Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

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

brance that the work we have undertaken is our special function; that it is a work which calls for cool thought, for laborious and tireless painstaking, and for clear discrimination; that it promises nowhere wide popularity, or, exuberant eclat; that very much of its ardent work is to be carried on in the shade; that none of its desired results will spring from spontaneity; that its most prominent features are the demands of duty to a needy people; and that its noblest rewards will be the satisfaction which will spring from having answered a great responsibility, and having met the higher needs of a benighted and struggling Race.■


140 THE FUNCTIONS OF THE NEGRO SCHOLAR

G. N. Grisham

In its issue of March 26, 1898, the Colored American, published in Washington, D.C., carried the following notice in its leading article: "Prof. G. N. Grisham, principal of the [ Lincoln] high school at Kansas City, Mo., one of the ablest educators and most practical philosophers in the country, delivered an address in this city during the recent session of the Negro Academy, which was a valuable contribution to modern literature. The occasion was a reception to the Graduates Club at the residence of Prof. Kelly Miller, on College Street, December 28th, 1897." Grisham was among the leaders of the American Negro Academy, a society of prominent African American scholars and educators, including Alexander Crummell, W. E. B. Du Bois, W. S. Scarborough, and others.

Professor Grisham's address was subtitled "The Interpreter and Guide of Civilization--A Hostage to the Race's Future Greatness." It was delivered at a time of growing influence for the industrial education conception popularized by Booker T. Washington, that African Americans should be educated in industrial schools to be farmers, domestics, artisans, and craftsmen to do the more menial work in society. Professor Grisham, on the other hand, felt strongly that there was also an important place in society for the black scholar, and he urged "the thinking Negro" to "contribute to magazines, write books and cooperate with learned societies . . . investigate and discover truth . . . attack evils, devise remedies and advocate reforms." He also rejected the view that the

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