A General Survey of
This discussion of Negro leadership will confine itself entirely to contemporary leadership. With the exception of those courageous souls who led the slave revolts, the pre-emancipation leadership of the Negro group was largely in the hands of Negro ministers, for then, as now, the Negro minister had closest contact with the people, and the church was the pivot about which Negro social and organizational life revolved. Something of the nature of this earlier leadership, of its attitudes, objectives and tactics, for both the slave and the free Negro, can be gleaned from the two memoranda on ideologies of the Negro question prepared by Dr. Guion Johnson and myself for this Study.1
The outstanding figure in the period immediately following emancipation was Frederick Douglass. Douglass, Pinchback and numerous others, were essentially political leaders.2 They were entranced by the new-born political freedom granted the Negro and, thinking entirely within the framework of civil libertarianism, felt that the future of the Negro would be made secure through the exercise of the franchise. This exercise of the franchise, however, as conceived by them, was entirely within the Republican Party, which they regarded as the savior of the race. There were other lesser-known Negro leaders, such as Wesley, who were very sensibly convinced that political democracy for the Negro would have meaning only insofar as the Negro was able to obtain an economic base for himself in the society.3 They, therefore, advocated labor unionism as a vital concern to the Negro's future, but they met with little understanding or support on the part of their more illustrious politically-minded contemporaries.
Reconstruction was, indeed, the period of most intense political activity for the Negro in the nation's history. There were a great many important Negro political figures, many of whom sat in the state and