Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

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

our own weaknesses and shortcomings. More attention must be given to the cultivation of Christian character. The morals of the race must be improved. Our women must spend more time in mothers' meetings and clubs for intellectual and moral culture and less on parties, receptions and balls. More money should be spent for good literature and in support of Christian Endeavor, Y.M.C.A., and kindred organizations instead of on Sunday excursions and theaters.

If American justice and Christianity have decreed that we must lift ourselves by our own bootstraps let us set ourselves heroically to the task. Measured by the depth from which we have come, we have much to encourage us; casting our eyes to the summits yet to be gained, let us thank God and press on.■


148 THE BURDEN OF THE EDUCATED COLORED WOMAN

Lucy Craft Laney

Hailed by the New York Age ( November 11, 1933) shortly after her death as "one of the greatest Negro women of the twentieth century," Lucy Craft Laney was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1854. She was one of ten children. Taught to read and write by her mother, a domestic worker, she graduated from Macon's Lewis High School and entered Atlanta University at the age of fifteen, graduating in 1873 as a member of the first class of the Higher Normal Department.

Laney taught in the Georgia public schools for ten years and in 1883, with the aid of the Presbyterian Board of Missions, opened her own school in Augusta. Women principals were a rarity and many doubted her ability to sustain the school. By 1914, Haines Normal School boasted over thirty teachers and nine hundred pupils and had gained a reputation as an outstanding liberal arts institution. Mary McLeod Bethune began her teaching career under Laney's tutelage at Haines. Among the distinguished graduates was Morehouse College president John Hope, who credited Laney with his love of the classics. Laney developed programs to educate black teachers and nurses and, inspired by the innovations of German educator Friedrich Froebel, opened Augusta's first kindergarten. W. E. B. Du Bois pronounced her "the dark vestal virgin who kept the

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