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Liberty, and equality before the law. :Proceedings of the Convention of the Colored People of Va., held in the city of Alexandria, Aug. 2, 3, 4, 5, 1865.

1865VA.7.pdf

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264

BLACK STATE CONVENTIONS

of the State did everything in their power to prevent delegates from attending this Convention, but nevertheless delegates were present from there who were not afraid to give expression to their opinions. He, for one, endorsed every word contained in the address, and desired the whole world to know it.

Mr. Carter, of Petersburg, felt proud of the able paper presented for the consideration of this Convention, and hoped the address would be adopted without further alteration. It was worthy of the wisest heads in the country. It is said, Mr. Speaker, that our heads are very hard. The charge is no doubt true, and God had a wise purpose in making them hard. If they had not been our brains would have been dashed out long ago, and it is owing fact that many of us are permitted to meet here to-day to consult on our downtrodden condition.

Mr. Keeling, of Norfolf, spoke ably in favor of the adoption of the report of the committee. While he was aware that the loyal people of the North had done all they possibly could do for the elevation of colored race, he was aware that a great wok was yet to be done by colored people themselves. Let us ask, let us continue to petition, until we are set equal before the law with all men. The people of Massachusetts have done what they can--the balance remains for us to do ourselves. Let us go to work in earnest --let harmony and good feeling characterize our actions, and all will right in the end.

Mr. Marshal, of Alexandria, followed. He contended that there was no real prejudice between the white and black race of this State. We had slept together in childhood--we had toiled together in manhood, until our interests had become common.

While in slavery the old flag waved over us. God allowed it to do so, and God and the old flag yet remained to us as great shields of living enduring light. Let us bless and reverence them both.

At the conclusion of Mr. Marshall's remarks, three rousing cheers were given for the Stars and Stripes, and the inspiring song of "Rally Around the Flag, Boys," was sung with most excellent effect.

The question on the adoption or rejection of the report of the Committee was then put, and the report unanimously adopted by a rising vote.

A motion was made to suspend the rules in order to take twenty minutes. The motion was lost.

The address of "Rights and Wrongs" was then read by the Chairman of the Committee, and some verbal corrections proposed.

Mr. Garnet wished the word "demand" stricken out, as we were not prepared and did not intend to fight in the event that our demand was not granted. It would be more respectful, as humble petitioners, to use the word "ask" instead of "demand," and therefore he proposed the change. The sugges accepted, and after some further verbal corrections the address was by unanimous vote as follows:

Our Wrongs and Rights

As a branch of the human family we have for ages been deeply and cruelly wronged, and by a people with whom might constituted right. We have subdued not by power of ideas, but brute force, and deprived not only of many of our natural rights, but debarred the privileges and advantages freely accorded to other men. We have been made to suffer well nigh every cruelty and indignity possible to be heaped upon human beings. We have been taunted with our inferiority by people whose statute-books contain laws inflicting the severest penalties on whomsoever dared to teach us the art of reading God's Word. We have been denounced as intensely ignorant, while at the same time debarred from taking the first step toward self-enlightenment and national and personal elevation. We have been declared incapable of self government by those who refused the right of experiment in that direction, and have been denounced as cowards by men who first refused to trust us with a musket on the battle field.

As a people we have been denied the ownership of our bodies, or a right to our wives, our homes, our children, and the products of our labor. We have been compelled, under pain of death, to submit to injuries deeper and darker than the earth ever witnessed in the case of any other people.

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