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Emigration of Colored People
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We have seen a large map of a Southern railroad, on one side of which were some highly-colored pictures. The first showed the tumble-down cabin of a colored man, himself, wife and boy carrying from it their few belongings to the favored land of promise. The next picture shows him and his family in the woods in his new location, getting ready to build his house. The third picture represents a fine log house, with green fields well fenced, a mule and pigs and chickens in the yard; and the last picture presents a large frame house with a veranda, in which the colored man is seated in a large arm-chair, reading a magazine, and his wife sitting by his side in a rocking chair, while near at hand is the capacious barn, with mules grazing in the adjacent lot.
By the side of each picture is a running comment, supposed to be made by the colored man himself, describing his hard lot ‘where he first lived, then telling of his purchase in the new land of promise, stating the price and the terms of purchase; then follows his happy rejoicing over his new location, and finally his triumphant joy in his wealth and fine mansion.
It is by such representations, we are told, that the colored people in various parts of the South are tempted to leave their homes for new locations. The experience of those of their number who have made such migrations has not usually been encouraging, and we fear that thousands more will acquire a good deal of bitter knowledge learned in that same expensive school.
We conscientiously believe that educated Christian Negroes are to be the safe and trusted leaders of their people in the crisis which is coming in the South. Their wisdom and Christian character will counterbalance the rash and reckless impulses of others of their race, and instead, therefore, of its being unwise to educate the Negro, as some Southern white people believe, the Christian education of these colored people will be the sheet anchor of safety to both whites and blacks in the South. As a specimen of the counsel given by the influential Christian Negro, we clip the following from the Christian Recorder of Philadelphia, the organ of the African Methodist Episcopal Church:
While we believe in all men being courageous, we encourage none to be rash. We are at the mercy of a powerful class. It is always best to remember this and apply the ounce of preventive to save the fifteen ounces of cure. Our brethren must be very careful in respect to the position taken on all subjects. Take no position from which you are likely to be forced to your disadvantage. In all writing and speaking forget not that discretion is the bitter part of valor.
We append, as germane to the subject, the following piece of sensible advice given by Rev. J.C. Price of Salisbury, N.C., to his brethren:
I have no faith in the doctrine of assimilation. The blacks may say their color is against them. If that could only be changed, all would be well. I believe that color has nothing to do with the question. Black is a favorite color. A black horse we all admire. A black silk dress is a gem. A black broadcloth suit is a daisy. Black only loses its prestige, its dignity, when applied to a human being. It is not because of his color, but because of his condition, that the black man is in disfavor. Whenever a black face appears, it suggests a poverty-stricken, ignorant race. Change your conditions; exchange immorality for morality, ignorance for intelligence, poverty for prosperity, and the prejudice against our race will disappear like the morning dewdrop before the rising sun.
One of the most distinguished representatives of our Baptist brethren, whose name is a household word in that communion throughout the South, expressed a common view among us when he said in our office not long since:
“We once thought that Negroes were incapable of education, but we have found ourselves mistaken, and now favor the education of the race, trusting that with better edification better ideas will come.”
By Rev. Geo. W. Moore.
The first Conference of Educators of Colored Youth, which met in Washington, D.C., March 25-27, was a large and interesting meeting, and the results were very gratifying. Representative instructors were gathered from various parts of the countrychiefly from the Southern Statesat the invitation of the College Alumni of Howard University, to review the educational progress of the past twenty-five years; to compare views of the status and needs of the work, and to consider plans for the future. It was felt that there were certain questions and special needs arising out of the condition of the colored people in this country, which required earnest consideration, the solution of which rests largely with the Negro himself. The presence of so many colored men and women who had graduated from the institutions of learning they now seek to foster, including Presidents of colleges and normal schools and principals and teachers of public schools, professors of Greek, Latin, mathematics and theology, physicians, lawyers and ministers, was an object-lesson of the educational progress of the race.
Able papers were read on practical subjects of all phases of educational work. Industrial work, normal training and higher education, were fruitful topics of discussion. While each had its advocates, it was the consensus of opinion that each of these departments has its place, and that all were needed in the education of our colored youth. Judge Tourgee addressed the Conference on National Aid to Education; and Hon. W.T. Harris, the Commissioner of Education, advocated the higher education of the Negro. National Aid to Education was strongly advocated by the Conference, and is emphasized in their address to the country. That address commends itself to the thoughtful consideration of the friends of education. The report closes with the following appeal in behalf of the institutions that have been established in the South: “A crying need at the present hour is the making permanent of the larger and more central institutions of learning for colored youth in the South, through permanent endowments, by private contributions. Many of them have struggled along for a quarter of a century, doing much good, it is true, but greatly hindered in their progress because of the uncertainty of their financial support. We appeal to the wealthy and philanthropic everywhere to contribute of their means to such endowments.”
Four college Presidents were in attendance, and took part in the ConferenceRev. Dr. Simmons, of Kentucky State University; Rev. Dr. Brackett, of Storer College, Harper’s Ferry; Rev. Dr. Bumstead, of Atlanta University and Rev. Dr. Rankin of Howard University. Prof. J.M. Gregory of Howard University was elected President, and Prof. S.G. Atkins of Salisbury, N.C., Secretary of the Conference. The next meeting will be held at Atlanta, Ga., January 1, 1891.
Not long since Rev. R.S. Storrs, D.D., preached a sermon in his own pulpit, presenting the claims of the American Missionary Association for the annual collection in its behalf from the Church of the Pilgrims, Brooklyn, N.Y. This sermon appeared in print in one of the daily papers, and attracted the attention of a benevolent gentleman deeply interested in the Christian education of the colored people, who was so impressed with the great value of the address, that he has furnished the Association with the means to print a large edition for general circulation. This we have done, and we presume that already, many of our readers have had the opportunity of reading this eminently wise and timely utterance on one of America’s greatest problems. Should any one desire an extra copy, we will gladly furnish it on application.
Although the discourse has had large circulation, we cannot resist the temptation to extract a few of its forcible utterances on some very important points.
Permanent popular liberties have their only sure foundation in sound moral conditions practically universal. We must secure these among those to whom we have given the ballot, and who are to be henceforth citizens with ourselves. Otherwise, we are building our splendid political house on the edges of the pestilential swamp from which fatal miasmatic odors are rising all the time. Yes, we are building our house on piles driven into the thick ooze and mud of the pestilential swamp itself. We are building our cities, which we think are so splendid, and which are so in fact, as men built Herculaneum and Pompeii, on a shore which ever and anon trembled with earthquake, over which was hung the black flag of Vesuvius, and down upon which rolled, in time, the lava floods that burned and buried them.
We have got to meet this immense problem, which is not far off, but right at hand; which is not a problem of theory, or of distant history, but of practice and fact; and which concerns not the well-being alone, but the very life of the nation. Noble men and women at the South are engaged in it already, with all their hearts; and we must help, mightily! It would be the craziest folly of the age for us to be indifferent to it.
Some men may say, perhaps, “But this is a work that cannot be done. It is too radical and vast to be hopefully attempted.” Nonsense! There is no work for the kingdom of God and the glory of His name, which cannot be done! With the Gospel in our hand, we can do everything.
There has been a good beginning made already. This Society, to which we are to contribute to-day, the American Missionary Association, has four established colleges, three of which are entirely supported by itself, have been founded by it and are carried on by it; and the fourth very largely so. It has multitudes of high schools, normal schools and primary schools.
First of all, we want men trained, and women too, in the knowledge of the truth as it is in Christ, and then to have them teaching others. And that is precisely the line along which the Society to which we are to contribute to-day, as we have done gladly and largely heretofore, is carrying its incessant operation.
Now I affirm absolutely that if ever there was a work of God on earth, this is his work! If there was ever anything to which the American Christian people are called, they are called to this. If there was ever a great opportunity before the Christian church, here it is.
Ah, my friends, don’t say “It is too great a work.” It is going to be done! You and I may do or may not do our part in it. It is going to be done!
There are some people who seem to see only the ignorance and vice of the Negro, and the inveterate race-prejudice against him; or at least they appear to be so occupied in dilating upon these hindrances that they have no time to devote to their removal, and, so far as their influence goes, they discourage others from doing anything.
On the other hand there are those who, while they see all these difficulties, only find in them the strongest incentives to the most earnest efforts to relieve the Negro from them. Which of these two classes is the wiser?
Some persons propose as the solution of the race problem, disfranchisement; and they point to the bad legislation of the blacks in South Carolina and Louisiana a quarter of a century ago, when scarcely any of them could read, and almost none owned property. On the other hand, there are those that are industriously trying to educate the blacks and inspiring them to the acquisition of property, and not in vain. More than two millions of the blacks can now read, and more than two hundred million dollars’ worth of property is now owned by them. They are thus being prepared to vote wisely.
Which of these two classes of persons is solving this problem to the best purpose?
There are other persons, in Congress and out, urging the deportation of the blacks to Africa, a thing impossible to be done, and, if possible, it would be harmful to those that were sent, as well as useless to benighted Africa. On the other hand, there are those who are training the colored people of this country in education, industrial habits and stable Christian character, thus preparing them as missionaries to Africa.
Which of these two classes has the wiser theory?
The eagerness of our colored population for education is strikingly shown in the reports given on another page from our institutions in the Southreports of over-crowded rooms, and students dismissed by scores, and even hundreds, for want of accommodations.
We call special attention to the report from Fisk University, in reference to the higher grades of education. It will be seen that, even in that place, a relatively small number are in the higher classes, and yet there is a sufficient number of these to indicate that some of the pupils are seeking what is absolutely essential to the race, to wit, that some should have the best education attainable.
While it is true of this race as of all others, that the masses can receive only primary training in letters and in industry, there must be some of their number who can be leaders in thought and influence. No race can make progress without such leaders, who can command the line of march. There must be the inspiration that comes from the success of the leaders. Hooker’s men did not ascend Lookout Mountain in a steady line. There were some far ahead of others, cheering and encouraging those following at greater or less distances, till at length the whole array stood on the brow, and thus won their position.
The warfare is different, but human nature is the same. The Negroes are no more of equal capacity than white men, and there is just the same call for differences in their attainments in scholarship and in general influence. And if those advanced in scholarship shall have Christian character as well as education, it will render their leadership all the more safe for their people and the nation.
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