one very striking parallel between the two cases. Today there are many people who say that this system is divinely appointed—is a law of nature—just as they said the same thing of chattel slavery. Well, there are millions of workers who say it is wrong. Under chattel slavery black workers were robbed; under wage slavery all the workers are robbed. The Socialist party says that this robbing shall cease; that no worker black or white shall be exploited for profit. And it says, further, that there is one sure and certain way of putting an end to the system, and that is by working for the success of Socialism. . . . Under the old system, the capitalist owned the man; today he owns the tools with which the man must work. These tools are the factories, the mines, and the machines. The system that owns them owns you and me and all the rest of us, black, white, brown, red and yellow. We can’t live unless we have access to these tools, and our masters the capitalists see to it that we are separated from what we make by using these things, except so much as is necessary to keep us alive that we may be able to make more—for them. This little bit is called wages. They wouldn’t give us even that if they thought that we could live without it. In the good old days the chattel slave would be fastened with a chain if they thought that he might escape. Today no chain is necessary to bind us to the tools. We are as free as air. Of course. We are free to starve. And that chain of the fear of starvation binds us to the tools owned by the capitalist as firmly as any iron chain ever did. And this system doesn’t care whether the slaves who are bound in this new way are white or black. To the capitalist system all workers are equal—in so far as they have a stomach. Now the one great fact for the Negro in America today is race prejudice. The great labor problem with which all working people are faced is made harder for black working people by the addition of a race problem. I want to show you how one grows out of the other and how, at bottom, they are both the same thing. In other words, I want you to see the economic reason for race prejudice. In the first place, do you know that the most rabid, Negro-hating, Southern aristocrat has not the slightest objection to sleeping in the same house with a Negro—if that Negro sleeps there as his servant? He doesn’t care if his food is prepared by a Negro cook and handled by a Negro waiter before it gets to him; he will eat it. But if a Negro comes into the same public restaurant to buy and eat food, then—oh my!—he gets all hot up about it. But why? What’s the difference? I will tell you. The aristocrat wants the black man to feel that he is on a lower level. When he is “in his place,” he is liked. But he must not be allowed to do anything to make him forget that he is on this lower level; he must be kept “in his place,” which means the place which the aristocrat wants him to keep. You see, the black man carries the memory of slavery with him. Everybody knows that the slaves were the exploited working class of the South. That put them in a class by themselves, down at the bottom, downtrodden, despised, “inferior.” Do you begin to see now that race prejudice is only another name for caste prejudice? If our people had never been slaves; had never been exploited workers, and so, at the bottom of the ladder, there would be no prejudice against them H . H . H A R R I S O N , B L A C K R E V O L U T I O N A RY N AT I O N A L I S T 215 now. In every case where there has been a downtrodden class of workers at the bottom, that class has been despised by the class that lived by their labor. Do you doubt it? Then look at the facts. If you had picked up a daily paper in New York in 1848 you would have found at the end of many an advertisement for butler, coachman, lady’s maid, clerk or bookkeeper these words: “No Irish need apply.” There was a race prejudice against the Irish then, because most of the manual unskilled laborers were Irish. They were at the bottom, exploited and despised. But they have changed things since then. Beginning in the seventies, when Jewish laborers began to come here from Russia, Austria and Germany, and lasting even to our own day, there has been race prejudice against the Jews. And today, when the Italian has taken the place which the Irish laborer vacated—at the bottom— he too comes in for his share of prejudice. In every one of these cases it was the condition of the people at the bottom—as despised, exploited, wage slaves—that was responsible for the race prejudice. And it is just so in the black man’s case— with this difference: his color marks what he once was, and even though he should wear a dress suit every evening and own an automobile or a farm, he can always be picked out and reminded. Now, under the present system, exploiting the wage slave is respectable. I have already shown you that wherever the worker is exploited he is despised. So you will see that despising the wage slave is quite fashionable. . . . As long as the present system continues, the workers will be despised; as long as the workers are despised, the black man will be despised, robbed and murdered, because they are least able to defend themselves. Now ask yourself whether you haven’t a very special interest in changing the present system. Of course, you will ask: “But haven’t white working people race prejudice too?” Sure, they have. Do you know why? It pays the capitalist to keep the workers divided. So he creates and keeps alive these prejudices. He gets them to believe that their interests are different. Then he uses one half of them to club the other half with. In Russia when the working men demand reform, the capitalists sick them on the Jews. In America they sick them on the Negroes. That makes them forget their own condition; as long as they can be made to look down upon another class. “But then,” you will say, “the average wage slave must be a chump.” Sure, he is. That’s what the capitalist counts on. And Socialism is working to educate the workers to see this and to unite them in doing away with the present system. Socialism stands for the emancipation of the wage slaves. Are you a wage slave? Do you want to be emancipated? Then join hands with the Socialists. Hear what they have to say. Read some of their literature. Get a Socialist leaflet, a pamphlet, or, better still, a book. You will be convinced of two things: that Socialism is right, and that it is inevitable. It is right because any order of things in which those who work have least while those who work them have most, is wrong. It is inevitable because a system under which the wealth produced by the labor of human hands amounts to more than two hundred and twenty billions a year while many millions live on the verge of starvation, is bound to break down. Therefore, if you wish to join with the other class-conscious, intelligent wage earners—in 216 R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A N D R E A C T I O N , 1 8 6 1 – 1 9 1 5 putting an end to such a system; if you want to better living conditions for black men as well as for white men; to make this woeful world of ours a little better for you children and your children’s children, study Socialism—and think and work your way out. . . . Source: Excerpt from speech originally delivered in about 1912, first published in Harrison, The Negro and the Nation (New York: 1917[?]), pp. 48–58. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: John G. Jackson, Hubert Henry Harrison: The Black Socrates (Austin, Tex.: American Athiest Press, 1987). Jeffrey Babcock Perry, “Hubert Henry Harrison, The Father of Harlem Radicalism: The Early Years, 1883 through the Founding of the Liberty League and the Voice in 1917” (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1986). A D D I T I O N A L R E S O U R C E S : “The Avalon Project at Yale Law School: African-Americans—Biography, Autobiography and History,” www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/treatise/african_americans.htm. ”Race and Place—An African-American Community in Jim Crow: Charlottesville, VA,” www.vcdh.virginia.edu/afam/raceandplace/index.html. Edward L. Ayers, The Promise of the New South: Life after Reconstruction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). Jane Elizabeth Dailey, Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, and Bryant Simon, eds., Jumpin’ Jim Crow: Southern Politics from Civil War to Civil Rights (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000). Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877. (New York: History Book Club, 2005). Eric Foner and illustrations edited and with commentary by Joshua Brown, Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction, 1st ed. (New York: Knopf, 2005). Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Unequal Freedom: How Race and Gender Shaped American Citizenship and Labor (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004). Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women in the Nursing Profession: A Documentary History, The History of American Nursing (New York: Garland, 1985). ———, Black Women in White: Racial Conflict and Cooperation in the Nursing Profession, 1890–1950, Blacks in the Diaspora (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989). Gilbert Jonas and with a forward by Julian Bond, Freedom’s Sword: The NAACP and the Struggle against Racism in America, 1909–1969 (London: Routledge, 2007). William Miles, Men of Bronze: The Black American Heroes of World War I, Santa Monica: Direct Cinema Ltd., 1995. DVD Video. Roger L. Ransom and Richard Sutch, One Kind of Freedom: The Economic Consequences of Emancipation, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). – S E C T I O N T H R E E – FROM PLANTATION TO GHETTO: THE GREAT MIGRATION, HARLEM RENAISSANCE, AND WORLD WAR, 1915–1954 INTRODUCTION T he four decades considered in section 3 were a period of both continuity and tremendous change for the national African-American community. The central political reality for black Americans was, of course, Jim Crow segregation. By the 1920s, the United States had become a thoroughly segregated society, in which constitutional safeguards and civil liberties rarely applied to black people. Like the South African system known years later as apartheid, the United States was in effect a “racist state,” in which access to voting rights, political representation, and economic and social development was rigidly determined for racialized minorities through governmental authorities and, more informally, through deliberate acts of extralegal terror. Black Americans were increasingly subjected to de facto segregation in many northern cities, and white-owned banks frequently denied credit and capital to African Americans starting businesses or buying homes in predominantly white areas. The actual political accomplishments of Reconstruction were distorted in standard scholarship, or viciously parodied in racist films such as The Birth of a Nation (1915). The high tide of white supremacy occurred in the years immediately following World War I. In what would later be called the “Red Summer of 1919,” hundreds of African Americans were murdered and thousands were left homeless by the attacks of racist mobs. The Ku Klux Klan, originally established as a white southern vigilante group during Reconstruction, was revived and achieved tremendous support. By the early 1920s, several million whites, most of whom lived outside the South, actively participated in the Ku Klux Klan and supported its candidates for public office. Both major national political parties, the Republicans and Democrats, repudiated support for the rights of Negroes. This environment of white supremacy and unqualified racial repression led to new developments in the political character and protest organizations of African-American people. A second factor in the transformation of black political and social life was the Great Migration—the vast relocation of millions of African Americans from the rural, agricultural South to the urban, industrial North. Sociologists and historians have long debated the fundamental factors that accounted for the decision of 220 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 so many African Americans to leave the South. The mechanization of southern agriculture and the decline of cotton farming pushed thousands of sharecroppers off the land. Many black workers were attracted to better-paying jobs in the manufacturing and industrial factories of the Midwest and Northeast. Others simply wanted to escape the political persecution, lynching, and racial oppression. As millions of black people resettled in the North, they quickly created new urban communities with elaborate social infrastructures: black newspapers, churches, schools, funeral establishments, beauty and barber shops, fraternal organizations, Masonic lodges, theater groups, and similar institutions. By 1930, Harlem had become the largest black urban center in North America, and was virtually the mecca of black culture and the arts. Boston’s Roxbury, Chicago’s South Side, and Cleveland’s Hough district also became identifiably black metropolises. Soon after World War II, south-central Los Angeles and East Oakland in California would join this growing list of African-American urban communities. By the end of the war, about forty percent of all black Americans lived outside the South, and more than half lived in cities. The flowering of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s was the literary and cultural expression of the social forces that produced the Great Migration and the modern ghetto. In the writings of Jean Toomer, Claude McKay, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, and Countee Cullen, a new generation of artists and intellectuals, born in the age of jazz, found their own unique voice. As Langston Hughes suggested in his 1926 essay, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” the power and creativity of black art would be found within a celebration and understanding of the culture of “black common people. . . . They furnish a wealth of colorful, distinctive material for any artist because they still hold their own individuality in the face of American standardizations. And perhaps these common people will give to the world its truly great Negro artist, the one who is not afraid to be himself” (document 6). The Harlem Renaissance also involved a social critique. The phrase “the New Negro” was used to characterize the new levels of militancy, racial consciousness, and cultural energy that were most visibly represented in Harlem. For poets and politicians alike, the black metropolis was the new frontier for black life and social development. “To my mind,” NAACP national secretary James Weldon Johnson wrote in 1925, “Harlem is more than a Negro community; it is a large-scale laboratory experiment in the race problem. . . . I believe that the Negro’s advantages and opportunities are greater in Harlem than in any other place in the country, and that Harlem will become the intellectual, the cultural, and the financial center for Negroes of the United States, and will exert a vital influence upon all Negro peoples” (document 8). These complex factors—the Great Migration to the North, the explosive growth of black urban communities, the development of a black working class, all within the constraints of racial segregation—created the space for new protest ideologies and formations. Booker T. Washington’s death in 1915 and the negotiated peace between the Tuskegee Machine and the liberal integrationists led by Du Bois at the Amenia conference the following year, destroyed accommodation I N T R O D U C T I O N 221 as a viable political strategy. By 1919, The Crisis claimed over one hundred thousand readers, and the NAACP had clearly won the ideological battle to become the voice and political agent of the black middle class. But in the wake of the Red Summer of 1919, Du Bois’s leadership was severely challenged from several quarters. The principal spokesperson for black nationalism and racial separatism was Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in 1914. Arriving in the United States in 1916, Garvey used his charismatic oratory and organizing skills to quickly establish a mass following among hundreds of thousands of black poor and working-class people. Unlike the NAACP and Frederick Douglass before him, Garvey did not desire a pluralistic, integrated American society in which Negroes freely participated. The UNIA’s “Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World,” ratified in Harlem in August 1920, presents an alternative vision of black self-determination and racial separatism that drew from the earlier ideas of Delany and Blyden: “We declare that Negroes, wheresoever they form a community among themselves, should be given the right to elect their own representatives to represent them in legislatures, courts of law, or such institutions as may exercise control over that particular community. . . . We believe in the freedom of Africa for the Negro people of the world, and by the principle of Europe for the Europeans and Asia for the Asiatics; we also demand Africa for the Africans at home and abroad.” Garvey was convinced that the NAACP was nothing less “than a scheme to destroy the Negro Race” and that “Du Bois represents a group that hates the Negro blood in its veins . . .” (document 4). The liberal integrationists also came under intense attack from the left. Influenced by the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, black socialists interpreted the oppression of African Americans as part of the larger exploitation of the proletariat. What the black masses needed was not Garvey’s racial chauvinism, the black radicals believed, but world revolution. Cyril V. Briggs’s African Blood Brotherhood (ABB) combined the race militancy reflected in the UNIA with a Marxist analysis of class struggle. The ABB’s program explicitly condemned “those Negroes who would distract the attention of the Negro workers from the fight for better conditions in the United States to an illusory empire or republic on the continent of Africa. . . . The ABB believes in interracial cooperation—not the sham cooperation of the oppressed Negro workers and their oppressors, but the honest cooperation of colored and white workers based upon mutual appreciation of the fact of the identity of their interests as members of the working class” (document 3). Throughout the 1920s, the Marxist left did not play a dominant role in AfricanAmerican politics and society. The existence of Jim Crow served to anchor nearly all black political discourse to the “race question”; whether one supported racial integration or Garvey’s “back to Africa” program, racial categories and assumptions set the parameters of politics. All of this changed, however, with the onset of the Great Depression. By 1932, nearly half of all African-American workers were unemployed. Millions were homeless and hungry. The NAACP had no effective program to attack black unemployment, and Du Bois himself was pressured to 222 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 resign from the organization in 1934 over his support for a strategy of economic “self-segregation.” Garvey had been harassed by the federal government, imprisoned in 1925, and permanently expelled from the United States in 1927. The UNIA, which was for a brief time the largest mass-membership organization in black history, virtually disappeared. Into this vacuum entered a series of radical workers, intellectuals, leaders, organizers, and organizations that favored neither liberal integration nor racial separatism, but rather what can be termed “transformation”: the complete dismantling of institutional racism, the democratization of the U.S. state and the fundamental redistribution of economic wealth and resources throughout society, and the elimination of all social manifestations of human inequality and gender discrimination. In this section, economist Abram L. Harris outlines the theoretical justification for a radical movement within the black community: “Progressives must realize that Negro economic and political leadership is opportunistic and petty bourgeois,” Harris observes. “Thus progressives [must] carry to the Negro masses some realization of the causes of unemployment, low wages, and the need for labor unionism and cooperation . . .” (document 9). It was through the activism of blacks in the Communist Party that Harris’s academic Marxist critique became a social force. The struggles to save the lives of the Scottsboro boys in Alabama, and to free political prisoner Angelo Herndon in Georgia in the 1930s, attracted thousands of African Americans to the Communist Party (documents 10, 11). The left helped to organize a series of protest associations involving African Americans, including tenants’ rights groups, sharecroppers’ unions, and the Southern Negro Youth Conference (document 16). From the point of view of many black workers, the Communist Party provided the rare opportunity to discuss important political issues affecting their communities with whites on the basis of full equality. Hosea Hudson’s personal account of his experiences inside the Communist Party provides some insights for the movement’s popularity at this time: “I found this Party, a party of the working class, gave me rights equal with all others regardless of color, sex, or age or educational standards. I with my uneducation could express myself, without being made fun of by others who could read well and fast, using big words. I was treated with high respect. I had a right to help make the policy” (document 12). At a time when southern black people were routinely denied the right to vote, to serve on juries, or to freely express their opinions in public, the experience of the Communist Party’s democratic procedures was a striking contrast. The growing influence of the left served to revitalize liberal reformist organizations, and led to the formation of new protest movements. In Harlem, Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., minister of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, became the leader of a mass campaign to boycott and picket businesses that refused to employ black workers (document 14). A. Philip Randolph, leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, inspired the Negro March on Washington Movement in 1941, successfully pressuring the Roosevelt administration to grant Executive Order 8802, which outlawed racial discriminatory hiring policies in defense plants (document 17). The identification of areas of unity in the class and race questions that occurred during this era transformed the political landscape for both labor I N T R O D U C T I O N 223 and African-American struggles. Under the visionary guidance of attorney Charles Hamilton Houston, the NAACP pursued gradual but steady judicial assault against the legal justifications for the racist “separate but equal” policy. Throughout these years, black women played central roles in the shaping of all three major political currents within black America: liberal integrationism, black nationalism, and transformationism. In the 1920s and 1930s, the foremost voice for women’s rights among the Negro middle class was educator Mary McLeod Bethune, president of what would later become Bethune-Cookman College. In her 1935 speech reprinted here (document 13), she encourages the NAACP to “continue to struggle toward the goal of social justice. . . . Let us cease now to render our allegiance to the creed of belief in the inherent superiority of white and the inherent inferiority of black.” Amy Euphemia Jacques Garvey, a black nationalist leader and women’s rights advocate, challenged African-American males to overcome their patriarchal attitudes about politics (document 5): We are tired of hearing Negro men say, “There is a better day coming,” while they do nothing to usher in the day. We are becoming so impatient that we are getting in the front ranks, and serve notice on the world that we will brush aside the halting, cowardly Negro men, and with prayer on our lips and arms prepared for any fray, we will press on and on until victory is over. Africa must be for Africans, and Negroes everywhere must be independent. . . . Mr. Black man, watch your step! Ethiopia’s queens will reign again, and her Amazons protect her shores and people. Strengthen your shaking knees, and move forward, or we will displace you and lead on to victory and to glory. From the vantage point of the left, perhaps the most important radical feminist voice was that of Claudia Jones. Crafting a Marxian analysis of race, gender, and class, she points out in her 1949 essay (document 19) that “Negro women— as workers, as Negroes, and as women—are the most oppressed stratum of the whole population. . . . The super-exploitation of the Negro woman worker is thus revealed not only in that she receives, as woman, less than equal pay for equal work with men, but in that the majority of Negro women get less than half the pay of white women.” Consequently, she observes, there is “little wonder” that black maternity and infant mortality rates are so high. Because of their triple burden of gender, race, and class exploitation, African-American women could potentially become the most revolutionary social group in the country. Jones’s theoretical formulation of how these three social categories are related anticipates by thirty years the analysis of black Marxist feminists such as Angela Y. Davis and other race, class, and gender feminists: A developing consciousness on the woman question today, therefore, must not fail to recognize that the Negro question in the United States is prior to, and not equal to, the woman question; that only to the extent that we fight all chauvinist expressions and actions as regards the Negro people and fight for the full equality of the Negro people, can women as a whole advance their struggle for equal rights. For the progressive women’s movement, the Negro woman, who combines in her status the worker, the Negro, and the woman, is the vital link to this heightened political consciousness. 224 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 The hopes for domestic social reform on issues of both race and class were extinguished for nearly a decade, as World War II gave way to the Cold War. The armed global confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States rationalized a government-sponsored purge of millions of American radicals and even liberals from public and private institutions. Approximately one million workers in Communist-led unions were expelled from the AFL-CIO. States passed laws defining membership in the Communist Party as a crime. Leaders and organizers of the Communist Party were jailed. Claudia Jones was imprisoned and expelled from the United States. The State Department seized the passports of Du Bois and black actor and activist Paul Robeson for eight years, illegally denying them the right to travel. Robeson’s annual income fell from over $100,000 to virtually nothing, since he was denied access to speak and perform. Moderate integrationists such as NAACP leader Walter White were silent, and at times, even encouraged the persecution of black radicals. By the mid-1950s, the transformationist, radical current of black political thought and activism had been seriously weakened by McCarthyism. But as events in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 would show, the black freedom movement would soon experience another renaissance. O1O Black Conflict over World War I When the United States declared war on Germany and entered what was then called the Great War, African Americans were bitterly divided over the conflict. Socialists such as A. Philip Randolph and Hubert H. Harrison attacked the war effort as imperialist. More moderate black leaders such as Du Bois saw the war as an opportunity for Negroes to gain political advantages. Woodrow Wilson’s pledge to make the world “safe for democracy,” if extended to African Americans, should mean the elimination of Jim Crow segregation and European colonialism. Unfortunately, blacks who joined the war effort discovered that American democracy was still reserved for “whites only.” O CLOSE RANKS, W. E. B. DU BOIS This is the crisis of the world. For all the long years to come men will point to the year 1918 as the great Day of Decision, the day when the world decided whether it would submit to military despotism and an endless armed peace—if peace it could be called—or whether they would put down the menace of German militarism and inaugurate the United States of the World. We of the colored race have no ordinary interest in the outcome. That which the German power represents today spells death to the aspirations of Negroes This space left intentionally blank. B L A C K C O N F L I C T O V E R W O R L D WA R I 225 and all darker races for equality, freedom and democracy. Let us not hesitate. Let us, while this war lasts, forget our special grievances and close our ranks shoulder to shoulder with our own white fellow citizens and the allied nations that are fighting for democracy. We make no ordinary sacrifice, but we make it gladly and willingly with our eyes lifted to the hills. This space left intentionally blank. O THE DESCENT OF DU BOIS, HUBERT H. HARRISON In a recent bulletin of the War Department it was declared that “justifiable grievances” were producing and had produced “not disloyalty, but an amount of unrest and bitterness which even the best efforts of their leaders may not be able always to guide.” This is the simple truth. The essence of the present situation lies in the fact that the people whom our white masters have “recognized” as our leaders (without taking the trouble to consult us) and those who, by our own selection, had actually attained to leadership among us are being revaluated and, in most cases, rejected. The most striking instance from the latter class is Dr. W. E. Du Bois, the editor of The Crisis. Du Bois’s case is the more significant because his former services to his race have been undoubtedly of a high and courageous sort. Moreover, the act by which he has brought upon himself the stormy outburst of disapproval from his race is one which of itself, would seem to merit no such stern condemnation. To properly gauge the value and merit of this disapproval one must view it in the light of its attendant circumstances and of the situation in which it arose. Dr. Du Bois first palpably sinned in his editorial “Close Ranks” in the July number of The Crisis. But this offense (apart from the trend and general tenor of the brief editorial) lies in a single sentence: “Let us, while this war lasts, forget our special grievances and close our ranks, shoulder to shoulder with our white fellow citizens and the allied nations that are fighting for democracy.” From the latter part of the sentence there is no dissent, so far as we know. The offense lies in that part of the sentence which ends with the italicized words. It is felt by all his critics, that Du Bois, of all Negroes, knows best that our “special grievances” which the War Department Bulletin describes as “justifiable” consist of lynching, segregation and disfranchisement, and that the Negroes of America can not preserve either their lives, their manhood or their vote (which is their political life and liberties) with these things in existence. The doctor’s critics feel that America can not use the Negro people to any good effect unless they have life, liberty and manhood assured and guaranteed to them. Therefore, instead of the war for democracy making these things less necessary, it makes them more so. “But,” it may be asked, “why should not these few words be taken merely as a slip of the pen or a venal error in logic? Why all this hubbub?” Is it because the so-called leaders of the first-mentioned class have already established an unsavory reputation by advocating this same surrender of life, liberty and manhood, masking their cowardice behind the pillars of war-time sacrifice? Du Bois’s statement, 226 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 then, is believed to mark his entrance into that class, and is accepted as a “surrender” of the principles which brought him into prominence—and which alone kept him there. Later, when it was learned that Du Bois was being preened for a berth in the War Department as a captain-assistant (adjutant) to Major Spingarn, the words used by him in the editorial acquired a darker and more sinister significance. The two things fitted too well together as motive and self-interest. For these reasons Du Bois is regarded much in the same way as a knight in the middle ages who had had his armor stripped from him, his arms reversed and his spurs hacked off. This ruins him as an influential person among Negroes at this time, alike whether he becomes a captain or remains an editor. O RETURNING SOLDIERS, W. E. B. DU BOIS We are returning from war! The Crisis and tens of thousands of black men were drafted into a great struggle. For bleeding France and what she means and has meant and will mean to us and humanity and against the threat of German race arrogance, we fought gladly and to the last drop of blood; for America and her highest ideals, we fought in far-off hope; for the dominant southern oligarchy entrenched in Washington, we fought in bitter resignation. For the America that represents and gloats in lynching, disfranchisement, caste, brutality and devilish insult—for this, in the hateful upturning and mixing of things, we were forced by vindictive fate to fight also. But today we return! We return from the slavery of uniform which the world’s madness demanded us to don to the freedom of civil garb. We stand again to look America squarely in the face and call a spade a spade. We sing: This country of ours, despite all its better souls have done and dreamed, is yet a shameful land. It lynches. And lynching is barbarism of a degree of contemptible nastiness unparalleled in human history. Yet for fifty years we have lynched two Negroes a week, and we have kept this up right through the war. It disfranchises its own citizens. Disfranchisement is the deliberate theft and robbery of the only protection of poor against rich and black against white. The land that disfranchises its citizens and calls itself a democracy lies and knows it lies. It encourages ignorance. It has never really tried to educate the Negro. A dominant minority does not want Negroes educated. It wants servants, dogs, whores and monkeys. And when this land allows a reactionary group by its stolen political power to force as many black folk into these categories as it possibly can, it cries in contemptible hypocrisy: “They threaten us with degeneracy; they cannot be educated.” It steals from us. It organizes industry to cheat us. It cheats us out of our land; it cheats us out of our labor. It confiscates our savings. It reduces our wages. It raises our rent. It This space left intentionally blank. C . M C K AY, “ I F W E M U S T D I E ” 227 steals our profit. It taxes us without representation. It keeps us consistently and universally poor, and then feeds us on charity and derides our poverty. It insults us. It has organized a nation-wide and latterly a world-wide propaganda of deliberate and continuous insult and defamation of black blood wherever found. It decrees that it shall not be possible in travel nor residence, work nor play, education nor instruction for a black man to exist without tacit or open acknowledgment of his inferiority to the dirtiest white dog. And it looks upon any attempt to question or even discuss this dogma as arrogance, unwarranted assumption and treason. This is the country to which we Soldiers of Democracy return. This is the fatherland for which we fought! But it is our fatherland. It was right for us to fight. The faults of our country are our faults. Under similar circumstances, we would fight again. But by the God of Heaven, we are cowards and jackasses if now that that war is over, we do not marshal every ounce of our brain and brawn to fight a sterner, longer, more unbending battle against the forces of hell in our own land. We return. We return from fighting. We return fighting. Make way for Democracy! We saved it in France, and by the Great Jehovah, we will save it in the United States of America, or know the reason why. This space left intentionally blank. Sources: (1) W. E. B. Du Bois, “Close Ranks,” Crisis 16 (July 1918), reprinted by permission of The Crisis; (2) excerpt from Hubert H. Harrison, “The Descent of Du Bois,” in When Africa Awakens (New York: Porro Press, 1920); and (3) Du Bois, “Returning Soldiers,” Crisis 18 (May 1919), pp. 13–14, reprinted by permission of The Crisis. The editors wish to thank the Crisis Publishing Co., Inc., the publisher of the magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, for the use of the material from The Crisis. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Mark Ellis, Race, War, and Surveillance: African Americans and the United States Government During World War I (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001). William Irwin MacIntyre, Colored Soldiers (Macon, Ga.: J.W. Burke, 1923). Maj. Warner A. Ross, My Colored Batallion (Chicago: W.A. Ross, 1920). Allison William Sweeney, History of the American Negro in the Great War: His Splendid Record in the Battle Zones of Europe (New York: Johnson reprint, 1970). O2O “If We Must Die,” Claude McKay, 1919 In the years following the end of World War I, a rising tide of white racism swept across the United States. Several million whites joined the Ku Klux Klan. White mobs began to attack black communities, destroying homes, schools, and churches. Scores of African Americans were lynched, some of them while still wearing their U.S. army uniforms. Jamaican-born radical Claude McKay (1889– 1948) was outraged by these racial atrocities, and expressed his militancy in poetry and essays. 228 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 O “If We Must Die” If we must die—let it not be like hogs Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs, Making their mock at our accursed lot. If we must die—oh, let us nobly die, So that our precious blood may not be shed In vain; then even the monsters we defy Shall be constrained to honor us though dead! Oh, Kinsmen! We must meet the common foe; Though far outnumbered, let us show us brave, And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow! What though before us lies the open grave? Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack, Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back! Source: “If We Must Die,” Liberator 2 (July 1919), p. 21. Reprinted from Selected Poems of Claude McKay (New York: Bookman Associates, 1953), p. 36. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Wayne F. Cooper, Claude McKay: Rebel Sojourner in the Harlem Renaissance: A Biography (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987). Addison Gayle, Claude McKay: The Black Poet at War (Detroit: Broadside Press, 1972). Josh Gosciak, The Shadowed Country: Claude McKay and the Romance of the Victorians (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2006). Winston James, A Fierce Hatred of Injustice: Claude McKay’s Jamaica and His Poetry of Rebellion (London: Verso, 2001). Claude McKay, Complete Poems, ed. by William J. Maxwell (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004). Kotti Sree Ramesh and K. Nirupa Rani, Claude McKay: The Literary Identity from Jamaica to Harlem and Beyond (Jefferson: McFarland, 2006). Tyrone Tillery, Claude McKay: A Black Poet’s Struggle for Identity (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992). O3O Black Bolsheviks: Cyril V. Briggs and Claude McKay Cyril V. Briggs (1887–1966) was born in the British Leeward Islands, and emigrated to New York on July 4, 1905. Shortly upon arriving, Briggs began writing for the Amsterdam News. Later, he became the primary organizer, executive head, and “Primary Chief” of the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB), a radical B L A C K B O L S H E V I K S 229 black organization that emerged in 1921. The ABB declared its primary goal as the advancement of black rights and the “immediate protection and ultimate liberation of Negroes everywhere.” Building on the revolutionary nationalism of Hubert H. Harrison, Briggs integrated the ideology of Bolshevism. The Brotherhood was frankly critical of the NAACP and the “Talented Tenth,” and placed its faith in the collective consciousness and militancy of the black working class. At first somewhat sympathetic to Garveyism, it quickly turned bitterly against the movement. At its height, the ABB had seven thousand members. Briggs and other ABB leaders joined the Communist Party, and formed the major black constituency of the radical left throughout the 1920s. O “WHAT THE AFRICAN BLOOD BROTHERHOOD STANDS FOR,” CYRIL V. BRIGGS TALKING POINTS on the Great Negro Exodus from the South; the reasons for the Exodus; Its Effect on Northern Labor; the Relationship between Colored and White Workers, Etc. With an Appeal to the Self-Interest of All Workers Labor Unions and the Negro (A Statement by a White Labor Leader) “Among the many short-sighted policies of conservative union leaders few are more harmful than the unfair attitude adopted in many cases toward the admission of colored workers into labor organizations. The Negroes are becoming an ever greater factor in industry. In order that this progress should be accomplished in an orderly fashion, and so that the colored workers should not be used against the white workers, the intelligent thing to do is for the organized white workers to go to great lengths to teach them the necessity for united action of both races as against the exploitation set up by the employers. Unfortunately, however, too often this has not been done. The result is that in many cases the Negro workers, feeling themselves discriminated against, have allowed themselves to be used by the employers to break down union conditions. Many a strike has thus been lost, and many more will be lost if the situation is not remedied. An intelligent policy toward the colored workers is one of the prime needs of the present-day labor movement. Unless it is worked out, organized white labor will pay bitterly enough for its folly by having the employers use the Negroes in industry as an army of strike-breakers. Labor already has more enemies than it can handle. To force the colored workers on to the employers’ side, through a stupid union policy, is to invite disaster. The doors of the trade union movement must be thrown wide open to the Negro workers.”—Wm. Z. Foster in “The World To-morrow,” May, 1923. And in the Meantime— the Great Migration of Negro workers from the South continues. Negro workers are pouring North to escape the hellish conditions described in another part of this folder and in search of higher wages and better living conditions. Shall they be tools for the employers’ Open Shop plot against Labor or will Organized Labor 230 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 move to win these workers to its ranks by (1) opening the doors of the labor unions to them on terms of full equality with white workers, not in theory only but in practice; (2) eliminating all discriminatory practices, non-promotable and “dead-line” clauses, unfair legislative enactments, etc., and (3) acquainting the Negro workers with the benefits of unionism and actively bidding for their membership. A Workers’ Organization What the A.B.B. Is What It Stands For What It Is Doing The African Blood Brotherhood is an organization of Negro workers pledged by its Constitution and Program: To gain for Negro labor a higher rate of compensation and to prevent capitalist exploitation and oppression of the workers of the Race—Sec. 7, Art. 2, of its Constitution. To establish a true rapprochement and fellowship within the darker races and with the truly class-conscious white workers—Sec. 9, Art. 3, of its Constitution. Under the caption of “Higher Wages for Negro Labor, Shorter Hours and Better Living Conditions,” the program of the A.B.B. declares: To gain for Negro Labor a higher rate of compensation and to prevent exploitation because of lack of protective organization we must encourage industrial unionism among our people and at the same time fight to break down the prejudice in the unions which is stimulated and encouraged by the employers. This prejudice is already meeting the attack of the radical and progressive element among white labor union men and must eventually give way before the united onslaught of Colored and White Workers. Wherever it is found impossible to enter the existing labor unions, independent unions should be formed, that Negro Labor be enabled to protect its interests. The A.B.B. Seeks To bring about co-operation between colored and white workers on the basis of their identity of interest as workers; To educate the Negro in the benefits of unionism and to gain admission for him on terms of full equality to the unions; To bring home to the Negro worker his class interests as a worker and to show him the real source of his exploitation and oppression; To organize the Negro’s labor power into labor and farm organizations; To foster the principles of consumers’ co-operatives as an aid against the high cost of living; To oppose with counter propaganda the vicious capitalist propaganda against the Negro as a race, which is aimed to keep the workers of both races apart and thus facilitate their exploitation; To realize a United front of Negro workers and organizations as the first step in an effective fight against oppression and exploitation; B L A C K B O L S H E V I K S 231 To acquaint the civilized world with the facts about lynchings, peonage, jim-crowism, disfranchisement and other manifestations of race prejudice and mob rule. Towards These Ends the A.B.B. Supports a press service—the Crusader Service—for the dissemination to the Negro Press of the facts about conditions and events in the sphere of organized labor; reports of labor’s changing and increasingly enlightened attitude towards the colored workers; and sends out news of general race interest, interpreted from the working class point of view. The Service is mailed twice each week and is used regularly by over a hundred Negro papers. Sends organizers and lecturers into industrial sections to propagate the doctrines of unionism and enlist Negro workers into the ranks of the most militant organization of Negro workers in the country. Operates forums and classes with the aim of arousing (1) the race consciousness of the Negro workers and (2) their class consciousness. (This is the natural process.) Guards against the use of the Negro migrants as tools for the Open Shop advocates and other unscrupulous employers who seek to break the power of Organized Labor and to destroy all those gains won for the working class during the last twenty years by those workers who had the good sense to organize for their protection. Exposes the existence of mob-law, peonage, and other barbarisms in the South and wages relentless war against these evil conditions which force the Southern Negro to flee the South and seek employment in the industrial sections. The Message to You— Class-conscious white worker or race-conscious Negro (and the A.B.B. has only one message for both!)—shocked by the conditions under which the Negro is forced to live in the South; the conditions which are driving him northward to create new alignments and strange problems in the industrial sections of the North—you cannot fail to realize the potentialities evoked by this steady stream of unorganized workers from the South. If you are a thinking, rational being you cannot fail to recognize THAT THIS IS YOUR FIGHT and you must help us wage it! The A.B.B. is a workers’ organization. It has no source of income other than its membership and the masses. It is upon the workers it must depend. You must help us in the work of reaching the Negro masses with the message of unionism, the message of organized power, the message of united action by the workers of both races against the capitalist combinations; against the Wall Streets, the Chambers of Commerce, the Rotarian gang, the Ku Klux Klan, (the American Fascisti) and against all the tools of the interests who would keep the workers apart in order the more effectively to exploit them. This Is Your Fight! So Help Wage It! Race-conscious Negro, show that you recognize the source of your oppression! Class-conscious White Worker, show that you realize the fact of the identity of the interests of the workers of all races! 232 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 Reasons for the Negro Exodus from the South A glimpse of hell was given newspaper readers a few weeks ago in connection with the conditions of peonage in the State of Florida under which young Martin Talbert, a white lad of North Dakota, was wantonly murdered under the lash of a boss-driver’s whip. Here’s some more of hell! Mob Law “In some counties the Negro is being driven out as though he were a wild beast. In others he is being held as a slave. In others, no Negroes remain. “. . . If the condition indicated by these charges should continue, both God and man would justly condemn Georgia more severely than man and God have condemned Belgium and Leopold for the Congo atrocities. “In only two of the 135 cases cited is the ‘usual crime’ against white women involved.”—Extracts from Governor Dorsey’s Statements As to the Negro in Georgia. Peonage Case No. 135—“March 30, a Negro, said to have been held in peonage, appealed to a justice of the peace. In the presence of the justice, a Marshal is reported to have beaten the Negro with an axe handle. Nothing has been done to the Marshal.” Case No. 134.—“December, 1920, a white man is reported to have killed a Negro for trying to leave his place. The white man has not been arrested.”— Extracts from Governor Dorsey’s Statements As to the Negro in Georgia. The Negro and the Courts Southern courts are justly notorious for the brand of justice they hand out to the Negro worker. This brand ranges from a fine of $25 for “keeping late hours,” with a convict farm and a boss-driver in the offing if the “offender” cannot raise the money, to sentences to death and long term imprisonments for Negroes accused of resisting exploitation. For example, when in Phillips County, Ark., colored farm hands got together to protest and secure legal action against vicious exploitation and downright robbery under the share-cropping system of the South, those colored farm hands were attacked and shot down by their employers and their gangsters. Those who escaped the massacre were locked up charged with inciting to an insurrection against the white people of the county. In an atmosphere charged with race prejudice and the most virulent hatred, twelve of these men were sentenced to death and sixty-seven to long prison terms. And this horrible frame-up, with its death sentences for 12 and long prison terms for 67, is only one of many such incidents that occur throughout the Southland and, with night-riding, whipping and lynching, contribute to keep the Negro population in a constant state of terrorism and have led to the present Great Migration, coupled with long hours of toil, low wages, unhealthy living conditions, and other forms of savage exploitation. B L A C K B O L S H E V I K S 233 A Free Africa:—The A.B.B. stands for the waging of a determined and unceasing fight for the liberation of Africa without, however, making any surrenders or compromises on other fronts. We have no patience, therefore, with those Negroes who would distract the attention of the Negro workers from the fight for better conditions in the United States to an illusory empire or republic on the continent of Africa. We believe that the Negro workers of America can best help their blood-brothers in Africa by first making of their own group a power in America. The position of 12,000,000 Negroes at the heart of an imperialist power could not long be ignored were those Negroes intelligently organized, courageously led, and co-operating with the organized white workers on the basis of identity of interests of the entire working-class of the world. “To Be a Negro in a Day Like This” THE NEGRO IS reduced to peonage in the Southern States; shut out from labor unions in the North; forced to an inferior status before the courts of the land; made a subject of public contempt everywhere; lynched and mobbed with impunity; deprived of the ballot in the South; segregated in vile, unsanitary districts in cities, both North and South; degraded economically, politically and socially; often persecuted by reason of his very thrift and ambition; denied (and in this he is not unlike most workers) the security of life guaranteed by the Constitution. The A.B.B. believes in inter-racial co-operation—not the sham co-operation of the oppressed Negro workers and their oppressors, but the honest co-operation of colored and white workers based upon mutual appreciation of the fact of the identity of their interests as members of the working class. This is the only interracial co-operation the A.B.B. believes in! The Negro’s Rock of Gibraltar! That to a large extent is what the A.B.B. is today. That is what it must be to a much greater degree tomorrow. And that is the task before every member of the A.B.B. And the way to successfully achieve our task is to organize every Negro into the A.B.B. that we possibly can. Get the intelligent and aggressive. Get the race-conscious. Get those who know the source of their oppression and are accordingly class-conscious as well as race-conscious. Get them all! Organize every Negro into the Brotherhood. Once in, it will be our duty to educate them to become effective units for the waging of the Negro Liberation Struggle. Our educational machinery is functioning perfectly. It has yet to be taxed to capacity. Get them in! O 234 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 SOVIET RUSSIA AND THE NEGRO, CLAUDE MCKAY The label of propaganda will be affixed to what I say here. I shall not mind; propaganda has now come into its respectable rights and I am proud of being a propagandist. The difference between propaganda and art was impressed on my boyhood mind by a literary mentor, Milton’s poetry and his political prose set side by side as the supreme examples. So too, my teacher,—splendid and broadminded though he was, yet unconsciously biased against what he felt was propaganda— thought that that gilt-washed artificiality, The Picture of Dorian Gray, would outlive Arms and the Man and John Bull’s Other Island. But inevitably as I grew older I had perforce to revise and change my mind about propaganda. I lighted on one of Milton’s greatest sonnets that was pure propaganda and a widening horizon revealed that some of the finest spirits of modern literature—Voltaire, Hugo, Heine, Swift, Shelley, Byron, Tolstoy, Ibsen—had carried the taint of propaganda. The broader view did not merely include propaganda literature in my literary outlook; it also swung me away from the childish age of the enjoyment of creative work for pleasurable curiosity to another extreme where I have always sought for the motivating force or propaganda intent that underlies all literature of interest. My birthright, and the historical background of the race that gave it to me, made me very respectful and receptive of propaganda and world events since the year 1914 have proved that it is no mean science of convincing information. American Negroes are not as yet deeply permeated with the mass movement spirit and so fail to realize the importance of organized propaganda. It was Marcus Garvey’s greatest contribution to the Negro movement; his pioneer work in that field is a feat that the men of broader understanding and sounder ideas who will follow him must continue. It was not until I first came to Europe in 1919 that I came to a full realization and understanding of the effectiveness of the insidious propaganda in general that is maintained against the Negro race. And it was not by the occasional affront of the minority of civilized fiends—mainly those Europeans who had been abroad, engaged in the business of robbing colored peoples in their native land—that I gained my knowledge, but rather through the questions about the Negro that were put to me by genuinely sympathetic and cultured persons. The average Europeans who read the newspapers, the popular books and journals, and go to see the average play and a Mary Pickford movie, are very dense about the problem of the Negro; and they are the most important section of the general public that the Negro propagandists would reach. For them the tragedy of the American Negro ended with Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Emancipation. And since then they have been aware only of the comedy—the Negro minstrel and vaudevillian, the boxer, the black mammy and butler of the cinematograph, the caricatures of the romances and the lynched savage who has violated a beautiful white girl. A very few ask if Booker T. Washington is doing well or if the “Black Star Line” is running; perhaps some one less discreet than sagacious will wonder how colored men can hanker so much after white women in face of the lynching penalty. Misinformation, indifference and levity sum up the attitude of western Europe This space left intentionally blank. B L A C K B O L S H E V I K S 235 towards the Negro. There is the superior but very fractional intellectual minority that knows better, but whose influence on public opinion is infinitesimal, and so it may be comparatively easy for white American propagandists—whose interests behoove them to misrepresent the Negro—to turn the general indifference into hostile antagonism if American Negroes who have the intellectual guardianship of racial interests do not organize effectively, and on a world scale, to combat their white exploiters and traducers. The world war has fundamentally altered the status of Negroes in Europe. It brought thousands of them from America and the British and French colonies to participate in the struggle against the Central Powers. Since then serious clashes have come about in England between the blacks that later settled down in the seaport towns and the natives. France has brought in her black troops to do police duty in the occupied districts of Germany. The color of these troops, and their customs too, are different and strange and the nature of their work would naturally make their presence irritating and unbearable to the inhabitants whose previous knowledge of Negroes has been based, perhaps, on their prowess as cannibals. And besides, the presence of these troops provides rare food for the chauvinists of a once proud and overbearing race, now beaten down and drinking the dirtiest dregs of humiliation under the bayonets of the victor. . . . The world upheaval having brought the three greatest European nations— England, France and Germany—into closer relationship with Negroes, colored Americans should seize the opportunity to promote finer inter-racial understanding. As white Americans in Europe are taking advantage of the situation to intensify their propaganda against the blacks, so must Negroes meet that with a strong counter-movement. Negroes should realize that the supremacy of American capital today proportionately increases American influence in the politics and social life of the world. Every American official abroad, every smug tourist, is a protagonist of dollar culture and a propagandist against the Negro. Besides brandishing the Rooseveltian stick in the face of the lesser new world natives, America holds an economic club over the heads of all the great European nations, excepting Russia, and so those bold individuals in Western Europe who formerly sneered at dollar culture may yet find it necessary and worth while to be discreetly silent. As American influence increases in the world, and especially in Europe, through the extension of American capital, the more necessary it becomes for all struggling minorities of the United States to organize extensively for the world wide propagation of their grievances. Such propaganda efforts, besides strengthening the cause at home, will certainly enlist the sympathy and help of those foreign groups that are carrying on a life and death struggle to escape the octuple arms of American business interests. And the Negro, as the most suppressed and persecuted minority, should use this period of ferment in international affairs to lift his cause out of his national obscurity and force it forward as a prime international issue. Though Western Europe can be reported as being quite ignorant and apathetic of the Negro in world affairs, there is one great nation with an arm in Europe that is thinking intelligently on the Negro as it does about all international This space left intentionally blank. 236 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 problems. When the Russian workers overturned their infamous government in 1917, one of the first acts of the new Premier, Lenin, was a proclamation greeting all the oppressed peoples throughout the world, exhorting them to organize and unite against the common international oppressor—Private Capitalism. Later on in Moscow, Lenin himself grappled with the question of the American Negroes and spoke on the subject before the Second Congress of the Third International. He consulted with John Reed, the American journalist, and dwelt on the urgent necessity of propaganda and organizational work among the Negroes of the South. The subject was not allowed to drop. When Sen Katayama of Japan, the veteran revolutionist, went from the United States to Russia in 1921 he placed the American Negro problem first upon his full agenda. And ever since he has been working unceasingly and unselfishly to promote the cause of the exploited American Negro among the Soviet councils of Russia. With the mammoth country securely under their control, and despite the great energy and thought that are being poured into the revival of the national industry, the vanguard of the Russian workers and the national minorities, now set free from imperial oppression are thinking seriously about the fate of the oppressed classes, the suppressed national and racial minorities in the rest of Europe, Asia, Africa and America. They feel themselves kin in spirit to these people. They want to help make them free. And not the least of the oppressed that fill the thoughts of the new Russia are the Negroes of America and Africa. If we look back two decades to recall how the Czarist persecution of the Russian Jews agitated Democratic America, we will get some idea of the mind of Liberated Russia towards the Negroes of America. The Russian people are reading the terrible history of their own recent past in the tragic position of the American Negro to-day. Indeed, the Southern States can well serve the purpose of showing what has happened in Russia. For if the exploited poor whites of the South could ever transform themselves into making common cause with the persecuted and plundered Negroes, overcome the oppressive oligarchy—the political crackers and robber landlords—and deprive it of all political privileges, the situation would be very similar to that of Soviet Russia to-day. . . . I met with this spirit of sympathetic appreciation and response prevailing in all circles in Moscow and Petrograd. I never guessed what was awaiting me in Russia. I had left America in September of 1922 determined to get there, to see into the new revolutionary life of the people and report on it. I was not a little dismayed when, congenitally averse to notoriety as I am, I found that on stepping upon Russian soil I forthwith became a notorious character. And strangely enough there was nothing unpleasant about my being swept into the surge of revolutionary Russia. For better or for worse every person in Russia is vitally affected by the revolution. No one but a soulless body can live there without being stirred to the depths by it. I reached Russia in November—the month of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International and the Fifth Anniversary of the Russian Revolution. The whole revolutionary nation was mobilized to honor the occasion, Petrograd was magnificent in red flags and streamers. Red flags fluttered against the snow This space left intentionally blank. B L A C K B O L S H E V I K S 237 from all the great granite buildings. Railroad trains, street cars, factories, stores, hotels, schools—all wore decorations. It was a festive month of celebration in which I, as a member of the Negro race, was a very active participant. I was received as though the people had been apprised of, and were prepared for, my coming. When Max Eastman and I tried to bore our way through the dense crowds, that jammed the Tverskaya Street in Moscow on the 7th of November, I was caught, tossed up into the air, and passed along by dozens of stalwart youths. “How warmly excited they get over a strange face!” said Eastman. A young Russian Communist remarked: “But where is the difference? Some of the Indians are as dark as you.” To which another replied: “The lines of the face are different, the Indians have been with us long. The people instinctively see the difference.” And so always the conversation revolved around me until my face flamed. The Moscow press printed long articles about the Negroes in America, a poet was inspired to rhyme about the Africans looking to Soviet Russia and soon I was in demand everywhere—at the lectures of poets and journalists, the meetings of soldiers and factory workers. Slowly I began losing self-consciousness with the realization that I was welcomed thus as a symbol as a member of the great American Negro group—kin to the unhappy black slaves of European Imperialism in Africa—that the workers of Soviet Russia, rejoicing in their freedom, were greeting through me. Russia, in broad terms, is a country where all the races of Europe and of Asia meet and mix. The fact is that under the repressive power of the Czarist bureaucracy the different races preserved a degree of kindly tolerance towards each other. The fierce racial hatreds that flame in the Balkans never existed in Russia. Where in the South no Negro might approach a “cracker” as a man for friendly offices, a Jewish pilgrim in old Russia could find rest and sustenance in the home of an orthodox peasant. It is a problem to define the Russian type by features. The Hindu, the Mongolian, the Persian, the Arab, the West European—all these types may be traced woven into the distinctive polyglot population of Moscow. And so, to the Russian, I was merely another type, but stranger, with which they were not yet familiar. They were curious with me, all and sundry, young and old, in a friendly, refreshing manner. Their curiosity had none of the intolerable impertinence and often downright affront that any very dark colored man, be he Negro, Indian or Arab, would experience in Germany and England. . . . The evenings of the proletarian poets held in the Arbot were much more serious affairs. The leadership was communist, the audience working class and attentive like diligent, elementary school children. To these meetings also came some of the keener intellects from the Domino Café. One of these young women told me that she wanted to keep in touch with all the phases of the new culture. In Petrograd the meetings of the intelligentsia seemed more formal and inclusive. There were such notable men there as Chukovsky the critic, Eugene Zamiatan the celebrated novelist and Marshack the poet and translator of Kipling. The artist and theatre world were also represented. There was no communist spirit in This space left intentionally blank. 238 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 evidence at these intelligentsia gatherings. Frankly there was an undercurrent of hostility to the bolshevists. But I was invited to speak and read my poems whenever I appeared at any of them and treated with every courtesy and consideration as a writer. Among those sophisticated and cultured Russians, many of them speaking from two to four languages, there was no overdoing of the correct thing, no vulgar wonderment and bounderish superiority over a Negro’s being a poet. I was a poet, that was all, and their keen questions showed that they were much more interested in the technique of my poetry, my views on and my position regarding the modern literary movements than in the difference of my color. Although I will not presume that there was no attraction at all in that little difference! . . . During the first days of my visit I felt that the great demonstration of friendliness was somehow expressive of the enthusiastic spirit of the glad anniversary days, that after the month was ended I could calmly settle down to finish the book about the American Negro that the State Publishing Department of Moscow had commissioned me to write, and in the meantime quietly go about making interesting contacts. But my days in Russia were a progression of affectionate enthusiasm of the people towards me. Among the factory workers, the red-starred and chevroned soldiers and sailors, the proletarian students and children, I could not get off as lightly as I did with the intelligentsia. At every meeting I was received with boisterous acclaim, mobbed with friendly demonstration. The women workers of the great bank in Moscow insisted on hearing about the working conditions of the colored women of America and after a brief outline I was asked the most exacting questions concerning the positions that were most available to colored women, their wages and general relationship with the white women workers. The details I could not give; but when I got through, the Russian women passed a resolution sending greetings to the colored women workers of America, exhorting them to organize their forces and send a woman representative to Russia. I received a similar message from the Propaganda Department of the Petrograd Soviet which is managed by Nicoleva, a very energetic woman. There I was shown the new status of the Russian women gained through the revolution of 1917. Capable women can fit themselves for any position; equal pay with men for equal work; full pay during the period of pregnancy and no work for the mother two months before and two months after the confinement. Getting a divorce is comparatively easy and not influenced by money power, detective chicanery and wire pulling. A special department looks into the problems of joint personal property and the guardianship and support of the children. There is no penalty for legal abortion and no legal stigma of illegitimacy attaching to children born out of wedlock. There were no problems of the submerged lower classes and the suppressed national minorities of the old Russia that could not bear comparison with the grievous position of the millions of Negroes in the United States to-day. Just as Negroes are barred from the American Navy and the higher ranks of the Army, so were the Jews and the sons of the peasantry and proletariat discriminated against in the Russian Empire. It is needless repetition of the obvious to say that This space left intentionally blank. B L A C K B O L S H E V I K S 239 Soviet Russia does not tolerate such discriminations, for the actual government of the country is now in the hands of the combined national minorities, the peasantry and the proletariat. By the permission of Leon Trotsky, Commissar-in-chief of the military and naval forces of Soviet Russia, I visited the highest military schools in the Kremlin and environs of Moscow. And there I saw the new material, the sons of the working people in training as cadets by the old officers of the upper classes. For two weeks I was a guest of the Red navy in Petrograd with the same eager proletarian youth of new Russia, who conducted me through the intricate machinery of submarines, took me over aeroplanes captured from the British during the counter-revolutionary war around Petrograd and showed me the making of a warship ready for action. And even of greater interest was the life of the men and the officers, the simplified discipline that was strictly enforced, the food that was served for each and all alike, the extra political educational classes and the extreme tactfulness and elasticity of the political commissars, all communists, who act as advisers and arbitrators between the men and students and the officers. Twice or thrice I was given some of the kasha which is sometimes served with the meals. In Moscow I grew to like this food very much, but it was always difficult to get. I had always imagined that it was quite unwholesome and unpalatable and eaten by the Russian peasant only on account of extreme poverty. But on the contrary I found it very rare and sustaining when cooked right with a bit of meat and served with butter—a grain food very much like the common but very delicious West Indian rice-and-peas. The red cadets are seen in the best light at their gymnasium exercises and at the political assemblies when discipline is set aside. Especially at the latter where a visitor feels that he is in the midst of the early revolutionary days, so hortatory are the speeches, so intense the enthusiasm of the men. At all these meetings I had to speak and the students asked me general questions about the Negro in the American Army and Navy, and when I gave them the common information, known to all American Negroes, students, officers and commissars were unanimous in wishing that a group of young American Negroes would take up training to become officers in the Army and Navy of Soviet Russia. The proletarian students of Moscow were eager to learn of the life and work of Negro students. They sent messages of encouragement and good will to the Negro students of America and, with a fine gesture of fellowship, elected the Negro delegate of the American Communist Party and myself to honorary membership in the Moscow Soviet. Those Russian days remain the most memorable of my life. The intellectual Communists and the intelligentsia were interested to know that America had produced a formidable body of Negro intelligentsia and professionals, possessing a distinctive literature and cultural and business interests alien to the white man’s. And they think naturally, that the militant leaders of the intelligentsia must feel and express the spirit of revolt that is slumbering in the inarticulate Negro masses, precisely as the emancipation movement of the Russian masses had passed through similar phases. This space left intentionally blank. 240 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 Russia is prepared and waiting to receive couriers and heralds of good will and interracial understanding from the Negro race. Her demonstration of friendliness and equality for Negroes may not conduce to promote healthy relations between Soviet Russia and democratic America, the anthropologists of 100 per cent pure white Americanism may soon invoke Science to prove that the Russians are not at all God’s white people. I even caught a little of American anti-Negro propaganda in Russia. A friend of mine, a member of the Moscow intelligentsia repeated to me the remarks of the lady correspondent of a Danish newspaper: that I should not be taken as a representative Negro for she had lived in America and found all Negroes lazy, bad and vicious, a terror to white women. In Petrograd I got a like story from Chukovsky, the critic, who was on intimate terms with a high worker of the American Relief Administration and his southern wife. Chukovsky is himself an intellectual “westerner,” the term applied to those Russians who put Western-European civilization before Russian culture and believe that Russia’s salvation lies in becoming completely westernized. He had spent an impressionable part of his youth in London and adores all things English, and during the world war was very pro-English. For the American democracy, also, he expresses unfeigned admiration. He has more Anglo-American books than Russian in his fine library and considers the literary section of The New York Times a journal of a very high standard. He is really a maniac of AngloSaxon American culture. Chukovsky was quite incredulous when I gave him the facts of the Negro’s status in American civilization. “The Americans are a people of such great energy and ability,” he said, “how could they act so petty towards a racial minority?” And then he related an experience of his in London that bore a strong smell of cracker breath. However, I record it here in the belief that it is authentic for Chukovsky is a man of integrity: About the beginning of the century, he was sent to England as correspondent of a newspaper in Odessa, but in London he was more given to poetic dreaming and studying English literature in the British Museum and rarely sent any news home. So he lost his job and had to find cheap, furnished rooms. A few weeks later, after he had taken up his residence in new quarters, a black guest arrived, an American gentleman of the cloth. The preacher procured a room on the top floor and used the dining and sitting room with the other guests, among whom was a white American family. The latter protested the presence of the Negro in the house and especially in the guest room. The landlady was in a dilemma, she could not lose her American boarders and the cleryman’s money was not to be despised. At last she compromised by getting the white Americans to agree to the Negro’s staying without being allowed the privilege of the guest room, and Chukovsky was asked to tell the Negro the truth. Chukovsky strode upstairs to give the unpleasant facts to the preacher and to offer a little consolation, but the black man was not unduly offended: “The white guests have the right to object to me,” he explained, anticipating Garvey, “they belong to a superior race.” “But,” said Chukovsky, “I do not object to you, I don’t feel any difference; we don’t understand color prejudice in Russia.” This space left intentionally blank. M A R C U S G A R V E Y A N D T H E U N I A 241 “Well,” philosophized the preacher, “you are very kind, but taking the scriptures as authority, I don’t consider the Russians to be white people.” Sources: (1) “What the African Blood Brotherhood Stands For,” originally published in the Communist Review [London] 2 (April 1922), pp. 448–54; and (2) Claude McKay, excerpt from “Soviet Russia and the Negro,” originally published in The Crisis 27 (December 1923), pp. 61–65, and (January 1924), pp. 114–18, reprinted by permission of The Crisis. The editors wish to thank the Crisis Publishing Co., Inc., the publisher of the magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, for the use of the material from The Crisis. This space S E L E left C T B intentionally I B L I O G R A P H Y : blank. Clifton C. Hawkins, “‘Race First Versus Class First’: An Intellectual History of AfroAmerican Radicalism, 1911–1928” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Davis, 2000). Winston James, Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia: Caribbean Radicalism in Early Twentieth-Century American (London: Verso, 1998). R. A. Kuykendall, “African Blood Brotherhood, Independent Marxist During the Harlem Renaissance,” Western Journal of Black Studies 26, no 1 (Spring 2002), pp. 16–21. Minkah Makalani, “For the Liberation of Black People Everywhere: The African Blood Brotherhood, Black Radicalism, and Pan-African Liberation in the New Negro Movement” (Ph.D. diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2004). Mark Solomon, The Cry Was Unity: Communists and African-Americans, 1917–1936 (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998). O4O Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association Marcus Garvey (1887–1940) was the charismatic leader and organizer of the largest black nationalist movement in history, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Born in Jamaica, Garvey worked as a journalist and printer in the Caribbean, Central America, and Britain. Inspired by the ideas of Booker T. Washington, Garvey launched the UNIA as a self-help organization for people of African descent. Entering the United States in 1916, Garvey promptly built a mass-based organization of largely working-class and poor black people. His dynamic speaking ability and his flair for public demonstrations captured the popular imagination of the black masses. The UNIA established more than seven hundred branch organizations throughout the United States, and several hundred more across the Caribbean and Africa. British and U.S. authorities continually harassed and undermined Garvey’s organizations, and Garvey himself was imprisoned in Atlanta in 1925. Deported from the United States two years later, the UNIA gradually declined as an organized movement. Garvey died in London in 1940, but his life and legacy continue to influence black nationalist and PanAfricanist politics throughout the black diaspora. 242 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 O DECLARATION OF RIGHTS OF THE NEGRO PEOPLES OF THE WORLD PREAMBLE “Be it Resolved, That the Negro people of the world, through their chosen representatives in convention assembled in Liberty Hall, in the City of New York and United States of America, from August 1 to August 31, in the year of our Lord, one thousand nine hundred and twenty, protest against the wrongs and injustices they are suffering at the hands of their white brethren, and state what they deem their fair and just rights, as well as the treatment they propose to demand of all men in the future.” We complain: I. “That nowhere in the world, with few exceptions, are black men accorded equal treatment with white men, although in the same situation and circumstances, but, on the contrary, are discriminated against and denied the common rights due to human beings for no other reason than their race and color.” “We are not willingly accepted as guests in the public hotels and inns of the world for no other reason than our race and color.” II. “In certain parts of the United States of America our race is denied the right of public trial accorded to other races when accused of crime, but are lynched and burned by mobs, and such brutal and inhuman treatment is even practised upon our women.” III. “That European nations have parceled out among themselves and taken possession of nearly all of the continent of Africa, and the natives are compelled to surrender their lands to aliens and are treated in most instances like slaves.” IV. “In the southern portion of the United States of America, although citizens under the Federal Constitution, and in some states almost equal to the whites in population and are qualified land owners and taxpayers, we are, nevertheless, denied all voice in the making and administration of the laws and are taxed without representation by the state governments, and at the same time compelled to do military service in defense of the country.” V. “On the public conveyances and common carriers in the Southern portion of the United States we are jim-crowed and compelled to accept separate and inferior accommodations and made to pay the same fare charged for first-class accommodations, and our families are often humiliated and insulted by drunken white men who habitually pass through the jim-crow cars going to the smoking car.” VI. “The physicians of our race are denied the right to attend their patients while in the public hospitals of the cities and states where they reside in certain parts of the United States.” “Our children are forced to attend inferior separate schools for shorter terms than white children, and the public school funds are unequally divided between the white and colored schools.” M A R C U S G A R V E Y A N D T H E U N I A 243 VII. “We are discriminated against and denied an equal chance to earn wages for the support of our families, and in many instances are refused admission into labor unions, and nearly everywhere are paid smaller wages than white men.” VIII. “In Civil Service and departmental offices we are everywhere discriminated against and made to feel that to be a black man in Europe, America and the West Indies is equivalent to being an outcast and a leper among the races of men, no matter what the character and attainments of the black man may be.” IX. “In the British and other West Indian Islands and colonies, Negroes are secretly and cunningly discriminated against, and denied those fuller rights in government to which white citizens are appointed, nominated and elected.” X. “That our people in those parts are forced to work for lower wages than the average standard of white men and are kept in conditions repugnant to good civilized tastes and customs.” XI. “That the many acts of injustice against members of our race before the courts of law in the respective islands and colonies are of such nature as to create disgust and disrespect for the white man’s sense of justice.” XII. “Against all such inhuman, unchristian and uncivilized treatment we here and now emphatically protest, and invoke the condemnation of all mankind.” “In order to encourage our race all over the world and to stimulate it to a higher and grander destiny, we demand and insist on the following Declaration of Rights: 1. “Be it known to all men that whereas, all men are created equal and entitled to the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and because of this we, the duly elected representatives of the Negro peoples of the world, invoking the aid of the just and Almighty God do declare all men, women and children of our blood throughout the world free citizens, and do claim them as free citizens of Africa, the Motherland of all Negroes.” 2. “That we believe in the supreme authority of our race in all things racial; that all things are created and given to man as a common possession; that there should be an equitable distribution and apportionment of all such things, and in consideration of the fact that as a race we are now deprived of those things that are morally and legally ours, we believe it right that all such things should be acquired and held by whatsoever means possible.” 3. “That we believe the Negro, like any other race, should be governed by the ethics of civilization, and, therefore, should not be deprived of any of those rights or privileges common to other human beings.” 4. “We declare that Negroes, wheresoever they form a community among themselves, should be given the right to elect their own representatives to represent them in legislatures, courts of law, or such institutions as may exercise control over that particular community.” 5. “We assert that the Negro is entitled to even-handed justice before all courts of law and equity in whatever country he may be found, and when this is denied him on account of his race or color such denial is an insult to the race as a whole and should be resented by the entire body of Negroes.” 6. “We declare it unfair and prejudicial to the rights of Negroes in communi- 244 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 ties where they exist in considerable numbers to be tried by a judge and jury composed entirely of an alien race, but in all such cases members of our race are entitled to representation on the jury.” 7. “We believe that any law or practice that tends to deprive any African of his land or the privileges of free citizenship within his country is unjust and immoral, and no native should respect any such law or practice.” 8. “We declare taxation without representation unjust and tyrannous, and there should be no obligation on the part of the Negro to obey the levy of a tax by any law-making body from which he is excluded and denied representation on account of his race and color.” 9. “We believe that any law especially directed against the Negro to his detriment and singling him out because of his race or color is unfair and immoral, and should not be respected.” 10. “We believe all men entitled to common human respect, and that our race should in no way tolerate any insults that may be interpreted to mean disrespect to our color.” 11. “We deprecate the use of the term ‘nigger’ as applied to Negroes, and demand that the word ‘Negro’ be written with a capital ‘N.’” 12. “We believe that the Negro should adopt every means to protect himself against barbarous practices inflicted upon him because of color.” 13. “We believe in the freedom of Africa for the Negro people of the world, and by the principle of Europe for the Europeans and Asia for the Asiatics; we also demand Africa for the Africans at home and abroad.” 14. “We believe in the inherent right of the Negro to possess himself of Africa, and that his possession of same shall not be regarded as an infringement on any claim or purchase made by any race or nation.” 15. “We strongly condemn the cupidity of those nations of the world who, by open aggression or secret schemes, have seized the territories and inexhaustible natural wealth of Africa, and we place on record our most solemn determination to reclaim the treasures and possession of the vast continent of our forefathers.” 16. “We believe all men should live in peace one with the other, but when races and nations provoke the ire of other races and nations by attempting to infringe upon their rights, war becomes inevitable, and the attempt in any way to free one’s self or protect one’s rights or heritage becomes justifiable.” 17. “Whereas, the lynching, by burning, hanging or any other means, of human beings is a barbarous practice, and a shame and disgrace to civilization, we therefore declare any country guilty of such atrocities outside the pale of civilization.” 18. “We protest against the atrocious crime of whipping, flogging and overworking of the native tribes of Africa and Negroes everywhere. These are methods that should be abolished, and all means should be taken to prevent a continuance of such brutal practices.” 19. “We protest against the atrocious practice of shaving the heads of Africans, especially of African women or individuals of Negro blood, when placed in prison as a punishment for crime by an alien race.” M A R C U S G A R V E Y A N D T H E U N I A 245 20. “We protest against segregated districts, separate public conveyances, industrial discrimination, lynchings and limitations of political privileges of any Negro citizen in any part of the world on account of race, color or creed, and will exert our full influence and power against all such.” 21. “We protest against any punishment inflicted upon a Negro with severity, as against lighter punishment inflicted upon another of an alien race for like offense, as an act of prejudice and injustice, and should be resented by the entire race.” 22. “We protest against the system of education in any country where Negroes are denied the same privileges and advantages as other races.” 23. “We declare it inhuman and unfair to boycott Negroes from industries and labor in any part of the world.” 24. “We believe in the doctrine of the freedom of the press, and we therefore emphatically protest against the suppression of Negro newspapers and periodicals in various parts of the world, and call upon Negroes everywhere to employ all available means to prevent such suppression.” 25. “We further demand free speech universally for all men.” 26. “We hereby protest against the publication of scandalous and inflammatory articles by an alien press tending to create racial strife and the exhibition of picture films showing the Negro as a cannibal.” 27. “We believe in the self-determination of all peoples.” 28. “We declare for the freedom of religious worship.” 29. “With the help of Almighty God, we declare ourselves the sworn protectors of the honor and virtue of our women and children, and pledge our lives for their protection and defense everywhere, and under all circumstances from wrongs and outrages.” 30. “We demand the right of unlimited and unprejudiced education for ourselves and our posterity forever.” 31. “We declare that the teaching in any school by alien teachers to our boys and girls, that the alien race is superior to the Negro race, is an insult to the Negro people of the world.” 32. “Where Negroes form a part of the citizenry of any country, and pass the civil service examination of such country, we declare them entitled to the same consideration as other citizens as to appointments in such civil service.” 33. “We vigorously protest against the increasingly unfair and unjust treatment accorded Negro travelers on land and sea by the agents and employees of railroad and steamship companies and insist that for equal fare we receive equal privileges with travelers of other races.” 34. “We declare it unjust for any country, State or nation to enact laws tending to hinder and obstruct the free immigration of Negroes on account of their race and color.” 35. “That the right of the Negro to travel unmolested throughout the world be not abridged by any person or persons, and all Negroes are called upon to give aid to a fellow Negro when thus molested.” 36. “We declare that all Negroes are entitled to the same right to travel over the world as other men.” 246 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 37. “We hereby demand that the governments of the world recognize our leader and his representatives chosen by the race to look after the welfare of our people under such governments.” 38. “We demand complete control of our social institutions without interference by any alien race or races.” 39. “That the colors, Red, Black and Green, be the colors of the Negro race.” 40. “Resolved, That the anthem ‘Ethiopia, Thou Land of Our Fathers,’ etc., shall be the anthem of the Negro race.”. . . 41. “We believe that any limited liberty which deprives one of the complete rights and prerogatives of full citizenship is but a modified form of slavery.” 42. “We declare it an injustice to our people and a serious impediment to the health of the race to deny to competent licensed Negro physicians the right to practice in the public hospitals of the communities in which they reside, for no other reason than their race and color.” 43. “We call upon the various governments of the world to accept and acknowledge Negro representatives who shall be sent to the said governments to represent the general welfare of the Negro peoples of the world.” 44. “We deplore and protest against the practice of confining juvenile prisoners in prisons with adults, and we recommend that such youthful prisoners be taught gainful trades under humane supervision.” 45. “Be it further resolved, that we as a race of people declare the League of Nations null and void as far as the Negro is concerned, in that it seeks to deprive Negroes of their liberty.” 46. “We demand of all men to do unto us as we would do unto them, in the name of justice; and we cheerfully accord to all men all the rights we claim herein for ourselves.” 47. “We declare that no Negro shall engage himself in battle for an alien race without first obtaining the consent of the leader of the Negro people of the world, except in a matter of national self-defense.” 48. “We protest against the practice of drafting Negroes and sending them to war with alien forces without proper training, and demand in all cases that Negro soldiers be given the same training as the aliens.” 49. “We demand that instructions given Negro children in schools include the subject of ‘Negro History,’ to their benefit.” 50. “We demand a free and unfettered commercial intercourse with all the Negro people of the world.” 51. “We declare for the absolute freedom of the seas for all peoples.” 52. “We demand that our duly accredited representatives be given proper recognition in all leagues, conferences, conventions or courts of international arbitration wherever human rights are discussed.” 53. “We proclaim the 31st day of August of each year to be an international holiday to be observed by all Negroes.” 54. “We want all men to know we shall maintain and contend for the freedom and equality of every man, woman and child of our race, with our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” M A R C U S G A R V E Y A N D T H E U N I A 247 These rights we believe to be justly ours and proper for the protection of the Negro race at large, and because of this belief we, on behalf of the four hundred million Negroes of the world, do pledge herein the sacred blood of the race in defense, and we hereby subscribe our names as a guarantee of the truthfulness and faithfulness hereof in the presence of Almighty God, on the 13th day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and twenty. O AN APPEAL TO THE CONSCIENCE OF THE BLACK RACE TO SEE ITSELF It is said to be a hard and difficult task to organize and keep together large numbers of the Negro race for the common good. Many have tried to congregate us, but have failed, the reason being that our characteristics are such as to keep us more apart than together. The evil of internal division is wrecking our existence as a people, and if we do not seriously and quickly move in the direction of a readjustment it simply means that our doom becomes imminently conclusive. For years the Universal Negro Improvement Association has been working for the unification of our race, not on domestic-national lines only, but universally. The success which we have met in the course of our effort is rather encouraging, considering the time consumed and the environment surrounding the object of our concern. It seems that the whole world of sentiment is against the Negro, and the difficulty of our generation is to extricate ourselves from the prejudice that hides itself beneath, as well as above, the action of an international environment. Prejudice is conditional on many reasons, and it is apparent that the Negro supplies, consciously or unconsciously, all the reasons by which the world seems to ignore and avoid him. No one cares for a leper, for lepers are infectious persons, and all are afraid of the disease, so because the Negro keeps himself poor, helpless and undemonstrative, it is natural also that no one wants to be of him or with him. Progress and Humanity Progress is the attraction that moves humanity, and to whatever people or race this “modern virtue” attaches itself, there will you find the splendor of pride and self-esteem that never fail to win the respect and admiration of all. It is the progress of the Anglo-Saxons that single them out for the respect of all the world. When their race had no progress or achievement to its credit, then, like all other inferior peoples, they paid the price in slavery, bondage, as well as through prejudice. We cannot forget the time when even the ancient Briton was regarded as being too dull to make a good Roman slave, yet today the influence of that race rules the world. It is the industrial and commercial progress of America that causes Europe and the rest of the world to think appreciatively of the Anglo-American race. It is not because one hundred and ten million people live in the United States that the world is attracted to the republic with so much reverence and respect—a reverence and 248 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 respect not shown to India with its three hundred millions, or to China with its four hundred millions. Progress of and among any people will advance them in the respect and appreciation of the rest of their fellows. It is such a progress that the Negro must attach to himself if he is to rise above the prejudice of the world. The reliance of our race upon the progress and achievements of others for a consideration in sympathy, justice and rights is like a dependence upon a broken stick, resting upon which will eventually consign you to the ground. Self-Reliance and Respect The Universal Negro Improvement Association teaches our race self-help and self-reliance, not only in one essential, but in all those things that contribute to human happiness and well-being. The disposition of the many to depend upon the other races for a kindly and sympathetic consideration of their needs, without making the effort to do for themselves, has been the race’s standing disgrace by which we have been judged and through which we have created the strongest prejudice against ourselves. There is no force like success, and that is why the individual makes all efforts to surround himself throughout life with the evidence of it. As of the individual, so should it be of the race and nation. The glittering success of Rockefeller makes him a power in the American nation; the success of Henry Ford suggests him as an object of universal respect, but no one knows and cares about the bum or hobo who is Rockefeller’s or Ford’s neighbor. So, also, is the world attracted by the glittering success of races and nations, and pays absolutely no attention to the bum or hobo race that lingers by the wayside. The Negro must be up and doing if he will break down the prejudice of the rest of the world. Prayer alone is not going to improve our condition, nor the policy of watchful waiting. We must strike out for ourselves in the course of material achievement, and by our own effort and energy present to the world those forces by which the progress of man is judged. A Nation and Country The Negro needs a nation and a country of his own, where he can best show evidence of his own ability in the art of human progress. Scattered as an unmixed and unrecognized part of alien nations and civilizations is but to demonstrate his imbecility, and point him out as an unworthy derelict, fit neither for the society of Greek, Jew nor Gentile. It is unfortunate that we should so drift apart, as a race, as not to see that we are but perpetuating our own sorrow and disgrace in failing to appreciate the first great requisite of all peoples—organization. Organization is a great power in directing the affairs of a race or nation toward a given goal. To properly develop the desires that are uppermost, we must first concentrate through some system or method, and there is none better than organization. Hence, the Universal Negro Improvement Association appeals to each and every Negro to throw in his lot with those of us who, through organization, M A R C U S G A R V E Y A N D T H E U N I A 249 are working for the universal emancipation of our race and the redemption of our common country, Africa. No Negro, let him be American, European, West Indian or African, shall be truly respected until the race as a whole has emancipated itself through selfachievement and progress, from universal prejudice. The Negro will have to build his own government, industry, art, science, literature and culture, before the world will stop to consider him. Until then, we are but wards of a superior race and civilization, and the outcasts of a standard social system. The race needs workers at this time, not plagiarists, copyists and mere imitators; but men and women who are able to create, to originate and improve, and thus make an independent racial contribution to the world and civilization. Monkey Apings of “Leaders” The unfortunate thing about us is that we take the monkey apings of our “socalled leading men” for progress. There is no progress in aping white people and telling us that they represent the best in the race, for in that respect any dressed monkey would represent the best of its species, irrespective of the creative matter of the monkey instinct. The best in a race is not reflected through or by the action of its apes, but by its ability to create of and by itself. It is such a creation that the Universal Negro Improvement Association seeks. Let us not try to be the best or worst of others, but let us make the effort to be the best of ourselves. Our own racial critics criticise us as dreamers and “fanatics,” and call us “benighted” and “ignorant,” because they lack racial backbone. They are unable to see themselves creators of their own needs. The slave instinct has not yet departed from them. They still believe that they can only live or exist through the good graces of their “masters.” The good slaves have not yet thrown off their shackles; thus, to them, the Universal Negro Improvement Association is an “impossibility.” It is the slave spirit of dependence that causes our “so-called leading men” (apes) to seek the shelter, leadership, protection and patronage of the “master” in their organization and so-called advancement work. It is the spirit of feeling secured as good servants of the master, rather than as independents, why our modern Uncle Toms take pride in laboring under alien leadership and becoming surprised at the audacity of the Universal Negro Improvement Association in proclaiming for racial liberty and independence. But the world of white and other men, deep down in their hearts, have much more respect for those of us who work for our racial salvation under the banner of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, than they could ever have in all eternity for a group of helpless apes and beggars who make a monopoly of undermining their own race and belittling themselves in the eyes of self-respecting people, by being “good boys” rather than able men. Surely there can be no good will between apes, seasoned beggars and independent minded Negroes who will at least make an effort to do for themselves. Surely, the “dependents” and “wards” (and may I not say racial imbeciles?) will 250 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 rave against and plan the destruction of movements like the Universal Negro Improvement Association that expose them to the liberal white minds of the world as not being representative of the best in the Negro, but, to the contrary, the worst. The best of a race does not live on the patronage and philanthropy of others, but makes an effort to do for itself. The best of the great white race doesn’t fawn before and beg black, brown or yellow men; they go out, create for self and thus demonstrate the fitness of the race to survive; and so the white race of America and the world will be informed that the best in the Negro race is not the class of beggars who send out to other races piteous appeals annually for donations to maintain their coterie, but the groups within us that are honestly striving to do for themselves with the voluntary help and appreciation of that class of other races that is reasonable, just and liberal enough to give to each and every one a fair chance in the promotion of those ideals that tend to greater human progress and human love. The work of the Universal Negro Improvement Association is clear and cleancut. It is that of inspiring an unfortunate race with pride in self and with the determination of going ahead in the creation of those ideals that will lift them to the unprejudiced company of races and nations. There is no desire for hate or malice, but every wish to see all mankind linked into a common fraternity of progress and achievement that will wipe away the odor of prejudice, and elevate the human race to the height of real godly love and satisfaction. Sources: (1) Excerpt from “Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World,” August 1920, originally published in Amy Jacques Garvey, ed., Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, Vol. 2 (New York: Universal Publishing House, 1925), pp. 135–42; and (2) “An Appeal to the Conscience of the Black Race to See Itself,” in Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Randall K. Burkett, Garveyism as a Religious Movement: The Institutionalization of a Black Civil Religion (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1978). Amy Jacques Garvey, Garvey and Garveyism (Kingston, Jamaica: A. Jacques Garvey, 1963). Claudrena N. Harold, The Rise and Fall of the Garvey Movement in the Urban South, 1918–1942 (London: Routledge, 2007). Robert A. Hill and Association Universal Negro Improvement, eds., The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, 10 vols. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983). Rupert Lewis, Marcus Garvey: Anti-Colonial Champion (Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1988). Mary G. Rolinson, Grassroots Garveyism: The Universal Negro Improvement Association in the Rural South, 1920–1927 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007). Jeannette Smith-Irvin, Footsliders of the Universal Negro Improvement Association: Their Own Words (Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1989). Emory J. Tolbert, The UNIA and Black Los Angeles: Ideology and Community in the American Garvey Movement (Los Angeles: Center for Afro-American Studies, University of California Press, 1980). Theodore G. Vincent, Black Power and the Garvey Movement (Berkeley, Ca.: Ramparts Press, 1971). A . E . J . G A R V E Y, “ W O M E N A S L E A D E R S ” 251 O5O “Women as Leaders,” Amy Euphemia Jacques Garvey, 1925 Amy Euphemia Jacques Garvey (1896–1973) was one of the key political leaders, archivists, and interpreters of the Garvey movement. As Garvey’s second wife, she frequently represented her husband at public meetings and events. She was a regular columnist in the UNIA’s newspaper, The Negro World. Garvey was a forceful advocate of women’s rights and participated in the famous Fifth Pan-African Congress held in Manchester, England, in 1945. Her 1963 book Garvey and Garveyism was partially responsible for reviving interest in the UNIA and the Garvey movement. O The exigencies of this present age require that women take their places beside their men. White women are rallying all their forces and uniting regardless of national boundaries to save their race from destruction, and preserve its ideals for posterity. . . . White men have begun to realize that as women are the backbone of the home, so can they, by their economic experience and their aptitude for details, participate effectively in guiding the destiny of nation and race. No line of endeavor remains closed for long to the modern woman. She agitates for equal opportunities and gets them; she makes good on the job and gains the respect of men who heretofore opposed her. She prefers to be a breadwinner than a half-starved wife at home. She is not afraid of hard work, and by being independent she gets more out of the present-day husband than her grandmother did in the good old days. The women of the East, both yellow and black, are slowly but surely imitating the women of the Western world, and as the white women are bolstering up a decaying white civilization, even so women of the darker races are sallying forth to help their men establish a civilization according to their own standards, and to strive for world leadership. Women of all climes and races have as great a part to play in the development of their particular group as the men. Some readers may not agree with us on this issue, but do they not mould the minds of their children the future men and women? Even before birth a mother can so direct her thoughts and conduct as to bring into the world either a genius or an idiot. Imagine the early years of contact between mother and child, when she directs his form of speech, and is responsible for his conduct and deportment. Many a man has risen from the depths of poverty and obscurity and made his mark in life because of the advices and councils of a good mother whose influence guided his footsteps throughout his life. Women therefore are extending this holy influence outside the realms of the home, softening the ills of the world by their gracious and kindly contact. Some men may argue that the home will be broken up and women will become coarse and lose their gentle appeal. We do not think so, because 252 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 everything can be done with moderation. . . . The doll-baby type of woman is a thing of the past, and the wide-awake woman is forging ahead prepared for all emergencies, and ready to answer any call, even if it be to face the cannons on the battlefield. New York has a woman Secretary of State. Two States have women Governors, and we would not be surprised if within the next ten years a woman graces the White House in Washington, D.C. Women are also filling diplomatic positions, and from time immemorial women have been used as spies to get information for their country. White women have greater opportunities to display their ability because of the standing of both races, and due to the fact that black men are less appreciative of their women than white men. The former will more readily sing the praises of white women than their own; yet who is more deserving of admiration than the black woman, she who has borne the rigors of slavery, the deprivations consequent on a pauperized race, and the indignities heaped upon a weak and defenseless people? Yet she has suffered all with fortitude, and stands ever ready to help in the onward march to freedom and power. Be not discouraged black women of the world, but push forward, regardless of the lack of appreciation shown you. A race must be saved, a country must be redeemed, and unless you strengthen the leadership of vacillating Negro men, we will remain marking time until the Yellow race gains leadership of the world, and we be forced to subserviency under them, or extermination. We are tired of hearing Negro men say, “There is a better day coming,” while they do nothing to usher in the day. We are becoming so impatient that we are getting in the front ranks, and serve notice on the world that we will brush aside the halting, cowardly Negro men, and with prayer on our lips and arms prepared for any fray, we will press on and on until victory is over. Africa must be for Africans, and Negroes everywhere must be independent, God being our guide. Mr. Black man, watch your step! Ethiopia’s queens will reign again, and her Amazons protect her shores and people. Strengthen your shaking knees, and move forward, or we will displace you and lead on to victory and to glory. Source: “Women as Leaders,” from The Negro World (October 25, 1925). S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Karen Adler, “‘Always Leading Our Men in Service and Sacrifice’: Amy Jacques Garvey, Feminist Black Nationalist,” Gender & Society 6, no. 3 (September 1992), pp. 346–75. Amy Jacques Garvey, Garvey and Garveyism (Kingston, Jamaica: A. Jacques Garvey, 1963). Mark D. Matthews, “Our Women and What They Think, Amy Jacques Garvey and the Negro World,” Black Scholar 10, nos. 8–9 (1979), pp. 2–18. Ula Yvette Taylor, “The Veiled Garvey: The Life and Times of Amy Jacques Garvey” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1992). L A N G S T O N H U G H E S A N D T H E H A R L E M R E N A I S S A N C E 253 O6O Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance The rise of Harlem as a cultural and social center for black America created the context for a new black intelligentsia. Writers, musicians, and artists came to Harlem, attempting to redefine the parameters of Negro aesthetics and creativity. These “New Negroes” saw themselves as products of a modern age, breaking with established traditions and celebrating black life and culture. The Harlem Renaissance represents the artistic and cultural production of this generation, defined roughly from the Red Summer of 1919 through the early years of the Great Depression. Along with Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, Nella Larsen, and Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes (1902–1967) was a leading light of the Harlem Renaissance. Sometimes called “The Shakespeare of Harlem,” Hughes studied at Columbia University and rose to prominence with his first collection of poetry, Weary Blues (1926). In addition to poetry, Hughes published plays, novels, stories, essays, and an autobiography. At the start of his career, Hughes’s work often centered upon the daily lives of African Americans, and he employed black working-class vernacular drawn from African-American musical traditions (mainly blues). With the advent of the Great Depression, however, his work became more overtly political, reflecting his interest in Marxism. By World War II, Hughes’s reputation as black America’s most popular poet was firmly established. O THE NEGRO ARTIST AND THE RACIAL MOUNTAIN One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, “I want to be a poet—not a Negro poet,” meaning, I believe, “I want to write like a white poet”; meaning subconsciously, “I would like to be a white poet”; meaning behind that, “I would like to be white.” And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself. And I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet. But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible. But let us look at the immediate background of this young poet. His family is of what I suppose one would call the Negro middle class: people who are by no means rich yet never uncomfortable nor hungry—smug, contented, respectable folk, members of the Baptist church. The father goes to work every morning. He is a chief steward at a large white club. The mother sometimes does fancy sewing 254 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 or supervises parties for the rich families of the town. The children go to a mixed school. In the home they read white papers and magazines. And the mother often says “Don’t be like niggers” when the children are bad. A frequent phrase from the father is, “Look how well a white man does things.” And so the word white comes to be unconsciously a symbol of all the virtues. It holds for the children beauty, morality, and money. The whisper of “I want to be white” runs silently through their minds. This young poet’s home is, I believe, a fairly typical home of the colored middle class. One sees immediately how difficult it would be for an artist born in such a home to interest himself in interpreting the beauty of his own people. He is never taught to see that beauty. He is taught rather not to see it, or if he does, to be ashamed of it when it is not according to Caucasian patterns. For racial culture the home of a self-styled “high-class” Negro has nothing better to offer. Instead there will perhaps be more aping of things white than in a less cultured or less wealthy home. The father is perhaps a doctor, lawyer, landowner, or politician. The mother may be a social worker, or a teacher, or she may do nothing and have a maid. Father is often dark but he has usually married the lightest woman he could find. The family attend a fashionable church where few really colored faces are to be found. And they themselves draw a color line. In the North they go to white theaters and white movies. And in the South they have at least two cars and a house “like white folks.” Nordic manners, Nordic faces, Nordic hair, Nordic art (if any), and an Episcopal heaven. A very high mountain indeed for the would-be racial artist to climb in order to discover himself and his people. But then there are the low-down folks, the so-called common element, and they are the majority—may the Lord be praised! The people who have their nip of gin on Saturday nights and are not too important to themselves or the community, or too well fed, or too learned to watch the lazy world go round. They live on Seventh Street in Washington or State Street in Chicago and they do not particularly care whether they are like white folks or anybody else. Their joy runs, bang! into ecstasy. Their religion soars to a shout. Work maybe a little today, rest a little tomorrow. Play awhile. Sing awhile. O, let’s dance! These common people are not afraid of spirituals, as for a long time their more intellectual brethren were, and jazz is their child. They furnish a wealth of colorful, distinctive material for any artist because they still hold their own individuality in the face of American standardizations. And perhaps these common people will give to the world its truly great Negro artist, the one who is not afraid to be himself. Whereas the better-class Negro would tell the artist what to do, the people at least let him alone when he does appear. And they are not ashamed of him—if they know he exists at all. And they accept what beauty is their own without question. Certainly there is, for the American Negro artist who can escape the restrictions the more advanced among his own group would put upon him, a great field of unused material ready for his art. Without going outside his race, and even among the better classes with their “white” culture and conscious American manners, but still Negro enough to be different, there is sufficient matter to furnish a L A N G S T O N H U G H E S A N D T H E H A R L E M R E N A I S S A N C E 255 black artist with a lifetime of creative work. And when he chooses to touch on the relations between Negroes and whites in this country with their innumerable overtones and undertones, surely, and especially for literature and the drama, there is an inexhaustible supply of themes at hand. To these the Negro artist can give his racial individuality, his heritage of rhythm and warmth, and his incongruous humor that so often, as in the Blues, becomes ironic laughter mixed with tears. But let us look again at the mountain. A prominent Negro clubwoman in Philadelphia paid eleven dollars to hear Raquel Meller sing Andalusian popular songs. But she told me a few weeks before she would not think of going to hear “that woman,” Clara Smith, a great black artist, sing Negro folksongs. And many an upper-class Negro church, even now, would not dream of employing a spiritual in its services. The drab melodies in white folks’ hymnbooks are much to be preferred. “We want to worship the Lord correctly and quietly. We don’t believe in ‘shouting.’ Let’s be dull like the Nordics,” they say, in effect. The road for the serious black artist, then, who would produce a racial art is most certainly rocky and the mountain is high. Until recently he received almost no encouragement for his work from either white or colored people. The fine novels of Chesnutt go out of print with neither race noticing their passing. The quaint charm and humor of Dunbar’s dialect verse brought to him, in his day, largely the same kind of encouragement one would give a side-show freak (A colored man writing poetry! How odd!) or a clown (How amusing!). The present vogue in things Negro, although it may do as much harm as good for the budding colored artist, has at least done this: it has brought him forcibly to the attention of his own people among whom for so long, unless the other race had noticed him beforehand, he was a prophet with little honor. I understand that Charles Gilpin acted for years in Negro theaters without any special acclaim from his own, but when Broadway gave him eight curtain calls, Negroes, too, began to beat a tin pan in his honor. I know a young colored writer, a manual worker by day, who had been writing well for the colored magazines for some years, but it was not until he recently broke into the white publications and his first book was accepted by a prominent New York publisher that the “best” Negroes in his city took the trouble to discover that he lived there. Then almost immediately they decided to give a grand dinner for him. But the society ladies were careful to whisper to his mother that perhaps she’d better not come. They were not sure she would have an evening gown. The Negro artist works against an undertow of sharp criticism and misunderstanding from his own group and unintentional bribes from the whites. “O, be respectable, write about nice people, show how good we are,” say the Negroes. “Be stereotyped, don’t go too far, don’t shatter our illusions about you, don’t amuse us too seriously. We will pay you,” say the whites. Both would have told Jean Toomer not to write “Cane.” The colored people did not praise it. The white people did not buy it. Most of the colored people who did read “Cane” hate it. They are afraid of it. Although the critics gave it good reviews the public 256 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 remained indifferent. Yet (excepting the work of Du Bois) “Cane” contains the finest prose written by a Negro in America. And like the singing of Robeson, it is truly racial. But in spite of the Nordicized Negro intelligentsia and the desires of some white editors we have an honest American Negro literature already with us. Now I await the rise of the Negro theater. Our folk music, having achieved world-wide fame, offers itself to the genius of the great individual American Negro composer who is to come. And within the next decade I expect to see the work of a growing school of colored artists who paint and model the beauty of dark faces and create with new technique the expressions of their own soul-world. And the Negro dancers who will dance like flame and the singers who will continue to carry our songs to all who listen—they will be with us in even greater numbers tomorrow. Most of my own poems are racial in theme and treatment, derived from the life I know. In many of them I try to grasp and hold some of the meanings and rhythms of jazz. I am sincere as I know how to be in these poems and yet after every reading I answer questions like these from my own people: Do you think Negroes should always write about Negroes? I wish you wouldn’t read some of your poems to white folks. How do you find anything interesting in a place like a cabaret? Why do you write about black people? You aren’t black. What makes you do so many jazz poems? But jazz to me is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America: the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul—the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world, a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tomtom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile. Yet the Philadelphia clubwoman is ashamed to say that her race created it and she does not like me to write about it. The old subconscious “white is best” runs through her mind. Years of study under white teachers, a life-time of white books, pictures, and papers, and white manners, morals, and Puritan standards made her dislike the spirituals. And now she turns up her nose at jazz and all its manifestations—likewise almost everything else distinctly racial. She doesn’t care for the Winold Reiss portraits of Negroes because they are “too Negro.” She does not want a true picture of herself from anybody. She wants the artist to flatter her, to make the white world believe that all Negroes are as smug and as near white in soul as she wants to be. But, to my mind, it is the duty of the younger Negro artist, if he accepts any duties at all from outsiders, to change through the force of his art that old whispering “I want to be white,” hidden in the aspirations of his people, to “Why should I want to be white? I am a Negro—and beautiful!” So I am ashamed for the black poet who says, “I want to be a poet, not a Negro poet,” as though his own racial world were not as interesting as any other world. I am ashamed, too, for the colored artist who runs from the painting of Negro faces to the painting of sunsets after the manner of the academicians because he fears the strange un-whiteness of his own features. An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose. L A N G S T O N H U G H E S A N D T H E H A R L E M R E N A I S S A N C E 257 Let the blare of Negro jazz bands and the bellowing voice of Bessie Smith singing Blues penetrate the closed ears of the colored near-intellectuals until they listen and perhaps understand. Let Paul Robeson singing Water Boy, and Rudolph Fisher writing about the streets of Harlem, and Jean Toomer holding the heart of Georgia in his hands, and Aaron Douglas drawing strange black fantasies cause the smug Negro middle class to turn from their white, respectable, ordinary books and papers to catch a glimmer of their own beauty. We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too. The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn’t matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves. O MY AMERICA This is my land, America. Naturally, I love it—it is home—and I am vitally concerned about its mores, its democracy, and its well-being. I try now to look at it with clear, unprejudiced eyes. My ancestry goes back at least four generations on American soil and, through Indian blood, many centuries more. My background and training is purely American—the schools of Kansas, Ohio, and the East. I am old stock as opposed to recent immigrant blood. Yet many Americans who cannot speak English—so recent is their arrival on our shores—may travel about our country at will securing food, hotel, and rail accommodations wherever they wish to purchase them. I may not. These Americans, once naturalized, may vote in Mississippi or Texas, if they live there. I may not. They may work at whatever job their skills command. But I may not. They may purchase tickets for concerts, theatres, lectures wherever they are sold throughout the United States. Often I may not. They may repeat the Oath of Allegiance with its ringing phrase of “Liberty and justice for all,” with a deep faith in its truth—as compared with the limitations and oppressions they have experienced in the Old World. I repeat the oath, too, but I know that the phrase about “liberty and justice” does not fully apply to me. I am an American—but I am a colored American. I know that all these things I mention are not all true for all localities all over America. Jim Crowism varies in degree from North to South, from the mixed schools and free franchise of Michigan to the tumbledown colored schools and open terror at the polls of Georgia and Mississippi. All over America, however, against the Negro there has been an economic color line of such severity that since the Civil War we have been kept most effectively, as a racial group, in the lowest economic brackets. Statistics are not needed to prove this. Simply look around you on the Main Street of any American town or city. There are no colored clerks in any of the stores—although colored peo- 258 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 ple spend their money there. There are practically never any colored street-car conductors or bus drivers—although these public carriers run over streets for which we pay taxes. There are no colored girls at the switchboards of the telephone company—but millions of Negroes have phones and pay their bills. Even in Harlem, nine times out of ten, the man who comes to collect your rent is white. Not even that job is given to a colored man by the great corporations owning New York real estate. From Boston to San Diego, the Negro suffers from job discrimination. Yet America is a land where, in spite of its defects, I can write this article. Here the voice of democracy is still heard—Wallace, Willkie, Agar, Pearl Buck, Paul Robeson, Lillian Smith. America is a land where the poll tax still holds in the South—but opposition to the poll tax grows daily. America is a land where lynchers are not yet caught—but Bundists are put in jail, and majority opinion condemns the Klan. America is a land where the best of all democracies has been achieved for some people—but in Georgia, Roland Hayes, world-famous singer, is beaten for being colored and nobody is jailed—nor can Mr. Hayes vote in the State where he was born. Yet America is a country where Roland Hayes can come from a log cabin to wealth and fame—in spite of the segment that still wishes to maltreat him physically and spiritually, famous though he is. This segment, the South, is not all of America. Unfortunately, however, the war with its increased flow of white Southern workers to Northern cities, has caused the Jim Crow patterns of the South to spread all over America, aided and abetted by the United States Army. The Army, with its policy of segregated troops, has brought Jim Crow into communities where it was but little, if at all, in existence before Pearl Harbor. From Camp Custer in Michigan to Guadalcanal in the South Seas, the Army has put its stamp upon official Jim Crow, in imitation of the Southern states where laws separating Negroes and whites are as much a part of government as are Hitler’s laws segregating Jews in Germany. Therefore, any consideration of the current problems of the Negro people in America must concern itself seriously with the question of what to do about the South. The South opposes the Negro’s right to vote, and this right is denied us in most Southern states. Without the vote a citizen has no means of protecting his constitutional rights. For Democracy to approach its full meaning, the Negro all over America must have the vote. The South opposes the Negro’s right to work in industry. Witness the Mobile shipyard riots, the Detroit strikes fomented by Southern whites against the employment of colored people, the Baltimore strikes of white workers who objected to Negroes attending a welding school which would give them the skill to rate upgrading. For Democracy to achieve its meaning, the Negro like other citizens must have the right to work, to learn skilled trades, and to be upgraded. The South opposes the civil rights of Negroes and their protection by law. Witness lynchings where no one is punished, witness the Jim Crow laws that deny the letter and spirit of the Constitution. For Democracy to have real meaning, the Negro must have the same civil rights as any other American citizen. These three L A N G S T O N H U G H E S A N D T H E H A R L E M R E N A I S S A N C E 259 simple principles of Democracy—the vote, the right to work, and the right to protection by law—the South opposes when it comes to me. Such procedure is dangerous for all America. That is why, in order to strengthen Democracy, further the war effort, and achieve the confidence of our colored allies, we must institute a greater measure of Democracy for the eight million colored people of the South. And we must educate the white Southerners to an understanding of such democracy, so they may comprehend that decency toward colored peoples will lose them nothing, but rather will increase their own respect and safety in the modern world. I live on Manhattan Island. For a New Yorker of color, truthfully speaking, the South begins at Newark. A half hour by tube from the Hudson Terminal, one comes across street-corner hamburger stands that will not serve a hamburger to a Negro customer wishing to sit on a stool. For the same dime a white pays, a Negro must take his hamburger elsewhere in a paper bag and eat it, minus a plate, a napkin, and a glass of water. Sponsors of the theory of segregation claim that it can be made to mean equality. Practically, it never works out that way. Jim Crow always means less for the one Jim Crowed and an unequal value for his money—no stool, no shelter, merely the hamburger, in Newark. As the colored traveller goes further South by train, Jim Crow increases. Philadelphia is ninety minutes from Manhattan. There the all-colored grammar school begins its separate education of the races that Talmadge of Georgia so highly approves. An hour or so further down the line is Baltimore where segregation laws are written in the state and city codes. Another hour by train, Washington. There the conductor tells the Negro traveller, be he soldier or civilian, to go into the Jim Crow coach behind the engine, usually half a baggage car, next to trunks and dogs. That this change to complete Jim Crow happens at Washington is highly significant of the state of American democracy in relation to colored peoples today. Washington is the capital of our nation and one of the great centers of the Allied war effort toward the achievement of the Four Freedoms. To a southbound Negro citizen told at Washington to change into a segregated coach the Four Freedoms have a hollow sound, like distant lies not meant to be the truth. The train crosses the Potomac into Virginia, and from there on throughout the South life for the Negro, by state law and custom, is a hamburger in a sack without a plate, water, napkin, or stool—but at the same price as the whites pay—to be eaten apart from the others without shelter. The Negro can do little about this because the law is against him, he has no vote, the police are brutal, and the citizens think such caste-democracy is as it should be. For his seat in the half-coach of the crowded Jim Crow car, a colored man must pay the same fare as those who ride in the nice air-cooled coaches further back in the train, privileged to use the diner when they wish. For his hamburger in a sack served without courtesy the Southern Negro must pay taxes but refrain from going to the polls, and must patriotically accept conscription to work, fight, and perhaps die to regain or maintain freedom for people in Europe or Australia 260 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 when he himself hasn’t got it at home. Therefore, to his ears most of the war speeches about freedom on the radio sound perfectly foolish, unreal, high-flown, and false. To many Southern whites, too, this grand talk so nobly delivered, so poorly executed, must seem like play-acting. Liberals and persons of good will, North and South, including, no doubt, our President himself, are puzzled as to what on earth to do about the South—the poll-tax South, the Jim Crow South—that so shamelessly gives the lie to Democracy. With the brazen frankness of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Dixie speaks through Talmadge, Rankin, Dixon, Arnall, and Mark Ethridge. In a public speech in Birmingham, Mr. Ethridge says: “All the armies of the world, both of the United States and the Axis, could not force upon the South an abandonment of racial segregation.” Governor Dixon of Alabama refused a government war contract offered Alabama State Prison because it contained an antidiscrimination clause which in his eyes was an “attempt to abolish segregation of races in the South.” He said: “We will not place ourselves in a position to be attacked by those who seek to foster their own pet social reforms.” In other words, Alabama will not reform. It is as bull-headed as England in India, and its governor is not ashamed to say so. As proof of Southern intolerance, almost daily the press reports some new occurrence of physical brutality against Negroes. Former Governor Talmadge was “too busy” to investigate when Roland Hayes and his wife were thrown into jail, and the great tenor beaten, on complaint of a shoe salesman over a dispute as to what seat in his shop a Negro should occupy when buying shoes. Nor did the governor of Mississippi bother when Hugh Gloster, professor of English at Morehouse College, riding as an inter-state passenger, was illegally ejected from a train in his state, beaten, arrested, and fined because, being in an overcrowded Jim Crow coach, he asked for a seat in an adjacent car which contained only two white passengers. Legally, the Jim Crow laws do not apply to inter-state travellers, but the FBI has not yet gotten around to enforcing that Supreme Court ruling. En route from San Francisco to Oklahoma City, Fred Wright, a county probation officer of color, was beaten and forced into the Texas Jim Crow coach on a transcontinental train by order of the conductor in defiance of federal law. A seventy-six-year-old clergyman, Dr. Jackson of Hartford, Connecticut, going South to attend the National Baptist Convention, was set upon by white passengers for merely passing through a white coach on the way to his own seat. There have been many similar attacks upon colored soldiers in uniform on public carriers. One such attack resulted in death for the soldier, dragged from a bus and killed by civilian police. Every day now, Negro soldiers from the North, returning home on furlough from Southern camps, report incident after incident of humiliating travel treatment below the Mason-Dixon line. It seems obvious that the South does not yet know what this war is all about. As answer Number One to the question, “What shall we do about the South?” I would suggest an immediate and intensive government-directed program of pro- L A N G S T O N H U G H E S A N D T H E H A R L E M R E N A I S S A N C E 261 democratic education, to be put into the schools of the South from the first grades of the grammar schools to the universities. As part of the war effort, this is urgently needed. The Spanish Loyalist Government had trench schools for its soldiers and night schools for civilians even in Madrid under siege. America is not under siege yet. We still have time (but not too much) to teach our people what we are fighting for, and to begin to apply those teachings to race relations at home. You see, it would be too bad for an emissary of color from one of the Latin American countries, say Cuba or Brazil, to arrive at Miami Airport and board a train for Washington, only to get beaten up and thrown off by white Southerners who do not realize how many colored allies we have—nor how badly we need them—and that it is inconsiderate and rude to beat colored people, anyway. Because transportation in the South is so symbolic of America’s whole racial problem, the Number Two thing for us to do is study a way out of the Jim Crow car dilemma at once. Would a system of first, second, and third class coaches help? In Europe, formerly, if one did not wish to ride with peasants and tradespeople, one could always pay a little more and solve that problem by having a first class compartment almost entirely to oneself. Most Negroes can hardly afford parlor car seats. Why not abolish Jim Crow entirely and let the whites who wish to do so, ride in coaches where few Negroes have the funds to be? In any case, our Chinese, Latin American, and Russian allies are not going to think much of our democratic pronunciamentos as long as we keep compulsory Jim Crow cars on Southern rails. Since most people learn a little through education, albeit slowly, as Number Three, I would suggest that the government draft all the leading Negro intellectuals, sociologists, writers, and concert singers from Alain Locke of Oxford and W. E. B. Du Bois of Harvard to Dorothy Maynor and Paul Robeson of Carnegie Hall and send them into the South to appear before white audiences, carrying messages of culture and democracy, thus off-setting the old stereotypes of the Southern mind and the Hollywood movie, and explaining to the people without dialect what the war aims are about. With each, send on tour a liberal white Southerner like Paul Green, Erskine Caldwell, Pearl Buck, Lillian Smith, or William Seabrook. And, of course, include soldiers to protect them from the fascist-minded among us. Number Four, as to the Army—draftees are in sore need of education on how to behave toward darker peoples. Just as a set of government suggestions has been issued to our soldiers on how to act in England, so a similar set should be given them on how to act in Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Asia, Mexico, and Brazil—wherever there are colored peoples. Not only printed words should be given them, but intensive training in the reasons for being decent to everybody. Classes in democracy and the war aims should be set up in every training camp in America and every unit of our military forces abroad. These forces should be armed with understanding as well as armament, prepared for friendship as well as killing. I go on the premise that most Southerners are potentially reasonable people, but that they simply do not know nowadays what they are doing to America, or 262 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 how badly their racial attitudes look toward the rest of the civilized world. I know their politicians, their schools, and the Hollywood movies have done their best to uphold prevailing reactionary viewpoints. Heretofore, nobody in America except a few radicals, liberals, and a handful of true religionists have cared much about either the Negroes or the South. Their sincere efforts to effect a change have been but a drop in a muddy bucket. Basically, the South needs universal suffrage, economic stabilization, a balanced diet, and vitamins for children. But until those things are achieved, on a lesser front to ameliorate—not solve—the Negro problem (and to keep Southern prejudice from contaminating all of America) a few mild but helpful steps might be taken. It might be pointed out to the South that the old bugaboo of sex and social equality doesn’t mean a thing. Nobody as a rule sleeps with or eats with or dances with or marries anybody else except by mutual consent. Millions of people of various races in New York, Chicago, and Seattle go to the same polls and vote without ever co-habiting together. Why does the South think it would be otherwise with Negroes were they permitted to vote there? Or to have a decent education? Or to sit on a stool in a public place and eat a hamburger? Why they think simple civil rights would force a Southerner’s daughter to marry a Negro in spite of herself, I have never been able to understand. It must be due to some lack of instruction somewhere in their schooling. A government-sponsored educational program of racial decency could, furthermore, point out to its students that cooperation in labor would be to the advantage of all—rather than to the disadvantage of anyone, white or black. It could show quite clearly that a million unused colored hands barred out of war industries might mean a million weapons lacking in the hands of our soldiers on some foreign front—therefore a million extra deaths—including Southern white boys needlessly dying under Axis fire—because Governor Dixon of Alabama and others of like mentality need a little education. It might also be pointed out that when peace comes and the Southerners go to the peace table, if they take there with them the traditional Dixie racial attitudes, there is no possible way for them to aid in forming any peace that will last. China, India, Brazil, Free French Africa, Soviet Asia and the whole Middle East will not believe a word they say. Peace only to breed other wars is a sorry peace indeed, and one that we must plan now to avoid. Not only in order to win the war then, but to create peace along decent lines, we had best start now to educate the South—and all America—in racial decency. That education cannot be left to well-meaning but numerically weak civilian organizations. The government itself should take over—and vigorously. After all, Washington is the place where the conductor comes through every southbound train and tells colored people to change to the Jim Crow car ahead. That car, in these days and times, has no business being “ahead” any longer. War’s freedom train can hardly trail along with glory behind a Jim Crow coach. No matter how streamlined the other cars may be, that coach endangers all humanity’s hopes for a peaceful tomorrow. The wheels of the Jim Crow car are about to come off and the walls are going to burst wide open. The wreckage of L A N G S T O N H U G H E S A N D T H E H A R L E M R E N A I S S A N C E 263 Democracy is likely to pile up behind that Jim Crow car, unless America learns that it is to its own self-interest to stop dealing with colored peoples in so antiquated a fashion. I do not like to see my land, America, remain provincial and unrealistic in its attitudes toward color. I hope the men and women of good will here of both races will find ways of changing conditions for the better. Certainly it is not the Negro who is going to wreck our Democracy. (What we want is more of it, not less.) But Democracy is going to wreck itself if it continues to approach closer and closer to fascist methods in its dealings with Negro citizens—for such methods of oppression spread, affecting other whites, Jews, the foreign born, labor, Mexicans, Catholics, citizens of Oriental ancestry—and, in due time, they boomerang right back at the oppressor. Furthermore, American Negroes are now Democracy’s current test for its dealings with the colored peoples of the whole world of whom there are many, many millions—too many to be kept indefinitely in the position of passengers in Jim Crow cars. O POEMS “I, Too” I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong. Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table When company comes. Nobody’ll dare Say to me, “Eat in the kitchen,” Then. Besides, They’ll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed— I, too, am America. 1925, 1959 “Harlem” What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up 264 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore— And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over— like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? 1951, 1959 Sources: (1) “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” Nation 122 (June 23, 1926), reprinted with permission; (2) “My America,” from What the Negro Wants by Rayford W. Logan (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1944), pp. 299–307. Copyright 1944 by the University of North Carolina Press, renewed 1974 by Rayford W. Logan. Used by permission of the publisher; and (3) “I, Too” and “Harlem,” from Collected Poems by Langston Hughes (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994). Copyright 1994 by the Estate of Langston Hughes. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. For subscription information to the Nation, call 1-800-333-8536. Portions of each week’s Nation magazine can be accessed at www.thenation.com. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Donald C. Dickinson, A Bio-Bibliography of Langston Hughes, 1902–1967 (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1967). Henry Louis Gate, Jr. and K. A. Appiah, eds., Langston Hughes: Critical Perspectives Past and Present (New York: Amistad [distributed by Penguin, USA], 1998). Nathan I. Huggins, Harlem Renaissance (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971). David L. Lewis, When Harlem Was in Vogue (New York: Knopf, 1981). Arnold Rampersad, The Life of Langston Hughes, Vol. 1, 1902–1941 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986). Arnold Rampersad, The Life of Langston Hughes, 2 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). Jonathan Scott, Socialist Joy in the Writing of Langston Hughes (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2006). O7O “The Negro Woman and the Ballot,” Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, 1927 Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1875–1935) was born Alice Ruth Moore in New Orleans, Louisiana, and attended both the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University before becoming a well-known writer. At age twenty she published her first book of poetry, Violet and Other Tales (1895). She moved to Brooklyn, where she taught school and gave classes at Victoria Earle Matthews’s White Rose Mission. A . M . D U N B A R - N E L S O N , “ T H E N E G R O W O M A N . . . ” 265 For several years she was married to poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. After Dunbar’s death in 1906, she married a journalist, Robert John Nelson. Dunbar-Nelson and her husband published the Wilmington Advocate newspaper in the 1920s, and were active in black Republican Party politics. During the Harlem Renaissance, her work received renewed critical attention by a younger generation of AfricanAmerican writers and poets. Dunbar-Nelson was an insightful political analyst, and was for decades widely read in black publications. With the publication of Dunbar-Nelson’s diary in 1984, the existence of an active African-American lesbian network in the 1920s and her relationships with other women became known to scholars. O It has been six years since the franchise as a national measure has been granted women. The Negro woman has had the ballot in conjunction with her white sister, and friend and foe alike are asking the question, What has she done with it? Six years is a very short time in which to ask for results from any measure or condition, no matter how simple. In six years a human being is barely able to make itself intelligible to listeners; is a feeble, puny thing at best, with undeveloped understanding, no power of reasoning, with a slight contributory value to the human race, except in a sentimental fashion. Nations in six years are but the beginnings of an idea. It is barely possible to erect a structure of any permanent value in six years, and only the most ephemeral trees have reached any size in six years. So perhaps it is hardly fair to ask with a cynic’s sneer, What has the Negro woman done with the ballot since she has had it? But, since the question continues to be hurled at the woman, she must needs be nettled into reply. To those colored women who worked, fought, spoke, sacrificed, traveled, pleaded, wept, cajoled, all but died for the right of suffrage for themselves and their peers, it seemed as if the ballot would be the great objective of life. That with its granting, all the economic, political, and social problems to which the race had been subject would be solved. They did not hesitate to say—those militantly gentle workers for the vote—that with the granting of the ballot the women would step into the dominant place, politically, of the race. That all the mistakes which the men had made would be rectified. The men have sold their birthright for a mess of pottage, said the women. Cheap political office and little political preferment had dazzled their eyes so that they could not see the great issues affecting the race. They had been fooled by specious lies, fair promises and largesounding works. Pre-election promises had inflated their chests, so that they could not see the post-election failures at their feet. And thus on and on during all the bitter campaign of votes for women. One of the strange phases of the situation was the rather violent objection of the Negro man to the Negro woman’s having the vote. Just what his objection racially was, he did not say, preferring to hide behind the grandiloquent platitude of his white political boss. He had probably not thought the matter through; if he 266 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 had, remembering how precious the ballot was to the race, he would have hesitated at withholding its privilege from another one of his own people. But all that is neither here nor there. The Negro woman got the vote along with some tens of million other women in the country. And has it made any appreciable difference in the status of the race? . . . The Negro woman was going to be independent, she had averred. She came into the political game with a clean slate. No Civil War memories for her, and no deadening sense of gratitude to influence her vote. She would vote men and measures, not parties. She could scan each candidate’s record and give him her support according to how he had stood in the past on the question of race. She owed no party allegiance. The name of Abraham Lincoln was not synonymous with her for blind G.O.P. allegiance. She would show the Negro man how to make his vote a power, and not a joke. She would break up the tradition that one could tell a black man’s politics by the color of his skin. And when she got the ballot she slipped quietly, safely, easily, and conservatively into the political party of her male relatives. Which is to say, that with the exception of New York City, and a sporadic break here and there, she became a Republican. Not a conservative one, however. She was virulent and zealous. Prone to stop speaking to her friends who might disagree with her findings on the political issue, and vituperative in campaigns. In other words the Negro woman has by and large been a disappointment in her handling of the ballot. She has added to the overhead charges of the political machinery, without solving racial problems. One of two bright lights in the story hearten the reader. In the congressional campaign of 1922 the Negro woman cut adrift from party allegiance and took up the cudgel (if one may mix metaphors) for the cause of the Dyer Bill. The Anti-Lynching Crusaders, led by Mrs. Mary B. Talbot, found in several states—New Jersey, Delaware, and Michigan particularly—that its cause was involved in the congressional election. Sundry gentlemen had voted against the Dyer Bill in the House and had come up for re-election. They were properly castigated by being kept at home. The women’s votes unquestionably had the deciding influence in the three states mentioned, and the campaign conducted by them was of a most commendable kind. School bond issues here and there have been decided by the colored woman’s votes—but so slight is the ripple on the smooth surface of conservatism that it has attracted no attention from the deadly monotony of the blind faith in the “Party of Massa Linkun.” As the younger generation becomes of age it is apt to be independent in thought and in act. But it is soon whipped into line by the elders, and by the promise of plums of preferment or of an amicable position in the community or of easy social relations—for we still persecute socially those who disagree with us politically. What is true of the men is true of the women. The very young is apt to let father, sweetheart, brother, or uncle decide her vote. . . . Whether women have been influenced and corrupted by their male relatives and friends is a moot question. Were I to judge by my personal experience I would say unquestionably so. I mean a personal experience with some hundreds of women in the North Atlantic, Middle Atlantic, and Middle Western States. J . W. J O H N S O N A N D H A R L E M I N T H E 1 9 2 0 s 267 High ideals are laughed at, and women confess with drooping wings how they have been scoffed at for working for nothing, for voting for nothing, for supporting a candidate before having first been “seen.” In the face of this sinister influence it is difficult to see how the Negro woman could have been anything else but “just another vote.” All this is rather a gloomy presentment of a well-known situation. But it is not altogether hopeless. The fact that the Negro woman CAN be roused when something near and dear to her is touched and threatened is cheering. Then she throws off the influence of her male companion and strikes out for herself. Whatever the Negro may hope to gain for himself must be won at the ballot box, and quiet “going along” will never gain his end. When the Negro woman finds that the future of her children lies in her own hands—if she can be made to see this—she will strike off the political shackles she has allowed to be hung upon her, and win the economic freedom of her race. Perhaps some Joan of Arc will lead the way. Source: “The Negro Woman and the Ballot,” Messenger 9 (April 1927), p. 111. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Eleanor Alexander, Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow: The Tragic Courtship and Marriage of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore: A History of Love and Violence among the African American Elite (New York: New York University Press, 2001). Bruce D. Dickson, Jr., Black American Writing from the Nadir: The Evolution of a Literary Tradition (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989). Alice Dunbar-Nelson, An Alice Dunbar-Nelson Reader, ed. R. Ora Williams (Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1979). ———, The Works of Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Vols. 1–3, ed. Gloria T. Hull (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988). Addison Gayle, Jr., Oak and Ivy (New York: Doubleday, 1971). Gloria T. Hull, ed., Give Us Each Day: The Diary of Alice Dunbar-Nelson (New York: Norton, 1984). O8O James Weldon Johnson and Harlem in the 1920s Born in Jacksonville, Florida, James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) had a multifaceted career as a poet, novelist, lyricist, civil rights leader, diplomat, lawyer, and teacher. Among his considerable accomplishments, he is remembered as the lyricist of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (the “Negro National Anthem”), and as the author of the enormously influential novel, The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man, first published anonymously in 1912. Early in his public career Johnson was closely associated with Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Machine. After Washington’s death, Johnson and other black moderates gravitated toward the 268 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 reformist politics of Du Bois and the NAACP. Johnson served as the first black national secretary of the NAACP, from 1920 to 1930. He was tragically killed in an automobile accident in 1938. O HARLEM: THE CULTURE CAPITAL In the history of New York, the significance of the name Harlem has changed from Dutch to Irish to Jewish to Negro. Of these changes, the last has come most swiftly. Throughout colored America, from Massachusetts to Mississippi, and across the continent to Los Angeles and Seattle, its name, which as late as fifteen years ago had scarcely been heard, now stands for the Negro metropolis. Harlem is indeed the great Mecca for the sight-seer, the pleasure-seeker, the curious, the adventurous, the enterprising, the ambitious and the talented of the whole Negro world; for the lure of it has reached down to every island of the Carib Sea and has penetrated even into Africa. In the make-up of New York, Harlem is not merely a Negro colony or community, it is a city within a city, the greatest Negro city in the world. It is not a slum or a fringe, it is located in the heart of Manhattan and occupies one of the most beautiful and healthful sections of the city. It is not a “quarter” of dilapidated tenements, but is made up of new-law apartments and handsome dwellings, with well-paved and well-lighted streets. It has its own churches, social and civic centers, shops, theaters and other places of amusement. And it contains more Negroes to the square mile than any other spot on earth. A stranger who rides up magnificent Seventh Avenue on a bus or in an automobile must be struck with surprise at the transformation which takes place after he crosses One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street. Beginning there, the population suddenly darkens and he rides through twenty-five solid blocks where the passers-by, the shoppers, those sitting in restaurants, coming out of theaters, standing in doorways and looking out of windows are practically all Negroes; and then he emerges where the population as suddenly becomes white again. There is nothing just like it in any other city in the country, for there is no preparation for it; no change in the character of the houses and streets; no change, indeed, in the appearance of the people, except their color. Negro Harlem is practically a development of the past decade, but the story behind it goes back a long way. There have always been colored people in New York. In the middle of the last century they lived in the vicinity of Lispenard, Broome and Spring Streets. When Washington Square and lower Fifth Avenue was the center of aristocratic life, the colored people, whose chief occupation was domestic service in the homes of the rich, lived in a fringe and were scattered in nests to the south, east and west of the square. As late as the 80s the major part of the colored population lived in Sullivan, Thompson, Bleecker, Grove, Minetta Lane and adjacent streets. It is curious to note that some of these nests still persist. In a number of the blocks of Greenwich Village and Little Italy may be found J . W. J O H N S O N A N D H A R L E M I N T H E 1 9 2 0 s 269 small groups of Negroes who have never lived in any other section of the city. By about 1890 the center of colored population had shifted to the upper Twenties and lower Thirties west of Sixth Avenue. Ten years later another considerable shift northward had been made to West Fifty-third Street. The West Fifty-third Street settlement deserves some special mention because it ushered in a new phase of life among colored New Yorkers. . . . The move to Fifty-third Street was the result of the opportunity to get into newer and better houses. About 1900 the move to Harlem began, and for the same reason. Harlem had been overbuilt with large, new-law apartment houses, but rapid transportation to that section was very inadequate—the Lenox Avenue Subway had not yet been built—and landlords were finding difficulty in keeping houses on the east side of the section filled. Residents along and near Seventh Avenue were fairly well served by the Eighth Avenue Elevated. A colored man, in the real estate business at this time, Philip A. Payton, approached several of these landlords with the proposition that he would fill their empty or partially empty houses with steady colored tenants. The suggestion was accepted, and one or two houses on One Hundred and Thirty-fourth Street east of Lenox Avenue were taken over. Gradually other houses were filled. The whites paid little attention to the movement until it began to spread west of Lenox Avenue; they then took steps to check it. They proposed through a financial organization, the Hudson Realty Company, to buy in all properties occupied by colored people and evict the tenants. The Negroes countered by similar methods. Payton formed the Afro-American Realty Company, a Negro corporation organized for the purpose of buying and leasing houses for occupancy by colored people. Under this counter stroke the opposition subsided for several years. But the continually increasing pressure of colored people to the west over the Lenox Avenue dead line caused the opposition to break out again, but in a new and more menacing form. Several white men undertook to organize all the white people of the community for the purpose of inducing financial institutions not to lend money or renew mortgages on properties occupied by colored people. In this effort they had considerable success, and created a situation which has not yet been completely overcome, a situation which is one of the hardest and most unjustifiable the Negro property owner in Harlem has to contend with. The AfroAmerican Realty Company was now defunct, but two or three colored men of means stepped into the breach. Philip A. Payton and J. C. Thomas bought two five-story apartments, dispossessed the white tenants and put in colored. J. B. Nail bought a row of five apartments and did the same thing. St. Philip’s Church bought a row of thirteen apartment houses on One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Street, running from Seventh Avenue almost to Lenox. The situation now resolved itself into an actual contest. Negroes not only continued to occupy available apartment houses, but began to purchase private dwellings between Lenox and Seventh Avenues. Then the whole movement, in the eyes of the whites, took on the aspect of an “invasion”; they became panicstricken and began fleeing as from a plague. The presence of one colored family 270 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 in a block, no matter how well bred and orderly, was sufficient to precipitate a flight. House after house and block after block was actually deserted. It was a great demonstration of human beings running amuck. None of them stopped to reason why they were doing it or what would happen if they didn’t. The banks and lending companies holding mortgages on these deserted houses were compelled to take them over. For some time they held these houses vacant, preferring to do that and carry the charges than to rent or sell them to colored people. But values dropped and continued to drop until at the outbreak of the war in Europe property in the northern part of Harlem had reached the nadir. In the meantime the Negro colony was becoming more stable; the churches were being moved from the lower part of the city; social and civic centers were being formed; and gradually a community was being evolved. Following the outbreak of the war in Europe Negro Harlem received a new and tremendous impetus. Because of the war thousands of aliens in the United States rushed back to their native lands to join the colors and immigration practically ceased. The result was a critical shortage in labor.This shortage was rapidly increased as the United States went more and more largely into the business of furnishing munitions and supplies to the warring countries. To help meet this shortage of common labor Negroes were brought up from the South. The government itself took the first steps, following the practice in vogue in Germany of shifting labor according to the supply and demand in various parts of the country. The example of the government was promptly taken up by the big industrial concerns, which sent hundreds, perhaps thousands, of labor agents into the South who recruited Negroes by wholesale. I was in Jacksonville, Fla., for a while at that time, and I sat one day and watched the stream of migrants passing to take the train. For hours they passed steadily, carrying flimsy suit cases, new and shiny, rusty old ones, bursting at the seams, boxes and bundles and impedimenta of all sorts, including banjos, guitars, birds in cages and what not. Similar scenes were being enacted in cities and towns all over that region. The first wave of the great exodus of Negroes from the South was on. Great numbers of these migrants headed for New York or eventually got there, and naturally the majority went up into Harlem. But the Negro population of Harlem was not swollen by migrants from the South alone; the opportunity for Negro labor exerted its pull upon the Negroes of the West Indies, and those islanders in the course of time poured into Harlem to the number of twenty-five thousand or more. . . . The question naturally arises, “Are the Negroes going to be able to hold Harlem?” If they have been steadily driven northward for the past hundred years and out of less desirable sections, can they hold this choice bit of Manhattan Island? It is hardly probable that Negroes will hold Harlem indefinitely, but when they are forced out it will not be for the same reasons that forced them out of former quarters in New York City. The situation is entirely different and without precedent. When colored people do leave Harlem, their homes, their churches, their investments and their businesses, it will be because the land has become so valuable they can no longer afford to live on it. But the date of another move northward is very far in the future. What will Harlem be and become in the J . W. J O H N S O N A N D H A R L E M I N T H E 1 9 2 0 s 271 meantime? Is there danger that the Negro may lose his economic status in New York and be unable to hold his property? Will Harlem become merely a famous ghetto, or will it be a center of intellectual, cultural and economic forces exerting an influence throughout the world, especially upon Negro peoples? Will it become a point of friction between the races in New York? I think there is less danger to the Negroes of New York of losing out economically and industrially than to the Negroes of any large city in the North. In most of the big industrial centers Negroes are engaged in gang labor. They are employed by thousands in the stockyards in Chicago, by thousands in the automobile plants in Detroit; and in those cities they are likely to be the first to be let go, and in thousands, with every business depression. In New York there is hardly such a thing as gang labor among Negroes, except among the longshoremen, and it is in the longshoremen’s unions, above all others, that Negroes stand on an equal footing. Employment among Negroes in New York is highly diversified; in the main they are employed more as individuals than as non-integral parts of a gang. Furthermore, Harlem is gradually becoming more and more a selfsupporting community. Negroes there are steadily branching out into new businesses and enterprises in which Negroes are employed. So the danger of great numbers of Negroes being thrown out of work at once, with a resulting economic crisis among them, is less in New York than in most of the large cities of the North to which Southern migrants have come. These facts have an effect which goes beyond the economic and industrial situation.They have a direct bearing on the future character of Harlem and on the question as to whether Harlem will be a point of friction between the races in New York. It is true that Harlem is a Negro community, well defined and stable; anchored to its fixed homes, churches, institutions, business and amusement places; having its own working, business and professional classes. It is experiencing a constant growth of group consciousness and community feeling. Harlem is, therefore, in many respects, typically Negro. It has many unique characteristics. It has movement, color, gayety, singing, dancing, boisterous laughter and loud talk. One of its outstanding features is brass band parades. Hardly a Sunday passes but that there are several of these parades of which many are gorgeous with regalia and insignia. Almost any excuse will do—the death of an humble member of the Elks, the laying of a cornerstone, the “turning out” of the order of this or that. In many of these characteristics it is similar to the Italian colony. But withal, Harlem grows more metropolitan and more a part of New York all the while. Why is it then that its tendency is not to become a mere “quarter”? I shall give three reasons that seem to me to be important in their order. First, the language of Harlem is not alien; it is not Italian or Yiddish; it is English. Harlem talks American, reads American, thinks American. Second, Harlem is not physically a “quarter.” It is not a section cut off. It is merely a zone through which four main arteries of the city run. Third, the fact that there is little or no gang labor gives Harlem Negroes the opportunity for individual expansion and individual contacts with the life and spirit of New York. A thousand Negroes from Mississippi put to work as a gang in a Pittsburgh steel mill will for a long time 272 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 remain a thousand Negroes from Mississippi. Under the conditions that prevail in New York they would all within six months become New Yorkers. The rapidity with which Negroes become good New Yorkers is one of the marvels to observers. These three reasons form a single reason why there is small probability that Harlem will ever be a point of race friction between the races in New York. One of the principal factors in the race riot in Chicago in 1919 was the fact that at that time there were 12,000 Negroes employed in gangs in the stockyards. There was considerable race feeling in Harlem at the time of the hegira of white residents due to the “invasion,” but that feeling, of course, is no more. Indeed, a number of the old white residents who didn’t go and could not get away before the housing shortage struck New York are now living peacefully side by side with colored residents. In fact, in some cases white and colored tenants occupy apartments in the same house. Many white merchants still do business in thickest Harlem. On the whole, I know of no place in the country where the feeling between the races is so cordial and at the same time so matter-of-fact and taken for granted. One of the surest safeguards against an outbreak in New York such as took place in so many Northern cities in the summer of 1919 is the large proportion of Negro police on duty in Harlem. To my mind, Harlem is more than a Negro community; it is a large scale laboratory experiment in the race problem. The statement has often been made that if Negroes were transported to the North in large numbers the race problem with all of its acuteness and with new aspects would be transferred with them. Well, 175,000 Negroes live closely together in Harlem, in the heart of New York— 75,000 more than live in any Southern city—and do so without any race friction. Nor is there any unusual record of crime. I once heard a captain of the 38th Police Precinct (the Harlem precinct) say that on the whole it was the most lawabiding precinct in the city. New York guarantees its Negro citizens the fundamental rights of American citizenship and protects them in the exercise of those rights. In return the Negro loves New York and is proud of it, and contributes in his way to its greatness. He still meets with discriminations, but possessing the basic rights, he knows that these discriminations will be abolished. I believe that the Negro’s advantages and opportunities are greater in Harlem than in any other place in the country, and that Harlem will become the intellectual, the cultural and the financial center for Negroes of the United States, and will exert a vital influence upon all Negro peoples. Source: Excerpt from “Harlem: The Culture Capital,” originally written in 1925 and published in Alain Locke, ed., The New Negro (New York: Albert and Charles Boni, 1925), pp. 301–11. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Robert E. Fleming, James Weldon Johnson (Boston: Twayne, 1987). James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man (Garden City, N.Y.: Garden City Publishing Co., 1912). ———, Along This Way: The Autobiography of James Weldon Johnson (New York: Viking, 1933; reprinted, Viking Penguin, 1990). B L A C K W O R K E R S I N T H E G R E AT D E P R E S S I O N 273 ———, Complete Poems, ed. by Sondra K. Wilson (New York: Penguin Books, 2000). ———, ed., God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse (New York: Viking, 1927; reprinted, Viking Penguin, 1990). Eugene Levy, James Weldon Johnson: Black Leaders, Black Voice (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973). Kenneth M. Price, and Lawrence J. Oliver, eds., Critical Essays on James Weldon Johnson, Critical Essays on American Literature (New York; London: G. K. Hall; Prentice Hall International, 1997). O9O Black Workers in the Great Depression During the depths of the Great Depression nearly half of all African Americans in the labor force was unemployed. The NAACP was slow to respond to the crisis of black labor, and more radical black perspectives from the Communist Party as well as trade unions were gaining greater influence in the African-American community. Abram L. Harris (1899–1963) earned his Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University in 1930, and was once cited as “the quintessential expert on alternative approaches in economics” during his era. In his early career, Harris professed a deep interest in Marxist thought and paid a good deal of attention to workingclass struggles. After his appointment as a professor at the University of Chicago in 1946, however, Harris began to distance himself from his early involvement with leftist politics. O This space left intentionally blank. THE NEGRO WORKER: A PROBLEM OF PROGRESSIVE LABOR ACTION The task of progressive labor action is the organization of those workers who have been neglected by traditional trade unionism; the rehabilitation of unionism in those industries where it has petered out or failed to establish control because of lethargic and self-satisfied leadership which refuses to recognize the inadequacy of craft unionism in such highly integrated and mechanized industries as packing, steel, rubber and automobiles; the stimulation of an offensive against the open shop, company union, employee welfare capitalism of the trustified industries; and weaning labor of subservience to the two major political parties in order to create independent working-class political action. None of these purposes can be accomplished without first creating a greater degree of solidarity than now exists among the workers. The two great obstacles to labor solidarity are the psychology of craft unionism and the psychology of race prejudice. White workers both organized and unorganized have sought time and again to prohibit the employment of Negro workers, 274 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 or to limit it to menial occupations or to those jobs that offered little direct competition. They have tried to reduce Negro labor to a class of non-competitors. The employers although not free from race antipathy themselves have not hesitated to exploit it as a means of carrying out a policy of Divide and rule. Thus during the early period of capitalistic development in steel, packing, coal and shipping, the employers used Negro labor only spasmodically, in case of a strike, or in a period of industrial expansion when the supply of foreign labor was insufficient to meet the emergency, or because foreign labor had learned the necessity of unionization. Between 1880 and 1915 southern Negro labor was something of an industrial reserve for many basic industries. This reserve was not chiefly agricultural as is often thought. Its background was agricultural but in the eighties Negroes began to move gradually from the rural sections to the cities of the South, thence to northern industrial centers as occasion warranted. In 1915 huge waves of this southern Negro labor poured in to northern industries when large numbers of our recent immigrants returned to their former homes to answer the call to arms. More of this labor drifted north when the United States entered the war in response to the demand created by industrial expansion. And after the war it continued to come because of the cessation of foreign immigration, and because employers, traditionally hostile to the employment of Negroes awoke to their value in breaking strikes or in defeating the purposes of unionism. And Negro workers undisciplined in collective bargaining, ignorant of trade union traditions, distrustful of white workers especially when organized, and led by opportunist leaders nurtured upon philanthropy and the doles of the rich, not only accepted struck jobs with impunity, but accepted the employer’s terms as to wages and working conditions, chief of which was non-membership in trade unions, as a long denied opportunity for the mitigation of economic thraldom. These changes of Negro labor from south to north, from domestic and small industrial employment to capitalistic industry occasioned much bitterness between Negro and white workers, as was exhibited in the Chicago and East St. Louis race riots. But one wonders why astute trade union leaders had not foreseen in the sporadic employment of Negro strike-breakers in the early industrial development, the uses to which they might be put at some later time. For example, the once militant but now almost shattered United Mine Workers saw that their ability to control the northern coal fields was dependent upon the degree to which organization was affected among both white and black miners in the southern fields. Although the union failed to accomplish its aim, it recognized the necessity of organizing both white and black miners inasmuch as Negro mine labor was not only employed in West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee but had a long history dating back to the 80s in the breaking of strikes in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Had similar strategy been employed by other unions, it is not at all unlikely that at least the seeds of working-class solidarity would have been sown among Negro and white masses before the exodus to the north. The fact that Negro labor was chiefly unskilled meant that it had no place in a labor movement that was based upon skilled craftsmanship, despite the fact that it could be used, thanks to the increasing mechanization of heavy industries, to This space left intentionally blank. B L A C K W O R K E R S I N T H E G R E AT D E P R E S S I O N 275 defeat the purposes of unionism. This applies with almost equal force to the organization of the unskilled white workers. Such unions as the machinists, the boilermakers, the blacksmiths, the molders, the plumbers, the sheet metal workers, and the tile workers were never too friendly to their less skilled brother, the white helper. As a matter of fact these unions for a long time opposed the admission of the white helper and sought to confirm his status in order to preserve their monopoly of the job. Some of these unions that were most bitter to the white helper were likewise hostile to the Negro. They sought to forestall Negro competition by excluding Negro mechanics from the union. So clauses were written to that effect in the union’s constitution or ritual. And many unions like the carpenters, the bricklayers, the confectionery workers, and the hotel workers, that had no constitutional barriers against Negro membership and that felt keen competition from the traditional employment of Negroes, were forced to organize them into segregated locals; or leave them out of the union as the leaders of the molders did in Nashville, Tennessee, because the white molders objected to the organization of the Negro and because the Negroes were afraid of being discharged once they had joined the union. Today there were not less than 26 unions whose constitutions or rituals limit membership to white men. They are the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen, the Switchmen of North America, the Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks and Freight Handlers, the Order of Sleeping Car Conductors, the Order of Railway Telegraphers, the National Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots of North America, the Railway Mail Association, the Wire Weavers Protective Association, the Commercial Telegraphers, the Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders and Helpers Union, the International Association of Machinists, the Brotherhood of Dining Car Conductors, the Order of Railway Expressmen, the American Federation of Express Workers, the American Federation of Railroad Workers, the Brotherhood of Railroad Station Employees and Clerks, the Train Dispatchers, the Railroad Yard Masters of America, the Neptune Association, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the Brotherhood of Railway Conductors, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, and the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen. Ten of the above unions are affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, which has appealed to them to lower the barriers to Negro admission. Those unions that have responded were forced to do so because of increasing Negro competition. But their response has usually taken the form of separate organization characterized by one or all of the following discriminations: Negroes are to be organized into auxiliary locals but only where their employment has become traditional; the auxiliary locals of Negro members are to be subordinate to the nearest white local; Negro members may not transfer to white locals; they are not eligible for office; they may not be promoted to skilled work; or they are represented in conventions or conferences only by white members. This is the kind of response that the Carmen, and the Blacksmiths made to the appeals of the Federation. The Boilermakers have not as yet decided how they will respond. But in deference to the sacrosanct doctrine of trade autonomy, the Federation officials accepted these half-measures as something of a victory, which firmly established This space left intentionally blank. 276 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 the Federation’s claim of organizing all workers regardless of race. At one time the Executive Council was decidedly opposed to the affiliation of unions that openly debarred Negro workers. This attitude delayed the admission of the Machinists. And it has been said that it was also a factor in the Federation’s refusal to accept one of the railroad brotherhoods. But the Machinists were admitted and without relinquishing the right to debar Negroes of the craft. The Federation sought to circumvent the racial discrimination of its affiliated bodies by empowering the Executive Council to charter directly local and federal unions of Negro workers who are debarred from the union of their craft, or who are unskilled and, therefore, unorganizable into craft unions. This moral gesture has not materially improved Negro organization or increased Negro trade union affiliation. In the first place the responsibility for the members of a Negro local obtaining the prevailing wage is liable to fall upon the very union that denies them admission; and the Federation which is the “international” of such Negro locals, as it has been claimed surely cannot force a local of a national or international union to handle the wage grievances of one of its directly chartered Negro locals. In the second place these locals of Negro workers usually become dues paying entities that are separated from the main currents of the trade union world. In the third place the leaders of the Federation have been very well satisfied with meager results to vigorously push organization among Negroes. And in the fourth place when persons inside and outside of the Federation have called attention to the weakness of its Negro organizational policy, it has merely passed resolutions, or congratulated itself that it could find no fault with its past methods and results. Yet of the hundreds of Negro locals and federal unions organized by the Federation between 1917 and 1924, there are not more than 22 at present. Instead of merely passing resolutions expressing a desire to see more Negroes in the labor movement, as it did at its recent and previous conventions, the Federation should inquire into the reasons for its past ineffectiveness among the unorganized white and black workers. It should seek to establish some definitive machinery for bringing about greater cooperation among Negroes and whites in the labor movement. A part of such machinery should certainly have been incorporated in its program of workers’ education long ago. A proposal of this kind emanated from one of the conventions of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People a few years back but failed to provoke any response from the A. F. of L. leaders. To effect a rapprochement between white and black labor is, of course, no simple task. But what the leadership of organized labor needs to be censured for is not its failure to effect greater harmony but its refusal to make some attempt toward a realistic understanding of the problem and the issues involved. If progressives in their turn are to make headway in bringing Negro and white workers into closer alignment for economic and political action they must first understand the difficulties and prepare to remove them. This is what conventional trade unionism has failed to do. This space left intentionally blank. B L A C K W O R K E R S I N T H E G R E AT D E P R E S S I O N 277 The known Negro trade union membership was about 45,000 in 1926. If the membership of the independent Negro unions, chiefly paper unions, are included the total membership was about 56,000. According to the census for 1930 there were almost 1,300,000 Negroes employed in transportation, extraction of minerals and manufacturing. So Negro workers, including those above ten years of age, were about 4.3 per cent organized. But only 20.8 per cent of all American wageearners, excluding agricultural workers, are trade union members. The Negro is only about a fifth as well organized as all workers. When skill is made a prerequisite for trade union affiliation, less than 16.6 per cent of the 825,000 Negroes employed in manufacturing industries are available for affiliation, since 68 per cent of them were unskilled and 15.5 per cent semi-skilled. Moreover those industries where trade unionism is weakest having capitulated to the offensive of welfare capitalism, or where craft unionism can make little headway because of integration and specialization have the greatest number of Negro workers. For example, in iron and steel there were 106,000 unskilled and 24,000 semi-skilled Negroes in 1920; in the food industries, mainly packing, there were 28,000 unskilled and 16,000 semi-skilled; in textiles, there were 18,000 unskilled and 8,000 semi-skilled; in lumber and furniture, 107,000 unskilled; and in tobacco 20,000 semi-skilled and 21,000 unskilled Negroes. A labor movement which avoids the unpleasant job of going into these industries because the workers have manifested no desire for organization or because organization will take time and money, is both timid and reactionary, and will become the victim of its own inertia. It is the task of progressives to precipitate action among the workers in these industries. And effective action cannot ignore the position of Negro labor if for no other reason than that organized white labor is fully protected only when Negro and white workers are equally organized. That there are obstacles in the way of unity between white and black labor, progressives need not deny, but they should deny that these obstacles are insuperable. This denial should not take the form of the radicals’ stock-in-trade generalization about the solidarity of economic interest between white and black workers. It should be embodied in intelligent appraisals of situations where Negroes and whites are being brought or have been brought into industrial relationship. In such situations it would develop upon progessives to show white and black workers how race prejudice defeats their mutual welfare. In this connection special mention may be made of the situation in the South. It is the opinion of certain white workers there that “the two races should have separate, distinct labor organizations connected by central bodies composed of representatives of both races.” It has been remarked that this “is an advance over the short-sighted, opportunistic policy which is still in vogue in most white labor circles,” namely, that of excluding negro workers from unions altogether or at any rate being indifferent to the needs of this group. It will have to be borne in mind that there are dangers connected with anything which may lead to the development of a bi-racial movement. White employers are This space left intentionally blank. 278 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 not actuated by racial interests. They will not hesitate to use white labor versus black, and vice-versa. “Certainly in the long run white and black labor cannot rise to the highest position in the economic order apart from each other.” Nevertheless, vague, fine-sounding idealistic phrases are not helpful in solving the problem. We emphasize that intelligent appraisals of concrete situations where Negroes and whites are being brought into industrial relationship are essential. But this is not all. The sympathy of groups of Negro workers who can lead the masses of their fellows must be won. To do this progressives will have to begin from the bottom and build up. They must carry to the Negro workers some understanding of modern industrialism and the position of the worker under it, remembering that the Negro is of recent industrial experience. Finally, progressives must realize that Negro economic and political leadership is opportunistic and petty bourgeois. On the political side it teaches the masses that their national interest is best protected by the Republican party; and that in local political matters they should follow the policy of rewarding their friends and punishing their enemies. Being economically weak the Negro like all such classes has looked to legislation for the removal of the social and economic disadvantages from which he suffers. A labor party which would connect the Negro’s special racial demands with its broader economic and social reforms can in time wean large sections of the Negro workers from the major parties. On the economic side, the Negro masses have been taught that their welfare is best promoted by adopting a conciliatory attitude to those who control industrial and economic opportunity, through subservience to the wealthy and through the establishment of a sort of self-sufficient Negro petty capitalism. Here the progressives must show the Negro masses that their problem like that of the white masses, is inevitably that of work and wages. For even if the Negro leaders who look upon the creation of Negro financial and business enterprise as the economic salvation of the Negro masses, are successful in realizing their ideal, the institutions that they hope to establish are to be run on the basis of economic individualism and private profit, despite the tendency of these leaders to confuse “racial cooperation in business” with genuine consumers’ cooperation. The success of a Negro petty capitalism will merely give economic reality to our contemporary Negro bourgeoisie which is temperamentally detached from the realities of working-class life. But however successful Negro business enterprise may be, and whether it proceeds on a quasi-self-sufficient racial basis or takes its chances for survival in the general competitive arena, it must in the nature of things remain a diminutive force in modern industrialism, which is to say, that its much heralded power for mitigating the stress of Negro unemployment will be inconsequential. The great masses of Negro workers will continue to find their employment with those who now control finance and industry. And the few Negroes who will obtain work at the hands of the black capitalists of the tomorrow will not thereby cease to be wage-earners. Their problem will merely be shifted from the center of modern economic life where white capitalists dominate to the margin where small Negro enterprisers eke out the wages of management. This space left intentionally blank. T H E S C O T T S B O R O T R I A L S , 1 9 3 0 s 279 Thus progressives carry to the Negro masses some realization of the causes of unemployment, low wages, and the need for labor unionism and cooperation, in general; and of the reasons that explain the special severity of industrial disadvantage upon them as a racial group, in particular. But none of these lessons will take root if they are presented spasmodically and, above all, if white workers are unwilling to accept Negroes into working-class fellowship. As great as these difficulties may seem, a policy of letting well enough alone or procrastination will never overcome them. Progressives will therefore do well to begin to grapple with them now. Source: “The Negro Worker: A Problem of Progressive Labor Action,” Crisis 37, no. 3 (March 1930), pp. 83–85. The editors wish to thank the Crisis Publishing Co., Inc., the publisher of the magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, for the use of the material from The Crisis. This space left intentionally blank. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Eric Arnesen, Brotherhoods of Color: Black Railroad Workers and the Struggle for Equality (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001). Robert Biles, The South and the New Deal (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1994). Philip Sheldon Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States, 10 vols. (New York: International Publishers, 1975). Keith P. Griffler, “The Black Radical Intellectual and the Black Worker the Emergence of a Program for Black Labor, 1918–1938” (Ph.D. diss., Ohio State University, 1993). Abram L. Harris, The Negro Worker: A Problem of Vital Concern to the Entire Labor Movement, Pamphlet No. 3, Progressive Labor Library (New York: Conference for Progressive Labor Action, 1930). ———, The Social Philosophy of Karl Marx (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948). ———, Race, Radicalism and Reform: Selected Papers, Abram L. Harris, ed. William Darity, Jr. (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1989). Abram L. Harris and Sterling Shapiro, The Black Worker: The Negro and the Labor Movement (New York: Columbia University Press, 1931). O 10 O The Scottsboro Trials, 1930s The Scottsboro case became an international scandal in the early 1930s, when nine African Americans (some of whom were children) from Scottsboro, Alabama, were charged with raping a white woman on a freight train. Yet both contemporary observers and historians have found that these charges were fraudulent and that there was little possibility the “Scottsboro boys” might receive a fair trial in Alabama’s racist, Jim Crow courts. In 1931, eight of the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to death. The case received attention from various civil rights organizations and the American Communist Party, and appeals on behalf of the Scottsboro boys were twice presented before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1932, the high court set 280 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 aside their convictions on grounds that they did not have adequate counsel. Subsequently, two of the original defendants were tried and convicted again. In 1935 the Supreme Court overturned these convictions as well, ruling that African Americans had been arbitrarily excluded from Alabama’s jury pools. Thus, in addition to exposing the injustice of Alabama’s courts, the Scottsboro case also helped establish important legal precedents for African Americans. However, it was not until the 1950s that all of the Scottsboro boys were freed. O SCOTTSBORO BOYS APPEAL FROM DEATH CELLS TO THE TOILERS OF THE WORLD From the death cells in Kilby Prison, where they have been held under conditions of the most ghastly torture ever since the mock trials in the lower court at Scottsboro, Ala., the eight Scottsboro boys send the following appeal to the workers of the whole world to rally to the mass fight to smash the hideous frame-up and lynch murder verdicts: From the death cell here in Kilby Prison, eight of us Scottsboro boys is writing this to you. We have been sentenced to die for something we ain’t never done. Us poor boys been sentenced to burn up on the electric chair for the reason that we is workers—and the color of our skin is black. We like any one of you workers is none of us older than 20. Two of us is 14 and one is 13 years old. What we guilty of? Nothing but being out of a job. Nothing but looking for work. Our kinfolk was starving for food. We wanted to help them out. So we hopped a freight—just like any one of you workers might a done—to go down to Mobile to hunt work. We was taken off the train by a mob and framed up on rape charges. At the trial they give us in Scottsboro we could hear the crowds yelling, “Lynch the Niggers.” We could see them toting those big shotguns. Call ’at a fair trial? And while we lay here in jail, the boss-man make us watch ’em burning up other Negroes on the electric chair. “This is what you’ll get,” they say to us. What for? We ain’t done nothing to be in here at all. All we done was to look for a job. Anyone of you might have done the same thing—and got framed up on the same charge just like we did. Only ones helped us down here been the International Labor Defense and the League of Struggle for Negro Rights. We don’t put no faith in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. They give some of us boys eats to go against the other boys who talked for the I.L.D. But we wouldn’t split. Nohow. We know our friends and our enemies. Working class boys, we asks you to save us from being burnt on the electric chair. We’s only poor working class boys whose skin is black. We shouldn’t die for that. We hear about working people holding meetings for us all over the world. We asks for more big meetings. It’ll take a lot of big meetings to help the I.L.D. and A . H E R N D O N , “ Y O U C A N N O T K I L L T H E W O R K I N G C L A S S ” 281 the L.S.N.R to save us from the boss-man down here. Help us boys. We ain’t done nothing wrong. We are only workers like you are. Only our skin is black. (Signed) Andy Wright, Olen Montgomery, Ozie Powell, Charlie Weems, Clarence Norris, Haywood Patterson, Eugene Williams, Willie Robertson. Source: “Scottsboro Boys Appeal from Death Cells to the Toilers of the World,” originally published in The Negro Worker 2, no. 5 (May 1932), pp. 8–9. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Dan T. Carter, Scottsboro: A Tragedy of the American South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979). Gabriel J. Chin, “A White Woman’s Word: The Scottsboro Case (1931),” in Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History, ed. by Annette Gordon-Reed (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). James E. Goodman, Stories of Scottsboro (New York: Pantheon Books, 1994). Kwando M. Kinshasa, The Man from Scottsboro: Clarence Norris and the Infamous 1931 Alabama Rape Trial, in His Own Words (Jefferson; London: McFarland, 2003). Clarence Norris and Sybil Washington, The Last of the Scottsboro Boys: An Autobiography (New York: Putnam, 1979). Lita Sorensen, The Scottsboro Boys Trial: A Primary Source Account, 1st ed. (New York: Rosen Pub. Group, 2004). O 11 O “You Cannot Kill the Working Class,” Angelo Herndon, 1933 Angelo Herndon (1913– ) was an African-American Communist organizer who, after working on behalf of poor and unemployed blacks and whites in Atlanta, Georgia, was charged with “insurrection” in 1932. In his defense, Herndon spoke directly to the all-white jury and, though he was found guilty, the jurors recommended mercy. Still, the court sentenced Herndon to eighteen to twenty years in prison. However, Herndon was finally released in 1936, after his case drew international attention. O ANGELO HERNDON’S SPEECH TO THE JURY, JANUARY 17, 1933 Gentlemen of the Jury: I would like to explain in detail the nature of my case and the reason why I was locked up. I recall back about the middle of June 1932, when the Relief Agencies of the City of Atlanta, the County Commission and the city government as a whole, were cutting both Negro and white workers off relief. 282 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 We all know that there were citizens who suffered from unemployment. There were hundreds and thousands of Negroes and whites who were each day looking for work, but in those days there was no work to be found. The Unemployment Council, which has connection with the Unemployed Committees of the United States, after 23,000 families had been dropped from the relief rolls, started to organize the Negro and white workers of Atlanta on the same basis, because we know that their interests are the same. The Unemployment Council understood that in order to get relief, both races would have to organize together and forget about the question whether those born with a white skin are “superior” and those born with a black skin are “inferior.” They both were starving and the capitalist class would continue to use this weapon to keep them further divided. The policy of the Unemployment Council is to organize Negroes and whites together on the basis of fighting for unemployment relief and unemployment insurance at the expense of the state. The Unemployment Council of Atlanta issued those leaflets after the relief had been cut off, which meant starvation for thousands of people here in Atlanta. The leaflets called upon the Negro and white workers to attend a meeting at the court house building on a Thursday morning. I forget the exact date. This action was initiated as the result of statements handed out to the local press by County Commissioners who said that there was nobody in the City of Atlanta starving, and if there were, those in need should come to the offices of the Commissioners and the matter would be looked into. That statement was made by Commissioner Hendrix. The Unemployment Council pointed out in its circulars that there were thousands of unemployed workers in the City of Atlanta who faced hunger and starvation. Therefore, they were called upon to demonstrate in this court house building, about the middle part of June. When the Committee came down to the court house, it so happened that Commissioner Hendrix was not present that morning. There were unemployed white women with their babies almost naked and without shoes to go on their feet, and there were also Negro women with their little babies actually starving for the need of proper nourishment, which had been denied them by the county of Fulton and State of Georgia and City of Atlanta as well. Well, the Negro and white workers came down to the Commissioners’ office to show that there was starvation in the City of Atlanta and that they were in actual need of food and proper nourishment for their kids, which they never did receive. I think Commissioner Stewart was in the office at that time. The white workers were taken into his room and the Negroes had the door shut in their faces. This was done with the hope of creating racial animosity in order that they would be able to block the fight that the Negro and white workers were carrying on—a determined fight to get relief. The white workers were told: “Well, the county hasn’t any money, and of course, you realize the depression and all that but we haven’t got the money.” We knew that the county did have money, but were using it for their own interest, and not for the interest of the Negro workers or white workers, either way. They talked to the white workers some considerable A . H E R N D O N , “ Y O U C A N N O T K I L L T H E W O R K I N G C L A S S ” 283 time, but when the white workers came out, they had just about as much results as the Negroes did—only a lot of hot air blown over them by the Commissioners, which didn’t put any shoes on their little babies’ feet and no milk in their stomachs to give them proper nourishment. No one disputed the fact they did keep the Negroes on the outside, but the white workers were in the same condition that their Negro brothers were in. In spite of the fact that the County Commissioners had published statements to the effect that there was no money in the county treasury to provide unemployment relief for the Negro and white workers, still the next day after the demonstration the County Commissioners voted $6,000 for relief, mainly because it was shown that for the first time in the history of Atlanta and the State of Georgia, Negro and white workers did join together and did go to the Commissioners and demand unemployment insurance. Have not they worked in the City of Atlanta, in different industries, different shops and other industrial concerns located in Atlanta for all their years, doing this work, building up the city where it is at the present time? And now, when they were in actual need of food to hold their bodies together, and when they came before the state and county officials to demand something to hold their bodies together, they were denied it. The policy of the Unemployment Council is to organize these workers and demand those things that are denied them. They have worked as slaves, and are entitled to a decent living standard. And, of course, the workers will get it if you ever organize them. After the successful demonstration, the solicitor’s office had two detectives stationed at the post office to arrest anyone who came to take mail out of box 339. On Monday, July 11, 1932, I went to the post office to get mail from this box and was arrested by detectives, Mr. Watson and Mr. Chester. I had organized unemployed workers, Negro and white, of Atlanta, and forced the County Commissioners to kick in $6,000 for unemployment relief. For this I was locked up in the station house and held eleven days without even any kind of charges booked against me. I was told at the station house that I was being held on “suspicion.” Of course, they knew what the charges were going to be, but in order to hold me in jail and give me the dirtiest kind of inhuman treatment that one could describe, they held me there eleven days without any charge whatsoever until my attorney filed a writ of habeas corpus demanding that they place charges against me or turn me loose. It was about the 22nd of July, and I still hadn’t been indicted; there had been three sessions of the grand jury, and my case had been up before them each time, but still there was no indictment. This was a deliberate plot to hold me in jail. At the habeas corpus hearing, the judge ordered that if I wasn’t indicted by the next day by 2:30, I should be released. Solicitor Hudson assured the judge that there would be an indictment, which, of course, there was. Ever since then I have been cooped up in Fulton County Tower, where I have spent close to six months—I think the exact time was five months and three weeks. . . . They knew that the workers of Atlanta were starving, and by arresting Angelo Herndon on a charge of attempting to incite insurrection the unity of Negro and white workers that was displayed in the demonstration that forced the County 284 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 Commissioners to kick in with $6,000 would be crushed forever. They locked Angelo Herndon up on such charges. But I can say this quite clearly, if the State of Georgia and the City of Atlanta think that by locking up Angelo Herndon, the question of unemployment will be solved, I say you are deadly wrong. If you really want to do anything about the case, you must go out and indict the social system. I am sure that if you would do this, Angelo Herndon would not be on trial here today, but those who are really guilty of insurrection would be here in my stead. But this you will not do, for your role is to defend the system under which the toiling masses are robbed and oppressed. There are thousands of Negro and white workers who, because of unemployment and hunger, are organizing. If the state wants to break up this organization, it cannot do it by arresting people and placing them on trial for insurrection, insurrection laws will not fill empty stomachs. Give the people bread. The officials knew then that the workers were in need of relief, and they know now that the workers are going to organize and get relief. . . . [I]t is to the interest of the capitalist class that the workers be kept down all of the time so they can make as much profit as they possibly can. So, on the other hand, it is to the interest of Negro and white workers to get as much for their work as they can—that is, if they happen to have any work. Unfortunately, at the present time there are millions of workers in the United States without work, and the capitalist class, the state government, city government and all other governments, have taken no steps to provide relief for those unemployed. And it seems that this question is left up to the Negro and white workers to solve, and they will solve it by organizing and demanding the right to live, a right that they are entitled to. They have built up this country, and are therefore entitled to some of the things that they have produced. Not only are they entitled to such things, but it is their right to demand them. . . . O EXCERPTS FROM YOU CANNOT KILL THE WORKING CLASS They say that once a miner, always a miner. I don’t know if that’s so, but I do know that my father never followed any other trade. His sons never doubted that they would go down into the mines as soon as they got old enough. The wail of the mine whistle morning and night, and the sight of my father coming home with his lunch-pail, grimy from the day’s coating of coal-dust, seemed a natural and eternal part of our lives. Almost every working-class family, especially in those days, nursed the idea that one of its members, anyway, would get out of the factory, and wear clean clothes all the time and sit at a desk. My family was no exception. They hoped that I would be the one to leave the working-class. They were ready to make almost any sacrifices to send me through high-school and college. They were sure that if a fellow worked hard and had intelligence and grit, he wouldn’t have to be a worker all his life. I haven’t seen my mother or most of my family for a long time—but I wonder what they think of that idea now! A . H E R N D O N , “ Y O U C A N N O T K I L L T H E W O R K I N G C L A S S ” 285 My father died of miner’s pneumonia when I was very small, and left my mother with a big family to care for. Besides myself, there were six other boys and two girls. We all did what we could. Mother went out to do housework for rich white folks. An older brother got a job in the steel mills. I did odd jobs, working in stores, running errands, for $2 and $3 a week. They still had the idea they could scrimp and save and send me through college. But when I was 13, we saw it wouldn’t work. So one fine morning in 1926, my brother Leo and I started off for Lexington, KY. It was just across the border, and it had mines, and we were miner’s kids. A few miles outside of Lexington, we were taken on at a small mine owned by the powerful DeBardeleben Coal Corporation. . . . One day the company put up a notice that due to large overhead expenses, they would have to cut our pay from 42 to 31 cents a ton. We were sore as hell. But there wasn’t any union in the mine, and practically none of us had any experience at organization, and though we grumbled plenty we didn’t take any action. We were disgusted, and some of us quit. Whites and Negroes both. I was one of those who quit. My contact with unions, and with organization, and the Communist Party, and unity between black and white miners—all that was still in the future. The pay-cut and the rotten conditions got my goat, and I walked off, because as yet I didn’t know of anything else to do. . . . I wish I could remember the exact date when I first attended a meeting of the Unemployment Council, and met up with a couple of members of the Commun¬ist Party. That date means a lot more to me than my birthday, or any other day in my life. The workers in the South, mostly deprived of reading-matter, have developed a wonderful grapevine system for transmitting news. It was over this grapevine that we first heard that there were “reds” in town. The foremen—when they talked about it—and the newspapers, and the bigshot Negroes in Birmingham, said that the “reds” were foreigners, and Yankees, and believed in killing people, and would get us in a lot of trouble. But out of all the talk I got a few ideas clear about the Reds. They believed in organizing and sticking together. They believed that we didn’t have to have bosses on our backs. They believed that Negroes ought to have equal rights with whites. It all sounded O.K. to me. But I didn’t meet any of the Reds for a long time. One day in June, 1930, walking home from work, I came across some handbills put out by the Unemployment Council in Birmingham. They said: “Would you rather fight—or starve?” They called on the workers to come to a mass meeting at 3 o’clock. Somehow I never thought of missing that meeting. I said to myself over and over: “It’s war! It’s war! And I might as well get into it right now!” I got to the meeting while a white fellow was speaking. I didn’t get everything he said, but this much hit me and stuck with me: that the workers could only get things by fighting for them, and that the Negro and white workers had to stick together to get results. The speaker described the conditions of the Negroes in Birmingham, and I kept saying to myself: “That’s it.” Then a Negro spoke from the same platform, and somehow I knew that this was what I’d been looking for all my life. 286 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 At the end of the meeting I went up and gave my name. From that day to this, every minute of my life has been tied up with the workers’ movement. I joined the Unemployment Council, and some weeks later the Communist Party. I read all the literature of the movement that I could get my hands on, and began to see my way more clearly. . . . The Unemployment Council opened a fight for cash relief, and aid for single men, and equal relief for Negro and white. They called for a meeting in Capitol Park, and we gathered about the Confederate Monument, about 500 of us, white and Negro, and then we marched on the Community Chest headquarters. There were about 100 cops there. The officials of the Community Chest spoke, and said that the best thing for the Negroes to do was to go back to the farms. They tried very hard to give the white workers there the idea that if the Negroes went back to the farms, the whites would get a lot more relief. Of course our leaders pointed out that the small farmers and share-croppers and tenants on the cotton-lands around Birmingham were starving, and losing their land and stock, and hundreds were drifting into the city in the hope of getting work. Then Oscar Adams spoke up. He was the editor of the Birmingham Reporter, a Negro paper. What he said opened my eyes—but not in the way he expected. He said we shouldn’t be misled by the leaders of the Unemployment Council, that we should go politely to the white bosses and officials and ask them for what they wanted, and do as they said. Adams said: “We Negroes don’t want social equality.” I was furious. I said inside of myself: “Oscar Adams, we Negroes want social and every other kind of equality. There’s no reason on God’s green earth why we should be satisfied with anything less.” That was the end of any ideas I had that the big-shots among the recognized Negro leaders would fight for us, or really put up any struggle for equal rights. I knew that Oscar Adams and the people like him were among our worst enemies, especially dangerous because they work from inside our ranks and a lot of us get the idea that they are with us and of us. I look back over what I’ve written about those days since I picked up the leaflet of the Unemployment Council, and wonder if I’ve really said what I mean. I don’t know if I can get across to you the feeling that came over me whenever I went to a meeting of the Council, or of the Communist Party, and heard their speakers and read their leaflets. All my life I’d been sweated and stepped on and JimCrowed. I lay on my belly in the mines for a few dollars a week, and saw my pay stolen and slashed, and my buddies killed. I lived in the worst section of town, and rode behind the “Colored” signs on streetcars, as though there was something disgusting about me. I heard myself called “nigger” and “darky,” and I had to say “Yes, sir” to every white man, whether he had my respect or not. I had always detested it, but I had never known that anything could be done about it. And here, all of a sudden, I had found organizations in which Negroes and whites sat together, and worked together, and knew no difference of race or A . H E R N D O N , “ Y O U C A N N O T K I L L T H E W O R K I N G C L A S S ” 287 color. Here were organizations that weren’t scared to come out for equality for the Negro people, and for the rights of the workers. The Jim-Crow system, the wage-slave system, weren’t everlasting after all! . . . We organized a number of block committees of the Unemployment Councils, and got rent and relief for a large number of families. We agitated endlessly for unemployment insurance. In the middle of June, 1932, the state closed down all the relief stations. A drive was organized to send all the jobless to the farms. We gave out leaflets calling for a mass demonstration at the courthouse to demand that the relief be continued. About 1000 workers came, 600 of them white. We told the commissioners we didn’t intend to starve. We reminded them that $800,000 had been collected in the Community Chest drive. The commissioners said there wasn’t a cent to be had. But the very next day the commission voted $6,000 for relief to the jobless! On the night of July 11, I went to the Post Office to get my mail. I felt myself grabbed from behind and turned to see a police officer. I was placed in a cell, and was shown a large electric chair, and told to spill everything I knew about the movement. I refused to talk, and was held incommunicado for eleven days. Finally I smuggled out a letter through another prisoner, and the International Labor Defense got on the job. Assistant Solicitor John Hudson rigged up the charge against me. . . . The trial was set for January 16, 1933. The state of Georgia displayed the literature that had been taken from my room, and read passages of it to the jury. They questioned me in great detail. Did I believe that the bosses and government ought to pay insurance to unemployed workers? That Negroes should have complete equality with white people? Did I believe in the demand for the self-determination of the Black Belt—that the Negro people should be allowed to rule the Black Belt territory, kicking out the white landlords and government officials? Did I feel that the working-class could run the mills and mines and government? That it wasn’t necessary to have bosses at all? I told them I believed all of that—and more. . . . The state held that my membership in the Communist Party, my possession of Communist literature, was enough to send me to the electric chair. They said to the jury: “Stamp this damnable thing out now with a conviction that will automatically carry with it a penalty of electrocution.” And the hand-picked lily-white jury responded: “We, the jury, find the defendant guilty as charged, but recommend that mercy be shown and fix his sentence at from 18 to 20 years.” I had organized starving workers to demand bread, and I was sentenced to live out my years on the chain-gang for it. But I knew that the movement itself would not stop. I spoke to the court and said: “They can hold this Angelo Herndon and hundreds of others, but it will never stop these demonstrations on the part of Negro and white workers who demand a decent place to live in and proper food for their kids to eat.” 288 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 I said: “You may do what you will with Angelo Herndon. You may indict him. You may put him in jail. But there will come thousands of Angelo Herndons. If you really want to do anything about the case, you must go out and indict the social system. But this you will not do, for your role is to defend the system under which the toiling masses are robbed and oppressed. “You may succeed in killing one, two, even a score of working-class organizers. But you cannot kill the working class.” . . . Sources: (1) Angelo Herndon’s Speech to the Jury, January 17, 1933; and (2) excerpt from Angelo Herndon, You Cannot Kill the Working Class (New York: International Labor Defense and League of Struggle for Negro Rights, 1937–?). S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: F. T. Griffiths, “Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, and the Case of Angelo Herndon,” African American Review 35, no. 4 (Winter 2001), pp. 615–36. Elizabeth Lawson, Twenty Years on the Chain Gang? Angelo Herndon Must Go Free (New York: International Labor Defense, 1935). Charles H. Martin, The Angelo Herndon Case and Southern Justice (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1976). ———, “Communists and Blacks: The ILD and the Angelo Herndon Case,” Journal of Negro History 64, no. 2 (Spring 1979), pp. 131–41. O 12 O Hosea Hudson, Black Communist Activist Hosea Hudson (1889–1988) was born in rural Wilkes County, Georgia, and he joined the Communist Party in 1931 in the wake of the Scottsboro and Camp Hill cases. In 1932 his political affiliations caused him to be fired from his job as an iron molder. Hudson subsequently worked on the Works Progress Administration (WPA), served as vice president of the Birmingham and Jefferson County locals of the Workers Alliance, was president of Steel Local 2815, and vice president of the Alabama Political Education Association. Hudson used several aliases and often worked underground, especially during the 1950s when he was a Communist organizer in the South. In 1971 he visited the Soviet Union for the first time. Hudson’s moving account of his lifelong involvement in the Communist movement is presented in Black Worker in the Deep South (1972), and in Nell Irvin Painter’s 1979 book, The Narrative of Hosea Hudson. O I found this Party, a party of the working class, gave me rights equal with all others regardless of color, sex, or age or educational standards. I with my uneduca- H O S E A H U D S O N , B L A C K C O M M U N I S T A C T I V I S T 289 tion could express myself, without being made fun of by others who could read well and fast, using big words. I was treated with high respect. I had a right to help make the policy. At every convention, maybe some policy question would change at the convention and we have a discussion from the floor. After a thorough discussion, decisions are arrived at by majority vote. Then all members, including those who disagree, are duty bound to explain, fight for, and carry out such decisions. When that decision is made, everybody got to fall into line. I’ve been to many Party conventions. The first one I went to was an extraordinary plenary session called in New York by Earl Browder. That was in 1933, the 4th of July. That was the first time I got out of the South. We left at night on a Monday, left out of Birmingham in a old piece of car, went over to Atlanta, me and Don and the rest of them. They taken me in the car from Birmingham to Atlanta. When we all got to Atlanta, we put down their car and we all got in Ben Davis’ car and pulled out for New York. We went up with Ben Davis. That was the first time I met him. Ben Davis was in Atlanta, he was then involved in the Angelo Herndon case. We drove to New York from Atlanta. I don’t know what model of Ford it was, but ’twas seven of us packed up in that Ford. All the way from Atlanta to New York City. It was hot! That was the worst trip I ever had in my life. Seven people, seven grown people—wont no children in the crowd—it was seven people. ’twas three Negroes: me, Ben, and Al Murphy. We went up in the front seat together. In the back seat was the D.O. of the time, Don, and his wife, and another guy from Texas name of Lee, and another guy name of Ted Mebber. All four of them was white. Now you know that was some ride. . . . I didn’t get to know Ben Davis too much on the trip. We’s going up, riding. I know he was a lawyer, and I felt at that time that he was superior. I wasn’t used to being around that kind of people, Negro lawyers. And everybody was talking. Him and Al Murphy, they done a lot of discussing about everything, the country and the conditions. Ben Davis was a friendly guy, he was friendly to me, but he was driving the car, and Murphy sitting between me and him. I’m over on the side and the whites back here talking. Everybody talking and riding, try to keep encouragement. I was just listening, because at that time my development was very low, practically zero. I wont doing no talking. We went on, got to New York, and we all got off. Some went in different places. Ben didn’t go to that extraordinary plenary session. He didn’t attend Party conferences. I presume, I never did know, I never questioned, but I presume he was up there to discuss with Patterson and them something about the ILD and the Herndon case in Atlanta, and also the Scottsboro case, which he wasn’t involved in, but he did play a part in the Scottsboro case in Alabama. That was the first big conference, first big meeting of the Party I was in. They had fraternal delegates at that particular meeting. They were there from Chile, and they had fraternal delegates there from Germany. The guy that Hitler killed— I can’t think of his name right now—but he was the leader of the Party and Hitler killed him.1 His name was very familiar with me. He was at that meeting. He 290 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 spoke. About four or five fraternal delegates was there. I didn’t meet them personally, I just was there when they spoke. It was a lot being said I didn’t understand. I was still in the learning stage. I was just sitting quiet, listening. Some I understood what they said, and some I didn’t. After the meeting was over, it was a Negro woman there at the convention from North Carolina, and she was living in a big housing project there in New York, call it the Coop. I forgotten her name. She taken me on the trolley down to the waterfront down on Broadway, we rid all the way down there. It was real cold. It was on July 4th, and it was cold enough to have on a overcoat. It was real chilly like the fall of the year. I seen a big ship there with peep holes and they was playing the music and everybody around right there at the water. That was the first time I seen ships. I didn’t see Ben anymore until we got ready to come back to Atlanta, and we all came back in the car together. Murphy stayed in New York, but all the whites came back. Lee sat in the front with us coming back, so it was still a question of I was looking for some one to stop us. It wasn’t worse, though, cause Lee was smaller than Murphy was and it wasn’t quite as tight up. . . . The coal miners and the ore miners was the first ones begin to organize in the NRA days. I never did know the whole thing, but in that period, the NRA, it was something worked out between John L. Lewis and Roosevelt, I think. That’s my thinking. And whatever the agreement was, when they come out with the NRA, John L. Lewis came out organizing the coal miners. We began to build the Party among the coal miners and the ore miners when they began to reorganize their UMW locals. Many of the miners were living in Birmingham, particularly the Negroes. We had some big struggles. The bosses had all the coal mine communities guarded. They had deputy sheriffs in the coal mine areas. We didn’t call them deputy sheriffs, we called them company dicks. Now out there in that Sareyton mine, out in North Birmingham, the guy out there, his name was Self. If a guy would be sick and he wouldn’t go in to work, Self would go around “shack rousting.” He go around, knock on those doors, see who all at home, who all in, who all out. If someone didn’t go to work, Self want to know what’s wrong. He’d tell the Negroes, “By God, if you ain’t sick, when I get through with you, you will be sick.” He was the shack rouster hisself, called hisself deputy sheriff of the company. Any stranger going in the mine quarters, especially through the week days, would be questioned, stopped and questioned by the company dicks. . . . In Birmingham in the month of November of ’33, we Party members call a meeting of workers from some of the mines and steel plants and iron foundries one Sunday afternoon, to organize a committee to begin to build rank and file committees in some of the coal and ore mine union locals around Birmingham and Bessemer. What these committees was doing was bombarding some of the unions, the top leaders, calling for industrial unions, industrial unions.2 Because our Party position was the onliest way you going to get out of this present oppression, you got to organize the industrial unions and organize the unorganized workers, organize the Negro. The Negro hadn’t been organized in unions before. H O S E A H U D S O N , B L A C K C O M M U N I S T A C T I V I S T 291 They was all lily white unions. They wouldn’t take Negroes in. This meeting, we had planned to hold it in the old Negro Penny Saving Bank, down on 2nd Avenue and somewhere between 15th or 16th Street. (Since that time this bank been torn down.) Some of us had just began to go into that hall and arrange the chairs, early waiting for the other workers to come. Only nine of us had got into that hall, four white and five Negroes. A young white worker, Ward Turner, was to chair that meeting. Ted Welbaum, a young white YCL member from New York, was there with us and two other white workers. (That was the whites.) Then Joe Howard, myself, Homer Martin, and Sol Norman, and another young Negro coal miner by the name of Mosley was there. Mosley and I went down on the next floor below our floor, the third floor, to the men’s room. When we got to the second floor, we found city detective Mosley, the head of the Red Squad, and three other police standing down there questioning the Negro who was in charge of that building. The young coal miner Mosley just kept walking on down to the ground floor, right past that group of officers, and I turn around and went back up to our hall and told the rest of the boys that was up there that the police was down on the floor below, asking that Negro a lots of rough questions. Ward Turner told everybody to get them a seat and sit down, and we sat down in the different places in the hall. Turner took his seat at the table where the chairman was to sit at. After a while, all of that bunch of police began to rush up the stairway, headed for our hall. Detective Mosley walk over to Turner and asked him what kind of meeting is that. Turner told him that this is a Socialist Party meeting. Mosley pick up all of the notes of paper that Turner had on the table and told all of us to get out of this hall. We all headed down to the ground floor. When we got down to the door at the sidewalk, the police had backed a paddy wagon up to the curb and form themselves into a line from that door to that police wagon. And we all walk right straight into that police wagon from that building. As we were hauled away from that hall we could see several of our people standing on the corner who was headed to the meeting. But by the police hurrying into that hall to break up that meeting as they did, they saved many of those workers their jobs. The police took us eight to the southside jail and lodged us Negroes there in a cell with other Negroes that was in there for that Sunday night. We didn’t know what was going to happen to us, cause it had been the custom when they arrest any of the members of the ILD or the Party to take them out after a certain time of night—so we were told—and whip them. We didn’t know whether they was going to whip us or not. We were just there. So I didn’t throw my clothes off all that night. I just laid on the bunk, on the old bunk they had there, in my clothes. That was Sunday night. The next morning the four white workers who was placed in a different cell and all us Negroes was hauled down to the city hall separate and placed into a different room and mugged one by one. Our pictures was taken and we was fingerprinted. They kept all four there until late that afternoon. Then they put us in 292 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 what they call the “bull pen” where all the misdemeanors was, like you arrested for drunk or something like that. Not no bad crime. Everybody put out here in one big old place together. You sit around, sit on bunks, anywhere you can find. Ain’t none of them decent, but you ain’t got no particular place to sleep, just bunk up and do the best you can on the cots. That was where I seed a crap game for the first time in my life. A old man there had some dice and playing craps for a penny. He’d take them dice and work his hand around and shake them and “crack, crack, crack!” and throw them dice. When he throw them and the dice turn up, every time they turn up, he’d hit. He was a real dice shooter. He was a old man. We just set there and looked at him. Didn’t nobody bother me, nobody asked anybody what they was there for. We four, me, Sol, Homer Martin, and Joe Howard, we four was together. And quite naturally we sit around together, but we didn’t talk. We always was told not to do no talking in jail, cause you never know when the walls are bugged or not, so we didn’t talk about none of our affairs. They kept us there till Tuesday. Now Sol, they tried to hold Sol for a while, cause Sol when they first arrest him, they asked him what his name was, he wouldn’t tell them what his name. Old Detective Mosley hit Sol in the face around his eye. He had a red, very bad bruised face. I didn’t see him when he got hit. All I seen was afterwards, and he had a big bloody place on the side of his face and his eye was all bloodshot. Tuesday they taken us back for trial, put us in separate cells, except me and Homer Martin in a cell to ourselves. I don’t know what time they had Joe Howard or the white guys’ trial. I had heard that whenever we was arrested that we were not to ever plead guilty when we went before a judge. I had told Homer Martin that we were not to plead guilty when we were asked by the judge. We was all lined up in a long line of Negroes. Some of them had been picked up by the police for drunk that Saturday afternoon. As they march up, they were asked the question by the judge, “You are charge of being drunk, are you guilty or not guilty?” In most cases these Negroes would say, “Guilty, Judge.” And the judge would say, “$13 or 13 days.” Most of them would be led off by the police to jail to begin serve that 13 days. When Homer Martin and I got up before him, I was in the front of Homer. We were told what our charges was—that was meeting to overthrow the government. “Are you guilty or not guilty?” I said, “Not guilty, Judge.” He said to me, “Stand aside.” Homer Martin told him the same thing, and he was told to stand aside. We were finally taken back into a room and the door was locked. And we sat there all the rest of that afternoon until just about night, from early that morning without any water or food. Finally they call us out and took us back to the southside jail, and then we were given water and some of that lousy black-eyed peas and hard cornbread with all of the corn husks and other filth in it. But we had to eat it H O S E A H U D S O N , B L A C K C O M M U N I S T A C T I V I S T 293 because that was all that we could get until the next morning. About 1 o’clock Wednesday the key-boy come to the bull pen and call us and told us to get ready, we were wanted down at the warden’s desk. We walked out and we all walk down to the desk sergeant. He had a great big double forehead, a great big wide double forehead and smoked a pipe. I guess he might of been a Irishman, he had big feet. (He was called to be the good police among the Negroes there in Birmingham after that time. They said, “He’s a good man, that boy, he’s a good man.” The Negroes called him nice cause when he caught them in their misdemeanors, he’d give them a little break.) This sergeant told the keyboy to unlock the outside iron gate and he said to us four Negroes: “You God damn niggers get out of that gate and get out of town. You damn Reds better not be caught in Birmingham any more. If you do, it will not be good for you.” 3 We all walked out and went to our various homes. (Joe Howard passed from this life in Birmingham some time in 1939. I stayed there and built steel local 2815. Homer Martin passed there in 1974.) Sol Norman left Birmingham. I heard that he went back to Selma, Alabama. That was his home, down Selma. He worked with the sharecroppers union, but something happen to him there in around ’35. Down in 19 and 65 I was talking to some people and they was around the area of Selma the time of that terror in 1935. It was a husband and wife, and the husband said they had some rough times down there, “but down in our part, where we live, they didn’t never come down there and bother us cause we was so well organized together till they was afraid to try and come in there to mess with us. We was just too hot for them down there.” The deputy sheriffs and the Ku Klux and them didn’t come in there, but it was up in some other place where they was terrorizing and beating and arresting Negroes. Negroes was coming up missing. Then I was talking to a preacher in 1953, Reverend Rivers (he’s dead now). This preacher was a pastor down there in Selma at that time, and 'twas a white man, a merchant, had a blacksmith shop. He took this preacher out in his yard and showed him eight or nine things that was made out of concrete that looked like bears standing up. They had a solid bottom, and the top was a lid, was a piece of sheet iron with a lock on it, to lock it. They was just the size enough to put a man in. Reverend Rivers kept asking this white man, talking like a preacher, said, “Boss, what is this? I just like this thing. This is a pretty, pretty thing. I just like to have one of them.” The white man said, “No, Reverend, you don’t want that. That’s for these people that won’t listen at you and won’t listen at us. That’s made for these kind of people.” Reverend Rivers, he said it made him so sick that he went home and went to bed, had to have a doctor. He could just see all these people he knowed done come up missing, and they done put them in them concrete things and dropped them in the Alabama River. And he couldn’t tell nobody. So when he got able, when he got well enough to move out, he left there and come to Birmingham. His 294 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 wife said, “I bet you that’s what happened to Willie Foster.” He was one of the local leaders of the ILD there in Birmingham, and they sent him down there to see about some arrests. He never did come back. “They about put him in them barrels and dropped him in the river, cause he turn up missing and we never did hear from him.” We didn’t never know what happened to Sol Norman to know the truth about it. It was hard to say if he left out of there or not, because we none of us at that time used our regular names when we went to a new different place. He might of left and used a new name someplace else. Or they might of put him in one of them concrete barrels Reverend Rivers was looking at. . . . Notes: 1. Ernest Thaelmann. 2. All the unions was craft unions. 3. That was what he had to say to us Negroes knowing that we was considered to be Reds. He showed his real colors with us. Source: Excerpts, reprinted by permission of the publisher, from The Narrative of Hosea Hudson: His Life as a Negro Communist in the South, edited by Neil Irvin Painter (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979). Copyright 1979 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Hosea Hudson, Black Worker in the Deep South: A Personal Record (New York: International Publishers, 1972). Robin D.G. Kelley, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists during the Great Depression (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990). Nell Irvin Painter, Southern History across the Color Line (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002). Mark Solomon, The Cry Was Unity: Communists and African Americans, 1917–1936 (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999). O 13 O “Breaking the Bars to Brotherhood,” Mary McLeod Bethune, 1935 Mary McLeod Bethune (1875–1955) was one of seventeen children born to exslave parents in South Carolina. She worked as a teacher in her early adult life and in 1904 founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial School. In 1920 Bethune was elected vice president of the National Urban League. She was active for many years in the National Association of Colored Women, and was elected as its president in 1924. Bethune came to national prominence, however, during the Great Depression. She was the leading African-American figure within the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, serving as the director of the Negro Division of the National Youth Administration. In 1935 she was given the NAACP’s Springarn Award, and in that same year was named president of the newly formed National M . M . B E T H U N E , “ B R E A K I N G T H E B A R S T O B R O T H E R H O O D ” 295 Council of Negro Women. Bethune was an adviser to the U.S. delegation at the 1945 founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco. O Mr. Chairman, My Fellow Citizens, Members and Officers of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: There is a great happiness in my heart tonight—not a selfish, personal happiness, but a happiness and satisfaction that come to one who has labored in the heat of the day for the common good, and now as the shadows of life begin to lengthen comes to receive a “Well Done,” a signal of recognition of one’s life work. And with this happiness comes a humble gratitude for the distinguished approval of this organization dedicated to the cause of social justice and human welfare. To be worthy of being included in the illustrious group of Spingarn medalists, who by their intelligence, courage, devotion, faith and work have helped to shape and build a better world, one must respond to the stimulus of this occasion with a spirit of rededication to service, of reconsecration to the needs of the people. This spirit of rededication and reconsecration permeates me now as I stand before you. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has for the past twenty-six years accepted the challenge of the times and has ventured forth upon its task, high endeavor for human understanding, and the world has responded to this endeavor. I seem to hear this call, coming from the pioneers of this great movement: Come, Clear the way; then, clear the way. Blind kings and creeds have had their day. Break the dead branches from the path. Our hope is in the aftermath. Our hope is in heroic man. Star-led to build the world again. To this event all ages ran; Make way for brotherhood; Make way for man. This dauntless organization has spent its efforts almost wholly in clearing the way for a race, in breaking dead branches from the paths of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The success of the early clearers of the way is but an indication of what is yet to be done by those who follow in their train. The dead branches hewn away by those stalwart pioneers left plain and straight the highway which the youths are travelling. That way brought us hope. That is the song which the past has taught us. Now we keep faith with that hope to sing the song which the present challenges. If I have merited the honor of receiving the Spingarn medal, it is because my life has been dedicated to the task of breaking the bars to brotherhood. Brotherhood is not an ideal. It is but a state or a condition attendant upon achievement of an ideal. It is one of the components of an ideal. I believe that 296 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 brotherhood depends upon and follows achievement. In the light of this belief, I wish to indicate and develop briefly those fundamental principles and issues involved in bringing about a state of brotherhood. The law of life is the law of cooperation, and unless we learn thoroughly this fundamental tenet of social organization I fear that the historian of the future, when he attempts to record the history of the black man in America, will write “a people possessed of tremendous possibilities, potentialities and resources, mental and physical, but a people unable to capitalize [on] them because of their racial non-cohesiveness.” If we would make way for social and political justice and a larger brotherhood, we must cooperate. Racial cohesion means making a road of all of the achievements of those who have educational advantages until we reach the lowest man, the lowest strata of the masses; that mass that is standing so helplessly waiting for you and for me to administer the human touch. Unless the people have vision, they perish. What can we see; and, having seen, are we willing to venture? Do we see our large opportunity for the race to produce? Do we see an intellectual interpretation of our religious thought unhampered by superstitious belief, or limited by too great a satisfaction? Do we see the brotherhood of the peoples of the world working out an abundant life in their activities, of duty, of art, of business, of every day living? The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has always sought men of vision to lead the way. Today we pray for the expansion of that vision from a few to an ever increasing group of prepared men and women and of youths of all races to guide and direct the mass. The veil of ignorance and superstition is not yet lifted. Broad vision, zeal and preparedness will do much to lift it. Social group understanding and appreciation are necessary to brotherhood. The dead branches of misunderstanding and lack of appreciation have kept our existence clouded with prejudice. Human understanding is the key to brotherhood. The march of racial advancement is continually hindered by misunderstanding. Misunderstandings clutter up the highways of life which make for true harmonious relations. But right must triumph and prejudice must be done away with. In this staunch belief, men and women of this organization continue to struggle toward the goal of social justice and to strive for worthy and proper consideration for every man in his right to live, to be, to do, to possess, and to pursue happiness. Now is the time for thinking men and women, for thinking youths of every race, to stand up with those who have labored for years and be counted, in their participation in this great forward march of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. No greater crime can there be than that one in which a man should be unfair to his neighbor and interferes with his right to develop harmonious relationships and realize the highest attainment of his abilities. The great unrest in the world today, the great doubts which assail men, the enormous amount of mistrust entangles our lives and makes us look askance at our brothers, all are the products of injustice, wrought by one man upon another. M . M . B E T H U N E , “ B R E A K I N G T H E B A R S T O B R O T H E R H O O D ” 297 Equality of opportunity is necessary to brotherhood. We stand in adoration of those who, regardless of the section of the country in which they live, have been big enough, courageous enough, to stand for social justice and equality of opportunity, even at the risk of their lives. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has proven the necessity for breaking the bars to brotherhood through their advocacy of the destruction of blind kings and creeds which have been rulers in the lives of humanity. The creeds of selfishness, self-centered ideas, have led to narrow leadership. The creed of over-ambition and self domination has led to unfair publicity. Let us cease to give allegiance to such unmoral kinship in our lives. Above all, let us cease now to render allegiance to the creed of belief in the inherent superiority of white and the inherent inferiority of black. Let us rest with confidence on the creed of larger development in our narrow selves; greater scope of opportunity to work out our ambitions; sure and certain belief in all convictions which are ours; and towering over all, our belief in becoming free men. The creed of freedom has not yet been written. Humanity is yet a slave to her desires, her fears, her intelligence, her social standing, her craving for power. Let us as workers under this banner make free men spread truth about economic adjustment; truth about moral obligation; truth about segregation; truth about citizenship; truth about home building; yes, truth wherever truth is needed. Then our lives may be lived with freedom and we shall be what ourselves demand us to be. Who shall disseminate this truth? I would call tonight upon those who are starled, who have clearly in mind a purpose in life; who do not fear the struggle and the work which must needs be the lot of those who dare to live above the cloud of popular thought and limited desires. My fellow citizens, in the light of this dream, in the light of this firm hope, in the belief that brotherhood is the desired end in life, in accordance with God’s plan, and with a rededication to share in the responsibility of rebuilding and inspiring vision, to keep faith with the ideals and purposes of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, I, in the name of the womanhood of America, accept this medal. I accept it with gratitude for the opportunity for God-given service. I accept it as a badge which will mark me before all men as an advocate of respect and justice for all mankind. The brightness which we saw so many years ago has become a light, a star. May we challenge ourselves anew and follow in its radiance, ever thoughtful, ever courageous, ever enduring, in molding lives with highest principles. And may those who follow after us gain inspiration because we dare to stand at a time like this. Mr. Chairman, my fellow citizens, I am grateful. Source: Excerpts from speech located in the Mary McLeod Bethune Papers, Amistad Research Center, Tulane University, New Orleans. S E L E C T B I B L I O G R A P H Y: Mary McLeod Bethune, Mary McLeod Bethune: Building a Better World: Essays and Selected Documents, ed. by Audrey T. McCluskey and Elaine M. Smith (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999). 298 F R O M P L A N TAT I O N T O G H E T T O : 1 9 1 5 – 1 9 5 4 Bettye Collier-Thomas, N.C.N.W., 1935–1980 (Washington, D.C.: National Council of Negro Women, 1981). Paula Giddings, When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women and Sex in America (New York: William Morrow, 1984). Eloise Greenfield, Mary McLeod Bethune (New York: Crowell, 1977). Joyce Ann Hanson, Mary McLeod Bethune & Black Women’s Political Activism (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2003). ———, “The Ties that Bind: Mary McLeod Bethune and the Political Mobilization of African-American Women” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Connecticut, 1997). Nancy Ann Zrinyi Long, The Life and Legacy of Mary McLeod Bethune (Boston: Pearson Custom Pub., 2006). Elaine Smith, “Mary McLeod Bethune and the National Youth Administration,” in Clio Was a Woman: Studies in the History of American Women, ed. Mabel E. Deutrich and Virginia C. Purdy (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1980). O 14 O Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and the Fight for Black Employment in Harlem Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (1908–1972) was raised in New York City. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Colgate University, and completed advanced studies at the Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University. During the Great Depression, Powell emerged as an important protest figure in Harlem, leading “don’t buy where you can’t work” campaigns against white-owned businesses. In 1937, Powell assumed his father’s post as minister of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church, where he quickly became an influential voice on behalf of civil rights. Powell’s flamboyant style and confrontational rhetoric attracted a popular following within the national black community. Serving in Congress for a quarter century, Powell helped to pass major educational and civil rights legislation. Toward the end of Powell’s career, his mishandling of public funds and long absences from Congress eroded his base of support in Harlem. Narrowly defeated by Charles Rangel for Harlem’s congressional seat, Powell retired in 1970 and died two years later. O THE FIGHT FOR JOBS The Coordinating Committee for Employment is beginning a serious business in Harlem. It is beginning a fight for jobs. It has asked for work. It has pleaded for work. It has held work conferences. It has utilized every means at its disposal to get the employers of New York City to stop starving the Negroes of New York. These means have failed. T H E F I G H T F O R B L A C K E M P L O Y M E N T I N H A R L E M 299 The Committee is now inaugurating a mass boycott and picketing of every enterprise in Greater New York that refuses to employ Negroes. The Gas and Electric Company has seen the light, the telephone company must also. The big department stores must follow suit. If Negroes can work at Ovington’s, Wanamaker’s, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, then an appreciable percentage must work at Gimbel’s, Klein’s, Hearn’s, Saks and other stores. The milk companies are next. No more subterfuges, no more passing the buck, but black faces must appear on Harlem milk wagons immediately or the milk concerns shall be boycotted. Three hundred and fifty thousand consumers are not anything to be sneezed at and if anyone dares try to sneeze, we are killing him with the worst cold he ever had. The same thing goes for the Metropolitan Life. As long as we have Negro insurance companies there is no reason why Negroes should pay one cent to any other insurance company that refuses to employ Negroes. O PLATFORM FOR JOB CAMPAIGN 1. AIMS: To provide a greater measure of employment for Negro workers in the institutions and establishments which are sustained by the purchasing power of the Negro. 2. All jobs obtained must provide for a standard living wage equal to that prevailing at the time of employment. 3. Wherever Negroes obtain jobs and union conditions prevail, the Negro workers must be, or must become members of the established union. 4. Workers are to be hired on the qualifying standards set by the employer. 5. Applicants for em