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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Report of the proceedings of the Colored National Convention held at Cleveland, Ohio, on Wednesday, September 6, 1848.
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on our feet are made by while shoe-makers, and the food that we eat, is raised and cultivated by white men. Now it is impossible that we should ever be respected as a people, while we are so universally and completely dependent upon white men for the necessaries of life. We must make white persons as dependent upon us, as we are upon them.--This cannot be done while we are found only in two or three kinds of employments, and those employments have their foundation chiefly, if not entirely, in the pride and indolence of the white people. Sterner necessities, will bring higher respect.
The fact is, we must not merely make the white man dependent upon us to shave him, but to feed him; not merely dependent upon us to black his boots, but to make them. A man is only in a small degree dependent on us, when he only needs hill boots blacked, or his carpet-bag carried; as a little less pride, and a little more industry on his part, may enable him to dispense with our service entirely. As wise men it becomes us to look forward to a state of things, which appears inevitable.--The time will come, when those menial employments will afford less means of living than they now do. What shall a large class of our fellow-countrymen do, when white men find it economical to black their own hoots, and shave themselves! What will they do when white men learn to wait on themselves? We warn you brethren, to seek other and more enduring vocations.
Let us entreat you to turn your attention to agriculture. Go to farming. Be tillers of the soil. On this point we could say much, but the time and space will not permit. Our cities are overrun with menial laborers, while the country is eloquently pleading for the hand of industry to till her soil, and reap the reward of honest labor. We beg and intreat you, to save your money—live economically—dispense with finery, and the gaities which have rendered us proverbial and save your money. Not for the senseless purpose of being better off than your neighbor, but that you may be able to educate your children, and render your share to the common stock of prosperity and happiness around you. It is plain that the equality which we aim to accomplish, can only be achieved by us, when we can do for others, just what others can do for us. We should therefore, press into all the trades, professions and callings into which honorable white men press.
We would in this connection, direct your attention to the means by which we have been oppressed and degraded. Chief among those means, we may mention the press. This engine has brought to the aid of prejudice, a thousand stings. Wit, ridicule, false philosophy, and an impure theology, with a flood of low black-guardism, come through this channel into the public mind; constantly feeding and keeping, alive against us, the bitterest hate. The pulpit too, has been arrayed against us. Men with sanctimonious face, have talked of our being descendants of Ham—that we are under a curse, and to try to improve our condition, is virtually to counteract the purposes of God!
It is easy to see that the means which have been used to destroy us, must be used to save us. The press must be used in our behalf: aye! we must use it ourselves; we must take and read newspapers; ·we must read books, improve our minds, and put to silence and to shame, our opposers.
Dear Brethren, we have extended these remarks beyond the length which we had allotted to ourselves, and must now close, though we have but hinted at the subject. Trusting that our words may fall like good seed upon good ground; and hoping that we may all be found in the path of improvement and progres.
We are your friends and servants,
(Signed by the Committee, in behalf of the Convention) FREDERICK DOUGLASS,
H. BIBB, W. L. DAY, D H. JENKINS, A H. FRANCIS.
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