The Learned Occupations
For many of those who, in Reverend Mr. Tindley's phrase, were "running towards the light" of ideas and education, late 19th-century Philadelphia was a natural destination. The Quaker City was a lively intellectual as well as educational center, home not only to the Institute for Colored Youth and several white professional schools but to a number of outspoken black newspapers. All this helped to swell the number of those in learned occupations which, even excluding the teachers, already discussed, and the ministers, to be discussed later, grew proportionately much faster than the population. At the time of the Civil War there had been only a single trained doctor in the Afro- American community, no educated dentists, no nurses or lawyers, no secular journalists or lecturers; by the end of the century there were in most of these catagories more educated men and women than could comfortably make a living.
The limits were set by the community they served. Unlike the entrepreneurs who had enjoyed some white patronage before falling back on black Philadelphia, the professionals and semi-professionals had to rely on the black community from the first. That community needed their services, often badly, but it was not only poor and small but often unwilling to patronize fellow Afro- Americans in novel positions of authority. The very advantages of the city made it hard to make a living, since Philadelphia as an intellectual, educational, and religious center appealed to more professionals than it could support. Lawyers and journalists had to compete with each other as well as with established whites; so did doctors, who also faced additional problems posed by illegal or unlicensed practitioners. The result for those who stayed in the city itself was then a qualified success story; many lived and worked in ways that made it misleading to include them in the "professional" category in the census, for example. But for the race as a whole there were fewer qualifications: many
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Publication information: Book title: William Dorsey's Philadelphia and Ours:On the Past and Future of the Black City in America. Contributors: Roger Lane - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1991. Page number: 166.
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