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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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nated against in the selection of persons to serve on jury. Therefore we demand as our just due equal rights in the jury-box.
Public opinion is that which indicates the prevailing tenor of popular feeling upon any public matter. In other than popular forms of government it may directly oppose any existing course of administering the affairs of State; or it may vigorously favor the redress of some public wrong and yet be powerless in either case to accomplish the desired end. But in a country like ours, whose Government is by the people and for the people, public opinion is the forerunner of all great reforms and improvements in the public affairs of men; and it is also the subsequent moral force that perpetuates those reforms. It is a power that asserts itself in free government and frowns down crime and violence, and enforces peaceable obedience to law; and an acquiescence in the radical changes that are made for the better in civil society. Then after all necessary legislation has been effected, what we need is a strong, impartial and progressive public sentiment among all classes in this State, that will favor the sound policy of securing to every citizen, regardless of color, an equal chance, in the struggle for life, embracing fair play in every sphere of life, civil or political. Prejudice between any classes of citizens in a State tends directly to the subversion of the best interests of all. Hence, the prejudice that has been allowed to grow among some of our people against the whites, though on account of past treatment, is nevertheless unwise and impolitic; and should be discouraged by our ministers, orators and public press. The Florida News has taken a noble stand on this point, and other journals should do likewise. The prejudice that has long existed among a majority of the whites of this State against us, and for no fault of ours, is equally as unwise and impolitic; and their newspapers, ministers, orators, and such means by which public sentiment is moulded should also labor to suppress that hostile feeling; so that we can reach that plane upon which we can realize that a mutual, friendly relation exists between the two races.
From the foregoing we derive the following propositions or duties: (1) We should engage more generally in business enterprises, encourage industry, and acquire more real estate and
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