Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

By Philip S. Foner; Robert James Branham | Go to book overview

Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 ( Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992), 82-89.

We meet the monster prejudice every where. We have not power to contend with it, we are so down-trodden. We cannot elevate ourselves. You must aid us. We have been brought up in ignorance; our parents were ignorant, they could not teach us. We want light; we ask it, and it is denied us. Why are we thus treated? Prejudice is the cause. It kills its thousands every day; it follows us every where, even to the grave; but, blessed be God! it stops there. You must pray it down. Faith and prayer will do wonders in the anti-slavery cause. Place yourselves, dear friends, in our stead. We are blamed for not filling useful places in society; but give us light, give us learning, and see then what places we can occupy. Go on, I entreat you. A brighter day is dawning. I bless God that the young are interested in this cause. It is worth coming all the way from Massachusetts, to see what I have seen here.■


32 SLAVERY PRESSES DOWN UPON THE FREE PEOPLE OF COLOR

Andrew Harris

Most black abolitionists sought to emphasize the connectedness of "free" blacks and slaves, and the relationships between the institution of slavery and the systematic discrimination experienced by African Americans in the North. Andrew Harris ( 1810-1841) graduated from the University of Vermont in 1838, having been refused admission to Union and Middlebury Colleges on the basis of race. In his address delivered to nearly five thousand abolitionists at New York City's Broadway Tabernacle on May 7, 1839, Harris argues that the existence of slavery in the South fuels racial prejudice in the North. It is the dissemination of slavery's "deadly poison," he suggests, that leads the northern "lords of these institutions" of higher education to "rise up and shut the door" when African American students apply for admission.

Harris poignantly observes the dilemma facing free blacks when "wrongs are inflicted upon us that are grievous and heavy to be borne.

If they remained silent in the face of oppression ("fold our arms and bear

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