Twentieth Century Negro Literature - Or, A Cyclopedia of Thought on the Vital Topics Relating - to the American Negro
Author: Various
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Having been the pioneer in almost every race uplifting enterprise it will ever heartily co-operate with those who have come along in the paths blazed out by the Negro pulpit until the race shall take its place among the foremost peoples of the earth in every good work for the advancement of man and for the glory of God.





Rev. John B. L. Williams, D. D., was born in Baltimore, Md., November 22, 1853. His parents, John W. Williams and Elizabeth Williams, were examples of piety, and were of prominent family connections in Baltimore. At an early age he was placed in a Roman Catholic School. Later in life he attended the city public schools and Douglass Institute. At 17 he was converted and joined the Methodist Episcopal church. At 18 he was divinely impressed with a call to the ministry. At 19 he became an apprentice at cabinet work and undertaking and completing his apprenticeship engaged in business for three years in Baltimore. In his 22d year he was licensed to preach by the Quarterly conference of John Wesley M. E. Church in Baltimore.

In March, 1876, he abandoned his business and left Baltimore to accept an appointment at Oak Hill, Ga. The same year he joined the Savannah Conference in its organization by Bishop Levi Scott, and he has rendered efficient service in the leading charges of the Conference: Newnan, three years; Loyd Street, Atlanta, one year; Presiding Elder Atlanta District, four years; M. E. Church at LaGrange, five years. He was honored by his brethren to the election of secretary of the Conference fifteen successive years. While pastor at Newnan he was principal of the city public school. At LaGrange he served two years as a member of the faculty of LaGrange Seminary and one year its principal. In 1882 he entered Clark University, taking studies in the college preparatory course. The same year he entered Gammon Theological Seminary and graduated in 1885 with honor. In 1891 he was transferred by Bishop H. W. Warren to the Florida Conference to take charge of Ebenezer M. E. Church in Jacksonville. He served Ebenezer Church five years, during which time its membership was doubled the last year, being marked by a great revival which lasted two weeks and resulted in the conversion of 130 persons. His next charge was Trinity Church, St. Augustine, where he served five years with success. He is now pastor of Trinity M. E. Church, Fernandina. As a preacher he is deliberate, convincing, persuasive and instructive. His sermons are well constructed, choicely worded, rhetorically polished, full of thought and eloquently delivered. He was honored with the degree of Doctor of Divinity by Wiley University of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Marshall, Texas, May 20, 1895.

The Christian pulpit has ever been acknowledged to be a great power for good among all people. Coming as it does divinely commissioned and bearing to man a divine message, it has a claim upon the attention and the acceptation of mankind. Its claim to be heard is founded on the fact that it has something to say—some truth to communicate about God, His character, His purpose concerning man, His unbounded goodness and infinite love—about man, his duty and his destiny, and the great salvation offered to him. The Christian pulpit is peculiarly and inseparably interwoven in the social life, moral deportment and religious growth of the people. In its character it is to be the representation of the highest standard of ethical deportment and the best example of religious life. From it the people are to receive their inspiration for that which is pure, exalted and ennobling. To the Christian pulpit the people look for the loftiest ideals of life. In this respect the Negro more than any other people has been largely dependent upon the pulpit. Emerging as he did more than a quarter of a century ago from a thraldom which fettered his body and imprisoned his intellect and buried him in ignorance, it was the Christian pulpit represented at that time by the good old fathers of those dark and trying days—to whom the good and lamented Bishop Haygood paid high compliment in one of his addresses—they it was who saved their people from conditions which would have been vastly more deplorable but for such moral and religious instruction as they were able to impart. As a race we have moved an amazing distance from that period. Schools, seminaries and universities have sprung up as if by magic. Educated young men and young women have gone forth from these institutions determined to do their best for God and humanity. The Negro press has also arisen and swayed a mighty influence for moral and religious good, but neither the school nor the press has been recognized as an efficient substitute for the pulpit. What was true as regards the place and power of the pulpit to uplift the people in the dark days of the past is equally true now in these days of light and knowledge. The educated and Christian pulpit is an indispensable factor in the elevation of the race to-day.

The extent to which the Negro pulpit is uplifting the race is to be seen in the gradual but certain and permanent reformation taking place in the social and moral life of the race. Social distinction, based exclusively upon moral character, is being clearly defined and rigidly observed. The moral standard has been elevated and the conceptions of the race in relation to ethical life has been greatly improved and beautifully exemplified in the lives of thousands. The home life of the race is purer and the sacredness of the marriage vow is gaining pre-eminence over the divorce system. The home life of the masses is gradually being touched and improved by the far-reaching influence of the Negro Christian pulpit, and there are signs and indications of better things and happier conditions. From these pulpits the Gospel goes forth with simplicity and power. Its truth and teaching is made to touch, shape and direct the practical side of Christian life. The evils which exist and which are a menace to the best and purest modes of life are strongly denounced and openly rebuked by the Negro Christian pulpit, and the race is being led to understand that sound moral character is the foundation upon which to build a strong, symmetrical, well-rounded manhood.

The religious life of the race is being uplifted by the Negro Christian pulpit. Sound is being displaced by sense in the pulpit. Senseless emotion by thoughtful and reverential worship in the pew, and a clear conception and deep knowledge of divine truth is being gained by the people. The individual of pessimistic temperament may say that the masses are not being influenced and lifted up by the Negro pulpit, but this would be a mere statement and not an actual fact. The pessimist lives in an unwholesome atmosphere, he will not see the sunshine because he prefers to stay down in the valley beneath the cloud of doubt and surmounted with the fog of hopelessness. The educated Negro pulpit is mainly optimistic and sees beyond its immediate surroundings. It sees to it that the leaven of sound doctrine and moral ethics are being put into the meal, and from personal developments believes that in process of time the whole lump will be leavened. The Negro pulpit is awake to the gravity of its responsibility and it is putting forth its best efforts and mightiest endeavors to uplift the race socially, morally and religiously. Evidences of this aim and purpose are not difficult to be seen in all communities.





Robert P. Wyche was born near Oxford, the county seat of Granville County, N. C. His father was a carpenter by trade and early taught his son the use of tools. In his humble home he was taught the dignity of labor, fidelity to duty, obedience to God and faith in prayer. These simple lessons shaped the course of his life probably more than any other influence. For a while he attended night school, as he worked in the day in order to earn the means to buy his books and to pay other necessary expenses. Robert was ambitious to excel. From the night school he went to a private school at Henderson, N. C. This school was conducted by the Rev. J. H. Crawford, a Presbyterian minister. Here Robert prosecuted his studies with eagerness, fitting himself to enter the preparatory department of Biddle University. The President of the university, the Rev. S. Mattoon, D. D., became interested in Robert, whom he esteemed as a promising student, and assured him that no worthy student should leave school for the want of means.

After graduating in 1877 his first thought was to enter the medical profession, but afterward he abandoned this idea and began seriously to consider the call to the ministry. After teaching school for a short period he returned to the seminary and took the full course in theology. He was licensed and ordained by the Presbytery of Catawba and was called to the pastorate of Seventh Street Presbyterian Church, at Charlotte, N. C. The degree of A. M. and the honorary degree of D. D. were conferred upon Rev. R. P. Wyche by Biddle University. He is at this time Moderator of the Synod of Catawba.

He married Miss Belle Butler, a popular educator, who unites with her husband in every measure for the true elevation of the Negro.

The question has been raised as to the part taken by the pulpit in the uplift of the race. The most casual observer must conclude that there are influences at work which are elevating the Negro race, and it is interesting and instructive to trace out the work which is done by each individual agency.

The pulpit has long been recognised as a potent factor in the formation of character, and the Negro pulpit is not an exception to the general rule. Its influence may be elevating or degrading. The character and the ability of the man in the pulpit will determine its nature and extent.

The office itself implies an active interest in the elevation of man from the lower to the highest stage of life. But the uneducated ministry proved itself unequal to the task of teaching and leading the people along the difficult path to true excellence.

Some of the most stubborn opposition to the progress of the race was found in that class who had good reasons to fear the loss of power as the race advanced in intelligence. All of the higher interests of the people suffered at the hands of this class of leaders.

But let us now turn to another and better class of leaders. There are ministers who have enjoyed the benefits of a Christian education. This class of men form a strong factor in the elevation of the Negro. The present attainments of the pulpit are far-reaching in their beneficent influence upon the race.

The Negro pulpit is absolutely necessary to the higher moral development of the Negro. This development should lie at the foundation of all of his attainments, for men cannot reasonably hope to rise permanently along other lines while they neglect moral culture. The moral influence of the pulpit is now creating correct views of life in the Negro and leading him to good citizenship. The practical pulpit teaching along this line is having its effect in the moral uplift of the Negro. In this way the pulpit is serving as an uplifting force. Moral stability is the only solid foundation of an enduring elevation.

Considered from an intellectual point of view, the pulpit is of great value to the Negro race. The example set by the Negro pulpit in acquiring its intellectual status is worthy of imitation, and the youth of the rising generation will profit by it. The positive instruction and counsel coming from safe and trusted leaders will certainly yield its fruit. We cannot estimate the worth of the pulpit as the moulder of the thought, the character and the destiny of the race.

The financial status of the pulpit, under existing conditions, may be considered comparatively good. It has been made what it now is by industry, economy and self-denial, and stands as an object lesson for the benefit of those wishing to better their condition. The salaries paid Negro preachers are usually small, even less than the wages of mechanics. But these small earnings are carefully saved and wisely invested. As a result many of the Negro preachers have comfortable homes, while others of them have small bank accounts. The Negro minister has learned the dignity of labor and does not hesitate to labor with head and hands in order to attain to the position of usefulness and influence in the world. The people are taught in this practical manner the lessons of industry and economy more forcibly than in any other way, and they are thus led to secure homes, to enter into business and to educate their children.

Our elegant church edifices are largely due to the taste, tact and business qualities of the pulpit. These beautiful edifices exert a refining and uplifting influence upon the lives of men.

The spiritual power of the pulpit—this is the chief power that it is expected to wield in the world, for its mission is spiritual, and this great fact should ever be remembered. Our deepest needs are of a spiritual nature, and the pulpit offers to supply these deep-seated needs and to assist us to rise to the rank of "the sons of God."

The Gospel is the divinely appointed means to elevate men in Christian character. The promulgation of the Gospel and the exhibition of practical Christianity are the essential elements to an onward and upward progress.





The subject of this sketch was born at Laurens, S. C., in 1858. His parents were Nelson and Sarah Davis. In 1870 Rev. Charles Thompson (a Presbyterian Missionary from the North) came to Laurens and began services in a part of the town known as "Tin Pot Ally." The first to be enrolled in his Sunday School was the subject of our sketch.

After Rev. Thompson left Laurens our little hero went to school to another veteran, Mr. Wright, who soon learned to regard him highly. The late Rev. D. Gibbs now took charge of the church, and our subject was the first to enter his Sunday School. While the Rev. Gibbs was boarding at his father's home, the seed of the Presbyterian ministry was planted.

He now entered school under Rev. and Mrs. McDowell, and began the study of the Shorter Catechism. A polyglot Bible was offered for the most perfect recitation of the Catechism, and he won the first prize. In 1874 he took the examination and won the county scholarship for the State Normal at Columbia. From this examination he was given a teachers' certificate and taught his first school in the country; at the close of this school he accompanied Rev. and Mrs. McDowell to Statesville, N. C., and in November Rev. McDowell had arranged for him to go to Biddle University, Charlotte, N. C.

He returned home every summer and taught. So acceptable were his services that scholars were offered to him and held until his return from school. In 1877 on account of failing health he remained out of school, and was chosen as the principal of the city school at his native home. He was always known as the "Mocking Bird" of Laurens. He was the chorister in Sunday School and church. Returning to Biddle University in the fall of 1878, was taken under the care of Catawba Presbytery as a candidate for the ministry, and graduated with the degree of A. B. in 1881. In October, 1881, he entered the seminary of Biddle University, was licensed to preach the gospel in 1883, and was placed in charge of the Pleasant View Church, Greenville County, South Carolina, where he served so acceptably that he was desired as a settled pastor. In 1884 he graduated from the seminary, and was ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry the next day after graduating.

He took charge of the work at Lincolnton, N. C., where he served six years and six months, conducting both church and school, and was then re-elected principal of the city school.

The new church at McClintock was built under his administration. He was chosen moderator of the Presbytery of Catawba at Monroe, N. C., and in 1887 was sent as a commissioner from Catawba Presbytery to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, which met at Omaha, Neb. In 1888 the degree of A. M. was conferred by Biddle University. In 1890 he accepted the call to Winnsboro, S. C., continuing in the church and school work here for four years very acceptably. In 1892 was sent as commissioner to the General Assembly at Saratoga, N. Y. In 1894 he accepted the work at Goodwill, Sumter Co., S. C., where he now serves the largest Colored Presbyterian Church in the United States. He administered communion to 2,000 communicants.

In connection with the church he has charge of the Goodwill Academy, with an enrollment of about 100 students. In 1895 he was chosen stated clerk of Fairfield Presbytery, which position he fills with accuracy and ability until to-day. In 1900 the degree of D. D. was conferred upon him by Biddle University.

He has been Moderator of Fairfield Presbytery and Atlantic Synod. He is the secretary of the Sunday School Convention, chairman of the Committee on Vacancies and Supplies of the Fairfield Presbytery, and chairman of the Committee on Foreign Mission, Atlantic Synod.

The influence of the Negro pulpit on the race is immeasurable. It is to the race what the lighthouse is to the ship laden with human souls upon the tempestuous sea. At the close of the war when the Negroes were in darkness, the Negro preachers were the first to come forward to lead them to the light, and whatever may be said to the contrary, the Negro preachers have done more for the Negro's uplift since his emancipation than any other class of persons. We delight to boast that the Negroes pay taxes on $400,000,000.00 worth of property, that they have thousands of well educated men and women, that their illiteracy has been reduced forty-five per cent, that they have hundreds of newspapers, that they have four hundred or more skilled physicians who are making good money, that they have hundreds of men who are engaged in business enterprises, that they have thousands of honest, sober, upright Christian men and women.

Now, to whom are we more indebted for all this than to the Negro preachers, who have faithfully taught their people to save their money and buy homes and lands, who have constantly advised them to send their sons and daughters to the schools, who have urged their people to patronize Negro business enterprises and Negro physicians and lawyers, who have shown their people the importance of taking Negro papers, who have enjoined them to be honest, sober, industrious citizens?





Nathan B. Young was born in Newbern, Ala., September 18th, 1862. He was educated in the private schools at Tuscaloosa, Ala., at Talladega College, and at Oberlin College. He has taught school in Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. He is now President of the Florida State Normal and Industrial College, Tallahassee.

The answer to this question depends upon what is meant by placing these schools in the hands of Negro teachers. If it means that they are to be manned and managed by them I answer, no. If, on the other hand, it means that they should have some hand in managing these schools, I answer, yes.

For two reasons I claim that the time has not arrived for the passing of these institutions into his sole control: the first is a financial reason, the second is an intellectual or cultural reason.

At present the majority of the Negro colleges and institutions of higher and professional learning are supported by white people, either directly or indirectly, and the withdrawal of white faculties and boards of trustees will mean a withdrawal of white supporters. Whether this withdrawal will be logical or ethical, it will nevertheless be a fact. Those whose duty it is to collect funds for these schools can testify to the certainty of such a result if the experiment should be made.

The white man is a very careful giver to charitable institutions of any kind, and he takes every precaution to see that his donations are wisely expended, and that, too, according to his standards. Hence, when he makes a charitable contribution he feels safer when one of his own race is a trustee, or dispenser of the contribution. This explains the fact that in cases where Negro schools under Negro management make an appeal for large endowment funds they find it necessary to appoint a white endowment committee to manage the fund.

The Negro has no standing in the financial world, because he has made no financial record. This is not so much his fault as it is his misfortune. He is without the financial experience that he would need in order to manage successfully large sums of money such as he would be called upon to collect and to manage in colleges. Without aid from the white donors these colleges would be unable to do the work of a college—in other words, with possibly one notable exception, it takes a white man to get a white man's money, and since it is necessary to get a white man's money to support these institutions, it is also necessary to put their management into his hands. This condition will gradually change as the Negro race accumulates wealth within itself. This will naturally bring with it that experience which will eventually enable him to be a successful manager of these institutions.

It is generally known among those who are familiar with college management that the financial feature is the most difficult feature in this work. It requires a rare combination of qualities in a man to carry on successfully this phase of college work. The managing boards of white colleges find it exceedingly difficult to find white men fully equal to the task. If this takes place in the green tree, what may we expect in a dry?

At present the Negro race, to say the least, is too poor to take on itself the complete control of its colleges. Such a transfer would be a calamity, indeed, for under the white management these institutions are leading only a tolerable existence, are progressing but slowly and some of them not at all. To take these feeble institutions, then, and to connect them with a poorer source of supply would be practically to destroy them—certainly seriously to handicap them.

Besides, even if their financial support were guaranteed, at present a more serious obstacle would present itself. It would be impossible from the present supply of educated Negro men and women to get faculties for them. I mean, to get faculties every whit prepared for their progressive management. An up-to-date college must have not only strong financial backing but it must also have strong intellectual and moral backing. Each teacher should be so trained, intellectually and morally as to have a very keen appreciation of the deep significance of the work in which he is engaged. This means that he must in addition to a careful formal training, have a sort of intellectual and culture background to cause him to stand out in clear relief before his students as an embodiment of what he would have them become. He should, in very truth, be "a scholar and a gentleman."

The fact that a man or a woman is a graduate from some of these misnamed Southern "universities" or "brevet" colleges does not argue that he has a liberal education. The fact is that there are no Negro universities in this country and less than half a dozen "bona fide" colleges. These reputed "universities" and colleges are but indifferent high-schools for the most part, and their graduates without additional study, are not prepared to take a place on a college faculty. Strange to say, very few of these graduates feel the necessity of doing additional study before becoming anxious candidates for presidents of colleges or for professorships.

I stand by the statement that there are not enough really educated men fully equipped to manage the colleges such as we have, not to say anything of those that we ought to have. The race is not yet far enough removed from slavery to have that intellectual and moral background necessary to the bringing out of college professors and college presidents. It has taken the white race many generations to develop an Eliot, a Dwight, a Hadley, and an Angell, not to say anything about the Butlers, the Harrises, and the Wheelers. These men are developments—the very cream of the intellectual history of the Anglo-Saxon race in America. As I have indicated elsewhere, the trustees find it hard to fill their places when vacant.

The incipient Negro teacher and educator might as well admit the fact of their incompetency and with the admission bend themselves with renewed energy to hard study, laying aside all bogus degrees and meaningless titles, and acknowledge the fact that they are yet intellectual pigmies. If they will do this, perchance they themselves may not only add to their own statures but they may also become the ancestors of intellectual giants, fully competent to occupy the positions which they fain would hold in the educational world.

Although the time has not yet come, as I believe, for the entire management of Negro colleges by Negroes, yet the time has come when he should have some hand in managing both as teacher and as trustee. It would be a sad commentary upon the Negro race and upon its white teachers to have these schools remain permanently under white tutelage and management. It would also be a sad commentary upon the Negro to have an alien race to continue giving its money to educate his children. He must be brought gradually to see the necessity of his supporting and managing his own institutions of learning. The only way to do this is to gradually place the managing of them upon his shoulders. Every Negro college ought to have one or more Negro trustees on the board, as well as one or more Negro teachers on the faculty. The only way to learn how to swim is to go into the water—the only way for the Negro to learn how to manage his institutions is for him to have a hand in managing them.

Of the large number of Negro youth that are graduated every year from our colleges, there are not a few among them who have in them the making of fine professors if they were stimulated by the sure hope of securing a place on the faculty of their "alma mater." It is the imperative duty of the faculties of these schools to inspire these men to their best efforts and when they have done so it is the duty of the trustees to give them a place on the faculty.

I would not, however, make vacancies for them by moving efficient white teachers, but, when these white teachers fall out because of age or other reasons, I would appoint in their places competent Negro men. This policy would at once keep the support of the white donors and also the support of the Negro patrons. The Negro must have a larger hand in managing his institutions of learning even from the lowest to the highest.

I answer, then, that the time has not yet come for the complete transfer of Negro colleges to Negro management because the Negro is not yet able to assume the financial control of these institutions, nor the intellectual control; but he is able to have a larger hand in controlling them as donor, as trustee, and as teacher. This policy is being pursued by some of the educational agencies now at work in the South.

The efforts of the Negro churches, especially of the A. M. E. Zion church, the A. M. E. church, of the C. M. E. church, and a wing of the Baptist church, are to be commended in so far as they do not assume a hostile attitude toward other agencies which pursue a slightly different policy. There cannot be too much educational activity among Negroes for Negroes, and there certainly should be no antagonism among these agencies growing out of differences of opinion as to policies and methods of work. They should all make "a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull all together" for the educational, moral, and spiritual uplift of the masses of the Negro people.





Nature has not been extravagant in her gift of geniuses. What has come to most of our leading men has come by hard work.

Although Prof. D. J. Jordan possesses talents about the average, he owes his success largely to persistent work. He was born near Cuthbert, Ga., October 18, 1866. His father was Rev. Giles D. Jordan who was for twenty-five years a highly respected minister in the A. M. E. Church in Georgia. He inherits many of his excellent traits of character from his mother, Julia Jordan.

In his early life he was unable to attend school more than three months of the year, but by close application while in school and faithful study during vacations, he was always able to make the next higher class at the beginning of the following school year.

After finishing the English branches he attended Payne High School at Cuthbert. In 1892 he graduated at Allen University, Columbia, S. C., with the degrees of B. S. and LL. B.

His record at this institution was in many respects remarkable. He was successful in passing the written examination given by the Supreme Court of South Carolina, and was admitted to practice in all the courts of that state, May, 1892.

After his graduation, he returned to his native city, taught a term and made preparations to enter upon the practice of the legal profession, but he was prevailed upon to accept a position on the faculty of Morris Brown College, in 1893.

He served here as Professor of Science and Dean of Law until November, 1895, when he resigned to accept the Presidency of Edward Waters College at Jacksonville, Fla.

He was married December 31, 1895, by Bishop A. Grant, to Miss Carrie J. Thomas, principal of one of the public schools of Atlanta. Four children have been born to them.

He was elected as a lay delegate to the General Conference of the A. M. E. Church which was held at Wilmington, N. C., in 1896.

In the spring of '96 he accepted the position of Professor of Literature at Morris Brown College, which position he held until September, 1898, when he was appointed Professor of Mathematics and Vice-President of the same institution. The degree of M. S. was conferred upon him by Allen University in 1900. In the Summer school, held at Clark University in 1901, Professor Jordan was instructor in mathematics. He has developed with the institution with which he has been connected, fitting himself for every promotion which has come to him.

Professor Jordan has an experience of eighteen years in the class room and is an excellent disciplinarian. The fact that he has filled four different chairs with credit is sufficient argument that he is an able "all-round scholar." His greatest strength, however, lies in his knowledge of English. His language is chaste; his diction, pure.

As one of the best writers and speakers of the race, he has contributed articles to our leading periodicals, including the "Atlanta Constitution," "Atlanta Journal," "A. M. E. Review" and "Indianapolis Freemen," and has delivered several commencement addresses.

I am asked to say whether or not it is time for the Negro colleges in the South to be put into the hands of Negro teachers? The education of a people is the greatest question that can possibly concern them. It touches every phase of human interest and holds the key to the solution of every rational problem arising out of man's duty and destiny. The foundations of every helpful institution known to our social system rest upon such conceptions of right and wrong as the people's intelligence has called into being: for true teaching is not only the application of methods for the development of one's powers, but is also a directing or turning of those powers into proper channels. With any people it will not matter ultimately who now writes the laws, issues decrees, or enforces judgments if their youth are kept under wise, efficient instructors. How necessary, then, must it be to a race so conditioned as is the Negro in America that their schools should be conducted by only those who are most capable and worthy!

However, before we attempt to answer the question propounded, it is important that we fully comprehend its meaning. As I understand it, the matter might be stated in other words thus: Should Negroes exclusively be placed now on the faculties of the several missionary colleges which Northern philanthropy has established in the South since the close of the Civil War? There were then not only no schools for us, but there were no teachers and no money with which to employ teachers. No night in Egypt in the time of Israel was darker than those years immediately following the Negro's emancipation. And what must have been our condition to-day had not those pillars of light been placed in our starless sky? But what is more, for thirty years the same spirit and the same people who first made these colleges possible among us, have continued their aid, and still make them possible to-day.

And now let us see what advantages could be reasonably expected from such a change in management as the subject suggests. So far as I know, they who advocate the change establish themselves upon this proposition, namely, "Negro teachers are best for Negro schools."

And this is true, say they, (1) because being of the same race, there must of necessity exist such a spirit of sympathy and helpfulness between teacher and student as we could not reasonably expect were the teacher and the taught of different races; (2) because placing before students competent men and women of their own race as teachers sets before them an example and an object lesson of what the students themselves may become and do, that cannot fail to be inspiring; (3) because the employing of Negro teachers in Negro schools furnishes an honorable vocation to a large number of our own people who otherwise would possibly be unemployed; (5) because Negro teachers in Negro colleges, by their presence and work, increase the race pride among ourselves and win for us greater confidence and respect from others.

These are weighty considerations, and, per se, have my most hearty approval. But however complete may be our endorsement, we must not forget that unqualifiedly acting upon them in the matter under discussion would not be without its losses. Let us now consider what these might be, and then we shall be prepared to decide whether we would not—

"* * * rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others we know not of."

In the first place, if the people who own and sustain these schools could be induced to sever their connection with them and turn them fully into the hands of Negroes, although the colleges are already built, equipped and advertised, yet, chiefly on account of our poverty, we should have to close the majority of them at once. This would be a most serious loss. The amount of ignorance and the lack of trained leaders among us, together with the small pittance done for us in the direction of even high-school education by the states and cities in which we live certainly do not suggest the advisability of ridding ourselves of even one agency for enlightenment. Far better would it be for us and for the country if they were increased tenfold.

This view takes into consideration the fact that the great majority of people who give of their means to support the schools do so because they have confidence in the ability, integrity and experience of those who control them. And if any one is so credulous as to believe that the schools under the management of Negroes could command the amount, of interest and support as they now receive, I would ask him, why have Negroes, from Mr. Booker T. Washington down, who are trying to gain public confidence and assistance for their work, find it necessary to invite white men to accept membership on their boards of trustees? One need not go far to find the correct answer. In this connection, it will be in order to inquire also if there are, under the control of Negroes, any colleges that receive anything like the amount of money for their support that is received by similar institutions under the management of white men?

Furthermore, the placing of the colleges referred to wholly into the hands of Negroes would be an unnecessary drawing of the race line, and would very effectually close our mouths against making protest or complaint on account of our being discriminated against for similar reasons.

Again, at this time, when there seems to be, on the part of certain persons of influence, a foul conspiracy against the Negro, it is of great importance that we have among us persons whose knowledge of the facts, and whose intellectual and social standing with those whose good opinion we value enable and impel them to speak out in our behalf. I recall with much gratification several instances where white persons connected with Negro schools have used the superior opportunities afforded them by the accident of race to say good things of us at a time when a spokesman who had the ear of the king was sorely needed. If, under present conditions, this class of people be sent from among us, I fear it might in a measure be with us as it was with a certain people in ancient times when "a new king arose who knew not Joseph."

And finally, would it not be highly presumptive and insolent on our part to demand of others that they deliver into our keeping, without price, property which they have purchased with their own money, and of which we have had the use and benefit for a third of a century? Until we shall be able to buy these colleges and properly support them, even the serious discussion of the question, it seems to me, is inappropriate and puerile. When, therefore, you ask me, if in my opinion the time has come when the Negro colleges in the South should be put into the hands of Negro teachers, I must answer you frankly, no.

I would not be understood, however, as placing my approval upon everything pertaining to the management of the schools under consideration. I do not deny that in some cases teachers are employed who are not possessed of the proper spirit for doing the best work among us. They are sometimes haughty, unsocial, and unsympathetic, and find themselves among us because there is offered better pay for less work than was found in their own neighborhoods. But these do not vitiate the schools; they are exceptions. I think, too, that the faculties of the several schools, together with the boards of trustees, should be as largely composed of competent, worthy Negroes as the interests of the institutions will allow. I am sure that such a policy would both encourage our people and train them in the management of such interests, and would be fully in harmony with the spirit and purpose of the institutions' founders. But we cannot state this as a demand based on what is justly ours; let it stand rather on its soundness as to what is best as a policy designed to accomplish the highest results. Before we find too many faults, though, with these missionary colleges, we ought to show by our full, loyal support of the few colleges we do control, that we are both able and willing to do the proper thing when the time shall come, if ever, for placing the Negro colleges in the South into the hands of Negro teachers.





George Augustus Goodwin was born at Augusta, Ga., February 20, 1861, being the eldest son of Mr. George and Mrs. Catherine Goodwin. His parents taught him until he was old enough to enter the public schools taught by "Yankee teachers." Having lost his father at an early age, he subsequently experienced some difficulty in remaining in school. However, his now sainted mother, by the assistance of his uncle, Mr. Charles Goodwin, kept him in school. For two consecutive years it was necessary for him to walk twelve miles daily in order to secure proper school advantages. While yet a lad he attracted the attention of both races and was several times offered good positions as a public school teacher. He, however, taught a private school four miles from the city and was thereby able to attend the Augusta Institute, now the Atlanta Baptist College. In the spring of 1879 he united with the historic Springfield Baptist Church, Augusta, Ga., where, for three generations, his parents and paternal grandparents had worshiped. May 29, 1884, he graduated from the Atlanta Baptist College as salutatorian.

On leaving school he took up teaching as a profession, in which he has been eminently successful in developing hundreds of young people. He has filled with credit and satisfaction the principalship of Eddy High School at Milledgeville, Ga., Union Academy, Gainesville, Fla., Preparatory Department, Livingstone College, Salisbury, N. C.; also Atlanta Baptist College and Waller Baptist Institute, Augusta, Ga. He was the prime factor in the movement which resulted in the organization of the present Georgia State Teachers' Association, of which he was secretary for a number of years. In the organization of the Florida Teachers' Association he was one of the original members. As an institute lecturer he is helpful in many ways.

Having received a call to the pastorate of the Second Baptist Church at Gainesville, Fla., his church at Augusta, Ga., ordained him to the ministry, January 6, 1889. He was very successful in this work in connection with his school duties. In July, 1895, he was happily married to the talented Miss Anna Laura Gardner of Augusta, Ga.

In attempting to answer this question, I do so fully cognizant of the widely differing opinions which are superinduced by the present restive state of society. It is a delicate task. In this brief article it is not possible to be very extensive. Condensation is a necessity. Taking observations from ancient and modern civilizations as external evidence, and corroborating the experiences of the present age as internal evidence, my conclusion is reached. If my judgment is faulty, let us remember that trite aphorism: "To err is human, to forgive, divine."

If this be the question of the fawning element among us, then let us beware of the leaven of the separatists. If the liberal philanthropist makes the inquiry, let us demonstrate the wisdom of his investment by our exhibitions of gratitude and common sense. It cannot be a serious question with the learned sociologist, for he is too conversant with the philosophy of history and the laws of psychology. Of the popular idea of the over-ardent lovers of the race, it may be more comforting to an oppressed people; but truth is better than fiction—facts than theories. Therefore, with a conscience void of offence to all, and with the sincere hope that right will ultimately triumph before all is lost in the mad rush of the enthusiasts, I venture to express some of my convictions regarding this question. The proposition categorically stated would be: it is time for the Negro colleges in the South to be put in the hands of Negro teachers. Such an affirmation would imply, at least, that these colleges are elsewhere than in the South; that the colleges in the South are not wholly nor partially taught by Negro teachers; that those who teach in them for some cause, real or imaginary, are not equal to the demands of the times; that the Negro, exclusively, is superior for educating the Negro in the South; that a crisis is upon us making it imperative to man Negro colleges with Negro teachers. These inferences might be indefinitely multiplied; but they are harsh and fallacious—implications unworthy of the best thought interested in an issue involving the destiny of a race and this great republic. The facts in the case are so potent that I shall not attempt a critical refutation of the inferences deduced, but will consider the subject more freely on another line, in this way avoiding what might be a fearful indictment of those least prepared for it. Critically considering every contingency I see no valid reason for such a course as the question suggests. In answer thereto wisdom replies, "It is NOT time for the Negro colleges in the South to be put in the hands of Negro teachers."

This is an intensely practical age; in many respects, it is utilitarian. "The survival of the fittest," is the almost universal creed of the age. The American civilization is distinctly Anglo-Saxon. Whatever does not attain to that standard is out of harmony with real conditions. The Negro is here to stay. Two radically different civilizations cannot thrive in one country at the same time. One advances, the other retrogrades. Every chapter in history verifies the assertion. It is providential that the American Negro is brought into close touch with the highest ideals of American life through his most enlightened Anglo-Saxon brother. Only in this way can the Negro meet the rigid requirements of the ever-advancing standard of the proud, progressive Anglo-Saxon. The dominant race is naturally the criterion. Any other alternative would be abnormal and destructive in its far-reaching results. The ruling people in this country have the prestige of centuries of culture. Had the Negro's days of enslavement been years of culture and refinement equal to that of the best people about him, present conditions would be greatly changed. However desirable it may be to elevate the Negro to places of dignity, it should be borne in mind that his color is not a qualification. These institutions will, in time, be more generally under the management of Negro teachers, if the future proves the work of the present regime non-productive of the highest results. Such a change will greatly depend upon the ability of the Negro to appreciate his real condition and to utilize, to the best advantage, the means and opportunities now afforded him. Error now will prove abortive and, perhaps, postpone indefinitely what might otherwise sooner come in the natural course of events. Such a transition must not be revolutionary, but evolutionary if come it must, and come it will. It were better to hope that all schools in the South were as they are in the North for the most part. That the Negro himself should so soon contemplate this as practical is an anomaly. That some evils exist I do not deny. But would separation and exclusion be a remedy? No. It is praiseworthy in the Negro that he, in a measure, has kept abreast with the march of this civilization. He has been responsive to the magic touch and the benign influences of those who came to rescue him from intellectual and moral darkness. The Northern teachers and a few Southern heroes began the work of educating the Negro, at a time, when teaching the Negro was an extremely delicate innovation—nay, dangerous experiment. Through what perils, privations, ridicule, and ostracism they passed, only such pioneers as Drs. H. M. Tupper, D. W. Phillips, C. H. Corey, J. T. Robert, E. A. Ware, E. M. Cravath, Gen. Armstrong, Miss S. B. Packard, and others of the immortal galaxy, are permitted to speak from their high citadel of triumph. Shall these of blessed memory, together with their associates and workers of less prominence, be forgotten? Shall they be revered, or shall they be calumniated? Dumb be the lip, and palsied the hand that would, in any wise, dishonor them and their efforts to uplift humanity! It will not be remiss on my part to ask for their successors in spirit and labor, and for their constituency that consideration which a superior statesmanship and a practical Christianity dictate.

These institutions, under their present management, have met the exigencies of the times. Granting that no human effort is perfect, the fact remains that these institutions have lived up to the high purpose for which they were founded, and are still being liberally supported and endowed. What more could be required by rational beings? This couplet may be suggestive:

"He who does as best his circumstances will allow, Does well, acts nobly, angels can do no more."

That others could have done better or equally as well remains to be seen. The history of the country from 1619-20 to 1865 is valid testimony. It was the influence of the Northern teachers, for the most part, that the best educated men among us were matriculated at the great Northern universities. It was by them that Negro schools were first operated in the South. The needs and magnitude of Negro education in the South have greatly intensified the philanthropic spirit of the Northern missionary societies and workers, each year resulting in a vast expenditure of money and energy. Shall those who believe "culture is colorless" be affronted; and shall their representatives be exiled by the beneficiaries? Is the wounded, dying traveler under the healing ministrations of the good Samaritan competent to protest against the merciful steward? Is such the subsequent of all human action? Let justice and reason answer! Formerly for the Negro literary culture was a sort of forbidden fruit in the Edenic South. For more than two centuries the cherubim of social pollution and moral degradation stood at the school-house gate with sword-like lash in hand, under governmental authority, to defy the return of the Negro to his pristine eminence in literary culture and moral probity held many years prior to the rise and supremacy of his now dominant kinsman. It was the northern missionaries, for such they are, who threw open the wicket-gate of opportunity unto the despairing Negro causing him to reach forth his hand unto the tree of life manifesting itself in the development of the higher faculties of a being with God's image. The Negro colleges in the South, with scarcely an exception, were built up by Northern philanthropy. They are the best institutions available to a great majority of those seeking the fullest possible development of their intellectual powers. As a rule, they are superior in equipment, in both standards of scholarship and discipline at least. This is true by virtue of the power vouchsafed to their management and teaching force through superior years of splendid environment. Under such circumstances the Northern missionary teachers are in their normal condition in prosecuting the work of Negro education. They are usually dispensers of exact scholarship, consecrated service, and broad culture. It is scarcely possible that the Negro, in less than forty years, a creature of misfortune many years prior to his enslavement, should now be the equal of his more favored brother in the acquisition of knowledge or his over-match in teaching ability. Physiologists are quite unanimous in making the Negro a member of the human race. He, therefore, has the same faculties and susceptibilities as other members of the human family. He is governed by the same laws of thought. In what then is the Negro constitutionally a better educator of the Negro? There is absolutely nothing in his skin nor sympathies that makes him a superior teacher of the Negro. Other things being equal preparation is the only synonym for superiority in teaching. If now the race has idiosyncrasies entirely different from the rest of the human family, as some wiseacres would imply by their persistency in making this demand for a change in the colleges, then maybe it were better to gratify their wish.

These colleges are more than so much material and apparatus. Through them the white brother is best prepared to represent the Negro to those who are to help in his uplift. The peculiar customs in the South weaken the authority of the Negro teacher in comparison with the fiat of the Anglo-Saxon teacher. The Negro teacher in the public schools, and in the schools distinctly his own, is not more successful, to be charitable, than the Northern teacher in securing and holding pupils. Nor has it been shown that the Negro teacher develops the powers of the child any faster, or in better ways of thinking and acting than does the Northern teacher. Coming to us as they do, their ability is rarely questioned. They are never anxious to advertise their fitness for the place by resorting to that unique process in promotions which seems so often the naivete of many another in similar spheres without hereditary influences as his legacy. At some time, in some way, I have been closely connected with schools of all grades in the South for the Negro—schools owned by the Negro, taught by the Negro exclusively, schools taught by the Negro and the Anglo-Saxon. I have been the pupil of Northern and Southern white teachers; for a brief while a pupil of the Negro teacher; and at one time janitor of a leading white academy in which help was mutually given by the janitor-tutor. I confess that I have yet to see the slightest difference in the general character of receiving and imparting knowledge, or in developing character on the principle of color versus culture. To accept any such doctrine would be pernicious.

These colleges are too important to be used as experimental stations even to gratify the caprice of the most cautious. Such a change in the work of these colleges, as the question suggests, should be looked upon with some degree of suspicion and as inimical to the best interests of the Negro. Without undervaluing the great importance of the public schools, it were better to try the experiment with them and the few secondary schools for Negro education connected with the several Southern States and managed by white trustees exclusively. What has been the history of the local academies and schools transferred to the Negro trustees and teachers not many years after the Civil War? What of those operated in later years as a monument to the creative genius of the Negro? For the most part, they remind us that they have seen better days. They speak a mighty truth which should be borne in mind by every class of inquirers on this subject. Self-help and worthy ambitions are commendable, but should be rational. The Negro needs the help of the Anglo-Saxon without regard to sections of country. He can advance more safely and rapidly as he walks arm in arm with his brother North and South. Far be it from me that I should, in any way, underestimate the heroic efforts of institutions wholly run by the Negro! Many of them are striking illustrations of what united effort can do; they serve a purpose which cannot be overlooked. Only in proportion as he is more a producer than a consumer, and as wealth and intelligence become common factors in his social life, will the Negro be able to assume entire control of these great institutions founded for him by the Northern societies. As to the ability of some members of the race to adorn any position in the gift of these colleges no one denies. There are men of superior scholarship, broad culture, sound character, tact, and executive ability even to grace similar places in white institutions. They are exceptions; and yet I do not hesitate to say that were their services in demand they could do so with comparatively more ease and satisfaction than if at the head of a strictly Negro institution. The reason is apparent to those experienced in such matters. Ability and adaptability are not the only requisites for this work.

If the Negro has not been able to acquire similar institutions by his own efforts aided by friends North and South, is there any guarantee that he would properly appreciate them if thus thrust upon him? To ask such a concession would be an admission of the point at issue. The South, commercially, believes in free trade; assuming it is right, it then would not be right to close the intellectual ports of the Negro against the cultured wares of his time honored benefactors in literary commerce. The Negro least of all should not ask it.

In Southern courts, where life and great interests are involved, the most intelligent Negro finds it to his advantage to employ legal talent of the opposite race because he is conditioned by the peculiar circumstances of a white judge and jury who, in most cases, seem to interpret law and weigh evidence in accordance with the prevailing opinions of the dominant class. In the work of Negro education vital interests are involved. The Anglo-Saxon teachers have the culture and the means at their command. They are actual competitors with the Negro and every other people in this particular missionary endeavor. They have given the world its highest civilization. Through them, as instrumentalities, the torch-light of civilization progresses; Christianity brightens every prospect in every land. Why should they be discriminated against in educating the Negro in the South? Should this service and philanthropy be directed to founding and supporting similar institutions for the more unfortunate class of the stronger race, there would be no question about the color of teachers though they be Indian or Japanese. The means used in maintaining these institutions is not obtained from the Negro nor by his influence. Would a change in the policy of the teaching force help or hinder in securing this aid? This change would establish more rigidly the color line so objectionable to the Negro himself. It would be a backward movement. In all probability the color of the darker races is due more largely to some sort of skin disease, than to other causes, transmitted through the ages since the flood. That is a very charitable Negro who wishes isolation to prevent inoculating the Anglo-Saxon if permitted to teach the Negro. The Negro has ample opportunity for his individuality in his societies and churches. He has gained absolutely nothing by completely divorcing himself from the fostering care of the Anglo-Saxon. Observe the contrast between those Negro churches wholly separated from the Anglo-Saxon and those partially controlled by the dominant race. Those who have been somewhat under the guardianship of the stronger race are usually the highest types of intelligent Christianity. Both races have suffered by the separation; but it is needless to say how much greater the Negro has suffered. The Negro has more to gain by co-operation with his Anglo-Saxon neighbors. Intelligence must be handed down from generation to generation, from race to race by contact, from individual to individual. In the schools of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, for the year 1898-1899, the annual report shows that out of 321 teachers employed, 124 were Negroes. It will be borne out by the report of each succeeding year. In a large measure, the other missionary societies North and South are about as liberal in recognizing the Negro teacher. Therefore to mix the faculties and boards of trustees of all these schools would be ideal in most respects. This would be a happy golden mean. Let us be patient, considerate, and faithful.





Mrs. Paul Laurence Dunbar (Alice Ruth Moore) was born in New Orleans, La., July 19, 1875. Attended public schools there and Straight University, and was graduated from the latter institution in 1892. Taught in the public schools of New Orleans until 1896, when she went to Boston and New York for study, taking a course in Manual Training at the Teachers' College. Was appointed a teacher in the public schools of Brooklyn, N. Y., in 1897, and taught there until her marriage to Mr. Paul Laurence Dunbar, in March, 1898.

In 1895, Mrs. Dunbar's first book, "Violets and Other Tales," was published by the Monthly Review Publishing Company, Boston. The next book, "The Goodness of St. Rocque," published by Dodd, Mead & Co., New York, in 1899, was favorably received by some of the best critics. Mrs. Dunbar has written a number of short stories for some of the leading magazines and newspapers in the country, among them McClures, the Smart Set, Ladies' Home Journal, the Southern Workman, Leslie's Weekly, the New York Sun, Boston Transcript, and for over a year did regular work on the Chicago News.

While teaching in Brooklyn, Mrs. Dunbar was actively interested in mission work on the East Side of New York, conducting classes in manual training and kindergarten after the regular hours of public school work was over. Since her marriage, Mrs. Dunbar has resided in Washington, and has done some of her best work in short story writing, as well as acting as secretary and general helpmeet for her husband.

It seems a rather incongruous fact that so many of our Negro colleges in the South, whose purpose is avowedly the insistence of higher education of Negro youth, should deny that youth not only the privilege of teaching in the very institutions which have taught him, but also deny him the privilege of looking up to and reverencing his own people. For so long have the whites been held up to the young people as the only ones whom it is worth while taking as models; for so long have the ignorant of the race been taught that their best efforts after all, are hardly worth while, that wherever possible, it behooves us to place over the masses those of their own race who have themselves attained to that dignity to which the education of the schools tend.

It has been my good or ill fortune to number among my acquaintances a number of young boys and girls who could rattle off with fluency the names of Greek philosophers of ancient days; who could at a moment's notice tell you the leading writers of the Elizabethan period, or the minor Italian poets of the fifteenth century, but who were hopelessly ignorant of what members of their own race had done. They had, perhaps, a vague idea of an occasional name here and there, but what the owner of that name had done was a mystery. Happily these instances are decreasing in proportion as our schools are filled with teachers of our own race who can teach a proper appreciation of, and pride in the deeds of that race.

It is unreasonable to suppose that any teacher of another race, no matter how conscientious and scrupulous, is going to take the same interest in putting before his pupils the achievements of that people in contradistinction to the accepted course of study as laid down by the text books. How many young students of history in the white-taught schools remember being drilled to revere the glorious memory of Lincoln, and Sumner and Garrison and Wendell Phillips, and how few remember being drilled to remember Crispus Attucks and the fifty-fourth and fifty-fifth Massachusetts? How many students of literature are taught of the first woman writer in America to earn distinction, Margaret Hutchinson, but how few are reminded of her contemporary, Phyllis Wheatley? How many students remember the lachrymose career of Byron and how few know of his contemporary, Poushkin? The student of natural science is taught about Franklin, but not of Benjamin Banneker; the elocution classes remember Booth and Macready, and even how excellent an actor was Shakespeare, but they seldom hear of Ira Aldridge. How many of the mathematical students remember that Euclid was a black man? And the elementary classes in art, how glibly they can discuss Turner and Ruskin and the pre-Raphaelites and the style of Gibson, but they are likely not to know the name of the picture that the Paris Salon hung for Henry Tanner.

It is unreasonable, of course, to expect any Caucasian to remember these things, or if remembering them, to be able to point them out with the same amount of pride and persistence that a Negro in the same position would. And therein lies the secret of the foundation of a family, a government, a nation—pride. Pride in what has been done, in what may be done, in the ability to reach the very highest point that may be reached. With that quality instilled in the young from the very first, the foundation for individual achievement is firmly laid; and what more can we ask of any education?

It has been said that Negro boys and girls hearing of the deeds of some great man or woman have exclaimed, "Oh, well, no colored person could do that!" Fortunately, there are few of these now, but how much it is to be regretted that such an expression could ever have been made—at least within the last thirty years?

By all means let us have Negro teachers in our Negro schools and colleges. Let the boy who wants to be a farmer carry with him the memory of successful Negro farmers and of a Negro who knew enough about scientific agriculture to teach him to compete with the best white farmers in the country. It will be easier for him to reach his goal, and he will have more respect for his own ability and less cringing, servile admiration for his Caucasian rivals. Let the boy or girl whose inclinations tend to a profession get their instruction from some one whose complexion is akin to their own. It is a spur to ambition, a goal to be reached. The "what man has done, man may do" is so much easier from a successful brother than from a successful, though supercilious, neighbor.

Of course, the good effect of Negro teachers upon the youthful minds is the only point thus far touched upon. The other side of the question is obvious. What is the use of training teachers, of spending time and money acquiring college training if there is no place to use such training? There is room, and plenty of it, for the college bred man and woman, and for every place filled by our own teachers there is so much more money saved to our own race.

The closer the corporation, the wealthier it is. The tighter the lines drawn about distributing money outside our own great family the more affluent our family becomes. Every cent is an important item. More money for ourselves, a better opinion of our own achievements and ability to do more, higher regard for the raising of Negro ideals, and a deeper sense of the responsibility imposed on each individual to do his part towards leavening the lump; these things are dependent upon our teachers in our own schools.

By all means let us have Negro teachers in Negro colleges.





Prof. B. T. Washington, the founder and principal of the Tuskegee, Alabama, Normal Industrial Institute, was born at Hale's Ford Postoffice, Franklin County, Virginia, about 1856 or 1857. At the age of nine he went with his mother and the rest of the family to Malden, Kanawha County, West Virginia. Here he attended the common schools until 1872. In the Fall of that year he left Malden and proceeded to Hampton Institute, at Hampton, Virginia. His means were scanty, but he thought he had money enough to reach that place. Upon his arrival at Richmond, he found himself minus enough to pay for a night's lodging. He took the next best, shelter under a sidewalk. Next morning he got employment in helping to unload a vessel, thus earning a sufficient sum with which to continue his journey to Hampton. At this institution the first year he paid his expenses by working, with a brother helping him some. The two remaining years he worked out his entire expenses as janitor. Graduating in 1875, he taught school several years at Malden, the place of his birth. In 1878 he entered Wayland Seminary and took a course of studies there. After leaving there he was given a position in Hampton Institute, which position he held two years, the last year having charge of the Indian boys. Meanwhile the Legislature of Alabama passed an act establishing a Normal School at Tuskegee, Alabama. The State Commissioners applied to Gen. S. C. Armstrong, principal of Hampton Institute, to recommend some one for principal. He recommended Mr. Washington, who went at once to Alabama, and organized the school July 4th, 1881. The buildings then occupied were a church and a small dwelling house, with thirty pupils and one teacher. Since that time it has made such wonderful progress that, to-day, the site of the institution is a city within itself. Mr. Carnegie recently donated to the institution $20,000, with which to build and equip a library. It is aided by friends both North and South. Mr. Washington is a splendid example of "grit and determination," and the history of his life is worthy the study of every colored youth in our land.

Professor Washington, in speaking of his experiences at Hampton, says: "While at Hampton, I resolved, if God permitted me to finish the course of study, I would enter the far South, the black belt of the Gulf States, and give my life in providing as best I could the same kind of chance for self-help for the youth of my race that I found ready for me when I went to Hampton, and so, in 1881, I left Hampton and went to Tuskegee and started the Normal and Industrial Institute."

Professor Washington is in great demand as a speaker in all educational gatherings. For several consecutive years he has addressed the National Educational Association, where from ten to fifteen thousand of the cream of the educational workers of the nation listen to his addresses with rapt attention. Without question he is the great leader of his race, and one of the great men of this age.

"Will Education Solve the Race Problem?" is the title of an interesting article in the June number of The North American Review, by Professor John Roach Straton, of Macon, Georgia. My own belief is that education will finally solve the race problem. In giving some reasons for this faith, I wish to express my appreciation of the sincere and kindly spirit in which Professor Straton's article is written. I grant that much that he emphasizes as to present conditions is true. When we recall the past, these conditions could not be expected to be otherwise; but I see no reason for discouragement or loss of faith. When I speak of education as a solution for the race problem, I do not mean education in the narrow sense, but education which begins in the home and includes training in industry and in habits of thrift, as well as mental, moral and religious discipline, and the broader education which comes from contact with the public sentiment of the community in which one lives. Nor do I confine myself to the education of the Negro. Many persons in discussing the effect that education will have in working out the Negro question, overlook the helpful influence that will ultimately come through the broader and more generous education of all the race elements of the South. As all classes of whites in the South become more generally educated in the broader sense, race prejudice will be tempered and they will assist in lifting up the black man.

In our desire to see a better condition of affairs, we are too often inclined to grow impatient because a whole race is not elevated in a short time, very much as a house is built. In all the history of mankind there have been few such radical, social and economic changes in the policy of a nation as have been effected within thirty-five years in this country, with respect to the change of four million and a half of slaves into four million and a half of freemen (now nearly ten million). When all the conditions of the past are considered, and compared with the present, I think the White South, the North and the Negro are to be congratulated on the fact that conditions are no worse, but are as encouraging as they are. The sudden change from slavery to freedom, from restraint to liberty, was a tremendous one; and the wonder is, not that the Negro has not done better, but that he has done as well as he has. Every thoughtful student of the subject expected that the first two or three generations of freedom would lead to excesses and mistakes on the part of the Negro, which would in many cases cause moral and physical degeneration, such as would seem to the superficial observer to indicate conditions that could not be overcome. It was to be anticipated that, in the first generation at least, the tendency would be, among a large number, to seek the shadow instead of the substance; to grasp after the mere signs of the highest civilization instead of the reality; to be led into the temptation of believing that they could secure, in a few years, that which it has taken other races thousands of years to obtain. Any one who has the daily opportunity of studying the Negro at first hand cannot but gain the impression that there are indisputable evidences that the Negro throughout the country is settling down to a hard, common sense view of life; that he is fast learning that a race, like an individual, must pay for everything it gets—the price of beginning at the bottom of the social scale and gradually working up by natural processes to the highest civilization. The exaggerated impressions that the first years of freedom naturally brought are giving way to an earnest, practical view of life and its responsibilities.

Let us take a broad, generous survey of the Negro race as it came into the country, represented by twenty savages, in 1619, and trace its progress through slavery, through the Civil War period, and through freedom to the present moment. Who will be brave enough to say that the colored race, as a whole, has not increased in numbers and grown stronger mentally, morally, religiously, industrially, and in the accumulation of property? In a word, has not the Negro, at every stage, shown a tendency to grow into harmony with the best type of American civilization?

Professor Straton lays special stress upon the moral weakness of the race. Perhaps the worst feature of slavery was that it prevented the development of a family life, with all of its far-reaching significance. Except in rare cases the uncertainties of domicile made family life, during two hundred and fifty years of slavery, an impossibility. There is no institution so conducive to right and high habits of physical and moral life as the home. No race starting in absolute poverty could be expected, in the brief period of thirty-five years, to purchase homes and build up a family life and influence that would have a very marked impression upon the life of the masses. The Negro has not had time enough to collect the broken and scattered members of his family. For the sake of illustration, and to employ a personal reference, I do not know who my own father was; I have no idea who my grandmother was; I have or had uncles, aunts and cousins, but I have no knowledge as to where most of them now are. My case will illustrate that of hundreds of thousands of black people in every part of our country. Perhaps those who direct attention to the Negro's moral weakness, and compare his moral progress with that of the whites, do not consider the influence of the memories which cling about the old family homestead upon the character and aspirations of individuals. The very fact that the white boy is conscious that, if he fails in life, he will disgrace the whole family record, extending back through many generations, is of tremendous value in helping him to resist temptations. On the other hand, the fact that the individual has behind him and surrounding him proud family history and connections serves as a stimulus to make him overcome obstacles, when striving for success. All this should be taken into consideration, to say nothing of the physical, mental and moral training which individuals of the white race receive in their homes. We must not pass judgment on the Negro too soon. It requires centuries for the influence of home, school, church and public contact to permeate the mass of millions of people, so that the upward tendency may be apparent to the casual observer. It is too soon to decide what effect general education will have upon the rank and file of the Negro race, because the masses have not been educated.

Throughout the South, especially in the Gulf states, the great bulk of the black population lives in the country districts. In these districts the schools are rarely in session more than three months of the year. When this is considered, in connection with poor teachers, poor schoolhouses, and an almost entire lack of apparatus, it is obvious that we must wait longer before we can judge, even approximately, of the effect that general education will have upon the whole population. Most writers and speakers upon the subject of the Negro's non-progressiveness base their arguments upon alleged facts and statistics of the life of Negroes in the large cities. This is hardly fair. Before the Civil War the Negro was not, to any considerable extent, a denizen of the large cities. Most of them lived on the plantations. The Negro living in the cities has undergone two marked changes: (1) the change from slavery to freedom; (2) the change from country life to city life. At first the tendency of both these changes was, naturally, to unsettle, to intoxicate and to lead the Negro to wrong ideas of life. The change from country life to city life, in the case of the white man, is about as marked as in the case of the Negro. The average Negro in the city, with all of its excitements and temptations, has not lived there more than half a generation. It is, therefore, too soon to reach a definite conclusion as to what the permanent effect of this life upon him will be. This, I think, explains the difference between the moral condition of the Negro, to which Professor Straton refers, in the states where there has been little change in the old plantation life, as compared with that in the more northern of the Atlantic states, where the change from country to city life is more marked.

Judging from close observation, my belief is that, after the Negro has overcome the false idea which city life emphasizes, two or three generations will bring about an earnestness and steadiness of purpose which do not now generally obtain. As the Negro secures a home in the city, learns the lessons of industry and thrift and becomes a taxpayer, his moral life improves. The influence of home surroundings, of the school, the church and public sentiment will be more marked and have a more potent effect in causing him to withstand temptations. But, notwithstanding the shortness of the time which the Negro has had in which to get schooled to his new life, any one who has visited the large cities of Europe will readily testify that the visible signs of immorality in those cities are far greater than among the colored people of America. Prostitution for gain is far more prevalent in the cities of Europe than among the colored people of our cities.

Professor Straton says that the Negro has degenerated in morals since he became free; in other words, that his condition in this respect is not as hopeful as it was during the early period of slavery. I do not think it wise to place too much reliance upon such a view of the matter, because there are too few facts upon which to base a comparison. The bald statement that the Negro was not given to crime during slavery proves little. Slavery represented an unnatural condition of life, in which certain physical checks were kept constantly upon the individual. To say that the Negro was at his best, morally, during the period of slavery is about the same as to say that the two thousand prisoners in the State prison and the city penal institutions in the city of Boston are the most righteous two thousand people in Boston. I question whether one can find two thousand persons in Boston who will equal these two thousand imprisoned criminals in the mere negative virtues. During the days of slavery the Negro was rarely brought into the court to be tried for crime; hence, there was almost no public record of crimes committed by him. Each master, in most cases, punished his slave as he thought best, and as little as possible was said about it outside of his little plantation world. The improper relations between the sexes, with which the black race is now frequently charged in most sections of the South, were encouraged or winked at, under the slavery system, because of the financial value of the slaves. A custom that was fostered for three centuries cannot be blotted out in one generation.

In estimating the progress of a race, we should not consider alone the degree of success which has been actually attained, but also the obstacles which have been overcome in reaching that success. Judged by the obstacles overcome, few races, if any, in history have made progress commensurate with that of the colored people of the United States, in the same length of time. It may be conceded that the present generation of colored people does not compare favorably with the present generation of the white race, because of the reasons I have already given, and the further reason that on account of the black man's poverty of means to employ lawyers to have his case properly appealed to the higher courts, and his inability to furnish bonds, his criminal record is much worse than that of the white race, both in the Northern and Southern states. The Southern states, as a whole, have not yet reached a point where they are able to provide reformatories for juvenile offenders, and consequently most of these are sent to the state prison, where the records show that the same individuals are often committed over and over again, because in the first instance, the child prisoner, instead of being reformed, becomes simply hardened to prison life. In the North, it is true, the Negro has the benefit of the reformatories; but the unreasonable prejudice which prevents him from securing employment in the shops and the factories more than offsets this advantage. Hundreds of Negroes in the North become criminals who would become strong and useful men if they were not discriminated against as bread winners.

In the matter of assault upon white women, the Negro is placed in a peculiar attitude. While this vile crime is always to be condemned in the strongest language, and it should be followed by the severest legal punishment, yet the custom of lynching a Negro when he is accused of committing such a crime calls the attention of the whole country to it, in such a way as is not always true in the case of a white man, North or South. Any one who reads the daily papers carefully knows that such assaults are constantly charged against white men in the North and in the South; but, because the white man, in most cases, is punished by the regular machinery of the courts, attention is seldom attracted to his crime outside of the immediate neighborhood where the offense is committed. This, to say nothing of the cases where the victim of lynch law could prove his innocence, if he were given a hearing before a cool, level-headed set of jurors in open court, makes the apparent contrast unfavorable to the black man. It is hardly proper, in summing up the value of any race, to dwell almost continually upon its weaker element. As other men are judged, so should the Negro be judged, by the best that the race can produce, rather than by the worst. Keep the searchlight constantly focused upon the criminal and worthless element of any people, and few among all the races and nations of the world can be accounted successful. More attention should be directed to individuals who have succeeded, and less to those who have failed. And Negroes who have succeeded grandly can be found in every corner of the South.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16     Next Part
Home - Random Browse