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among my own people. In the summer of 1917, with the financial aid of many poor but willing hearts I brought out The Voice, the first Negro journal of the new dispensation, and, for some time, the only one. The Voice failed in March, 1919; but in the meanwhile it had managed to make an indelible impression. Many of the writings reproduced here are taken from its files. The others are from The Negro World, of which I assumed the joint editorship in January of this year. A few appeared in The New Negro, a monthly magazine which I edited for a short time.
The account of the launching of the Liberty League is given here in the first chapter because that meeting at historic Bethel on June 12, 1917, and the labors of tongue and pen out of which that meeting emerged were the foundation for the mighty structures of racial propaganda which have been raised since then. This is a fact not generally known because I have not hankered after newspaper publicity,
It is hardly necessary to point out that the AFRICA of the title is to be taken in its racial rather than in its geographical sense. HUBERT H. HARRISON.
New York, August 15, 1920.
WHEN AFRICA AWAKES
Launching the Liberty League
(From The Voice of July 4, 1917.)
The Liberty League of Negro-Americans, which was recently organized by the Negroes of New York, presents the most startling program of any organization of Negroes in the country today. This is nothing less than the demand that the Negroes of the United States be given a chance to enthuse over democracy for themselves in America before they are expected to enthuse over democracy in Europe. The League is composed of "Negro-Americans, loyal to their country in every respect, and obedient to her laws."
The League has an interesting history. It grew out of the labors of Mr. Hubert H. Harrison, who has been on the lecture platform for years and is well and favorably known to thousands of white New Yorkers from Wall Street to Washington Heights, Two years ago Mr. Harrison withdrew from an international political organization, and, a little more than a year ago, gave up lecturing to white people, to devote himself to lecturing exclusively among his own people. He acquired so much influence among them that when he issued the first call for a mass-meeting "to protest against lynching in the land of liberty and disfranchisement in the home of democracy," although the call was not advertised in any newspaper, the church in which the meeting was held was packed from top to bottom. At this massmeeting, which was held at Bethel Church on June 12, the organization was effected and funds were raised to sustain it and to extend its work all over the country.
Harrison was subsequently elected its president, with Edgar
Grey and James Harris as secretary and treasurer, respectively. At the close of this mass-meeting he hurriedly took the midnight train for Boston, where a call for a similar meeting had been issued by W, Monroe Trotter, editor of The Boston Guardian. While there he delivered an address in Fanueil Hall, the cradle of American liberty, and told the Negroes of Boston what their brothers in New York had done and were doing. The result was the linking up of the New York and the Boston organizations, and Harrison was elected chairman of a national committee of arrangements to issue a call to every Negro organization in the country to send delegates to a great race congress which is to meet in Washington in September or October and put their grievances before the country and Congress.
At the New York mass-meeting money was subscribed for the establishment of a newspaper to be known as The Voice and to serve as the medium of expression for the new demands and aspirations of the new Negro. It was made clear that this "New Negro Movement" represented a breaking away of the Negro masses from the grip of the old-time leaders-none of whom was represented at the meeting. The audience rose to their feet with cheers when Harrison was introduced by the chairman. The most striking passages of his speech were those in which he demanded that Congress make lynching a Federal crime and take the Negro's life under national protection, and declared that since lynching was murder and a violation of Federal and State laws, it was incumbent upon the Negroes themselves to maintain the majesty of the law and put down the law-breakers by organizing all over the South to defend their own lives whenever their right to live was invaded by mobs which the local authorities were too weak or unwilling to suppress.
The meeting was also addressed by Mr. J. C. Thomas, Jr., a young Negro lawyer, who pointed out the weakness and subserviency of the old-time political leaders and insisted that Negroes stop begging for charity in the matter of their legal rights and demand justice instead.
Mr. Marcus Garvey, president of the Jamaica Improvement Association, was next introduced by Mr. Harrison. He spoke in enthusiastic approval of the new movement and pledged it his hearty support.
After the Rev. Dr. Cooper, the pastor of Bethel, had addressed
the meeting, the following resolutions were adopted and a petition to Congress was prepared and circulated. In addition the meeting sent a telegram to the Jews of Russia, congratulating them upon the acquisition of full political and civil rights and expressing the hope that the United States might soon follow the democratic example of Russia.
Resolutions Passed at the Liberty League Meeting
Two thousand Negro-Americans assembled in mass-meeting at Bethel A. M. E. Church to protest against lynching in the land of liberty and disfranchisement in the home of democracy have, after due deliberation, adopted the following resolutions and make them known to the world at large in the earnest hope that whenever the world shall be made safe for democracy our corner of that world will not be forgotten.
We believe that this world war will and must result in a larger measure of democracy for the peoples engaged therein --whatever may be the secret ambitions of their several rulers.
We therefore ask, first, that when the war shall be ended and the council of peace shall meet to secure to every people the right to rule their own ancestral lands free from the domination. of tyrants, domestic and foreign, the similar rights of the 250,000,000 Negroes of Africa be conceded. Not to concede them this is to lay the foundation for more wars in the future and to saddle the new democracies with the burden of a militarism greater than that under which the world now groans.
Secondly, we, as Negro-Americans who have poured out our blood freely in every war of the Republic, and upheld her flag with undivided loyalty, demand that since we have shared to the full measure of manhood in bearing the burdens of democracy we should also share in the rights and privileges of that democracy.
And we believe that the present time, when the hearts of ninety millions of our white fellow-citizens are aflame with the passionate ardor of democracy which has carried them into the greatest war of the age with the sole purpose of suppressing autocracy in Europe, is the best time to appeal to them to give to twelve millions of us the elementary rights of democracy at home.
For democracy, like charity, begins at home, and we find it hard to endure without murmur and with the acquiescence of our
government the awful evils of lynching, which is a denial of the right to life; of segregation, Jim Crowism and peonage, which are a denial of the right to liberty; and disfranchisement, which is a denial of justice and democracy.
And since Imperial Russia, formerly the most tyrannous government in Europe, has been transformed into Republican Russia, whereby millions of political serfs have been lifted to the level of citizenship rights; since England is offering the meed of political manhood to the hitherto oppressed Irish and the down-trodden Hindu; and since these things have helped to make good the democratic assertions of these countries of the old world now engaged in war;
Therefore, be it resolved:
That we, the Negro people of the first republic of the New World, ask all true friends of democracy in this country to help us to win these same precious rights for ourselves and our children.
That we invite the government's attention to the great danger which threatens democracy through the continued violation of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, which is a denial of justice and the existence of mob-law for Negroes from Florida to New York;
That we intend to protest and to agitate by every legal means until we win these rights from the hands of our government and induce it to protect democracy from these dangers, and square the deeds of our nation with its declarations;
That we create adequate instruments for securing these ends and make our voice heard and heeded in the councils of our country, and
That copies of these resolutions be forwarded to the Congress of the United States and to such other public bodies as shall seem proper to us.
The Liberty League's Petition to the House of Representatives
of the United States, July 4, 1917
We, the Negro people of the United States, loyal to our country in every respect, and obedient to her laws, respectfully petition your honorable body for a redress of the specific grievances and