Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

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

deliver it as a message to this congress of women, it would be something like this: Let woman's claim be as broad in the concrete as in the abstract. We take our stand on the solidarity of humanity, the oneness of life, and the unnaturalness and injustice of all special favoritisms, whether of sex, race, country, or condition. If one link of the chain be broken, the chain is broken. A bridge is no stronger than its weakest part, and a cause is not worthier than its weakest element. Least of all can woman's cause afford to decry the weak. We want, then, as toilers for the universal triumph of justice and human rights, to go to our homes from this Congress, demanding an entrance not through a gateway for ourselves, our race, our sex, or our sect, but a grand highway for humanity. The colored woman feels that woman's cause is one and universal; and that not till the image of God, whether in parian or ebony, is sacred and inviolable; not till race, color, sex, and condition are seen as the accidents, and not the substance of life; not till the universal title of humanity to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is conceded to be inalienable to all; not till then is woman's lesson taught and woman's cause won--not the white woman's, nor the black woman's, not the red woman's, but the cause of every man and of every woman who has writhed silently under a mighty wrong. Woman's wrongs are thus indissolubly linked with all undefended woe, and the acquirement of her "rights" will mean the final triumph of all right over might, the supremacy of the moral forces of reason, and justice, and love in the government of the nations of earth.■


130 JUSTICE OR EMIGRATION SHOULD BE OUR WATCHWORD

Bishop Henry McNeal Turner

In the years between Reconstruction and World War I, the chief advocate of emigration of black Americans to Africa was Bishop Henry McNeal Turner of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Turner was convinced that there was no future for the African diaspora in the United States, dominated as it was by white racism, and his conviction was fully fixed in 1883, when the Supreme Court nullified the Civil Rights Act of 1875 in a decision declaring that the federal government could not prevent racial discrimination by private parties. During the next decade, Turner was further convinced of the necessity for emigration to Africa by the increasing tempo of lynching and racist vio-

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