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African American baseball players from Morris Brown College

[Detail] African American baseball players from Morris Brown College

The colored American working man of the new time." : An address delivered before the State agricultural and mechanical college for the colored race, at Greensboro, N. C., May 26, 1898, : by Rev. A. D. Mayo

An African-American minister from Massachusetts, Amory Dwight Mayo (1823-1907) describes the system of industrial education needed in the South from the promotion of free labor and democracy in the South.

The notion of any present improvement in the condition of the American workingman of to-day, especially as he is found among the 8,000,000 of the freedom of 1865, in the sixteen states of the South, without an uplift from the foundations through the agency of Universal Education, is a mischievous delusion. The "burning question" today is not, how fifty per cent of its entire body above ten years of age; one-third the population of all these states; came into this condition of illiteracy, or who is more justly responsible for its continuation. The question of to-day is:--how shall these people be lifted out of it? The cause of the existence of the paralysis that still, like a benumbing fate, broods over entire regions of this fair Southland, is the lack of general intelligence and mental training; of moral reliability in the fundamental relations of civilized life, and of the skill in every department of labor; which still prevents the large majority of these people from aspiring to anything essentially better than their present state, and makes them unable to avail themselves of their present opportunities to work in the superior methods now required; the lack of the honesty, energy and patience essential to success anywhere; the lack of that pratical-sense which lifts them above the childish habit of spending money on childish things instead of saving on the lower to invest the higher side of life. To expect that any people whatsoever can be lifted above such a condition of poverty, shiftlessness and general inefficiency by any brilliant stroke of statesmanship, or any clever device of calling old things by new names, is simply to invoke the impossible. And to expect that eight million American citizens of any race or class can perpetually be held in this condition with safety to the states where they live or to the nation of which they are a vital part, is the wildest conceit of the most visionary political adventurer.

Now the foremost duty of the colored American citizen in every southern commonwealth is to see that his side of this great seedfield is not neglected in the furnishing of this great American chance to the children and youth. The one thing to teach in the schools and the churches is the true meaning of the heritage of free labor which came to the race as the chief bequest of the great civil war. Without the true understanding and use of this supreme opportunity by every young man and woman, even freedom itself will be a useless and empty gift and the precious gift of complete American citizenship a delusion and a snare.

The worst blight that can fall on your children is the old-world and old-time pagan notion that labor is a curse of God; that common work is a hardship, and even if a duty, something to be gotten rid of; that the higher education is a short cut out of it; and the ideal condition is a life of cultivated laziness. The price of all enduring success is intelligent and persistent labor. Without it no people ever came to anything great or good. The grandest nations have risen to their greatness and glory by the tremendous energy and patient toil of their people through long centuries. Every structure of culture and mental superiority is built on the solid foundation of an intelligent and progressive people. Education is the way of learning to do better work, in shorter time, by more effective methods; so that the working man in every realm of effort can have more leisure for the upper side of life, to build the home, the school, the church, society, the state after the style of a Christian civilization. Every class of the American people will be exalted to a higher position in proportion as it has learned through education to do its work better, more rapidly, more honestly; to put the brain, the conscience, the entire manhood and womanhood into the very finger ends of its two hands.

No people in history has been more favored by providence than the eight millions of colored citizens in the southern states. In less than three hundred years from a race of pagan savages and slaves at home, it has been lifted upward to its present lofty position of complete American sovereign citizenship. No people in Christendom has achieved a progress so substantial in a time so short. Now the question is; will you, will your people under your leadership, hearken to the loud call to a higher manhood and womanhood which will fit you to understand and use the good providence that "thus far has led you on?"

  • Full text Library of Congress/Daniel A.P. Murray Pamphlet Collection