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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Convention of the Colored Citizens of Massachusetts, August 1, 1858.
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BLACK STATE CONVENTIONS
8. John A. Andrew (1818-1867), Massachusetts lawyer who was later elected governor of the state in 1860, possessed strong antislavery tendencies, and though "he rejected the extreme position of Garrison and Wendell Phillips, he maintained the firm and uncompromising opposition to slavery which represented the best of Massachusetts" (Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, I [New York, 1928], 279). During the Civil War, Andrew urged that blacks be organized into separate corps and regiments. His efforts paid off in January 1863 with the organization of the 54th Massachusetts, the first regiment of black troops during the Civil War.
9. Charles W. Denison (or Dennison) (1812-1881) was for a time editor of the Philadelphia World. A founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society, he left the organization in 1840 over the issue of woman's rights. During the Civil War, he helped to propagandize the Northern cause in England by editing a paper there for Americans.
10. Lucy Stone (1818-1893) was an American reformer and an outspoken advocate of woman's rights. A lecturer for a time for the American Anti-Slavery Society, she was instrumental in organizing numerous woman's rights conventions. As a speaker, she possessed great eloquence and could often sway an unruly and antagonistic audience. Although she married Henry B. Blackwell in 1855, she continued as a matter of principle to use her own name and was known as Mrs. Stone. In 1870, she founded the Woman's Journal, which was for nearly fifty years the official organ of the National American Woman's Suffrage Association.
11. The Sixth Avenue Street Car Line in New York City had a long history of insulting and intimidating blacks. In June 1853, Reverend J.W.C. Pennington, a well-known pastor in that city, was beaten and thrown off one of the cars. Following the brutal discriminatory treatment he received on the public car, he joined with Dr. James McCune Smith and the Reverend Henry Highland Garnet to organize the Legal Rights Association for the purpose of establishing the rights of Negroes to the public conveyances in the city. The Association fought the cases for Negroes kept off the streetcars until such segregation practices were abolished during the Civil War.
12. In 1849, Charles Sumner and Robert Morris, the young Negro lawyer, argued the famous antisegregation school case of Sarah C. Roberts v. The City of Boston before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. They maintained that segregated schools were inherently inferior, anticipating the argument of the Supreme Court in its Brown v. Brown Board of Education of 1954. Unfortunately, in this instance, the Court ruled against the plaintiffs.
In April 1855, however, petitions signed by both whites and blacks were presented to the Massachusetts legislature asking for the outlawing of segregated schools. They were referred to the Committee on Education, which drew up a report favorable to the petitioners. The report said in part: "All this evidence of the practical working of the truly 'common' school, established in the minds of your committee two points: First, that colored children can make less progress in a separate school; and, second, that no practical inconvenience need follow the abolition."
While the committee report failed to move the legislature, it did finally respond to a well-organized campaign by the black community of Boston set up by William C. Nell and supporter of The Liberator. Under Nell's direction, Negroes in Boston deluged the Massachusetts legislature with petitions demanding the abolition of separate schools and had their children taught privately until in 1855 a law was enacted requiring public schools in the state to admit students without regard to color.
13. The pro-slavery character of the American Church was a recurring theme in antislavery circles. In an article entitled, "What Has the Pulpit to Do with Slavery?" the National Anti-Slavery Standard on one occasion remarked: "As a matter of fact, the American pulpit has very little to do with slavery, except to shield it from investigation and exposure. As a matter of obligation, it is bound to bear a bold and uncompromising testimony against all who uphold or connive at the enslavement of the colored race. We do not mean to be too sweeping in our condemnation. There are clergymen, of various denominations, who have dared to brave public sentiment and the opposition of their congregation, in their advocacy of the anti-slavery cause. . . . We have rebuked a time-serving, pro-slavery priesthood and pulpit--not those who were practically identifying themselves with the cause
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