Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

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

147 SOME FACTS ABOUT SOUTHERN LYNCHINGS

Reverend D. A. Graham

As the nineteenth century drew to a close, the wave of racist violence continued unabated. In Palmetto, Georgia, in April 1899, a cheering crowd of two thousand white men, women, and children watched Sam Hose burn alive, then rushed forward to tear apart his body for souvenirs. Pieces of his crushed bones sold for a quarter; slices of his liver cost a dime. In response to the lynching of Sam Hose, the National Afro-American Council (established in 1898) issued a public appeal to southern leaders to maintain the rule of law and called for nationwide observances by black communities.

In May 1899, the council issued a proclamation calling upon African Americans to set apart Friday, June 2, "as a day of fasting and prayer." Special exercises were to be held in black churches across the nation the following Sunday, as a protest against oppression and, especially, lynching. On June 4, the Reverend D. A. Graham delivered the following sermon at the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Indianapolis. The statistics on lynching in his sermon were obtained from the Chicago Record, a white daily paper, and the Richmond Planet, a black weekly.

Below is the Reverend Mr. Graham's sermon, reprinted from the Recorder, a black weekly published in Indianapolis, June 10, 1899.

THE AMERICAN NEGRO is afflicted, and the cause of his affliction is a most unreasonable and silly prejudice in the white Americans. If the hatred were reversed it would seem more reasonable, since the Caucasian has suffered nothing from the Negro, while the latter has suffered everything at the hands of the Caucasian. While this prejudice is greatest in the South, it also manifests itself greatly to the affliction of the colored man in the North.

When he wants to buy property or rent a house he is often turned away because of his color. When he seeks employment where help is advertised for, he is told that "Negroes need not apply." Our girls cannot get employment in shops, stores or factories, no matter how well educated, refined and good-looking. Naturally, this causes many to fall into evil ways and makes dishonest men of youth who with a man's chance would have become honorable and industrious citizens.

But when we cross Mason and Dixon's line the evil shows itself at every turn. Separate waiting rooms, separate ticket windows, separate cars, nothing to eat at any lunch counter. Refused admission to churches, cemeteries and even parks. Parks and cemeteries are placarded "Negroes and dogs not

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