Crafting Lives: African American Artisans in New Bern, North Carolina, 1770-1900

By Catherine W. Bishir | Go to book overview

FIVE
We Can and Will Do More
Artisans and Citizens, 1867–1900

We stand here as men and women, at liberty to go where
we please—free to stay with our loved ones, free to work for our
children and provide homes which are ours, free to worship God
when, where and how we please, free to educate ourselves and our
children and elevate our condition thereby higher and higher….And
now that we
are free, we will show to the world what we can make
ourselves. The day has gone by when it was said of us we had no brain
to learn. Ye who a short time ago were in the darkness and ignorance
of slavery press on for knowledge—for knowledge is power….Our
white friends have been astonished at our progress in these few short
years of our freedom, but we can and will do more….Be not more
anxious for houses and lands than for learning, but strive to improve
in all respects….By the sweat of our brow we earn our bread and lay
up little by little…to buy homes—
our homes, my brethren, gained
by
our earnings, applied to our use and not to our masters….

“Liberty has triumphed and we will ever follow her car.
Our love for our native land, these United States of America,
shall never be excelled by any other class of people. This whole
land is our home as much as of the white race, and we will
live and act and
vote for her prosperity.”

—Virgil A. Crawford, January 1, 1873,
New Bern Daily Times, January 3, 1873

-193-

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