Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

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

would be a benefit for you all and God would bless the whole of you for doing it. They say, let them take care of themselves. Why, you've taken that all away from them. Ain't got nothing left. Get these colored people out of Washington off of the government, and get the old people out and build them homes in the West, where they can feed themselves, and they would soon be able to be a people among you. That is my commission. Now agitate those people and put them there; learn them to read one part of the time and learn them to work the other part of the time.

(At this moment a member in the audience arose and left, greatly to the disturbance of the lady, who could with difficulty make herself heard.)

I'll hold on a while. Whoever is agoin' let him go. When you tell about work here, then you don't have to scud. [Laughter and applause.] I tell you I can't read a book, but I can read the people. [Applause.] I speak these things so that when you have a paper [her petition] come for you to sign, you can sign it.■


91 ABOLISH SEPARATE SCHOOLS

Hiram R. Revels

From 1869 to 1901, from the Forty-first Congress through the Fifty- sixth, twenty-two black Americans, all with the backing of the Republican Party, were elected to Congress from the southern states-- twenty to the House of Representatives and two to the Senate. The first African American seated in Congress was Hiram Rhodes Revels ( 1827- 1901), who served as senator from Mississippi from February 25, 1870, to March 13, 1871. He was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, attended seminaries in Indiana and Ohio, graduated from Knox College in Bloomington, Illinois, and was ordained a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church at Baltimore in 1845. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Revels assisted in organizing the first two black regiments in Maryland, and he himself served as chaplain of a black regiment at Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1864. He settled in Natchez after the Civil War, was elected alderman of the city in 1868, and became a member of the state senate in 1870. Upon the readmission of Mississippi to representation in the Union he was elected to the U.S. Senate and survived white efforts to refuse to seat him.

On February 8, 1871, the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia brought in a report on the District's schools which contained the

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