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A Social History of the American Negro by Benjamin Brawley

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Association, the American Baptist Home Mission Society, and the
Freedmen's Aid Society--played a much larger part than they are
ordinarily given credit for; and it is a very, very rare occurrence that
a graduate of one of the institutions sustained by these agencies,
or even one who has attended them for any length of time, has to be
summoned before the courts. Their influence has most decidedly been on
the side of law and order. Undoubtedly some of those who have gone forth
from these schools have not been very practical, and some have not
gained a very firm sense of relative values in life--it would be a
miracle if all had; but as a group the young people who have attended
the colleges have most abundantly justified the expenditures made in
their behalf, expenditures for which their respective states were not
responsible but of which they reaped the benefit. From one standpoint,
however, the so-called higher education did most undoubtedly complicate
the problem. Those critics of the race who felt that the only function
of Negroes in life was that of hewers of wood and drawers of water quite
fully realized that Negroes who had been to college did not care to work
longer as field laborers. Some were to prove scientific students of
agriculture, but as a group they were out of the class of peons. In this
they were just like white people and all other people. No one who has
once seen the light chooses to live always on the plane of the "man with
the hoe." Nor need it be thought that these students are unduly crowding
into professional pursuits. While, for instance, the number of Negro
physicians and dentists has greatly increased within recent years, the
number would still have to be four or five times as great to sustain
to the total Negro population the same proportion as that borne by
the whole number of white physicians and dentists to the total white

The subjects of the criminality and the mortality of the race are in
their ultimate reaches closely related, both being mainly due, as we
have suggested, to the conditions under which Negroes have been forced
to live. In the country districts, until 1900 at least, there was little
provision for improvements in methods of cooking or in sanitation, while
in cities the effects of inferior housing, poor and unlighted streets,
and of the segregation of vice in Negro neighborhoods could not be
otherwise than obvious. Thus it happened in such a year as 1898 that in
Baltimore the Negro death rate was somewhat more and in Nashville just
a little less than twice that of the white people. Legal procedure,
moreover, emphasized a vicious circle; living conditions sent the
Negroes to the courts in increasing numbers, and the courts sent them
still farther down in the scale. There were undoubtedly some Negro
thieves, some Negro murderers, and some Negroes who were incontinent;
no race has yet appeared on the face of the earth that did not contain
members having such propensities, and all such people should be dealt
with justly by law. Our present contention is that throughout the period
of which we are now speaking the dominant social system was not only
such as to accentuate criminal elements but also such as even sought
to discourage aspiring men. A few illustrations, drawn from widely
different phases of life, must suffice. In the spring of 1903, and again
in 1904, Jackson W. Giles, of Montgomery County, Alabama, contended
before the Supreme Court of the United States that he and other Negroes
in his county were wrongfully excluded from the franchise by the new
Alabama constitution. Twice was his case thrown out on technicalities,
the first time it was said because he was petitioning for the right to
vote under a constitution whose validity he denied, and the second time
because the Federal right that he claimed had not been passed on in the
state court from whose decision he appealed. Thus the supreme tribunal
in the United States evaded at the time any formal judgment as to the
real validity of the new suffrage provisions. In 1903, moreover, in
Alabama, Negroes charged with petty offenses and sometimes with no
offense at all were still sent to convict farms or turned over to
contractors. They were sometimes compelled to work as peons for a length
of time; and they were flogged, starved, hunted with bloodhounds, and
sold from one contractor to another in direct violation of law. One
Joseph Patterson borrowed $1 on a Saturday, promising to pay the
amount on the following Tuesday morning. He did not get to town at the
appointed time, and he was arrested and carried before a justice of the
peace, who found him guilty of obtaining money under false pretenses. No
time whatever was given to the Negro to get witnesses or a lawyer, or to
get money with which to pay his fine and the costs of court. He was sold
for $25 to a man named Hardy, who worked him for a year and then sold
him for $40 to another man named Pace. Patterson tried to escape, but
was recaptured and given a sentence of six months more. He was then
required to serve for an additional year to pay a doctor's bill. When
the case at last attracted attention, it appeared that for $1 borrowed
in 1903 he was not finally to be released before 1906. Another case of
interest and importance was set in New York. In the spring of 1909
a pullman porter was arrested on the charge of stealing a card-case
containing $20. The next day he was discharged as innocent. He then
entered against his accuser a suit for $10,000 damages. The jury awarded
him $2,500, which amount the court reduced to $300, Justice P.H. Dugro
saying that a Negro when falsely imprisoned did not suffer the same
amount of injury that a white man would suffer--an opinion which the New
York _Age_ very naturally characterized as "one of the basest and most
offensive ever handed down by a New York judge."

In the history of the question of the mulatto two facts are outstanding.
One is that before the Civil War, as was very natural under the
circumstances, mulattoes became free much faster than pure Negroes;
thus the census of 1850 showed that 581 of every 1000 free Negroes
were mulattoes and only 83 of every 1000 slaves. Since the Civil War,
moreover, the mulatto element has rapidly increased, advancing from 11.2
per cent of the Negro population in 1850 to 20.9 per cent in 1910, or
from 126 to 264 per 1000. On the whole question of the function of this
mixed element the elaborate study, that of Reuter, is immediately thrown
out of court by its lack of accuracy. The fundamental facts on which
it rests its case are not always true, and if premises are false
conclusions are worthless. No work on the Negro that calls Toussaint
L'Ouverture and Sojourner Truth mulattoes and that will not give the
race credit for several well-known pure Negroes of the present day,
can long command the attention of scholars. This whole argument on the
mulatto goes back to the fallacy of degrading human beings by slavery
for two hundred years and then arguing that they have not the capacity
or the inclination to rise. In a country predominantly white the
quadroon has frequently been given some advantage that his black friend
did not have, from the time that one was a house-servant and the other a
field-hand; but no scientific test has ever demonstrated that the black
boy is intellectually inferior to the fair one. In America, however, it
is the fashion to place upon the Negro any blame or deficiency and
to claim for the white race any merit that an individual may show.
Furthermore--and this is a point not often remarked in discussions of
the problem--the element of genius that distinguishes the Negro artist
of mixed blood is most frequently one characteristically Negro rather
than Anglo-Saxon. Much has been made of the fact that within the society
of the race itself there have been lines of cleavage, a comparatively
few people, very fair in color, sometimes drawing off to themselves.
This is a fact, and it is simply one more heritage from slavery, most
tenacious in some conservative cities along the coast. Even there,
however, old lines are vanishing and the fusion of different groups
within the race rapidly going forward. Undoubtedly there has been some
snobbery, as there always is, and a few quadroons and octoroons have
crossed the color line and been lost to the race; but these cases are
after all comparatively few in number, and the younger generation is
more and more emphasizing the ideals of racial solidarity. In the future
there may continue to be lines of cleavage in society within the race,
but the standards governing these will primarily be character and merit.
On the whole, then, the mulatto has placed himself squarely on the side
of the difficulties, aspirations, and achievements of the Negro people
and it is simply an accident and not inherent quality that accounts for
the fact that he has been so prominent in the leadership of the race.

The final refutation of defamation, however, is to be found in the
actual achievement of members of the race themselves. The progress in
spite of handicaps continued to be amazing. Said the New York _Sun_
early in 1907 (copied by the _Times_) of "Negroes Who Have Made Good":
"Junius C. Groves of Kansas produces 75,000 bushels of potatoes every
year, the world's record. Alfred Smith received the blue ribbon at the
World's Fair and first prize in England for his Oklahoma-raised cotton.
Some of the thirty-five patented devices of Granville T. Woods, the
electrician, form part of the systems of the New York elevated railways
and the Bell Telephone Company. W. Sidney Pittman drew the design of
the Collis P. Huntington memorial building, the largest and finest at
Tuskegee. Daniel H. Williams, M.D., of Chicago, was the first surgeon to
sew up and heal a wounded human heart. Mary Church Terrell addressed in
three languages at Berlin recently the International Association for the
Advancement of Women. Edward H. Morris won his suit between Cook County
and the city of Chicago, and has a law practice worth $20,000 a year."

In one department of effort, that of sport, the Negro was especially
prominent. In pugilism, a diversion that has always been noteworthy for
its popular appeal, Peter Jackson was well known as a contemporary of
John L. Sullivan. George Dixon was, with the exception of one year,
either bantamweight or featherweight champion for the whole of the
period from 1890 to 1900; and Joe Gans was lightweight champion from
1902 to 1908. Joe Walcott was welterweight champion from 1901 to 1904,
and was succeeded by Dixie Kid, who held his place from 1904 to 1908. In
1908, to the chagrin of thousands and with a victory that occasioned
a score of racial conflicts throughout the South and West and that
resulted in several deaths, Jack Johnson became the heavyweight champion
of America, a position that he was destined to hold for seven years. In
professional baseball the Negro was proscribed, though occasionally
a member of the race played on teams of the second group. Of
semi-professional teams the American Giants and the Leland Giants of
Chicago, and the Lincoln Giants of New York, were popular favorites,
and frequently numbered on their rolls players of the first order of
ability. In intercollegiate baseball W.C. Matthews of Harvard was
outstanding for several years about 1904. In intercollegiate football
Lewis at Harvard in the earlier nineties and Bullock at Dartmouth a
decade later were unusually prominent, while Marshall of Minnesota in
1905 became an All-American end. Pollard of Brown, a half-back, in 1916,
and Robeson of Rutgers, an end, in 1918, also won All-American honors.
About the turn of the century Major Taylor was a champion bicycle rider,
and John B. Taylor of Pennsylvania was an intercollegiate champion in
track athletics. Similarly fifteen years later Binga Dismond of Howard
and Chicago, Sol Butler of Dubuque, and Howard P. Drew of Southern
California were destined to win national and even international honors
in track work. Drew broke numerous records as a runner and Butler was
the winner in the broad jump at the Inter-Allied Games in the Pershing
Stadium in Paris. In 1920 E. Gourdin of Harvard came prominently forward
as one of the best track athletes that institution had ever had.

In the face, then, of the Negro's unquestionable physical ability and
prowess the supreme criticism that he was called on to face within the
period was all the more hard to bear. In all nations and in all ages
courage under fire as a soldier has been regarded as the sterling test
of manhood, and by this standard we have seen that in war the Negro had
more than vindicated himself. His very honor as a soldier was now to be

In August, 1906, Companies B, C, and D of the Twenty-fifth Regiment,
United States Infantry, were stationed at Fort Brown, Brownsville,
Texas, where they were forced to exercise very great self-restraint in
the face of daily insults from the citizens. On the night of the 13th
occurred a riot in which one citizen of the town was killed, another
wounded, and the chief of police injured. The people of the town
accused the soldiers of causing the riot and demanded their removal.
Brigadier-General E.A. Garlington, Inspector General, was sent to find
the guilty men, and, failing in his mission, he recommended dishonorable
discharge for the regiment. On this recommendation President Roosevelt
on November 9 dismissed "without honor" the entire battalion,
disqualifying its members for service thereafter in either the military
or the civil employ of the United States. When Congress met in December
Senator J.B. Foraker of Ohio placed himself at the head of the critics
of the President's action, and in a ringing speech said of the
discharged men that "they asked no favors because they were Negroes, but
only justice because they were men." On January 22 the Senate authorized
a general investigation of the whole matter, a special message from
the President on the 14th having revoked the civil disability of the
discharged soldiers. The case was finally disposed of by a congressional
act approved March 3, 1909, which appointed a court of inquiry before
which any discharged man who wished to reenlist had the burden of
establishing his innocence--a procedure which clearly violated the
fundamental principle in law that a man is to be accounted innocent
until he is proved guilty.

In connection with the dishonored soldier of Brownsville, and indeed
with reference to the Negro throughout the period, we recall Edwin
Markham's poem, "Dreyfus,"[1] written for a far different occasion but
with fundamental principles of justice that are eternal:

[Footnote 1: It is here quoted with the permission of the author and
in the form in which it originally appeared in _McClure's Magazine_,
September, 1899.]


A man stood stained; France was one Alp of hate,
Pressing upon him with the whole world's weight;
In all the circle of the ancient sun
There was no voice to speak for him--not one;
In all the world of men there was no sound
But of a sword flung broken to the ground.

Hell laughed its little hour; and then behold
How one by one the guarded gates unfold!
Swiftly a sword by Unseen Forces hurled,
And now a man rising against the world!


Oh, import deep as life is, deep as time!
There is a Something sacred and sublime
Moving behind the worlds, beyond our ken,
Weighing the stars, weighing the deeds of men.

Take heart, O soul of sorrow, and be strong!
There is one greater than the whole world's wrong.
Be hushed before the high Benignant Power
That moves wool-shod through sepulcher and tower!
No truth so low but He will give it crown;
No wrong so high but He will hurl it down.
O men that forge the fetter, it is vain;
There is a Still Hand stronger than your chain.
'Tis no avail to bargain, sneer, and nod,
And shrug the shoulder for reply to God.

7. The Dawn of a To-morrow

The bitter period that we have been considering was not wholly without
its bright features, and with the new century new voices began to be
articulate. In May, 1900, there was in Montgomery a conference in
which Southern men undertook as never before to make a study of their
problems. That some who came had yet no real conception of the task and
its difficulties may be seen from the suggestion of one man that the
Negroes be deported to the West or to the islands of the sea. Several
men advocated the repeal of the Fifteenth Amendment. The position
outstanding for its statesmanship was that of ex-Governor William A.
McCorkle of West Virginia, who asserted that the right of franchise was
the vital and underlying principle of the life of the people of the
United States and must not be violated, that the remedy for present
conditions was an "honest and inflexible educational and property basis,
administered fairly for black and white," and finally that the Negro
Problem was not a local problem but one to be settled by the hearty
cooeperation of all of the people of the United States.

Meanwhile the Southern Educational Congress continued its sittings from
year to year, and about 1901 there developed new and great interest in
education, the Southern Education Board acting in close cooeperation with
the General Education Board, the medium of the philanthropy of John D.
Rockefeller, and frequently also with the Peabody and Slater funds.[1]
In 1907 came the announcement of the Jeanes Fund, established by Anna T.
Jeanes, a Quaker of Philadelphia, for the education of the Negro in the
rural districts of the South; and in 1911 that of the Phelps-Stokes
Fund, established by Caroline Phelps-Stokes with emphasis on the
education of the Negro in Africa and America. More and more these
agencies were to work in harmony and cooeperation with the officials in
the different states concerned. In 1900 J.L.M. Curry, a Southern man of
great breadth of culture, was still in charge of the Peabody and Slater
funds, but he was soon to pass from the scene and in the work now to
be done were prominent Robert C. Ogden, Hollis B. Frissell, Wallace
Buttrick, George Foster Peabody, and James H. Dillard.

[Footnote 1: In 1867 George Peabody, an American merchant and patriot,
established the Peabody Educational Fund for the purpose of promoting
"intellectual, moral, and industrial education in the most destitute
portion of the Southern states." The John F. Slater Fund was established
in 1882 especially for the encouragement of the industrial education of

Along with the mob violence, moreover, that disgraced the opening years
of the century was an increasing number of officers who were disposed
to do their duty even under trying circumstances. Less than two
months after his notorious inaugural Governor Vardaman of Mississippi
interested the reading public by ordering out a company of militia when
a lynching was practically announced to take place, and by boarding a
special train to the scene to save the Negro. In this same state
in 1909, when the legislature passed a law levying a tax for the
establishment of agricultural schools for white students, and levied
this on the property of white people and Negroes alike, though only the
white people were to have schools, a Jasper County Negro contested
the matter before the Chancery Court, which declared the law
unconstitutional, and he was further supported by the Supreme Court of
the state. Such a decision was inspiring, but it was not the rule, and
already the problems of another decade were being foreshadowed. Already
also under the stress of conditions in the South many Negroes were
seeking a haven in the North. By 1900 there were as many Negroes in
Pennsylvania as in Missouri, whereas twenty years before there had been
twice as many in the latter state. There were in Massachusetts more than
in Delaware, whereas twenty years before Delaware had had 50 per cent
more than Massachusetts. Within twenty years Virginia gained 312,000
white people and only 29,000 Negroes, the latter having begun a steady
movement to New York. North Carolina gained 400,000 white people and
only 93,000 Negroes. South Carolina and Mississippi, however, were not
yet affected in large measure by the movement.

The race indeed was beginning to be possessed by a new consciousness.
After 1895 Booker T. Washington was a very genuine leader. From the
first, however, there was a distinct group of Negro men who honestly
questioned the ultimate wisdom of the so-called Atlanta Compromise,
and who felt that in seeming to be willing temporarily to accept
proscription and to waive political rights Dr. Washington had given up
too much. Sometimes also there was something in his illustrations of the
effects of current methods of education that provoked reply. Those
who were of the opposition, however, were not at first united and
constructive, and in their utterances they sometimes offended by
harshness of tone. Dr. Washington himself said of the extremists in this
group that they frequently understood theories but not things; that in
college they gave little thought to preparing for any definite task in
the world, but started out with the idea of preparing themselves to
solve the race problem; and that many of them made a business of keeping
the troubles, wrongs, and hardships of the Negro race before the
public.[1] There was ample ground for this criticism. More and more,
however, the opposition gained force; the _Guardian_, a weekly paper
edited in Boston by Monroe Trotter, was particularly outspoken, and in
Boston the real climax came in 1903 in an endeavor to break up a meeting
at which Dr. Washington was to speak. Then, beginning in January, 1904,
the _Voice of the Negro_, a magazine published in Atlanta for three
years, definitely helped toward the cultivation of racial ideals.
Publication of the periodical became irregular after the Atlanta
Massacre, and it finally expired in 1907. Some of the articles dealt
with older and more philosophical themes, but there were also bright and
illuminating studies in education and other social topics, as well as a
strong stand on political issues. The _Colored American_, published in
Boston just a few years before the _Voice_ began to appear, also did
inspiring work. Various local or state organizations, moreover, from
time to time showed the virtue of cooeperation; thus the Georgia Equal
Rights Convention, assembled in Macon in February, 1906, at the call of
William J. White, the veteran editor of the _Georgia Baptist_, brought
together representative men from all over the state and considered such
topics as the unequal division of school taxes, the deprivation of the
jury rights of Negroes, the peonage system, and the penal system. In
1905 twenty-nine men of the race launched what was known as the Niagara
Movement. The aims of this organization were freedom of speech and
criticism, an unlettered and unsubsidized press, manhood suffrage, the
abolition of all caste distinctions based simply on race and color, the
recognition of the principle of human brotherhood as a practical present
creed, the recognition of the highest and best training as the monopoly
of no class or race, a belief in the dignity of labor, and united effort
to realize these ideals under wise and courageous leadership. The time
was not yet quite propitious, and the Niagara Movement as such died
after three or four years. Its principles lived on, however, and it
greatly helped toward the formation of a stronger and more permanent

[Footnote 1: See chapter "The Intellectuals," in _My Larger Education_.]

In 1909 a number of people who were interested in the general effect
of the Negro Problem on democracy in America organized in New York the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.[1] It was
felt that the situation had become so bad that the time had come for
a simple declaration of human rights. In 1910 Moorfield Storey, a
distinguished lawyer of Boston, became national president, and W.E.
Burghardt DuBois director of publicity and research, and editor of the
_Crisis_, which periodical began publication in November of this year.
The organization was successful from the first, and local branches were
formed all over the country, some years elapsing, however, before the
South was penetrated. Said the Director: "Of two things we Negroes have
dreamed for many years: An organization so effective and so powerful
that when discrimination and injustice touched one Negro, it would touch
12,000,000. We have not got this yet, but we have taken a great step
toward it. We have dreamed, too, of an organization that would work
ceaselessly to make Americans know that the so-called 'Negro problem' is
simply one phase of the vaster problem of democracy in America, and that
those who wish freedom and justice for their country must wish it for
every black citizen. This is the great and insistent message of the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People."

[Footnote 1: For detailed statement of origin see pamphlet, "How the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Began," by
Mary White Ovington, published by the Association.]

This organization is outstanding as an effort in cooeperation between
the races for the improvement of the condition of the Negro. Of special
interest along the line of economic betterment has been the National
League on Urban Conditions among Negroes, now known as the National
Urban League, which also has numerous branches with headquarters in New
York and through whose offices thousands of Negroes have been placed
in honorable employment. The National Urban League was also formally
organized in 1910; it represented a merging of the different agencies
working in New York City in behalf of the social betterment of the Negro
population, especially of the National League for the Protection
of Colored Women and of the Committee for Improving the Industrial
Conditions among Negroes in New York, both of which agencies had been
organized in 1906. As we shall see, the work of the League was to be
greatly expanded within the next decade by the conditions brought about
by the war; and under the direction of the executive secretary, Eugene
Kinckle Jones, with the assistance of alert and patriotic officers, its
work was to prove one of genuinely national service.

Interesting also was a new concern on the part of the young Southern
college man about the problems at his door. Within just a few years
after the close of the period now considered, Phelps-Stokes fellowships
for the study of problems relating to the Negro were founded at the
Universities of Virginia and Georgia; it was expected that similar
fellowships would be founded in other institutions; and there was
interest in the annual meetings of the Southern Sociological Congress
and the University Commission on Southern Race Questions.

Thus from one direction and another at length broke upon a "vale of
tears" a new day of effort and of hope. For the real contest the forces
were gathering. The next decade was to be one of unending bitterness and
violence, but also one in which the Negro was to rise as never before to
the dignity of self-reliant and courageous manhood.



1. _Character of the Period_

The decade 1910-1920, momentous in the history of the world, in the
history of the Negro race in America must finally be regarded as the
period of a great spiritual uprising against the proscription, the
defamation, and the violence of the preceding twenty years. As never
before the Negro began to realize that the ultimate burden of his
salvation rested upon himself, and he learned to respect and to depend
upon himself accordingly.

The decade naturally divides into two parts, that before and that after
the beginning of the Great War in Europe. Even in the earlier years,
however, the tendencies that later were dominant were beginning to be
manifest. The greater part of the ten years was consumed by the two
administrations of President Woodrow Wilson; and not only did the
National Government in the course of these administrations discriminate
openly against persons of Negro descent in the Federal service and fail
to protect those who happened to live in the capital, but its policy
also gave encouragement to outrage in places technically said to be
beyond its jurisdiction. A great war was to give new occasion and
new opportunity for discrimination, defamatory propaganda was to be
circulated on a scale undreamed of before, and the close of the war was
to witness attempts for a new reign of terror in the South. Even beyond
the bounds of continental America the race was now to suffer by reason
of the national policy, and the little republic of Hayti to lift its
bleeding hands to the calm judgment of the world.

Both a cause and a result of the struggle through which the race was now
to pass was its astonishing progress. The fiftieth anniversary of the
Emancipation Proclamation--January 1, 1913--called to mind as did
nothing else the proscription and the mistakes, but also the successes
and the hopes of the Negro people in America. Throughout the South
disfranchisement seemed almost complete; and yet, after many attempts,
the movement finally failed in Maryland in 1911 and in Arkansas in 1912.
In 1915, moreover, the disfranchising act of Oklahoma was declared
unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court, and henceforth the
Negro could feel that the highest legal authority was no longer on the
side of those who sought to deprive him of all political voice. Eleven
years before, the Court had taken refuge in technicalities. The year
1911 was also marked by the appointment of the first Negro policeman in
New York, by the election of the first Negro legislator in Pennsylvania,
and by the appointment of a man of the race, William H. Lewis, as
Assistant Attorney General of the United States; and several civil
rights suits were won in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. Banks,
insurance companies, and commercial and industrial enterprises were
constantly being capitalized; churches erected more and more stately
edifices; and fraternal organizations constantly increased in membership
and wealth. By 1913 the Odd Fellows numbered very nearly half a million
members and owned property worth two and a half million dollars; in
1920 the Dunbar Amusement Corporation of Philadelphia erected a theater
costing $400,000; and the foremost business woman of the race in the
decade, Mme. C.J. Walker, on the simple business of toilet articles and
hair preparations built up an enterprise of national scope and conducted
in accordance with the principles regularly governing great American
commercial organizations. Fifty years after emancipation, moreover, very
nearly one-fourth of all the Negroes in the Southern states were living
in homes that they themselves owned; thus 430,449 of 1,917,391 houses
occupied in these states were reported in 1910 as owned, and 314,340
were free of all encumbrance. The percentage of illiteracy decreased
from 70 in 1880 to 30.4 in 1910, and movements were under way for the
still more rapid spread of elementary knowledge. Excellent high schools,
such as those in St. Louis, Washington, Kansas City (both cities of this
name), Louisville, Baltimore, and other cities and towns in the border
states and sometimes as far away as Texas, were setting a standard such
as was in accord with the best in the country; and in one year, 1917,
455 young people of the race received the degree of bachelor of arts,
while throughout the decade different ones received honors and took the
highest graduate degrees at the foremost institutions of learning in the
country. Early in the decade the General Education Board began actively
to assist in the work of the higher educational institutions, and an
outstanding gift was that of half a million dollars to Fisk University
in 1920. Meanwhile, through the National Urban League and hundreds of
local clubs and welfare organizations, social betterment went forward,
much impetus being given to the work by the National Association of
Colored Women's Clubs organized in 1896.

Along with its progress, throughout the decade the race had to meet
increasing bitterness and opposition, and this was intensified by the
motion picture, "The Birth of a Nation," built on lines similar to those
of _The Clansman_. Negro men standing high on civil service lists were
sometimes set aside; in 1913 the white railway mail clerks of the
South began an open campaign against Negroes in the service in direct
violation of the rules; and a little later in the same year segregation
in the different departments became notorious. In 1911 the American Bar
Association raised the question of the color-line; and efforts for the
restriction of Negroes to certain neighborhoods in different prominent
cities sometimes resulted in violence, as in the dynamiting of the homes
of Negroes in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1911. When the Progressive party
was organized in 1912 the Negro was given to understand that his support
was not sought, and in 1911 a strike of firemen on the Queen and
Crescent Railroad was in its main outlines similar to the trouble on
the Georgia Railroad two years before. Meanwhile in the South the race
received only 18 per cent of the total expenditures for education,
although it constituted more than 30 per cent of the population.

Worse than anything else, however, was the matter of lynching. In each
year the total number of victims of illegal execution continued to
number three- or fourscore; but no one could ever be sure that every
instance had been recorded. Between the opening of the decade and the
time of the entrance of the United States into the war, five cases were
attended by such unusual circumstances that the public could not soon
forget them. At Coatesville, Pennsylvania, not far from Philadelphia, on
August 12, 1911, a Negro laborer, Zach Walker, while drunk, fatally shot
a night watchman. He was pursued and attempted suicide. Wounded, he was
brought to town and placed in the hospital. From this place he was taken
chained to his cot, dragged for some miles, and then tortured and burned
to death in the presence of a great crowd of people, including many
women, and his bones and the links of the chain which bound him
distributed as souvenirs. At Monticello, Georgia, in January, 1915, when
a Negro family resisted an officer who was making an arrest, the father,
Dan Barbour, his young son, and his two daughters were all hanged to a
tree and their bodies riddled with bullets. Before the close of the year
there was serious trouble in the southwestern portion of the state, and
behind this lay all the evils of the system of peonage in the black
belt. Driven to desperation by the mistreatment accorded them in the
raising of cotton, the Negroes at last killed an overseer who had
whipped a Negro boy. A reign of terror was then instituted; churches,
society halls, and homes were burnt, and several individuals shot. On
December 30 there was a wholesale lynching of six Negroes in Early
County. Less than three weeks afterwards a sheriff who attempted to
arrest some more Negroes and who was accompanied by a mob was killed.
Then (January 20, 1916) five Negroes who had been taken from the jail in
Worth County were rushed in automobiles into Lee County adjoining, and
hanged and shot. On May 15, 1916, at Waco, Texas, Jesse Washington, a
sullen and overgrown boy of seventeen, who worked for a white farmer
named Fryar at the town of Robinson, six miles away, and who one week
before had criminally assaulted and killed Mrs. Fryar, after unspeakable
mutilation was burned in the heart of the town. A part of the torture
consisted in stabbing with knives and the cutting off of the boy's
fingers as he grabbed the chain by which he was bound. Finally, on
October 21, 1916, Anthony Crawford, a Negro farmer of Abbeville, South
Carolina, who owned four hundred and twenty-seven acres of the best
cotton land in his county and who was reported to be worth $20,000, was
lynched. He had come to town to the store of W.D. Barksdale to sell a
load of cotton-seed, and the two men had quarreled about the price,
although no blow was struck on either side. A little later, however,
Crawford was arrested by a local policeman and a crowd of idlers from
the public square rushed to give him a whipping for his "impudence." He
promptly knocked down the ringleader with a hammer. The mob then set
upon him, nearly killed him, and at length threw him into the jail. A
few hours later, fearing that the sheriff would secretly remove the
prisoner, it returned, dragged the wounded man forth, and then hanged
and shot him, after which proceedings warning was sent to his family to
leave the county by the middle of the next month.

It will be observed that in these five noteworthy occurrences, in only
one case was there any question of criminal assault. On the other hand,
in one case two young women were included among the victims; another was
really a series of lynchings emphasizing the lot of some Negroes under
a vicious economic system; and the last simply grew out of the jealousy
and hatred aroused by a Negro of independent means who knew how to stand
up for his rights.

Such was the progress, such also the violence that the Negro witnessed
during the decade. Along with his problems at home he now began to have
a new interest in those of his kin across the sea, and this feeling was
intensified by the world war. It raises questions of such far-reaching
importance, however, that it must receive separate and distinct

2. _Migration; East St. Louis_

Very soon after the beginning of the Great War in Europe there began
what will ultimately be known as the most remarkable migratory movement
in the history of the Negro in America. Migration had indeed at no time
ceased since the great movement of 1879, but for the most part it had
been merely personal and not in response to any great emergency. The
sudden ceasing of the stream of immigration from Europe, however,
created an unprecedented demand for labor in the great industrial
centers of the North, and business men were not long in realizing
the possibilities of a source that had as yet been used in only the
slightest degree. Special agents undoubtedly worked in some measure; but
the outstanding feature of the new migration was that it was primarily a
mass movement and not one organized or encouraged by any special group
of leaders. Labor was needed in railroad construction, in the steel
mills, in the tobacco farms of Connecticut, and in the packing-houses,
foundries, and automobile plants. In 1915 the New England tobacco
growers hastily got together in New York two hundred girls; but these
proved to be unsatisfactory, and it was realized that the labor supply
would have to be more carefully supervised. In January, 1916, the
management of the Continental Tobacco Corporation definitely decided on
the policy of importing workers from the South, and within the next year
not less than three thousand Negroes came to Hartford, several hundred
being students from the schools and colleges who went North to work for
the summer. In the same summer came also train-loads of Negroes from
Jacksonville and other points to work for the Erie and Pennsylvania

Those who left their homes in the South to find new ones in the North
thus worked first of all in response to a new economic demand.
Prominent in their thought to urge them on, however, were the generally
unsatisfactory conditions in the South from which they had so long
suffered and from which all too often there had seemed to be no escape.
As it was, they were sometimes greatly embarrassed in leaving. In
Jacksonville the city council passed an ordinance requiring that agents
who wished to recruit labor to be sent out of the state should pay
$1,000 for a license or suffer a fine of $600 and spend sixty days in
jail. Macon, Ga., raised the license fee to $25,000. In Savannah the
excitement was intense. When two trains did not move as it was expected
that they would, three hundred Negroes paid their own fares and went
North. Later, when the leaders of the movement could not be found, the
police arrested one hundred of the Negroes and sent them to the police
barracks, charging them with loitering. Similar scenes were enacted
elsewhere, the South being then as ever unwilling to be deprived of its
labor supply. Meanwhile wages for some men in such an industrial center
as Birmingham leaped to $9 and $10 a day. All told, hardly less than
three-fourths of a million Negroes went North within the four years

Naturally such a great shifting of population did not take place without
some inconvenience and hardship. Among the thousands who changed their
place of residence were many ignorant and improvident persons; but
sometimes it was the most skilled artisans and the most substantial
owners of homes in different communities who sold their property
and moved away. In the North they at once met congestion in housing
facilities. In Philadelphia and Pittsburgh this condition became so bad
as to demand immediate attention. In more than one place there were
outbreaks in which lives were lost. In East St. Louis, Ill., all of the
social problems raised by the movement were seen in their baldest guise.
The original population of this city had come for the most part from
Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Tennessee. It had long been an
important industrial center. It was also a very rough place, the scene
of prize-fights and cock-fights and a haven for escaped prisoners; and
there was very close connection between the saloons and politics. For
years the managers of the industrial plants had recruited their labor
supply from Ellis Island. When this failed they turned to the Negroes of
the South; and difficulties were aggravated by a series of strikes on
the part of the white workers. By the spring of 1917 not less than ten
thousand Negroes had recently arrived in the city, and the housing
situation was so acute that these people were more and more being forced
into the white localities. Sometimes Negroes who had recently arrived
wandered aimlessly about the streets, where they met the rougher
elements of the city; there were frequent fights and also much trouble
on the street cars. The Negroes interested themselves in politics and
even succeeded in placing in office several men of their choice. In
February, 1917, there was a strike of the white workers at the Aluminum
Ore Works. This was adjusted at the time, but the settlement was not
permanent, and meanwhile there were almost daily arrivals from the
South, and the East St. Louis _Journal_ was demanding: "Make East St.
Louis a Lily White Town." There were preliminary riots on May 27-30. On
the night of July I men in automobiles rode through the Negro section
and began firing promiscuously. The next day the massacre broke forth in
all its fury, and before it was over hundreds of thousands of dollars in
property had been destroyed, six thousand Negroes had been driven from
their homes, and about one hundred and fifty shot, burned, hanged, or
maimed for life. Officers of the law failed to do their duty, and the
testimony of victims as to the torture inflicted upon them was such as
to send a thrill of horror through the heart of the American people.
Later there was a congressional investigation, but from this nothing
very material resulted. In the last week of this same month, July, 1917,
there were also serious outbreaks in both Chester and Philadelphia,
Penn., the fundamental issues being the same as in East St. Louis.

Meanwhile welfare organizations earnestly labored to adjust the Negro in
his new environment. In Chicago the different state clubs helped nobly.
Greater than any other one agency, however, was the National Urban
League, whose work now witnessed an unprecedented expansion.
Representative was the work of the Detroit branch, which was not content
merely with finding vacant positions, but approached manufacturers of
all kinds through distribution of literature and by personal visits,
and within twelve months was successful in placing not less than one
thousand Negroes in employment other than unskilled labor. It also
established a bureau of investigation and information regarding housing
conditions, and generally aimed at the proper moral and social care of
those who needed its service. The whole problem of the Negro was of such
commanding importance after the United States entered the war as to lead
to the creation of a special Division of Negro Economics in the office
of the Secretary of Labor, to the directorship of which Dr. George E.
Haynes was called.

In January, 1918, a Conference of Migration was called in New York under
the auspices of the National Urban League, and this placed before the
American Federation of Labor resolutions asking that Negro labor be
considered on the same basis as white. The Federation had long been
debating the whole question of the Negro, and it had not seemed to be
able to arrive at a clearcut policy though its general attitude was
unfavorable. In 1919, however, it voted to take steps to recognize and
admit Negro unions. At last it seemed to realize the necessity of making
allies of Negro workers, and of course any such change of front on the
part of white workmen would menace some of the foundations of racial
strife in the South and indeed in the country at large. Just how
effective the new decision was to be in actual practice remained to be
seen, especially as the whole labor movement was thrown on the defensive
by the end of 1920. However, special interest attached to the events
in Bogalusa, La., in November, 1919. Here were the headquarters of the
Great Southern Lumber Company, whose sawmill in the place was said to be
the largest in the world. For some time it had made use of unorganized
Negro labor as against the white labor unions. The forces of labor,
however, began to organize the Negroes in the employ of the Company,
which held political as well as capitalistic control in the community.
The Company then began to have Negroes arrested on charges of vagrancy,
taking them before the city court and having them fined and turned over
to the Company to work out the fines under the guard of gunmen. In the
troubles that came to a head on November 22, three white men were shot
and killed, one of them being the district president of the American
Federation of Labor, who was helping to give protection to a colored
organizer. The full significance of this incident remained also to be
seen; but it is quite possible that in the final history of the Negro
problem the skirmish at Bogalusa will mark the beginning of the end of
the exploiting of Negro labor and the first recognition of the identity
of interest between white and black workmen in the South.

3. _The Great War_

Just on the eve of America's entrance into the war in Europe occurred
an incident that from the standpoint of the Negro at least must finally
appear simply as the prelude to the great contest to come. Once more,
at an unexpected moment, ten years after Brownsville, the loyalty
and heroism of the Negro soldier impressed the American people. The
expedition of the American forces into Mexico in 1916, with the
political events attending this, is a long story. The outstanding
incident, however, was that in which two troops of the Tenth Cavalry
engaged. About eighty men had been sent a long distance from the main
line of the American army, their errand being supposedly the pursuit of
a deserter. At or near the town of Carrizal the Americans seem to have
chosen to go through the town rather than around it, and the result was
a clash in which Captain Boyd, who commanded the detachment, and some
twenty of his men were killed, twenty-two others being captured by the
Mexicans. Under the circumstances the whole venture was rather imprudent
in the first place. As to the engagement itself, the Mexicans said that
the American troops made the attack, while the latter said that the
Mexicans themselves first opened fire. However this may have been,
all other phases of the Mexican problem seemed for the moment to be
forgotten at Washington in the demand for the release of the twenty-two
men who had been taken. There was no reason for holding them, and they
were brought up to El Paso within a few days and sent across the line.
Thus, though "some one had blundered," these Negro soldiers did their
duty; "theirs not to make reply; theirs but to do and die." So in the
face of odds they fought like heroes and twenty died beneath the Mexican

When the United States entered the war in Europe in April, 1917, the
question of overwhelming importance to the Negro people was naturally
that of their relation to the great conflict in which their country
had become engaged. Their response to the draft call set a noteworthy
example of loyalty to all other elements in the country. At the very
outset the race faced a terrible dilemma: If there were to be special
training camps for officers, and if the National Government would make
no provision otherwise, did it wish to have a special camp for Negroes,
such as would give formal approval to a policy of segregation, or did it
wish to have no camp at all on such terms and thus lose the opportunity
to have any men of the race specially trained as officers? The camp was
secured--Camp Dodge, near Des Moines, Iowa; and throughout the summer
of 1917 the work of training went forward, the heart of a harassed and
burdened people responding more and more with pride to the work of their
men. On October 15, 625 became commissioned officers, and all told 1200
received commissions. To the fighting forces of the United States the
race furnished altogether very nearly 400,000 men, of whom just a little
more than half actually saw service in Europe.

Negro men served in all branches of the military establishment and also
as surveyors and draftsmen. For the handling of many of the questions
relating to them Emmett J. Scott was on October 1, 1917, appointed
Special Assistant to the Secretary of War. Mr. Scott had for a number
of years assisted Dr. Booker T. Washington as secretary at Tuskegee
Institute, and in 1909 he was one of the three members of the special
commission appointed by President Taft for the investigation of Liberian
affairs. Negro nurses were authorized by the War Department for service
in base hospitals at six army camps, and women served also as canteen
workers in France and in charge of hostess houses in the United States.
Sixty Negro men served as chaplains; 350 as Y.M.C.A. secretaries; and
others in special capacities. Service of exceptional value was rendered
by Negro women in industry, and very largely also they maintained and
promoted the food supply through agriculture at the same time that they
released men for service at the front. Meanwhile the race invested
millions of dollars in Liberty Bonds and War Savings stamps and
contributed generously to the Red Cross, Y.M.C.A., and other relief
agencies. In the summer of 1918 interest naturally centered upon
the actual performance of Negro soldiers in France and upon the
establishment of units of the Students' Army Training Corps in twenty
leading educational institutions. When these units were demobilized in
December, 1918, provision was made in a number of the schools for the
formation of units of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps.

The remarkable record made by the Negro in the previous wars of the
country was fully equaled by that in the Great War. Negro soldiers
fought with special distinction in the Argonne Forest, at
Chateau-Thierry, in Belleau Wood, in the St. Mihiel district, in the
Champagne sector, at Vosges and Metz, winning often very high praise
from their commanders. Entire regiments of Negro troops were cited for
exceptional valor and decorated with the Croix de Guerre--the 369th, the
371st, and the 372nd; while groups of officers and men of the 365th, the
366th, the 368th, the 370th, and the first battalion of the 367th were
also decorated. At the close of the war the highest Negro officers in
the army were Lieutenant Colonel Otis B. Duncan, commander of the third
battalion of the 370th, formerly the Eighth Illinois, and the highest
ranking Negro officer in the American Expeditionary Forces; Colonel
Charles Young (retired), on special duty at Camp Grant, Ill.; Colonel
Franklin A. Dennison, of the 370th Infantry, and Lieutenant Colonel
Benjamin O. Davis, of the Ninth Cavalry. The 370th was the first
American regiment stationed in the St. Mihiel sector; it was one of the
three that occupied a sector at Verdun when a penetration there would
have been disastrous to the Allied cause; and it went direct from the
training camp to the firing-line. Noteworthy also was the record of
the 369th infantry, formerly the Fifteenth Regiment, New York National
Guard. This organization was under shellfire for 191 days, and it held
one trench for 91 days without relief. It was the first unit of Allied
fighters to reach the Rhine, going down as an advance guard of the
French army of occupation. A prominent hero in this regiment was
Sergeant Henry Johnson, who returned with the Croix de Guerre with one
star and one palm. He is credited with routing a party of Germans at
Bois-Hanzey in the Argonne on May 5, 1918, with singularly heavy losses
to the enemy. Many other men acted with similar bravery. Hardly less
heroic was the service of the stevedore regiments, or the thousands of
men in the army who did not go to France but who did their duty as they
were commanded at home. General Vincenden said of the men of the 370th:
"Fired by a noble ardor, they go at times even beyond the objectives
given them by the higher command; they have always wished to be in the
front line"; and General Coybet said of the 371st and 372nd: "The most
powerful defenses, the most strongly organized machine gun nests, the
heaviest artillery barrages--nothing could stop them. These crack
regiments overcame every obstacle with a most complete contempt for
danger.... They have shown us the way to victory."

In spite of his noble record--perhaps in some measure because of it--and
in the face of his loyal response to the call to duty, the Negro
unhappily became in the course of the war the victim of proscription and
propaganda probably without parallel in the history of the country. No
effort seems to have been spared to discredit him both as a man and as
a soldier. In both France and America the apparent object of the forces
working against him was the intention to prevent any feeling that the
war would make any change in the condition of the race at home. In the
South Negroes were sometimes forced into peonage and restrained in their
efforts to go North; and generally they had no representation on local
boards, the draft was frequently operated so as to be unfair to them,
and every man who registered found special provision for the indication
of his race in the corner of his card. Accordingly in many localities
Negroes contributed more than their quota, this being the result
of favoritism shown to white draftees. The first report of the
Provost-Marshal General showed that of every 100 Negroes called 36 were
certified for service, while of every 100 white men called only 25 were
certified. Of those summoned in Class I Negroes contributed 51.65 per
cent of their registrants as against 32.53 per cent of the white. In
France the work of defamation was manifest and flagrant. Slanders about
the Negro soldiers were deliberately circulated among the French people,
sometimes on very high authority, much of this propaganda growing out of
a jealous fear of any acquaintance whatsoever of the Negro men with the
French women. Especially insolent and sometimes brutal were the men
of the military police, who at times shot and killed on the slightest
provocation. Proprietors who sold to Negro soldiers were sometimes
boycotted, and offenses were magnified which in the case of white men
never saw publication. Negro officers were discriminated against in
hotel and traveling accommodations, while upon the ordinary men in
the service fell unduly any specially unpleasant duty such as that
of re-burying the dead. White women engaged in "Y" work, especially
Southern women, showed a disposition not to serve Negroes, though the
Red Cross and Salvation Army organizations were much better in this
respect; and finally the Negro soldier was not given any place in the
great victory parade in Paris. About the close of the war moreover a
great picture, or series of pictures, the "Pantheon de la Guerre," that
was on a mammoth scale and that attracted extraordinary attention, was
noteworthy as giving representation to all of the forces and divisions
of the Allied armies except the Negroes in the forces from the United
States.[1] Not unnaturally the Germans endeavored--though without
success--to capitalize the situation by circulating among the Negroes
insidious literature that sometimes made very strong points. All of
these things are to be considered by those people in the United States
who think that the Negro suffers unduly from a grievance.

[Footnote 1: On the whole subject of the actual life of the Negro
soldier unusual interest attaches to the forthcoming and authoritative
"Sidelights on Negro Soldiers," by Charles H. Williams, who as a special
and official investigator had unequaled opportunity to study the Negro
in camp and on the battle-line both in the United States and in France.]

While the Negro soldier abroad was thus facing unusual pressure in
addition to the ordinary hardships of war, at home occurred an incident
that was doubly depressing coming as it did just a few weeks after
the massacre at East St. Louis. In August, 1917, a battalion of the
Twenty-fourth Infantry, stationed at Houston, Texas, to assist in the
work of concentrating soldiers for the war in Europe, encountered the
ill-will of the town, and between the city police and the Negro military
police there was constant friction. At last when one of the Negroes had
been beaten, word was circulated among his comrades that he had been
shot, and a number of them set out for revenge. In the riot that
followed (August 23) two of the Negroes and seventeen white people of
the town were killed, the latter number including five policemen. As
a result of this encounter sixty-three members of the battalion were
court-martialed at Fort Sam Houston. Thirteen were hanged on December
11, 1917, five more were executed on September 13, 1918, fifty-one were
sentenced to life imprisonment and five to briefer terms; and the Negro
people of the country felt very keenly the fact that the condemned
men were hanged like common criminals rather than given the death of
soldiers. Thus for one reason or another the whole matter of the war and
the incidents connected therewith simply made the Negro question more
bitterly than ever the real disposition toward him of the government
under which he lived and which he had striven so long to serve.

4. _High Tension: Washington, Chicago, Elaine_

Such incidents abroad and such feeling at home as we have recorded not
only agitated the Negro people, but gave thousands of other citizens
concern, and when the armistice suddenly came on November 11, 1918, not
only in the South but in localities elsewhere in the country racial
feeling had been raised to the highest point. About the same time there
began to be spread abroad sinister rumors that the old KuKlux were
riding again; and within a few months parades at night in representative
cities in Alabama and Georgia left no doubt that the rumors were well
founded. The Negro people fully realized the significance of the new
movement, and they felt full well the pressure being brought to bear
upon them in view of the shortage of domestic servants in the South.
Still more did they sense the situation that would face their sons and
brothers when they returned from France. But they were not afraid; and
in all of the riots of the period the noteworthy fact stands out that
in some of the cities in which the situation was most tense--notably
Atlanta and Birmingham--no great race trouble was permitted to start.

In general, however, the violence that had characterized the year 1917
continued through 1918 and 1919. In the one state of Tennessee, within
less than a year and on separate occasions, three Negroes were burned at
the stake. On May 22, 1917, near Memphis, Ell T. Person, nearly fifty
years of age, was burned for the alleged assault and murder of a young
woman; and in this case the word "alleged" is used advisedly, for the
whole matter of the fixing of the blame for the crime and the fact that
the man was denied a legal trial left grave doubt as to the extent of
his guilt. On Sunday, December 2, 1917, at Dyersburg, immediately after
the adjournment of services in the churches of the town, Lation Scott,
guilty of criminal assault, was burned; his eyes were put out with
red-hot irons, a hot poker was rammed down his throat, and he was
mutilated in unmentionable ways. Two months later, on February 12, 1918,
at Estill Springs, Jim McIlheron, who had shot and killed two young
white men, was also burned at the stake. In Estill Springs it had for
some time been the sport of young white men in the community to throw
rocks at single Negroes and make them run. Late one afternoon McIlheron
went into a store to buy some candy. As he passed out, a remark was made
by one of three young men about his eating his candy. The rest of the
story is obvious.

As horrible as these burnings were, it is certain that they did not
grind the iron into the Negro's soul any more surely than the three
stories that follow. Hampton Smith was known as one of the harshest
employers of Negro labor in Brooks County, Ga. As it was difficult for
him to get help otherwise, he would go into the courts and whenever a
Negro was convicted and was unable to pay his fine or was sentenced to
a term on the chain-gang, he would pay the fine and secure the man for
work on his plantation. He thus secured the services of Sidney Johnson,
fined thirty dollars for gambling. After Johnson had more than worked
out the thirty dollars he asked pay for the additional time he served.
Smith refused to give this and a quarrel resulted. A few mornings later,
when Johnson, sick, did not come to work, Smith found him in his cabin
and beat him. A few evenings later, while Smith was sitting in his home,
he was shot through a window and killed instantly, and his wife was
wounded. As a result of this occurrence the Negroes of both Brooks and
Lowndes counties were terrorized for the week May 17-24, 1918, and not
less than eleven of them lynched. Into the bodies of two men lynched
together not less than seven hundred bullets are said to have been
fired. Johnson himself had been shot dead when he was found; but his
body was mutilated, dragged through the streets of Valdosta, and burned.
Mary Turner, the wife of one of the victims, said that her husband had
been unjustly treated and that if she knew who had killed him she would
have warrants sworn out against them. For saying this she too was
lynched, although she was in an advanced state of pregnancy. Her ankles
were tied together and she was hung to a tree, head downward. Gasoline
and oil from the automobiles near were thrown on her clothing and a
match applied. While she was yet alive her abdomen was cut open with a
large knife and her unborn babe fell to the ground. It gave two feeble
cries and then its head was crushed by a member of the mob with his
heel. Hundreds of bullets were then fired into the woman's body. As
a result of these events not less than five hundred Negroes left the
immediate vicinity of Valdosta immediately, and hundreds of others
prepared to leave as soon as they could dispose of their land, and
this they proceeded to do in the face of the threat that any Negro who
attempted to leave would be regarded as implicated in the murder of
Smith and dealt with accordingly. At the end of this same year--on
December 20, 1918--four young Negroes--Major Clark, aged twenty; Andrew
Clark, aged fifteen; Maggie Howze, aged twenty, and Alma Howze, aged
sixteen--were taken from the little jail at Shubuta, Mississippi, and
lynched on a bridge near the town. They were accused of the murder of
E.L. Johnston, a white dentist, though all protested their innocence.
The situation that preceded the lynching was significant. Major Clark
was in love with Maggie Howze and planned to marry her. This thought
enraged Johnston, who was soon to become the father of a child by the
young woman, and who told Clark to leave her alone. As the two sisters
were about to be killed, Maggie screamed and fought, crying, "I ain't
guilty of killing the doctor and you oughtn't to kill me"; and to
silence her cries one member of the mob struck her in the mouth with
a monkey wrench, knocking her teeth out. On May 24, 1919, at Milan,
Telfair County, Georgia, two young white men, Jim Dowdy and Lewis Evans,
went drunk late at night to the Negro section of the town and to the
home of a widow who had two daughters. They were refused admittance and
then fired into the house. The girls, frightened, ran to another home.
They were pursued, and Berry Washington, a respectable Negro seventy-two
years of age, seized a shotgun, intending to give them protection; and
in the course of the shooting that followed Dowdy was killed. The next
night, Saturday the 25th, Washington was taken to the place where Dowdy
was killed and his body shot to pieces.

It remained for the capital of the nation, however, largely to show the
real situation of the race in the aftermath of a great war conducted
by a Democratic administration. Heretofore the Federal Government had
declared itself powerless to act in the case of lawlessness in an
individual state; but it was now to have an opportunity to deal with
violence in Washington itself. On July 19, 1919, a series of lurid and
exaggerated stories in the daily papers of attempted assaults of Negroes
on white women resulted in an outbreak that was intended to terrorize
the popular Northwest section, in which lived a large proportion of
the Negroes in the District of Columbia. For three days the violence
continued intermittently, and as the constituted police authority did
practically nothing for the defense of the Negro citizens, the loss of
life might have been infinitely greater than it was if the colored men
of the city had not assumed their own defense. As it was they saved the
capital and earned the gratitude of the race and the nation. It appeared
that Negroes--educated, law-abiding Negroes--would not now run when
their lives and their homes were at stake, and before such determination
the mob retreated ingloriously.

Just a week afterwards--before the country had really caught its breath
after the events in Washington--there burst into flame in Chicago a race
war of the greatest bitterness and fierceness. For a number of years the
Western metropolis had been known as that city offering to the Negro
the best industrial and political opportunity in the country. When the
migration caused by the war was at its height, tens of thousands of
Negroes from the South passed through the city going elsewhere, but
thousands also remained to work in the stockyards or other places. With
all of the coming and going, the Negroes in the city must at any time in
1918 or 1919 have numbered not less than 150,000; and banks, cooeperative
societies, and race newspapers flourished. There were also abundant
social problems awakened by the saloons and gambling dens, and by the
seamy side of politics. Those who had been longest in the city, however,
rallied to the needs of the newcomers, and in their homes, their
churches, and their places of work endeavored to get them adjusted in
their environment. The housing situation, in spite of all such effort,
became more and more acute, and when some Negroes were forced beyond the
bounds of the old "black belt" there were attempts to dynamite their new
residences. Meanwhile hundreds of young men who had gone to France or to
cantonments--1850 from the district of one draft board at State and 35th
Streets--returned to find again a place in the life of Chicago; and
daily from Washington or from the South came the great waves of social
unrest. Said Arnold Hill, secretary of the Chicago branch of the
National Urban League: "Every time a lynching takes place in a community
down South you can depend on it that colored people from that community
will arrive in Chicago inside of two weeks; we have seen it happen so
often that whenever we read newspaper dispatches of a public hanging
or burning in a Texas or a Mississippi town, we get ready to extend
greetings to the people from the immediate vicinity of the lynching."
Before the armistice was signed the League was each month finding work
for 1700 or 1800 men and women; in the following April the number fell
to 500, but with the coming of summer it rapidly rose again. Unskilled
work was plentiful, and jobs in foundries and steel mills, in building
and construction work, and in light factories and packing-houses kept up
a steady demand for laborers. Meanwhile trouble was brewing, and on the
streets there were occasional encounters.

Such was the situation when on a Sunday at the end of July a Negro boy
at a bathing beach near Twenty-sixth Street swam across an imaginary
segregation line. White boys threw rocks at him, knocked him off a raft,
and he was drowned. Colored people rushed to a policeman and asked him
to arrest the boys who threw the stones. He refused to do so, and as the
dead body of the Negro boy was being handled, more rocks were thrown
on both sides. The trouble thus engendered spread through the Negro
district on the South Side, and for a week it was impossible or
dangerous for people to go to work. Some employed at the stockyards
could not get to their work for some days further. At the end of three
days twenty Negroes were reported as dead, fourteen white men were dead,
scores of people were injured, and a number of houses of Negroes burned.

In the face of this disaster the great soul of Chicago rose above its
materialism. There were many conferences between representative people;
out of all the effort grew the determination to work for a nobler city;
and the sincerity was such as to give one hope not only for Chicago but
also for a new and better America.

The riots in Washington and Chicago were followed within a few weeks by
outbreaks in Knoxville and Omaha. In the latter place the fundamental
cause of the trouble was social and political corruption, and because he
strongly opposed the lynching of William Brown, the Negro, the mayor of
the city, Edward P. Smith, very nearly lost his life. As it was, the
county court house was burned, one man more was killed, and perhaps
as many as forty injured. More important even than this, however--and
indeed one of the two or three most far-reaching instances of racial
trouble in the history of the Negro in America--was the reign of terror
in and near Elaine, Phillips County, Arkansas, in the first week of
October, 1919. The causes of this were fundamental and reached the very
heart of the race problem and of the daily life of tens of thousands of

Many Negro tenants in eastern Arkansas, as in other states, were still
living under a share system by which the owner furnished the land
and the Negro the labor, and by which at the end of the year the two
supposedly got equal parts of the crop. Meanwhile throughout the
year the tenant would get his food, clothing, and other supplies at
exorbitant prices from a "commissary" operated by the planter or his
agent; and in actual practice the landowner and the tenant did not go
together to a city to dispose of the crop when it was gathered, as was
sometimes done elsewhere, but the landowner alone sold the crop and
settled with the tenant whenever and however he pleased; nor at the time
of settlement was any itemized statement of supplies given, only the
total amount owed being stated. Obviously the planter could regularly
pad his accounts, keep the Negro in debt, and be assured of his labor
supply from year to year.

In 1918 the price of cotton was constantly rising and at length reached
forty cents a pound. Even with the cheating to which the Negroes were
subjected, it became difficult to keep them in debt, and they became
more and more insistent in their demands for itemized statements.
Nevertheless some of those whose cotton was sold in October, 1918, did
not get any statement of any sort before July of the next year.

Seeing no other way out of their difficulty, sixty-eight of the Negroes
got together and decided to hire a lawyer who would help them to get
statements of their accounts and settlement at the right figures.
Feeling that the life of any Negro lawyer who took such a case would be
endangered, they employed the firm of Bratton and Bratton, of Little
Rock. They made contracts with this firm to handle the sixty-eight cases
at fifty dollars each in cash and a percentage of the moneys collected
from the white planters. Some of the Negroes also planned to go before
the Federal Grand Jury and charge certain planters with peonage. They
had secret meetings from time to time in order to collect the money to
be paid in advance and to collect the evidence which would enable them
successfully to prosecute their cases. Some Negro cotton-pickers about
the same time organized a union; and at Elaine many Negroes who worked
in the sawmills and who desired to protect their wives and daughters
from insult, refused to allow them to pick cotton or to work for a white
man at any price.

Such was the sentiment out of which developed the Progressive Farmers
and Household Union of America, which was an effort by legal means to
secure protection from unscrupulous landlords, but which did use the
form of a fraternal order with passwords and grips and insignia so as
the more forcefully to appeal to some of its members. About the first of
October the report was spread abroad in Phillips County that the Negroes
were plotting an insurrection and that they were rapidly preparing to
massacre the white people on a great scale. When the situation had
become tense, one Sunday John Clem, a white man from Helena, drunk, came
to Elaine and proceeded to terrorize the Negro population by gun play.
The colored people kept off the streets in order to avoid trouble and
telephoned the sheriff at Helena. This man failed to act. The next day
Clem was abroad again, but the Negroes still avoided trouble, thinking
that his acts were simply designed to start a race riot. On Tuesday
evening, October 1, however, W.D. Adkins, a special agent of the
Missouri Pacific Railroad, in company with Charles Pratt, a deputy
sheriff, was riding past a Negro church near Hoop Spur, a small
community just a few miles from Elaine. According to Pratt, persons in
the church fired without cause on the party, killing Adkins and wounding
himself. According to the Negroes, Adkins and Pratt fired into the
church, evidently to frighten the people there assembled. At any rate
word spread through the county that the massacre had started, and for
days there was murder and rioting, in the course of which not less
than five white men and twenty-five Negroes were killed, though some
estimates placed the number of fatalities a great deal higher. Negroes
were arrested and disarmed; some were shot on the highways; homes were
fired into; and at one time hundreds of men and women were in a stockade
under heavy guard and under the most unwholesome conditions, while
hundreds of white men, armed to the teeth, rushed to the vicinity from
neighboring cities and towns. Governor Charles H. Brough telegraphed to
Camp Pike for Federal troops, and five hundred were mobilized at once
"to repel the attack of the black army." Worse than any other feature
was the wanton slaying of the four Johnston brothers, whose father had
been a prominent Presbyterian minister and whose mother was formerly a
school-teacher. Dr. D.A.E. Johnston was a successful dentist and owned a
three-story building in Helena. Dr. Louis Johnston was a physician who
lived in Oklahoma and who had come home on a visit. A third brother had
served in France and been wounded and gassed at Chateau-Thierry.

Altogether one thousand Negroes were arrested and one hundred and
twenty-two indicted. A special committee of seven gathered evidence and
is charged with having used electric connections on the witness chair
in order to frighten the Negroes. Twelve men were sentenced to death
(though up to the end of 1920 execution had been stayed), and fifty-four
to penitentiary terms. The trials lasted from five to ten minutes each.
No witnesses for the defense were called; no Negroes were on the juries;
no change of venue was given. Meanwhile lawyers at Helena were preparing
to reap further harvest from Negroes who would be indicted and against
whom there was no evidence, but who had saved money and Liberty Bonds.

Governor Brough in a statement to the press blamed the _Crisis_ and the
Chicago _Defender_ for the trouble. He had served for a number of years
as a professor of economics before becoming governor and had even
identified himself with the forward-looking University Commission on
Southern Race Questions; and it is true that he postponed the executions
in order to allow appeals to be filed in behalf of the condemned men.
That he should thus attempt to shift the burden of blame and overlook
the facts when in a position of grave responsibility was a keen
disappointment to the lovers of progress.

Reference to the monthly periodical and the weekly paper just mentioned,
however, brings us to still another matter--the feeling on the part of
the Negro that, in addition to the outrages visited on the race, the
Government was now, under the cloak of wartime legislation, formally to
attempt to curtail its freedom of speech. For some days the issue of
the _Crisis_ for May, 1919, was held up in the mail; a South Carolina
representative in Congress quoted by way of denunciation from the
editorial "Returning Soldiers" in the same number of the periodical;
and a little later in the year the Department of Justice devoted
twenty-seven pages of the report of the investigation against "Persons
Advising Anarchy, Sedition, and the Forcible Overthrow of the
Government" to a report on "Radicalism and Sedition among the Negroes
as Reflected in Their Publications." Among other periodicals and papers
mentioned were the _Messenger_ and the _Negro World_ of New York; and by
the _Messenger_ indeed, frankly radical in its attitude not only on the
race question but also on fundamental economic principles, even the
_Crisis_ was regarded as conservative in tone. There could be no doubt
that a great spiritual change had come over the Negro people of the
United States. At the very time that their sons and brothers were making
the supreme sacrifice in France they were witnessing such events as
those at East St. Louis or Houston, or reading of three burnings within
a year in Tennessee. A new determination closely akin to consecration
possessed them. Fully to understand the new spirit one would read not
only such publications as those that have been mentioned, but also those
issued in the heart of the South. "Good-by, Black Mammy," said the
_Southwestern Christian Advocate_, taking as its theme the story of four
Southern white men who acted as honorary pallbearers at an old Negro
woman's funeral, but who under no circumstances would thus have served
for a thrifty, intelligent, well-educated man of the race. Said the
Houston _Informer_, voicing the feeling of thousands, "The black man
fought to make the world safe for democracy; he now demands that America
be made and maintained safe for black Americans." With hypocrisy in
the practice of the Christian religion there ceased to be any patience
whatsoever, as was shown by the treatment accorded a Y.M.C.A. "Call on
behalf of the young men and boys of the two great sister Anglo-Saxon
nations." "Read! Read! Read!" said the _Challenge Magazine_, "then
when the mob comes, whether with torch or with gun, let us stand at
Armageddon and battle for the Lord." "Protect your home," said the
gentle _Christian Recorder_, "protect your wife and children, with your
life if necessary. If a man crosses your threshold after you and your
family, the law allows you to protect your home even if you have to kill
the intruder." Perhaps nothing, however, better summed up the new spirit
than the following sonnet by Claude McKay:

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, let it not be like hogs
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us, though dead!
Oh, kinsman! We must meet the common foe;
Though far outnumbered, let us still be brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack
Pressed to the wall, dying, but--fighting back!

5. _The Widening Problem_

In view of the world war and the important part taken in it by French
colonial troops, especially those from Senegal, it is not surprising
that the heart of the Negro people in the United States broadened in a
new sympathy with the problems of their brothers the world over. Even
early in the decade that we are now considering, however, there was some
indication of this tendency, and the First Universal Races Congress in
London in 1911 attracted wide attention. In February, 1919, largely
through the personal effort of Dr. DuBois, a Pan-African Congress was
held in Paris, the chief aims of which were the hearing of statements
on the condition of Negroes throughout the world, the obtaining of
authoritative statements of policy toward the Negro race from the Great
Powers, the making of strong representations to the Peace Conference
then sitting in Paris in behalf of the Negroes throughout the world, and
the laying down of principles on which the future development of the
race must take place. Meanwhile the cession of the Virgin Islands had
fixed attention upon an interesting colored population at the very door
of the United States; and the American occupation of Hayti culminating
in the killing of many of the people in the course of President Wilson's
second administration gave a new feeling of kinship for the land of
Toussaint L'Ouverture. Among other things the evidence showed that on
June 12, 1918, under military pressure a new constitution was forced on
the Haytian people, one favoring the white man and the foreigner;
that by force and brutality innocent men and women, including native
preachers and members of their churches, had been taken, roped together,
and marched as slave-gangs to prison; and that in large numbers Haytians
had been taken from their homes and farms and made to work on new roads
for twenty cents a week, without being properly furnished with food--all
of this being done under the pretense of improving the social and
political condition of the country. The whole world now realized that
the Negro problem was no longer local in the United States or South
Africa, or the West Indies, but international in its scope and

Very early in the course of the conflict in Europe it was pointed out
that Africa was the real prize of the war, and it is now simply a
commonplace to say that the bases of the struggle were economic. Nothing
did Germany regret more than the forcible seizure of her African
possessions. One can not fail to observe, moreover, a tendency of
discussion of problems resultant from the war to shift the consideration
from that of pure politics to that of racial relations, and early in the
conflict students of society the world over realized that it was nothing
less than suicide on the part of the white race. After the close of the
war many books dealing with the issues at stake were written, and in the
year 1920 alone several of these appeared in the United States. Of all
of these publications, because of their different points of view, four
might call for special consideration--_The Republic of Liberia_, by
R.C.F. Maugham; _The Rising Tide of Color_, by Lothrop Stoddard;
_Darkwater_, by W.E. Burghardt DuBois, and _Empire and Commerce in
Africa: A Study in Economic Imperialism_, by Leonard Woolf. The position
of each of these books is clear and all bear directly upon the central

The _Republic of Liberia_ was written by one who some years ago was the
English consul at Monrovia and who afterwards was appointed to Dakar.
The supplementary preface also gives the information that the book was
really written two years before it appeared, publication being delayed
on account of the difficulties of printing at the time. Even up to 1918,
however, the account is incomplete, and the failure to touch upon recent
developments becomes serious; but it is of course impossible to record
the history of Liberia from 1847 to the present and reflect credit upon
England. There are some pages of value in the book, especially those in
which the author speaks of the labor situation in the little African
republic; but these are obviously intended primarily for consumption by
business men in London. "Liberians," we are informed, "tell you that,
whatever may be said to the contrary, the republic's most uncomfortable
neighbor has always been France." This is hardly true. France has
indeed on more than one occasion tried to equal her great rival in
aggrandizement, but she has never quite succeeded in so doing. As we
have already shown in connection with Liberia in the present work, from
the very first the shadow of Great Britain fell across the country. In
more recent years, by loans that were no more than clever plans for
thievery, by the forceful occupation of large tracts of land, and by
interference in the internal affairs of the country, England has again
and again proved herself the arch-enemy of the republic. The book so
recently written in the last analysis appears to be little more than the
basis of effort toward still further exploitation.

The very merit of _The Rising Tide of Color_ depends on its bias, and it
is significant that the book closes with a quotation from Kipling's "The
Heritage." To Dr. Stoddard the most disquieting feature of the recent
situation was not the war but the peace. Says he, "The white world's
inability to frame a constructive settlement, the perpetuation of
intestine hatreds and the menace of fresh civil wars complicated by the
specter of social revolution, evoke the dread thought that the late
war may be merely the first stage in a cycle of ruin." As for the war
itself, "As colored men realized the significance of it all, they looked
into each other's eyes and there saw the light of undreamed-of hopes.
The white world was tearing itself to pieces. White solidarity was
riven and shattered. And--fear of white power and respect for white
civilization together dropped away like garments outworn. Through the
bazaars of Asia ran the sibilant whisper: 'The East will see the West
to bed.'" At last comes the inevitable conclusion pleading for a better
understanding between England and Germany and for everything else that
would make for racial solidarity. The pitiful thing about this book
is that it is so thoroughly representative of the thing for which it
pleads. It is the very essence of jingoism; civilization does not exist
in and of itself, it is "white"; and the conclusions are directly at
variance with the ideals that have been supposed to guide England
and America. Incidentally the work speaks of the Negro and negroid
population of Africa as "estimated at about 120,000,000." This low
estimate has proved a common pitfall for writers. If we remember that
Africa is three and a half times as large as the United States, and that
while there are no cities as large as New York and Chicago, there are
many centers of very dense population; if we omit entirely from the
consideration the Desert of Sahara and make due allowance for some
heavily wooded tracts in which live no people at all; and if we then
take some fairly well-known region like Nigeria or Sierra Leone as the
basis of estimate, we shall arrive at some such figure as 450,000,000.
In order to satisfy any other points that might possibly be made, let us
reduce this by as much as a third, and we shall still have 300,000,000,
which figure we feel justified in advancing as the lowest possible
estimate for the population of Africa; and yet most books tell us that
there are only 140,000,000 people on the whole continent.

_Darkwater_ may be regarded as the reply to such a position as that
taken by Dr. Stoddard. If the white world conceives it to be its destiny
to exploit the darker races of mankind, then it simply remains for the
darker races to gird their loins for the contest. "What of the darker
world that watches? Most men belong to this world. With Negro and
Negroid, East Indian, Chinese, and Japanese they form two-thirds of the
population of the world. A belief in humanity is a belief in colored
men. If the uplift of mankind must be done by men, then the destinies of
this world will rest ultimately in the hands of darker nations. What,
then, is this dark world thinking? It is thinking that as wild and awful
as this shameful war was, it is nothing to compare with that fight for
freedom which black and brown and yellow men must and will make unless
their oppression and humiliation and insult at the hands of the White
World cease. The Dark World is going to submit to its present treatment
just as long as it must and not one moment longer."

Both of these books are strong, and both are materialistic; and
materialism, it must be granted, is a very important factor in the world
just now. Somewhat different in outlook, however, is the book that
labors under an economic subject, _Empire and Commerce in Africa_. In
general the inquiry is concerned with the question, What do we desire
to attain, particularly economically, in Africa, and how far is it
attainable through policy? The discussion is mainly confined to the
three powers: England, France, and Germany; and special merit attaches
to the chapter on Abyssinia, probably the best brief account of this
country ever written. Mr. Woolf announces such fundamental principles as
that the land in Africa should be reserved for the natives; that there
should be systematic education of the natives with a view to training
them to take part in, and eventually control, the government of the
country; that there should be a gradual expatriation of all Europeans
and their capitalistic enterprises; that all revenue raised in Africa
should be applied to the development of the country and the education
and health of the inhabitants; that alcohol should be absolutely
prohibited; and that Africa should be completely neutralized, that is,
in no case should any military operations between European states be
allowed. The difficulties of the enforcement of such a program are of
course apparent to the author; but with other such volumes as this to
guide and mold opinion, the time may indeed come at no distant date when
Africa will cease to exist solely for exploitation and no longer be the
rebuke of Christendom.

These four books then express fairly well the different opinions and
hopes with which Africa and the world problem that the continent raises
have recently been regarded. It remains simply to mention a conception
that after the close of the war found many adherents in the United
States and elsewhere, and whose operation was on a scale that forced
recognition. This was the idea of the Provisional Republic of Africa,
the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities
League of the World, the Black Star Line of steamships, and the Negro
Factories Corporation, all of which activities were centered in New
York, had as their organ the _Negro World_, and as their president and
leading spirit Marcus Garvey, who was originally from Jamaica. The
central thought that appealed to great crowds of people and won their
support was that of freedom for the race in every sense of the word.
Such freedom, it was declared, transcended the mere demand for the
enforcement of certain political and social rights and could finally be
realised only under a vast super-government guiding the destinies of the
race in Africa, the United States, the West Indies, and everywhere else
in the world. This was to control its people "just as the Pope and the
Catholic Church control its millions in every land." The related ideas
and activities were sometimes termed grandiose and they awakened
much opposition on the part of the old leaders, the clergy, while
conservative business stood aloof. At the same time the conception is
one that deserves to be considered on its merits.

It is quite possible that if promoted on a scale vast enough such a
Negro super-government as that proposed could be realized. It is true
that England and France seem to-day to have a firm grip on the continent
of Africa, but the experience of Germany has shown that even the mailed
fist may lose its strength overnight. With England beset with problems
in Ireland and the West Indies, in India and Egypt, it is easy for the
millions in equatorial Africa to be made to know that even this great
power is not invincible and in time might rest with Nineveh and Tyre.
There are things in Africa that will forever baffle all Europeans, and
no foreign governor will ever know all that is at the back of the black
man's mind. Even now, without the aid of modern science, information
travels in a few hours throughout the length and breadth of the
continent; and those that slept are beginning to be awake and restless.
Let this restlessness increase, let intelligence also increase, let the
natives be aided by their fever, and all the armies of Europe could be
lost in Africa and this ancient mother still rise bloody but unbowed.
The realization of the vision, however, would call for capital on a
scale as vast as that of a modern war or an international industrial
enterprise. At the very outset it would engage England in nothing less
than a death-grapple, especially as regards the shipping on the West
Coast. If ships can not go from Liverpool to Seccondee and Lagos, then
England herself is doomed. The possible contest appalls the imagination.
At the same time the exploiting that now goes on in the world can not go
on forever.



It is probably clear from our study in the preceding pages that the
history of the Negro people in the United States falls into well defined
periods or epochs. First of all there was the colonial era, extending
from the time of the first coming of Negroes to the English colonies to
that of the Revolutionary War. This divides into two parts, with a line
coming at the year 1705. Before this date the exact status of the Negro
was more or less undefined; the system of servitude was only gradually
passing into the sterner one of slavery; and especially in the middle
colonies there was considerable intermixture of the races. By the year
1705, however, it had become generally established that the Negro was to
be regarded not as a person but as a thing; and the next seventy years
were a time of increasing numbers, but of no racial coherence or
spiritual outlook, only a spasmodic insurrection here and there
indicating the yearning for a better day. With the Revolution there came
a change, and the second period extends from this war to the Civil War.
This also divides into two parts, with a line at the year 1830. In the
years immediately succeeding the Revolution there was put forth
the first effective effort toward racial organization, this being
represented by the work of such men as Richard Allen and Prince Hall;
but, in spite of a new racial consciousness, the great mass of the Negro
people remained in much the same situation as before, the increase in
numbers incident to the invention of the cotton-gin only intensifying
the ultimate problem. About the year 1830, however, the very hatred and
ignominy that began to be visited upon the Negro indicated that at least
he was no longer a thing but a person. Lynching began to grow apace,
burlesque on the stage tended to depreciate and humiliate the race,
and the South became definitely united in its defense of the system of
slavery. On the other hand, the Abolitionists challenged the attitude
that was becoming popular; the Negroes themselves began to be prosperous
and to hold conventions; and Nat Turner's insurrection thrust baldly
before the American people the great moral and economic problem with
which they had to deal. With such divergent opinions, in spite of feeble
attempts at compromise, there could be no peace until the issue of
slavery at least was definitely settled. The third great period extends
from the Civil War to the opening of the Great War in Europe. Like the
others it also falls into two parts, the division coming at the year
1895. The thirty years from 1865 to 1895 may be regarded as an era
in which the race, now emancipated, was mainly under the guidance of
political ideals. Several men went to Congress and popular education
began to be emphasized; but the difficulties of Reconstruction and the
outrages of the KuKlux Klan were succeeded by an enveloping system of
peonage, and by 1890-1895 the pendulum had swung fully backward and in
the South disfranchisement had been arrived at as the concrete solution
of the political phase of the problem. The twenty years from 1895 to
1915 formed a period of unrest and violence, but also of solid economic
and social progress, the dominant influence being the work of Booker T.
Washington. With the world war the Negro people came face to face with
new and vast problems of economic adjustment and passed into an entirely
different period of their racial history in America.

This is not all, however. The race is not to be regarded simply as
existent unto itself. The most casual glance at any such account as we
have given emphasizes the importance of the Negro in the general history
of the United States. Other races have come, sometimes with great gifts
or in great numbers, but it is upon this one that the country's history
has turned as on a pivot. It is true that it has been despised and
rejected, but more and more it seems destined to give new proof that the
stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
In the colonial era it was the economic advantage of slavery over
servitude that caused it to displace this institution as a system of
labor. In the preliminary draft of the Declaration of Independence a
noteworthy passage arraigned the king of England for his insistence upon
the slave-trade, but this was later suppressed for reasons of policy.
The war itself revealed clearly the fallacy of the position of the
patriots, who fought for their rights as Englishmen but not for the
fundamental rights of man; and their attitude received formal expression
in the compromises that entered into the Constitution. The expansion of
the Southwest depended on the labor of the Negro, whose history became
inextricably bound up with that of the cotton-gin; and the question or
the excuse of fugitives was the real key to the Seminole Wars. The long
struggle culminating in the Civil War was simply to settle the status of
the Negro in the Republic; and the legislation after the war determined
for a generation the history not only of the South but very largely of
the nation as well. The later disfranchising acts have had overwhelming
importance, the unfair system of national representation controlling the
election of 1916 and thus the attitude of America in the world war.

This is an astonishing phenomenon--this vast influence of a people
oppressed, proscribed, and scorned. The Negro is so dominant in American
history not only because he tests the real meaning of democracy, not
only because he challenges the conscience of the nation, but also
because he calls in question one's final attitude toward human nature
itself. As we have seen, it is not necessarily the worker, not even
the criminal, who makes the ultimate problem, but the simple Negro of
whatever quality. If this man did not have to work at all, and if his
race did not include a single criminal, in American opinion he would
still raise a question. It is accordingly from the social standpoint
that we must finally consider the problem. Before we can do this we need
to study the race as an actual living factor in American life; and even
before we do that it might be in order to observe the general importance
of the Negro to-day in any discussion of the racial problems of the

1. _World Aspect_

Any consideration of the Negro Problem in its world aspect at the
present time must necessarily be very largely concerned with Africa as
the center of the Negro population. This in turn directs attention to
the great colonizing powers of Europe, and especially to Great Britain
as the chief of these; and the questions that result are of far-reaching
importance for the whole fabric of modern civilization. No one can
gainsay the tremendous contribution that England has made to the world;
every one must respect a nation that produced Wycliffe and Shakespeare
and Darwin, and that, standing for democratic principles, has so often
stayed the tide of absolutism and anarchy; and it is not without desert
that for three hundred years this country has held the moral leadership
of mankind. It may now not unreasonably be asked, however, if it has not
lost some of its old ideals, and if further insistence upon some of its
policies would not constitute a menace to all that the heart of humanity
holds dear.

As a preliminary to our discussion let us remark two men by way of
contrast. A little more than seventy years ago a great traveler set
out upon the first of three long journeys through central and southern
Africa. He was a renowned explorer, and yet to him "the end of the
geographical feat was only the beginning of the enterprise." Said Henry
Drummond of him: "Wherever David Livingstone's footsteps are crossed in
Africa the fragrance of his memory seems to remain." On one occasion
a hunter was impaled on the horn of a rhinoceros, and a messenger ran
eight miles for the physician. Although he himself had been wounded for
life by a lion and his friends said that he should not ride at night
through a wood infested with beasts, Livingstone insisted on his
Christian duty to go, only to find that the man had died and to be
obliged to retrace his footsteps. Again and again his party would
have been destroyed if it had not been for his own unbounded tact and
courage, and after his death at Chitambo's village Susi and Chuma
journeyed for nine months and over eight hundred miles to take his body
to the coast. "We work for a glorious future," said he, "which we are
not destined to see--the golden age which has not been, but will yet be.
We are only morning-stars shining in the dark, but the glorious morn
will break, the good time coming yet. For this time we work; may God
accept our imperfect service."

About the time that Livingstone was passing off the scene another strong
man, one of England's "empire builders," began his famous career. Going
first to South Africa as a young man in quest of health, Cecil Rhodes
soon made a huge fortune out of Kimberley diamonds and Transvaal gold,
and by 1890 had become the Prime Minister of Cape Colony. In the pursuit
of his aims he was absolutely unscrupulous. He refused to recognize any
rights of the Portuguese in Matabeleland and Mashonaland; he drove hard
bargains with the Germans and the French; he defied the Boers; and to
him the native Africans were simply so many tools for the heaping up of
gold. Nobody ever said of him that he left a "fragrant memory" behind
him; but thousands of bruised bodies and broken hearts bore witness to
his policy. According to the ideals of modern England, however, he was
a great man. What the Negro in the last analysis wonders is: Who was
right, Livingstone or Rhodes? And which is the world to choose, Christ
or Mammon?

There are two fundamental assumptions upon which all so-called Western
civilization is based--that of racial and that of religious superiority.
Sight has been lost of the fact that there is really no such thing as a
superior race, that only individuals are superior one to another, and a
popular English poet has sung of "the white man's burden" and of "lesser
breeds without the law." These two assumptions have accounted for all of
the misunderstanding that has arisen between the West and the East, for
China and Japan, India and Egypt can not see by what divine right men
from the West suppose that they have the only correct ancestry or by
what conceit they presume to have the only true faith. Let them but be
accepted, however, let a nation be led by them as guiding-stars, and
England becomes justified in forcing her system upon India, she finds it
necessary to send missionaries to Japan, and the lion's paw pounces upon
the very islands of the sea.

The whole world, however, is now rising as never before against any
semblance of selfishness on the part of great powers, and it is more
than ever clear that before there can be any genuine progress toward the
brotherhood of man, or toward comity among nations, one man will have
to give some consideration to the other man's point of view. One people
will have to respect another people's tradition. The Russo-Japanese War
gave men a new vision. The whole world gazed upon a new power in the
East--one that could be dealt with only upon equal terms. Meanwhile
there was unrest in India, and in Africa there were insurrections
of increasing bitterness and fierceness. Africa especially had been
misrepresented. The people were all said to be savages and cannibals,
almost hopelessly degraded. The traders and the politicians knew better.
They knew that there were tribes and tribes in Africa, that many of the
chiefs were upright and wise and proud of their tradition, and that the
land could not be seized any too quickly. Hence they made haste to get
into the game.

It is increasingly evident also that the real leadership of the world is
a matter not of race, not even of professed religion, but of principle.
Within the last hundred years, as science has flourished and
colonization grown, we have been led astray by materialism. The worship
of the dollar has become a fetish, and the man or the nation that had
the money felt that it was ordained of God to rule the universe. Germany
was led astray by this belief, but it is England, not Germany, that has
most thoroughly mastered the _Art of Colonization_. Crown colonies are
to be operated in the interest of the owners. Jingoism is king. It
matters not that the people in India and Africa, in Hayti and the
Philippines, object to our benevolence; _we_ know what is good for them
and therefore they should be satisfied.

In Jamaica to-day the poorer people can not get employment; and yet,
rather than accept the supply at hand, the powers of privilege import
"coolie" labor, a still cheaper supply. In Sierra Leone, where certainly
there has been time to see the working of the principle, native young
men crowd about the wharves and seize any chance to earn a penny, simply
because there is no work at hand to do--nothing that would genuinely
nourish independence and self-respect.

It is not strange that the worship of industrialism, with its attendant
competition, finally brought about the most disastrous war in history
and such a breakdown of all principles of morality as made the whole
world stand aghast. Womanhood was no longer sacred; old ideas of ethics
vanished; Christ himself was crucified again--everything holy and lovely
was given to the grasping demon of Wealth.

Suddenly men realized that England had lost the moral leadership of the
world. Lured by the ideals of Rhodes, the country that gave to mankind
_Magna Charta_ seemed now bent only on its own aggrandizement and
preservation. Germany's colonies were seized, and anything that
threatened the permanence of the dominant system, especially unrest on
the part of the native African, was throttled. Briton and Boer began
to feel an identity of interest, and especially was it made known that
American Negroes were not wanted.

Just what the situation is to-day may be illustrated by the simple
matter of foreign missions, the policy of missionary organizations in
both England and America being dictated by the political policy of the
empire. The appointing of Negroes by the great American denominations
for service in Africa has practically ceased, for American Negroes are
not to be admitted to any portion of the continent except Liberia,
which, after all, is a very small part of the whole. For the time being
the little republic seems to receive countenance from the great powers
as a sort of safety-valve through which the aspiration of the Negro
people might spend itself; but it is evident that the present
understanding is purely artificial and can not last. Even the Roman
Empire declined, and Germany lost her hold in Africa overnight. Of
course it may be contended that the British Empire to-day is not
decadent but stronger than ever. At the same time there can be no doubt
that Englishman and Boer alike regard these teeming millions of prolific
black people always with concern and sometimes with dismay. Natives of
the Congo still bear the marks of mutilation, and men in South Africa
chafe under unjust land acts and constant indignities in their daily

Here rises the question for our own country. To the United States at
last has come that moral leadership--that obligation to do the right
thing--that opportunity to exhibit the highest honor in all affairs
foreign or domestic--that is the ultimate test of greatness. Is America
to view this great problem in Africa sympathetically and find some place
for the groping for freedom of millions of human beings, or is she to be
simply a pawn in the game of English colonization? Is she to abide by
the principles that guided her in 1776, or simply seize her share of
the booty? The Negro either at home or abroad is only one of many
moral problems with which she has to deal. At the close of the war
extravagance reigned, crime was rampant, and against any one of three or
four races there was insidious propaganda. To add to the difficulties,
the government was still so dominated by politics and officialdom that
it was almost always impossible to get things done at the time they
needed to be done. At the same time every patriot knows that America is
truly the hope of the world. Into her civilization and her glory have
entered not one but many races. All go forth against a common enemy; all
should share the duties and the privileges of citizenship. In such
a country the law can know no difference of race or class or creed,
provided all are devoted to the general welfare. Such is the obligation
resting upon the United States--such the challenge of social, economic,
and moral questions such as never before faced the children of men. That
she be worthy of her opportunity all would pray; to the fulfilment of
her destiny all should help. The eyes of the world are upon her; the
scepter of the ages is in her hand.

2. _The Negro in American Life_

If now we come to the Negro in the United States, it is hardly an
exaggeration to say that no other race in the American body politic, not
even the Anglo-Saxon, has been studied more critically than this one,
and treatment has varied all the way from the celebration of virtues
to the bitterest hostility and malignity. It is clearly fundamentally
necessary to pay some attention to racial characteristics and gifts.
In recent years there has been much discussion from the standpoint
of biology, and special emphasis has been placed on the emotional
temperament of the race. The Negro, however, submits that in the United
States he has not been chiefly responsible for such miscegenation as has
taken place; but he is not content to rest simply upon a _tu quoque_.
He calls attention to the fact that whereas it has been charged that
lynchings find their excuse in rape, it has been shown again and again
that this crime is the excuse for only one-fourth or one-fifth of
the cases of violence. If for the moment we suppose that there is
no question about guilt in a fourth or a fifth of the cases, the
overwhelming fraction that remains indicates that there are other
factors of the highest importance that have to be considered in any
ultimate adjustment of the situation. In every case accordingly the
Negro asks only for a fair trial in court--not too hurried; and he knows
that in many instances a calm study of the facts will reveal nothing
more than fright or hysteria on the part of a woman or even other
circumstances not more incriminating.

Unfortunately the whole question of the Negro has been beclouded by
misrepresentation as has no other social question before the American
people, and the race asks simply first of all that the tissue of
depreciation raised by prejudice be done away with in order that it may
be judged and estimated for its quality. America can make no charges
against any element of her population while she denies the fundamental
right of citizenships--the protection of the individual person. Too
often mistakes are made, and no man is so humble or so low that he
should be deprived of his life without due process of law. The Negro
undoubtedly has faults. At the same time, in order that his gifts may
receive just consideration, the tradition of burlesque must for the time
being be forgotten. All stories about razors, chickens, and watermelons
must be relegated to the rear; and even the revered and beloved "black
mammy" must receive an affectionate but a long farewell.

The fact is that the Negro has such a contagious brand of humor that
many people never realize that this plays only on the surface. The real
background of the race is one of tragedy. It is not in current jest but
in the wail of the old melodies that the soul of this people is found.
There is something elemental about the heart of the race, something that
finds its origin in the forest and in the falling of the stars. There is
something grim about it too, something that speaks of the lash, of the
child torn from its mother's bosom, of the dead body swinging at night
by the roadside. The race has suffered, and in its suffering lies its
destiny and its contribution to America; and hereby hangs a tale.

If we study the real quality of the Negro we shall find that two things
are observable. One is that any distinction so far won by a member of
the race in America has been almost always in some one of the arts; and
the other is that any influence so far exerted by the Negro on American
civilization has been primarily in the field of aesthetics. The reason
is not far to seek, and is to be found in the artistic striving even of
untutored Negroes. The instinct for beauty insists upon an outlet, and
if one can find no better picture he will paste a circus poster or a
flaring advertisement on the wall. Very few homes have not at least a
geranium on the windowsill or a rosebush in the garden. If we look at
the matter conversely we shall find that those things which are most
picturesque make to the Negro the readiest appeal. Red is his favorite
color simply because it is the most pronounced of all colors. The
principle holds in the sphere of religion. In some of our communities
Negroes are known to "get happy" in church. It is, however, seldom a
sermon on the rule of faith or the plan of salvation that awakens such
ecstasy, but rather a vivid portrayal of the beauties of heaven, with
the walls of jasper, the feast of milk and honey, and the angels with
palms in their hands. The appeal is primarily sensuous, and it is hardly
too much to say that the Negro is thrilled not so much by the moral as
by the artistic and pictorial elements in religion. Every member of the
race is an incipient poet, and all are enthralled by music and oratory.

Illustrations are abundant. We might refer to the oratory of Douglass,
to the poetry of Dunbar, to the picturesque style of DuBois, to the
mysticism of the paintings of Tanner, to the tragic sculpture of Meta
Warrick Fuller, and to a long line of singers and musicians. Even
Booker Washington, most practical of Americans, proves the point, the
distinguishing qualities of his speeches being anecdote and vivid
illustration. It is best, however, to consider members of the race who
were entirely untaught in the schools. On one occasion Harriet Tubman,
famous for her work in the Underground Railroad, was addressing an
audience and describing a great battle in the Civil War. "And then,"
said she, "we saw the lightning, and that was the guns; and then we
heard the thunder, and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain
falling, and that was drops of blood falling; and when we came to git in
the craps, it was dead men that we reaped." Two decades after the war
John Jasper, of Richmond, Virginia, astonished the most intelligent
hearers by the power of his imagery. He preached not only that the "sun
do move," but also of "dry bones in the valley," the glories of the New
Jerusalem, and on many similar subjects that have been used by other
preachers, sometimes with hardly less effect, throughout the South. In
his own way Jasper was an artist. He was eminently imaginative; and it
is with this imaginative--this artistic--quality that America has yet to

The importance of the influence has begun to be recognized, and on the
principle that to him that hath shall be given, in increasing measure
the Negro is being blamed for the ills of American life, a ready excuse
being found in the perversion and debasement of Negro music. We have
seen discussions whose reasoning, condensed, was somewhat as follows:
The Negro element is daily becoming more potent in American society;
American society is daily becoming more immoral; therefore at the door
of the Negro may be laid the increase in divorce and all the other
evils of society. The most serious charge brought against the Negro
intellectually is that he has not yet developed the great creative or
organizing mind that points the way of civilization. He most certainly
has not, and in this he is not very unlike all the other people in
America. The whole country is still in only the earlier years of its
striving. While the United States has made great advance in applied
science, she has as yet produced no Shakespeare or Beethoven. If America
has not yet reached her height after three hundred years of striving,
she ought not to be impatient with the Negro after only sixty years
of opportunity. But all signs go to prove the assumption of limited
intellectual ability fundamentally false. Already some of the younger
men of the race have given the highest possible promise.

If all of this, however, is granted, and if the Negro's exemplification
of the principle of self-help is also recognized, the question still
remains: Just what is the race worth as a constructive factor in
American civilization? Is it finally to be an agency for the upbuilding
of the nation, or simply one of the forces that retard? What is its real
promise in American life?

In reply to this it might be worth while to consider first of all
the country's industrial life. The South, and very largely the whole
country, depends upon Negro men and women as the stable labor supply in
such occupations as farming, saw-milling, mining, cooking, and washing.
All of this is hard work, and necessary work. In 1910, of 3,178,554
Negro men at work, 981,922 were listed as farm laborers and 798,509 as
farmers. That is to say, 56 per cent of the whole number were engaged in
raising farm products either on their own account or by way of assisting
somebody else, and the great staples of course were the cotton and corn
of the Southern states. If along with the farmers we take those engaged
in the occupations employing the next greatest numbers of men--those of
the building and hand trades, saw and planing mills, as well as those
of railway firemen and porters, draymen, teamsters, and coal mine
operatives--we shall find a total of 71.2 per cent engaged in such work
as represents the very foundation of American industry. Of the women at
work, 1,047,146, or 52 per cent, were either farm laborers or farmers,
and 28 per cent more were either cooks or washerwomen. In other words, a
total of exactly 80 per cent were engaged in some of the hardest and at
the same time some of the most vital labor in our home and industrial
life. The new emphasis on the Negro as an industrial factor in the
course of the recent war is well known. When immigration ceased, upon
his shoulders very largely fell the task of keeping the country and the
army alive. Since the war closed he has been on the defensive in the
North; but a country that wishes to consider all of the factors that
enter into its gravest social problem could never forget his valiant
service in 1918. Let any one ask, moreover, even the most prejudiced
observer, if he would like to see every Negro in the country out of it,
and he will then decide whether economically the Negro is a liability or
an asset.

Again, consider the Negro soldier. In all our history there are no pages
more heroic, more pathetic, than those detailing the exploits of black
men. We remember the Negro, three thousand strong, fighting for the
liberties of America when his own race was still held in bondage. We
remember the deeds at Port Hudson, Fort Pillow, and Fort Wagner. We
remember Santiago and San Juan Hill, not only how Negro men went
gallantly to the charge, but how a black regiment faced pestilence that
the ranks of their white comrades might not be decimated. And then
Carrizal. Once more, at an unexpected moment, the heart of the nation
was thrilled by the troopers of the Tenth Cavalry. Once more, despite
Brownsville, the tradition of Fort Wagner was preserved and passed on.
And then came the greatest of all wars. Again was the Negro summoned to
the colors--summoned out of all proportion to his numbers. Others might
desert, but not he; others might be spies or strikers, but not he--not
he in the time of peril. In peace or war, in victory or danger, he has
always been loyal to the Stars and Stripes.

Not only, however, does the Negro give promise by reason of his economic
worth; not only does he deserve the fullest rights of citizenship on
the basis of his work as a soldier; he brings nothing less than a great
spiritual contribution to civilization in America. His is a race of
enthusiasm, imagination, and spiritual fervor; and after all the doubt
and fear through which it has passed there still rests with it an
abiding faith in God. Around us everywhere are commercialism, politics,
graft--sordidness, selfishness, cynicism. We need hope and love, a new
birth of idealism, a new faith in the unseen. Already the work of some
members of the race has pointed the way to great things in the realm of
conscious art; but above even art soars the great world of the spirit.
This it is that America most sadly needs; this it is that her most
fiercely persecuted children bring to her.

Obviously now if the Negro, if any race, is to make to America the
contribution of which it is capable, it must be free; and this raises
the whole question of relation to the rest of the body politic. One of
the interesting phenomena of society in America is that the more foreign
elements enter into the "melting pot" and advance in culture, the more
do they cling to their racial identity. Incorporation into American
life, instead of making the Greek or the Pole or the Irishman forget his
native country, makes him all the more jealous of its traditions. The
more a center of any one of these nationalities develops, the more
wealthy and cultured its members become, the more do we find them proud
of the source from which they sprang. The Irishman is now so much an
American that he controls whole wards in our large cities, and sometimes
the cities themselves. All the same he clings more tenaciously than ever
to the celebration of March 17. When an isolated Greek came years ago,
poor and friendless, nobody thought very much about him, and he
effaced himself as much as possible, taking advantage, however, of any
opportunity that offered for self-improvement or economic advance. When
thousands came and the newcomers could take inspiration from those of
their brothers who had preceded them and achieved success, nationality
asserted itself. Larger groups now talked about Venizelos and a greater
Greece; their chests expanded at the thought of Marathon and Plato; and
companies paraded amid applause as they went to fight in the Balkans. In
every case, with increasing intelligence and wealth, race pride asserted
itself. At the same time no one would think of denying to the Greek or
the Irishman or the Italian his full rights as an American citizen.

It is a paradox indeed, this thing of a race's holding its identity
at the same time that it is supposed to lose this in the larger
civilization. Apply the principle to the Negro. Very soon after the
Civil War, when conditions were chaotic and ignorance was rampant, the
ideals constantly held before the race were those of white people. Some
leaders indeed measured success primarily by the extent to which they
became merged in the white man's life. At the time this was very
natural. A struggling people wished to show that it could be judged by
the standards of the highest civilization within sight, and it did so.
To-day the tide has changed. The race now numbers a few millionaires. In
almost every city there are beautiful homes owned by Negroes. Some men
have reached high attainment in scholarship, and the promise grows
greater and greater in art and science. Accordingly the Negro now loves
his own, cherishes his own, teaches his boys about black heroes, and
honors and glorifies his own black women. Schools and churches and all
sorts of cooeperative enterprises testify to the new racial self-respect,
while a genuine Negro drama has begun to flourish. A whole people has
been reborn; a whole race has found its soul.

3. _Face to Face_

Even when all that has been said is granted, it is still sometimes
maintained that the Negro is the one race that can not and will not
be permitted to enter into the full promise of American life. Other

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