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Minutes and address of the State Convention of the Colored Citizens of Ohio, convened at Columbus, January 10th, 11th, 12th, & 13th, 1849.
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State, from an equal participation in the schools, academies, colleges, and universities within this -State, which are endowed, in whole or in part, from the revenue arising from the donations made by the United States for the support of schools and colleges; and the doors of schools, academies and universities shall be open for the reception of scholars, students and teachers of every grade, without any distinction or preference whatever, contrary to the intent for which the said donations were made." We hold that actual exclusion of colored inhabitants from the benefit of the school fund is a violation of the principle here announced.
Permit us here to say a word to you on the effect of such a law.
1st. It encourages ignorance in your communities. To encourage ignorance is to encourage The vicious character of uneducated communities, both in the direct and indirect influence, is seen the world over, and to prove it need not to cite you to all past history. Therefore, even if the colored people of Ohio were aliens, your own interest would demand the extending educational privileges to them all; but here we are, born on your soil, and unless your own professed principles be a lie, entitled to all the rights and privileges of all others. Consequently, you are doubly bound to act for us as for yourselves.
2d. In children thus divided by law, the most Satanic hate is likely to be engendered. This, no one who has studied human nature will deny. This hate "grows with the growth and strengthens with the strength." What children are in the school room, they are when manhood has come over them, and what feeling the school-room fosters appears in after life in the shape of a monster called law.
But another thing. We ask what was the "intent for which the said donations were made?" Was it merely for men called "white?" We say no. Nor was it left a bone for quibblers by saying "citizens"--nay, verily, but for the "INHABITANTS." With all deference, we ask, who are they?
We wish those in authority to be at least consistent, either by wiping the black laws, (aye black enough to merit a birthplace other than in the free soil of Ohio,) we say, either by wiping them from her statute book, or else by openly repudiating the free principles which she by agreement is bound to regard as her higher law.
But we appeal not to Constitutions alone. We convict you of inconsistencies by them. But we appeal in the name of Him who presides over the destinies of nations, to the principles of Right and Justice, existing and hoary in their age, long before Constitutions were known, or the United States nation born. We care not then, as far as the actual right is concerned, Whether the Constitutions be leagues with death and agreements with hell or no. We appeal from them, (if they be such,) to a higher judicature.
Our moral and social elevation we speak of last, but not because we deem them of the least consequence. We speak to you of political privileges first, for which you is the entire political power. Still you can assist us in attaining a true moral and social position. We ask not that you remove the disabilities under which we labor merely because you pity us. We ask for no such sympathy. We ask for equal privileges, not because we would consider it a condescension on your part to grant them--but because we are MEN, and therefore entitled to all the privileges of other men in the same circumstances.
We ask that the "negro pew" in your churches be removed, and that character and not color be the basis of your treatment of colored men, both in those churches and in your families.
We ask for school privileges in common with others, for we pay school taxes in the same proportion.
We ask permission to send our deaf and dumb, our lunatic, blind, and poor asylums prepared for each.
We ask for the repeal of the odious enactments, requiring us to declare ourselves "paupers, vagabonds, or fugitives from justice," because we can "lawfully" remain in the State.
We ask that colored men be not obliged to brand themselves liars, in every case of testimony in "courts of justice" where a white person is a party.
We ask that the word "white" in the State Constitution be stricken out at once and forever, 'and of course that the privileges growing out of such striking out be restored to us.
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