Your Negro Neighbor

By Benjamin Griffith Brawley

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Title: Your Negro Neighbor

Author: Benjamin Brawley

Release Date: February 12, 2011 [EBook #35256]

Language: English


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    | Transcriber's Note:                                       |
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    | Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. For     |
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[Illustration: JOANNA P. MOORE]


  Author of "A Short History of the American
  Negro," "The Negro in Literature
  and Art," etc.

  New York
  _All rights reserved_


  Set up and electrotyped. Published June, 1918.


  CHAPTER                                                    PAGE

     I YOUR NEGRO NEIGHBOR                                      1


   III THE NEGRO AS AN INDUSTRIAL FACTOR                       33

    IV LYNCHING                                                41

     V ASPECTS OF NEGRO EDUCATION                              48

    VI A GREAT MISSIONARY: JOANNA P. MOORE                     61

   VII SOME CRITICS AND THEIR FALLACIES                        73

  VIII THE PROMISE OF THE NEGRO                                84

    IX A PLEA FOR A MORALIST                                   91




_To the People of the United States of America_,


Our country is still in the midst of the greatest war in the history
of mankind. Already our sons and brothers have died in Europe. While
the sacrifice is great, and each day comes home more closely to us,
there must be no ceasing of the conflict until victory is assured. The
principles of Christ must prevail, and democracy must be given some
chance in the world. Because we believe this, because we love our
country, because we wish to see our country truly noble and great, I
am once more asking your attention to the vital subject of the place
of the Negro in our American life.

We feel that we may not unreasonably ask a hearing at this time. In
the war now raging we have fully done our part, if indeed any
American could venture to say that he has done his part. Whether as
officers or stevedores our men have borne their share of the brunt of
battle. Let it not be supposed that many of them did not enter the
conflict with misgiving. They could not readily forget that under our
country's flag crimes unspeakable had been committed against them.
They could not help remembering that even as they went forth to fight,
their sisters and their wives did not have the full protection of the
law. They still had faith, however, in the great heart of the American
people; and they could not believe that when the nation's finest
manhood was being given for the principles of democracy and
Christianity, deliberate injustice would indefinitely be tolerated.

We remember of course at this time that public sentiment with
reference to the Negro has undergone a great change within fifty
years. Immediately after the Civil War there was a spirit, in the
North at least, to give him a helping hand, though even here he was
not always wanted as a laborer. In a period when feeling ran high
there was a tendency to base his rights on the fundamental principles
of the republic. Recently, however, in the stress of commercialism,
the status of the Negro, along with many other grave moral questions,
has been much in the background. Suddenly the war burst upon us and
gave us a new era of soul-questioning.

The period of industrialism was formally signalized by one of the most
telling speeches ever delivered in this or any other country, all the
more effective because the orator was a high-minded, patriotic
gentleman. In 1886 Henry W. Grady addressed the New England Club in
New York on "The New South." The two preceding decades had been an era
of great scandal in the public life of the United States. Grady spoke
to practical men, and he knew his ground. He asked his listeners to
bring their "full faith in American fairness and frankness to
judgment" upon what he had to say. He pictured in brilliant language
the Confederate soldier, "ragged, half-starved, heavy-hearted," who
wended his way homeward to find his house in ruins and his farms
devastated. He spoke kindly also of the Negro: "Whenever he struck a
blow for his own liberty he fought in open battle, and when at last he
raised his black and humble hands that the shackles might be struck
off, those hands were innocent of wrong against his helpless charges."
But Grady also implied that the Negro had already received too much
attention and sympathy from the North. Said he: "To liberty and
enfranchisement is as far as law can carry the Negro. The rest must be
left to conscience and common sense." Hence he asked that the South be
left alone in the handling of its grave problem. The North took him at
his word. Result: Disfranchisement, segregation, and a lynching record
that leaves us very little to say about the Turk in Armenia.

To-day the Negro daily suffers such indignities as make the very words
Liberty and Democracy a travesty. If he rides in a trolley-car in the
South he is assigned a few rear seats. If his part of the car is
crowded and seats near the front are vacant, he must still stand. If
he takes a train he must ride in a dirty half-coach, the other half
being the baggage car; and he enters the railway station by a
side-door. In all the cities, even some of the largest, there is a
persistent endeavor to restrict his residence to some unfavorable part
of the town; witness the segregation struggles in Atlanta, St. Louis,
and Baltimore. Places of refinement and refreshment, libraries, parks,
etc., are regularly closed to him. If Negro children go to school they
stand only a fraction of a chance of getting an education--or a seat.
In Massachusetts, of the children from six to fourteen years of age,
93 per cent. are in school. In Louisiana 68.4 per cent. of the white
children are in school and 37.4 per cent. of the Negro children. In
Birmingham there is a public high school to which Negro students have
to pay to go; in all Georgia there is no public high school for
Negroes at all. Not long ago a colored man of excellent character and
standing boarded a train between Birmingham and Chattanooga,
accompanying his sister. Some white men invaded the coach and
proceeded to smoke. The colored man protested to the officials, and
forthwith both he and his sister received a beating. Such are the
incidents that drive the iron into the Negro's soul. We submit that
they are altogether unjust and entirely at variance with the
principles for which we are at war.

Not only at home, however, do we have to consider the problem. The war
has brought us as never before face to face with the whole foreign
policy of the United States, especially as regards the mixed races and
colored peoples with whom the National Government has to deal. With
one country after another the question is raised whether, under her
imperialistic policy and the Monroe Doctrine, the United States has
acted with the honor and the diplomatic courtesy that the cases
demanded. Already, as is well known, in spite of repeated professions
of friendship, the whole of South America views the great country at
the North with suspicion; and the ultimate reason for the feeling is
that in South America the color line is a vanishing quantity, whereas
in the United States it is a very definite reality. Chile has not
forgotten the gratuitous insults of 1891, nor Brazil our arrogance in
1893. The conscience of the nation is not yet satisfied that we did
not for selfish reasons in 1898 force war upon a weaker nation; and
the treatment of Colombia in the matter of the Panama Canal Zone was
so infamous that ten years afterwards the United States was still
wondering just what sum of money would hush the mouths of the
Colombian people. In Santo Domingo we have taken away from the people
the right to handle their own money; and two years ago in Hayti,
ostensibly for the suppression of a revolution, the country was
seized, American officers installed, and a Southern white man
appointed minister to the country, by tradition one especially jealous
of its integrity as a nation. More recently we have purchased St.
Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, on which islands, let us remember,
the population is made up almost entirely of Negroes. In this
connection we recall the Indian, remembering that Osceola was captured
under a flag of truce. It is the cold, hard truth that the treatment
by the United States of all colored or mixed races has been one marked
by arrogance, injustice, and lack of honor. Said L.C. Wilson, in
writing from Porto Rico to the _American Missionary_: "When the
Americans came to the island sixteen years ago there was very little
color line, but now it is well established. It has probably been
hastened by the presence of many officials from the Southern States.
Even the Y.M.C.A. has been compelled to recognize it, and the fine new
building is only for white young men."

In the face of such things we go back to fundamentals. The Declaration
of Independence says: "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." The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution
of the United States says: "The right of citizens of the United States
to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by
any State, on account of race, color, or previous condition of
servitude." But above even such noble utterances as these stand the
words of Him whom we profess to follow: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy
God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy
strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself."

And who is my neighbor?

We feel that the United States can not long remain in the dilemma of
fighting for democracy while at the same time she denies the
fundamental principles of democracy at home. We cannot much longer
pluck the mote from our brother's eye unmindful at the same time of
the beam in our own.

Meanwhile, however, the Negro goes quietly about his work. He has
picked cotton and pulled fodder, scrubbed floors and washed windows,
fired engines and dipped turpentine. He is not quite content, however,
to be simply the doormat of American civilization. Twelve million
people are ceasing to accept slander and insult without a protest.
They have heard about freedom, justice, and happiness, though these
things seemed not for them. They can not quite see the consistency of
fighting for outraged Belgians or Armenians so long as the rights of
citizens at home are violated. In the words of Foraker, "They ask no
favors because they are Negroes, but only justice because they are

      Yours for liberty and democracy,

                                                BENJAMIN BRAWLEY.



It was in August, 1619, that a Dutch vessel brought to Jamestown, Va.,
twenty Negroes, who were sold into servitude. While this event
definitely signalized the coming of the Negro for permanent residence
within the limits of what is now the United States, it by no means
marked his first coming to this country. The records of the Negro
extend as far back as the voyages of Columbus. Within a few years
after the visits of the great explorer there were several Negroes in
the West Indies, and in 1513 thirty assisted Balboa in the building of
the first ships made on the Pacific Coast. One of the four survivors
of the ill-starred expedition of De Narvaez in 1527 was the Negro
Estevanico, to whom belongs the credit of the discovery of the Zuñi
Indians and of New Mexico. Nothing from these early years, however,
exercised any abiding influence on the history of the Negro in the
United States.

The status of the Negro after 1619 was for several decades complicated
by the system of indentured labor known as servitude. This applied
especially to white servants brought from England; but the first
Negroes brought to the country technically fell into the system.
According to the New International Encyclopedia, "Servitude became
slavery when to such incidents as alienation, disfranchisement,
whipping, and limited marriage, were added those of perpetual service
and a denial of civil, juridical, marital and property rights as well
as the denial of the possession of children." While legislation was
enacted earlier in Massachusetts, it was Virginia that in 1661 really
led the way for the South in the definite recognition of slavery as a
system by saying that Negroes were "incapable of making satisfaction
for the time lost in running away by addition of time." The next year
the same colony enacted that the status of a child should be
determined by that of the mother, which act both gave to slavery the
sanction of law and made it hereditary; and thus the system definitely
gained a foothold in the oldest of the colonies.

It must not be supposed that the institution of slavery was fastened
on the colonies without many doubts and fears. As early as 1688 the
Germantown Quakers made a formal protest against the barter of human
beings, and moral sentiment developed in other places as well as in
Pennsylvania. In the far South, especially in the colony of South
Carolina, where the slaves eventually outnumbered the white people,
the constant fear of insurrections led to the imposition of heavier
and heavier fines on those brought into the country; and for one
reason or another Virginia before 1772 passed thirty-three acts
looking toward the prohibition of the importation of slaves. Nothing,
however, was able to stand in the way of the cupidity of Englishmen
who were gaining riches by the traffic; economic considerations were
as potent two hundred years ago as now. In the course of the
eighteenth century slavery grew by leaps and bounds. By the time of
the first regular census in 1790 there were 757,208 Negroes in the
states, 19.3 per cent. of the total population. Fifty-nine thousand,
three hundred and eleven of these were those who in one way or another
had become free. It is important to note that the percentage of total
population has never been higher than 19.3. It has in fact steadily
declined since 1790, the common figure for recent years being 11 per

As a race there was little to be remarked of the Negro in the colonial
period. To those in bondage there was little outlook. Occasionally
there was an attempt at an insurrection; but nothing of first rate
importance materialized. In 1741 there was a very unhappy panic in New
York, then a prosperous town of ten thousand inhabitants. Nine fires
in rapid succession led to the report that the Negroes were conspiring
to burn the city. All of the eight lawyers of the town appeared
against the defendants, who had no counsel and who were convicted on
most insufficient evidence. Before the fury was over, fourteen of the
Negroes were burned, eighteen hanged, and seventy-one deported.

Any evidence of progress in this period would of course have to be
found among the free Negroes. The position of these people was a very
anomalous one. In the South especially very harsh laws were passed
against them; but very frequently these were not enforced. In general
the class was regarded as idle and shiftless and a breeder of
mischief. More and more, however, individuals made their way in
gainful occupations. The free Negro might become skilled at a trade;
he might buy land; he might even buy slaves; and he might have one
gun with which to protect his home. Liberty, however, genuine liberty,
he did not possess. In all the finer things of life, the things that
make life worth living, the lot that was his was only less hard than
that of the slave.

The general period of the Revolution was one of idealism.
Humanitarianism and liberalism were in the air, and both principles
were exerting a profound influence on English literature and life. In
1772 Lord Mansfield, Chief Justice of England, thrilled all
English-speaking people by handing down from the Court of King's Bench
the decision that as soon as a slave set foot upon the soil of England
he became free. The logic of the position of the patriots, Franklin,
Adams, and Jefferson, naturally forced them to defend liberty at all
times; and by the time the convention for the framing of the
Constitution of the United States met in Philadelphia, at least two of
the original thirteen states (Massachusetts and New Hampshire) had
positively prohibited slavery, while in three others (Pennsylvania,
Connecticut, and Rhode Island) gradual abolition was in progress.
Under the influence of commercialism and industrialism, however, great
convictions gradually declined; and at least two of the three great
compromises that entered into the Constitution were a concession to
the slave-holding South. Then across the page of history flashed the
brilliant figure of Toussaint L'Ouverture, who led the Negro race to
obtain its first independent colony outside of the continent of
Africa. In America the influence of the chieftain became one of the
reasons for the cheap selling of Louisiana, and rendered more certain
the prohibition of the slave-trade at the end of 1807. A wave of fear
swept over the South, and Georgia and the Carolinas at once passed
repressive measures designed especially to restrict the importation of
Negroes from the West Indies.

All-potent, however, proved the cotton-gin. Almost suddenly Alabama,
Mississippi, and Louisiana appeared on the map. By 1830 the exports of
what then comprised the Southern states amounted to $32,000,000, and
this section had not less than $2,000,000,000 invested in slaves. As a
system of labor, however, in spite of seeming advantages, slavery was
not slow in revealing its shortcomings. Its ultimate effects on the
South were disastrous. As Rhodes says, "It needed no extensive
marshaling of statistics to prove that the welfare of the North was
greater than that of the South. Two simple facts, everywhere
admitted, were of so far-reaching moment that they amounted to
irrefragable demonstration. The emigration from the slave states was
much larger than the movement in the other direction; and the South
repelled the industrious emigrants who came from Europe, while the
North attracted them." It was the rich planter rather than the white
man of slender means who profited by slavery, wealth being more and
more concentrated in the hands of a few; and in 1860, 41 per cent. of
the white men who had been born in South Carolina were living in other
states. More and more the South realized that she was not keeping pace
with the country's development; and one of her own sons, speaking
"simply as the voice of the non-slaveholding whites of the South," set
forth such unpleasant truths as that the personal and real property,
including slaves, of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri,
Arkansas, Florida, and Texas, taken all together, was less than that
of the single state of New York; that representation in Southern
legislatures was unfair; that slavery was to blame for the migration
from the South to the West; and in short that the system was harmful
in every way. Helper's book was proscribed in some quarters;
nevertheless it succeeded because, in spite of the fact that it did
not rest on the broadest principles of humanity, it did attempt to
attack with some degree of honesty a great economic problem.

Meanwhile the sections were being arrayed against each other. The
first fugitive slave law had been passed in 1793. The period 1820-60
was marked by five great aggressive steps on the part of the slave
power: the Missouri Compromise (1820), the annexation of Texas (1845),
the Fugitive Slave Law (1850), the Kansas-Nebraska Bill (1854), and
the Dred Scott Decision (1857). One after another appeared Lundy and
Garrison, Parker and Birney, Whittier and Lovejoy, Phillips and
Sumner, Lydia Maria Child and Harriet Beecher Stowe; the South replied
to the Underground Railroad with a virtual reopening of the
slave-trade; John Brown made a raid on Harper's Ferry; and then came
the appeal to arms.

And what of the Negro himself in all this period of turmoil and tumult?
The inner life of the race was one of furious ferment. Already were
there sharp cries for vengeance, for economic freedom, and for the
immediate granting of the full privileges of citizenship; and on the
other hand there were those who tried to look far into the future with
an air of conservatism and philosophy. Naturally there was the appeal
to force; the only wonder is that there was not more of this. As early
as 1687 a conspiracy among the Negroes in the Northern Neck in Virginia
was detected just in time to prevent slaughter. In Surry County in 1710
there was a similar plot, betrayed by one of the conspirators. An
attempt in New York in 1712 resulted in the execution of many Negroes.
In 1740 some slaves on the coast of South Carolina, under the lead of
one of their number named Cato, began an indiscriminate slaughter of
the white people in which many lives were lost. Somewhat more ambitious
was the effort made in Richmond in 1800 and known as Gabriel's
Insurrection. In 1822 an unusually intelligent Negro, Denmark Vesey,
the deepest thinker of all Negro insurrectionists, conceived a plan
that contemplated nothing less than the total annihilation of the
people of Charleston. His plot was divulged, and as a result
thirty-five men were executed and thirty-seven banished. For the
magnitude of its plan, the care with which it was matured, and the
faithfulness of the leaders to one another, Vesey's insurrection was
never equaled by a similar attempt for freedom in the United States.
Nine years later, however, Nat Turner, the type of the emotional
insurrectionist, with the assistance of five other men, actually killed
fifty-seven white people before he was stopped. The effect of this
revolt upon legislation was immediate. Virginia, Maryland, North
Carolina, and other states at once passed harshly repressive measures.

Less direct than open revolt, but more effective sometimes, was escape
by running away. In general the slaves directed their way to the North
or to the swamps such as those in Virginia and Florida. The Dismal
Swamp became a famous hiding-place. Soldiers never ventured into the
colony, and bloodhounds sent thither did not return. The first
Seminole War was very largely caused by fugitives who had been
befriended by the Indians, and the second was even more directly so
caused than the first.

In the ordinary social life of the Negro, however, the decade after
Nat Turner's insurrection was one of the most trying in the history of
the race in America. Repressive measures in the Southern states have
just been remarked. In the North the free Negro was beginning to feel
the force of economic ostracism. In Ohio no Negro was allowed to
settle unless he gave bond for his support. When this law and others
of similar import began to be put in force in 1829, serious riots
prevailed in Cincinnati for three days, in the course of which several
Negroes were killed. Mobs in Philadelphia at various times within the
period also murdered Negroes.

Meanwhile migration was strongly urged in some quarters as a solution
of the problem. Says Dr. DuBois: "As early as 1788 a Negro union of
Newport, Rhode Island, had proposed a general exodus to Africa. John
and Paul Cuffe, after petitioning for the right to vote in 1780,
started in 1815 for Africa, organizing an expedition at their own
expense which cost four thousand dollars. Lott Carey organized the
African Mission Society in 1813, and the first Negro college graduate
went to Liberia in 1829 and became superintendent of public
schools.... About two thousand black emigrants eventually settled in

Even after the Civil War migration efforts were renewed, the Baptists
and the Methodists of South Carolina joining hands in 1877 in the
formation of the Liberian Exodus Joint Stock Company. As early as
1833, however, in his pamphlet entitled "Thoughts on African
Colonization," Garrison showed the futility of the whole plan as a
means of solving the problem of the Negro in the United States, and
time has justified his view.

Gradually, in spite of all the discouraging circumstances, hope
appeared on the horizon. England emancipated the slaves in her
colonies in 1833, and more and more conventions of free Negroes showed
an interest in the welfare of the race. A strong foothold began to be
gained in certain occupations, such as those of the barber and
caterer. Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass appeared on the public
platform; the poems of Phillis Wheatley ran through three new editions
within four years; Elizabeth Greenfield sang before the royalty of
Europe; and the African Methodist Church began to show what it was
possible for the Negro to do in organization. By 1850, the year of the
Fugitive Slave Law, when things were looking especially dark, the
turning of the tide was much nearer than most people imagined. The
South was still triumphant; but each new victory had to be more
fiercely fought for than the last, and awakened stronger and stronger
elements of opposition.

Into the crucible of war of course fell not only slavery, but every
other great question of interest to the American people. Free labor,
free speech, woman suffrage, the authority of the Federal Government,
were all at stake as well as the cause of the Negro. So far as the
Negro himself was concerned, one of the first questions that the
Northern generals had to settle was what to do with the fugitive
slaves that flocked to their standards. In May, 1861, while in command
at Fortress Monroe, Major-General Benjamin F. Butler put such men to
work, justifying their retention on the ground that, being of service
to the enemy for purposes of war, they were, like guns, powder, etc.,
"contraband of war," and could not be reclaimed. On August 30th of
this year Major-General John C. Frémont, in command in Missouri,
placed the state under martial law and declared the slaves there
emancipated. The administration was embarrassed, Frémont's order was
annulled, and he was relieved of his command. The next May, however,
Major-General David Hunter, in charge of the Department of the South,
issued his famous order freeing the slaves in his territory, and thus
brought to general attention the matter of the employment of Negro
soldiers in the Union armies. The Confederate government outlawed
Hunter, Lincoln annulled his order, and the grace of the nation was
again saved; but in the meantime a new situation had arisen. While
Brigadier-General John W. Phelps was taking part in the expedition
against New Orleans, a large sugar-planter near the city, disgusted
with Federal interference with the affairs of his plantation, drove
all the slaves away, telling them to go to their friends, the Yankees.
Phelps attempted to organize the Negroes who came into troops.
Accordingly he too was outlawed by the Confederates and his act
disavowed by the Union, that was not ready to take this step. It was
not until a great many men had been killed, and until the Emancipation
Proclamation had changed the status of the Negro, that steps were
taken by the Union for his employment as a soldier. Opinion in his
favor gained force after the Draft Riot in New York, when Negroes in
the city were mobbed and beaten by the enemies of conscription. Soon a
distinct bureau was established in Washington for the recording of all
matters pertaining to Negro troops, a board was organized for the
examination of candidates, and recruiting stations were set up in
Maryland, Missouri, and Tennessee. By the end of 1864 nearly 200,000
Negroes had been enrolled in the army. The exploits of these men at
Port Hudson, Fort Wagner, and Fort Pillow are a part of the romance of
American History.

The Civil War meant more than the emancipation of four million slaves,
with all the perplexing problems that that liberation brought with it;
it involved the overturning of the whole economic system of the South.
To educate the freedmen, to train them in citizenship, and to give
them a place in the new labor system, was all a problem calling for
the wisest statesmanship and the largest and most unselfish
patriotism. Strange contradictions moreover were frequently in
evidence to increase the practical difficulties of the situation. Some
Negroes, because of personal attachment, refused to leave their former
masters; while the South in general, although it laid all its ills at
the door of the Negro, violently opposed any considerable effort to
have him taken away.

What was the Federal Government to do with the freedman? Of course it
could leave him alone. Having emancipated him, it could let him work
out his destiny as he would. In view of the situation, however, and
the principles for which the war had been fought, such a course was
manifestly impossible, especially as the so-called Black Codes of some
of the Southern states raised the question if the results of the war
were really being accepted in good faith. The next course then was
some form of Federal oversight; and thus we have the Freedmen's
Bureau. The best exposition of the work of this institution is to be
found in the writings of Dr. DuBois. It started the ex-slaves on their
new career as free laborers, gave them recognition before the courts,
and established the free common school in the South. It did not wholly
guard its methods from paternalism, however; it did not live up to its
implied promise to furnish the freedmen with land; and, worst of all,
when the Negroes in spite of all their disadvantages had actually
accumulated a total of three million dollars, the same being deposited
in the Freedman's Bank, this bank, morally if not technically a part
of the Freedmen's Bureau, failed, and the former slaves, at the very
beginning of their economic freedom, received a severe blow not only
to their confidence in the good faith of their government but also to
that in the virtues of self-reliance and thrift. Gradually, through
the efforts of Charles Sumner in the Senate and Thaddeus Stevens in
the House, the conviction was forced upon the country that the only
solution of the problem was to give the Negro the ballot as the full
protection of his citizenship. Thus in 1870 the Fifteenth Amendment
was passed. All the logic of the situation demanded it, in spite of
temporary disadvantages; and yet it has never since ceased to be
bewailed in some quarters as a grave political error, even by such a
representative student as James Bryce. In proof of this position theft
and the incompetency of officials in the Reconstruction era are cited,
when everybody knows that the carpetbaggers rather than the freedmen
themselves received most of the spoil, and that the good points of the
Reconstruction governments, such as the emphasis on common school
education, have just as sedulously been belittled. In 1875 the second
Civil Rights Act was passed, designed to give Negroes equality of
treatment in theaters, railway cars, hotels, etc.; but this the
Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in 1883. Meanwhile the KuKlux
Klan was already at work; the withdrawal of the Federal troops and the
wholesale removal of disabilities by Congress weakened the
Reconstruction governments; and thus the way was paved for democratic
success in the South.

Now ensued a period of such harshness in the ordinary life of the
Negro as can not easily be imagined. The general lack of protection
in the country districts and the greater economic attractiveness of
the cities led many laborers to leave the farms and to find an outlet
in some other occupations. To counteract this movement the "convict
lease system" appeared in all its hideousness. By every possible means
the effort was made to bind the Negro laborer to the soil, and in
numberless instances not even the sanctity of his home life was
regarded. At the same time, in ordinary intercourse with his
fellowmen, many times a day was he subjected to personal indignities.
By 1879, by reason of such things as these, as well as excessive rents
and the exorbitant prices at some stores, matters had become so bad as
in many places to be no longer tolerable. Not unnaturally many Negroes
had come to fear that they were about to be remanded to slavery. A
general convention in Nashville in May, 1879, adopted a report that
set forth their grievances and encouraged migration to the North and
West. Thousands now left their homes in the South, going in greatest
numbers to Kansas, Missouri, and Indiana. Within about twenty months
Kansas alone received thus an addition to her population of 40,000
Negroes. Difficulties of adjustment of course arose, but the whole
movement was sufficient to prove utterly false the contention of some
that no amount of unfairness and injustice in the South would induce
the Negro to move away.

As the KuKlux Klan declined, however, and the Negro, in spite of
discouraging circumstances, steadily advanced in property, education,
and culture, more and more the South felt the need of reënforcing its
position by definite legislation. In 1890 the era of disfranchisement
was formally inaugurated. In this year Mississippi so amended her
constitution as to exclude from the suffrage any person who had not
paid his poll-tax or who was unable to read any section of the
Constitution, understand it when read to him, or give a reasonable
interpretation of it. Real discretion in interpretation of course lay
only with the registrars, who could admit just so many persons as they
deemed of good character and as understanding the duties of
citizenship. South Carolina amended her constitution to similar
purpose in 1895; and in 1898 Louisiana invented the so-called
"grandfather clause." This excused from the operation of her
disfranchising act all descendants of men who had voted before the
Civil War, thus admitting to the suffrage all white men who were
illiterate and without property. Other Southern states in one way or
another followed these three. In the final estimate of history the
whole effort must appear simply as a pathetic attempt to delay the
full operation of justice and the rights of man.

For the present, however, the question of the Negro's attitude toward
the problem was one of surpassing moment. Suddenly, in 1895, arose a
new and genuine leader, Booker T. Washington, who offered a very
definite program. In a remarkable speech at the Atlanta Exposition he
said to the white South: "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.... 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 worth more than real estate or industrial skill." What
seemed the common sense and the sweet reasonableness of this program
at once commanded attention; and the South, in the first flush of a
new era of industrial development, and the North, perfectly ready to
accept any program that promised to make Southern investments secure,
both approved the new leader, who along the lines of thrift and
self-reliance certainly gave tremendous inspiration to thousands of
his brother-laborers in the South.

From the very first, however, there was a distinct group of Negro men
that honestly questioned the wisdom of the platform offered by Mr.
Washington. They felt that in seeming to be willing temporarily to
accept segregation and to waive political rights he had given up
altogether too much. As the opposition, however, they were not at
first unitedly constructive, and in their utterance they sometimes
offended by harshness of tone. Some years ago they were sneered at as
the "intellectuals," "the idealists," etc. It is significant that
to-day the sneers are few, and that a constructive program has more
and more commanded attention. The recognized leader who has risen from
the group is W.E. Burghardt DuBois, editor of the _Crisis_, the voice
of an organization formed in 1910 and known as the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People. This organization
frankly "proposes to make 11,000,000 Americans physically free from
peonage, mentally free from ignorance, politically free from
disfranchisement, and socially free from insult." To this end it is
waging a fight for justice in every way, whether at the polls, in the
courts, in public conveyances, in schools, in chances for earning a
living, and it has widened the door of hope not only for the college
man or woman, but for the agricultural laborer as well.

Let it not be forgotten that even in the first of these two large
programs there was much that was admirable. Its virtues, however, fell
distinctly short of the second. A man might have ten thousand dollars
in his pocket; but if he was in a strange town and legally denied a
bed late at night, or if he could not buy a meal in a restaurant when
he was hungry, he would learn that there are some things in the world
greater than money; and to-day more than ever we might assert that
anything other than the fullest emphasis on the ordinary rights of
citizenship is out of harmony with the principles of American

In this rapid review we have of course touched only lightly upon some
matters of the highest importance. Among these are the economic
advance of the race and its very great importance as an industrial
factor; lynching; education; political significance; literature and
music; and the connections with the present great war. Some of these
will be considered more fully in the pages that follow. More and more
we trust that it will be found that a struggling people is working out
its own salvation, slowly out of the darkness climbing to the light.

       *       *       *       *       *


[1] This chapter is naturally indebted in some degree to the author's
"A Short History of the American Negro" (Macmillan, 1913).



If the war has taught us anything, it has given us new respect for
labor. There may once have been a time when great plantation owners
despised workers in fields; but that time is past. Under the stress of
new conditions, our richest captains of industry value the man who can
raise cotton or make a shell or fix rivets in a ship.

The Negro has importance in America to-day as a working-man; and,
aside from all questions of philanthropy or sentiment, he asks for
consideration in this capacity. Some of our greatest businesses are
becoming dependent upon him. In turn he asks if it is unreasonable for
him to expect a man's chance to earn a living, fair wages for fair
work, and such working conditions as make for general health and
social betterment.

In 1910, of 3,178,554 Negro men at work in this country, 981,922 were
listed as farm laborers and 798,509 as farmers. That is to say, 56
per cent. of the whole number were engaged in raising farm products
either on their own account or by way of assisting somebody else. The
great staples were of course the cotton and corn of the Southern
states, and the new importance given to these crops by the war no one
can gainsay. That is not all, however. If we take along with the
farmers those engaged in the next occupations employing the greatest
numbers of men--those of the building and hand trades, saw and planing
mills, as well as those of railway firemen and porters, draymen,
teamsters, and coal mine operatives--we shall find a total of 71.2 per
cent. engaged in such work as represents the very foundation of
American industry. What of the women? Of these, 1,047,146, or 52 per
cent., were either farm laborers or farmers, and 28 per cent. more
were either cooks or washerwomen. In other words, a total of exactly
80 per cent. were doing some of the hardest and at the same time some
of the most necessary work in our home and industrial life. These are
the workers for whom we ask consideration; and we make the request not
on the basis of what they did fifty or a hundred years ago, but what
they are worth now, to-day, as an important asset in the industrial
life of the United States.

It has sometimes been said that these people are not reliable as
workers, that they are migratory, that they fail to appear on Monday
mornings, etc., and hence that it is hardly advisable to give them a
chance in American industry on a large scale. Hear the testimony of
Homer L. Ferguson, described as "the most human shipbuilder in
America--and one of the ablest," fully half of whose 7,800 men and
boys in his great Newport News shipyard are Negroes. Mr. Ferguson was
born in North Carolina and he was talking to a Northern reporter:
"Don't you dare come down from the North to this yard and tell us that
the black man in the South is an industrial failure--you who only use
him as an elevator boy or a parlor-car porter or a chauffeur and
refuse to give him an equal industrial opportunity with white labor.
How long would one of our expert machinists last at Taunton or at
Paterson or at Schenectady? What opportunity would the unions give
him? Can one of our good riveters go north and join the union? He can
not. And otherwise he can not drive a single rivet."

What would the unions do in fact? What have they done already? We
learn from the very valuable study by Mr. Abraham Epstein, "The Negro
Migrant in Pittsburgh," in the publications of the School of Economics
of the University of Pittsburgh, that an official of a union which has
a membership of nearly five thousand, said that it had about five
colored members. An official of an even more powerful union was
"greatly astonished when he learned that there are white people who
take an interest in the Negro question. He absolutely refused to give
any information and did not think it worth while to answer such
questions, although he admitted that his union had no colored people
and would never accept them." To be thoroughly concrete, however, let
us consider the Negro plasterers of Pittsburgh. On January 1, 1917,
about thirty of these men, discriminated against by the local white
union, wrote to the national organization in Middletown, Ohio, asking
formally to have a local body of their own. Headquarters sent back
reply to the effect that a charter could not be given without the
consent of the older organization. Then followed a meeting in which
the Negro secretary was given five minutes before the white local at
its regular meeting. Nothing resulted. Under such circumstances is it
any wonder that Negroes adopt a canny attitude when labor unions are
concerned? More than this, can not organized labor itself realize the
dangers for all in this hostile attitude toward the black race?

In spite of the labor unions, however, the Negro has gone North. The
war, suddenly putting an end to the great immigrant stream from
Europe, brought a sudden demand for unskilled labor undreamed of five
years ago. Nobody knows how many Negroes have gone from the South to
the North within the last three years. Perhaps 500,000; perhaps even
200,000 more. We do know, however, that they have gone in amazing
numbers; and the thing of really vital importance is that these people
shall be adequately adjusted to their new environment. Some
opportunity should be afforded them to rise from the ranks of
unskilled into those of skilled laborers. It is moreover of the
highest importance that these newcomers to our large cities shall be
adequately housed. Thirty persons are known to have lived recently in
a seven-room house in Philadelphia; and in Pittsburgh 57 out of 390
rooms investigated have shown over six persons using the same room. In
many cases the paper is torn off the walls, plaster sags from the
laths, windows are broken, and the ceiling is low and damp. The whole
question is of course closely connected with disease and mortality. In
many places, and even in some of our training camps, there is too
little opportunity for wholesome refreshment for the Negro. When will
our cities learn that tuberculosis and typhoid fever are no respecter
of persons? It is not enough to isolate bad cases after they are found
out. The conditions of home sanitation, or lack of sanitation, that
lead to these should be made impossible. I recall a section of
pleasant homes in the West End of Atlanta. Suddenly, in the midst of
clean, comfortable little cottages for white people there yawned
before me an alley in which Negroes lived, with its dilapidated
two-room dwellings, general lack of cleanliness, and its unwholesome
air. From these places came the cooks and the washerwomen for the
white families in the neighborhood; and this condition in one section
of Atlanta can be duplicated in any city in the South, and in many in
the North.

In 1910 the death-rate in 57 representative cities was 27.8 per 1,000
for Negroes and 15.9 for white people. The rates for both white people
and Negroes were higher in the South than in the North, but not a
great deal more so. Among the Negroes the diseases that
overwhelmingly outnumbered the others in their victims were
tuberculosis and pneumonia. Can any one doubt that this is due to the
unsanitary conditions under which these people are in many instances
forced to live?

To argue, however, that the Negro should be looked after in order that
white people should be protected is to be guilty of a fallacy. All
should be protected because all should have the best chance at life
that their city or their state can afford them. All the more important
is the question since it involves the welfare of three million men and
women upon whom so largely rest the burdens of our farming, our
mining, our railroading, our planing industries, and our home life.

The war has already taught us many things, and among the most
important is the need for a new adjustment of social and economic
values. If we are to be together in a crisis we must be together in
times of peace, with the broadest sympathy one for another. Especially
must we give due consideration to those who have the hardest work to
do. Too long have some few become rich by exploiting the poor, the
unprotected, the ignorant. True democracy does not mean that any one
race or any one class shall be on top or at the bottom, but that all
shall advance together to the height of human attainment. Only thus
can we finally be secure. Only thus can our country be the country of
our dreams.



Within the last thirty-five years 3,200 Negro men and women have been
lynched within the boundaries of the United States, an average of just
a little less than 100 a year. While there has been some decrease
within recent years, the figures between 1890 and 1900 were so
extraordinary that the average is still high. Nor can one find much
comfort in the fact that there has been some decrease within recent
years, for some of the most recent cases were those of the most
revolting torture. The year 1917 moreover was marked by the greatest
outbreak of mob violence that the race has ever suffered, considerably
more than one hundred Negro men, women, and children losing their
lives in East St. Louis.

Fifteen years ago, in Mississippi, a Negro became involved in a
quarrel with a white man who was just about to shoot him when the
Negro himself fired, fatally wounding the man. He then fled to the
woods and his wife accompanied him. Bloodhounds were sent after them,
and after a long chase they were captured. Then followed such torture
as is without parallel even in the history of lynching. The man and
his wife were both tied to trees, one after another their fingers were
cut off, then their ears, both fingers and ears being distributed as
souvenirs among the members of the mob. The supreme stroke, however,
was still to come. A large corkscrew was bored into the more fleshy
parts of the two writhing bodies, and so jerked out as to tear out
large pieces of flesh. Both the man and his wife were then burned
alive. And the sun still shone in heaven!

Such is the story that with necessary differences of situation and
detail has disgraced our country for forty years. Within eight months
recently the state of Tennessee has been distinguished by three
separate burnings. At Dyersburg a red-hot poker was rammed down the
throat of the victim, and he was further mutilated in ways indecent
and unmentionable. At Estill Springs all the colored people in the
vicinity were made to walk around the scene of the burning as an
object-lesson. Of Henry Smith in Texas some years ago we are told that
"he was taken from his guards, red-hot irons were thrust into his
eyes, down his throat, and on his abdomen, and he was then burned." In
the case of Jesse Washington, a Negro boy of seventeen, in Waco,
Texas, in May, 1916, we read: "On the way to the scene of the burning,
people on every hand took a hand in showing their feelings in the
matter by striking the Negro with anything obtainable; some struck him
with shovels, bricks, clubs, and others stabbed him and cut him until
when he was strung up his body was a solid color of red." It was
estimated that the boy had twenty-five stab wounds. "Fingers, ears,
pieces of clothing, toes and other parts of the Negro's body were cut
off by members of the mob."

It will be argued, however, that only in extreme cases is burning
resorted to; but to this it might be replied that sometimes there is a
burning when rape is not even alleged, as in the case of the man and
woman in Mississippi. Indeed, it may be remarked in passing that in
only a third or a fourth of the cases enumerated each year is rape
even alleged as a cause. The theft of seventy-five cents, a small
debt, a fight, relationship to an offender, have all been considered
sufficient cause for lynching within recent years. Moreover, even
where there is not a burning, but a hanging, the circumstances are
often such as to disgrace our civilization. Thus, early in 1915, at
Monticello, Ga., because an officer was resisted, a father, his young
son, and his two grown daughters were all lynched.

What must inevitably be the result of all this? Such an incident as
the following: Very recently, at Gadsden, Ala., four little white boys
at play, all twelve or thirteen years of age, decided that they would
play "lynching." One of the four accordingly had a rope tied around
his neck and was slowly strangling to death when a passer-by relieved
him. The result of the incident was that the three playmates of the
boy were all placed in jail under the charge of assault such as might
have resulted in murder.

What is the remedy? Respect for the law of course, with proper
enforcement of the same. All too frequently, however, the law is
simply a subterfuge behind which officials take refuge; and this is a
condition that applies to many things in our American life besides
lynching. Asked a Georgia judge, however, in despair at the conditions
that surrounded him: "If the grand jury won't indict lynchers, if the
petit juries won't convict, and if soldiers won't shoot, what are we
coming to?"

How this all works out from the stand-point of the Negro may be seen
from the following. After the burning of M'Ilheron at Estill Springs
the Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People sent a telegram to the President of the United States
asking him to denounce such acts as disgraced the country at the very
moment that we were fighting for justice and humanity abroad. The
telegram was referred to the Attorney General, and the reply from his
department was to the effect that "under the decisions of the Supreme
Court of the United States, the Federal Government has absolutely no
jurisdiction over matters of this kind; nor are they connected with
the war in any such way as to justify the action of the Federal
Government under the war power." The Association then appealed to
Governor Rye of Tennessee to take action to bring to justice the
perpetrators of the wrong against the honor of the state. The Governor
replied in part as follows: "I could not anticipate that local
officers, whose duty it is to take custody of prisoners would fail to
accord protection, nor could any action upon my part be taken without
being requested so to do by the local authorities or court officers."
The Nashville _Banner_, however, printed an editorial, and the Chamber
of Commerce in Chattanooga passed some resolutions, and at last
accounts this was about all that had been done. The Negro citizen
accordingly wonders about his general position when neither the
Federal nor the State Government seems to have the power to protect

Meanwhile these outrages injure us abroad. We look upon Russia as
benighted and chaotic; yet this was the country that hurled at a
distinguished Baptist minister, Dr. R.S. MacArthur, the charge that
his was the only civilized country in the world that tolerated
lynching. We speak of Pan-Americanism and the Monroe Doctrine; but
Professor Bingham informs us of a hostile paper in Lima, the
government organ, that printed the following headlines to a two-column
TALK OF THE PUTEMAYO!" And the Peruvian editor says: "Do you realize
that in the full twentieth century, when there is not a single country
in the world whose inhabitants are permitted to supersede justice by
summary punishment, there are repeatedly taking place, almost daily,
in the United States, lynchings like that of which we are told in the
telegraphic dispatch?" The natural result is to unite Latin America
against us, especially when the United States draws a color-line
offensive to South American sensibilities.

We call upon our country for a new consecration--to law, to order, to
justice. Too long has the crime of lynching disgraced us in the eyes
of the world. Too long have we eased our conscience with a specious
thought of necessity or irresponsibility. What concerns our country's
honor concerns every one of us; and as our Negro soldiers take up arms
and embark for France, let them not think that their loved ones left
behind are not protected. Let them rather feel that from our national
escutcheon shall be washed away every stain, that justice shall yet be
triumphant, and that democracy shall indeed find its true place in the



No one who really studies the problem has any reason to be discouraged
at the results of fifty years of education for the Negro people of
America. In 1880 the percentage of illiterates among the race was
approximately 70. By 1890 it was 57, by 1900 44.5, and by 1910 the
figure had been reduced to 30.4. We may then not unreasonably affirm
that at the present time (1918) not more than one-fourth of all the
Negroes of the country are illiterate, and this in spite of the fact
that thousands of persons who did not have early advantages are still

In other ways also may improvement be marked. By reason of a more
enlightened sentiment the schoolhouses in more than one vicinity are
gradually being improved, civic and social organizations are
constantly working for better conditions, and organizations among the
institutions themselves look to greater coherence and coördination of
effort in the future. The last few years have witnessed not only a
continuance of the work of such agencies as the John F. Slater Fund
and the General Education Board, but also the beginning of that of the
Anna T. Jeanes Fund for the maintenance and assistance of elementary
schools for Negroes in the Southern States and of the Phelps-Stokes
Fund, a part of whose income also goes to Negro education. Meanwhile
among the teachers actively at work have arisen different
organizations, notably the Association of Colleges for Negro Youth.
This association was formed at Knoxville, Tenn., in November, 1913, by
representatives of the following institutions: Howard University,
Atlanta University, Wilberforce University, Virginia Union University,
Fisk University, Morehouse College, Knoxville College, and Talladega
College. Since 1913 Shaw University, Bishop College, and Benedict
College have also become members. The general aim of the organization
has been to bring more closely together the colleges concerned for the
consideration of such subjects as uniform requirements for entrance to
college, the requirements for the college degree, the reception of
students from other colleges, and other topics of vital interest.

All such things denote progress. And yet, when all consideration is
given to the advance that has been made, there are those who feel that
with the opportunity still more should have been done. They feel that
the past is irrevocable, but that it is not too late to correct
certain errors and tendencies for the future.

What is the situation as we actually find it to-day? Go to any one of
the most representative institutions, and what do we find? Efficient
teachers struggling against most enormous disadvantages and frequently
dealing with the crudest possible material. The wonder is that so much
has been accomplished in the face of the handicap. It is not enough to
reply that in all the schools and colleges of the country the teaching
is irregular and the systems too lenient--that there is no human
perfection in fact; these Negro colleges are crying for a better
chance and they ought to have it. Go into any one of their high school
departments (for all are still forced to conduct closely affiliated
academies), and the actual attainment of many of the students exhibits
more and more the appalling shortcomings of the common schools. How
could it be otherwise with a system that operates schools for only
four or five months a year and that pays teachers twenty or
thirty-five dollars a month? "It was this way, you see," said one
young man who presented himself for entrance upon the work of the
academy, "we had only a three months' school at my home, and I went
one winter and my brother went the next." Said another, "I had a good
teacher in arithmetic, but we didn't do much in grammar"; and the
grammar may be said to embrace every subject in the common school in
which precision is required except arithmetic. Penmanship is
completely lacking in neatness and finish, and in nineteen cases out
of twenty the students from the country can not spell. Nor can they
read. Take them as you come to them, at the supposed completion of the
eighth grade, and ask them to read aloud a single paragraph from
Irving, or Cooper, or the morning paper, and very few indeed will be
able to get through without an apology or serious errors in
pronunciation or interpretation.

Grammar and reading and spelling, however, are apparent. Little by
little the teacher becomes aware of something more fundamental--the
lack of any adequate background for appreciation and culture. No time
had the mother at the washtub or in the field for Cinderella or
Mother Goose, and the childhood that should have been enriched by
lines from Longfellow or Tennyson or the Bible was nodded away by the
fire. Youth that craved adventure and inspiration found relief from
the deadening routine of the week only in the coarse pleasure of the
railroad on Sundays, or the big-meeting that came once a year. A
gymnasium, a library, or an art museum the young man coming up to the
academy in the city never saw in his life.

Such a background makes neither for accuracy in technical training nor
for the foundation of the larger reaches of culture. Within recent
years the problem has been even more complicated by the inadequate
school facilities in the cities. As the population has shifted from
the rural districts to the larger towns, congestion in the schools has
resulted, and the lack of an adequate number of seats and the system
of half-day sessions have frequently resulted only in the semblance of
thorough and efficient training. Nor has the matter been made any
better by the tendency in some places still further to degrade the

There is yet a larger question, however, and that is the extent to
which the higher schools and colleges themselves are fulfilling their
function. We do not forget the work of Atlanta University in the
training of common school teachers, nor that of Morehouse College for
the Negro Baptists of Georgia, nor that of Spelman Seminary for the
homes and Sunday Schools and rural schools of Georgia, when we raise
the question if such institutions are really doing all that they
should for their respective communities. We do not believe that they
are, and we do not believe that the fault is wholly theirs.

All of this takes us back to some very fundamental things. For some
years we have heard of a war between classical and industrial ideals,
and it has become more and more the fashion to sneer at the sturdy
pioneers who sought to instill into the minds of the recently
emancipated freedmen the ideas of education that obtained in New
England. Homer and Horace, it is affirmed, have no place in the
education of a man who is to be a leader in a rural community. The
whole utilitarian tendency has recently been strongly represented by
the paper, "A Modern School," by Dr. Abraham Flexner, published in the
_Review of Reviews_ for April, 1916, and reprinted as a pamphlet by
the General Education Board. We read: "Modern education will include
nothing simply because tradition recommends it or because its
inutility has not been conclusively established. It proceeds in
precisely the opposite way: It includes nothing for which an
affirmative case can not now be made out."

Now hardly any one will be found to object to this principle, though
when education in the large is considered many distinguished educators
feel that in arriving at its large aim the "Modern School" is not
altogether fair to some of the more traditional subjects in the
curriculum. So far as higher education for the Negro is concerned,
however, there is one point at which the utilitarians persistently
misunderstand those who do not wholly agree with them. No one better
appreciates the value of genuine industrial education than the
teachers in the Southern colleges. What they do oppose, however, is
that sort of large legislation which says that because the Negro is
mainly an agricultural race, his children as a whole should have that
sort of education which will make of them good farmers and domestics.
Such a program offers no outlet at all for the boy of unusual talent
and would ultimately irrevocably bind the whole race in the chains of

What then should be the aim of Negro education? We affirm that each
boy should receive such education as would not only enable him to
develop his individual powers to their highest point, but also enable
him to fulfill his function most serviceably as a citizen of a great
free republic. Such an aim it seems not altogether unreasonable to
ask. Many Negroes will undoubtedly for many years find their true
economic place as domestic servants, many will be and should be
farmhands; but no scheme of education whatsoever should be devised
that would logically force _every_ Negro boy or girl into such
occupations as these whatever may be the individual capacity or

In Negro schools accordingly we ask first of all for that education
which will understand that all individuals are not alike and that will
so plan the course of study for each student as to enable him
ultimately to be of most service to his fellowmen. Logically no set
program of study can do this. The student's playtime as well as his
work time should be most carefully supervised. Here is a budding
machinist. His true bent should, by some scientific test, be manifest
to his principal or dean after just a few months of acquaintance. A
special course of study should be built up for him. His reading
should be so studied as to vary articles on mechanics with such
fiction as would awaken his imagination. He should be taken to visit
great industrial plants so as to see how they are operated, and any
inventive faculty that he possesses should be encouraged. Here again
is a bookish lad, one who seems to study always and who never wants to
play. One instructor would inspire him along the line of history or
literature or art, as the case might require, while the physical
director would (without the boy's realizing it) seek until he found
some form of exercise into which the boy would enter with enthusiasm
and which would save him from undue introspection and generally look
to his physical well-being. Whatever may be the special field, the
training should be absolutely thorough. We should rather see a boy
plane a board correctly than have him work a problem in trigonometry
incorrectly; and on the other hand we should rather see a student
construe Homer with precision than keep a dairy that is not perfectly

Any such education as this of course calls for experts, and we are
thus led on to our second point. We ask that the teachers in Negro
schools and colleges should in deed and in truth be specialists. He
who would teach any American youth in the new day, and certainly any
Negro American youth, should be a genuine psychologist and sociologist
and a large-hearted Christian man at the same time that he is a most
thorough student in his own department. By "specialist" we do not mean
a man who in English would count up the infinitives in Gower's poems,
but one who in grammar, for instance, could bring from a broad
scholarly background such a capacity for illustration as would inspire
his students to be honestly more careful in their speaking or writing.
The teacher of geometry would be one who could genuinely teach boys to
think better; and with the true teacher of Latin, boys would have no
desire to be dishonest. Whatever is taught should be dynamic; now as
never before it must justify itself in terms of human life. Such
instructors for our youth would call for such an outlay for education
as has not yet been dreamed of. They could not be ready, however,
until they had passed through a long period of preparation; and for
such an investment they should later of course be adequately paid.
Along with better teachers would go better equipment generally. Mr.
Carnegie has given several library buildings, for instance. We wish
now that somebody would give some books to put in them. More than one
of the Negro colleges have no regular library appropriation. Whenever
a book is bought it must be taken out of current funds and thus be
stolen from some other legitimate use. And yet some people presume to
sneer at what these institutions have done!

The third matter is a large and subtle one. It has to do with the
whole moral and spiritual import of the schools in question. One of
the amazing things about Negro education in the large in America is
that one hears so much about boards and units and courses of study and
so little about deeper essentials. Aside from the curriculum, what is
the atmosphere that a boy breathes as soon as he sets foot on a
college campus? Is he trained in honesty, in politeness, in high
ideals of speech, in lofty conceptions of character? Does he have to
obey orders? Is he taught to be neat, prompt, and industrious? Such
questions are of things too often taken for granted, and too often
lacking. We need new emphasis on the whole missionary impulse in
education. In the providence of God, but through no effort of his own,
the freedman in the decades after the Civil War had the benefit of
the labors of consecrated men and women who served, sometimes even
without pay, for his salvation. Cravath at Fisk, Graves at Morehouse,
Tupper at Shaw, Ware at Atlanta, Armstrong at Hampton, and Packard and
Giles at Spelman are names that should ever be recalled with
thanksgiving and praise. These men and women were not people of means.
They labored often with the most inadequate facilities. And yet
somehow they had the key to the eternal verities. They were earnest,
efficient, and true, and to them a human soul was worth more than the
kingdoms of this world.

Such consecrated workers, however, have now become rarer and rarer.
Materialism and commercialism are abroad in the land. Segregation and
proscription and injustice abound. We plead now that in all the
disappointments and distractions of the new day our teachers shall at
least remember the faith and high ideals of the pioneers, and remain
close to God.

To train our boys in the virtues of citizenship and at the same time
in knowledge of the rights of others; to teach them respect for others
at the same time that they cultivate their own self-respect; to teach
them the value of scholarship and also to let them know when
scholarship must become dynamic; to teach them to work, to love, to
sing, to have faith, even when they see wrong all around them--this is
a task calling for all one has of Christianity, of scholarship, and of



In the fall of 1862 a young woman who was destined to be a great
missionary entered the Seminary at Rockford, Illinois. There was
little to distinguish her from the other students except that she was
exceedingly plainly dressed, and seemed forced to spend most of her
spare time at work. Yes, there was one other difference. She was older
than most of the girls--already thirty, and rich in experience. When
not yet fifteen she had taught a country school in Pennsylvania. At
twenty she was considered capable of managing an unusually turbulent
crowd of boys and girls. When she was twenty-seven her father had
died, leaving upon her very largely the care of her mother. At
twenty-eight she already looked back upon a career of fourteen years
as a teacher, of some work for Christ incidentally accomplished, but
also upon a fading youth of wasted hopes and unfulfilled desires.

Then came a great decision--not the first, but one of the most
important that marked her long career. Her education was by no means
complete, and at whatever cost she was determined to go to school.
That she had no money, that her clothes were shabby, that her mother
needed her, made no difference; now or never she would realize her
ambition. She would do anything, however menial, if it was honest and
would give her food while she attended school. For one long day she
walked the streets of Belvidere looking for a home. Could any one use
a young woman who wanted to work for her board? Always the same reply.
Nightfall brought her to a farmhouse in the suburbs of the town. She
timidly knocked on the door. "No, we do not need any one," said the
woman who greeted her, "but wait until I see my husband." The man of
the house was very unwilling, but decided to give her shelter for the
night. The next morning he thought differently about the matter; and a
few days afterward the young woman entered school. The work was hard;
fires were to be made, breakfasts on cold mornings had to be prepared,
and sometimes the washing was heavy. In the midst of it all, the time
for lessons was frequently cut short or extended far into the night.
But the woman of the house was kind, and her daughter a helpful

The next summer came another season at school-teaching, and then the
term at Rockford. 1862! a great year that in American history, one
fraught with great events, and more famous for the defeat of the Union
arms than for their success. But in September came Antietam, and the
heart of the North took courage. Lincoln now issued a preliminary
proclamation, "That on the first day of January, in the year of our
Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as
slaves within any state or designated part of a state, the people
whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be
then, thenceforward, and forever, free."

The girls at Rockford, like the people everywhere, were interested in
the great events shaking the nation. A new note of seriousness crept
into their work. Embroidery was laid aside; instead, socks were knit
and bandages prepared. On the night of January 1 a jubilee meeting was
held in the town. At last the black man was free and everywhere
throughout the North there were shouts of joy.

To Joanna P. Moore, however, the news bore a strange undertone of
sadness. She was, as we have said, much more mature than her
schoolmates, and to her, somehow, the problem of the spiritual and
intellectual freedom of the bondsmen presented itself. Strange that
she should be so possessed by this problem! She had of course thought
of the possibility of working in China, or India, or Africa--but of
this, never!

In February a man who had been on Island No. 10 came to the Seminary
and told the girls of the hundreds of women and children there in
distress. Cabins and tents were everywhere. As many as three families,
with eight or ten children each, cooked their food in the same pot on
the same fire. Sometimes the women were peevish or quarrelsome; always
the children were ignorant and dirty. "What can a man do to help such
a suffering mass of humanity?" asked the speaker. "Nothing. A woman is
needed; nobody else will do." For the student listening so intently,
the cheery schoolrooms with their sweet associations faded; the vision
of foreign missions also vanished; and in their stead stood only a
pitiful black woman with a baby in her arms.

She reached Island No. 10 in November. The outlook was dismal enough.
The Sunday School at Belvidere of which she was a member pledged four
dollars a month toward her support; and this was all the salary in
sight. The Government had provided transportation and soldiers'
rations. That was in 1863, more than fifty years ago; but every year
since then, until 1916, in summer and winter, in sunshine and rain, in
the home and the church, with teaching and praying, feeding and
clothing, nursing and hoping and loving, Joanna P. Moore in one way or
another ministered to the needs of the Negro people of the South.

In April, 1864, her whole colony was removed to Helena, Arkansas. The
Home Farm was three miles from Helena. Here was gathered a great crowd
of women and children and helpless old men, all under the guard of a
company of soldiers in a fort near by. Thither went the missionary,
alone, except for her faith in God. She made an arbor with some rude
seats, nailed a blackboard to a tree, divided the people into four
divisions, and began to teach school. In the twilight every evening a
great crowd gathered around her cabin for prayers. A verse of the
Bible was read and explained, prayers were offered, one of the
sorrow-songs was chanted, and then the service was over.

Some Quaker workers were her friends in Helena, and in 1868 she went
to Lauderdale, Mississippi, to help the Friends in an orphan asylum.
Six weeks after her arrival the superintendent's daughter died, and
the parents left to take their child back to their Indiana home to
rest. Miss Moore was left in charge of the asylum. Cholera broke out.
Eleven children died within one week. She stood by her post. Often, as
she said, those who were well and happy when they retired, ere the
daylight came were in the cold grave, for they were buried the same
hour they died. Night after night the lone woman prayed to God in the
dark, and at length the fury of the plague was abated.

From time to time the failing health of her mother called her home,
and from 1870 to 1873 she once more taught school in the vicinity of
Belvidere. The first winter the school was in the country. "You can
never have a Sunday School in the winter," she was told. But she did;
in spite of the snow the house was crowded every Sunday; whole
families came in sleighs. Even at that the real work of the missionary
was still with the Negroes of the South. In her prayers and in her
public addresses they were always with her; and in 1873 friends in
Chicago made it possible for her to return to the work of her choice.
In 1877 the Woman's Baptist Home Mission Society honored itself by
giving to her its first commission.

Nine years she spent in the vicinity of New Orleans. Near Leland
University she found a small, one-room house. After buying a bed, a
table, two chairs, and a few cooking utensils, she began housekeeping.
Often she started out at six in the morning, not to return until dark.
Most frequently she read the Bible to those who could not read.
Sometimes she gave cheer to mothers busy over the washtub. Sometimes
she would teach the children to read or to sew. Often she would write
letters for those who had been separated from friends or kindred in
the dark days. She wrote hundreds and hundreds of such letters; and
once in a while, a very long while, came some response.

Most pitiful of all the objects she found in New Orleans were the old
women worn out with years of slavery. They were usually ragpickers who
ate at night old scraps for which they had begged during the day.
There was in the city an Old Ladies' Home; but this was not for
Negroes. A house was secured and the women taken in, Miss Moore and
her associates moving into the second story. Sometimes, very often,
there was real need; but sometimes, too, provisions came when it was
not known who sent them; money or boxes came from Northern friends who
had never seen the workers; and the little Negro children in the
Sunday Schools in New Orleans gave their pennies.

In 1878 Miss Moore started on a journey of exploration. In Atlanta Dr.
Robert at Atlanta Baptist Seminary (now Morehouse College) gave her
cheer; so did President Ware at Atlanta University. At Benedict in
Columbia she saw Dr. Goodspeed, President Tupper at Shaw in Raleigh,
and Dr. Corey in Richmond. In May she appeared at the Baptist
anniversaries, with fifteen years of missionary achievement already
behind her.

But each year brought its own sorrows and disappointments. She wanted
her Society to establish a training school for women; but the
objection was raised to this on the score that such an institution
would overlap the educational work of the American Baptist Home
Mission Society. Down in Louisiana of course it was not without danger
that a white woman attended a Negro Baptist Association in 1877; and
there were always sneers and jeers. At length, however, a training
school for mothers was opened in Baton Rouge. All went well for two
years; and then a notice with skull and crossbones was placed on the
gate. The woman who had worked through the cholera still stood firm;
but the students had gone. Sick at heart and worn out with waiting,
she left Baton Rouge and the state in which so many of her best years
had been spent.

Bible Band work was started in 1884, and _Hope_ in 1885. Just how live
the idea is to-day may be seen from the recent experience of one of
the representative colleges for young men. With a crowded Sunday
schedule, and with all the distraction of concerts, rhetoricals, and
athletics, with Y.M.C.A. meetings and required chapel services, with
church and Sunday School, thirty men voluntarily meet each week after
the required Sunday evening service for the study of the lessons in
_Hope_. This little paper, beginning with a circulation of five
hundred, has now reached a monthly issue of more than eighteen
thousand copies; and daily it brings its lesson of cheer to thousands
of mothers and children in the South. In connection with it all has
developed the Fireside School, than which few agencies have been more
potent for the salvation and uplift of the humble Negro home.

What wisdom has been gathered from the passing of fourscore years! On
almost every page of her tracts, her letters, her account of her life,
one finds quotations that for proverbial pith may be equaled only by
the words of Franklin or Lincoln or Booker Washington:--

    The love of God gave me courage for myself and the rest of
    mankind; therefore I concluded to invest in human souls. They
    surely are worth more than anything else in the world.

    Beloved friends, be hopeful, be courageous. God cannot use
    discouraged people.

    I am very thankful to-day that there has always been some one
    weaker than myself along some line, some one that I could really
    help and comfort.

    The good news spread, not by telling what we were going to do,
    but by praising God for what had been done.

    So much singing in all our churches leaves too little time for
    the Bible lesson. Do not misunderstand me. I do love music that
    impresses the meaning of words. But no one climbs to heaven on
    musical scales.

    I thoroughly believe that the only way to succeed with any
    vocation is to make it a part of your very self and weave it
    into your every thought and prayer.

    You must love before you can comfort and help.

    There is no place too lowly or dark for our feet to enter, and
    no place so high and bright but it needs the touch of the light
    that we carry from the Cross.

How shall we measure such a life? Who can weigh love and hope and
service, and the joy of answered prayer? "An annual report of what?"
she once asked the secretary of her organization. "Report of tears
shed, prayers offered, smiles scattered, lessons taught, steps taken,
cheering words, warning words--tender, patient words for the little
ones, stern but loving tones for the wayward--songs of hope and songs
of sorrow, wounded hearts healed, light and love poured into dark sad
homes? Oh, Miss Burdette, you might as well ask me to gather up the
raindrops of last year or the petals that fall from the flowers that
bloomed. It is true I can send you a little stagnant water from the
cistern, and a few dried flowers; but if you want to know the
freshness, the sweetness, the glory, the grandeur, of our God-given
work, then you must come and keep step with us from early morn to
night for three hundred and sixty-five days in the year."

Until the very last she was on the roll of the active missionaries of
the Woman's American Baptist Home Mission Society. In the fall of 1915
she decided that she must once more see the schools in the South that
meant so much to her. In December she came again to her beloved
Spelman. While in Atlanta she met with an accident that still further
weakened her. After a few weeks, however, she went on to Jacksonville,
and then to Selma. There she passed.

       *       *       *       *       *

"When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels
with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.... Then
shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an
hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we
thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when
saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall
answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have
done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it
unto me."



It is the purpose of the present chapter to reply to some of the more
common of the arguments brought forward against the Negro. We shall by
no means attempt to cover the whole ground, or even pretend that in
every case we have summoned the most representative critics. At the
same time we feel that those that are adduced are fairly typical of
those of harsher view.

One of the noteworthy characteristics of discussion in recent years
has been a tendency to deny the ideals on which America was founded,
especially where the Negro was concerned. One of the frankest
statements along this line was a Fourth of July address in 1911 by no
less a person than Ex-President Eliot of Harvard University. This
distinguished citizen gave voice to an opinion which is just now
gaining more and more converts in this country, in effect this: The
Declaration of Independence is a wornout document; it never was meant
to be taken seriously; and, in the words of Rufus Choate, it is made
up simply of "glittering and sounding generalities of natural right."
The passage to which exception seems especially to be taken is this:
"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." It will be observed that in a way each successive one of
the three clauses here explains the one preceding; that is to say, all
men are equal in the rights given to them by God, and these rights
consist in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The fathers
were not thinking about such things as that one child was born in a
palace and another in a hut, or that one was born with brilliant
intellect and the other with little power of mind. Certainly the
"facts submitted to a candid world" are based on no such principles as
these. The founders were talking about things moral. Each man deserved
at least that no other man should have power to declare that he _must_
live in a hut. In other words, each man deserved a man's chance in the

So far as the Negro is concerned then we hold that the Declaration of
Independence is a very live document. More and more, however, within
recent years has it been the fashion to fix attention upon his
shortcomings, and this attitude has led some people to strange
conclusions. One of the most accessible statements of the adverse
point of view is "The Color Line," by Prof. William Benjamin Smith,
for years a teacher at Tulane University. This book is in no sense
better than many others. At the same time it was written by a man who
had broadened his scholarship in Europe, being the holder of a
doctor's degree from a German university, and who in his own studies
had emphasized such subjects as mathematics and philosophy. From such
a source one would at least expect some degree of consideration for
logic; and yet "The Color Line" but shows the lengths to which some
persons will go when they discuss the Negro. The central thesis seems
to be the following (p. 174): "Drawing the color line, firm and fast,
between the races, first of all in social relations, and then by
degrees in occupations also, is a natural process and a rational
procedure, which makes equally for the welfare of both." Professor
Smith remarks several Negroes of distinction, shows that in fact most
of them were not pure Negroes at all, but persons with an infusion of
white blood, and concludes (p. 44): "It seems vain to deny that the
mixed blood is notably more intelligent than the pure black; the
necessary inference is that the white blood with which it was mixed is
far more intelligent still." The same line of argument is used by Mr.
Alfred Holt Stone in his _Atlantic_ paper on "The Mulatto Factor in
the Race Problem," included in "Studies in the American Race Problem,"
as well as by Mr. E.B. Reuter in his recent study in the _American
Journal of Sociology_, "The Superiority of the Mulatto." "Have equal
opportunities," we are asked, "raised the Negroes in Pennsylvania to
the white level?" Education has been a complete failure. Professor
Smith visited a Negro school (p. 166): "An olive-colored young man was
at the board trying to explain to a mulatto woman, the only member of
the class, the mysterious nature of the perpendicular. He appeared
very earnest in his exposition, but unable to awaken any answering
intelligence." "The higher culture at 'colored universities' merely
spoils a plough-hand or house-maid." Finally (p. 259), "nearly forty
years of devoted and enthusiastic effort to elevate and educate the
Southern Negro lie stretched out behind us in a dead level of

This whole argument is guilty of the vicious fallacy of begging the
question by arguing in a circle. First we degrade human beings by the
curse of slavery for two hundred and fifty years, and then because
they are not advanced we argue that they have not the capacity to
rise. Far from being an advantage to both races the color line is the
curse of both. Obsessed by the Negro problem, the white South has
always been held back and still finds it impossible to think in the
large; while the Negro is daily met with such insults as shake the
very foundations of his citizenship. The argument on the mulatto goes
back to the circle already remarked. Everybody knows that in a country
predominantly white the quadroon has frequently been given some
advantage that his black friend did not have, from the time that one
was a house-servant and the other a field-hand; but no thorough test
in Negro schools has ever demonstrated that the black boy is
intellectually inferior to the fair one. This is all a part of the
general American snobbishness that places on the Negro the burden of
any blame or deficiency, but that claims for the white race any merit
that an individual may show, even while many advantages of citizenship
are withheld from both mulatto and Negro alike. Furthermore, and this
is a point not previously remarked in discussions of the Negro
problem, the element of genius that distinguishes the Negro artist of
mixed blood is most frequently one characteristically Negro rather
than Anglo-Saxon; note the romantic and elemental sculpture of Meta
Warrick Fuller and the mystical religious paintings of Henry O.
Tanner. As to labor, how can any one assert that the Negro in the
North has had an equal chance with the white man, in view of the
attitude of the labor unions? The whole matter of education represents
the circle worse than anything else. Would anybody who knows the South
contend for a moment that public school appropriations are evenly
divided between the white and black? And shall we allow one stupid
pupil in a poorly organized school to offset the brilliant attainments
in the foremost colleges in the country, from which institutions Negro
graduates are each year coming by the scores? Not a year passes now
but that some of these students win noteworthy honors, receive
valuable prizes, or take doctors' degrees. Let one observe in full
proof of this the educational number of the _Crisis_, published in
July of each year. The point about "colored universities" simply
represents a state of ignorance common throughout the South. The day
never was when Fisk and Knoxville and Morehouse simply crammed Greek
into unreceptive minds. No schools in the country have had a clearer
idea of their mission, or have done more to answer it with limited
facilities. The pity is that not one of a dozen representative
colleges has the beginning of an adequate endowment, and all have had
to do their work with the cheapest tools. And certainly such
leadership as the race has had, and such advance as the race has made,
have been due primarily to the large idea of Christian service behind
the missionary institutions.

Within recent years, however, there has developed a fear of the part
that the Negro is to play in American civilization. This was fairly
well stated in an article in the _Forum_ a few years ago by Mr. W.W.
Kenilworth, "Negro Influences in American Life." Mr. Kenilworth is
much disturbed. "Can it be," he asks, "that America is falling prey to
the collective soul of the Negro?" "It is unthinkable that the
increase of Negro population, the increased and unhampered (_sic_)
circumstances of Negro expression should not have an important
reaction on the white population." The pity is that the whole article
is based on unwarranted assumptions, and, in spite of some elements of
truth, the reasoning, condensed, is somewhat as follows:--

The Negro element is daily becoming more potent in American society.

American society is daily becoming more immoral.

Therefore at the door of the Negro may be laid the general increase of
divorce and all other evils of society.

Somewhat more subtle than all this is the criticism in Volume VII of
"The South in the Building of the Nation," in the article on "The
Intellectual and Literary Progress of the Negro" written by Mr. H.I.
Brock. The central thesis here is the following: "The Negro is mentally
quite sufficiently developed to use his brain with effect upon the
immediate and the concrete. He is not sufficiently developed to start
with the white man's generalizations, or more exactly, the formulas in
which these generalizations are expressed, and work down to the
concrete. He is in the class in arithmetic. He is not fit yet awhile
for that in algebra and analytics." In proof of this position it is
asserted that Booker T. Washington was in type and in fact "exactly
like Peter the successful barber and Walker who runs a profitable
carrier's business in a certain Southern town, though neither Peter nor
Walker can read or write." As for Frederick Douglass, what happened to
him "cannot be set down as his achievement. He was a sign and a symbol
held up for men to see. He was floated on the top of the abolition wave
into public office. He did not climb there." Phillis Wheatley was
"taught the trick of verse. Her verses were printed as a curiosity at
the time and her 'Poems' have no other interest." "Even Paul Laurence
Dunbar has a fame quite disproportionate to his actual place in the
catalogue of contemporary minor poets. He, too, is, in part, a
curiosity." The whole question at issue, so far as the country at large
is concerned, is "not so much how to advance the Negro as how to
prevent the Negro from retarding the upward tendency of the rest of the
population." All of his books and compositions so far "are like the
schoolboy's essay which gets into the school magazine; they are to be
considered as 'exercises,' not as achievements."

There is a very real criticism here, one deliberately frank and even
harsh, but deserving of attention. If we understand it, it says in
substance that the Negro in America has not yet developed the great
creative or organizing mind that points the way of civilization. He
has so far produced no Plato, no Jonathan Edwards, no Pierpont Morgan,
no Edison. The larger thought here will be considered in our next
chapter. Just now let us observe that the argument makes the familiar
assumption that because a thing never has been it never will be. All
America is crude, however. While she has made great advance in applied
science, she certainly has not as yet produced a Shakespeare or a
Beethoven. If America has not reached her heights after three hundred
years, she ought not to be impatient with the Negro after only fifty
years of opportunity. Furthermore, all signs go to prove the
assumption fundamentally false. We know of some of the younger men of
to-day who have not only mastered language and science, but who have
outshone brilliant groups of white students in pure philosophy. It
would be a miracle if this were the everyday occurrence. It is not;
but the fact that it is an occurrence at all means that the Negro is
at least capable of the highest things. Furthermore, it is not true
that everything that the Negro has written may be dismissed with a
wave of the hand as school boy exercises, though we grant that only a
beginning has been made. Give us time. Give us time! Within the next
fifty years we shall astound you!



So far we have lightly touched upon some of the most important phases
of the life of the Negro people in America. We have looked at a people
whose ancestors were brought to the country against their own will and
suddenly thrust into the rising civilization of a new nation, and we
have looked at some of the more hopeful features of their life as well
as at some of their greatest problems. Even now, however, in spite of
untoward conditions there are those who honestly ask if the effort and
money that have been expended have been wisely invested. Those who
have spent most time on the problem only wish that ten times as much
had been done. Nevertheless for the sake of the honest seeker after
truth, we wish to answer one or two fundamental questions.

First of all, to what extent has the Negro exemplified the principle
of self-help and thus justified philanthropic and missionary effort in
his behalf? The best answer to this is found not in such a shining
example of self-help as Booker Washington, but in efforts that better
represent the rank and file of the race. Take education. The African
Methodist Episcopal Church, that branch of the Methodists which has
always emphasized the race idea, from very early years took an active
interest in educational work. To-day it maintains twenty schools and
colleges--one or more in each Southern state, two in Africa, and one
in the West Indies. The property represented by these institutions is
approximately $1,500,000. The third Sunday in September is set apart
as Education Day, and on this a general collection is taken in all the
churches. The total income from all sources for the educational work
of the church is now not less than $175,000 a year. Two other distinct
branches of Negro Methodists, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion
Church and the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, have sometimes
raised even more money in proportion to their membership. The Baptists
because of their church polity are of course not so thoroughly
organized. Most of the higher missionary effort of this denomination
has been done through the American Baptist Home Mission Society, which
from its headquarters in New York maintains wholly eight higher
institutions, contributing in a smaller degree to twenty preparatory
schools. The word of the secretary of this organization in a recent
report may be taken as summing up what the Negro Baptists have done
for themselves: "We are sometimes told that it is about time for the
Negroes to do something toward their own education, and some members
of our churches seem to believe that their missionary money boards and
clothes the thousands of pupils in attendance at the twenty-eight
schools of the Home Mission Society. The following facts entirely
refute these assertions: During the ten years ending March 31, 1907,
pupils paid for tuition $300,517.62; for board $954,822.01, and Negro
churches and individuals gave for the support of the work or for new
buildings to supplement the gifts of their Northern friends,
$197,995.70. This makes a total of $1,453,335.33 paid or given by the
Negroes for ten years, or $145,333.53 annually. It should be
remembered that this is only a small part of the vastly larger amount
contributed by these people for education, for all through the South
many associations have their own denominational schools, and
sacrifices are made for their maintenance which reflect credit upon
the race which is so rapidly coming forward. The Negro presidents and
principals are showing unusual wisdom in collecting funds for their
work. Negro churches, too, are taking a great interest in these
mission schools. The gifts from the Home Mission Society are hastening
the day of still larger efforts from those benefited."

Let us, however, grant, say some, that the Negro helps himself; that
is not sufficient. Anybody should help himself, anybody can; but what
is the race worth as a constructive factor in American civilization?
Is it finally to be an agency making for the upbuilding of the nation,
or simply one of the forces that retard? What is its promise in
American life?

In reply to this we recall first of all the work that has already been
remarked along industrial lines. We have seen that the nation,
especially in the South, depends upon Negro men and women as the
stable labor supply in such occupations as farming, sawmilling,
mining, cooking, and washing. Figures bearing this out have already
been given. The tremendous new emphasis on farming and mining incident
to the war is known to all. The Negro is now helping most vitally to
feed the American people and to produce the materials for
transportation and the making of munitions. Let any one ask, even the
prejudiced observer, if he would like to see every Negro in the
country out of it, and then he will decide whether economically the
Negro is a liability for the country or an asset.

Again, consider the Negro soldier. In all our history there are no
pages more heroic, more pathetic than those detailing the exploits of
the black man. We remember the Negro, three thousand strong, fighting
for the liberties of America when his own race was still held in
bondage. We remember the deeds at Port Hudson, Fort Pillow, and Fort
Wagner. We remember Santiago and San Juan Hill, not only how Negro men
went gallantly to the charge, but how a black regiment faced
pestilence and fever that the ranks of their white comrades might not
be decimated. And then Carrizal. Once more, at an unexpected moment,
the soul of the nation was thrilled by the bravery of the black
troopers of the Tenth Cavalry. Once more, despite Brownsville, the
tradition of Fort Wagner was preserved and passed on. It mattered not
that "some one had blundered." "Theirs not to make reply; theirs but
to do and die." So in the face of odds they fought by the cactus and
lay dead beneath the Mexican stars.

And now, all around us, everywhere is the greatest of all wars. Once
more has the Negro been summoned to the colors, and, because he is not
fully protected in some places, because he has not the full power of
suffrage, summoned out of all proportion to his numbers, summoned even
when he could best serve at his regular work on the farms--not because
the government intended unfairness, but because local registration
officials have not been fair, because exemption boards have not been
honest. And yet, even when physically disabled, even when he had the
roughest work to do, he has still obeyed orders, not because he was
not brave, not because he was not strong, but because he was true.
Others might desert, but not the Negro; others might be spies or
strikers, but not he--not he in time of peril. In peace or war, in
victory or danger, he, the Negro, has ever been loyal to the Stars and

Not only, however, does the Negro give promise because of his economic
worth; not only does he deserve the fullest rights of citizenship on
the basis of his work as a soldier; he brings nothing less than a
great spiritual contribution to civilization in America. His is a race
of enthusiasm, imagination, and high spiritual fervor. He revels in
the sighing of the wind, the falling of the stars, the laughter of
children, and already his music is recognized as the most original
that the country has produced; from his deep-toned melodies wails a
note of intolerable pathos. But over all the doubt and fear through
which it passes there still rests with the great heart of the race an
abiding trust in God. Around us everywhere are commercialism,
politics, graft--sordidness, selfishness, cynicism. We need faith and
hope and love, a new birth of idealism, more fervent faith in the
unseen; and the stone that the builders rejected is become the head of
the corner. Already the work of some members of the race has pointed
the way to great things in the realm of conscious art; but above even
art soars the great world of the spirit. This it is that America most
sadly needs; this it is that her most fiercely persecuted children
bring to her.



The preceding pages have more than once emphasized the need of reforms
to be made in our American life. Before all reforms, however, there
must be the guiding-star of high idealism. Only through the
inspiration of lofty spiritual motive are changes likely to be

If now we look into our American life we are brought face to face with
the fact that in our haste to get rich or even to meet new conditions
that must legitimately be met we are in danger of losing all of our
old standards of conduct, of training, and of morality. America is
still _bourgeois_. We have hardly begun to reap the real fruits of
rich, abiding culture, and because we have not we are still wasteful,
superficial, and insincere, in our economic life, in our church life,
in our courts, in literature, in education, in every phase of

Consider national organization. We were beguiled into thinking that
our country as a whole was rich, well arrayed, amply prepared to take
care of itself, invincible beyond question. As the first six months of
the war slowly dragged by in their agonizing course, the conviction
gradually forced itself upon us that we were only in the elementary
class in economics, that we were neither organized nor prepared, and
that it was after all vitally necessary for the government to assume
official charge of the railroads. With our ideas of democracy we had
slowly drifted into crass individualism, and sooner or later that was
forced to mean selfishness. One year after the opening of the war we
still had the sad spectacle of senators fiercely assailing the
administration because of the tardiness of its shipping and airplane
programs. We should not be too hasty in finding a scapegoat for what
after all is a national delinquency. We had indeed produced such
masters in large organization as Morgan and Hill and Harriman; but the
talents of such men had not been utilized in Washington. Slowly we
have learned that our country needs its very best brains, needs them
always, and that it is folly to play petty politics when questions of
great national interest are at stake. To _politics_ as we have long
understood the term the present war should give the death-blow. Let
responsibilities gravitate to those who are able to shoulder them
without the endless coil of officialdom. Let democracy mean the
perfect freedom of the individual, the _equal_ freedom of _all_
individuals, but _not_ license, and not that the rights of one
individual shall endanger the rights of most. When the war began we
availed ourselves of the talents of Thomas Alva Edison. Suppose we had
done this ten years before. No, we were rich, comfortable, safe,
invincible. Suddenly our smug self-complacency received a shock. One
great result of this war is going to be to give us new ideas of
efficiency in our national government. We shall place greater emphasis
on having not only experts in important minor positions, but also men
of supreme business talents in the places of greatest responsibility.
We shall have a new searching of our whole system of party government,
with its arbitrary exits and entrances, and its despicable spoils
system. We shall have a glorified, a chastened, a regenerated United
States--a country about whose greatness there shall be no doubt, and
on whose honor there shall be no stain, a country that shall in the
highest sense stand for law and efficiency and justice, and one for
which not some, but _all_, would be willing to die, because all would
know that the government was thinking wisely for every one of its

So in our courts. The same principle would work. The average citizen
in America knows only this about our courts, that he wants to keep
away from them. So far we have not been assured of justice. The poor
man has not stood an equal chance with the rich, nor the black with
the white. Money has been freely used for the changing of laws, if
need be. In South Carolina a white man stole an automobile and was
sentenced for thirty days; on the same day and by the same judge a
Negro who stole a bicycle was sent to the chain-gang for three years.
Such a travesty on justice can not much longer abide in a country that
has passed through fire. Let us turn our faces to the morning.

Our churches need a new baptism. About thirty years ago the conviction
began to force itself that somehow the church as an organization was
becoming too set and staid in its ways, that it was in fact a
beautiful antique, regarded with somewhat amused condescension by the
young men and women who played golf on Sunday or the crowds that went
to a baseball game. Suddenly we became fearfully introspective; we
studied sociology; we read "The Inside of the Cup"; we were ashamed of
the impotency of the old sermons on justification and regeneration;
and we swung to the other end of the pendulum. Our churches began to
be "institutional"; the most famous evangelist in the country became
the one who was outstanding for his use of slang; the music in Sunday
Schools became rag-time; and in general in religious services there
developed a tendency to attract the crowd by using the methods of the
vaudeville stage. Evening services in Protestant churches partook more
and more of the nature of socialistic conferences, and, in general,
dignity and reverence suffered. After a few years of this we have
found that we are just at much at fault in another way as we were
thirty years ago. We have done away with Puritanism, it is true; but
in its stead we have placed irreverence and worldliness. Such is the
situation in the church, in organized, conventional religion; when we
look at the still larger principle of vital Christianity, at the heart
of things of which mere churchgoing is only a symbol, we are still
more appalled. Neither bigotry nor irreverence is right. Young people
will not tolerate cant; but neither will they be attracted to a
worship that features what they can find better done in a theater.
Simple goodness and kindness, however, never fail to command respect.
Love is never hissed off the stage; and the love of Christ, pure and
simple, is sufficient even for the sorrow of such a sad world as ours.

What has been said about our economic life, our courts, and our
churches applies also in our home-life, in education, and in
literature. The family altar is almost extinct; children are not
properly trained in respect for their elders; and all too generally
young girls learn the lessons of extravagance and immodesty in dress.
Many of our modern methods of training have so simplified and made
easy the lessons to be learned that the boy who goes to school is in
danger of receiving little stout mental development. Excessive
emphasis on illustrations and pictures has resulted in the
"moving-picture mind" that has only a modicum of initiative on its own
account. In literature we have stodginess in style and decadence in
morals, and _vers libre_, that is to say, no verse at all. In hardly
anything does it seem that we have any art, any standards, any
_taste_. Any passing fad is sufficient to gain followers and to pose
as worthy achievement. I quote from a representative review of a
representative novel by one of the most popular writers in America:
"The reader first meets X when he is still a youth of twenty-four
enjoying a trip around the world. In Y he meets an American miss of
fifteen who falls wholly and entirely in love with him, and he, being
somewhat in love with the idea of love, imagines himself in love with
her and they become engaged. Afterward, in Paris, and a year or so
later on the way home across the Atlantic, the author makes known the
instability of the hero's character in the grosser forms of love.
Nevertheless he marries the child, barely past her middle teens, and
forthwith sets out upon a career of escapades and license.... With the
coming of the war he becomes first an ambulance driver and then an
aviator, and his long-suffering and much-forgiving wife enters a
military hospital as a nurse. But the author is discreetly silent as
to the extent to which she is impressed by his assurance that he is
going to be a good husband." This story was published by one of the
oldest, most respectable, and supposedly most conservative firms in
the United States.

It is customary for those who are brought face to face with this
irreverence, this injustice, this extravagance, and this loosening of
the moral code to pass upon the matter lightly as a mere passing
phenomenon of our industrial advance; more recently the blame has been
placed on that bearer of all burdens, the war. Such an explanation is
hardly sufficient. Even before the war we were beginning to be
influenced by continental standards. Now that the crisis is upon us
all the more do we need to think clearly and conserve our energies for
the future. Germany, under the guidance of her military philosophy,
has destroyed the sanctity of the tenderest of all institutions, the
home, encouraging temporary unions of men and women as a patriotic
duty; and France in her hour of trial has further fallen prey to
debauchery. We plead that American womanhood shall be preserved sacred
and inviolate.

All of this has very close connection with our chief subject, the
Negro. Such characteristics and tendencies in America as we have
sketched have resulted in a peculiar brand of snobbishness that has so
developed as very largely to undermine our fundamental conception of
morality. Mr. Alfred Booth Kuttner has recently written in the _Dial_
"A Study of American Intolerance," showing how the tradition of
tolerance was upset by "the aftermath of the Civil War and by the
sudden large influx of diversely alien immigrants which began during
the seventies and eighties of the last century. The first of these is
the more fundamental, and to a great extent it explains the second.
Our hostility towards the foreigner was fostered by a comparison with
the relations already existing towards a people in our midst." This
spirit of hostility of course accounts for the Chinese Exclusion bill,
for the alien land law against the Japanese in California, for the
literacy test, and even for the American attitude toward the people of
Latin-American countries; thus logically the Negro problem becomes the
final test of our democracy, the crux on which all other great social
problems have turned. We say that certain aliens are diseased or
illiterate, that they are incipient anarchists or that they make
working conditions intolerable; but let us suppose that in the main
they become otherwise, as many of every race are already. Is the
American white man, in the face of the rising brotherhood of man the
world over, going to take the position that other races, and
especially the colored races--the Japanese, the Chinese, the Hindu,
the Negro--shall not occupy places of dignity and responsibility in
this country? Does he expect to maintain the position that any person
not an Anglo-Saxon, no matter how cultured or educated or talented he
may be, must forever maintain a politically and socially inferior
status in the greatest republic in the world? Such a position, we
hold, in view of the great events now taking place in Europe, is
utterly untenable. If it were the correct point of view, it would be
better that we had never fired a single gun against Germany.



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    | Typographical errors corrected in text:                     |
    |                                                             |
    | Page 17: "forced to spent" replaced with "forced to spend"  |
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    | Note that M'Ilheron is a surname, of Irish origin.          |
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       *       *       *       *       *

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