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Proceedings of the National Conference of Colored Men of the United States, Held in the State Capitol at Nashville Tennessee, May 6, 7, 8 and 9, 1879.
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31 NATIONAL CONFERENCE
settled it, and from the wilderness formed the cultivated plantation, and they and we have cleared, improved, and beautified the land.
Whatever there is of wealth, of plenty, of greatness, and of glory in the South, the colored man has been, and is, the most important factor. The sweat of his brow, his laborer's toil, his patient endurance under the heat of the semi-tropical sun and the chilling blasts of winter, never deterred the laborer from his work.
The blood of the colored man has fertilized the land and has cemented the Union. Aware of these facts, we should be baser than the willing slaves did we consent to the dictation of any men or body of men as to where we may go, when we shall go, or how long we shall stay.
The Republic owes to every citizen protection for his home and security for his rights. Let this security be given, and until that be done, let us cry aloud against those who refuse it, whether in the North or in the South. Let us remember all such in our prayers to the God of Liberty and of Justice, that He may punish them as they deserve. Let us remember them at the ballot-box, and fail not to inflict the retribution which they so justly deserve, and if we be obstructed in casting our votes, we can go where there will be no hindrance, and where we can vote as we please.
He who submits in silence to an injury may be avenged by a righteous heaven, but has little hope from man. Let us, therefore, keep the wrongs under which we labor before the public until an awakened sense of right and justice on both sides of Mason and Dixon's line shall work out a remedy. They need not tell us that there is no way to right our wrongs. The trouble is not in the want of a way; it is the want of a will. Let us exert the will and the way will be found. But this may take time, and while time runs many of us may perish. If the Government should fail to give protection to our people, it can do no less than aid those who wish to change their habitations to safer and better homes.
With these views before us, and believing in an all-wise Providence, we would be recreant to our principles, to our creed, to our race, and to our God should we neglect to use all the means in our power to bring about the desired results.
Such a measure would have a double effect; it would arouse the attention and self-interest of the North that the laws should be sternly enforced that regulate the purity of the ballot and security for the persons of the colored race, and it would strongly appeal to the interest and humanity of the Southern people to see that they should not lose an industrious and worthy population by reason of lawlessness and inhumanity. Let us, therefore, insist on some such measure as an alternative right.
Let us demand that the principles we assert be declared essential, in resolutions of legislatures and conventions, and made a part of our party platform.
Let us agitate, even as other classes agitate when their rights and wishes are disregarded.
We are Americans, and let us act as Americans have ever done when denied their rights. Cry aloud and spare not until our injuries are known and our wrongs are redressed and our demands are granted.
Let us frame an address and make an appeal to Congress for relief. Although the Democrats are in a majority, no matter. Some Democrats have a sense of justice, and others assume the virtue if they have it not; let us put them to the test. Let our motto be "Protection to our homes or homes elsewhere," and until the Government can be brought to aid migration, let private kindliness and enterprise be brought into action. Let us appeal to the people of the North, to corporations and to common carriers for aid, so that all who are oppressed in the land of their birth may find freedom in the land of their adoption. If the leading men of the
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