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ment for a Negru party comes to a head or not, the new Negro in America will never amount to anything politi. cally until he enfranchises hiniself from the Grand Old. Party which has made a political joke of him.-- July, 1920.
THE PROBLEMS OF LEADERSHIP.
lin all the tangles of our awakening race consciousness there are perhaps none more knotty than the tangles relating to leadership. Leadership among Negro Americans, as among other people, means the direction of a group's activities, whether by precept, example or compulsion. But, in our case, there is involved a strikingly new clement. Should the leading of our group in any sense be the product of our group's consciousness or of a consciousness originating from outside that group? What the new Negro thinks on the problem of "outside interference" in the leadership of his group is expressed in the first and sixth editorials of this chapter, one of which appeared in The Voice and the other in The Vegro Il'orld.
"A Tender l'oint" formulates one part of the problem of leadership which is seldom touched upon by Negro Americans who characteristically avoid any public presentation of a thing about which they will talk interminably in private; namely, the claim advanced, explicitly and implicitly, by Negroids of mixed blood to be considered the natural leaders of Negro activities on the ground of some alleged "superiority" inherent in their white blood.
"The Descent of Du Bois" was written at the request of Major Loving of the Intelligence Department of the Army at the time when Dr. Du Bois, the editor of The Crisis, was being preened for a desk captaincy at Washington. Major Loving solicited a summary of the situation from me as one of those "radicals" qualified to furnishi such a summary. This he incorporated in his report to his superiors in Washington, and this I published a week later in The Voice of July 25, 1918, as an editorial without changing a single word. I was informed by Major Loving that this cditorial was onc of the main causes of the government's change of intention as regards the Du Bois captaincy. Since that time Dr. Du Bois's white friends have been fervidly ignor
ing the occurrence and the consequent collapse of his leadership. "When the Blind Lead" was written as a reminder to the souls of black folks that "while it is as easy as eggs for a leader to fall off the fence, it is devilishly difficult to boost him up again."
“Just Crabs” was a delightful inspiration in the course of defending, not Mr. Garvey personally, but the principles of the New Negro Manhood Movement, a portion of which had been incorporated by hini and his followers of the U. N. I. A. and 1. C. L. It was the opening gun of the defense, of which some other salvos were given in the serial satire of The Crab Barrel which I have been kind enough to omit from this record. This controversy also gave rise to the three first editorials of chapter 6.)
Our Professional "Friends" This country of ours has produced many curious lines of endeavor, not the least curious of which is the business known as "being the Negro's friend." It was first invented by politicians, but was taken up later by "good" men, sixper-cent philanthropists, millionaire believers in "industrial education," benevolent newspapers Ike the Evening Post, and a host of smaller fry of the "superior race." Just at this time the business is being worked to death, and we wish to contribute our mite toward the killing-hy showing what it means.
The first great "friend" of the Negro was the Southern politician, Henry Clay, who, in the first half of the nineteenth century organized the Anierican Colonization Society. This society befriended the "frec mien of color" by raising funds to ship them away to Liberia, whch was accepted by many free Negrocs as a high proof of the white man's "friendship.” But Frederick Douglass, William Still, James McC'une Smith, Martin R. Delaney. and other wide-awake Negrocs were able to show (by transcripts of its proceedings) that its real purpose was to get rid of the free Negroes because, so loug as they continued to live here, their freedom was an inducement to the slaves to run away from slavery, and their accomplishments demonstrated to all white people that the Negro (contrary to the claims of the slave-holders) was capable of a higher human destiny than that of being chattels--and this was helping to make American slavery odious in the eyes of the civilized world.
Since that time the dismal farce of "friendship" has been played many times, by politicians, millionaires and their editorial adherents, who have been profuse in giving good advice to the Negro people. They have advised them to "go slow," that "Rome was not built in a day," and that "half a loal is better than no bread," that "respect could not be demanded," and, in a thousand different ways have advised them that if they would only follow the counsels of "ilie good white people" wlio rcally had their interests at heart, instead of following their own couisels (as the Irish and the Jews do), all would yet be well. Many Negroes who have a wish-bone where their back-bone ought to be have been doing this. It was as a representative of this class that Mitchell's man, Mr. Fred R. Moore, the editor of The Age, spoke, when in July he gave utterance to the owlish reflection that,
The Negro race is afflicted with many individuals whosc wagging tonglies are apt to lead them into indiscrect utterances that reflect upon the whole race.
The unruly tongucs should not be allowed to alienate public sympathy from the cause of the oppressed.
It was as a fairly good representative of the class of "good white friends of the colored people" that Miss Mary White Ovington, the chairman of the New York Branch
of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, sent to The Voice the following bossy and dictatorial note :
My dear Mr. Harrison,
I don't see any reason for another organization, or another paper. If you printed straight socialisin it might be different.
MARY W. OVINGTON.
These “good white people” must really forgive us for insisting that we are not children, and that; while we want all the friends we can get, we need no benevolent. dictators. It is we, and not they, who must shape Negro policies. If they want to help in carrying them out we will appreciate their help.
Just now the white people-even in the South-have felt the pressure of the new Negro's manhood demands; in spite of the fact that backward-looking Negroes like The Age's editor condemn the inflexible spirit of these demands. All over the South, the white papers, scared by the exodus of Negro laborers who are tired of begging for justice overdue, are saying that we are right, and friendlier legislation has begun to appear on Southern statutc books. Mr. Mencken and other Southern writers are saying that the Negro is demanding, and that the South had better accedc to his just demands, as it is only a matter of time when he will be in position to enforce them. Onc should think, then, that those who have been parading as our professional friends would be in the van of this manhood movement. But the movement seems to have left them in the rear. Now, that we are demanding the whole loaf, they are begging for half, and are angry at us for going further than they think "nice.”