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a head of Tuskegee and a putative leader of the Negroes of America to succeed the late Dr. Washington, they argued that it was now. necessary to select as leader for the Negro people a man who could not be mistaken by any one for anything other than a Negro. Therefore, Mr. Emmett Scott was passed over and Dr. Robert R. Morton was selected. We are not approving here the results of that selection, but merely holding up to Negroes the principle by which it was governed.
So long as we ourselves acquiesce in the selection of leaders on the ground of their unlikeness to our racial type, just so long will we be met by the invincible argument that white blood is necessary to make a Negro worth while. Every Negro who has respect for himself and for his race will feel, when contemplating such examples as Toussaint Louverture, Phyllis Wheatley, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Samuel Ringgold Ward, the thrill of pride that differs in quality and intensity from the feeling which he experiences when contemplating other examples of great Negroes who are not entirely black. For it is impossible in such cases for the white men to argue that they owed their greatness of their prominence to the blood of the white race which was mingled in their veins. It is a legitimate thrill of pride, for it gives us a hope nobler than the hope of amalgamation whereby, in order to become men, we must lose our racial identity. It is a subject for sober and serious reflection, and it is hoped that sober and serious reflection will be given to it.
The Descent of Du Bois In a recent bulletin of the War Department it was declared that “justifiable grievances” were producing and had produced "not disloyalty, but an amount of unrest and bitterness which even the best efforts of their leaders may not be able always to guide.” This is the simple truth. The essence of the present situation lies in the fact that the people whom our white masters have "recognized" as our leaders (without taking the trouble to consult us) and those who, by our own selection, had actually attained to leadership among us are being revaluated and, in most cases, rejected.
The most striking instance from the latter class is Dr. W. E. Du Bois, the editor of the Crisis. Du Bois's case is the more significant because his former services to his race have been undoubtedly of a high and courageous sort. Moreover, the act by which he has brought upon himself the stormy outburst of disapproval from his race is one which of itself, would seem to merit no such stern condemnation. To properly gauge the value and merit of this disapproval one must view it in the light of its attendant circumstances and of the situation in which
Dr. Du Bois first palpably sinned in his editorial "Close Ranks" in the July number of the Crisis. But this offense (apart from the trend and general tenor of the brief editorial) lies in a single sentence: "Let us, while this war lasts, forget our special grievances and close our ranks, shoulder to shoulder with our white fellow-citizens and the allied nations that are fighting for democracy.” From the latter part of the sentence there is no dissent, so far as we know. The offense lies in that part of the sentence which ends with the italicized words. It is felt by all his critics, that Du Bois, of all Negroes, knows best that our "special grievances" which the War Department Bulletin describes as “justifiable” consist of lynching, segregation and disfranchisement, and that the Negroes of America can not preserve either their lives, their manhood or their vote (which is their political life and liberties) with these things in existence. The doctor's critics feel that America can not use the Negro people to any good effect unless they have life, liberty and manhood assured and guaranteed to them. Therefore, instead of the war for democracy making these things less necessary, it makes them more so.
“But," it may be asked, “why should not these few words be taken merely as a slip of the pen or a venial error in logic? Why all this hubbub?" It is because the so-called leaders of the first-mentioned class have already established an unsavory reputation by advocating this same surrender of life, liberty and manhood, masking their cowardice behind the pillars of war-time sacrifice? Du Bois's statement, then, is believed to mark his entrance into that class, and is accepted as a “surrender” of the principles which brought him into prominence-and which alone kept him there.
Later, when it was learned that Du Bois was being preened for a berth in the War Department as a captainassistant (adjutant) to Major Spingarn, the words used by him in the editorial acquired a darker and more sinister significance. The two things fitted too well together as motive and self-interest.
For these reasons Du Bois is regarded much in the same way as a knight in the middle ages who had had his armor stripped from him, his arms reversed and his spurs hacked off. This ruins him as an influential personi among Negroes at this time, alike whether he becomes a captain or remains an editor.
But the case has its roots much farther back than the editorial in July's Crisis. Some time ago when it was learned that the Crisis was being investigated by the government for an alleged seditious utterance a great clamor went up, although the expression of it was not open. Negroes who dared to express their thoughts seemed to think the action tantamount to a declaration that protests against lynching, segregation and disfranchisement were outlawed by the government. But nothing was clearly understood until the conference of editors was called under the assumed auspices of Emmet Scott and Major Spingarn. Then it began to appear that these editors had not been called without a purpose. The desperate ambiguity of the language which they used in their report in the War Department Bulletin), coupled with the fact that not one of them, upon his return would tell the people anything of the proceedings of the conference--all this made the Negroes feel less and less confidence in them and their leadership; made them (as leaders) less effective instruments for the influential control of the race's state of mind.
Now Du Bois was one of the most prominent of those editors “who were called.” The responsibility, therefore, for a course of counsel which stresses the servile virtues of acquiescence and subservience falls squarely on his shoulders. The offer of a captaincy and Du Bois's firtation with that offer following on the heels of these things seemed, even in the eyes of his associate members of the N. A. A. C. P. to afford clear proof of that which was only a suspicion before, viz: that the racial resolution of the leaders had been tampered with, and that Du Bois had been privy to something of the sort. The connection between the successive acts of the drama (May, June, July) was too clear to admit of any interpretation other than that of deliberate, cold blooded, purposive planning. And the connection with Spingarn seemed to suggest that personal friendships and public faith were not good working team-mates. , For the sake of the larger usefulness of Dr. Du Bois we hope he will be able to show that he can remain as editor of the Crisis; but we fear that it will require a good deal of explaining. For, our leaders, like Caesar's wife, must be above suspicion.-July, 1918.
When the Blind Lead
In the February issue of the Crisis its editor begins a brief editorial on "Leadership," with the touching reminder that “Many a good cause has been killed by suspected leadership." How strikingly do these words bring back to us Negroes those dark days of 1918! At that time the editor of the Crisis was offering certain unique formulas of leadership that somehow didn't "take." His “Close Ranks” editorial and the subsequent slump in the stock of his leadership have again illustrated the truth long since expressed in Latin : "Descensus Averni facilis; sed revocare gradus,-hoc opus est,” which, being translated, might mean that, while it's as easy as eggs for a leader to fall off the fence, it is devilishly difficult to boost him up again. In September, 1918, one could boldly say, “The Crisis says, first your Country, then your Rights!" Today, when the Negro people everywhere are responding to Mr. Michael Coulsen's sentiment that "it's Race, not Country, first,” we find the “leader" of 1918 in the position described by Lowell in these words : "A moultin' fallen cherubim, ef he should see ye'd snicker, Thinkin' he warn’t a suckemstance.”
How fast time flies !
But the gist of Dr. Du Bois's editorial is the moral downfall of another great leader. "Woodrow Wilson, in