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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the State Conference of the colored men of Florida, held at Gainesville, February 5, 1884.
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country, and in this State, where the proprietor of a common carrier, or place of public amusement, so far goes against his manly impulses as to treat respectable people, white or colored in a manner unwarranted by law, they have their choice of two methods in suing for redress. First, they may sue for damages by the common law, which forms the foundation of the jurisprudence of this State, and which has guaranteed these rights from time whereof the memory of man runneth not the contrary; or, secondly, they may bring suit under the following law, which graces the statute books of Florida: “No citizen of this State shall, by reason of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, be excepted or excluded from the full and equal enjoyment of any or accommodation, advantage, facility, or privilege furnished by innkeepers, by common carriers, whether on land or water, by licensed owners, managers, or lessees of theatres, or other places of public amusement.”
People assuming an unfriendly attitude towards us in this matter have unfairly construed our demand for civil rights as a demand for social equality. Civil rights have their origin in common and statutory law, and hence are the subject of legislation. Social equality originates from a mutual understanding between individuals, by which they reciprocally accept each other on equal terms of friendly intercourse. It is a matter of private concern, and not the subject of legislation. Civil rights, from their inception, have been, and must continue to be, protected by law. Social rights or social equality will take care of themselves.
From the foregoing, I am of the opinion that we have no public grievance under this head. Perhaps the severest hardship that we have to suffer in this behalf is from being financially unable in many cases to employ lawyers, and thus call to our relief the protection which the law affords us. And advantage is taken of us on this account in many cases where the attempt would not be made if we were backed by property and the means to defend ourselves,
We now come to political rights, which, in a free government, are the rights that are preservative of all rights. They embrace the right of the people to vote without fear or molestation, to be voted for any office of trust, national, State, county, or municipal, or whatever constitutes an effectual participation in the making of the laws and in the gen-
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