Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

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

were 30,000 men in that city with nothing to do. Another authority said there were 10,000 barefooted children in mid-winter. The police said hundreds had no place to sleep or warm. Then President Cleveland issued his Thanksgiving proclamation and the anarchists formed in procession and carried the black flag to show that these thousands had nothing for which to return thanks. When the Board of Trade, that gambling den, was dedicated by means of a banquet, $30 a plate, again the black flag was carried, to signify that there were thousands who couldn't enjoy a 2 cent meal.

But the red flag, the horrible red flag, what does that mean? Not that the streets should run with gore, but that the same red blood courses through the veins of the whole human race. It meant the brotherhood of man. When the red flag floats over the world the idle shall be called to work. There will be an end of prostitution for women, of slavery for man, of hunger for children.

Liberty has been named anarchy. If this verdict is carried out it will be the death knell of America's liberty. You and your children will be slaves. You will have liberty if you can pay for it. If this verdict is carried out, place the flag of our country at half mast and write on every fold 'shame.' Let our flag be trailed in the dust. Let the children of workingmen place laurels to the brow of these modern heroes, for they committed no crime. Break the two fold yoke. Bread is freedom and freedom is bread.■


116 MOB VIOLENCE

Samuel Allen McElwee

Born in slavery in 1858, Samuel Allen McElwee taught himself to read after the end of the Civil War. Attending school for the three months a year that his farm life would allow, McElwee thirsted for education. He entered Oberlin but was unable to meet the expenses. For years he struggled to gather the funds necessary to return to college, through teaching jobs and door-to-door sales of patent medicines. McElwee finally entered Fisk University in Nashville, graduated in 1882, and completed a law degree at Central Tennessee College in 1885.

____________________
The account of Parsons's speech in the Kansas City Times ( December 21, 1886) tran- scribes her as saying the red flag symbolizes "a common humanity, the same red blood whether that of the African or Caucasian."

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