Sunday, February 28, 2010

On Slavery and Providence

Booker T. Washington speaks.
I pity from the bottom of my heart any nation or body of people that is so unfortunate as to get entangled in the net of slavery. I have long since ceased to cherish any spirit of bitterness against the Southern white people on account of the enslavement of my race. No one section of our country was wholly responsible for its introduction, and, besides, it was recognized and protected for years by the General Government. Having once got its tentacles fastened on to the economic and social life of the Republic, it was no easy matter for the country to relieve itself of the institution. Then, when we rid ourselves of prejudice, or racial feeling, and look facts in the face, we must acknowledge that, notwithstanding the cruelty and moral wrong of slavery, the ten million Negroes inhabiting this country, who themselves or whose ancestors went through the school of American slavery, are in a stronger and more hopeful condition, materially, intellectually, morally, and religiously, than is true of an equal number of black people in any other portion of the globe. This is so to such an extend that Negroes in this country, who themselves or whose forefathers went through the school of slavery, are constantly returning to Africa as missionaries to enlighten those who remained in the fatherland. This I say, not to justify slavery--on the other hand, I condemn it as an institution, as we all know that in America it was established for selfish and financial reasons, and not from a missionary motive--but to call attention to a fact, and to show how Providence so often uses men and institutions to accomplish a purpose. When persons ask me in these days how, in the midst of what sometimes seem hopelessly discouraging conditions, I can have such faith in the future of my race in this country, I remind them of the wilderness through which and out of which, a good Providence has already led us.


Julygirl said...

My exact thoughts on the subject!! Having grown up in the South, and from reading old 'Wills', I had ancestors who had slaves. The whole problem could have been eliminated by hiring poor white 'share croppers' to do the work, which would not have cost any more than buying and owning slaves.....not to mention the cost that slavery brought down on our country. What is so sad is that less than 20 years after the Civil War the Industrial Age brought farm implements that did the same work. But then we get into the question of what the Civil War was REALLY about.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, they could have hired poor Irish people at a pittance and then not be responsible for their care, food and lodging. That's what they did in the North.

Julygirl said...

Guess who the 'share croppers' were? After moving North I realized Americans as a group were not really that good looking. Having grown up in the South which had the Irish, French and Spanish I thought everyone looked like that. I once asked my mother why the Southerners in general were so attractive and she said, "It is because of the Irish Blood". (This statement is not meant to start a controversy.)

Brantigny said...

The truth is that the whites would not do the work because, as poor as they were, they still considered themselve as being better thatthe negro.

That attitude stayed in America (and not only in the south) until the 1960's. Indeed I have witnessed far worse racism in the north than ever I did in the south. I was born in Chicago, my mother was Irish. My grandfather was a good man but he would never let his helper ride in the cab of the truck in his business. That was his only fault. In every other way he helped this man out. Jope was devoted to my grandfather and cryed the hardest at his funeral.

I have lived in the south since the 70's on and off. I the north the racism is covert, unwritten but present. The largest members of the KKK and neonazis are found in Indiana.

Elena, I like this quote, and I am using it during the African American heretige program I am running tonight in the prison.
Your article on Belley has made my progarm brouchure.



Brantigny said...

Julygirl, it is because of the weather.

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you, Richard!