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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the State Convention of the colored citizens of Tennessee, held in Nashville, Feb. 22d, 23d, 24th & 25th, 1871.
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Whereas, Thousands have perished at the hands of these outlaws, and numbers more whipped, outraged and driven from their homes; and,
Whereas, The local and State authorities seem incapable of the task of affording protection to that class of citizens, and have failed to convict in a single case; therefore,
Be it resolved, That the colored citizens of the State of Tennessee request the Congress of the United States to designate Federal Courts that shall assume exclusive jurisdiction over all such crimes committed, upon that class of citizens.
Resolved, That Congress be requested to enact a law that the juries in such trials shall be composed of one-half colored citizens.
The report is accompanied by the proofs:
McMINNVILLE, TENN, Feb. 17th, 1871.
We the colored citizens of Warren county respectfully call the attention of the honorable members composing the convention at Nashville to the following facts, and earnestly ask their assistance, and cooperation in securing the results, which we, as a people, and as citizens of the State and United States pray for, and feel that we are entitled to, viz: Our poll tax is exacted and must be paid, to which we do not object, if we are allowed the same privileges as the whites. We demand justice before the law, and claim our rights in the jury box. It is impossible in most of the counties of the State to get a jury of white men who will do justice to the colored men. In all cases of difficulties between the whites and the blacks, the courts shield and protect the white man; and punish the colored man. As true Republican citizens, we feel the oppression, and call upon the proper authorities to assist in protecting us, and giving us our rights as citizens of the United States. We claim our rights as jurymen in all cases or instances where the interests of our race are at stake. These rights are stolen from us by the sheriff of the county.
We have no common or free school system, by which to educate our children, and we are too poor to give them the opportunities they need for an education.
In many localities or neighborhoods, we have to cast our votes contrary to our wishes, and for the party which has kept us in slavery, for fear of being thrown out of employment or suffering the indignities and afflictions perpetrated by the Kuklux.
We earnestly pray that your honorable body may seek and obtain from the proper authorities the assistance we need.
Isaac Brown, Chairman, John Walker, Lewis Rowan, Peter Rowen, Stephen Randles, Samuel Randles, Alexander Smith.
A convention was held in Smith County and reported as follows: There are but five school houses in the county and but one school, which is attended by twenty pupils, while 880 children are out of school. The cause of this large non-attendance is that so many outrages have been committed upon them that the colored people are in a state of terror. One man was killed in the presence of his wife and children, at his own door. Some have made good crops and been well treated, while some have been driven off without a dime. We are kept in a state of intimidation and fear in this county--AUSTIN GORDON, Chairman. H. Gould, Sec'y.
Hardy Jackson was lately driven off and his property, worth two hundred dollars, destroyed by desperadoes in Obion county.
On Resolutions the Committee reported the following, which was adopted.
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