African American Newspapers and Periodicals
African American Newspapers and Periodicals
ADAPTED FROM ESSAYS BY ADAM GREEN, YALE UNIVERSITY,
AND JONATHAN HOLLOWAY, YALE UNIVERSITY
The black press has been both chronicler of and catalyst for change in the African American community. It has developed and adapted in response to every major upheaval in African American history: abolitionism and emancipation, migration and urbanization, the rise of the modern middle class, the civil rights and black power movements. Key leaders and agendas have grown out of the mastheads and columns of black publications. Today, despite larger audiences looking to television, radio, and other mainstream media, the black press continues to influence African American opinions and the opinions of Americans generally.
THE EARLY BLACK PRESS AND THE SLAVERY ISSUE
Early black newspapers were particularly concerned with slavery. The first black paper, Freedom's Journal, was an abolitionist weekly started by Samuel Cornish (1795-1889) and John Russwurm (1799-1851) in New York in 1827. It was followed by other publications challenging the slave system: Freeman's Advocate, the Elevator, Aliened American, and the North Star, started in 1847 by the ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass (1817-1895).
Black-run newspapers were also concerned with amending the poor coverage of African Americans in the northern white press. Although it was supposedly free soil, much of the antebellum North was plagued by racial animus. When Willis A. Hodges (1815-1890) wrote to the New York Sun in 1846 defending African American suffrage, he was forced to purchase advertising space to present his views; as the editor put it,"the Sun shines for all white men and not for colored men. "Hodges's response was to start his own paper, Ram's Horn, that same year.
Black periodicals, like black newspapers, also championed abolitionism. The first significant black magazine was Mirror of Liberty, started by David Ruggles (1833-1904) in 1837. It was followed by the Anglo-African Magazine, the most ambitious black press venture prior to the Civil War. Printed in New York beginning in 1859, its contributors were a who's who of black antislavery leaders: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825-1911), Charles Remond (1810-1873), William Wells Brown (1815-1884), Douglass, and the early nationalist Martin Delany (1812-1885).
The fact that most of these publications originated in northern communities says more about the obstacles to pursuing such projects in the South, where antiliteracy laws prevented many blacks from learning to read and write, than it does about the level of tolerance in the North.
EMANCIPATION AND THE GROWTH OF A NATIONWIDE BLACK PRESS
With legal emancipation at the end of the Civil War, the black press enjoyed a period of significant growth. Increased literacy among African Americans during Reconstruction (1865-1876) meant a growing audience for news relevant to the racial community. The number of black-edited newspapers increased from 12 in 1866 to 31 in 1880. By 1890, there were 575 black newspapers nationwide, with many in former slave states like Virginia, Alabama, and Georgia.
While white abolitionist papers, slave narratives, and escape stories did much to change the national climate regarding the institution of slavery, in the years preceding and following the Civil War, papers like the Liberator, the Defender, Voice of the Fugitive, the New York Age, the Washington Bee, and the California Eagle served a central role in giving African Americans a sense of self and pride. Many of the newspapers also expanded the format of postbellum black newspapers to include general news coverage, society pages, arts and church reporting, and editorial commentary. Particularly during the period directly following manumission, black Americans suddenly found themselves with freedom and a list of supposed rights, but living in a hostile country where every element of organized society was arrayed against their very existence.
While framing national debates on the issues of racial justice, these papers served a critical role as the first public sign that such issues did in fact exist for the freedmen and the first public avenue where their voices might be heard. In addition, these papers had very specific weight and meaning to African Americans. They were symbols of literacy, education, and the hope for an eventual entrance into a situation of economic opportunity. Over the next few decades, hundreds of thousands of African Americans began the Great Migration out of the South to the modern cities of Chicago and New York, where life was often as difficult or even more difficult than it had been in the South. The Liberator, the Defender, and Voice of the Fugitive served as surrogate guides to help recent migrants decipher the unwritten urban rules they were expected to follow.
THE BLACK PRESS AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY
The black press played a key role in one of most important episodes in African American history: the controversy at the turn of the century surrounding the leadership of Booker T. Washington (1856-1915). Younger black leaders were not only frustrated by Washington's accomodationist position; they also objected to how the "Tuskegee machine" stifled communal debate.
Newspapers and magazines became tools of controversy for both Washington and his critics. Washington sought to control the black press, bringing under his wing two influential publications, the New York Age and the Colored American Magazine. Among Washington's opponents were Ida B. Wells-Barnett, William Monroe Trotter (1872-1934), publisher of the Boston Guardian, and W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963), who became editor of the Crisis magazine in 1910. The work of these three helped inspire the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the parent organization of the Crisis. With Washington's death in 1915, the views of columnists like Wells-Barnett and Du Bois increasingly shaped mainstream attitudes in the African American community.
JOURNALIST, ACTIVIST, AND CRUSADER: IDA B. WELLS-BARNETT
In the aftermath of the Civil War, the crusade against slavery gave way to the crusade against racial violence, a struggle in which the rising black press and in particular the journalist and activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931) played a significant public role. Like many other African American thinkers and leaders, Wells-Barnett was a driven person. After her parents and two of her seven siblings succumbed to a yellow-fever epidemic, Wells-Barnett took charge of her family and began teaching at a rural school at the age of fourteen. In 1882, she moved from Mississippi to Memphis, Tennessee, and taught classes in Shelby County and then at one of the black schools in Memphis.
In 1884, Wells-Barnett faced discrimination firsthand on a train trip to Nashville, Tennessee. En route to Fisk University, Wells-Barnett was told to give up the first-class seat that she had purchased and move to the smoking car. When she refused, the conductor tried to remove her, and Wells-Barnett bit him. She was then escorted off of the train. She later filed suit against the railroad company and won $500, but a higher court reversed the decision believing that Wells-Barnett had intended to disrupt the service provided by the railway.
Wells-Barnett's stance against discrimination played a part in her changing her career. In the mid-1880s she began contributing articles promoting civil rights under the pseudonym "Iola" to prominent African American newspapers. In 1889, she was named editor and became part-owner of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight. A year later, she was elected secretary of the Afro-American Press League, the first woman to hold the post. Her shift away from teaching altogether occurred in 1891 when the Memphis school board fired her for publicly challenging Tennessee's discrimination laws in the press. She then devoted herself fully to a career as a newspaper publisher, journalist, lecturer, and civil rights activist. In 1892, she experienced a bitter loss: Her friend Thomas Moss was lynched in Memphis by a white mob, one instance in a pattern of expanding repression, as Jim Crow segregation was established throughout the South. When she wrote a scathing editorial denouncing the crime, her newspaper's offices were sacked and her own life threatened. Over the next two years, she investigated racially motivated attacks in the South, writing articles for her own Free Speech and Headlight and the New York Age that led to the book On Lynching (1894), still one of the best analyses of racial violence.
Wells-Barnett became an intellectual tactician, forging strategies of protest that would carry her overseas to seek support for her domestic activities. In 1894, for example, she traveled to England to win allies for her antilynching crusade. She returned to the United States a celebrity—vilified by some, lauded by others, but known by all. She continued her work as a writer and activist until her death in 1931, pushing African American leadership and public opinion to more militant positions.
SEE PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENT "The Case Stated" and "Lynch Law Statistics" by Ida B. Wells-Barnett
ROBERT BAGNALL'S REPORT ON THE SOUTH
The 1929 report of the then-field secretary of the NAACP, Robert Bagnall, was an influential piece of journalism that appeared in the Crisis in the early twentieth century. Bagnall had been touring the South in the late 1920s, covering flood conditions along the Mississippi.
In addition to providing an account of the damage caused by the flood, he turned his attention to describing relations between blacks and whites in the South. Although he did find instances of white racial violence against black southerners, his account was not altogether pessimistic. He also found causes for hope: changing attitudes among some white southerners and a growing realization among black southerners of both the importance of voting and the very real impediments that had been arrayed against the efforts of African Americans to organize and register voters.
Bagnall concluded his report with a discussion of the beginnings of a realignment in political thinking among black southerners. Traditionally Republican, some had begun to urge black participation in the Democratic party, especially in primary elections, as a way of gaining political power. The Republican party in the South had historically been linked to the abolitionist cause and Radical Reconstruction, while the Democrats, or the Dixiecrats as they were often called, stood for "white man's government. "But as one friend told Bagnall,"No one can be elected here except a Democrat.… We mean to support the most friendly Democrat, and if he fails us, we will do our best to put him out."
THE RISE OF BLACK MILITANCY AND THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE
Racial militancy grew during the 1910s and 1920s, spurred on by an invigorated black press. Du Bois continued to take courageous stands in the columns of the Crisis, but he found himself challenged, often personally, by a pair of more radical publications. The Messenger, published by the black socialists A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979) and Chandler Owen (1889-1967), regularly cast doubt on prospects for racial justice under the American system; for a couple of years following World War I, it was banned by the U.S. Post Office as seditious. Negro World was published by Marcus and Amy Jacques Garvey, Jamaican immigrants and champions of the "Back to Africa" movement. Through its reports on blacks in the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa and its advocacy of racial unification under a Pan-African state, Negro World anticipated not only the black power movement of the late 1960s but also the idea of "Afrocentricity" today.
SEE PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENT Marcus Garvey and the "Africa for Africans" Movement
The growth of black magazines during these years also intertwined with the cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. During the 1920s, Du Bois tried to capitalize on the public's increasing interest in cultural matters, hiring the talented writer Jessie Fauset (1882-1961) to organize the cultural sections of the Crisis. Once again, though, Du Bois found his efforts eclipsed. The magazine Opportunity printed literary works and sponsored artistic award dinners; its editor, Charles Johnson, was acclaimed as a key "parent" of the renaissance. George Schuyler (1895-1977) and Theophilus Lewis, who both went on to long careers as newspaper columnists, also increased the Messenger 's coverage of the arts, creating another forum for new artists.
More sensational efforts in cultural journalism came from the artists themselves: in 1926, Wallace Thurman (1902-1934) put out a new magazine, Fire, which sought to overturn traditionalism in the black community. Among the editors were many leading figures of the Harlem Renaissance: Zora Neale Hurston (1901-1960), Langston Hughes (1902-1967), Aaron Douglas (1899-1979), and Thurman himself.
THE BLACK PRESS RESPONDS TO THE GREAT MIGRATION
While black magazines stimulated cultural ferment, black newspapers were involved with another historic transformation: the massive waves of black migration and urbanization. Between 1915 and 1930, over a million African Americans left the South and moved to northern cities, and close to four million made the journey between 1940 and 1960. For many migrants, it was papers like the Chicago Defender and the Pittsburgh Courier, with their flashy coverage of better jobs and nightlife "up north," that helped inspire the journey. In 1917, the Defender, published by Robert Abbott (1868-1940) in a tabloid style reminiscent of William Randolph Hearst's papers, went so far as to run a front-page campaign called the "Great Northern Drive," explicitly encouraging southern blacks to migrate.
As with Reconstruction, migration and urbanization resulted in better education, growing literacy, and, ultimately, larger audiences for black papers. During the 1920s, the Defender reached a circulation of 230,000, many of them southern readers. By the 1940s, the Courier had nearly 300,000 readers.
CHANGE IN THE POST-WORLD WAR II ERA
After World War II, the emergence of the Johnson Publishing Company marked a new phase in black journalism. Run by an Arkansas migrant named John H. Johnson (b. 1918), the company started several publications: Negro Digest, Ebony, and Jet. Each of these journals mirrored mainstream American publications—Negro Digest followed the example ofReader's Digest, Ebony followed Life, and so on—and also helped encourage black consumerism through increased advertising copy. Johnson is a multimillionaire today, but in 1942 he had to mortgage his mother's furniture to raise the five hundred dollars he needed to start the Negro Digest.
This period also saw political pioneers grow out of the black press. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (1908-1972), elected the first black congressman from New York City in 1944, established his candidacy from the pages of the weekly People's Voice, which he edited for several years prior to his election. Charlotta Bass (1880-1969), the radical publisher of the California Eagle in Los Angeles, became the first black woman to be nominated for vice president when she ran on the Progressive party ticket in 1952.
REPORTING ON THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
The black press was also crucial to the growth of the civil rights movement. News of campaigns in Montgomery and Little Rock was featured in major black newspapers and magazines like Jet. "Eyewitness" reporting, a staple of news coverage today, was perfected by black journalists during the civil rights years. Beat reporters and photographers such as James Hicks and Moneta Sleet achieved the fame previously reserved for editors and star columnists.
With the growing militancy of the 1960s, new publications expressed ideas associated with the black power movement. The Nation of Islam's newspaper, Muhammad Speaks (since renamed the Final Call ) attracted six hundred thousand readers with controversial discussions of the history and future of American race relations. The Black Panther party's paper, the Black Panther, was also confrontational, criticizing police-community relations in Oakland and Los Angeles.
Still other publications renewed the cultural radicalism of the 1920s. Shirley Graham Du Bois (1906-1977), widow of the famed Crisis editor, published Freedomways, a Harlem journal that included James Baldwin (1924-1987), Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965), and John Henrik Clarke (1915-1998) as regular contributors. Negro Digest was remade in 1971 into Black World, with its editor, Hoyt Fuller (1923-1981), presenting hard-hitting analyses of African American politics and culture.
TODAY'S BLACK PRESS
In the last twenty years, the black press has reversed its traditional pattern of development. Magazines, which up until the 1950s were often limited by small readerships, have become the healthiest arm of the black press. Publications such as Ebony, Jet, Essence, Black Enterprise, and Vibe now enjoy circulations at or approaching one million, influencing public opinion within and beyond the African American community. Black newspapers, on the other hand, have seen circulation shrink under increasing competition from mainstream newspapers and the radio and television media.
Still, black newspapers continue to have an impact. The historic Chicago mayoral campaign of Harold Washington (1922-1987) in 1983 received critical support from black journalists. In the wake of incidents in Howard Beach and Bensonhurst, increased racial militancy in New York City was fostered by coverage in local black papers like the Amsterdam News and the City Sun.
Bullock, Penelope L. The Afro-American Periodical Press, 1838-1909. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981.
Buni, Andrew. Robert L. Vann of the Pittsburgh Courier. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1974.
Duster, Alfreda, ed. Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970.
Hogan, Lawrence D. A Black National News Service: The Associated Negro Press and Claude Barnett, 1919-1945. Cranbury: Associated Universities Press, 1984.
Hutton, Frankie. The Early Black Press in America, 1827-1860. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1993.
Johnson, Abby, and Ronald Johnson. Propaganda and Aesthetics: The Literary Politics of Afro-American Magazines in the Twentieth Century. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1979.
Ottley, Roi. The Lonely Warrior: The Life and Times of Robert S. Abbott. Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1955.
Penn, I. Garland. The Afro-American Press and Its Editors. Springfield: Wiley, 1891. Reprint. New York: Arno Press, 1969.
Vincent, Theodore G., ed. Voices of a Black Nation: Political Journalism in the Harlem Renaissance. San Francisco: Ramparts Press, 1973.
Wells-Barnett, Ida B. Selected Works of Ida B. Wells-Barnett. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Wolselley, Roland E. The Black Press, U.S.A.. Ames: Iowa StateUniversity Press, 1971.
PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENT
"The Case Stated" and "Lynch Law Statistics" by Ida B. Wells-Barnett
With the 1892 destruction of her Memphis press and the lynching of three of her colleagues, the newspaperwoman Ida B. Wells-Barnett embarked on what was to be the great mission of her life: a tireless crusade against lynching and racial violence. Unafraid, Wells-Barnett rebuilt her paper, the Memphis Free Speech, with funds raised by Sarah Thompson Garnet (an educator and the widow of Henry Highland Garnet), among others. For the next forty years, until Wells-Barnett's death in 1931, hers was the principal voice raised against the barbarous practices that claimed thousands of black lives in the century following Emancipation.
In 1895, Wells-Barnett published A Red Record, exposing and attacking the national practice of lynching. Reprinted here are the first two chapters."The Case Stated" offers a brief history of the post-Civil War South, along with a trenchant analysis of the psychological and political motivations behind lynching. "Lynch Law Statistics" lists the names of 159 victims of lynching during 1893 and their supposed "crimes," which include "Race Prejudice" and "Self Defense. "Wells-Barnett also offers a brief statistical review of 1892, when 241 people were lynched, the greatest number in a single year.
The Case Stated
The student of American sociology will find the year 1894 marked by a pronounced awakening of the public conscience to a system of anarchy and outlawry which had grown during a series of ten years to be so common, that scenes of unusual brutality failed to have any visible effect upon the humane sentiments of the people of our land.
Beginning with the emancipation of the Negro, the inevitable result of unbridled power exercised for two and a half centuries, by the white man over the Negro, began to show itself in acts of conscienceless outlawry. During the slave regime, the Southern white man owned the Negro body and soul. It was to his interest to dwarf the soul and preserve the body. Vested with unlimited power over his slave, to subject him to any and all kinds of physical punishment, the white man was still restrained from such punishment as tended to injure the slave by abating his physical powers and thereby reducing his financial worth. While slaves were scourged mercilessly, and in countless cases inhumanly treated in other respects, still the white owner rarely permitted his anger to go so far as to take a life, which would entail upon him a loss of several hundred dollars. The slave was rarely killed, he was too valuable; it was easier and quite as effective, for discipline or revenge, to sell him "Down South."
But Emancipation came and the vested interests of the white man in the Negro's body were lost. The white man had no right to scourge the emancipated Negro, still less has he a right to kill him. But the Southern white people had been educated so long in that school of practice, in which might makes right, that they disdained to draw strict lines of action in dealing with the Negro. In slave times the Negro was kept subservient and submissive by the frequency and severity of the scourging, but, with freedom, a new system of intimidation came into vogue; the Negro was not only whipped and scourged; he was killed.
Not all nor nearly all of the murders done by white men, during the past thirty years in the South, have come to light, but the statistics as gathered and preserved by white men, and which have not been questioned, show that during these years more than ten thousand Negroes have been killed in cold blood, without the formality of judicial trial and legal execution. And yet, as evidence of the absolute impunity with which the white man dares to kill a Negro, the same record shows that during all these years, and for all these murders only three white men have been tried, convicted, and executed. As no white man has been lynched for the murder of colored people, these three executions are the only instances of the death penalty being visited upon white men for murdering Negroes.
Naturally enough the commission of these crimes began to tell upon the public conscience, and the Southern white man, as a tribute to the nineteenth century civilization, was in a manner compelled to give excuses for his barbarism. His excuses have adapted themselves to the emergency, and are aptly outlined by that greatest of all Negroes, Frederick Douglass, in an article of recent date, in which he shows that there have been three distinct eras of Southern barbarism, to account for which three distinct excuses have been made.
The first excuse given to the civilized world for the murder of unoffending Negroes was the necessity of the white man to repress and stamp out alleged "race riots. "For years immediately succeeding the war there was an appalling slaughter of colored people, and the wires usually conveyed to northern people and the world the intelligence, first, that an insurrection was being planned by Negroes, which, a few hours later, would prove to have been vigorously resisted by white men, and controlled with a resulting loss of several killed and wounded. It was always a remarkable feature in these insurrections and riots that only Negroes were killed during the rioting, and that all white men escaped unharmed.
From 1865 to 1872, hundreds of colored men and women were mercilessly murdered and the almost invariable reason assigned was that they met their death by being alleged participants in an insurrection or riot. But this story at last wore itself out. No insurrection ever materialized; no Negro rioter was ever apprehended and proven guilty, and no dynamite ever recorded the black man's protest against oppression and wrong. It was too much to ask thoughtful people to believe this transparent story, and the southern white people at last made up their minds that some other excuse must be had.
Then came the second excuse, which had its birth during the turbulent times of reconstruction. By an amendment to the Constitution the Negro was given the right of franchise, and, theoretically at least, his ballot became his invaluable emblem of citizenship. In a government "of the people, for the people, and by the people," the Negro's vote became an important factor in all matters of state and national politics. But this did not last long. The southern white man would not consider that the Negro had any right which a white man was bound to respect, and the idea of a republican form of government in the southern states grew into general contempt. It was maintained that "This is a white man's government," and regardless of numbers the white man should rule. "No Negro domination" became the new legend on the sanguinary banner of the sunny South, and under it rode the Ku Klux Klan, the Regulators, and the lawless mobs, which for any cause chose to murder one man or a dozen as suited their purpose best. It was a long, gory campaign; the blood chills and the heart almost loses faith in Christianity when one thinks of Yazoo, Hamburg, Edgefield, Copiah, and the countless massacres of defenseless Negroes, whose only crime was the attempt to exercise their right to vote.
But it was a bootless strife for colored people. The government which had made the Negro a citizen found itself unable to protect him. It gave him the right to vote, but denied him the protection which should have maintained that right. Scourged from his home; hunted through the swamps; hung by midnight raiders, and openly murdered in the light of day, the Negro clung to his right of franchise with a heroism which would have wrung admiration from the hearts of savages. He believed that in that small white ballot there was a subtle something which stood for manhood as well as citizenship, and thousands of brave black men went to their graves, exemplifying the one by dying for the other.
The white man's victory soon became complete by fraud, violence, intimidation and murder. The franchise vouchsafed to the Negro grew to be a "barren ideality," and regardless of numbers, the colored people found themselves voiceless in the councils of those whose duty it was to rule. With no longer the fear of "Negro Domination" before their eyes, the white man's second excuse became valueless. With the Southern governments all subverted and the Negro actually eliminated from all participation in state and national elections, there could be no longer an excuse for killing Negroes to prevent "Negro Domination."
Brutality still continued; Negroes were whipped, scourged, exiled, shot and hung whenever and wherever it pleased the white man so to treat them, and as the civilized world with increasing persistency held the white people of the South to account for its outlawry, the murderers invented the third excuse—that Negroes had to be killed to avenge their assaults upon women. There could be framed no possible excuse more harmful to the Negro and more unanswerable if true in its sufficiency for the white man.
Humanity abhors the assailant of womanhood, and this charge upon the Negro at once placed him beyond the pale of human sympathy. With such unanimity, earnestness and apparent candor was this charge made and reiterated that the world has accepted the story that the Negro is a monster which the Southern white man has painted him. And to-day, the Christian world feels, that while lynching is a crime, and lawlessness and anarchy the certain precursors of a nation's fall, it can not by word or deed, extend sympathy or help to a race of outlaws, who might mistake their plea for justice and deem it an excuse for their continued wrongs.
The Negro has suffered much and is willing to suffer more. He recognizes that the wrongs of two centuries can not be righted in a day, and he tries to bear his burden with patience for to-day and be hopeful for to-morrow. But there comes a time when the veriest worm will turn, and the Negro feels to-day that after all the work he has done, all the sacrifices he has made, and all the suffering he has endured, if he did not, now, defend his name and manhood from this vile accusation, he would be unworthy even of the contempt of mankind. It is to this charge he now feels he must make answer.
If the Southern people in defense of their lawlessness, would tell the truth and admit that colored men and women are lynched for almost any offense, from murder to a misdemeanor, there would not now be the necessity for this defense. But when they intentionally, maliciously and constantly belie the record and bolster up these falsehoods by the words of legislators, preachers, governors and bishops, then the Negro must give to the world his side of the awful story.
A word as to the charge itself. In considering the third reason assigned by the Southern white people for the butchery of blacks, the question must be asked, what the white man means when he charges the black man with rape. Does he mean the crime which the statutes of the civilized states describe as such? Not by any means. With the Southern white man, any mesalliance existing between a white woman and a colored man is a sufficient foundation for the charge of rape. The Southern white man says that it is impossible for a voluntary alliance to exist between a white woman and a colored man, and therefore, the fact of an alliance is a proof of force. In numerous instances where colored men have been lynched on the charge of rape, it was positively known at the time of lynching, and indisputably proved after the victim's death, that the relationship sustained between the man and woman was voluntary and clandestine, and that in no court of law could even the charge of assault have been successfully maintained.
It was for the assertion of this fact, in the defense of her own race, that the writer hereof became an exile; her property destroyed and her return to her home forbidden under penalty of death, for writing the following editorial which was printed in her paper, the Free Speech, in Memphis, Tenn., May 21, 1892:
Eight Negroes lynched since last issue of the "Free Speech" one at Little Rock, Ark., last Saturday morning where the citizens broke (?) into the penitentiary and got their man; three near Anniston, Ala., one near New Orleans; and three at Clarksville, Ga., the last three for killing a white man, and five on the same old racket—the new alarm about raping white women. The same programme of hanging, then shooting bullets into the lifeless bodies was carried out to the letter. Nobody in this section of the country believes the old threadbare lie that Negro men rape white women. If Southern white men are not careful, they will over-reach themselves and public sentiment will have a reaction; a conclusion will then be reached which will be very damaging to the moral reputation of their women.
But threats cannot suppress the truth, and while the Negro suffers the soul deformity, resultant from two and a half centuries of slavery, he is no more guilty of this vilest of all vile charges than the white man who would blacken his name.
During all the years of slavery, no such charge was ever made, not even during the dark days of the rebellion, when the white man, following the fortunes of war went to do battle for the maintenance of slavery. While the master was away fighting to forge the fetters upon the slave, he left his wife and children with no protectors save the Negroes themselves. And yet during those years of trust and peril, no Negro proved recreant to his trust and no white man returned to a home that had been dispoiled.
Likewise during the period of alleged "insurrection," and alarming "race riots," it never occurred to the white man, that his wife and children were in danger of assault. Nor in the Reconstruction era, when the hue and cry was against "Negro Domination," was there ever a thought that the domination would ever contaminate a fireside or strike to death the virtue of womanhood. It must appear strange indeed, to every thoughtful and candid man, that more than a quarter of a century elapsed before the Negro began to show signs of such infamous degeneration.
In his remarkable apology for lynching, Bishop Haygood, of Georgia, says: "No race, not the most savage, tolerates the rape of woman, but it may be said without reflection upon any other people that the Southern people are now and always have been most sensitive concerning the honor of their women—their mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. "It is not the purpose of this defense to say one word against the white women of the South. Such need not be said, but it is their misfortune that the chivalrous white men of that section, in order to escape the deserved execration of the civilized world, should shield themselves by their cowardly and infamously false excuse, and call into question that very honor about which their distinguished priestly apologist claims they are most sensitive. To justify their own barbarism they assume a chivalry which they do not possess. True chivalry respects all womanhood, and no one who reads the record, as it is written in the faces of the million mulattoes in the South, will for a minute conceive that the southern white man had a very chivalrous regard for the honor due the women of his own race or respect for the womanhood which circumstances placed in his power. That chivalry which is "most sensitive concerning the honor of women" can hope for but little respect from the civilized world, when it confines itself entirely to the women who happen to be white. Virtue knows no color line, and the chivalry which depends upon complexion of skin and texture of hair can command no honest respect.
When emancipation came to the Negroes, there arose in the northern part of the United States an almost divine sentiment among the noblest, purest and best white women of the North, who felt called to a mission to educate and Christianize the millions of southern exslaves. From every nook and corner of the North, brave young white women answered that call and left their cultured homes, their happy associations and their lives of ease, and with heroic determination went to the South to carry light and truth to the benighted blacks. It was a heroism no less than that which calls for volunteers for India, Africa and the Isles of the sea. To educate their unfortunate charges; to teach them the Christian virtues and to inspire in them the moral sentiments manifest in their own lives, these young women braved dangers whose record reads more like fiction than fact. They became social outlaws in the South. The peculiar sensitiveness of the southern white men for women, never shed its protecting influence about them. No friendly word from their own race cheered them in their work; no hospitable doors gave them the companionship like that from which they had come. No chivalrous white man doffed his hat in honor or respect. They were "Nigger teachers"—unpardonable offenders in the social ethics of the South, and were insulted; persecuted and ostracised, not by Negroes, but by the white manhood which boasts of its chivalry toward women.
And yet these northern women worked on, year after year, unselfishly, with a heroism which amounted almost to martyrdom. Threading their way through dense forests, working in schoolhouse, in the cabin and in the church, thrown at all times and in all places among the unfortunate and lowly Negroes, whom they had come to find and to serve, these northern women, thousands of them, have spent more than a quarter of a century in giving to the colored people their splendid lessons for home and heart and soul. Without protection, save that which innocence gives to every good woman, they went about their work, fearing no assault and suffering none. Their chivalrous protectors were hundreds of miles away in their northern homes, and yet they never feared any "great dark faced mobs," they dared night or day to "go beyond their own roof trees. "They never complained of assaults, and no mob was ever called into existence to avenge crimes against them. Before the world adjudges the Negro a moral monster, a vicious assailant of womanhood and a menace to the sacred precincts of home, the colored people ask the consideration of the silent record of gratitude, respect, protection and devotion of the millions of the race in the South, to the thousands of northern white women who have served as teachers and missionaries since the war.
The Negro may not have known what chivalry was, but he knew enough to preserve inviolate the womanhood of the South which was entrusted to his hands during the war. The finer sensibilities of his soul may have been crushed out by years of slavery, but his heart was full of gratitude to the white women of the North, who blessed his home and inspired his soul in all these years of freedom. Faithful to his trust in both of these instances, he should now have the impartial ear of the civilized world, when he dares to speak for himself as against the infamy wherewith he stands charged.
It is his regret, that, in his own defense, he must disclose to the world that degree of dehumanizing brutality which fixes upon America the blot of a national crime. Whatever faults and failings other nations may have in their dealings with their own subjects or with other people, no other civilized nation stands condemned before the world with a series of crimes so peculiarly national. It becomes a painful duty of the Negro to reproduce a record which shows that a large portion of the American people avow anarchy, condone murder and defy the contempt of civilization.
These pages are written in no spirit of vindictiveness, for all who give the subject consideration must concede that far too serious is the condition of that civilized government in which the spirit of unrestrained outlawry constantly increases in violence, and casts its blight over a continually growing area of territory. We plead not for the colored people alone, but for all victims of the terrible injustice which puts men and women to death without form of law. During the year 1894, there were 132 persons executed in the United States by due form of law, while in the same year, 197 persons were put to death by mobs who gave the victims no opportunity to make a lawful defense. No comment need be made upon a condition of public sentiment responsible for such alarming results.
The purpose of the pages which follow shall be to give the record which has been made, not by colored men, but that which is the result of compilations made by white men, of reports sent over the civilized world by white men in the South. Out of their own mouths shall the murderers be condemned. For a number of years the Chicago Tribune, admittedly one of the leading journals of America, has made a specialty of the compilation of statistics touching upon lynching. The data compiled by that journal and published to the world January 1st, 1894, up to the present time has not been disputed. In order to be safe from the charge of exaggeration, the incidents hereinafter reported have been confined to those vouched for by the Tribune.
Lynch Law Statistics
From the record published in the Chicago Tribune, January 1, 1894, the following computation of lynching statistics is made referring only to the colored victims of Lynch Law during the year 1893:
Arson: Sept. 15, Paul Hill, Carrollton, Ala.; Sept. 15, Paul Archer, Carrollton, Ala.; Sept. 15, William Archer, Carrollton, Ala.; Sept. 15, Emma Fair, Carrollton, Ala.
Suspected Robbery: Dec. 23, unknown Negro, Fannin, Miss.
Assault: Dec. 25, Calvin Thomas, near Brainbridge, Ga.
Attempted Assault: Dec. 28, Tillman Green, Columbia, La.
Incendiarism: Jan. 26, Patrick Wells, Quincy, Fla.; Feb.9, Frank Harrell, Dickery, Miss.; Feb. 9, William Filder, Dickery, Miss.
Attempted Rape: Feb. 21, Richard Mays, Springville, Mo.; Aug. 14, Dug Hazleton, Carrollton, Ga.; Sept. 1, Judge McNeil, Cadiz, Ky.; Sept. 11, Frank Smith, Newton, Miss.; Sept. 16, William Jackson, Nevada, Mo.; Sept. 19, Riley Gulley, Pine Apple, Ala.; Oct. 9, John Davis, Shorterville, Ala.; Nov. 8, Robert Kennedy, Spartansburg, S. C.
Burglary: Feb. 16, Richard Forman, Granada, Miss.
Wife Beating: Oct. 14, David Jackson, Covington, La.
Attempted Murder: Sept. 21, Thomas Smith, Roanoke, Va.
Attempted Robbery: Dec. 12, four unknown negroes, near Selma, Ala.
Race Prejudice: Jan. 30, Thomas Carr, Kosciusko, Miss.;Feb. 7, William Butler, Hickory Creek, Texas; Aug. 27, Charles Tart, Lyons Station, Miss.; Dec. 7, Robert Greenwood, Cross county, Ark,; July 14, Allen Butler, Lawrenceville, Ill.
Thieves: Oct. 24, two unknown negroes, Knox Point, La.
Alleged Barn Burning: Nov. 4, Edward Wagner, Lynchburg, Va.; Nov. 4, William Wagner, Lynchburg, Va.; Nov. 4, Samuel Motlow, Lynchburg, Va.; Nov. 4, Eliza Motlow, Lynchburg, Va.
Alleged Murder: Jan. 21, Robert Landry, St. JamesParish, La.; Jan. 21, Chicken George, St. James Parish, La.; Jan. 21, Richard Davis, St. James Parish, La.; Dec. 8, Benjamin Menter, Berlin, Ala.; Dec. 8, Robert Wilkins, Berlin, Ala.; Dec. 8, Joseph Gevhens, Berlin, Ala.
Alleged Complicity In Murder: Sept. 16, Valsin Julian, Jefferson Parish, La.; Sept. 16, Basil Julian, Jefferson Parish, La.; Sept. 16, Paul Julian, Jefferson Parish, La.; Sept. 16, John Willis, Jefferson Parish, La.
Murder: June 29, Samuel Thorp, Savannah, Ga.; June 29, George S. Riechen, Waynesboro, Ga.; June 30, Joseph Bird, Wilberton, I. T.; July 1, James Lamar, Darlen Ga.; July 28, Henry Miller, Dallas, Texas; July 28, Ada Hiers, Walterboro, S. C.; July 28, Alexander Brown, Bastrop, Texas; July 30, W. G. Jamison, Quincy, Ill.; Sept. 1, John Ferguson, Lawrens, S. C.; Sept. 1, Oscar Johnston, Berkeley, S. C.; Sept. 1, Henry Ewing, Berkeley, S. C.; Sept. 8, William Smith, Camden, Ark.; Sept. 15, Staples Green, Livingston, Ala.; Sept. 29, Hiram Jacobs, Mount Vernon, Ga.; Sept. 29, Lucien Mannet, Mount Vernon, Ga.; Sept. 29, Hire Bevington, Mount Vernon, Ga.; Sept. 29, Weldon Gordon, Mount Vernon, Ga.; Sept. 29, Parse Strickland, Mount Vernon, Ga.; Oct. 20, William Dalton, Cartersville, Ga.; Oct. 27, M. B. Taylor, Wise Court House, Va.; Oct. 27, Isaac Williams, Madison, Ga.; Nov. 10, Miller Davis, Center Point, Ark.; Nov. 14, John Johnston, Auburn, N. Y.;Sept. 27, Calvin Stewart, Langley, S. C.; Sept. 29, Henry Coleman, Benton, La.; Oct. 18, William Richards, Summerfield, Ga.; Oct. 18, James Dickson, Summerfield, Ga.; Oct. 27, Edward Jenkins, Clayton county, Ga.; Nov. 9, Henry Boggs, Fort White, Fla.; Nov. 14, three unknown negroes, Lake City Junction, Fla.; Nov. 14, D. T. Nelson, Varney, Ark.; Nov. 29, Newton Jones, Baxley, Ga.; Dec. 2, Lucius Holt, Concord, Ga.; Dec. 10, two unknown negroes, Richmond, Ala.; July 12, Henry Fleming, Columbus, Miss.; July 17, unknown negro, Briar Field, Ala.; July 18, Meredith Lewis, Roseland, La.; July 29, Edward Bill, Dresden, Tenn.; Aug. 1, Henry Reynolds, Montgomery, Tenn.; Aug. 9, unknown negro, McCreery, Ark.; Aug. 12, unknown negro, Brantford, Fla.; Aug. 18, Charles Walton, Morganfield, Ky.; Aug. 21, Charles Tait, near Memphis, Tenn.; Aug. 28, Leonard Taylor, New Castle, Ky.; Sept. 8, Benjamin Jackson, Quincy, Miss.; Sept. 14, John Williams, Jackson, Tenn.
Self Defense: July 30, unknown negro, Wingo, Ky.
Poisoning Wells: Aug. 18, two unknown negroes, Franklin Parish, La.
Alleged Well Poisoning: Sept. 15, Benjamin Jackson, Jackson, Miss.; Sept. 15, Mahala Jackson, Jackson, Miss.; Sept. 15, Louisa Carter, Jackson, Miss.; Sept. 15, W. A. Haley, Jackson, Miss.; Sept. 15, Rufus Bigley, Jackson, Miss.
Insulting Whites: Feb. 18, John Hughes, Moberly, Mo.;June 2, Isaac Lincoln, Fort Madison, S. C.
Murderous Assault: April 20, Daniel Adams, Selina, Kan.
No Offense: July 21, Charles Martin, Shelby Co., Tenn.;July 30, William Steen, Paris, Miss.; August 31, unknown negro, Yarborough, Tex.; Sept. 30, unknown negro, Houston, Tex.; Dec. 28, Mack Segars, Brantley, Ala.
Alleged Rape: July 7, Charles T. Miller, Bardwell, Ky.;Aug. 10, Daniel Lewis, Waycross, Ga.; Aug. 10, James Taylor, Waycross, Ga.; Aug. 10, John Chambers, Waycross, Ga.
Alleged Stock Poisoning: Dec. 16, Henry G. Givens, Nebro, Ky.
Suspected Murder: Dec. 23, Sloan Allen, West Mississippi.
Suspicion Of Rape: Feb. 14, Andy Blount, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Turning State's Evidence: Dec. 19, William Ferguson, Adele, Ga.
Rape: Jan. 19, James Williams, Pickens Co., Ala.; Feb.11, unknown negro, Forest Hill, Tenn.; Feb. 26, Joseph Hayne, or Paine, Jellico, Tenn.; Nov. 1, Abner Anthony, Hot Springs, Va.; Nov. 1, Thomas Hill, Spring Place, Ga.; April 24, John Peterson, Denmark, S. C.; May 6, Samuel Gaillard, ____, S. C.; May 10, Haywood Banks, or Marksdale, Columbia, S. C.; May 12, Israel Halliway, Napoleonville, La.; May 12, unknown negro, Wytheville, Va.; May 31, John Wallace, Jefferson Springs, Ark.; June 3, Samuel Bush, Decatur, Ill.; June 8, L. C. Dumas, Gleason, Tenn.; June 13, William Shorter, Winchester, Va.; June 14, George Williams, near Waco, Tex.; June 24, Daniel Edwards, Selina or Selma, Ala.; June 27, Ernest Murphy, Daleville, Ala.; July 6, unknown negro, Poplar Head, La.; July 6, unknown negro, Poplar Head, La.; July 12, Robert Larkin, Oscola, Tex.; July 17, Warren Dean, Stone Creek, Ga.; July 21, unknown negro, Brantford, Fla.; July 17, John Cotton, Connersville, Ark.; July 22, Lee Walker, New Albany, Miss.; July 26, ____ Handy, Suansea, S. C.; July 30, William Thompson, Columbia, S. C.; July 28, Isaac Harper, Calera, Ala.; July 30, Thomas Preston, Columbia, S. C.; July 30, Handy Kaigler, Columbia, S. C.; Aug. 13, Monroe Smith, Springfield, Ala.; Aug. 19, negro tramp, near Paducah, Ky.; Aug. 21, John Nilson, near Leavenworth, Kan.; Aug. 23, Jacob Davis, Green Wood, S. C.; Sept. 2, William Arkinson, McKenney, Ky.; Sept. 16, unknown negro, Centerville, Ala.; Sept. 16, Jessie Mitchell, Amelia C. H., Va.; Sept. 25, Perry Bratcher, New Boston, Tex.; Oct. 9, William Lacey, Jasper, Ala.; Oct. 22, John Gamble, Pikesville, Tenn.
Offenses Charged Are As Follows: Rape, 39; attempted rape,8;alleged rape, 4; suspicion of rape, 1; murder 44; alleged murder, 6; alleged complicity in murder, 4; murderous assault, 1; attempted murder, 1; attempted robbery, 4; arson, 4; incendiarism, 3; alleged stock poisoning, 1; poisoning wells, 2; alleged poisoning wells, 5; burglary, 1; wife beating, 1; self defense, 1; suspected robbery, 1; assault and battery, 1; insulting whites, 2; malpractice, 1; alleged barn burning, 4; stealing, 2; unknown offense, 4; no offense, 1; race prejudice, 4; total, 159.
Lynchings By States: Alabama, 25; Arkansas, 7; Florida,7; Georgia, 24; Indian Territory, 1; Illinois, 3; Kansas, 2; Kentucky, 8; Louisiana, 18; Mississippi, 17; Missouri, 3; New York, 1; South Carolina, 15; Tennessee, 10; Texas, 8; Virginia, 10.
Record For The Year 1892
While is it intended that the record here presented shall include specially the lynchings of 1893, it will not be amiss to give the record for the year preceding. The facts contended for will always appear manifest—that not one-third of the victims lynched were charged with rape, and further that the charges made embraced a range of offenses from murders to misdemeanors.
In 1892 there were 241 persons lynched. The entire number is divided among the following states:
Alabama, 22; Arkansas, 25; California, 3; Florida, 11; Georgia, 17; Idaho, 8; Illinois, 1; Kansas, 3; Kentucky, 9; Louisiana, 29; Maryland, 1; Mississippi, 16; Missouri, 6; Montana, 4; New York, 1; North Carolina, 5; North Dakota, 1; Ohio, 3; South Carolina, 5; Tennessee, 28; Texas, 15; Virginia, 7; West Virginia, 5; Wyoming, 9; Arizona Territory, 3; Oklahoma, 2.
Of this number 160 were of Negro descent. Four of them were lynched in New York, Ohio and Kansas; the remainder were murdered in the South. Five of this number were females. The charges for which they were lynched cover a wide range. They are as follows: Rape, 46; murder, 58; rioting, 3; race prejudice, 6; no cause given, 4; incendiarism, 6; robbery, 6; assault and battery, 1; attempted rape, 11; suspected robbery, 4; larceny, 1; self defense, 1; insulting women, 2; desperadoes, 6; fraud, 1; attempted murder, 2; no offense stated, boy and girl, 2.
In the case of the boy and girl above referred to, their father, named Hastings, was accused of the murder of white man; his fourteen-year-old daughter and sixteen-year-old son were hanged and their bodies filled with bullets, then the father was also lynched. This was in November, 1892, at Jonesville, Louisiana.
PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENT
Marcus Garvey and the "Africa for Africans" Movement
"Africa for the Africans," written in 1919, is one of Marcus Garvey's most compelling statements of his hopes for the future of Africa and African Americans. It shares many of the tenets of earlier colonization movements, including a belief in the necessity of racial separation. As always in his writings, Garvey emphasized the central role the Universal Negro Improvement Association was to play in uniting black people of the world.
"Africa for the Africans" is one of the principal documents of not only the colonization movement but also of the evolving diaspora of Africans in the Americas. (Marcus Garvey was of West Indian descent.) It also speaks to their efforts to find some solution to the problems of identity and economic and political opportunity experienced by those living in the New World.
Marcus Garvey's Vision of a Redeemed Africa
For five years the Universal Negro Improvement Association has been advocating the cause of Africa for the Africans—that is, that the Negro peoples of the world should concentrate upon the object of building up for themselves a great nation in Africa.
When we started our propaganda toward this end several of the so-called intellectual Negroes who have been bamboozling the race for over half a century said that we were crazy, that the Negro peoples of the western world were not interested in Africa and could not live in Africa. One editor and leader went so far as to say at his so-called Pan-African Congress that American Negroes could not live in Africa, because the climate was too hot. All kinds of arguments have been adduced by these Negro intellectuals against the colonization of Africa by the black race. Some said that the black man would ultimately work out his existence alongside of the white man in countries founded and established by the latter. Therefore, it was not necessary for Negroes to seek an independent nationality of their own. The old time stories of "African fever,""African bad climate,""African mosquitos,""African savages," have been repeated by these "brainless intellectuals" of ours as a scare against our people in America and the West Indies taking a kindly interest in the new program of building a racial empire of our own in our Motherland. Now that years have rolled by and the Universal Negro Improvement Association has made the circuit of the world with its propaganda, we find eminent statesmen and leaders of the white race coming out boldly advocating the cause of colonizing Africa with the Negroes of the western world. A year ago Senator MacCullum of the Mississippi Legislature introduced a resolution in the House for the purpose of petitioning the Congress of the United States of America and the President to use their good influence in securing from the Allies sufficient territory in Africa in liquidation of the war debt, which territory should be used for the establishing of an independent nation for American Negroes. About the same time Senator France of Maryland gave expression to a similar desire in the Senate of the United States. During a speech on the "Soldiers' Bonus. "He said: "We owe a big debt to Africa and one which we have too long ignored. I need not enlarge upon our peculiar interest in the obligation to the people of Africa. Thousands of Americans have for years been contributing to the missionary work which has been carried out by the noble men and women who have been sent out in that field by the churches of America."
This reveals a real change on the part of prominent statesmen in their attitude on the African question. Then comes another suggestion from Germany, for which Dr. Heinrich Schnee, a former Governor of German East Africa, is author. This German statesman suggests in an interview given out in Berlin, and published in New York, that America takes over the mandatories of Great Britain and France in Africa for the colonization of American Negroes. Speaking on the matter, he says,"As regards the attempt to colonize Africa with the surplus American colored population, this would in a long way settle the vexed problem, and under the plan such as Senator France has outlined, might enable France and Great Britain to discharge their duties to the United States, and simultaneously ease the burden of German reparations which is paralyzing economic life."
With expressions as above quoted from prominent world statesmen, and from the demands made by such men as Senators France and McCullum, it is clear that the question of African nationality is not a far-fetched one, but is as reasonable and feasible as was the idea of an American nationality.
A "Program"at Last
I trust that the Negro peoples of the world are now convinced that the work of the Universal Negro Improvement Association is not a visionary one, but very practical, and that it is not so far fetched, but can be realized in a short while if the entire race will only cooperate and work toward the desired end. Now that the work of our organization has started to bear fruit we find that some of these "doubting Thomases" of three and four years ago are endeavoring to mix themselves up with the popular idea of rehabilitating Africa in the interest of the Negro. They are now advancing spurious "programs" and in a short while will endeavor to force themselves upon the public as advocates and leaders of the African idea.
It is felt that those who have followed the career of the Universal Negro Improvement Association will not allow themselves to be deceived by these Negro opportunities who have always sought to live off the ideas of other people.
The Dream of a Negro Empire
It is only a question of a few more years when Africa will be completely colonized by Negroes, as Europe is by the white race. What we want is an independent African nationality, and if America is to help the Negro peoples of the world establish such a nationality, then we welcome the assistance.
It is hoped that when the time comes for American and West Indian Negroes to settle in Africa, they will realize their responsibility and their duty. It will not be to go to Africa for the purpose of exercising an over-lordship over the natives, but it shall be the purpose of the Universal Negro Improvement Association to have established in Africa that brotherly co-operation which will make the interests of the African native and the American and West Indian Negro one and the same, that is to say, we shall enter into a common partnership to build up Africa in the interests of our race.
Oneness of Interests
Everybody knows that there is absolutely no difference between the native African and the American and West Indian Negroes, in that we are descendants from one common family stock. It is only a matter of accident that we have been divided and kept apart for over three hundred years, but it is felt that when the time has come for us to get back together, we shall do so in the spirit of brotherly love, and any Negro who expects that he will be assisted here, there or anywhere by the Universal Improvement Association to exercise a haughty superiority over the fellows of his own race, makes a tremendous mistake. Such men had better remain where they are and not attempt to become in any way interested in the higher development of Africa.
The Negro has had enough of the vaunted practiced of race superiority as inflicted upon him by others, therefore he is not prepared to tolerate a similar assumption on the part of his own people. In America and the West Indies, we have Negroes who believe themselves so much above their fellows as to cause them to think that any readjustment in the affairs of the race should be placed in their hands for them to exercise a kind of an autocratic and despotic control as others have done to us for centuries. Again I say, it would be advisable for such Negroes to take their hands and minds off the now popular idea of colonizing Africa in the interest of the Negro race, because their being identified with this new program will not in any way help us because of the existing feeling among Negroes everywhere not to tolerate the infliction of race or class superiority upon them, as is the desire of the self-appointed and self-created race leadership that we have been having for the last fifty years.
The Basis of an African Aristocracy
The masses of Negroes in America, the West Indies, South and Central America are in sympathetic accord with the aspirations of the native Africans. We desire to help them build up Africa as a Negro Empire, where every black man, whether he was born in Africa or in the Western world, will have the opportunity to develop on his own lines under the protection of the most favorable democratic institutions.
It will be useless, as before stated, for bombastic Negroes to leave America and the West Indies to go to Africa, thinking that they will have privileged positions to inflict upon the race that bastard aristocracy that they have tried to maintain in this Western world at the expense of the masses. Africa shall develop an aristocracy of its own, but it shall be based upon service and loyalty to race. Let all Negroes work toward that end. I feel that it is only a question of a few more years before our program will be accepted not only by the few statesmen of America who are now interested in it, but by the strong statesmen of the world, as the only solution to the great race problem. There is no other way to avoid the threatening war of the races that is bound to engulf all mankind, which has been prophesied by the world's greatest thinkers; there is no better method than by apportioning every race to its own habitat.
The time has really come for the Asiatics to govern themselves in Asia, as the Europeans are in Europe and the Western world, so also is it wise for the Africans to govern themselves at home, and thereby bring peace and satisfaction to the entire human family.
The Future as I See It
It comes to the individual, the race, the nation, once in a life-time to decide upon the course to be pursued as a career. The hour has now struck for the individual Negro as well as the entire race to decide the course that will be pursued in the interest of our own liberty.
We who make up the Universal Negro Improvement Association have decided that we shall go forward, upward and onward toward the great goal of human liberty. We have determined among ourselves that all barriers placed in the way of our progress must be removed, must be cleared away for we desire to see the light of a brighter day.
The Negro Is Ready
The Universal Negro Improvement Association for five years has been proclaiming to the world the readiness of the Negro to carve out a pathway for himself in the course of life. Men of other races and nations have become alarmed at this attitude of the Negro in his desire to do things for himself and by himself. This alarm has become so universal that organizations have been brought into being here, there and everywhere for the purpose of deterring and obstructing this forward move of our race. Propaganda has been waged here, there and everywhere for the purpose of misinterpreting the intention of this organization; some have said that this organization seeks to create discord and discontent among the races; some say we are organized for the purpose of hating other people. Every sensible, sane and honest-minded person knows that the Universal Negro Improvement Association has no such intention. We are organized for the absolute purpose of bettering our condition, industrially, commercially, socially, religiously and politically. We are organized not to hate other men, but to lift ourselves, and to demand respect of all humanity. We have a program that we believe to be righteous; we believe it to be just, and we have made up our minds to lay down ourselves on the altar of sacrifice for the realization of this great hope of ours, based upon the foundation of righteousness. We declare to the world that Africa must be free, that the entire Negro race must be emancipated from industrial bondage, peonage and serfdom; we make no compromise, we make no apology in this our declaration. We do not desire to create offense on the part of other races, but we are determined that we shall be heard, that we shall be given the rights to which we are entitled.
The Propaganda of Our Enemies
For the purpose of creating doubts about the work of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, many attempts have been made to cast shadow and gloom over our work. They have even written the most uncharitable things about our organization; they have spoken so unkindly of our effort, but what do we care? They spoke unkindly and uncharitably about all the reform movements that have helped in the betterment of humanity. They maligned the great movement of the Christian religion; they maligned the great liberation movements of America, of France, of England, of Russia; can we expect, then, to escape being maligned in this, our desire for the liberation of Africa and the freedom of four hundred million Negroes of the world?
We have unscrupulous men and organizations working in opposition to us. Some trying to capitalize the new spirit that has come to the Negro to make profit out of it to their own selfish benefit; some are trying to set back the Negro from seeing the hope of his own liberty, and thereby poisoning our people's mind against the motives of our organization; but every sensible far-seeing Negro in this enlightened age knows what propaganda means. It is the medium of discrediting that which you are opposed to, so that the propaganda of our enemies will be of little avail as soon as we are rendered able to carry to our peoples scattered throughout the world the true message of our great organization.
Men of the Negro race, let me say to you that a greater future is in store for us; we have no cause to lose hope, to become fainthearted. We must realize that upon ourselves depend our destiny, our future; we must carve out that future, that destiny, and we who make up the Universal Negro Improvement Association have pledged ourselves that nothing in the world shall stand in our way, nothing in the world shall discourage us, but opposition shall make us work harder, shall bring us closer together so that as one man the millions of us will march on toward that goal that we have set for ourselves. The new Negro shall not be deceived. The new Negro refuses to take advice from anyone who has not felt with him, and suffered with him. We have suffered for three hundred years, therefore we feel that the time has come when only those who have suffered with us can interpret our feelings and our spirit. It takes the slave to interpret the feelings of the slave; it takes the unfortunate man to interpret the spirit of his unfortunate brother; and so it takes the suffering Negro to interpret the spirit of his comrade. It is strange that so many people are interested in the Negro now, willing to advise him how to act, and what organizations he should join, yet nobody was interested in the Negro to the extent of not making him a slave for two hundred and fifty years, reducing him to industrial peonage and serfdom after he was freed; it is strange that the same people can be so interested in the Negro now, as to tell him what organization he should follow and what leader he should support.
Whilst we are bordering on a future of brighter things, we are also at our danger period, when we must either accept the right philosophy, or go down by following deceptive propaganda which has hemmed us in for many centuries.
Deceiving the People
There is many a leader of our race who tells us that everything is well, and that all things will work out themselves and that a better day is coming. Yes, all of us know that a better day is coming; we all know that one day we will go home to Paradise, but whilst we are hoping by our Christian virtues to have an entry into Paradise we also realize that we are living on earth, and that the things that are practiced in Paradise are not practiced here. You have to treat this world as the world treats you; we are living in a temporal, material age, an age of activity, an age of racial, national selfishness. What else can you expect but to give back to the world what the world gives to you, and we are calling upon the four hundred million Negroes of the world to take a decided stand, a determined stand, that we shall occupy a firm position; that position shall be an emancipated race and a free nation of our own. We are determined that we shall have a free country; we are determined that we shall have a flag; we are determined that we shall have a government second to none in the world.
An Eye for an Eye
Men may spurn the idea, they may scoff at it; the metropolitan press of this country may deride us; yes, white men may laugh at the idea of Negroes talking about government; but let me tell you there is going to be a government, and let me say to you also that whatsoever you give, in like measure it shall be returned to you. The world is sinful, and therefore man believes in the doctrine of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Everybody believes that revenge is God's, but at the same time we are men, and revenge sometimes springs up, even in the most Christian heart.
Why should man write down a history that will react against him? Why should man perpetrate deeds of wickedness upon his brother which will return to him in like measure? Yes, the Germans maltreated the French in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, but the French got even with the Germans in 1918. It is history, and history will repeat itself. Beat the Negro, brutalize the Negro, kill the Negro, burn the Negro, imprison the Negro, scoff at the Negro, deride the Negro, it may come back to you one of these fine days, because the supreme destiny of man is in the hands of God. God is no respecter of persons, whether that person be white, yellow or black. Today the one race is up, tomorrow it has fallen; today the Negro seems to be the footstool of the other races and nations of the world; tomorrow the Negro may occupy the highest rung of the great human ladder.
But, when we come to consider the history of man, was not the Negro a power, was he not great one? Yes, honest students of history can recall the day when Egypt, Ethiopia and Timbuctoo towered in their civilizations, towered above Europe, towered above Asia. When Europe was inhabited by a race of cannibals, a race of savages, naked men, heathens and pagans, Africa was peopled with a race of cultured black men, who were masters in art, science and literature; men who were cultured and refined; men who, it was said, were like the gods. Even the great poets of old sang in beautiful sonnets of the delight it afforded the gods to be in companionship with the Ethiopians. Why, then, should we lose hope? Black men, you were once great; you shall be great again. Lose not courage, lose not faith, go forward. The thing to do is to get organized; keep separated and you will be exploited, you will be robbed, you will be killed. Get organized, and you will compel the world to respect you. If the world fails to give you consideration, because you are black men, because you are Negroes, four hundred millions of you shall, through organization, shake the pillars of the universe and bring down creation, even as Samson brought down the temple upon his head and upon the heads of the Philistines.
An Inspiring Vision
So Negroes, I say, through the Universal Negro Improvement Association, that there is much to live for. I have a vision of the future, and I see before me a picture of a redeemed Africa, with her dotted cities, with her beautiful civilization, with her millions of happy children, going to and fro. Why should I lose hope, why should I give up and take a back place in this age of progress? Remember that you are men, that God created you Lords of this creation. Lift up yourselves, men, take yourselves out of the mire and hitch your hopes to the stars; yes, rise as high as the very stars themselves. Let no man pull you down, let no man destroy your ambition, because man is but your companion, your equal; man is your brother; he is not your lord; he is not your sovereign master.
We of the Universal Negro Improvement Association feel happy; we are cheerful. Let them connive to destroy us; let them organize to destroy us; we shall fight the more. Ask me personally the cause of my success, and I say opposition; oppose me, and I fight the more, and if you want to find out the sterling worth of the Negro, oppose him, and under the leadership of the Universal Negro Improvement Association he shall fight his way to victory, and in the days to come, and I believe not far distant, Africa shall reflect a splendid demonstration of the worth of the Negro, of the determination of the Negro, to set himself free and to establish a government of his own.
The Ku Klux Klan HoldsIts First National Meeting
After the Civil War, many white southerners were astonished and enraged that former slaves should have the same rights under law that they enjoyed. The atmosphere of white indignation and aggression in the South began to manifest itself in the formation of racist organizations. In April of 1867, the Ku Klux Klan held its first national meeting. In May of the same year, a group of white supremacists organized the Knights of the White Camellia. During the next three decades the organization would go from being an angry discussion held at lunch counters to a loosely organized but effective group of white southerners, often those in power, such as members of law enforcement, foremen, and business owners.
Many of the Klan's rituals served both to publicize and glorify the grassroots terrorism of its members. The infamous cross burnings and white hoods were forms of social terrorism, designed to keep blacks in silence, disorganized and scared. Particularly horrifying were the public lynchings. There are hundreds of reports from the years 1870 to 1920 of public gatherings, complete with home cooking and dancing, where young black men would be hanged while the people in attendance looked on and cheered.
Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) and the "Africa for Africans" Movement
Marcus Garvey was prosecuted, imprisoned, and then deported to the Caribbean. Garvey's message was infuriating to those in power: on the one hand he emphasized a return to Africa, but on the other his message clearly called for African Americans to unite and to see the power they had in numbers. Garvey's message was a necessary precursor to the work of Martin Luther King Jr. and to Malcolm X many decades later. For many, Garvey's imprisonment and deportation were an obvious attempt to silence one of the few leaders of the African American people to take the national and international stage during the first quarter of the twentieth century.