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Scripto | Transcribe Page
An Address Delivered by Prof. W.S. Scarborough, of Wilberforce University, on Our Political Status, at the Colored Men's Inter-State Conference in the City of Pittsburgh, PA., Tuesday, April 29, 1884.
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OUR POLITICAL STATUS. 7
This is no idle tale or speculative theory, but a matter of fact. We, therefore, ought to hold the government responsible, and rightly too, for allowing outrages, riots, massacres and lawlessness to pass unnoticed.
These cut-throats, highway robbers, wilful murderers, Ku Klux Klans, Bull-dozers, Ballot-box Stuffers, and Negro Maligners ought to be summarily dealt with and punished according to the crimes committed.
A mere investigation of Danville riots and Copiah massacres is not sufficient, unless the guilty parties are made to suffer for these atrocities. The distinguished Senator from Ohio, the Hon. John Sherman, has played a noble part, however, in that he desired to ascertain the causes of these fiendish acts and place these rascals before the world in their proper light.
In view, then, of the undesirableness of our present condition as citizens of this great commonwealth, the question that concerns us most is: What shall be done to change our political status? What attitude shall we assume in matters of public policy to insure protection in the exercise of the right of suffrage? To obtain recognition and to have all our rights guaranteed us? These are vital questions, for upon them hangs our destiny as American citizens. We cannot afford to be rash or indiscreet in any conclusions we may come to. It is easier to avoid mistakes than it is to avoid them after they are made. If we should content ourselves with our present political condition, and should make no efforts to improve it, it? would exhibit symptoms of rapid decline, and would deserve all the abuse now heaped upon us, and much more. But not so. We cannot be contented. There must be a change and that, too, speedily.
Again I ask, what shall be done? What line of action shall we adopt? An independent movement has been suggested as the only way out of this dilemma. Now it depends upon what an independent movement means. If it means standing aloof—giving aid to the Democratic party—nothing will be gained by it, unless there is a radical change in that party, which I hardly expect to occur until after the Day of Judgment. If it means the right to think and act for ourselves, to say in, common with oth-
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