Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

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

recognized during the conflict. A recognition that has done more to blot out sectional and racial lines than any event since the dawn of freedom.

I know how vain and impotent is all abstract talk on this subject. In your efforts to "rise on stepping stones of your dead selves," we of the black race shall not leave you unaided. We shall make the task easier for you by acquiring property, habits of thrift, economy, intelligence and character, by each making himself of individual worth in his own community. We shall aid you in this as we did a few days ago at El Caney and Satiago, when we helped you to hasten the peace we here celebrate. You know us; you are not afraid of us. When the crucial test comes, you are not ashamed of us. We have never betrayed or deceived you. You know that as it has been, so it will be. Whether in war or in peace, whether in slavery or in freedom, we have always been loyal to the Stars and Stripes.■


144 THE NEGRO WILL NEVER ACQUIESCE AS LONG AS HE LIVES

Reverend Francis J. Grimké

On November 20, 1898, Reverend Francis J. Grimké, pastor of the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church of Washington, D.C., delivered a sermon in which he denounced those African Americans who insisted that this was a time for conservatism and accommodation. Grimké called such people traitors and vowed that as long as black Americans were deprived of their full rights as citizens, they would continue to protest and agitate. He concluded with a slashing attack on white clergy who shut their eyes and closed their mouths while black Americans were being brutally oppressed. His sermon was published in the Richmond ( Virginia) Planet, a black weekly, in its issue of November 26, 1898. The Planet praised the sermon for "the spirit of independence shown and the plea for all of the rights guaranteed by the laws of the land."

____________________
"The President was sitting in a box at the right of the stage. When I addressed him I turned toward the box, and as I finished the sentence thanking him for his generosity, the whole audience rose and cheered again and again, waving handkerchiefs and hats and canes, until the President arose in the box and bowed his acknowledgements. At that the enthusiasm broke out again, and the demonstration was almost indescribable" ( Booker T. Washington , Up from Slavery [ New York: Dial Press, 1937], 255).

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