Through the clubs we are studying the labor question and are calling the attention of our women to the alarming rapidity with which the Negro is losing ground in the world of labor. If this movement to withhold employment from him continues to grow, the race will soon be confronted by a condition of things disastrous and serious, indeed. We are preaching in season and out that it is the duty of every wage-earning colored woman to become thoroughly proficient in whatever work she engages, so that she may render the best service of which she is capable, and thus do her part toward establishing a reputation for excellent workmanship among colored women.
Our clubs all over the country are being urged to establish schools of domestic science. It is believed that by founding schools in which colored girls could be trained to be skilled domestics, we should do more toward solving the labor question as it affects our women, than by using any other means it is in our power to employ. We intend to lay the Negro's side of the labor question clearly before our large-hearted, broad-minded sisters of the dominant race and appeal to them to throw their influence on the right side. We shall ask that they train their children to be broad and just enough to judge men and women by their intrinsic merit rather than by the adventitious circumstances of race or color or creed. Colored women are asking the white mothers of the land to teach their children that when they when they grow to be men and women, if they deliberately prevent their fellow creatures from earning an honest living by closing their doors of trade against them, the Father of all men will hold them responsible for the crimes which are the result of their injustice and for the human wrecks which the ruthless crushing of hope and ambition always makes.
Through our clubs colored women hope to improve the social atmosphere by showing the enormity of the double standard of morals, which teaches that we should turn the cold shoulder upon a fallen sister, but greet her destroyer with open arms and a gracious smile. The duty of setting a high moral standard and living up to it devolves upon colored women in a peculiar way. False accusations and malicious slanders are circulated against them constantly, both by the press and by the direct descendants of those who in years past were responsible for the moral degradation of their female slaves.
Carefully and conscientiously we shall study the questions which affect the race most deeply and directly. Against the convict lease system, the Jim Crow car laws, lynchings and all other barbarities which degrade us, we shall protest with such force of logic and intensity of soul that those who oppress us will either cease to disavow the inalienability and equality of human rights, or be ashamed to openly violate the very principles upon which this government was founded. By discharging our obligation to the children, by coming into the closest possible touch with the masses of our people, by studying the labor question as it affects the race, by establishing schools of domestic science, by setting a high moral standard and living up to it, by purifying the home, colored women will render their race a service whose value it is not in my power to estimate or express. The National Association is being cherished with such loyalty and zeal by our women that there is every reason to hope it will soon become the power for good, the tower of strength and the source of inspiration to which it is destined.
And so lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go, struggling and striving and hoping that the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst into glorious fruition ere long. With courage born of success achieved in the past, with a keen sense of the responsibility which we must continue to assume we look forward to the future, large with promise and hope. Seeking no favors because of our color or patronage because of our needs, we knock at the bar of justice and ask for an equal chance.
WHAT ROLE IS THE EDUCATED NEGRO WOMAN TO PLAY IN THE UPLIFTING OF HER RACE?
BY MRS. ROSA D. BOWSER, OF RICHMOND, VIRGINIA.
MRS. ROSA D. BOWSER.
The writer of the subjoined article is a native of Virginia, and belongs in the front rank of educators of her race in this grand old commonwealth, which may justly boast of the eminence to which its black as well as white citizens attained before and since the war. The first president of the black republic on the West Coast of Africa, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, as well as the foremost Baptist leader, Lott Carey, were Virginians.
Mrs. Rosa D. Bowser was born in Amelia County, and was reared in the city of Richmond. She passed through the grades of the public schools, and completed her school work at the Normal School of that city under the instruction of its founder, Mr. Ralza Morse Manly, of Vermont, a distinguished educator in the North as well as the pioneer educator in Virginia among the Negro race. Mrs. Bowser received special training from Mr. Manly, having been instructed by him in the higher mathematics and Latin. She early developed a taste for drawing, painting and music, and made commendable progress in the fine arts. Mrs. Bowser's work as an educator has not been limited to the school room, in which she has been so efficient for the last twenty-five years, but she has been conspicuous in other and wider fields of usefulness among her people within and without the State.
This is evidenced by the following facts: She founded the Woman's League, which rendered signal service in the Lunenburg trials; she is President of the Richmond Mothers' Club; she is a member of the Executive Board of the Southern Federation of Colored Women; she is Chairman of the Executive Board of the Women's Educational and Missionary Association of Virginia; she is Chairman of the standing Committee of Domestic Economy, for the Hampton Conference; she is President of the Woman's Department of the Negro Reformatory Association of Virginia; and is one of the most conspicuous members of many benevolent organizations in Richmond. She is an eloquent and fascinating orator, bringing to that accomplishment, earnestness of manner, grace of gesture, and a charming personality.
In all ages of the world woman has been the central figure around which all joys and sorrows, all inspirations, all aspirations, and all accomplishments have circled. In all conditions of life, in all climes, in all Christian epochs, in all countries, she holds this position indisputable among the nations of the earth. For without her there would be no home circles, without the home circles there would be no races nor nations. Her office, of divine institution for the perpetuation of the human family, should not be lightly regarded by any class of people. Woman's primary duty is the systematic and wise ordering of the household. The infant looks into its mother's face and there receives its first impressions. These impressions are stamped upon the mind and heart of the child. The mother notices all the little disorders and griefs of the child from its birth throughout its life. The conscientious mother is ever ready to console, advise and sympathize in all grievances and perplexities which may confront her offspring. Hence there is great need for proper instruction to wives, mothers, and, in fact, to all women in anticipation of the responsibilities of a home, and the obligations of motherhood. It has been well said that the training of children should begin with their grandparents. The character of the homes of the land, the moral and immoral bearing of every settlement, town, and city, in a large measure depend upon the class of women—upon the idiosyncrasies of wives, mothers, and women in general, who by nature mould the sentiment of every department of human control. That society is ruled by women cannot be questioned. The age of complete dependence of women upon the stronger sex, has so far passed as to be foreign to the minds of the present generation. Not that the gentler sex is averse to the protection and tender solicitudes of the father, husband and brother, but it is of such common occurrence that women are thrown upon their own resources in the maintenance of the home, that they of necessity rather than from choice assume a degree of independence in various avenues of life.
Christianity is the medium by which woman has been exalted to her legitimate sphere in the world. The best colleges that a few years past closed their doors against her, have gradually put the latch strings on the outside. The coeducation of the sexes and the attendant results have displaced the old idea of the moral and intellectual inferiority of women. The learned professions are subject to her choice. She stands beside her brother as a partner, sharing equally with him in the world's work for humanity. Of one flesh God made all men. Hence they have the same general tendencies or inclinations, the same likes and dislikes, the same sympathies and the same indifferences, the same joys and the same sorrows manifested in a greater or less degree as their sensibilities have been cultured and developed. The Negro is no exception to this general rule. The centuries of servitude when he dared not of his own volition pursue courses for intellectual growth now place the Negro as an adolescent race, yet one that has made wonderful strides in improving its condition morally, intellectually and financially. The Negro is grateful for much in past experiences, which experiences have been rigid disciplinarians, urging him to think and act for himself. Therefore his hopes and aspirations grow stronger for more glorious results for the future. Compare the first thirty-six years of the independence of any civilized race with the progress made by the Negroes since their emancipation; who can, in a spirit of justice, say that the Negro has not made a very creditable record wherever the opportunity to show himself a man has presented itself. The Negro is grateful that there are many Southern as well as Northern friends in the dominant race who publicly commend him, and give him due credit for his energy and perseverance in making the best use of his time and talents. The fact is generally known that whatever success has been made was achieved through many difficulties. The best class of Negroes is not discouraged by the ravings and unjust criticisms of certain classes of people who do not know the Negro, having had little chance of intercourse with him even in the years prior to and during the Civil War. Yet he is far, very far from being contented with his present condition. The harvest is great, and many sheaves are yet to be gathered. He knows that the number whose eyes are opened to the beauties and utilities of life, and whose souls can discern the grand possibilities of the future, is a great contrast to the masses of the race that must yet be induced to appreciate the light of day. More teachers are needed to point out and supply this light. Who can better perform this duty than the unselfish, humane, intelligent Negro woman? Who can better feel the touch of sympathy and get out of self to help by lifting as she climbs? Who can better see the need than one who is interested in the lowly of her own household? Who but the educated Negro woman will feel more keenly the stigma of the depravity of her weak sister who has wearied of the struggle for a higher plane of living? To whom is the call to this duty more urgent? Will she answer? She must do so. Her advantages, intellectually and socially, demand that she should take a front rank in the crusade against ignorance, vice and crime. She is the lighthouse, giving warning of the hidden shoals and guiding away from the rocks which are wrecking the lives of many capable young men and women. These young people are anxious in many cases to be led into paths of purer man and womanhood. They incline toward leaders. But they will follow only good leaders in whichever course they take, whether the straight and narrow path of integrity and upright Christian character, or the broad road which leads to shame, degradation and death. They must and will follow leaders. But they require of leadership a reflection of their ideals. In other words, they require them to be as leaders all that they would admonish others to become—models of true, intelligent, morally pure women and men. Not only must these upright Negro women take their role as counselors and teachers, but it is highly essential that they be WITH the element to be uplifted, yet, certainly NOT OF it. It is impossible to help a fallen or weak sister to rise if the helper, like the Levite, pass by on the other side, and merely call out, Arise and stand in the beauty of pure womanhood—rather than like the Samaritan, she goes to her and lifts her to her feet. The touch of the hand, in proof of a heart full of sympathy, goes a long way in winning and holding a living, lasting evidence of the regenerating influence of charity to the recipient. The alarming death rate among the Negro population is largely due to ignorance of the laws of health, and the proper care of children. Such people need instruction in their homes, for you will reach them nowhere else. They will not attend public meetings nor church services; they feel out of place in them. Hence there is no way to reach such people other than by going among them. This act will not mar the reputation of a true leader, one whom they can emulate, and in whom they have confidence. It rather increases her influence; for they know she is NOT OF them, but WITH them in their efforts to improve. The magnitude of the work may sometimes cause one to shrink, when the progress seems slow. But all reforms require deliberation, endurance, and perseverance. Occasionally we get an encouraging comment which comes like a calm after storms of criticisms and abuse. Two of the daily papers of Richmond, Virginia, made very favorable statements in regard to the conduct of the colored people during the week of the carnival—October 7th-12th, 1901. For violations of the law there were about two hundred arrests, and not one colored person of the number. The colored schools came in for a liberal share of praise for their attendance during said week. All colored groups of schools were way up in the nineties. Baker School (colored), of six hundred and twenty-seven pupils, led the city schools, with 98.9 per cent of attendance. We hailed the announcements with delight, for they strengthened our belief that "Negro education" may not always be considered "a failure." We are stimulated to more earnest endeavor when we find persons of great minds and large hearts voicing such helpful sentiments as expressed by Mr. Joel Chandler Harris, in his article to the New York Journal, November 3, 1901, on "Negro Education," from which I quote:
"What is called the Negro problem is simply the invention of men with theories.
"The spectacle spread out before us is not in the nature of a problem.
"It is made up of the actual efforts and movements of a race slowly and painfully feeling its way toward a higher destiny.
"The conditions and circumstances being without parallel or precedent in the history of the world, it was inevitable that serious mistakes should be made; that misunderstandings should arise, that philanthropy should stretch out full hands in the wrong direction, that partisan politicians should pour out the vials of wrath.
"But what of it?
"The real progress of the race has not been retarded a moment. Nothing has been lost. And now, at last, the whole conservative and intelligent element of the race is placing itself under the leadership of men well qualified to lead it, and is making a new start.
"If the philanthropists and rich men of the country will hold up the hands of such Negroes as Booker T. Washington they will be able to forget in a few years that any serious mistakes have been made.
"More than that, they will be able to view leniently the mistakes that are still to be made."
And, I add, if the hands of such women as Mrs. Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee, and Miss Georgie Washington of Mt. Meigs, Alabama, be upheld by friends of the North, South, East and West, many skeptics would, in a comparatively short time, forget that they had at any time doubted the ability of the Negro to make for himself a creditable place in history. Such are the women needed to-day. Women who teach by doing. Women who can take a basket of soap on the arm, and in a gentle, winning way present it to homes that need it, while at the same time extol its merits in a pleasant manner. Women are needed who can teach the lesson of morality, cleanliness of soul and body, and the hygienic and economic management of the humble home, by showing them how to perform these acts, and furnish examples. Women who can arouse their sense of propriety to such a degree that by frugal habits they may abandon the one-room cabin in which a family of eight or ten eat, cook, sleep, wash and iron, for the neat two, three, or four-room well ventilated cottage. The laundry tub may be an excellent substitute when no better can be provided, but they will be taught to see the need of a genuine bath tub in every home. They will be taught that honest labor is no disgrace; that, however much education one may acquire, the deftness of the hands to execute the mandates of the mind tends rather to elevate the possessor, and hastens the day of a full developed man or woman with mind, heart, and hand trained to the best service—thereby dignifying labor. Above all, the thought must be impressed indelibly upon the hearts and consciences of the youth that the men can be no better than the women. Men are what the women make them. If a woman is refined, and exhibits a modest, dignified bearing, men can not fail to appreciate her demeanor and conduct themselves accordingly. While, on the other hand, boisterous, uncouth conduct upon the part of women will encourage boldness toward them, disrespect for them, and win the contempt of the men of a community for such women. Hence, wherever uplifting influence is needed, the result of the labor depends upon the compliant nature of the element, upon which they are working, whose persuasive power is more efficacious in directing the upward and downward trend of the masses. The women who can best appreciate this fact have the very grave responsibility of keeping the lesson constantly before the people—"Lest we forget, lest we forget." The so-called Negro problem must be solved by the Negro. The plane to which he must attain is limited by the energy and persistency of the most competent and sympathetic leaders, in piloting the followers in such a manner that they may realize that
"Life is real. Life is earnest, And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou art, to dust returnest, Was not spoken of the soul."
WHAT ROLE IS THE EDUCATED NEGRO WOMAN TO PLAY IN THE UPLIFTING OF HER RACE?
BY MRS. C. C. PETTEY.
MRS. SARAH DUDLEY PETTEY.
Mrs. Sarah Dudley Pettey, the brilliant and accomplished wife of the late Bishop Charles Calvin Pettey, A. M., D. D., was born in the historic city of New Berne, North Carolina.
She is the daughter of Hon. E. R. and Caroline E. Dudley. Her father is a gentleman of great prominence. He was a member of the General Assembly of North Carolina during the reconstruction period, and has held important local, state and national positions, and his services are now in great demand as a political orator and editor. Her mother, the lamented Mrs. Caroline E. Dudley, was a lady of refinement and of natural gifts.
From environments, contact and association at home, Mrs. Bishop Pettey always had the instruction and advice of intelligent parents. At the age of six she could read and write. She entered the graded school of her native city, and after finishing her course she entered the State Normal School and remained three years; then she entered the famous Scotia Seminary at Concord, N. C., from which institution she graduated with distinction June, 1883.
In addition to her inherited gifts, Mrs. Pettey is a woman of great acquired ability. She reads the classics well, has a taste for the higher mathematics. She is a student of current events and a close observer of human nature. Upon graduating at Scotia Seminary she was, in October of the same year, tendered the position as second assistant in the New Berne graded school. Next year she was promoted to vice-principal, which position she held with credit and honor until she was married. For two successive summers she taught in the Craven County Teachers' Institute.
As a teacher, she was able, brilliant and magnetic. Popular with her associates, she was loved and honored by her pupils. She ruled with kindness and love, and punished with a flash of her eye. Well versed in the theory and practice of teaching, she soon won the sobriquet "Model Teacher."
She is a gifted musician; and for several years was the organist for one of the most prominent churches in her native city. On the morning of September 19, 1889, she was married to Bishop Charles Calvin Pettey, A. M., D. D. Immediately after her marriage she became the private secretary of her husband; and with him traveled extensively in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Great Britain and Continental Europe. She is an able writer and eloquent speaker.
For several years she has been General Secretary of the Woman's Home and Foreign Missionary Society of the A. M. E. Zion Church. As wife, mother and Christian worker, Sarah Dudley Pettey is a model woman, endeavoring to lead men and women upward and Heaven-ward.
Woman's part in the consummation of any project which has to do with the elevation of mankind is of paramount importance. With her influence eliminated or her work minimized failure is inevitable. This is true regardless of race or nationality. In the civilization and enlightenment of the Negro race its educated women must be the potent factors. The difficulties that the Negro must labor under, in his effort to rise, are manifold and peculiar. The critics of the Negro have assaulted him at the most vital point, viz., character. In their onslaught they have assailed the morals of the entire race. To meet this criticism the Negro must establish a character of high morals, which will stand out so conspicuously that even his bitterest foe will acknowledge its reality. In establishing this our women must lead. It must be understood that their virtue is as sacred and as inviolate as the laws of the eternal verities. They must not compromise even with an apparent virtuous sentiment; it must be real. Nothing great is accomplished without the shedding of blood. To convince the world of the virtue of the Negro race, Negro blood must be shed freely. Our young women must be taught that gorgeous dress and fine paraphernalia don't make a woman. They should dress modestly, becomingly and economically.
She is a true woman whose honor must not be insulted; who, though poorly paid, pursues her honest labor for bread and would scorn the obtaining of a livelihood any other way, regardless of the magnitude of the inducement. The foundation for this high sentiment finds its initiative in the home. Home life is the citadel and bulwark of every race's moral life. The ruler of home is mother. A faithful, virtuous and intelligent motherhood will elevate any people. The impress of mother follows her children to the grave; when her form is changed and her physical existence extinct the footprints of her noble and pious life live long after her. Womanhood and manhood begin in the cradle and around the fireside; mother's knee is truly the family altar. True patriotism, obedience and respect for law, both divine and civil, the love and yearning for the pure, the sublime and the good, all emanate from mother's personality. If mother be good all the vices and shortcomings of father will fail to lead the children astray; but if mother is not what she should be all of the holy influences of angels cannot save the children. I would urge then, as the first prerequisite for our work, a pure, pious and devoted motherhood.
Secondly, a firm stand for right and truth in all things. Woman's power is her love. This pure flame lights up all around her. Her wishes and desires men love to satisfy. There are many things in society, politics and religion that ambitious men would seek to obtain by all hazards, but when woman takes her stand against these things she invariably wins. Our first stand must be for intelligence. No woman of to-day, who is thirty years of age, has the right to be queen of a home, unless she is intelligent. In this advanced day, to rear up a family by an illiterate woman might well be considered a crime. As a race, if we would possess the intelligence desired, our children must be kept in school, and not allowed to roam idly through the streets when the schoolhouse is open. Since, in most of the Southern states, countless numbers of our people have been disfranchised, our educated women should institute a movement which will bring about compulsory education and a general reform in the educational system of the South. We need better schools and a higher standard of education for the masses. In our homes wholesome literature, periodicals, papers and books must be had. Mother must be acquainted with these herself. She introduces the little ones to them by the story form. This catchy method soon engrosses their attention, and they become wrapped up in them. Great care must be exercised in the selection of reading matter for our girls. Nothing is more hurtful than obscene literature.
When our homes become intelligent, we shall have intelligent statesmen, ministers and doctors; in fact, the whole regime that leads will be intelligent. In public affairs woman has her share. She must speak through husband, son, father, brother and lover. Men go from home into the world to execute what woman has decreed. An educated wife formulates the political opinion of husband and son and though she may remain at home on election day, her views and opinions will find expression in the ballots of the male members of her household. The same thing is true in the church. I shall not dictate what woman should do here or limit her sphere of activity, but this I know she can with propriety—in her auxiliary work to the church she can become a mighty power. Woman's Missionary Societies, Christian Endeavor Societies, Sabbath School work, etc., afford a broad field of labor for our educated women. Her activity in all things pertaining to racial advancement will be the motive power in establishing firmly and intelligently an enlightened racial existence. Thirdly: The educated Negro woman must take her stand among the best and most enlightened women of all races; and in so doing she must seek to be herself. Imitate no one when the imitation destroys the personal identity. Not only in dress are we imitative to the extreme, but in manners and customs. When our boys and girls become redeemed from these evils a great deal will have been accomplished in the elevation of our race.
There are some noble women among other races whom we may imitate in virtue, morality and deportment. Those women come not from the giddy and gay streets of London, Paris or New York; but such women as Queen Victoria, Helen Gould, Frances Willard and others. These women have elevated society, given tone and character to governments and other institutions. They ornamented the church and blessed humanity. I can say with pride just here that we have many noble women in our own race whose lives and labors are worthy of emulation. Among them we find Frances Watkins Harper, Sojourner Truth, Phillis Wheatley, Ida Wells Barnett and others. Our educated women should organize councils, federations, literary organizations, societies of social purity and the like. These would serve as great mediums in reaching the masses.
I cannot refrain from mentioning public or street decorum here. Woman, as she glides through the busy and crowded thoroughfares of our great cities is eyed and watched by everyone. It is here that she impresses the world of her real worth. She can by her own acts surround herself with a wall of protection that the most vicious character would not dare attempt to scale or she can make it appear otherwise.
Beware then, mothers; accompany your daughters as often as possible in public.
In this advanced age, if the Negro would scale the delectable heights already attained by more highly favored races, our women must unite in their endeavors to uplift the masses. With concentration of thought and unity of action, all things are possible; these can effect victories when formidable armies and navies fail. The role that the educated Negro woman must play in the elevation of her race is of vital importance. There is no sphere into which your activities do not go. Gather, then, your forces; elevate yourself to some lofty height where you can behold the needs of your race; adorn yourself with the habiliments of a successful warrior; raise your voice for God and justice; leave no stone unturned in your endeavor to route the forces of all opposition. There is no height so elevated but what your influence can climb, no depth so low but what your virtuous touch can purify. However dark and foreboding the cloud may be, the effulgent rays from your faithful and consecrated personality will dispel; and ere long Ethiopia's sons and daughters, led by pious, educated women, will be elevated among the enlightened races of the world.
HOW CAN THE NEGROES BE INDUCED TO RALLY MORE TO NEGRO ENTERPRISES AND TO THEIR PROFESSIONAL MEN?
BY REV. H. T. JOHNSON, D. D., EDITOR CHRISTIAN RECORD.
H. T. JOHNSON, PH. D., D. D.
H. T. Johnson, Ph. D., D. D., educator, minister, author, journalist, scholar, was born in Georgetown, S. C., October 10, 1857. Early life was spent in the public schools of his native town. Apprenticed to learn the printer's trade in his fifteenth year; worked for three years on the "Georgetown Planet" and "Charleston Independent." Gave up newspaper service for school teaching, in which occupation he earned sufficient means to enable him to enter the State Normal School in the Capital of his native State and subsequently the State University, at the same place continuing his studies with credit until the Fall of 1876, when Colored students were no longer allowed to enjoy such advantages by the Democrats who gained control of the State. For a time checkmated, young Johnson returned to the labors of the school-room until the autumn of 1878, when, having been licensed to preach a year earlier, he entered Howard University as a divinity student, graduating in the Spring of 1880.
While at Howard, Johnson took special studies in mathematics and the classics in the college department of the university. After preaching and teaching in his native State for two years, he resumed his student life, this time at Lincoln University, Chester County, Pa., graduating with honors in the class of '83. While at Lincoln he engaged in pastoral labors at Oxford, Kennett Square, Hosanah, Little Wesley and Morris Brown, Philadelphia; was ordained elder by Bishop Brown in Bethel Church, Philadelphia, June, 1883, having won the highest encomium for creditable examination passed in biblical, classical and metaphysical studies. The same year, the subject of our sketch was transferred to the New England Conference: was stationed at Chelsea, matriculated in the Boston University, where he studied for three years in the schools of Theology, Expression, Elocution, Voice Culture and Metaphysics, until from failing health he was compelled to change climate and sacrifice for a season at least his ambition for learning.
Between ministerial and educational services our subject applied his time in Tennessee until the winter of 1889, when he transferred to Arkansas and was stationed at Visitor's Chapel, Hot Springs, where he remained for two years. From here he was assigned the presiding eldership of the then leading district in the State, which position he held until the General Conference of 1892, which elected him to the editorship of the "Christian Recorder," the leading official organ of the A. M. E. Church, and the oldest and most widely known Colored newspaper in the world.
That the literary and moral worth of Dr. Johnson is recognized locally and in general is indicated by the place he holds in the confidence of the church. His two books, "The Preacher" and "Divine Logos," have been adopted in the ministerial course of studies of his church. He was the first course lecturer at Payne Theological Seminary at Wilberforce and is annual lecturer at Phelps Bible School at Tuskegee Institute at this writing. Is President of the National Association of Educators of Colored Youth, Treasurer of Douglas Hospital, Philadelphia, and Trustee of the New Jersey Industrial School at Bordentown, prior to its incorporation by the State Board of Education.
At the General Conference of 1900, Dr. Johnson was a popular candidate for the Episcopal honors of his church, and would have been numbered among the chosen ones had it not been for the triumph of foul methods rather than fair, as his votes on the first and only ballot (other ballots being thwarted) being in evidence.
As a man of liberal and progressive ideas and striking force of character, Dr. Johnson has already exerted an abiding influence in his race and generation.
Before an opinion uncomplimentary to the colored man's interest in the professional and business ventures of his race-variety can be of weight, there are several antecedent facts of primal value to be considered. If devotion to either class is lacking, it must be remembered, that shortcoming is traceable to causes which, however marked may be their effects in the Negro's case, are equally marked and striking in others of similar condition. Given centuries of environments and discipline hostile to the development of racial pride and co-operation, the result will not be unlike, whether the subject be the Red Man of America, the Yellow Man of Asia, the White Man of Europe or the Dark Descendants of Africa.
Time is an all-potential healer in the life of any progressive people and it is only when races are viewed in the light of extensive discipline and persistent struggles that achievements gratifying and reassuring are to be seen. The Rothschilds, Carnegies, Vanderbilts, and towering lights in the business and professional worlds at large are but well-favored children of a long-drawn ancestry, men in whose ancestral veins, the blood and iron of hope, pluck, anticipation and realization found outlet through the ravines and across the hill-tops of centuries bygone. However the claims of heredity may be made to appear in other directions, they carry weight when applied to an infant race and the traits which distinguish the more advanced varieties of the human family.
As it is futile to attempt the solution of any problem by eliminating any of its salient factors, so it would be well for us to admit the factor of unfavorable environment while that of an unfriendly heredity cuts so large a figure in the shortcomings and strivings of a race. The curse of slavery has so marred the visage of this otherwise comely and coming race that it will be the work of centuries to completely eradicate the awful results of its deeply imbedded hoof-marks. The lack of mutual confidence and inter-race alienation were among the most cherished tendrils to which the hot-bed of slavery gave birth for ages. That the sour grapes on which their ancestors fed should set on edge the incisors of their descendants is no less a deduction of common sense and history than the unavoidable finding of iron-clad logic.
The far-reaching effect of the unwholesome environment and heredity mentioned, is seen in the business and professional struggles of the more resolute and enterprising members of the race on every hand. While these endeavors are in many instances healthy and promising in character, the greater multitude are skeleton-like in shape and dwarfish in proportion, indicating to a pitiful degree the lack of blood to supply and brain to conduct the enterprise, it matters little whether it be of the professional or business type. The medical practitioner and undertaker are striking exceptions to the non-prosperous and unsuccessful class, although the good fortune of both is due chiefly to giant causes which account for the business and professional dearth of the race in other directions. While the physicians and funeral directors of the dominant race will not refuse service to colored applicants who seek them, the fee they charge, together with the cruel usages of certain social institutions, almost invariably drift or drive the trade in question in the direction of the professionals mentioned.
To trace the non-support of these classes to the conditions outlined exclusively will be to ignore other prime factors in the problem under consideration and render hopeless the remedies which may be applied toward an improvement of the case. However much in others or in conditions beyond his control lies the secret of the Negro's misfortune as a business or a professional venturer, the fact remains that he is himself responsible for much of the shortcomings which hamper his success and that in his hands resides the power to improve upon the disadvantages cited. The success achieved by business enterprises and professions conducted by men of the race in various communities of the different sections, clearly demonstrates the capacity of those who operate and establish their merit of the support of their peoples beyond the question of a doubt. In Wilmington, Del., Boston and New Bedford, Mass., Albany and Brooklyn, N. Y., and other places too numerous to mention, these enterprises and professions derive support mainly from white patrons, which fact is sufficient to dissipate every suspicion as to the demerit or inferiority of the articles handled or the agents patronized. Why Negro dentists, lawyers and doctors in the professions, merchants, farmers, butchers, smiths, produce and real estate dealers in the business world can prosper and succeed without the aid or patronage of their people, as is demonstrated in numerous instances, is a potential query the answer to which suggests a reply to the topical question under discussion.
On the list of sundry answers helpful to a successful investigation of our inquiry the good offices of the race acknowledged leaders and opinion moulders occupy a leading place. By constant precept and continuous example these leaders have it in their power to overcome the apathy of their followers or those within the range of their ministrations or influence as is true of no other agents. Chief among this class are the teachers and preachers of the race. In the contact of the former with children in the schoolroom and with their parents elsewhere the spirit of race-pride and race-patronage, if instilled and stimulated, cannot fail to produce the most gratifying outcome in the business endeavors of the race. Too much credit cannot be given the religious guides of the race for the interest and support inspired by them in this, as in all uplifting services toward their people, yet to the continuation of this devotion and the removal of their zeal must the eyes of the masses be directed until the royal harvest of a more prolific race-loyalty be seen and gathered on every hand.
But on its face value, may not the inquiry be construed as an impeachment of the loyalty or confidence of the race toward its leaders? That the indictment is rather well-founded, "'tis true, 'tis pity, and pity 'tis, 'tis true." However specious may be the reasons assigned for this lack of support, the real and underlying cause is the absence of integrity, intelligence and race-pride on the part of the people themselves. The practice of constantly aiming to destroy the credit of those professional and business creditors who refuse to remain at the mercy of those who would serve only their own selfish aims, is a notorious failing which, the sooner outgrown or uprooted, the better.
In the attempt to solve the problem before us, the duty of business and professional men of the race toward their customers, clients, patients and the subjects with whom they severally deal, cannot be overlooked in the hope of success in our investigations. The duty which the former owe the latter can best be discharged by the application of ethical rather than ethnological standards, and this should be duly borne in mind, since it is the peculiar weakness of both sides to expect lenience and indulgence where probity and common sense require allowance for neither the one nor the other. If it be exacted that promptness and integrity characterize the actions of one let it be demanded that the same virtues be exercised by the other. If the race in other words would be induced to more liberally patronize its business and professional leaders, let the latter make it a point to furnish the articles and render the service and exercise the methods and manners which constitute the stock-in-trade of people who furnish standards in the commercial and professional worlds.
It may be, however, that after exercising the prerogatives and applying the principles defined, the results desired are not forthcoming. In that case it is possible that tact and faith combined with an enterprising genius may score the victory which surrenders itself only to the most patient and determined search. If the people are of mountainous proportions and are unyielding in their attitude of stolidity or unconcernment in the affairs of their business leaders, for the latter naught is left but to assume the role of Mohamet and go to the people.
In various ways the suggestion can be followed, but in no more feasible and effective way than by an appeal to their selfish and individual interests. On the principle that a people's pocket can be reached before their pride, it is suggested that those who would more largely secure their trade and patronage, do so by holding out to them the inducements common to co-operative business enterprises. The business represented by huge department stores operated by such merchant princes as John Wanamaker and Siegel & Cooper in their returns to their employees, and the offering of bargain inducements to their patrons in general, illustrate to a large degree what can be done on a smaller scale by business men of the race, provided the experiment be deemed worth the trial. The True Reformer's Organization is a purely Negro enterprise, representing interests running up into the millions, having as its mainspring of success the co-operative and profit yielding principle indicated.
The foregoing illustrations, references and suggestions cannot fail, at least in part, to answer the grave and momentous question on whose right solution so much of the race's future welfare depends. SECOND PAPER.
HOW CAN THE NEGROES BE INDUCED TO RALLY MORE TO NEGRO ENTERPRISES AND TO THEIR PROFESSIONAL MEN?
BY PROF. J. W. GILBERT.
PROF. JOHN W. GILBERT, M. A.
Prof. John Wesley Gilbert, A. B., A. M., was born at Hephzibah, Ga., July 6, 1864. Young Gilbert was left to the care of his widowed mother and his uncle John, for whom he had been named. He usually spent half the year on the farm and the other half in the public schools of the city of Augusta. After finishing the public grammar school course, he spent twelve months, all told, in the Atlanta Baptist College (then Seminary).
In January, 1884, Paine College opened in Augusta. He attended this institution eighteen months and graduated from it in June, 1886. In September of the same year he entered the Junior Class of Brown University, Providence, R. I. He graduated from this historic institution with honor in June, 1888. For excellence in Greek a scholarship in the American College, Athens, Greece, was conferred upon him at the end of his Senior year. In the spring of 1889, he married Miss Osceola Pleasant of Augusta, Ga. He attended the American College, Athens, Greece, during 1890-91. Under his supervision the site of Ancient Eretria, now Nea Psara, on the island of Enbola, was excavated and in collaboration with Prof. John Pickard, the only extant map of this ancient city was made by him. All the places of classic note in Greece were visited and studied by him. His M. A. degree was conferred upon him by Brown University upon the presentation of his thesis, "The Demes of Attica." He also took one semester of lectures in the University of Berlin, in 1891. He is author of several archaeological productions and has contributed articles on this subject to the New York Independent and other journals of like standing. He is at present a member of the Philological Association of America, and membership, which he accepts, in the Archaeological Institute, has also been tendered him. Ever since the fall of 1891, he has held the chair of Greek and German in Paine College, Augusta, Ga. Besides, he is a preacher of the order of Elder in the C. M. E. Church in America. As representative of that church, he was a delegate to the Ecumenical Conference, held in London, England, September, 1901. During the session he preached and lectured for a number of the largest and most intelligent audiences in England.
By proper education of the patrons, and merit on the part of Negro business enterprises and professional men, is a summary answer to the above question. It will be well for our present purposes to investigate this answer in detail. The natural inference therefrom—an inference whose justness is easily demonstrable—is that the education of the Negro race, so far and in such manner as it has already proceeded, is defective, when it comes to the question of training Negroes to support their own business enterprises and professional men. The very text books, not to mention the living teachers, in every department of education, whether professional or otherwise, are written by authors and for students other than Negroes. For every public, and well nigh every private educational institution of the land, the trustees of education have prescribed books which, besides suppressing whatever praiseworthy associations the race has had with the history and literature of our common country, never call the words of a Negro wise; nor his deeds noble. It is neither a sufficient nor true answer to the question, to say that Negroes have contributed nothing of educational or civic value to the literature or history of this country. Manifestly, then, our young people come out of school without confidence in the ability of their race to do what members of other races can do. This, I take it, is the reason why we find educated Negroes, as a rule, bestowing their patronage upon business enterprises and professional men of other races rather than upon their own representatives in the same vocation. This lack of confidence and race pride, characteristic of the educated as well as of the uneducated Negro, is the most destructive heritage bequeathed by slavery days to any once enslaved race in the history of the world. Hence, as a race, we need a thorough revision of our system of education which shall encourage the production of Negro authorship, on the one hand, and the confidence-and-pride-inspiring study of the worthfulness of the Negro's enviable record, on the other.
The schools are, however, only one of the agencies of education in the broadest acceptation of that term. Equally potent with scholastic training, if not more so, is the cultivation of social sentiment in the community. Sentiment is higher than law, and the endeavor of all honest legislation should be to make laws expressive of the mandates of the highest and best sentiment. Any given community can almost always be trusted to act upon the impulse of sentiment, whether this comports with the law or not. Whether expressed or unexpressed, the social sentiment among Negroes—and it is seemingly often innate—is not favorable to the support of their own enterprises and professional men. Were it otherwise, we should now have prosperous wholesale and retail merchants, successful factories, large real estate agencies, considerable banks, solid insurance companies, better institutions of learning, well-paid lawyers, physicians, dentists, etc., and the reaction on the whole race would have been to change our status in the nation from that of mendicant denizens, as at present, to that of influential well-to-do citizens. This mutual helping of each other is expected of us, if we are to judge from the evidences given us from time to time by our white fellow citizens. For example, the white undertakers in Augusta, Georgia, have given up to the colored undertakers all their Negro patronage. The best white physicians do not seek Negro patients. Although greed for "the almighty dollar" keeps most white business men seeking Negro patronage, they do not, as a rule, try to prevent Negroes from patronizing Negroes except by striving to make it to their pecuniary advantage to patronize white men. In a word, it is natural, they allow, for birds of a feather to flock together. And this is true of the Jew, the German, the Irishman, of all except the Negro. As it is, the average Negro chooses rather to be discourteously and carelessly treated by a white professional or business man, often of inferior ability, than to be properly treated by a man of superior ability of his own race. Hence, to induce Negro patronage of Negro enterprises and professional men, there must be cultivation of the social sentiment of the Negro community by all possible means.
From every view-point the pulpit is the strongest factor in the cultivation of social sentiment. Some few preachers occasionally "talk on this line," but unfortunately for the influence of their admonitions, they themselves purchase their groceries and drugs, employ their physician and undertaker from members of another race. "A house divided against itself cannot stand," like many another passage and teaching from the "Book of God and the god of books," might as applicably be preached to a large number of Negro preachers as to their congregations. It is no "unholy compromise" of the gospel of saving grace to teach that the "Man of Galilee" came first unto his "own," and that to "follow after him" and his apostles in their doctrine of "first to the Jew," our religion should exemplify Christ by our acting on the principle, "first to the Negro." I would have this doctrine promulgated persistently, earnestly, constantly, from every Negro pulpit as the only hope of the Negro race, as such, and, therefore, of the perpetuity and progress of their churches. Nor should the publishing of the doctrine find place only in the congregations of the laity, but it should be proclaimed in the clerical conferences, conventions, associations, synods, assemblies, etc., for I recognize it as a case of "Physician, heal thyself."
This cultivation of sentiment in the purely religious bodies should be supplemented by similar efforts in the "thousand-and-one" societies of one sort and another among us. Let them incorporate it in their constitutions as a requirement for membership. It would not be amiss for our national race congresses and conventions to scatter broadcast and thickly over the whole land literature to this effect. Let that Negro individual or body be ostracized that does not subscribe to this doctrine, or fails to live in accord therewith.
To summarize, this training in the school room, preaching in the pulpit, proclaiming in social and civic organizations, promulgation from the rostrum, and broadcast distribution of literature, all tending toward the same end, it seems to me, would properly educate the popular mind and be productive of that social sentiment without which Negro enterprises and professional men are doomed either to utter failure, or, at most, to the eking out of a miserable death-in-life existence.
Now, as to those engaged in these enterprises and professions a few words may be befittingly said. In order to inspire the confidence and reasonably expect the patronage sought, there must be merit in the claims of the seeker. The business enterprise must present no appearance of hazard or mere adventure; for the mere matter of sameness of race does not warrant one in taking risks as a partner or patron in "wild-cat schemes." No man should expect or receive patronage solely because he is black; for your patron, besides generally being poor, is also black, and might as justly look for favors of you upon that score as you of him. The business, let us say of buying and selling, must show reason for its existence and firmness in its project. Besides capital, a common sense application of the economic laws of supply and demand, the principle of "low prices, quick sales," the proper estimates of the actual and prospective fluctuations of the market, these all must give evidences of your raison d'etre, your firmness of business, and your claim upon public patronage. It goes without saying that the quality of your goods or services must be second to none at the same price. In the professions Negro practitioners, if there is to be any difference in point of ability between them and other professional men, must be exceedingly well prepared for their chosen fields. This is imperative, because the presumption of the masses of Negroes, to say nothing of others, is that, on the average, the Negro professional man is not amply qualified for the pursuit of his profession. I would have Negro professional men spend much time in the study of their professions both before and after entrance thereupon. I should like to know that the average Negro preacher, physician, lawyer, etc., is better equipped for his work than the average professional man, whether white or black, who is now receiving the patronage of Negroes.
Finally, the business or professional man must be of the people and for the people, interested in their welfare of whatever sort, and promotive of the same as far as he is able. He must not be "seeking only what he may devour," but must give himself unreservedly to the people for their uplift in every good cause. I do not mean that there should be any "let-down" along moral lines, but I do mean to imply that a great many failures are due to the exclusive separation of not a few Negro professional men from the people unless when pecuniary gain is the sole purpose.
These principles have made others successful. They are but natural laws deducible from the philosophy of history. Therefore, if two and two make four, why should not an application of these laws induce, nay, compel Negroes to rally to the support of Negro enterprises and their own professional men?
HOW CAN THE NEGROES BE INDUCED TO RALLY MORE TO NEGRO ENTERPRISES AND TO THEIR PROFESSIONAL MEN?
BY J. R. PORTER, D. D. S.
J. R. PORTER, D. D. S.
Dr. J. R. Porter was born and reared in Savannah, Ga., among very pleasant home influences. He is the son of the late Rev. James Porter, of that city, well remembered as educator and musician, as one who loved his fellow man, and was eager to serve his race in any capacity. The son has partaken of these better qualities, and is earnestly following the father's footsteps.
J. R. Porter received his primary education in the West Broad Street Public School of his native city, and through assiduous application while a pupil of the public school, was enabled to enter Atlanta University on a two-year scholarship won in competitive examination. He graduated in 1886 with the degree of A. B., and after a year entered the Dental Department of Walden University, at that time Central Tennessee College. He received the degree of D. D. S. in 1889, and the following year was Professor of Operative Dentistry in his Alma Mater.
But this field was too narrow for his ambition. An active practice was more to his liking, and he wanted to get in touch with the people. With this in view he selected Birmingham as his field of labor.
The Doctor soon built up an excellent practice, and became indispensable both in public and religious affairs. He was the founder of the Alabama Penny Savings Bank of Birmingham, Ala., and the first Secretary of its Board of Directors. Whatever is of public interest has always appealed to him, and has had his hearty alliance.
But at that time Birmingham was a place of a few industries, and their interdependence was so marked, that to tie up one was to tie up all. In the strike of '92 and '93, the Magic City slipped from under the influence of the magician's wand, and was like any other broken and beaten town. The strike had ruined it, and Dr. Porter, like others, sought a better country. He chose Atlanta, Ga. He came here in the spring of '93. By faithfully attending to business, he has built up an excellent dental practice, and has become one of our most popular leaders. He is genial, thoughtful and reliable, and all classes feel very kindly toward him, because of his deep interest in them and their affairs. He is very much concerned in the young men and their future, and is a prominent officer in the Y. M. C. A., established by the colored men of Atlanta. He is conservative and just on all public questions, and earnestly desires to give his best to his people, because he has great faith in the ultimate adjustment of the abnormal conditions that so fetter them.
In discussing questions of race building it is but just that we recognize the causes that have led up to the condition that may exist. If we are to suggest methods by which we may correct our weak points, we should first attempt to make plain what these are and then offer our remedy.
We have enterprises innumerable, enterprises of all classes and kinds, dignified and undignified, humble and pretentious, scattered all over this broad land. But these do not take on the sturdy growth of permanency and prosperity that usually attaches to the affairs of others. On the contrary we are surprised if they exhibit undue vitality and outgrow their long clothes.
Some of our businesses are lasting monuments to our commercial and professional ability, and stand out proudly against a background of restricted opportunities, while the unnumbered many fade into the shadow of the horizon and are lost to sight.
The questions that come to us are: Why is it so, and how may it be remedied? Are the causes for these economic conditions of commercial origin or social? Are they extrinsic or intrinsic? Are they the results of the unbusinesslike methods of our merchants, or the lack of appreciation of our buyers?
We glory that we are a full-fledged race. It is a splendid thing to glory over. But do we realize what we have missed in our sudden growth? Imagine a man, who has had no babyhood, no childhood, no youthhood; a man born into manhood, without the pleasures and experiences of boyhood; who has never fallen into a pond, battled with wasps, played truant, or done any of those innocent mischiefs that develop the boy both in body and in mind, and fit him for the strenuous duties of life. Imagine such a man and you have our race.
A nation in a day, is our record. We were born into cities, governments, laws, comforts, pleasures and schools. Aladdin's lamp has never accomplished anything so wonderful, and we rubbed our eyes and were amazed because everything had been prepared for us. This very munificence has hampered us. We have not had that development as individuals and as a people that would best fit us to grapple with each succeeding obstacle. Therefore we must patiently though painfully start from the beginning and travel over the same road, that each race has traveled, because individuals and races develop alike, and the same conditions that attach to the growth of one race, attach to that of all others.
A nation in a day is a splendid record. But a nation that came out of the wilderness, constructed its own cities, builded its own roads, made its own laws, established its own schools, devised its own comforts and pleasures, and in the contest with nature and poverty, wrestled until it won a new name, that nation with its scars, its experiences, and its development has far more to be desired, and has far more resources upon which to draw in its after contests than the former.
We entered the lists with these natural handicaps, and other conditions imposed upon us. We have made mistakes, and the wonder is that we have not made more, and that we have shown such splendid powers of adaptability. Shunted to the right and left, with our path continually obstructed, and our ambition jeered at, we have kept quietly and persistently on, until we can now show a very extensive catalogue of enterprises, that have grown and grown, until they are sufficiently important to call forth discussions of this character.
We have no definite figures of the exact amount invested in our business ventures. Though it is small when compared with the vast amounts invested by others, yet it is enormous when compared with our actual resources. The Negro merchant and professional man, have ceased to be novelties, and in many sections are making serious impressions on the business of both city and country.
We may still regard our enterprises as pioneer. We can even see the visible signs of our endeavors to learn a business while conducting it. Yet it is quite gratifying to notice an improvement. Our ventures are taking on more and more the general character of business, and losing the less desirable ones of race peculiarities.
What are the causes of so many failures among our enterprises, especially those that gave promise of great success? This question like the historic ghost will not down, but walks at unseemly hours, both by day and by night, calling for an adjustment of our commercial and economic sins, that it may go to its rest.
Our men do not have that thorough grasp of business principles, that comes with years of experience. One cause for our mistakes is that we do not have the opportunity of apprenticeship. The white youth enters an establishment, and step by step learns a business before he starts in it for himself. He thereby places a large factor of success to his credit.
The Negro goes into business without that intimate knowledge that is so essential, and stumbles into success or into failure. But this condition is gradually changing. We have been in active life long enough to have somewhat of an apprentice class of our own. Here and there we find men, who have, through this system gained a knowledge that gives them a decided advantage. It is through these means that we hope to improve the personnel of our merchant class, the character of our enterprises, and increase our patronage because of the excellency of the service.
One great need of our enterprises is the freedom of location. Experience and capital are both seriously hampered by want of proper place to house business. I have seen a prosperous merchant move across a street and fail. I have seen a splendid business carried around a corner and utterly destroyed.
If this is so with those who have choice of places, how much more must it be so with us who must take what we can get, and what wonder is it that we utterly fail, or that we imbibe the squalor and shiftlessness of the miserable places we must occupy. All life is subject to the same general physiological influences. Man and plant alike flourish in the sunshine, and fade and weaken in the damp and dark. Our business languishes as much from environment as from any other cause. Trade is a sensitive thing and increases or decreases according to fixed laws, and there must be more than goods to attract active patronage. Grant us this freedom of location and our road to success through business ventures would be much shortened.
I do not lay our failures to external causes alone. There are other and as grave ones within. Certain economic exactions must be complied with before success is ever assured. Some do not choose the pursuits for which they are best fitted, but strike out boldly and confidently, forgetful that adaptability is always an essential factor in success. Some are unable to carry out their plans from lack of capital. This has also kept many from getting the business training that is so necessary, and we therefore have less merchants and more storekeepers. We must know that business is progressive and demands an ideal. The whole system of Southern commercial life has been revolutionized, but the revolution is the product of a great evolution.
Under these conditions, have our business and professional men done their best to attract and hold the patronage of our people, or have they been content to drift along and catch whatever may come their way? Have they realized that they have obligations as well as those to whom they would sell? They have not done all of their duty, nor have they been as progressive as they might have been. Yet when we think of the severe handicaps they have had, we feel that they have done remarkably well. Life is a continual comparison, to-day with yesterday, this year with last. In the comparison we see better merchants, better stores, and higher business ideals among us. These appeal to us very sensibly, and we give more and more liberally of our patronage.
We are apt to forget the terrible handicaps that faced us as a people not so long ago, and the commercial ones that face our business men of to-day. We grow impatient with their mistakes and twit them because they are unable to display as large and as valuable a stock as some one else, or because of their shabby establishments. We are too exacting. We are not as generously inclined towards our enterprises as we should be, and it is only when we put ourselves in places that require patronage, that we can understand why so many fail. The power to discriminate between the useful and useless is born of experience and is of slow growth. The struggle between the right and wrong, the necessary and unnecessary is the heritage that came to us with our sudden birth of racehood. All fields of endeavor are new to us, and even when there are no restrictions, our adjustment must be slow.
For us to rally to our enterprises simply because they are ours, would bring temporary but not permanent success. The latter can only come by normal means. Abnormal conditions are not lasting. They may hold for a time and even prosper, yet they must ultimately fail, and then affairs will follow their natural tendency, and seek the normal. The restrictions that press us so, must in time yield to this law, and all efforts to rally to our enterprises from pride, and not from reason, must follow the same fate. There are a hundred cents in a dollar but no sentiment. Lessen its purchasing value and you lessen the desire to purchase.
We may rally to enterprises simply because Negroes are the projectors, but we soon begin to cast about for reasons for our patronage, and if we find none to outweigh self-interest we soon drop off. But if we find good reason for our support, we soon lose the idea of race pride, in the greater idea that our merchant is a splendid business man.
The best agents for securing active support for our enterprises are the attractions that these enterprises hold within themselves. Our intelligent and thrifty merchants, with their well appointed stores, and enlarged stock are to settle this problem of patronage, because they have within their keeping, the means to develop the normal conditions of trade and to build up a demand for their wares.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF THE GREAT MORTALITY AMONG THE NEGROES IN THE CITIES OF THE SOUTH, AND HOW IS THAT MORTALITY TO BE LESSENED?
BY MRS. WARREN LOGAN.
MRS. WARREN LOGAN.
Mrs. Warren Logan, whose maiden name was Adella Hunt, was born in a Georgia village after the close of the Civil War. When asked for this sketch, she said: "There is little to tell, as my busy life has been without romantic event. I was not born a slave, nor in a log cabin. To tell the truth, I got my education by no greater hardship than hard work, which I regard as exceedingly healthful."
It is known that she has an inheritance of blood, tradition and history of which any American woman might be proud.
Her early education was of a private nature. In 1881 she was graduated from Atlanta University as a bright member of one of its brightest classes.
Two years of teaching in an American Missionary School in a South Georgia town, where she was also a city missionary, prepared her for more advanced work, which opened to her at Tuskegee, Ala.
In 1883 Miss Hunt joined Mr. Washington, Olivia Davidson, Warren Logan and the handful of teachers who were the originators of the now famous Industrial School.
From the first she fitted into the activities and spirit of the school and became Miss Davidson's right hand helper. She succeeded to the position of Lady Principal when Miss Davidson became Mrs. Booker T. Washington. In this position Miss Hunt emphasized the academic side of the school and also urged the physical development of the girls. Her own line of teaching was the normal training of student teachers. Her services were constantly in demand for Peabody and other teachers' institutes in Georgia and Alabama.
In 1888 Miss Hunt was married to Warren Logan, treasurer of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. Since that time she has ordered her household, written a little, read much, completed the Chautauqua Course, and kept abreast with the times. While she has given her best thought to her husband and children, she has kept in touch with the school and has lent a hand to the Woman's Club.
In these days of specialists among physicians and of specialists among students of social science it seems rather presumptuous for a teacher to attempt any formal discussion of causes and remedies for the high death rate among Negroes in the cities of the South. A few suggestions, however, may serve to draw more attention to this vital subject.
The sections of the cities inhabited by Negroes are generally the most unsanitary. The house in which the average Negro family lives is poorly built and too small. Frequently old houses are set aside as too far gone for any except Negro tenants. In many instances these dilapidated houses contain germs of disease which it is practically impossible for the young and the feeble to withstand. The food, fuel, clothing and general comforts of a family thus housed are insufficient. Food plays too large a part in the havoc made by death among Negroes. In many instances, there is great intemperance in both eating and drinking. With another large class there is actual scarcity of food and that, too, often of poor quality. Add to this, irregularity of meals and poor cooking and one can not wonder at the low state of health nor even at the excessive mortality.
One of the most serious phases of ignorance is criminal carelessness in regard to nutrition. Cooking is that part of household work which almost every woman undertakes and very few understand, and herein lies the foundation of disease.
The long death-roll among Negroes contains an excessive number of infants. Careful investigation shows that this slaughter of innocents is due in large measure to improper feeding. Some mothers must be away from their babies earning bread and shelter. Others leave their little ones for less worthy and less honorable purposes. Others neglect their offspring because they have a fancied or cultivated dislike of children. It is a sad day for a people when happy motherhood declines. Man has devised successful substitutes for natural food for babies, but these should be used only when the best good of all concerned can be subserved thereby. Nature's ways are wisest and best, and parents must try to walk in those ways if they would have their children have life and have it abundantly.
Far be it from us here to attempt a technical discussion of tuberculosis, but in plain simple language, let us cite a few facts in regard to lung diseases among Negroes.
The oft repeated statement that the Negro slave did not have consumption, cannot be verified, for lack of authentic records on the subject. The Negro free, however, is dying of consumption and kindred diseases in appallingly large numbers.
Many theories in regard to consumption have been exploded, but it is acknowledged by all, to be an infectious disease. As such, ignorant people do not understand how to escape it; indeed, until anti-spitting laws are more universal and more rigidly enforced, every one may be exposed to these deadly germs. They respect neither race lines nor intellectual grades. The Negro, however, seems to be peculiarly susceptible to this class of ailments. 1. Because of comparatively small lung capacity. 2. Because of general low nutrition. 3. Because of lack of bath rooms and their proper use. 4. Immorality. 5. General indifference to the incipient stages of the disease. Colds and coughs are passed by as matters of course with little or nothing done to prevent or cure them.
The physical life and death of man has a much more intimate connection with his moral life than is at first thought apparent. Too many children are robbed by Sin of a child's first right, viz.: the right to be well born. If parents have lived lives of shame and thereby weakened their bodies, the effects of this will be a sad legacy of weakness in the persons of their children. Men and women given to social impurity will hardly escape the notice of those about them. Their characters are imitated and shame and weakness, physical as well as moral, multiplied. "Sin conceived and brought forth Death."
Among people of low intellectual development and low moral standards, family love is below normal. With this defective class, there is much indifference to the life and death of their dependent relatives. The young and the aged are shamefully neglected. It is sufficient to be bereaved—better, the relieved, to say: "The Lord's Will be done." Remedies for these sad and unfortunate conditions are much more easily suggested than applied.
Better environment, greater comfort in the homes, come only as a return for money. Money will come as a return for labor. Money will come to those who earnestly desire it, because they will work for it. They will do whatsoever their hands find to do, accepting the pay such labor brings, but fitting and aspiring for something better. There is usually plenty of work for all honest, industrious Negroes in Southern cities.
Even money may not cause the old shanty to give place to a good house nor raise the standard of general comfort very materially, except as the demands of the family are enlarged as a result of education. No one factor will have such weight in the decrease of suffering and the reduction of the high death rate as enlightenment of mind.
The system of education in vogue in Southern cities will work slowly because up to the beginning of the twentieth century, school attendance has not been made compulsory. There are no truant schools, no reform schools. Idleness tends to vice. Idleness and vice are in no way conducive to health and longevity.
Many Negroes do not want education for themselves nor for their children. These people swell the death lists in Southern cities' health offices to such distressingly large numbers. They are often cared for and buried by funds from the city treasury. Would it not pay to try compulsory education? To try teaching them to help themselves, to save themselves?
To say that the home life of the masses must be improved is but another way of saying they must be educated.
Among the most potent forces in the uplift of a people are the school, the press, the courts and the church.
Under a system of compulsory education, the Negro would much sooner learn to observe the laws of health and thus to extend his life.
When newspapers in Southern cities are fairer in their attitude toward the black citizen, he will become a better citizen. It will increase his respect for others and greatly increase his self respect. He will then make more effort to live and to live well, because his life will seem more worth living.
Every state included under the "Land of the free and the home of the brave" should strive to make its criminal laws reformative rather than revengeful. A very considerable number of Southern Negroes come to their life's end in the prisons, which in no Southern state are all that prisons should be. From a health standpoint, most of them are all that prisons should not be.
It pays the municipality better to educate and reform its citizens than to convict and execute them.
A cultivated, spiritual ministry will emphasize the best teaching of the schools.
An active church will sustain a fair press; will uphold law and order; will supplement the work of the good doctor and in various ways try to reduce the number of funerals among the Negro population in Southern cities.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF THE GREAT MORTALITY AMONG THE NEGROES IN THE CITIES OF THE SOUTH, AND HOW IS THAT MORTALITY TO BE LESSENED?
BY HON. H. A. RUCKER.
MR. H. A. RUCKER.
Out of the Southland—that awful crucible of prejudice and proscription,—like steel tempered by fire, and hardened for the practical uses of mankind, has come numerous valiant spirits, whose advent was so timely as to have seemed divinely inspired. Price and Cain, Elliott and Bruce, Cailloux, and others, who have joined the silent majority, did noble work and lived to see the race's redemption, but it has been left for newer and younger men to complete the structure on the foundation that was furnished by the "Old Guard." The modern age of politics and business in the sunny South—the home of nine-tenths of the Negroes—offers no brighter luminary than the Hon. Henry A. Rucker of Georgia. Young as years go, but mature in all the attributes that command success and popular esteem, the life of Henry A. Rucker is a priceless text-book for the aspiring Afro-American youth. Guided upward by nothing save the lofty counsel of a good mother and the inherent qualities of a true gentleman, he has scaled the heights, and for himself, has solved the problem of "how the fittest" may survive, and is giving to the whole race the key by which he wrought out so clear a solution. No legerdemain has worked his upward flight. The ingredients that he has utilized are simple, even if rare, and are within the reach of the least favored of human beings—honesty of purpose, fidelity to every trust and adherence to the golden rule. He has always been able to secure what was justly his without encroaching upon the sacred rights or legitimate possessions of another. Harboring no malice in his own bosom he has softened the wrath of his neighbor and demonstrated how clever diplomacy and a manly appeal to the finer instincts of a possible enemy yields richer returns than all the force and invective that a century could bring to bear. If the battle is to be fought out on lines of mental competition and personal worth rather than by balls and bayonets, Mr. Rucker has grasped the situation and the best evidence of the wisdom of his policy of inter-racial cooeperation is the results he has individually achieved, and the commendation freely offered by the white and colored people who greet him day by day in the routine of duty. Atlanta owes much to the indefatigable energy and inexhaustible public spirit of Henry A. Rucker. He has been active in promoting all of her interests and that his services have been valuable is cheerfully admitted in the Board of Trade and industrial circles. He was conspicuous in advancing the prospects of the famous exposition of 1895, and is now striving to round out the work of securing a commodious federal building for the enterprising Georgian capital. He bore the brunt of the fight against the "Hardwick bill" and was potent in defeating both that infamous measure and the "Payne resolution." He has been repeatedly elected a delegate to the national conventions of the Republican party.
Since July 26, 1897, Mr. Rucker has been collector of internal revenue for the District of Georgia with headquarters in his own city, Atlanta. The receipts for the last fiscal year were more than double those of preceding years and exceeded in the same proportion the revenues gathered in any single year since the organization of the state. This marvelous showing is due partially to Mr. Rucker's prompt, thorough and painstaking plan of operation and of course in large measure to the national prosperity, growing out of President McKinley's shrewd financial policies. Brilliant as has been the past of this progressive Afro-American, the future holds out the promise of grander achievements. The race honors Mr. Rucker and holds him close to its heart, because he has proven himself a leader that can be trusted. When he commands "close ranks, steady, march," the Georgia populace goes forward in one conquering phalanx, determined, aggressive and undaunted, remembering that enduring power comes not by "fits and starts," but by clinching with mailed hand the rewards that have been won.
One who has never been taught to appreciate what health is and to understand hygienic laws can not become a safe guardian of his or her physical being. For when this being is attacked, as is constantly the case, by its millions of enemies, if all of its portholes have not been properly guarded it easily falls prey to disease and death.
As a race the Negro has had neither the time nor the opportunity to inform himself on the principles of health saving or in those of health getting—if there be such. Both prior to and since his emancipation his time, except nominally, has been the property of others from whom he has barely eked out an existence, and, from a humanitarian standpoint, has had but little interest in caring for his health.
During the years of his enslavement, his mortality, in proportion to his numbers and his environments, was no less than it has been since he became a free man—and the bald statement that his death-rate during the past thirty-eight years has greatly increased, may not be founded on facts. Fair play in discussing this phase of the subject demands careful and patient inquiry into the past history of a people concerning whom little or no minute data of a national character was kept. However, this question may not properly enter into the subject, the contention being that the mortality among the race is excessive, which, if true, may be accounted for in part in the existence of certain acknowledged conditions.
Wherever the Negro has been cared for either by himself or by others he has enjoyed the same immunity from disease and death that those of other races have. And whenever neglected or abused, whether the failure or fault rests with himself or others, impaired health, decay of mind and body and death have ensued.
Compared with the masses but few Negroes at any time within the history of the life of the race in this country, have been properly guarded against exposure—the few who in ante bellum days were selected as house servants and to fill other kindred places, were measurably protected. And now the same classes and that of the more fortunate or business classes have limited protection from more than ordinary exposure.
The masses have always done the drudgery. And that too without knowledge or reference to health keeping. A common practice of employed Negroes is to go or be sent on short quick errands, leaving warm and, in this respect, comfortable places of employment without hat or wrap to breast chilling winds or atmospheric conditions many degrees removed from their places of services. In this practice is the exposure from sudden changes of temperature without preparation. The drayman, the cartman, the man in the ditch and others whose employment is in the open air are exposed not alone by the character of the work in which they are engaged but also by reason of the fact that six days of the week, those in which they labor, of necessity, their clothing is poor and shabby and their persons are ill kept. While the seventh day finds them as a rule well clad and well shod. Then their homes—no, their houses, partly because of circumstances beyond their control and partly on account of their improvident natures, are little more than shelters or huts.
These houses are built in what is known or accepted as Negro tenant districts, and those acquainted with the localities need no evidence to convince them that they are not sought as either health or pleasure resorts. They are the city alley ways and the low malarial districts where the noxious gases and foul vapors rise from emptying sewers. More than two hundred years' application has made the Negroes agriculturists; they have been accustomed to labor and to plenty of nature's fresh, invigorating air; they have, because of conditions not proper to treat here, drifted from the farms and fields into the crowded cities, thence into the slums, to be infected with disease.
They have been thrust into prisons where they were provided with the poorest of covering and meanest food for their bodies; where scurvy and other loathsome diseases have made their impress upon them and where incentive to cleanliness is as distant as the North and South poles. Freed from prison life they have gone forth mingling with a class of people infecting them with their scales and spreading disease and death.
Then again the race is without proper places to care for its unfortunate, aged and infirm; without orphanages, reformatories and homes for its friendless. Institutions which are potent factors in the efforts of a people to prevent neglect and cure criminal tendencies.
All of these conditions are breeders of ills and conductors of death which must be and happily are being abated.
The remedy suggested is a knowledge coupled with an appreciation of health. Both to embrace the science of health preserving and of health getting; better homes and better habits, even to being "temperate in all things."
Acquired, accepted and practiced the mortality of the race will be materially lessened.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF THE GREAT MORTALITY AMONG THE NEGROES IN THE CITIES OF THE SOUTH, AND HOW IS THAT MORTALITY TO BE LESSENED?
BY DR. JOHN R. FRANCIS.
DR. JOHN R. FRANCIS.
Dr. John R. Francis, physician and surgeon, was born in Georgetown, D. C., in 1856. He attended the private and public schools of Washington, D. C., until his sixteenth year. His academic education was received at Wesleyan Academy, Wilbraham, Mass. He began the study of medicine under the tutorage of Dr. C. C. Cox, at that time dean of the Board of Health, and one of the foremost men in the profession of medicine in the District of Columbia.
His professional course was taken at the University of Michigan, from which he graduated with high honor in the class of 1878. Settling in the home of his boyhood, where he was well and favorably known, and where his parents before him were honored and respected, it is no wonder that he succeeded and stands as the leading Colored physician of Washington, D. C.
Dr. Francis was appointed in 1894 by the Secretary of the Interior to the position of first assistant surgeon of the Freedman's Hospital, with a salary of $1,800. He instituted several needed reforms in the treatment of patients. He installed the present training school for nurses, and, indeed, was so active in his reformation of affairs in the institution that those who know the facts admit that Dr. Francis, more than any other man, is responsible for the opening of the new era of the Freedman's Hospital, which led to its present flourishing condition. He is now, and has been for several years past, the obstetrician to the hospital.
He is the sole owner and manager of a private sanitarium on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D. C. This institution has proven to be a panacea to the best element of Colored citizens.
It is a noteworthy fact that Dr. and Mrs. Francis have both served as members of the Board of Education of the District of Columbia.
In the study of the causes and remedy for the great mortality among the colored people of Southern cities I shall not waste time and words in an attempt to prove, by much statistical evidence, that which is already too well known to us as an admitted fact, viz.: a mortality of colored people in cities of the South, very largely in excess of that of the white people of the same communities.
I am fully justified, in the face of our present enlightenment, in entering, at once, into the discussion as to its causes.
If it be true that the animal organism is intended by nature to pass through a cycle, and that natural death is not a disease, but a completion of the process of life, it follows that the organism, with exceptions, as to any particular class of people born in health, is constructed to pass through this cycle and is not of itself,—that is to say, by its own organism,—capable of giving origin to any of the phenomena to which we apply the term disease. We must, therefore, seek for origins of the phenomena in causes lying outside the body, and affecting it in such manner as to either render the natural actions and processes irregular, or to excite actions and processes that are altogether new.