Twenty-Five Years in the Black Belt
by William James Edwards
Previous Part     1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Mr. R. O. Simpson is one of the noblest men that I have ever met, North or South. He is absolutely free from all racial and petty prejudice that we so often find in the average man of today. I feel safe in saying that he is living at least fifty years ahead of his time. The things that he stands for and have been fighting for, for thirty years, are coming more and more to pass, and although it seems hard for the present generation to accept them, they must be accepted if we would make the world safe for Democracy. He is a true patriot, a true democrat, and a zealous Christian gentleman. Mr. Simpson has a family of five children, three sons and two daughters, all of whom possess his spirit to a large degree.

I first met Rev. R. C. Bedford at Tuskegee while I was there in school. I loved him from the first time I saw him and I feel that this was because of his deep and sincere interest in our people. Until I met Mr. Bedford, I had always distrusted the white man and thought it was impossible for any white man to be free from race prejudice. After my graduation at Tuskegee, as I said before, I returned to Snow Hill and seeing that Mr. Bedford and Mr. Simpson had something in common, arranged to have Mr. Bedford come to Snow Hill and meet Mr. Simpson. Their meeting resembled that of Jonathan and David, and I believe their friendship was equally great. It continued until Mr. Bedford's death. Mr. Bedford was one man who understood what it was to build up an institution from nothing. He knew the hardships one had to undergo to meet bills when there was no money appropriated for these bills. He knew what it was to make brick without straw. Ofttimes when the burden was heavy and the yoke rough, it was the encouraging words from Mr. Bedford that gave me strength and courage to continue. While his particular mission was to look after the Tuskegee schools, he loved every good work and would always lend a hand to a good cause. He was thoroughly imbued with the Christ-spirit.

I cannot express in words the great debt of gratitude that I owe the immortal Booker T. Washington, for I owe all to him. It was he who changed my view of life. He changed me from the visionary to the substantial, from the shadow to the substance, from the artificial to the real, and from words to deeds. Dr. Washington became a trustee of Snow Hill Institute from its beginning and remained as such until his death. He made three visits to Snow Hill, the last being November 18th, 1914. Dr. Washington always did what he could to help us in our work. He seemed to appreciate the efforts that we were putting forth to uplift our people. He could sympathize with us; he could understand that an institution that had no permanent support, but had to depend upon the efforts of one man to raise money, could not be perfect, and many things were not as well as they should be. Dr. Washington could sympathize with us because he knew what it was. He had borne the burden in the heat of the day. But I find that persons who have done nothing themselves, but have lived as parasites most of their days, are much more critical than Dr. Washington ever could be. Sometimes I am asked to what I attribute Dr. Washington's success in life. My answer to this question has always been the same: to his spirit and simplicity. He possessed in a very large degree, the spirit and simplicity of the Master. He never struck back. He always sought to do good to those who would do evil to him. He was meek and lowly of heart, and I know that he has found rest for his soul.

There are other trustees who have played a prominent part in the development of the work here, among whom may be mentioned Mr. James H. Post, Rev. Henry Wilder Foote, Prof. William Howell Reed and Mr. William H. Baldwin, 3rd. The trustees are now taking a more active part in the work than ever before. This is their bounden duty, because the school is theirs, not mine.

Next to the Trustees, the officers and teachers have played a prominent part in the work here. My classmate, Henry A. Barnes, has been treasurer of the school for twenty-three years, which period of service is, in itself, a tribute to his faithfulness. Mr. Barnes not only does the work of treasurer, but is also Acting Principal during my absence from the school, and under him the work of the school continues with little or no interruption while I am away. What Mr. Barnes has been to the Financial Department, Mr. R. A. Daly has been to our Industries. I consider Mr. Daly the best Industrial man that we can have.

The Academic Department has been developed under the management of Messrs. Whitehead and Handy, and it stands well in comparison with that of other similar schools in the State.

I cannot overestimate the value of the conscientious work done by my secretaries during all these years. Miss Rebecca Savage (now Mrs. R. V. Cooke) served in this capacity for fourteen years and Miss O. H. Williamson has served one way or another for five years. Much of the office work and responsibility fall upon the secretaries and this responsibility they have borne without complaint. Sometimes we have been compelled to work night and day, but they have always been willing to serve. Not only have the officers been willing to serve, but the rank and file of our teachers have shown the same spirit of willingness from year to year. Sometimes they would get their pay promptly and at other times they would have to wait for months, but always they have been willing to do what they could to cheer and help me in the darkest hour of the struggle. I believe that the spirit of the officers and teachers of Snow Hill Institute is: "Not to be ministered unto, but to minister."

Aside from Trustees, officers and teachers, there is that great cloud of witnesses which no man can number, who have helped by their aid, their words of cheer and their presence from time to time. These are in all parts of the country, but principally in the North and East. How shall we thank them for what they have been to us? We cannot do it by words, because there are no words that could adequately express our deep sense of gratitude to this host of friends. We must, therefore, be contented to show them by our acts and deeds that we are ever mindful of their help and that each day we are striving more and more to make ourselves and our work worthy of their aid and encouragement. Among this cloud of witnesses are some of the best people that God has ever made. They deem it a privilege to give and to help the lowly.

In speaking of our debt of gratitude to the forces that have helped in building up our work here, we must not overlook the press. There are certain great papers in this country that have been fearless in their advocacy of right and justice to the Negro, and have always opened their columns to any cause that has for its end the uplift of the lowly. Among these may be mentioned especially The New York Evening Post, The Boston Transcript, The Springfield Republican, The Hartford Courant, and in the South The Montgomery Advertiser.

One also receives much aid and encouragement from those who are in similar work. It has been my good fortune to meet in the North from time to time with those who have similar work as mine. In this way I have met most of the Principals of Southern Schools. Perhaps Mr. W. H. Holtzclaw of Utica, Mississippi, comes first in this class. This is true, because I have known him the longest. I first met him in Tuskegee in the early nineties, when we both were in school there. His life was similar to mine, as we both had a very hard time in trying to get an education. I became interested in him there and when he finished I took him to work with me at Snow Hill. It was at Snow Hill that he met and married Miss Mary Ella Patterson, one of our teachers. They remained with us at Snow Hill four years. Both Mr. and Mrs. Holtzclaw have always seemed more like my relatives than like friends. Some of Mr. Holtzclaw's best teachers today are graduates of Snow Hill Institute. I have always been deeply interested in the welfare of Utica for it is in reality an outgrowth of Snow Hill.

Other Principals whom I meet occasionally, are President Battle of Okolona, Mississippi, where a number of our graduates have worked. I have found Mr. Battle interested in the general cause of Negro Education, and too, we found in our case that the cause is the same. I have had occasion to ask Mr. Battle just how our graduates measure up with his other teachers, and he tells me that Snow Hill graduates are among his best helpers. By this I know that in deeds, not words, we are making good.

Another most interesting character whom I always meet on my tours North is Mr. Frank P. Chisholm, Financial Secretary of Tuskegee Institute. I have been knowing Mr. Chisholm for a great many years. We have attended the Summer School at Harvard several summers together and it has been both a pleasure and benefit to me to be associated with him in this way. Although working directly for Tuskegee, he has always been willing to speak a word for Snow Hill wherever the opportunity presented itself. I have obtained many suggestions from Mr. Chisholm which have been very beneficial to me in my work here. I consider Mr. Chisholm a representative type of the new Negro of to-day. He is a brilliant scholar, a clear thinker, and is doing a very effective work for Tuskegee.

Others with whom I come in contact on such trips are Principal Hunt of Fort Valley, Ga.; Principal Minafee of Denmark, S. C.; Principal Long of Christianburg, Va. These young men and many others are doing a greater work than they know, and all possess in a smaller or larger degree the spirit of dear old Tuskegee. They are all preaching the gospel of Service.



Prof. Bagley in his "Classroom Management," page 225, has the following to say in "Testing Results":

"The ultimate test of efficiency of efforts is the result of effort. Unhappily this test is seldom applied to the work of teaching. We judge the teacher by the process rather than by the product, and we introduce a number of extraneous criteria to hide the absence of a real criterion. We watch the way in which he conducts a recitation, how many slips he makes in his diction and syntax, inspect his personal appearance, ask of what school he is a graduate and how many degrees he possesses, inquire into his moral character, determine his church membership, and judge him to be a good or a poor teacher according to our findings. All of these queries may have their place in the estimation of any teacher's worth, but they do not strike the most salient, the most vital, point at issue. That point is simply this: Does he 'make good' in results? Does he do the thing that he sets out to do, and does he do it well?"

I agree wholly with Prof. Bagley in this particular and on these grounds we are willing to stand or fall by the results of our graduates.

Speaking of our graduates and ex-students, I wish to point to the life and work of a few written by their own hands because in these particular cases I can testify to the truth of every word they say, having known them from early childhood. Their record follows and they speak for themselves:

"I was born in Snow Hill, Wilcox County, Alabama, about 30 years ago. I was the 14th child of a family of 17. My father was a very prosperous farmer and believed in educating his children. Each year he would send them by twos off to schools, such as Talladega, Tuskegee and Normal, Alabama. Some of the older children, however, did not take advantage of the great opportunity they had. He spent his money lavishly on them and about the time I was large enough to go off to school, he was not as prosperous. As soon as I was old enough he kept me in the public and sometimes private schools, both summer and winter. Yet, he had promised to send the remainder of us off to school. Fortunately for us, however, Snow Hill Institute had been established by Mr. W. J. Edwards, and my father being very much impressed with Mr. Edwards and his teachers, consulted him about entering three children, I being the youngest. Mr. Edwards kindly consented and we were at once put in school there. I was also fond of music and after learning that Snow Hill Institute had such an efficient music teacher, I was very much pleased to attend school there. So in the year of 1900 I entered. I was enabled to develop my musical talent to the extent that I was selected to play for my home church, and that inspired other students to attend Snow Hill Institute.

"During my first year in school there I was undecided as to just what I was going to follow as a trade. I worked awhile in the sewing room then in the laundry—was also interested in cooking and took special lessons in cooking under Miss Mabry. In fact, I studied cooking the first two years. Finally, in my senior year, Miss C. V. Johnson, then Secretary to Mr. Edwards, asked me to clean the offices of mornings for her and work with her on my work days. I began this work and would watch her using the typewriter so much until I fully decided that I wanted to make an efficient secretary for someone, and began working to that end. On my work days she would have me copying letters with ink. I would be careful not to make a mistake. During the time I was working in the office, Mr. Edwards would often send me on errands and tell me to see how quickly I could go and come. He seemed to have been very much impressed with my work as a student in both the Academic and Industrial departments. There were several prize contests given my class by different teachers, and I won each prize. This was in the Academic department. There were twelve members in the class. Mr. Edwards had the members of my class to write some friends of the school for scholarships (this being the request of the friends) and of the two persons that received favorable answers, I was one. During the whole time I was in school I did not receive one demerit, or a black mark. Our teachers seemed perfect, and it was a pleasure for me to try to please them.

"In the year 1903 I graduated from the institution with a splendid grasp of all that the school stood for and in favor with all of my teachers and friends. Mr. Edwards, knowing my ability to do things as I was instructed, employed me to work in his office as clerk. I then put forth more strenuous efforts to do efficient work and would try to improve myself along that particular line of work. So in the summer of 1905 I attended school at Cheyney, Pa., taking a special course in English, typewriting and shorthand. I did my best to give satisfaction in my work.

"In the year 1909 I was made Private Secretary to Mr. Edwards and a member of the Executive Council. I still had a desire to make further improvement, and in the summer of 1911, I attended Comer's Commercial College in Boston, Mass., trying to become more efficient in the work that was assigned to my hands. Principal Edwards would have to be away from the school most of the time soliciting means to carry on the work, but I tried to not leave a stone unturned in accomplishing the work he left behind. Snow Hill Institute succeeded in inculcating into my life a love for work, and I am not satisfied unless I have some work to do.

"I worked for Mr. Edwards untiringly until October, 1917. I was married, however, in July, 1917. I have often wondered where my lot would have been cast had there been no Snow Hill Institute."

"I was born of ex-slave parents on the Calhoun plantation in Dallas County, Alabama. I am not quite sure of the exact date of my birth, but at any rate, as nearly as I have been able to learn, I was born near the village called Richmond, in the month of May, 1883. My life had its beginning under the most difficult circumstances. This was so, however, not because of any wilful neglect on the part of my parents, but as ex-slaves they naturally knew but little as to the providing for the maintenance of their family and home. I was born in a one-room log cabin about 14 x 15 feet square. In this cabin I lived with my mother, father and the other eight sisters and brothers until providentially I found an opportunity to enter school at Snow Hill Institute, Snow Hill, Alabama.

"I went to Snow Hill in the year of 1896, and there remained for eight years receiving instruction at the hand of a loyal band of self-sacrificing teachers, who not only taught me how to read, write and to cipher, but in addition they taught me lessons of thrift and industry which have proven to be the main saving point in my life.

"I completed the prescribed course of study at the Snow Hill Institute in 1904 and returned home as I had resolved to do, before entering school there, for the purpose of helping the people of my home community.

"The Street Manual Training School (Incorporated) at Richmond, Dallas County, Alabama, was started in 1904 with one teacher, fifteen pupils and no money. Since that time it has grown to the point where it now has thirty acres of land, four buildings, and an enrollment of three hundred pupils. The entire property is valued at fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) and deeded to a board of Trustees. Among the members of this board are: Mr. J. D. Alison, President, Mrs. Edwin D. Mead, the Rev. Mr. Emmanuel M. Brown, Mr. Wm. D. Brigham, Mr. Walter Powers, Mr. Edwin W. Lambert, Mr. W. J. Edwards, Mrs. Francis Carr and Mr. Henry A. Barnes.

"This school is training some three hundred Negro children between the ages of six and eighteen years in the practical arts necessary to enable them to make an earnest, comfortable living. There is no attempt made to teach them foreign languages, either dead or living; but they are well grounded in the English language. They do not study higher mathematics, but they learn simple arithmetic. They spend no time on psychology, economics, sociology, or logic; their time is taken up trying to raise crops, to manage a small farm, to cook and to sew."


"I was born in Snow Hill, Wilcox County, Alabama, December 24th, 1883. My parents were Emanuel and Emma McDuffie. I was brought up under the most adverse conditions. My father died about six months before my birth, thus leaving my mother with the care of seven children. As I had never seen my father, I was often referred to by the other children of the community, as the son of "none." In July, 1893, my mother died and the burden of caring for the children then fell upon my old grandmother, who was known throughout the community as "Aunt" Polly. In order to help secure food and clothing for myself and the rest of the family, I was compelled to plow an ox on a farm and as we usually made from four to five bales of cotton and 40 and 50 bushels of corn each year, she was looked upon as a great farmer. When I was fifteen years of age, my grandmother was called to her heavenly rest, thus leaving a house full of children to shift for themselves. After her death I became interested in education and immediately applied for admittance to Snow Hill Normal and Industrial Institute, which had recently been established. I was admitted as a work student, working all day and attending school about two hours and a half at night. Until I entered Snow Hill Institute, I had a very vague idea about life as it pertained to the Negro. In fact, up until that time, I was of the opinion that the Negro had no business being anything; but after entering the school and being surrounded by a different atmosphere and seeing what had already been accomplished by Mr. Edwards, I soon realized that the Negro had as much right to life and liberty as any other man.

"While it was great joy for me to be in school, I was woefully unprepared to remain there. Really, I am unable to tell the many obstacles that confronted me while in school. But one of my many difficulties was to get sufficient clothing, for when I entered, I had on all that I possessed and day after day I wore what I had until finally they got beyond mending. The teachers at Snow Hill were just as they are now, extremely hard against dirt and filth. As I only had one suit of underwear and as we were compelled to change at least once a week, I could plainly see that my condition was becoming more alarming each day. So I would go down to the spring at night, wash that suit and dry it the best I could by the heater that was in my room. Quite often I would go for days wearing damp or wet underwear, which has caused both pain and doctor bills in after years. Finally, Mr. Edwards relieved me of this situation when he sent me to the sales-room to get a pair of second-hand trousers and another suit of underwear. My trousers didn't begin to fit, for they were both too large and too long, but I wore them with pleasure because I went to Snow Hill in search of an education and I was willing to make any sacrifice to obtain my desire. Through all of my troubles I never became discouraged, because I felt that some day I would be prepared to be of service to my people.

"Of all things that gave me inspiration while in school, Mr. Edwards's own Christian life which he lived before us day after day had more to do with keeping me there than anything else. His courage and perseverance under difficulties, which we all could see, were noble lessons to me. In his Sunday evening talks in the chapel, he would plead with us to shape our lives for work among those who were less fortunate than we. One Sunday evening, he made a powerful and vivid appeal, admonishing the students to go out, when they had finished their education, and start their life's work among the lowly in the rural districts. He spoke these words many times during the term. In fact, so often did he repeat them that the very thoughts of them inspired me and I soon learned to love the cause of humanity as well and as dearly as did Mr. Edwards himself. Soon after completing my course in May, 1904, a call came from the Black Belt of North Carolina for a man to go to Laurinburg and build up an Industrial school there. After talking the matter over with Mr. Edwards, I decided to go.

"I reached the town of Laurinburg September 15, 1904. When I got there I found that the people had been so often deceived and hoodwinked by political demagogues and supposed race leaders, that they had no confidence in any one. But I made a start and opened school in an old public school building with seven students and fifteen cents in cash. As the people had no confidence in me, it was hard for me to increase my enrollment, but I continued to labor with them on the streets and in the churches until I gradually won their respect. Then we started the erection of a new school building and from that day until now, both white and black have taken the deepest interest in the work and we now have the absolute confidence of all the people.

"The work has constantly grown from year to year and results have been obtained. From one teacher, seven students and fifteen cents in cash, thirteen years ago, the institution now has fourteen teachers, upwards of four hundred students from all over North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia, and counting land, livestock, five large and three small buildings, it has a property valuation of $30,000 all free of debt. Each year our teachers are selected from some of the best schools of the South; such as Tuskegee Institute, Shaw University, Snow Hill Institute, Claflin University, Benedict College, etc. Eight industries are taught, consisting of farming, blacksmithing, wheelwrighting, sewing, laundering, printing, domestic science and home nursing.

"We are kept in immediate need of money for current and building expenses, but we are going on accomplishing results with what we have at hand. Boys and girls are being sent out each year to work among their fellows. These young men and women are reaching the masses and as a result, the moral tone of the people is being aroused to the contemplation of higher ideals and they are at last becoming serious as to the sober side of life. Excursions, parties and a good time generally are slowly but surely being relegated to the rear. Our farmers are studying how to become better farmers and in all walks of life, we are improving in workshop and the various industries.

"Verily, the school room is doing much in awakening the dormant energies of the Negro for good. In fact, the school's influence is helping the people generally. Where there were ignorance and indifference, now we have a fair measure of intelligence and thrift. The people are buying homes and property, and in many ways showing signs of aspiration.

"We have also organized a farmers' conference and it is gratifying indeed to see how hundreds of farmers, with their wives and children, turn out seeking information, demonstration and co-operation. I have been thus enabled to help my people here in North Carolina by giving them the new truth and the new light and pointing them on to a better way."

Waverley Turner Carmichael was born at Snow Hill, Ala., in 1888, and was reared on the farm as all country negro boys are. All of his education was obtained at the Snow Hill Institute except for six weeks he spent in the Harvard Summer School last year.

I had been deeply impressed with the poems which he had been writing for several years, but as I was no judge of poems, I thought I would give him a chance to bring his poems before those who could judge, so I received for him a free scholarship at the Summer School at Harvard. He read his poems to the class on several occasions and I had the opportunity of hearing him several times. They had a deep impression upon the class, so much so that his professor wrote the introduction to his book in the following words:—

"When Waverley Carmichael, as a student in my summer class at Harvard, brought me one day a modest sheaf of his poems, I felt that in him a race had become or at least was becoming articulate. We have had, it is true, sympathetic portrayals of Negro life and feeling from without; we have had also the poems of Dunbar, significant of the high capabilities of the Negro as he advances far along the way of civilization and culture. The note which is sounded in this little volume is of another sort. These humble and often imperfect utterances have sprung up spontaneously from the soul of a primitive and untutored folk. The rich emotion, the individual humor, the simple wisdom, the naive faith which are its birthright, have here for the first time found voice. It is sufficient to say of Waverley Carmichael that he is a full blooded southern Negro, that until last summer he has never been away from his native Alabama, that he has had but the most limited advantages of education, and that he has shared the portion of his race in hardship, poverty and toil. He does not know why he wrote these poems. It is an amazing thing that he should have done so—a freak, we may call it, of the wind of genius, which bloweth where it listeth and singles out one in ten thousand to find a fitting speech for the dumb thought and feeling of the rest.

But we need not base the claim of Carmichael to the attention of the public merely on considerations of this sort. His work speaks for itself. It is original and sincere. It follows no traditions and suffers no affectation. It is artless, yet it reaches the goal of art. The rhythms, especially of some of the religious pieces, are of a kind which is beyond the reach of effort. He has rightly called them melodies. Occasionally there is, it seems to me, a touch of something higher, as in the haunting refrain of the lyric "Winter is Coming."

De yaller leafs are falling fas' Fur summer days is been and pas' The air is blowin' mighty cold, Like it done in days of old.

But this is rare. Oftenest the characteristic note is humor, or tender melancholy relieved by a philosophy of cheer and courage, and the poetic virtue is that of simple truth. We are reminded of no poet so strongly as of Burns.

What Waverley Carmichael may accomplish in the future I do not know. But certainly in this volume he has entitled himself to the gratitude of his own race and to the sympathetic appreciation of all who have its interests and those of true poetry at heart."


Mr. William Stanley Braithwaite speaking of his poems had the following to say:

"Many have claimed the mantle of Paul Laurence Dunbar, but only upon the shoulders of Waverley Turner Carmichael has it fallen, and he wears it with becoming grace and fitness. For this poet, a veritable child of Negro folk, gives expression to its spirit in need and language more akin to the ante-bellum 'spirituel' than any writer I know. Like those 'black and unknown bards' he sings because he must, with all their fervid imaginativeness, symbolizations, poignant strains of pathos and philosophic humor."

Mr. Braithwaite is the best known Negro critic of poetry in the world today.

As for me who has always lived in the South and know the Southern Negro through and through, I feel and believe that Carmichael has interpreted Negro life as never before.

We hope and pray that Carmichael will live through this great ordeal and come back to us and continue his work of interpreting Negro life.

There are hundreds of other graduates and ex-students who have won distinction in other fields and are doing equally as well as those who have been mentioned here. We have their record at the school, and any one can have them for the asking. I only wish to mention in a brief way two other graduates because they have established a first and second prize at Snow Hill. They are John W. Brister and Edmond J. O'Neal.

Several years ago the late Misses Collins (Ellen and Marguerite) of New York, two of the most sainted women whom I ever met, established an annual prize at the school known as the Sumner Peace Prize, of $15.00. But at their death this prize would have stopped unless some one had taken it up. Both Mr. Brister and Mr. O'Neal had won these prizes several times while they were in school. So at the death of the Misses Collins they came forward and said that they would be responsible for the prize each year on condition that the school make a first and second prize instead of one, Mr. Brister giving $10.00 in gold for the first prize and Mr. O'Neal giving $5.00 in gold for the second. This they have done for several years, and they constantly assure me that it will be kept up during their lifetime. This shows that our graduates are carrying with them the spirit of Christ, "Freely receive, freely give."



All prophecies pertaining thus far to the solution of the Negro Problem have failed. Men in all parts of the country are becoming alarmed over the situation and are asking, "whither are we drifting?" And yet although everyone admits that there is a Negro problem, few are agreed as to the exact nature of the problem, and still fewer are agreed as to what the final answer should be.

Generally speaking, the Negro problem consists of twelve millions of people of African descent living in this country, mostly in the Southern states, and forming one-third of the population of this section and one-eighth of the entire population of the United States. Notwithstanding the fact that we are far from an agreement as to the answer to this problem, we are all agreed that the solution must be sought in the answers to the following questions: What is to be the economic, the political, the civil, and the social status of the Negro in this country?

It is true that there are criminals in the Negro race for whom no legal form of punishment is too severe. It is also true that the better and best classes of Negroes are daily being insulted in the streets, on the street-cars, on the railroads, at the ticket offices, at the baggage rooms, the express offices, and in fact, in all places pertaining to public travel. They are persecuted, despised, rejected, and discriminated against before every court in the South. Since the Negro is now being lynched as readily for his sins of omission as he is for his sins of commission, it is quite necessary for him when traveling in the South, to keep constantly in telegraphic communication with the agent at the station ahead as to the movement of the mob. In addition to this, the Negro is subjected to many other forms of persecution and discrimination in almost every walk of life. These things go to make up what we call the Negro problem.

The White Man's Solution.

A large majority of the white men in the South believe that this problem is to be solved by the Negro "learning his place" and keeping in it. Though they do not say just what this place is, they purpose to teach it to the Negro by disfranchisement, by limiting his education, by discrimination on the streets and on the railroads, by barring him from public parks, public libraries, and public amusements of any kind, by insulting replies to courteous questions, by conviction for trivial offences, and, finally, by judge lynch and the shot gun. This class is called the rabble.

There is another class of white men in the South, though fewer in number, who deprecate all such views and actions (as advanced by this first class). They believe that the Negro should have equal legal rights, but that he should be denied equal political and educational rights. They believe the Bible to be the panacea for all the ills of the Negro. To bear out their contention, they often revert to the time when, they say, there was no race problem. This, they say, was during slavery, when the master taught his slaves the beneficent influence of the Holy Bible. They are now appealing to the white men of the South to return to this practice. In this class would fall a large number of politicians, statesmen, educators, and ministers. This is called the conservative class.

There is still a third class of white men in the South, who believe that the Negro is a man, nothing more and nothing less. They believe that under similar circumstances the Negro will act as other races do. They contend that the Negro should have equal rights in every respect; they believe that worthy Negroes like worthy white men, should vote, and that ignorant and vicious Negroes like ignorant and vicious white men, should not; that the school money should be divided equally among the children of the state regardless of race, color or previous conditions; that the Negro should be given justice in all of the courts; that the criminal and lawless Negro, like the criminal and lawless white man, should be punished to the full extent of the law. They believe that a strict adherence to this view will result in the final solution of the problem. There are, however, so few who feel in this way, and they are so widely scattered, that they can hardly be called a class. The other classes of white people consider them insane and accuse them of advocating social equality. They are given no voice in the government and their wishes are disregarded as readily as those of the Negro. They are sometimes persecuted, ostracised, and harmed in every conceivable way. This class is increasing and the two other classes decreasing.

The Negro's Method of Solution.

There are three classes of Negroes in the South, but only one desires a solution of the problem and that is class number two, of those I shall mention. Class number one is composed chiefly of the illiterate and superstitious Negroes. They usually work on the railroads, on the steamboats, in the large saw-mills, and on the farms for wages. They have no homes and do not want any; but float from place to place. This class is contented to be let alone, but is quick to resent an insult, and will shoot almost as readily as the white man, and make no attempt to choose their victims. Among this class are to be found the whiskey seller, the drunkard, the gambler, and the criminal of the lowest type. It is the low, degraded and depraved criminals of this class who stir up and incite race hatred, which always results in race riots. They do not attend church or any other religious meeting. The better class of Negroes are as anxious to get rid of these as the white man.

The second class is composed of the renters of farms, the owners of farms, of homes, of preachers, teachers, students, professional and business men. They believe that the Negro should be educated in the trades as well as in the professions; that they should own homes, pay their taxes and perform their civic duties like all other citizens and that they should possess all of the rights and privileges that are delegated to them by the Constitution of the United States. They believe in the purity of the state and in the sanctity of the home. They are enduring, self-sacrificing, patient, and long suffering, and desire the good of all. It is this class that always assists in quelling race riots and is constantly seeking the co-operation of the best class of white people in order that the relation between the races may be of the most cordial nature. It is this class also who do not lose their heads though innocent members of the race be murdered by the mob. Though this class is rapidly increasing, it is still far inferior in number to the first class.

The third class is composed chiefly of the ante-bellum Negroes. They are well advanced in age and are contented with their present lot. Many of them have waited for years for the forty acres and mule and having been disappointed in their expectation, they have lost all hopes. They are fast losing sight on the things of this world and gaining sight on the things of the world to come. Ofttimes, they sing, "You may have all this world, but give me Jesus." They are perfectly harmless and have no earthly ambition. This is what the white man here calls a good Negro; for him they act as pall-bearers when he dies and for him they weep when he is gone. In many instances they erect monuments to his memory.

Fallacy of the Master and the Bible Remedy.

Since the recent riots that have occurred in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and other Southern States, many white ministers and other prominent citizens of the South have been advocating a return to the master and Bible theory of slavery days, when, they say, there was no race problem. But every student of history knows that at the same time the master was carrying the Bible to his slaves this country was struggling with one of the greatest race problems that the world has ever witnessed and the slavery phase of this problem was settled by one of the bloodiest wars in the annals of history. Furthermore, the student of history knows that the master carried the lash more often to the slave's back than the Bible to the slave's heart; that the lash kept the slave in subjection.

If the relation between the races now seems most strained and the solution of the problem seems farther away than ever, we must be candid and seek the cause of failure in the methods that we have been using. In the past, the white man's idea of the solution has been contrary to the Negro's idea. The white man has been trying to circumscribe the Negro's sphere, at the same time, the Negro has been trying to know the truth which would make him free; yet, both claim to be trying to solve the same problem. Before a satisfactory solution of the problem can be had, it will be necessary for the best white people and the best class of Negroes to get together and agree as to what the solution must be. Is it to consist of the Negro knowing his place and staying in it, or is it to consist of the Negro knowing the truth and being free? Which shall it be? Unless they can agree as to the answer there can be no satisfactory solution.

In a democratic form of government having one language, one history, one literature, one religion, one Bible, and one God, there can be only one man who is the sum total of these, only one man who is the typically good democratic citizen, and this man will be known by his accomplishments and not by the color of his skin. If we should have two types, two men, then we must have two governments, two languages, two histories, two literatures, two religions, two Bibles, and two Gods.

If the shiftless, ignorant, superstitious, and criminal class of Negroes is increasing, it is because the ruling class of white men have been limiting his education, disfranchising him, and in other ways trying to doom him to serfdom. The great race riot in Atlanta was simply the culmination of the ten months' campaigning of race hatred. Men who are now writing resolutions and sound and sane editorials, were then rivaling each other in their abuse of the Negro. The nominee for governor seemingly, was to be given to the one who could prove himself the greatest enemy of the Negro. It is a divine and immutable law that if we sow the wind we will reap the whirlwind.

Only One Road to the Solution.

Lynchings and mobs will not solve the problem, for it has been proven that such actions beget crimes. Depriving him of educational advantages and disfranchising him, will not suffice, for on the one hand this method produces ignorant Negroes, and on the other hand it increases in the white man the belief that the Negro has no rights which a white man is bound to respect. These two states of mind in the last analysis will always produce crime. The master and Bible theory will not solve it, because the criminal and lawless Negro does not attend church. There is but one true solution and that lies in compulsory education for all the children of the state with religious, moral and industrial training. If the South is sincere in its efforts to help the Negro, or even if the ministers and other citizens who are now filling the daily press with suggestions as to the practical solution of this problem are sincere, they will advocate the enacting of compulsory educational laws and see to it that all children between the ages of six and fourteen are kept in school. They will also advocate a more equitable division of the school fund between the races. The great factor in the solution of this problem is education and the Negro schools are the hope of the race.

The Attitude of the North Towards This Problem.

Just now, the attitude of the North towards this problem is that of an onlooker and well wisher. For a number of years the South has been saying to the North, "Hands off, we understand the Negro and we can solve our own problem." The North, seemingly, has heeded this injunction and the press and politicians of the North, barring a few, have been inclined to take sides with the so-called conservative class of white men of the South.

The philanthropist of the North, however, while being a friend to the white South has been none the less a friend to the black South, and has kept constantly aiding Negro education and it is the schools thus supported that are doing the most effective work in the uplifting of the race. It was the wise guidance, judicious and calm leadership of the men in these schools that saved the day at Atlanta. All of these schools have the record of their graduates and ex-students opened to the public for inspection. And an impartial inspection of these records will show that these students and graduates have made since leaving school, according to their circumstances, as creditable a mark as the graduates and ex-students from any of our Northern schools. These schools do not give college training.

In these perilous times when the race is passing through such trying ordeals, and when the souls of men are being tried, I trust that our friends will not forsake us. Our industrial schools and colleges and the better element of the race, need their sympathy, encouragement, and assistance now as never before. My prayer is for a double portion of their spirit and an increased amount of their assistance.

The recent race troubles should not discourage us or our friends. In fact, we should be encouraged, for during these troubles the better element of the race has been severely tried and they have stood the test. Everywhere their advice has been for moderation, patience, and forbearance. It is true, we are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. Our records will show that we have been faithful over a few things, may we not retain the faith and trust of friends?



In every age there are great and pressing problems to be solved,—problems whose solution will have seemingly, a far reaching and lasting effect upon the economic life of the country concerned. It was the case in this country from its very beginning and the same condition obtains today, although each section of the country has its own peculiar problems the true American citizen recognizes the fact that the success of one section in solving its problems will be beneficial to the entire nation.

Perhaps, no section of this country has been confronted with more difficult problems than the South. I therefore, wish to present what I consider to be the greatest menace of this section, not as a prophet foretelling future events, but humbly expressing my views of the situation after careful study.

If you were to ask the average white man of the South today what is the greatest menace to this section, his answer, undoubtedly, would be, the Negro and Negro domination. At least this would be the answer of the politician. That he would take this view, is shown by the great amount of legislation that has been enacted, aiming either directly or indirectly to retard the Negro's progress. I do not believe that there has been one piece of legislation enacted in the South within the last thirty years for the express purpose of promoting the Negro's welfare. This does not mean, however, that the entire white South is against the Negro or that it means to oppose his advancement. There are thousands of white men and women throughout the length and breadth of the South, who are today, laboring almost incessantly for the advancement of the Negro. To these, we owe a great debt of gratitude, and to these should be given much credit for what has been accomplished. This class of white southerns are not, as a rule, politicians and it is seldom, if ever, they are elected to office. When we speak of the average southern white man then, we have particular reference to the great horde of office seekers and politicians that infest the entire south-land. It is this class that will tell you that Negro domination is the greatest menace to the South.

Now, Negro domination may be a menace to the South, but it is certainly not the greatest. Neither is the extermination of our forests to be greatly feared. There are organizations and societies on foot in all parts of the South for the conservation of our forests.

Southern citizenship is suffering much from child labor, but even this, although being a great danger to our future development and prosperity, cannot rightly be classed as our greatest menace. The one thing today, in which we stand in greatest danger, is the loss of the fertility of the soil. If we should lose this, as we are gradually doing, then all is lost. If we should save it, then all other things will be added. Our great need is the conservation and preservation of the soil.

The increased crops which we have in the South occasionally, are not due to improved methods of farming, but to increased acreage. Thousands of acres of new land are added each year and our increase in farm production is due to the strength of these fresh lands. There is not much more woodland to be taken in as new farm lands, for this source has been well nigh exhausted. We must then, within a few years, expect a gradual reduction in the farm production of the South. Already the old farm lands that have been in cultivation for the past fifty or fifty-five years are practically worn out. I have seen in my day where forty acres of land twenty or twenty-five years ago would produce from twenty to twenty-five bales of cotton each year, and from 800 to 1000 bushels of corn. Now, these forty acres will not produce more than eight or nine bales of cotton and hardly enough corn to feed two horses. In fact, one small family cannot obtain a decent support from the land which twenty years ago supported three families in abundance. This farm is not on the hill-side, neither has it been worn away by erosion. It is situated in the lowlands, in the black prairie, and is considered the best farm on a large plantation. This condition obtains in all parts of the South today. This constant deterioration of land, this gradual reduction of crops year after year, if kept up for the next fifty years, will surely prove disastrous to the South.

Practically, all the land in the black belt of the South is cultivated by Negroes and the farm production has decreased so rapidly during the last ten or fifteen years that the average Negro farmer hardly makes sufficient to pay his rent and buy the few necessaries of life. Of course, here and there where a tenant has been lucky enough to get hold of some new land, he makes a good crop, but after three or four years of cultivation, his crop begins to decrease and this decrease is kept up at a certain ratio as long as he keeps the land. Instead of improving, the tenant's condition becomes worse each year until he finds it impossible to support his family on the farm. Farm after farm is being abandoned or given up to the care of the old men and women. Already, most of these are too old and feeble to do effective work.

Now, the chief cause of these farms becoming less productive, is the failure on the part of the farmers to add something to the land after they have gathered their crops. They seem to think that the land contains an inexhaustible supply of plant food. Another cause of this deficiency of the soil is the failure of the farmer to rotate his crop. There are farms being cultivated in the South today where the same piece of land has been planted in cotton every year for forty or fifty years. Forty years ago, I am told by reliable authority, that this same land would yield from one bale to one and a half per acre. And today it will take from four to six acres to produce one bale.

Still another cause for the deterioration of the soil is erosion. There is practically no effort put forth on the tenant's part to prevent his farm from washing away. The hill-side and other rolling lands are not terraced and after being in use four or five years, practically all of these lands are washed away and as farm lands they are entirely abandoned. Not only are the hillside lands unprotected from the beating rains and flowing streams, but the bottom or lowlands are not properly drained, and the sand washed down from the hill, the chaff and raft from previous rains soon fill the ditches and creeks and almost any ordinary rain will cause an overflow of these streams.

Under these conditions an average crop is impossible even in the best of years. At present, the South does not produce one-half of the foodstuff that it consumes and if the present condition of things continue for the next fifty years, this section of the country will be on the verge of starvation and famines will be a frequent occurrence. Of course, Negro starvation will come first, but white man starvation will surely follow. I believe, therefore, that I am justified in saying that there is even more danger in Negro starvation than there is in Negro domination.

I have noticed in this country that the sins of the races are contagious. If the Negro in a community be lazy, indifferent, and careless about his farm, the white man in the community will soon fall into the same habit. On the other hand, if the white man is smart, industrious, energetic and persevering in his general makeup, the Negro will soon fall into line; so after all, whatever helps one race in the South will help the other and whatever degrades one race in the South, sooner or later will degrade the other. But you may reply to this assertion by saying that the Negro can go to the city and make an independent living for himself and family, but you forget that all real wealth must come from the soil and that the city cannot prosper unless the country is prosperous. When the country fails, the city feels the effect; when the country weeps, the city moans; when agriculture dies, all die. Such are the conditions which face us today. Now for the remedy.

It is worth while to remember that there are ten essential elements of plant food. If the supply of any one of the elements fails, the crop will fail. These ten elements are carbon and oxygen taken into the leaves of the plant from the air as carbon dioxide, hydrogen, a constituent of water absorbed through the plant roots; nitrogen, taken from the soil by all plants also secured from the air by legumes. The other elements are phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and sulphur, all of which are secured from the soil. The soil nitrogen is contained in the organic matter or humus, and to maintain the supply of nitrogen, we should keep the soil well stored with organic matter, making liberal use of clover or other legumes which have power to secure nitrogen from the inexhaustible supply in the air.

It is interesting to note that one of the ablest chemists in this country, Prof. E. W. Clark of the U. S. Geological Survey, has said that an acre of ground seven inches deep contains sufficient iron to produce one hundred bushels of corn every year for 200,000 years, sufficient calcium to produce one hundred bushels of corn or one bale of cotton each year for 55,000 years, enough magnesium to produce such a crop 7,000 years, enough sulphur for 10,000 years and potassium for 2,600 years, but only enough phosphorus for 130 years. The nitrogen resting upon the surface of an acre of ground is sufficient to produce one hundred bushels of corn or a bale of cotton for 700,000 years; but only enough in the plowed soil to produce fifty such crops. In other words, there are enough of eight of the elements of plant food in the ordinary soil to produce 100 bushels of corn per acre or a bale of cotton per acre for each year for 2,600 years; but only enough of the other two, phosphorus and nitrogen, to produce such crops for forty or fifty years.

Let us grant that most of our farm lands in the South have been in cultivation for fifty or seventy-five years, and in many instances for one hundred years, it is readily seen that practically all of the phosphorus and nitrogen in the plowed soil have been exhausted. Is it any wonder then that we are having such poor crops? The wonder is that our crops have kept up so well. Unless a radical change is made in our mode of farming, we must expect less and less crops each year until we have no crops, or such little that we can hardly pay the rent.

To improve and again make fertile our soils, we must restore to them the phosphorus and nitrogen which have been used up in the seventy-five or more crops that we have gathered from them. This is a herculean task but this is what confronts us and I for one, believe we can accomplish it. By the proper rotation of crops, including oats, clover, cowpeas, as well as cotton and corn, and a liberal use of barn-yard manure and cotton seed fertilizer, all of the necessary elements of plant food can be restored to our worn out soil. But the proper use of these require much painstaken study.

The black as well as the white should give this matter serious consideration. The landlords and the tenants should co-operate in this great work. The merchants and bankers must lend their aid and influence, preachers and teachers should be pioneers in this movement to save our common country. Our agricultural colleges should imprint their courses of study in something more than their annual catalogues. They should be imprinted in the minds and hearts of their students, and especially those who are to do farm work. Thus far, but very little general good has been accomplished by these schools. The reason is that the farmers, those who till the soil, have not had access to these schools and those who attend are not the farming class, and do not take to farming as their life's work. The man who works the soil must be taught how to farm. We have in this state nine purely agricultural schools, each of which is a white institution. It is true that some agricultural training is given for Negroes at Normal, Montgomery and Tuskegee, but these are not purely agricultural schools and the great mass of Negro farmers cannot hope to attend them.

If the Negro is to remain the farming class in the Black Belt of the South, then he must be taught at least the rudiments of the modern methods of improved farming. He must have agricultural schools and must be encouraged to attend them. The loss of the fertility of the soil is the greatest menace of the South. How can we regain this lost fertility, is the greatest question of the hour.



The Negro has remained in the South almost as a solid mass since his emancipation. This, in itself shows that he loves the South, and if he is now migrating to the East, North and West by the hundreds and thousands, there must be a cause for it.

We should do our best to find out these causes and at least suggest the remedy, if we cannot accomplish it. The time has come for plain speaking on the part of us all. It will do us no good to try to hide the facts, because "truth crushed to earth will rise again."

In the first place, the Negro in this country is oppressed. This oppression is greatest where the Negro population is greatest. The Negro population happens to be greater in the South than in the North, therefore, he is more oppressed in the South than in the North.

Take the counties in our own state. Some are known as white counties and others as black counties. In the white counties the Negro is given better educational opportunities than in the black counties. I have in mind one Black Belt county where the white child is given fifteen dollars a year for his education and the Negro child thirty cents a year. See the late Dr. Booker T. Washington's article, "Is the Negro Having a Fair Chance?" Now these facts are generally known throughout this State by both white and black. And we all know that this is unjust. It is oppression.

This oppression shows itself in many other ways. Take for example the railroads running through the rural sections of the South. There are many flag stations where hundreds of our people get off and on train. The railroads have at these little stops a platform about six feet square, only one coach stops at this point; the Negro women, girls and boys are compelled to get off and on the train sometimes in water and in the ditches because there are no provisions made for them otherwise.

Again, take the matter of the franchise. We all agree that ignorant Negroes should not be entrusted with this power, but we all feel that where a Negro has been smart and industrious in getting an education and property and pays his taxes, he should be represented. Taxation without representation is just as unjust today as it was in 1776. It is just as unfair for the Negro as it is to the white man, and we all, both white and black, know this. We may shut our eyes to this great truth, as sometimes we do, but it is unjust just the same.

Take the matter of the courts. There is no justice unless the Negro has a case against another Negro. When he has a case against a white man you can tell what the decision will be just as soon as you know the nature of the case, unless some strong white man will come to the Negro's rescue. This, too, is generally known, and the Negro does not expect justice.

None of us have forgotten the recent campaign of Mr. Underwood and Mr. Hobson for United States Senator from this State. Mr. Underwood's supporters attacked Mr. Hobson because he defended the Negro soldiers when he was Representative, and Mr. Hobson's supporters attacked Mr. Underwood because they said that he had a Negro secretary in Washington. Any politician who dares defend a Negro, however just the cause may be, is doomed to political death. This is another fact which we all know.

As yet, there has been no concerted actions on the part of the white people to stop mob violence. I know a few plantations, however, where the owners will not allow their Negroes to be arrested unless the officer first consults them, and these Negroes idolize these white men as gods, and so far not one of these Negroes has gone North. I repeat that there are out-croppings of these oppressions everywhere in this country, but they show themselves most where the Negroes are in largest numbers.

All of these sorrows the Negro has endured with patience and long suffering, and they may be all classed as the secondary cause of this great exodus.

The primary cause is economics. The storms and floods destroy crops in the Black Belt section. These people are hungry, they are naked, they have no corn and had no cotton; so they are without food and clothes. What else can they do but go away in search of work? There are a great many wealthy white men here and there throughout the Black Belt section. They have large plantations which need the ditches cleared and new ones made to properly drain their farms. They could have given much work to these destitute people; but what have they done? Nothing. They say that it is a pity for the Negro to go away in such large numbers, and so it is, but that will not stop them. They have it in their power to stop them by making the Negro's economic condition better here.

The South must do more than make cotton and corn; it must begin to manufacture some of the things that it uses. Why should we send our raw material to the North to be manufactured? Practically all the furniture we use comes from the North and they get the timber from us. The South must be both a manufacturing as well as a farming section, if it would hold its own with the other sections of this great country. The capitalists of the South must turn loose their money if this section would come into its own.

Thus far, the average white man of the South has been interested in the Negro from a selfish point of view. He must now become interested in him from a humanitarian point of view. He must be interested in his educational, moral and religious welfare. We know that we have many ignorant, vicious, and criminal Negroes, which are a disgrace to any people, but they are ignorant because they have not had a chance. Why I know one county in this State today with 10,000 Negro children of school age and only 4,000 of these are in school, according to the report of the Superintendent of Education. We cannot expect ignorant people to act like intelligent ones, and no amount of abuse will make them better.

We know that our race is weak and that the white race is strong. We know also that our race is sick and that the white race is well or whole. Now, how should the strong treat the weak? How should the whole treat the sick? Would a strong man say, here is a weak man with a heavy burden, therefore, I will put more upon him? Would a well man say, here is a sick man, therefore, I shall give him less medical treatment? Then why do you say, here is the ignorant Negro, therefore let us give him less educational opportunities than we give the white man? If the white man would be logical in this particular, he would say in the courts, because he is ignorant let us make his punishment less severe; because he is weak, let us protect him, because he is ignorant, let us give him greater educational opportunities. But this has not been done. There has not been one dollar increase in the Negro public school fund in the rural districts in twenty years; if anything, it is less today than it was twenty years ago.

Sometimes we hear it said that the white man of the South knows the Negro better than anybody else, but the average white man of the South only knows the ignorant, vicious and criminal class of Negroes better than anybody else. He knows little of the best class of Negroes. I am glad to say, however, that there are a few Southern white men who know the better class and know them intimately and are doing what they can to better the Negro's condition. I would to God that the number of these few could be increased a hundred fold.

We used to deride the North for giving the Negro a chance to spend a dollar while withholding from him the opportunity to make one. But in the Providence of God all this has been changed by the great war in Europe, which has created a labor scarcity in the North, East and West, and the Negro is now being given a chance to make a dollar there as well as spend one. The white man of the North is due no special credit for this, the credit belongs to God. He is the Righteous Judge of all the earth and in the end He will do right.

We will hear many tales of the sufferings of these people who go from this section. Many will die and some will come back, but still some will never return. You remember the fate of the Pilgrims, and the early colonists who first came to this country. You also know the fate of the men in the world war; many must die that some be saved. It behooves us of the South who remain here, both white and black, to re-dedicate ourselves to unselfish service and try more and more each day of our lives to live up to the great principle laid down in the memorable Atlanta speech by the immortal Booker T. Washington when he said: "In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress."



Too much praise cannot be given to the General Education Board, Dr. Dillard and Mr. Rosenwald, and others for what they have done and are doing to improve Negro public schools of the South, for in the last analysis it is there where the great masses of Negro children must be educated.

We have in the South, as every one knows, a dual system of public schools, one for the whites and one for the Negroes. This accounts in part for our poor schools for both white and colored. Such a system is expensive and, of course, the Negro gets the worst of the bargain. This is not surprising to him; he expects it in all such cases. He has been taught to expect only a half loaf where others get a whole one, but in some cases he gets practically nothing from the State for education. For an instance, I know four or five Negro public schools in the Black Belt that get $37.00 for the school term of four months. It would be hard to figure out how a teacher can live in these days on $9.25 per month. But, as I have said, the agencies that I have mentioned above have done much and are doing more to improve these conditions.

They endeavor to work with or through the State and county officials wherever it can be done. This I think is perfectly right and proper because the State must in the end direct the education of its subjects. But where this cannot be done, I think provision should be made for the thousands who are now being neglected.

Ever since I succeeded in getting the late Miss Anna T. Jeanes of Philadelphia to give so largely towards the Negro public schools of the South, I have been thinking how this work could be carried on in harmony with the State and county officials. The General Education Board, Dr. Dillard and Mr. Rosenwald have gone a long way towards solving this problem.

At the present time every Southern State has a Superintendent of Education and a County Superintendent. These officers are elected by the people (white people, of course). Recently, however, there have been two other offices created, State Supervisor of Education for the Negro and County Supervisor. These officers are selected and not elected. I think the offices came about as a result of the efforts of the General Education Board and Dr. Dillard, and I think that the State Supervisors of Education are selected largely through them.

Thus far all of the State Supervisors for Negro schools have been white men, and they in turn have been given the power to select the County Supervisor for the Negro schools, all of which are colored.

These white men are not always able to get the most efficient persons for such work because I know of a few County Supervisors here and there who are not competent to do the work that has been intrusted to them.

Now as the Negro has nothing to say as to who should be his State or County Superintendent of Education, it seems that in the matter of his State and County Supervisors he should have a word. (I think it is right and proper that the great funds for Negro education should be spent through the State and county officials wherever it can be done.)

The State Superintendent ought to be given the power to select the most competent Negro educator to be State Supervisor of Negro Schools, and the County Superintendent ought to be given the same. Furthermore, as each State has a Negro Education Association which meets once a year, I think this Association should recommend to the State Superintendent of Education a number of persons from whom he may select the State Supervisor. In each county we have an organization, which is known as the County Teacher Institute. This organization could recommend two or more persons to the County Superintendent from whom he might select the County Supervisor.

I feel and think in this way because in order to really help the people one must go amongst them and know of their hardships, struggles, desires, sorrows, and their joys, must talk with them, eat and sleep with them and know their hearts. It would be asking too much of the Southern white man to do this.

We know that in order to save the world God gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who came to earth in the likeness of man, to save man. Perhaps He might have sent an Archangel or an Angel, but this work of redemption could only be done by His sending a person who was a man, just like the men He was to save, and so it is with all great work of reformation and evolution.

In order to help the people we must become like them. In Christ becoming like man is what we call the humiliation of the Incarnation, and in that lies the great secret of redemption and reformation.

Again, I feel that this is a day of democracy, and that the Negro should be given a voice in the government of his schools. If this democracy, of which we are hearing so much, is for the white man alone, then I think that the Negro should know it, and if it is for all people he should know that.

The white man owes it to the Negro to make this matter plain.



The liberation and enfranchisement of four million of slaves in this country fifty years ago brought into the body politic a situation that has ever since been a bone of contention. Because of their ignorance, most of these people were without the slightest idea of the proper use, or the power, of the ballot, and but few could properly exercise this new and high prerogative.

As long as the federal troops remained in the South and supervised and controlled the elections, these newly-made citizens retained their rights, but when, during President Hayes' administration, the troops were withdrawn, the South immediately set to work to remedy this condition. Starting with Mississippi in 1890, state after state disfranchised the Negro. Other discriminating laws have been enacted setting apart "Jim Crow" apartments for the Negro on all public carriers, establishing "Jim Crow" schools, and, in fact, segregating the two races in all public places wherever it is possible.

This action on the part of the South brought forth a storm of criticism from the North. The North accused the South of treating the Negro unjustly and taking from him his constitutional rights. The South answered the North, not by claiming its policy towards the Negro to be right, but by accusing the North of hypocrisy; but both sections agree that the Negro should be made as useful as his capacities will permit, and that he should seek the place where this usefulness can be best secured.

This long and constant agitation has led thoughtful students of the race problem to ask the question:

Are the conditions in the South more conducive to the social efficiency of the Negro than those offered to him in the North? This is a vital question and a just answer to it will have a far-reaching and lasting effect upon the future welfare of the Negro race in this country. By social efficiency we mean that degree of development of the individual that will enable him to render the most effective service to himself, his family and to society. As has been defined, all will agree that social efficiency is the chief end of life.

In the North the Negro lives mostly in the large cities, while in the South he lives mostly in the rural or country districts. Both the North and the South will admit this fact; the opportunities offered in the North then must be largely the opportunities such as large cities can offer, those in the South must be largely such as country districts can offer.

But before further considering this question let us note for a moment the opportunities offered in the South and those offered in the North. It is true that, in the South, the Negro is disfranchised. It is also true that he suffers many other injustices in that section, but on the other hand he has a wide field of labor.

First of all he has almost an unlimited opportunity to farm. He is better adapted to farm work in that section than either the native white man or the foreigner. He stands the heat better and can do more work under a burning Southern sun.

In railroad construction the Negro is preferred. The coal of the South is dug by Negro labor, the iron ore is picked from the bowels of the earth by his brawny muscles. The Negro finds work at the foundries, the great pipe furnaces, the rolling mills, car factories and other industries in the mineral districts. He is eagerly sought for the sawmills, the turpentine orchard, and in fact for almost every industry of the South.

Though the white man in the South is beginning to enter the field of industry, he has not entered to the extent that the Negro's place is, in the least, in jeopardy. Such are the opportunities offered the Negro in the South, though he is largely deprived of political and social rights. These facts are admitted by both the North and the South.

Now what are the opportunities offered him in the North? First of all, the Negro is a free man in a political sense. He has the same right to vote that other citizens have and, too, he can vote according to the dictates of his own conscience.

President Roosevelt in his speech at Tuskegee in 1905, said that the colored people had opportunities for economic development in the South that are not offered to them elsewhere.

In the large cities of the North, where the Negro mostly lives, the chances for good health and the purchase of a home are not so good. The man with little means, such as the Negro usually is, must live in either filthy streets or back alleys, where the air is foul and the environments are permeated with disease germs. For the lack of fresh air, pure food and proper exercise, his children are mere weaklings instead of strong and robust boys and girls.

Dr. Robert B. Bean of Ann Arbor, in his essay on "The Training of the Negro" in Century Magazine of October, 1906, said that in the large cities the Negro is being forced by competition into the most degraded and least remunerative occupations; that such occupations make them helpless to combat the blight of squalor and disease which are inevitable in these cities, and therefore many of them are being destroyed by them.

Mr. Baker says:

"One of the questions I asked of Negroes whom I met both North and South was this:

"'What is your chief cause of complaint?'

"In the South the first answer nearly always referred to the Jim Crow cars or the Jim Crow railroad stations; after that, the complaint was of political disfranchisement, the difficulty of getting justice in the courts, the lack of good school facilities, and in some localities, of the danger of actual physical violence.

"But in the North the first answer invariably referred to working conditions.

"'The Negro isn't given a fair opportunity to get employment. He is discriminated against because he is colored.'"

These conditions instead of promoting the social efficiency of the Negro, tend to degrade and demoralize him. The argument that the deprivation of the Negro's political and social rights in the South tends to crush his ambition, warp his aspirations and distort his judgment, is unsound, because his self-reliance, ambition and independence in the South can be traced partly to this very deprivation. By it he has been forced to establish his own schools, his own churches, educate his own children and train his own ministers. All of these make for self-reliance and independence and are therefore conducive to his social efficiency.



"Two distinct problems face the Tuskegee graduate who goes forth as a leader of his people: the problem of extending education to the masses of our people and the problem of so adjusting the people to their actual conditions that the two races will be able to live and work together in harmony and helpfulness.

It may as well be admitted at the outset that the public schools in the rural districts of the lower South are not working toward this end. The condition of the public schools for our people in the Black Belt section of this state is disheartening. As unreasonable as it may seem, it is a fact that as the Negro population increases, in this section, the appropriation for Negro schools decreases. In many places the schools have been abolished altogether.

From almost every nook and corner of the South there comes a cry that the Negro as a laborer is unsatisfactory. It is said that he is inefficient, unreliable, indolent, lazy, in short, that he is unfit to do the work the South wants done. Less than two decades ago it was just the opposite. Then, it was said that the Negro was unfit for everything else except work. How inconsistent! We admit that there is a labor problem in the South, but we deny that it is due wholly to the inefficiency of the Negro as a laborer. In the first place, the natural increase of the population of the South has not kept pace with the marvelous growth and development of her industries. This in itself would explain a scarcity of labor. Furthermore, it should be remembered that the most industrious, the most frugal, and the most thrifty Negroes of the South are rapidly changing from the wage hands, to contract hands, and the day laborers, to the renters of their own farms, while thousands of Negroes in different parts of the South are establishing independent business enterprises for themselves. The South cannot hire that class of Negroes from their work. This, again has a tendency to make labor scarce. Added to this is the fact that thousands of Negroes are moving into the cities. Some are going into other states seeking on the one hand better educational opportunities for their children, and on the other hand, protection from mobs and lynchers. This again has a depressing effect upon labor.

While these underlying causes seem sufficient to account for the present labor troubles of the South, we must admit that there are entirely too many Negroes, particularly among those who work as wage-hands, contract-hands, and day laborers, who are ignorant and superstitious, too many who are gamblers and drunkards. Naturally, their work is not satisfactory. But they are not wholly to blame since they have had neither adequate educational opportunities, nor the proper home training. If they lack character, it is largely because they lack training. This is, as I understand it, what the President means when he says that "ignorance is the most costly crop that any community can produce."

Graduates from Tuskegee, a few years ago, received from our illustrious Principal the injunction, "Go ye into all parts of the South and change these conditions."

I will now try to give an account of my stewardship. I hail from Snow Hill, which is located in the heart of the Black Belt of this State, in a section where the colored people outnumber the white seven to one, and in the center of a colored population of more than 200,000. When we started work there twenty-five years ago the people as a whole were poor, ignorant, superstitious and greatly in debt. They had no special love for industrial training and not much general love for any kind of education. The so-called public schools were then running three months in the year and paying the teachers nine and ten dollars per month. We started work in a dilapidated one-room log cabin with three students and fifty cents in money. There was no state appropriation, neither was any church or society responsible for one dollar of its expenses.

Today we have an institution of more than four hundred students and twenty-two teachers and officers. We have 1940 acres of land, twenty-four buildings, counting large and small, and fourteen industries in constant operation. Being in a farming section, however, we are putting more stress upon agriculture.

It is the aim of our institution to teach the beauty and dignity of all labor and inculcate a love for the soil and for agricultural life. In spite of the denial of political rights and of the poor educational opportunities, and many other unjust discriminations, the South, just now, is the best place in this country for the Negro, and especially the agricultural section. We might as well recognize this fact and teach our people to act accordingly.

Again, we aim to train leaders for the masses of our people; for this purpose we need young men and young women imbued with the spirit of sacrifice and service who will go into these rural sections and teach our people how to live, how not to die; teach them how to live economically, to pay their debts, to buy land, to build better homes, better schools, better churches, and above all, how to lead pure and upright lives and become useful and helpful citizens in the community in which they live. Finally, we aim to train a high class of domestic servants. There need be no fear or uneasiness for we have an abundance of material for each class. But the worth of an institution is not determined by the acquisition of houses and land, neither by the bare statement of its aims, but by its actual power to serve the practical, daily needs of the community in which it exists.

As a result of our twenty-five years' work at Snow Hill, we have about one thousand graduates and ex-students who have either finished the full or partial course at the institution and are now out in the world doing creditable work as teachers, farmers, mechanics, and domestic workers. Over fifty per cent of our students have bought homes since leaving school. Many have houses with five and six rooms. Wherever a Snow Hill student teaches the school term is lengthened and the people are encouraged to buy land, build better homes, better school-houses and better churches.

The people have not only been helped by our students and graduates, but they have been helped directly through our Negro conference and Black Belt Improvement Society.

Twenty-five years ago the people in the neighborhood of the school did not own more than ten acres of land, while today they own more than twenty thousand acres. Twenty-five years ago the one-room log cabin was the rule, today it is the exception. Twenty-five years ago the majority of the farmers were in heavy debt and mortgaged their crops, today many of the farmers now have bank accounts, while a few years ago they did not know what a bank account was. Throughout the community they are building better homes, better churches, better school-houses, and the relation between the races is cordial.

Just a word about our Black Belt Improvement Society. This organization has ten degrees of membership and any one of good moral standing desiring to better his condition, can become a member of the first degree. A member of the second degree, however, must own a little property, at least three chickens, and a pig. A member of the third degree must own a cow, of the fourth degree he must own an acre of land, a member of the fifth degree must have erected on that acre a house having at least three rooms, a member of the sixth degree must own twenty acres of land, of the seventh degree must own forty acres of land, and of the eighth degree must own sixty acres, etc., until they reach the tenth degree.

Then we have an annual fair at which prizes are given to those who have excelled in any of the agricultural products, or those who have had the best gardens, or who have kept the best house during the year. A special prize is given to the party who has bought the most land during the year.

This society has several committees. It has a committee on education. This committee holds meetings in the various communities to arouse in the people an interest in education. It encourages them to build better school-houses, to extend the school term and it keeps their children in school. It is the duty of the committee on labor to gather together those of our race who still work as contract-hands, wage-hands, day-laborers, and domestic servants, and impress upon them the necessity of rendering the best service, tell them that the race is judged more by what they do than what we do, and how great their responsibility is.

The farming committee is always active, trying to create in the people a real love for agricultural life, trying to show them that the opportunities which the country offers us are superior to those offered in the cities. Other committees are the committee on good government, committee on business, and committee on good roads. The influence for good this society is exerting throughout the section can hardly be estimated. Such is the nature of the work we are doing at Snow Hill.

Previous Part     1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse