Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

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

If we are true to ourselves, if we are true to our posterity, if we are true to our country, which has never been true to us, if we are true to the sublime truths of Christianity, we shall succeed--we cannot fail.

We shall fight under the banner of truth. We shall fight under the banner of justice. We shall fight under the banner of the Federal Constitution. And we shall fight under the banner of honest manhood. Planting ourselves firmly upon these truths, immutable and as fixed in the frame-work of social and political progress as the stars in the heavens, we shall eventually fight down opposition, drive caste intolerance to the wall, crush out mob and lynch law, throttle individual insolence and arrogance, vindicate the right of our women to the decent respect of lawless rowdies, and achieve at last the victory which crowns the labors of the patient, resourceful, and the uncompromising warrior.

And may the God of Nations bestow upon us and our labors His approving smile and lead us out of the house of bondage into the freedom of absolute justice under the Constitution.

[Rev. G. W. Clinton of Pennsylvania introduced a resolution proposing that the address of Mr. Fortune be voted the sentiments of the League. Carried.]■


125 HARVARD CLASS DAY ORATION

Clement Garnett Morgan

yThe selection of Clement Garnett Morgan ( 1859-1929) as Harvard's 1890 Class Day speaker attracted national attention, much of it hostile. As the first African American student elected to this honor (and one of only six black students who had yet graduated from Harvard), Morgan was praised by black newspapers and some others as proof of the ability of African Americans to take advantage of expanded educational opportunities. Many whites, however, such as the editorialist for the Jackson, Mississippi, Clarion-Ledger, reacted to Morgan's achievement with undiminished racism: "If every Negro in Mississippi was a graduate of Harvard and had been elected class president," the paper claimed, "he would not be as well fitted to exercise the rights of suffrage as the Anglo-Saxon farm laborer ."

Morgan's oration calls upon his classmates to serve the interests of those denied their privileges, "him who has not like advantages with you, the man struggling against odds, who in the depths of ignorance,

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