In Black and White: An Interpretation of the South

In Black and White: An Interpretation of the South

In Black and White: An Interpretation of the South

In Black and White: An Interpretation of the South

Excerpt

The problem of the South to-day is how to find voices and hearings for her best thoughts and sentiments. Especially is this true in regard to the relationship between the races. Public sentiment rules. It rules the attitude of individuals. It makes and unmakes the laws. It enforces or neglects the laws that are made. Public sentiment is mainly dependent upon the thoughts and sentiments that find expression in the constant utterances of pulpit, press, and political campaigns. On this question of race relationship the pulpit in the South is remarkably silent. The point is not raised whether or not the province of the pulpit is to discuss public and social problems. The fact is that the pulpit in the South is remarkably silent on the race question, even on the side of religion and religious duties. With few exceptions the direct contributions of the Southern clergy in establishing public sentiment on this question have amounted to little, and may almost be left out of count. It is the editor and the politician who, more exclusively in the South than in any other part of the country, influence public sentiment on the race question as well as on other public questions. The men of letters, the educators, the educated business men, have not counted appreciably in moulding public sentiment. I said editors along with politicians, but it is not so much the editorial writers as it is the managers who direct what news shall appear, and regulate the tones and head-lines of what appears. It is these and the politicians who are most responsible for public sentiment. For reasons that run back to the awful mistakes and hardships and outrages of the reconstruction period, the men who deal professionally in politics and public questions, and these include the newspaper men, have taken and still continue to take, not all of them but a large majority, an attitude of hostility and repression towards the Negro race. It is natural that it should be so.

But is it not time for a better note? The Negro is here, and so far as human vision reaches, he is here to stay, and to stay mainly in the South. He is not only here, but he is improving wonderfully in education and in the acquisition of . . .

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