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broadcast. It might teach Negroes too much. But we will hope for the best.
The occurrence should serve to enlarge rapidly the membership of The Liberty League of Negro-Americans which was organized to take practical steps to help our people all over the land in the protection of their lives and liberties.—July 4th, 1917.
"Arms and the Man"
In its editorial on “The East St. Louis Horror” The Voice said:
How can America hold up its hands in hypocritical horror at foreign barbarism while the red blood of the Negro is clinging to those hands? So long as the President and Congress of the United States remain dumb in the presence of barbarities in their own land which would tip their tongues with righteous indignation if they had been done in Belgium, Ireland or Galicia ?
And what are the Negroes to do? Are they expected to re-echo with enthusiasm the patriotic protestations of the boot-licking leaders whose pockets and positions testify to the power of the white man's gold? Let there be no mistake. Whatever the Negroes may be compelled by law to do and say, the resentment in their hearts will not down. Unbeknown to the white people of this land a temper is being developed among Negroes with which the American people will have to reckon.
At the present moment it takes this form: If white men are to kill unoffending Negroes, Negroes must kill white men in defence of their lives and property. This is the lesson of the East St. Louis massacre.
To this, the New York Age makes reply in two ways. Its editor, in an interview given to the Tribune, declares that:
The representative Negro does not approve of radical socialistic outbursts, such as calling upon the Negroes to defend themselves against the whites.
And in its editorial of last week it insists that:
No man, or woman either, for that matter, is a friend to the race, who publicly advises a resort to violence to redress the wrongs and injustices to which members of the race are subjected in various sections of the country at the present time.
The Negro race is afflicted with many individuals whose wagging tongues are apt to lead them into indiscreet utterances that reflect upon the whole race... The unruly tongues should not be allowed to alienate public sympathy from the cause of the oppressed.
Now, although The Voice seeks no quarrel with The Age, we are forced to dissent from this cringing, obsequious view which it champions. And we do this on the ground that cringing has gone out of date, that The Age's view does not now represent any influential or important section of Negro opinion. The group which once held that view went to pieces when Dr. Washington died. The white papers in their news items of last week gave instance after instance showing that Negroes not only counselled self-defense, but actually practiced it. (And The Age, by the way, was the only Negro paper
in New York City which excluded these items from its news columns.) If the press reports are correct, then The Voice told the simple truth when it spoke of the new temper which was being developed "unbeknown to the white people of this land." And an outsider might conclude that The Voice was a better friend to the white people by letting them know this, than The Age was by trying to lie about it.
But the controversy goes much deeper than the question of candor and truthfulness. The Age and The Voice join issue on this double question: Have Negroes a right to defend themselves against whites? Should they defend themselves ? (And this, of course, means violence.) The Voice answers, “Yes!” The Age answers “No!” Who is to decide? Let us appeal to the courts. Every law-book and statute-book, every court in the civilized world and in the United States agree that every human being has the legal as well as moral right to kill those who attack and try to kill him. Then the question for The Age to decide, is whether Negroes are human beings. To call our view "socialistic" is to call the courts "socialistic," and displays an amazing ignorance both of Socialism and of human nature.
Before we leave this question, it is proper to consider the near and remote consequences of the radical view. The Age says that unruly tongues will alienate public sympathy from the oppressed. Good God! Isn't it high time to ask of what value is that kind of sympathy which is ready to be. alienated as soon as Negroes cease to be "niggers” and insist on being men? Is that the sort of sympathy on which The Age has thrived? Then we will have none of it.
And, as to the remoter consequences : neither we nor The Age has a lease on the future. We can but prophesy. But intelligent people reach the unknown via the known, and prophesy the future from the known past and present. And we do know that no race or group of people past or present ever won to the status of manhood among men by yielding up that right which even a singed cat will not yield up—the right to defend their lives. If The Age knows of any instance to the contrary in the history of the past seven thousand years, let it mention that instance. But The Age may ask:
“What will self defense accomplish ?" Let us see first what the absence of self-defense accomplishes. In its news account of the St. Louis massacre, the Amsterdam News shows that whenever the white mobs found a group of Negroes organized and armed, they turned back; while The Age itself had this significant and pathetic sen
Since the massacre, which will go down in history alongside the atrocities committed in Brussels and Rheims, a delegation of Negroes has held a conference with Governor Lowden at Springfield, but the outcome of this meeting will not bring back the lives of those who, for no valid reason, were struck down and murdered in cold blood.
Taking the two things together the answer seems clear enough. When murder is cheap murder is indulged in recklessly; when it is likely to be costly it is not so readily indulged in. Will The Age venture to deny this? No? Then we say, let Negroes help to make murder costly, for by so doing they will aid the officers of the city, state and nation in instilling respect for law and order into the minds of the worst and lowest elements of our American cities. And we go further: We say that it is not alone the brutality of the whites-it is also the cowardice of Negroes and the lickspittle leadership of the last two decades which, like The Age, told us to "take it all lying down”-it is this which has been the main reason for our "bein' so aisily lynched,” as Mr. Dooley puts it.
Whatever The Age may say, Negroes will fight back as they are already fighting back. And they will be more highly regarded—as are the Irish—because of fighting back.
We are aiming at the white man's respect—not at his sympathy. We cannot win that respect by any conspicuous and contemptible cowardice; the only kind of sympathy which we may win by that is the kind of sympathy which men feel for a well-kicked dog which cringes while they kick it.
“Rights are to be won by those who are ready and willing to fight, if necessary, to have those rights respected.” Who says this? Theodore Roosevelt. So does President Wilson. So does the U. S. Government. That is why we went to war with Germany. Our country always acts upon the best and highest principle and we Negroes have just begun to see that our country is quite right. Therefore, we are willing to follow its glorious example. That is all.
The Negro and the Labor Unions
There are two kinds of labor unionism; the A. F. of L. kind and the other kind. So far, the Negro has been taught to think that all unionism was like the unionism of the American Federation of Labor, and because of this ignorance, his attitude toward organized labor has been that of the scab. For this no member of the A. F. of L. can blame the Negro. The policy of that organization toward the Negro has been damnable. It has kept him out of work and out of the unions as long as it could; and when it could no longer do this it has taken him in, tricked him, and discriminated against him.
On the other hand, the big capitalists who pay low wages (from the son of Abraham Lincoln in the Pullman Co. to Julius Rosenwald of the Sears Roebuck Co.) have been rather friendly to the Negro. They have given their money to help him build Y. M. C. A.'s and schools of a certain type. They have given him community help in Northern cities and have expended charity on him— and on the newspapers and parsons who taught hi Small wonder, then, that the Negro people are anti-un
Labor unions were created by white working men that they might bring the pressure of many to bear upon the greedy employer and make him give higher wages and better living conditions to the laborer. When they, in