Freedomways Reader: Prophets in Their Own Country

By Esther Cooper Jackson; Constance Pohl | Go to book overview

1
Behold the Land, No. 1, 1964

W. E.B. DU BOIS

Dr. Du Bois delivered this address at the closing session of the Southern Youth Legislature of the Southern Negro Youth Congress, in Columbia, South Carolina, October 20, 1946. That year, Dr. Du Bois foresaw that the South would be "the battleground of a great crusade." When Freedomways published the speech in 1964, the editors stated: "Written almost twenty years ago, the text, for all its brevity, or possibly because of it, bears all the marks of a classic statement on the South. In slightly more than two thousand words, Dr. Du Bois, with the incomparably brilliant insight which characterizes all his works, illuminates the basic nature of the social, political and economic life of the South."

The future of American Negroes is in the South. Here three hundred and twenty-seven years ago, they began to enter what is now the United States of America; here they have made their greatest contribution to American culture; and here they have suffered the damnation of slavery, the frustration of reconstruction and the lynching of emancipation. I trust then that an organization like yours is going to regard the South as the battle-ground of a great crusade. Here is the magnificent climate; here is the fruitful earth under the beauty of the

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