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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Hampton Negro Conference. Number III. July 1899.
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But it is not of this violent manifestation of race prejudice that I wish to speak now. I live in a town whose population is somewhat equally divided between northern and southern people, and I have a rare opportunity to study the attitude of each towards the Negro. The northern immigrant comes with his bristles out on the subject of "southern outrages," but he soon discovers that the white men do not spend most of their leisure time in hunting down Negroes with shot-guns and blood-hounds, but on the contrary that the ordinary relation of the two races is one of mutual friendliness and dependence. Moreover he has not been long in the South before he finds that in spite of preconceived theories and sympathies there is rising in his own breast an irresistible antipathy toward the black man, which has been overcome in the southerner by more than a century of contact. It isn't long before this northern man has a white coachman, a white cook, and a white housemaid. I want it understood that I do not say these things unkindly. I am giving a calm statement of facts that ought to be known. Especially would I avoid any misunderstanding of what I say on the part of the noble band of philanthropists who come south themselves to help, or send teachers to help uplift the Negro. God bless them every one! God bless the great work that is being done at Hampton! But the average northerner who comes south soon tires of the Negro and does not want to come any nearer to him than is absolutely necessary. The southern whites, on the contrary, prefer the Negro in domestic service, and the relation is generally one of friendliness and frequently of affection.
I wish you, then, to remember this second plain fact to which I have called your attention, that race prejudice is not peculiar to the people of the South, but is manifested much more generally by white people of the North when brought into contact with the masses of your race. But I must not talk too long, and I will close with two bits of advice:
1. Cultivate friendly relations with the white people of the South among whom you are to live. I have spoken of the adjustment that has taken place between the two races here. In my opinion the conservation of this adjustment is fundamental in the race problem. If this adjustment, established by many years of contact, is violently disturbed, we cannot live together in the South. One race or the other must go down.
(At this point some one asked the speaker to explain what he meant by this adjustment. He replied: Some of these northern white men to whom I speak have told me in private conversation
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