Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

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

122
ORGANIZED RESISTANCE IS OUR BEST REMEDY

John E. Bruce

Among the many proposals made during the post-Reconstruction period as to how best to meet the violence experienced daily by African Americans was one advanced by John E. Bruce, a leading journalist, calling for "a resort to force under wise and discreet leaders." Basing his advice on the ancient principle of self-defense, Bruce called upon African Americans to meet force with force. His speech was delivered on October 5, 1889, but the occasion and place where it was made are not indicated in the manuscript in Bruce's papers.

John E. Bruce, better known to the public as "Bruce Grit," was born in Piscataway, Maryland, February 22, 1856. In the Colored American of February 16, 1901, he was described as "the prince of Negro newspaper correspondents, having for the past twenty-six years represented papers in the West Indies, Africa and various sections of America." Bruce was the author of many pamphlets dealing with problems of black people, including The Blood Record, a review of lynchings in the United States "by civilized white men." His papers are available in the Schomburg Library in New York City. The text of the address presented here is in manuscript, dated October 5, 1889, Folder No. 7, John E. Bruce Collection, Schomburg Collection, New York Public Library.*

I FULLY REALIZE the delicacy of the position I occupy in this discussion and know too well that those who are to follow me will largely benefit by what I shall have to say in respect to the application of force as one of the means to the solution of the problem known as the Negro problem. I am not unmindful of that fact that there are those living who have faith in the efficacy of submission, who are impregnated with the slavish fear which had its origin in oppression and the peculiar environments of the slave period. Those who are thus minded will advise a pacific policy in order, as they believe, to effect a settlement of this question, with which the statesmanship of a century has grappled without any particularly gratifying results. Agitation is a good thing, organization is a better thing. The million Negro voters of Georgia, and the undiscovered millions in other Southern states--undiscovered so far as our knowledge of their number exists--could with proper organization and intelligent leadership meet force with force with most beneficial results. The issue upon us cannot be misunderstood by those who

____________________
For further information see Peter Gilbert, ed., The Selected Writings of John E. Bruce: Militant Black Journalist ( New York: Arno Press, 1971).

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