Dr. Quintard Taylor, Jr.
Scott and Dorothy Bullitt
Professor of American History
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African American History | African American History in the West (Now available at www.blackpast.org)  

History 322:
From Timbuktu to Katrina, Chapter 1
Manual - Chapter 1
Race in a New Century

Introduction | Chap. 1 | Chap. 2 | Chap. 3 | Chap. 4 | Chap. 5 | Chap. 6 | Chap. 7 | Chap. 8

African Americans entered the 20th Century understandably concerned about their collective future and fate. The tide of segregationist legislation that began in the 19th Century carried over into the first decade of the new century. Anti-black violence in the form of lynchings and race riots actually peaked in number and intensity in the second decade of the 20th Century. Noted political conservative Booker T. Washington emerged in the first decade of the 20th Century as the most powerful figure in African America and certainly the most influential black person in the nation.

Yet even in the first years of the century developments emerged that would challenge this pessimistic view of the future. A small, dedicated minority of African American leaders vowed to continue to fight for full civil rights. Joined by an almost equally small minority of whites they formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) which would emerge as the largest and most civil rights organization in the nation. Others formed the National Urban League just before the great migration to Northern cities began in earnest during the World War I years. Indeed one could argue that that migration rapidly undermined the powerful forces that had stymied African American economic and political aspirations since the end of Reconstruction. As the various vignettes will show, at the moment when racial oppression seemed greatest, change were already underway that would challenge its ability to control black life.

The first vignette, George H. White’s Farewell Address to Congress makes that point when the North Carolina Congressman details the political manipulation and intimidation that made his the lone black voice in the U.S. Congress at the beginning of the 20th Century but who confidently and correctly predicted that 20th Century African Americans would arise “phoenix like” and return representatives to the Halls of Congress. Black Soldiers on the Filipino Insurrection profiles the recognition by some black military personnel of the irony of their fighting a war of conquest predicated on assumptions of racial superiority that were often turned against them. Ida Wells on Booker T. Washington signals the growing opposition to the dominant man and philosophy in black America while The Boston “Riot” As Described by William Monroe Trotter provides one account of the incident which generated the first organized challenge of Washington’s leadership. The vignette The Niagara Movement describes that challenge. W.E.B. DuBois and the Talented Tenth argues for responsible, committed race leadership among the best and brightest African Americans. In W.E.B. DuBois Writes a Schoolgirl, 1905, we see a poignant attempt to encourage a young girl on the verge of succumbing to despair and failure because of racial discrimination. Brownsville, 1906 is the announcement of the discharge of an entire regiment of soldiers because of the unlawful actions of a few. Early Housing Discrimination: A 1911 St. Louis Restrictive Covenant describes an evolving practice that would arguably have the most pronounced affect on black economic fortunes through the century.
The Springfield Riot profiles the episode which proved the catalyst for the founding of the NAACP. The organization is itself profiled in The NAACP Challenges the Segregation of Federal Employees and 1920: The NAACP Faces the Future. The CRISIS: The First Editorial highlights the official publication of the organization which became the first “national” African American periodical. The magazine simultaneously rivaled and enhanced its parent organization because of its inspired editing by W.E.B. DuBois and its biting cartoons. Two of those cartoons, American Logic and Woman to the Rescue appear in this chapter. The vignette, The National Urban League describes the other civil rights organization founded during this period, one devoted the assisting African Americans in their adjustment to urban life.

Three other vignettes capture other events of the period. In William Monroe Trotter Confronts President Wilson we see the clash between two men with very different views of the racial dilemma. The vignette The Houston Mutiny and Race Riot: One Soldier’s Last Words captures the last hours of one of thirteen troopers executed in the aftermath of this incident. The final vignette, Lynching in America: Black and White Women Respond details the increasingly successful efforts of women’s organizations to end one of the most horrific types of racial violence of the period.


In January 1901, at the beginning of a new century, George H. White was ending his term as a Congressman from North Carolina’s Second Congressional District. Realizing that he was bringing to a close a thirty two year period when nearly forty Southern African Americans sat in Congress, White used the occasion of his farewell address to remind that body and the nation of the reason for his defeat and the elimination of black representation in the nation’s capital. He also predicted that African Americans would return to Congress. His prediction became a reality when in 1928, Oscar DePriest was elected to represent a Chicago congressional district. Part of White’s address appears below. To read this speech in its entirety, please visit TheBlackPast at www.blackpast.org.

I want to enter a plea for the colored man, the colored woman, the colored boy, and the colored girl of this country. I would not thus digress from the question at issue and detain the House in a discussion of the interests of this particular people at this time but for the constant and the persistent efforts of certain gentlemen upon this floor to mold and rivet public sentiment against us as a people and to lose no opportunity to hold up the unfortunate few who commit crimes and depredations and lead lives of infamy and shame, as other races do, as fair specimens of representatives of the entire colored race...

In the catalogue of members of Congress in this House perhaps none have been more persistent in their determination to bring the black man into disrepute and…show that he was unworthy of the right of citizenship than my colleague from North Carolina, Mr. Kitchin. During the first session of this Congress…he labored long and hard to show that the white race was at all times and under all circumstances superior to the Negro by inheritance if not otherwise, and…that an illiterate Negro was unfit to participate in making the laws of a sovereign state and the administration and execution of them; but an illiterate white man living by his side, with no more or perhaps not as much property, with no more exalted character, no higher thoughts of civilization, no more knowledge of the handicraft of government, had by birth, because he was white, inherited some peculiar qualification...

In the town where this young gentleman was born, at the general election last August for…state and county officers, Scotland Neck had a registered white vote of 395, most of whom…were Democrats, and a registered colored vote of 534, virtually…all of whom were Republicans, and so voted. When the count was announced, however, there were 831 Democrats to 75 Republicans; but in the town of Halifax, same county, the result was much more pronounced. In that town the registered Republican vote was 345, and the total registered vote of the township was 539, but when the count was announced it stood 990 Democrats to 41 Republicans, or 492 more Democratic votes counted than were registered votes in the township. Comment here is unnecessary…

It would be unfair, however, for me to leave the inference upon the minds of those who hear me that all of the white people of the State of North Carolina hold views with Mr. Kitchin and think as he does. Thank God there are many noble exceptions to the example he sets, that, too, in the Democratic party; men who have never been afraid that one uneducated, poor, depressed Negro could put to flight and chase into degradation two educated, wealthy, thrifty white men. There never has been, nor ever will be, any Negro domination in that state, and no one knows it any better than the Democratic party. It is a convenient howl, however, often resorted to in order to consummate a diabolical purpose by scaring the weak and gullible whites into support of measures and men suitable to the demagogue…

I trust I will be pardoned for making a passing reference to one more gentleman -- Mr. Wilson of South Carolina -- who, in the early part of this month, made a speech, some parts of which did great credit to him… But his purpose was incomplete until he dragged in the Reconstruction days and held up to scorn and ridicule the few ignorant, gullible…Negroes who served in the state legislature of South Carolina over thirty years ago…These few ignorant men who chanced at that time to hold office are given as a reason why the black man should not be permitted to participate in the affairs of the government which he is forced to pay taxes to support…
If the gentleman to whom I have referred will pardon me, I would like to advance the statement that…what the Negro was thirty-two years ago, is not a proper standard by which the Negro living on the threshold of the twentieth century should be measured. Since that time we have reduced the illiteracy of the race at least 45 percent. We have written and published nearly 500 books. We have nearly 800 newspapers, three of which are dailies. We have now in practice over 2,000 lawyers, and a corresponding number of doctors. We have accumulated over $12,000,000 worth of school property and about $40,000,000 worth of church property. We have about 140,000 farms and homes, valued in the neighborhood of $750,000,000, and personal property valued about $170,000,000. We have raised about $11,000,000 for educational purposes, and the property per-capita for every colored man, woman and child in the United States is estimated at $75. We are operating successfully several banks, commercial enterprises among our people in the South land, including one silk mill and one cotton factory. We have 32,000 teachers in the schools of the country; we have built, with the aid of our friends, about 20,000 churches, and support 7 colleges, 17 academies, 50 high schools, 5 law schools, 5 medical schools and 25 theological seminaries. We have over 600,000 acres of land in the South alone. The cotton produced, mainly by black labor, has increased from 4,669,770 bales in 1860 to 11,235,000 in 1899. All this was done under the most adverse circumstances.
We have done it in the face of lynching, burning at the stake, with the humiliation of "Jim Crow" laws, the disfranchisement of our male citizens, slander and degradation of our women, with the factories closed against us, no Negro permitted to be conductor on the railway cars…no Negro permitted to run as engineer on a locomotive, most of the mines closed against us. Labor unions--carpenters, painters, brick masons, machinists, hackmen and those supplying nearly every conceivable avocation for livelihood--have banded themselves together to better their condition, but, with few exceptions, the black face has been left out. The Negroes are seldom employed in our mercantile stores… With all these odds against us, we are forging our way ahead, slowly, perhaps, but surely… You may use our labor for two and a half centuries and then taunt us for our poverty, but let me remind you we will not always remain poor! You may withhold even the knowledge of how to read God's word and…then taunt us for our ignorance, but we would remind you that there is plenty of room at the top, and we are climbing..!
Mr. Chairman, before concluding my remarks I want to submit a brief recipe for the solution of the so-called "American Negro problem." He asks no special favors, but simply demands that he be given the same chance for existence, for earning a livelihood, for raising himself in the scales of manhood and womanhood, that are accorded to kindred nationalities. Treat him as a man…open the doors of industry to him… Help him to overcome his weaknesses, punish the crime-committing class by the courts of the land, measure the standard of the race by its best material, cease to mold prejudicial and unjust public sentiment against him, and…he will learn to support…and join in with that political party, that institution, whether secular or religious, in every community where he lives, which is destined to do the greatest good for the greatest number. Obliterate race hatred, party prejudice, and help us to achieve nobler ends, greater results and become satisfactory citizens to our brother in white.

This, Mr. Chairman, is perhaps the Negroes' temporary farewell to the American Congress; but…phoenix-like he will rise up some day and come again…

Source: Congressional Record, 56th Cong., 2d session, vol. 34, pt. 2 (Washington
D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1901), pp. 1635, 1636, 1638.


The letters below are two of many which appeared in the Indianapolis Freeman, arguably the chief critic of the Spanish American War (1898) and the subsequent campaign against Emilio Aguinaldo and the Filipino insurrectionists (1899-1901). The first letter is from William Simms who identifies himself as a soldier in Bong-a-bong, Philippines Isles. The second letter is from Pvt. William R. Fulbright, 25th Infantry and is dated June 10, 1901.

Simms: I was struck by a question a little boy asked me, which ran about this way—“Why does the American Negro come from America to fight us when we are much friend to him and have not done anything to him? He is all the same as me, and me all the same as you. Why don’t you fight those people in America that burn the Negroes, that made a beast of you, that took the child from its mother’s side and sold it?”

Fulbright: This struggle on the islands has been naught but a gigantic scheme of robbery and oppression. Many soldiers who came here in poverty to battle for the “stars and stripes” have gone home with gold, diamonds, and other valuables while the natives here who were once good livers [sic], are hardly able to keep the wolf from the door. Graves have been entered and searches have been made for riches; churches and cathedrals have been entered and jewelry stolen. The commissary scandal is being thoroughly investigated…. The way some of our officers have conducted themselves is enough to cause the worst insurrecto to shudder with fear when he knows the American flag is to wave over his people and that they are to look to the American government for protection. The natives say we have good men for soldiers but drunkards for officers—my lips are closed. The natives equivocally denounce the attitude of our government and claim that its administration is unjust and humiliating…. If we are to unfurl our flag on these islands let us make these natives joint heirs in our citizenship…. The eyes of the civilized world are upon us and now is the time for action.

Source: Indianapolis Freeman, May 11, 1901, p. 4; August 3, 1901, p. 1


The following is Ida B. Wells trenchant critique of Booker T. Washington's views on industrial education.

Industrial education for the Negro is Booker T. Washington's hobby. He believes that for the masses of the Negro race an elementary education of the brain and a continuation of the education of the hand is not only the best kind, but he knows it is the most popular with the white South. He knows also that the Negro is the butt of ridicule with the average white American, and that the aforesaid American enjoys nothing so much as a joke which portrays the Negro as illiterate and improvident; a petty thief or a happy-go-lucky inferior. Booker T. Washington... knows....that the representatives which stand as the type for any race, are chosen not from the worst but from the best specimens of the race; the achievements of the few rather than the poverty, vice and ignorance of the many, are the standards of any given race's ability....

That one of the most noted of their own race should join with the enemies to their highest progress in condemning the education they had received, has been to...[college educated Negroes] a bitter pill. And so for a long while they keenly, though silently, resented the gibes against the college-bred youth which punctuate Mr. Washington's speeches. He proceeds to draw a moral there from for his entire race. The result is that the world which listens to him and which largely supports his educational institution, has almost unanimously decided that college education is a mistake for the Negro. They hail with acclaim the man who has made popular the unspoken thought of that part of the North which believes in the inherent inferiority of the Negro, and the always outspoken southern view to the same effect....
No human agency can tell how many black diamonds lie buried in the black belt of the South, and the opportunities for discovering them become rarer every day as the schools for thorough training become more cramped and no more are being established. The presidents of Atlanta University and other such schools remained in the North the year round, using their personal influence to secure funds to keep these institutions running. Many are like the late Collis P. Huntington, who had given large amounts to Livingston College, Salisbury, North Carolina. Several years before his death he told the president of that institution that as he believed Booker T. Washington was educating Negroes in the only sensible way, henceforth his money for that purpose would go to Tuskegee. All the schools in the South have suffered as consequence of this general attitude, and many of the oldest and best which have regarded themselves as fixtures now find it a struggle to maintain existence. Tuskegee is the only endowed institution for the Negro in the South....
Does this mean that the Negro objects to industrial education? By no means. It simply means that he knows by sad experience that industrial education will not stand him in place of political, civil and intellectual liberty, and he objects to being deprived of fundamental rights of American citizenship to the end that one school for industrial training shall flourish. To him it seems like selling a race's birthright for a mess of pottage.

Source: Ida Wells Barnett, "Booker T. Washington and His Critics," The World Today, April 1904, pp. 518-521.


In response to the rising influence of Booker T. Washington's educational philosophy on black institutions and black though, W.E.B. Dubois launched a call for the creation of a college educated elite, a "talented tenth." His argument, reprinted below, appeared, ironically, in a book edited by Washington.

The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst, in their own and other races..... If we make money the object of man-training, we shall develop money-makers but not necessarily men....
From the very first it has been the educated and intelligent of the Negro people that have led and elevated the mass....

…Who are to-day guiding the work of the Negro people? The "exceptions" of course. And yet so sure as this Talented Tenth is pointed out, the blind worshippers of the Average cry out in alarm: "These are exceptions, look here at death, disease and crime-these are the happy rule." Of course they are the rule, because a silly nation made them the rule: Because for three long centuries this people lynched Negroes who dared to be brave, raped black women who dared to be virtuous, crushed dark-hued youth who dared to be ambitious, and encouraged and made to flourish servility and lewdness and apathy.....

Can the masses of the Negro people be in any possible way more quickly raised than by the effort and example of this aristocracy of talent and character? Never; it is, ever was and ever will be from the top downward that culture filters. The Talented Tenth rises and pulls all that are worth the saving up to their vantage ground. This is the history of human progress;...
How then shall the leaders of a struggling people be trained and the hands of the risen few strengthened? There can be but one answer: The best and most capable of their youth must be schooled in the colleges and universities of the land.... All men cannot go to college but some men must.... Out from the normal schools [created after the Civil War] went teachers, and around the normal teachers clustered other teachers to teach the public schools; the college trained in Greek and Latin and mathematics, 2,000 men; and these men trained full 50,000 others in morals and manners, and they in turn taught thrift and the alphabet to nine millions of men, who today hold $300,000,000 of property....

These figures illustrate vividly the function of the college-bred Negro. He is, as he ought to be, the group leader, the man who sets the ideals of the community where he lives, directs its thoughts and heads its social movements....

Can such culture training of group leaders be neglected? Can we afford to ignore it?... You have no choice; either you must help furnish this race from within its own ranks with thoughtful men of trained leadership, or you must suffer the evil consequences of a headless misguided rabble.

Source: W.E.B. DuBois, "The Talented Tenth," in Booker T. Washington and others, The Negro Problem: A Series of Articles by Representative Negroes of To-Day, (New York: J. Pott & Co., 1903), pp. 33, 34, 43-44, 45-47, 54, 62.

Source: Crisis, 6 (June 1913):p. 80.
The cartoon “American Logic” serves as a reminder of the impact of the double standard imposed on black people by racial bias.


In the account below William Monroe Trotter describes Booker T. Washington’s failed attempt to speak at the Columbus Avenue A.M.E. Zion Church in Boston in August, 1903. Trotter, then the chief critic of Washington’s policies, was arrested in a confrontation that would soon be known as the “Boston Riot” the event which helped generate the national campaign among African Americans to limit the political influence of the "Wizard of Tuskegee." As the account attests, Trotter was an active participant in the events, not a neutral observer

The Republican rally, which took place Thursday evening at Zion A. M. E. church, Columbus Avenue, under the auspices of Booker Washington’s so-called Business league was a much a disjointed and draw-out affair. A decided opposition to Mr. Washington being brought to speak in Boston at the present time was manifested in the first. This, of course, was due to the fact that Washington is considered by the more thoughtful of the race to be the chief cause of the low ebb at which the Negros [sic] fortune find themselves at this time. It was known that Mr. Washington’s effort on this occasion was for political effect, that is to carry out his agreement with the national administration to get the Colored people in line with his doctrine of not insisting on their political rights. The truth is this was simply a scheme concocted by Mr. Washington himself to make it appear he had the endorsement of the Colored people of this vicinity. This is shown by the fact that half the names in the circular were put there unknown by the men themselves.

The meeting, however, began with a solo by Mr. John F. Ransom, followed by prayer by Rev. I. J. Montague, Mr. W. H. Lewis was then introduced as the presiding officer. Mr. Lewis made a floundering speech of a few moments with an effort to be a little witty and then got out of the whole affair by calling on Mr. T. Thomas Fortune of New York. Mr. Fortune is a Roosevelt office holder as is Lewis, and both of them have jobs through the kindness of Booker Washington.
It was an infelicitous reference eulogistic of Washington, which was made in introducing Fortune that caused the first hissing, and it was the same hissing which Lewis declared he would have the maker arrested for if repeated. This brought in a shower of hisses and much to the surprise of all, police were called in to remove the hisser who proved to be Mr. Granville Martin of this city. Mr. Martin demanded of the officers whether they had a warrant for his arrest, and finding they had none he protested against being removed and reasserted…his right to hiss. He was then taken out by main force and with difficulty as friends came to his rescue and finally wrested him from the officers and he marched down the aisle to his seat a free man amid applause.

…Chairman Lewis next brought out Mr. Henry Burleigh, the noted New York singer and his selection was the only thing of art among the performers that evening.

Mr. Effervest Brown was next called on to make a hole in the line of opposition and started out with his usual ‘saddest experience of all his life’ as a feeler… The hissing which followed Brown was so severe that the leaders tried to snatch a bar from ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee.’ This too was hissed and the chagrined chairman, Lewis, grew hoarse in platitudes about patriotism and the rights of free speech.

A collection, the chief object of the meeting, was here lifted, but the feeble response, as the people were not in a humor to give cheerfully under such circumstances.

The collection over, Chairman Lewis summoned all his muses and drew himself to his full height to tell the audience why they should hear the Tuskegee prophet quietly and prayed and hoped that peace would reign during the ordeal. Tuskegee came out with one of his choice mule stories, which was too much for Mr. Martin who at once arose to ask a few questions, which he desired Booker to answer in explanation of his past utterances. Mr. Martin was denied the privilege to ask the question by Chairman Lewis, who at once began to halloo for the police. A squad of five police surrounded Mr. Martin and forcibly dragged him out, but he had shouted several of the questions at Washington in the meantime. This brutal outrage of free speech brought out so much confusion between the hissers who sat near the door and the Washingtonites that Sage Booker was forced to sit and receive the consolation of his wife. After the lapse of a quarter of an hour Bre’r Booker again attempted to stem the tide of popular indignation but was forced into subsiding by the questions of Messrs. Moses Newsome and W. M. Trotter, and the hissing of the antis. Another effort was made to restore harmony through the power of song, but of no avail… Meanwhile threats of personal violence, with occasional illustrations, were being visited upon Mr. Trotter, whom some of the trustees were trying to force from the building, but he held his ground and maintained his rights.

Here Chairman Lewis again rose and swore by all the power vested in him, the greatest district attorney Massachusetts ever had, that he would prosecute the askers of questions to the full extent of the law, and he slipped out meanwhile to the front door and sent for officers to arrest Mr. Trotter. As it happened these officers arrived just in time to see several church deacons striking at Mr. Trotter and trying in vain to move him, but nevertheless as is usually the police’s way, they took the man who was not fighting. At this high-handed brutality the audience became frenzied and the greatest excitement prevailed. At this time half the audience adjourned to the sidewalk and cheered Editor Trotter. Booker Washington, propped up by the police force nearly half as large as the remaining audience proceeded to reel off his usual rot about Negroes going south to the farms. Of course, the men arrested were at once bailed by Mrs. Virginia Trotter, who was willing to bail out a wagon load if necessary of any other victims to Negro tyranny. The gentlemen arrested were soon back at the church, but unfortunately did not arrive in time to witness the departure of the sage…

Surrounded by a struggling mass of angry people of his own race, in the confusion of fainting women and fighting men, unable to address his audience or to persuade them into a state of sanity, Booker T. Washington met his first really hostile demonstration in Boston last evening at the Zion A. M. E. church…

Source: “Booker Washington Speaks Under a Cordon of Police,” Boston Guardian, August 1, 1903, pp. 1, 8.


The Niagara Movement's first general meeting was convened on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls to dramatize its protest against American inequities. Its first address to the nation in July, 1905, is printed below.

We believe that (Negro) American citizens should protest emphatically and continually against the curtailment of their political rights. We believe in manhood suffrage: we believe that no man is so good, intelligent or wealthy as to be entrusted wholly with the welfare of his neighbor.
We believe also in protest against the curtailment of our civil rights. All American citizens have the right to equal treatment in places of public entertainment according to their behavior and deserts.

We especially complain against the denial of equal opportunities to us in economic life; in the rural districts of the south this amounts to peonage and virtual slavery; all over the south it tends to crush labor and small business enterprises: and everywhere American prejudice, helped often by iniquitous laws, is making it more difficult for Negro-Americans to earn a decent living.
Common school education should be free to all American children and compulsory. High school training should be adequately provided for all, and college training should be the monopoly of no class or race in any section of our common country. We believe that in defense of its own institutions, the United States should aid common school education, particularly in the south, and we especially recommend concerted agitation to this end. We urge an increase in public high school facilities in the south, were the Negro- Americans are almost wholly without such provisions. We favor well-equipped trade and technical schools for the training of artisans, and the need of adequate and liberal endowment for a few institutions of higher education. We refuse to allow the impression to remain that the Negro-American assents to inferiority, is submissive under oppression and apologetic before insults. Through helplessness we may submit, but the voice of protest of ten million Americans must never cease to assail the ears of their fellows, so long as America is unjust. We regret that this nation has never seen fit adequately to reward the black soldiers who in its five wars, have defended their country with their blood, and yet have been systematically denied the promotions which their abilities deserve. And we regard as unjust, the exclusion of black boys from the military and navy training schools.

And while we are demanding, and ought to demand, and will continue to demand the rights enumerated above, God forbid that we should ever forget to urge corresponding duties upon our people.

The duty to vote.
The duty to respect the rights of others.
The duty to work.
The duty to obey the laws.
The duty to be clean and orderly.
The duty to send our children to school.
The duty to respect ourselves, even as we respect others.

Source: Cleveland Gazette, July 22, 1905, p. 1.


William Edward Burghardt DuBois was unquestionably the most determined, persistent and eloquent critic of racial injustice in the 20th Century U.S. Yet in 1905 he wrote to an African American school girl who had begun to neglect her studies because she believed education provided no benefit for African Americans in a racist society. His letter to her appears below.

I wonder if you will let a stranger say a word to you about yourself? I have heard that you are a young woman of some ability but that you are neg¬lecting your school work because you have become hopeless of trying to do anything in the world. I am very sorry for this. How any human being whose wonderful fortune it is to live in the 20th century should under ordi¬narily fair advantages despair of life is almost unbelievable. And if in addition to this that person is, as I am, of Negro lineage with all the hopes and yearnings of hundreds of millions of human souls dependent in some degree on her striving, then her bitterness amounts to crime.
There are in the U.S. today tens of thousands of colored girls who would be happy beyond measure to have the chance of educating themselves that you are neglecting. If you train yourself as you easily can, there are wonder¬ful chances of usefulness before you: you can join the ranks of 15,000 Negro women teachers, of hundreds of nurses and physicians, of the grow¬ing number of clerks and stenographers, and above all of the host of home¬makers. Ignorance is a cure for nothing. Get the very best training possible & the doors of opportunity will fly open before you as they are flying before thousands of your fellows. On the other hand every time a colored person neglects an opportunity, it makes it more difficult for others of the race to get such an opportunity. Do you want to cut off the chances of the boys and girls of tomorrow?

Source: W.E.B. DuBois Papers, University of Massachusetts, Amherst Archives.


On the night of August 13, 1906, approximately fifteen unidentified men gathered across the street from Fort Brown, on the edge of Brownsville, Texas and began firing into buildings along the alley and adjacent 13th Street. Before the shooting stopped ten minutes later, Frank Natus, a bartender was dead and the wounded included M. Ygnacio Dominguez, a police lieutenant, and Paulino S. Preciado, editor of the local Spanish-language newspaper El Porvenir. The Brownsville Raid, as the incident was soon called, was seen by many as a retaliation for the harsh treatment African American soldiers of the 25th Infantry had suffered at the hands of townspeople. Soldiers from Fort Brown were assumed to be the culprits. When civilian and military authorities were unable to determine those responsible, President Theodore Roosevelt discharged 167 men in the regiment arguing that his action would teach blacks that they should not “band together to shelter their own criminals.” The brief article below that announced the discharge belies the firestorm of protest that would follow.

Washington, November 6—By order of President Roosevelt, acting upon a report made to him by Brig Gen. A. Garlington, Inspector General of the Army, every man of companies B. C. and D of the Twenty Fifth Infantry, the Afro American regiment, will be discharged without honor from the army and forever debarred from reenlisting in the army or the navy, as well as from employment by the Government in any civil capacity.

The action is one of the most drastic ever taken by the President and is sure to cause a sensation throughout the service. The refusal of members of the battalion to give Gen. Garlington or to their immediate superiors the names of the men implicated in the shooting of citizens at Brownsville, Texas, near Fort Brown, on August 13, led the Inspector General to recom¬mend the discharge of all the men and the President concurred . . . .

This action of President Roosevelt is sure to arouse the bitterest surprise and anger everywhere among Afro Americans. They believe that the Afro-American soldiers were heroic in refusing to betray their comrades to an unfair trial and certain death, and that they are merely another sacrifice offered by the President upon the altar of Southern race prejudice. It is said the soldiers have entered into a compact never to divulge the evidence.

Source: New York Age, November 8, 1906, p. 1.


Southern-born William English Walling, cofounder of the Inter-collegiate Socialist Society, visited Springfield, Illinois in August 1908 to observe the race riot in the hometown of Abraham Lincoln. He described the conflict in the September 3, 1908 issue of the Independent. He also called for a meeting of black and white leaders to address the growing problem of racial segregation and discrimination highlighted by the riot. His call led to the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

On the morning after the first riot I was in Chicago and took the night train for Springfield, where I have often visited and almost and am almost at home. On arriving in the town I found that the rioting had been continued throughout the night, and was even feared for the coming evening, in spite of the presence of nearly the whole militia of the State. Although we visited the Mayor, military headquarters, the leading newspaper, and some prominent citizens, my wife and I gave most of our attention to the hospital, the negro quarters and the jail.

We at once discovered, to our amazement, that Springfield had no shame. She stood for the action of the mob. She hoped the rest of the negroes might flee. She threatened that the movement to drive them out would continue. I do not speak of the leading citizens, but of the masses of the people, of workingmen in the shops, the storekeepers in the stores, the drivers, the men on the street, the wounded in the hospitals and even the notorious “Joan of Arc” of the mob, Kate Howard, who had just been released from arrest on $4,000 bail. [She has since committed suicide.—Editor.] The Illinois State Journal of Springfield expressed the prevailing feeling even on its editorial page:

“While all good citizens deplore the consequences of this outburst of the mob spirit, many even of these consider the outburst was inevitable, at some time, from existing conditions, needing only an overt act, such as that of Thursday night, to bring it from latent existence into active operation…It was not the fact of the whites’ hatred toward the negroes, but of the negroes’ own misconduct, general inferiority or unfitness for free institutions that were at fault.”
On Sunday, August 16th, the day after the second lynching, a leading white minister recommended the Southern disfranchisement scheme as a remedy for negro (!) lawlessness, while all four ministers who were quoted in the press proposed swift “justice” for the negroes, rather than recommending true Christianity, democracy and brotherhood to the whites.
Besides suggestions in high places of the negro’s brutality, criminality and unfitness for the ballot we heard in lower ranks all the opinions that pervade the South—that the negro does not need much education, that his present education even has been a mistake, that whites cannot live in the same community with negroes except where the latter have been taught their inferiority, that lynching is the only way to teach them, etc. In fact, this went so far that we were led to suspect the existence of a Southern element in the town, and this is indeed the case. Many of the older citizens are from Kentucky or the southern part of Illinois. Moreover, many of the street railway employees are from the South. It was a street railway man’s wife that was assaulted the night before the riots, and they were street railway employees, among others, that led the mob to the jail.

It was, in fact, only three days after the first disturbance when they fully realized that the lenient public opinion of Springfield was not the public opinion of Illinois or the North, that the rioters began to tremble. Still this did not prevent them later from insulting the militia, repeatedly firing at their outposts and almost openly organizing a political and business boycott to drive the remaining negroes out. Negro employers continue to receive threatening letters and are dismissing employees every day, while the sores, even the groceries, so fear to sell the negroes goods that the State has been compelled to intervene and purchase $10,000 worth in their behalf.

The menace is that if this thing continues it will offer automatic rewards to riotous elements and negro haters in Springfield, make the reign of terror permanent there, and offer every temptation to similar white elements in other towns to imitate Springfield’s example.
Either the spirit of the abolitionists, of Lincoln and of Lovejoy must be revived and we must come to treat the negro on a plane of absolute political and social equality, or Vardaman and Tillman will soon have transferred the race war to the North.

Already Vardaman boasts “that such sad experiences as Springfield is undergoing will doubtless cause the people of the North to look with more toleration upon the methods employed by the Southern people.”

The day these methods become general in the North every hope of political democracy will be dead, other weaker races and classes will be persecuted in the North as in the South, public education will undergo an eclipse, and American civilization will await either a rapid degeneration or another profounder and more revolutionary civil war, which shall obliterate not only the remains of slavery but all the other obstacles to a free democratic evolution that have grown up in its wake.

Yet who realizes the seriousness of the situation, and what large and powerful body of citizens is ready to come to their aid?

Source: William English Walling, the Independent, vol. 65, September 3, 1908, p. 530-534.


The newly founded NAACP established The Crisis magazine to explain the organization's position on various issues and gather information from across the nation on the black plight. However, W.E.B. DuBois transformed the organ into the first national political, cultural, and literary journal for black America, and as such it became the most widely read black publication. The first editorial is reprinted below.

The object of this publication is to set forth those facts and arguments which show the danger of race prejudice, particularly as manifested today toward colored people. It takes its name from the fact that the editors* believe that this is a critical time in the history of the advance¬ment of men. Catholicity and tolerance, reason and forbearance can today make the world-old dream of human brotherhood approach realization while bigotry and prejudice, emphasized race consciousness and force can repeat the awful history of the contact of nations and groups in the past. We strive for this higher and broader vision of Peace and Good Will.

The policy of The Crisis will be simple and well defined:
It will first and foremost be a newspaper: it will record important happenings and movements in the world which bear on the great problem of inter-racial relations, and especially those which affect the Negro-American.

Secondly, it will be a review of opinion and literature, recording briefly books, articles, and important expressions of opinion in the white and colored press on the race problem.
Thirdly, it will publish a few short articles.

Finally, its editorial page will stand for the rights of men, irre¬spec¬tive of color or race, for the highest ideals of American democracy, and for reasonable but earnest and persistent attempt to gain these rights and realize these ideals. The magazine will be the organ of no clique or party and will avoid personal rancor of all sorts. In the absence of proof to the contrary it will assume honesty of purpose on the part of all men, North and South, white and black.

*Associated with Dr. DuBois on the editorial board were: O. G. Villard, J. M. Barber, Charles E. Russell, Kelly Miller, William S. Braithwaite and Mary D. MacLean.

Source: The Crisis (N.Y.), November, 1 1910, p.10-11


The vignette below is part of the 1911 restrictive covenant for a St. Louis neighborhood. In 1948 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Shelley v. Kraemer that such covenants were legally unenforceable by state action.

This contract of restrictions made and entered into by the undersigned, the owners of the property fronting on Labadie Avenue…between Cora Avenue on the west and Taylor Avenue on the East, Witnesseth: That for and in consideration of one dollar and other valuable considerations paid by the undersigned persons hereby contract and agree with the other and for the benefit of all to place…a restriction, which is to run with the title of said property…which should not be removed except by the consent of all of the property owners…the said property is hereby restricted to the use and occupancy for the term of Fifty (50) years from this date…that no part of said property or any portion thereof shall be occupied by any person not of the Caucasian race, it being intended hereby to restrict the use of said property for said period of time against the occupancy as owners or tenants of any portion of said property for resident or other purposes by people of the Negro or Mongolian Race. It is further contracted and agreed that upon a violation of this restriction either one or all of the parties to this agreement shall be permitted and authorized to bring suit or suits at law or in equity to enforce this restriction as to the use and occupancy of said property in any Court or Courts and to forfeit the title to any lot or portions or lot that may be used in violation of this restriction…

Source: Shelley v. Kraemer, 335 U.S. 1 (1948).


In 1913, within months of the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson as President, the new administration segregated most of the African American employees of the Federal Government for the first time. Moorfield Storey, W.E.B. DuBois and Oswald Garrison Villard on behalf of the NAACP protested that segregation in a letter to President Wilson which was published in the New York Times. The letter appears below.

New York, Aug. l5, 1913.

To Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States:

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, through its Board of Directors, respectfully protests against the policy of your Administration in segregating the colored employees in the departments at Washington. It realizes¬ that this new and radical departure has been recommended, and is now being defended, on the ground that by giving certain bureaus or sections wholly to col¬ored employees they are thereby rendered safer in possession of their offices and are less likely to be ousted or discriminated against. We believe this reasoning to be fallacious. It is based on a failure to appreciate¬ the deeper significance of the new policy: to understand how far reaching the effects of such a drawing of caste lines by the Federal Government may be, and how humiliating it is to the men thus stigmatized.
Never before has the Federal Government discriminated against its civilian employees on the ground of color. Every such act heretofore has been that of an individual State. The very presence of the Capitol and of the Federal flag has drawn colored people to the District of Columbia in the belief that living there under the shadow of the National Government itself they were safe from the persecution and discrimination which follow them elsewhere because of there dark skins. To¬day they learn that, though their ancestors have fought in every war in behalf of the United States, in the fiftieth year after Gettysburg and emancipation, this Government, founded on the theory of com¬plete equality and freedom for all citizens has established two classes among its civilian employees. It has set the colored apart as if mere contact with them were contamination. The efficiency of their labor, the principles of scientific management are disregarded, the possibilities of promotion if not now will soon be severely limited. To them is held out only the prospect of mere subordinate routine service without the stimulus of advancement to high office by merit, a right deemed inviolable for all white natives as for the children of the foreign born, of Italians, French, and Russians, Jews, and Christians who are now entering the G¬overnment service. For to such limitation this segregation will inevitably lead.

Who took the trouble to ascertain what our colored clerks thought about this order, to which their consent was never asked? Behind screens and closed doors they now sit apart as though leprous. Men and women alike have the badge of inferiority placed upon them by Government decree. How long will it be before the hateful epithets of “nigger” and “Jim Crow” are openly applied to these sections? Let any one experienced in Washington affairs, or any trained newspaper correspondent answer. The colored people themselves will tell you how soon sensitive and high-minded members of their race will refuse to enter the Government service which thus decrees what is to them the most hateful kind of discrimination. Indeed, there is a widespread belief among them that this is the very purpose of these unwarrantable orders. And wherever there are men who rob the negroes of their votes, who exploit and degrade and insult and lynch those whom they call their inferiors, there this mistaken action of the Federal Government will be cited as the warrant for new racia1 outrages that cry out to high heaven for redress. Who shall say where discrimination, once begun, shall cease? Who can deny that every act of discrimination, once begun, shall cease? Who can deny that every act of discrimination the world over breeds fresh injustice?

For the lowly of all classes you have lifted up your voice and not in vain. Shall ten millions of our citizens say that their civic liberties and rights are not safe in your hand? To ask the question is to answer it. They desire a “New Freedom,” too, Mr. President, yet they include in that term nothing else than the rights guaranteed them by the Constitution under which they believe they should be protected from persecution based upon a physical quality with which Divine Providence has endowed them. They ask therefore that you, born of a great section which prides itself upon its chivalry toward the humble and the weak, prevent a gross injustice which is an injustice none the less because it was actuated in some quarters by a genuine desire to aid those now discriminated against.
Yours for Justice.


Source: “Appeal to Wilson For Negro Clerks,” New York Times, (August 18, 1913), p. 6.


The National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes, soon to be known as the National Urban League, was founded in New York City in 1910. Although it was created to provide social services primarily for the African American populations in Southern cities, by the end of its first decade the organization would spend much of its time, resources and energy in helping the 500,000 Southern migrants to Northern cities adjust to their new urban homes. The anonymously authored article below which describes those services in New York City in 1914 anticipates the League’s work in other Northern cities for much of the 20th Century.

When, during the spring of 1910, Mrs. William H. Baldwin, Jr., called representatives of the many social welfare organizations work¬ing among Negroes to a conference at her New York City home, to consider means of preventing duplication of effort and overlapping of work, of promoting cooperation among the agencies and of establishing new organizations to improve neglected conditions, a new era was reached in the handling of the city problem as it af¬fected the Negroes.

From this meeting resulted the National League on Urban Con¬ditions Among Negroes, whose work of uplift is now being felt in ten cities, viz.: New York, Philadelphia, Pa., Norfolk, Va., Richmond, Va., Nashville, Tenn., Louisville, Ky., St. Louis, Mo., Savannah, Ga., Augusta, Ga., and Atlanta, Ga., whose budget has increased from $2,000 to $18,000 per year and whose staff of paid employees has increased from one full time and three part time employees to six¬teen salaried persons in New York City, three in Nashville and two in Norfolk.
* * *

The problem of the city Negro is but the accentuated counter¬part of the problem of all urban inhabitants. Segregation and the consequence congestion, the evils of bad housing conditions with their inevitable accompaniment of dangerous sanitation and loose morals, the lack of facilities for wholesome recreation and the ill regulated picture shows and dance halls combine to make conditions which demand instant relief. Add to this a population constantly augmented by Negroes from small towns or rural districts of the South, and the problem of the league is before you.
* * *

The league has sought to establish agencies for uplift where needed. If no committee could be found ready to take over and con¬duct the particular undertaking, the league has handled the move¬ment through its local office staff.

The Sojourner Truth house committee, with Mrs. George W. Seligman as chairman, has undertaken the task of establishing a home for delinquent colored girls under 16 years of age, because of the failure of the State and private institutions to care adequately for these unfortunates. The league made an investigation of this need and formed a temporary committee from which developed the present organization.

The league also inaugurated the movement for the training of colored nursery maids. A committee, of which Mr. Franck W. Barber is chairman, has worked out the details for courses of study in hospital training in care of infants, kindergarten training, child study and household arts.

During the summer of 1911 the league conducted, in Harlem, a playground for boys, for the purpose of demonstrating the need of recreational facilities for the children of Harlem. As a result of this movement, and a continuous agitation for more adequate play facilities, the city has practically committed itself to the operation of a model playground on any plot of ground in the Harlem district, the use of which is donated to the City Parks Department.

The travelers' aid work, in charge of Miss Eva G. Burleigh, has consisted principally in the meeting of the coastwise steamers meeting the competition of city life, and who are frequently sent to New York to be exploited by unreliable employment agents or ques¬tionable men. The league supports two travelers' aid workers in Norfolk, Va., which is the gateway to the North for hundreds of women and girls from Virginia and the Carolinas.

The preventive or protective work of the league consists of the visiting in the homes of school children who have become incorrigi¬bles or truants, for the purpose of removing the causes of these irregularities. This work is in charge of Mrs. Hallie B. Craigwell and Mr. Leslie L. Pollard.
Probation work with adults from the court of general sessions is done by Mr. Chas. C. Allison, Jr. In connection with this work with delinquents the Big Brother and Big Sister movements are conducted. The league seeks to furnish to each boy or girl passing through the courts the helpful influence and guidance of a man or woman of high moral character.

The league conducts a housing bureau for the purpose of im¬proving the moral and physical conditions among the tenement houses in Negro districts. It seeks principally to prevent the indis¬criminate mixing of the good and bad by furnishing to the public a list of houses certified to be tenanted by respectable people. It also seeks to get prompt action of agents and owners or the city departments whenever there is need for correcting certain housing abuses…
Political Impotence

SOURCE: The Crisis, September 8, 1914, p. 243.


On November 12, 1914, William Monroe Trotter, editor of the Boston Guardian, led an interracial delegation to the White House to protest the Wilson Administration’s segregation of African American federal employees. Although Trotter had supported Wilson’s election, two years later he angrily confronted the President. One account of that confrontation appears below.

Washington, D.C., Nov. 20—Thursday afternoon of last week President Wilson became indignant when William Monroe Trotter, editor of the Boston Guardian, as chairman of a committee of protest from the National Independence Equal Rights League against the segregation of Afro-American employees in the government departments in Washington, plainly told the nation’s chief executive about it.

The committee met the president by appointment, after waiting a year for a personal interview with him. Mr. Trotter was the spokesman, and in the fervor of his plea for equal rights for his people he forgot the servile manner and speech once characteristic of the Afro-American and he talked to the president as man to man, addressing the head of the government as any American citizen should, especially when discussing a serious matter. But the president did not like Mr. Trotter’s attitude and told the committee that if it called on him again it would have to get a new chairman. The president added he had not been addressed in such a manner since he entered the White House.

The delegation charged that Secretary McAdoo and Comptroller Williams in the treasury and Postmaster General Burleson had enforced segregation rules in their offices. The president replied that he had investigated the question and had been assured there had been no discrimination in the comforts and surroundings given to the Afro-American workers. He added he had been informed by officials that the segregation had been started to avoid friction between the races and not with the object of injuring the Afro-American employees.
The president said he was deeply interested in the race and greatly admired its progress. He declared the thing to be sought by the Afro-American people was complete independence of white people, and that he felt the white race was willing to do everything possible to assist them.

Mr. Trotter and other members at once took issue with the president, declaring the Afro-American people did not seek charity or assistance, but that they took the position that they had equal rights with whites and that those rights should be respected. They denied there had been any friction between the two races before segregation was begun.

The president listened to what they had to say, and then told the delegation that Mr. Trotter was losing control of his temper, and that he (the president) would not discuss the matter further with him.

The president said he thought his colleagues in the government departments were not trying to put the employees at a disadvantage, but simply to make arrangements which would prevent friction. He added that the question involved was not a question of intrinsic qualities, because all had human souls and were equal in that respect, but that for the present it was a question of economic policy whether the Afro-American race could do the same things that the white race could do with equal efficiency. He said he thought the Afro-American people were proving that they could, and that everyone wished to help them and that their conditions of labor would be bettered. The entire matter, however, should be treated with a recognition of its difficulties. The president said he was anxious to do what was just, and asked for more memoranda from the committee as to instances of segregation about which they complained.
Mr. Trotter said in his address that his committee did not come “as wards looking for charity, but as full-fledged American citizens, vouchsafed equality of citizenship by the federal constitution.”

“Two years ago,” said Mr. Trotter, “You were thought to be a second Abraham Lincoln.” The president tried to interrupt, asking that personalities be left out of the discussion. Mr. Trotter continued to speak and the president finally told him that if the organization he represented wished to approach him again it must choose another spokesman.

The spokesman continued to argue that he was merely trying to show how the Afro-American people felt, and asserted that he and others were now being branded as traitors to the race because they advised the people “to support the ticket.”

The mention of votes caused the president to say politics must be left out, because it was a form of blackmail. He said he would resent it as quickly from one set of men as from another, and that his auditors could vote as they pleased, it mattered little to him.

Source: Chicago Defender, November 21, 1914, pp. 1-2.

Source: Crisis, “Woman to the Rescue,” 12 (May 1916): 43.


Private First Class T.C. Hawkins was one of thirteen African American soldiers court-martialed and sentenced to die because of his participation in the Houston Mutiny and Race Riot. On the morning of his execution, Private Hawkins wrote his last letter to his parents in Fayetteville,[CHECK] North Carolina. That letter appears below.

Fort Sam Houston, Tex.
Dec. 11, 1917

Dear Mother &. Father,

When this letter reaches you I will be beyond the veil of sorrow. I will be in heaven with the angels. Mother don’t worry over your son because it is heavens gain. Look not upon my body as one that must fill a watery grave but one that is asleep in Jesus.

I fear not death. Did not Jesus ask death “Where art thy sting?” Don’t regret my seat in heaven by mourning over me. I now can imagine seeing my dear Grandmother and Grandfather and the dear girl Miss Bessie Henderson that I once loved in this world standing at the river of Jordan beckoning to me to come, and O! Mother should they be sensitive of my coming don’t you think that they are anxious for tomorrow morning to come when I will come unto them. I am sentenced to be hanged for the trouble that happened in Houston Texas altho I am not guilty of the crime that I am accused of but Mother, it is God’s will that I go now and in this way and Mother I am going to look for you and the family [and] if possible, I will meet you at the river. Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden, I will give the rest. Bless his holy name. This is the happiest day I met with since Jesus spoke peace to my soul in Brookstone church from my promise to God. I have strayed away but I am with him now. Send Mr. Harris a copy of this letter. I am your son,

T.C. Hawkins
Fort Sam Houston

P.S. Show this to Rev. Shaw. Rev. Shaw, I am with Jesus and I will look for you in that great morning.

Source: __________________________________


The excerpt below describes the goal of the NAACP as it assessed its first ten years. Although the organization had some success in arguing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and had expanded its membership to nearly 100,000, it still faced considerable obstacles to black civil rights.

First and foremost among the objectives for 1920 must be the continued strengthening of the Association's organization and resources. Its general program must be adapted to specific ends. Its chief aims have many times been stated:

  1. A vote for every Negro man and woman on the same terms as for white men and women.
  2. An equal chance to acquire the kind of an education that will enable the Negro everywhere wisely to use this vote.
  3. A fair trial in the courts for all crimes of which he is accused, by judges in whose election he has participated without discrimination because of race.
  4. A right to sit upon the jury which passes judgment upon him.
  5. Defense against lynching and burning at the hands of mobs.
  6. Equal service on railroad and other public carriers. This to mean sleeping car service, dining car service, Pullman service, at the same cost and upon the same terms as other passengers.
  7. Equal right to the use of public parks, libraries and other community services for which he is taxed.
  8. An equal chance for a livelihood in public and private employment.
  9. The abolition of color-hyphenation and the substitution of "straight Americanism."

The Association seeks to overcome race prejudice but its objective may better be described as a fight against caste. Those who seek to separate the Negro from the rest of Americans are intent upon establishing a caste system in America and making of all black men an inferior caste. As America could not exist "half slave and half free" so it cannot exist with an upper caste of whites and a lower caste of Negroes. Let no one be deceived by those who would contend that they strive only to maintain "the purity of the white race" and that they wish to separate the races but to do no injustice to the black man. The appeal is to history which affords no example of any group or element of the population of any nation which was separated from the rest and at the same time treated with justice and consideration. Ask the Jew who was compelled to live in the proscribed Ghetto whether being held separate he was afforded the common rights of citizenship and the "equal protection of the laws?" To raise the question is to find the answer "leaping to the eyes," as the French say.

Nor should anyone be led astray by the tiresome talk about "social equality." Social equality is a private question which may well be left to individual decision. But, the prejudices of individuals cannot be accepted as the controlling policy of a state. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is concerned primarily with public equality. America is a nation-not a private club. The privileges no less than the duties of citizenship belong of right to no separate class of the people but to all the people, and to them as individuals. The constitution and the laws are for the protection of the minority and of the unpopular, no less than for the favorites of fortune, or they are of no meaning as American instruments of government.
Such a program as has been outlined is worthy of the support of all Americans. The forces which seek to deny, and do deny, to the Negro his citizenship birthright, are powerful and entrenched. They hold the public offices. They administer the law. They say who may, and who may not, vote, in large measure. They control and edit, in many sections, the influential organs of public opinion. They dominate. To dislodge them by legal and constitutional means, as the N.A.A.C.P. proposes to endeavor to dislodge them, requires a strong organization and ample funds. These two things attained, victory is but a question of time, since justice will not forever be denied.

The lines along which the Association can best work are fairly clear. Its fight is of the brain and the soul and to the brain and the soul of America. It seeks to reach the conscience of America. America is a large and busy nation. It has many things to think of besides the Negro's welfare. In Congress and state legislatures and before the bar of public opinion, the Association must energetically and adequately defend the Negro's right to fair and equal treatment. To command the interest and hold the attention of the American people for justice to the Negro requires money to print and circulate literature which states the facts of the situation. And the appeal must be on the basis of the facts. It is easy to talk in general terms and abstractly. The presentation of concrete data necessitates ample funds.

Lynching must be stopped. Many Americans do not believe that such horrible things happen as do happen when Negroes are lynched and burned at the stake. Lynching can be stopped when we can reach the heart and conscience of the American people. Again, money is needed.
Legal work must be done. Defenseless Negroes are every day denied the "equal protection of the laws" because there is not money enough in the Association's treasury to defend them, either as individuals or as a race.

Legislation must be watched. Good laws must be promoted wherever that be possible and bad laws opposed and defeated, wherever possible. Once more money is essential.
The public must be kept informed. This means that our regular press service under the supervision of a trained newspaper man must be maintained and strengthened. Every opportunity must be sought out to place before the magazine and periodical reading public, constructive articles on every phase of Negro citizenship.... That colored people are contributing their fair share to the well-being of America must be made known.... That law-abiding colored people are denied the commonest citizenship rights, must be brought home to all Americans who love fair play. Once again, money is needed.

The facts must be gathered and assembled. This requires effort. Facts are not gotten out of one's imagination. Their gathering and interpretation is skilled work. Research workers of a practical experience are needed. Field investigations, in which domain the Association has already made some notable contributions, are essential to good work. More money.
The country must be thoroughly organized. The Association's more than 300 branches are a good beginning. An increased field staff is essential to the upbuilding of this important branch development. A very large percentage of the branch members are colored people. Colored people have less means, and less experience in public organization, than white people. But, they are developing rapidly habits of efficiency in organization. Money, again is needed.
But, not money alone is needed. Men and women are vital to success. Public opinion is the main force upon which the Association relies for a victory of justice. Particularly do we seek the active support of all white Americans who realize that a democracy cannot draw the color line in public relations without lasting injury to its best ideals.

Source: Tenth Annual Report for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, for the Year, 1919 (New York: NAACP, 1920), pp. 87-91.


In 1921 a group of black and white women organized themselves into the Anti Lynching Crusaders, which according to their literature was a campaign dedicated to bringing one million women together to stop lynching in the United States. Here are excerpts from their publication which focus on lynched women:

Since 1889 eighty three women, 66 colored and 17 white, are known to have been lynched. Let us consider a few facts:

Laura Nelson: At Okemah, Oklahoma, in 1911, Laura Nelson a colored woman accused of murdering a deputy sheriff who had discovered stolen goods in her house, was lynched together with her son, a boy about fifteen. The woman and her son were taken from the jail, dragged about six miles to the Canadian River and hanged from a bridge. The woman was raped by members of the mob.

Marie Scott: In 1914, Marie Scott of Wagoner County, Oklahoma, a seventeen year old Negro girl, was lynched by a mob of white men because her brother killed one of the two white men who had assaulted her....The mob came to kill her brother but as he had escaped, lynched the girl instead.

Luther Holbert, a Doddsville, Mississippi Negro and his wife were burned at the stake in 1918 for the murder of a white planter... The planter was killed in a quarrel when he ordered Holbert to leave his plantation. [After the murder] Holbert and his wife fled the plantation but were brought back and burned in the presence of a thousand people. There is nothing to indicate Holbert's wife had any part in the crime.

In 1918, Dr. E. L. Johnston, a white planter, was killed and a colored boy was suspected of the deed. He was suspected because two colored girls, sisters, were working for Dr. Johnston and both were pregnant by the doctor. The boy was engaged to the older girl. A mob took the two girls, the boy and the boy's fifteen year old brother to a bridge and hanged them.

Mary Turner: In May, 1918, a white plantation owner in Brooks County, Georgia got into a quarrel with one of his colored tenants and the tenant killed him. A mob sought to avenge his death but could not find the suspected man. They therefore lynched another colored man named Hayes Turner. His wife, Mary Turner, threatened to have members of the mob arrested. The mob therefore started after her. She fled home and was found there the next morning. She was in the eighth month of pregnancy but the mob of several hundred took her to a small stream, tied her ankles together and hung her on a tree head downwards. Gasoline was thrown on her clothes and she was set on fire. One of the members of the mob took a knife and split her abdomen open so that the unborn child fell from her womb to the ground and the child's head was crushed under the heel of another member of the mob; Mary Turner's body was finally riddled with bullets.

Source: "The Anti Lynching Crusaders Pamphlet" (n.d.), pp. 3 4, in Samuel DeBow Papers, Manuscripts and Archives, University of Washington, Seattle.