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Scripto | Transcribe Page
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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1872. Per cent, of births, 2.33; 1875, per cent, of births, 1.8; 1876, per cent, of births, 1.8. Average per cent., 1.62,
Per cent, of increase by births, 1872 white 1.3, colored 1.1; 1875, white 1.2, colored .66; 1876, white .99, colored ,71. Average white 1.16; average colored .82.
Per cent, of marriages, 1875, 1.8; per cent, marriages, 1876, 1,6; per cent, marriages, 1877, 3.6. Average per cent., 2.33.
Now I have given you the figures of births and deaths from some of the principal cities of the country, and i have come to the conclusion, and I have no doubt you will, that, notwithstanding the incorrectness of the reports, and especially of the birth rate, city life is not conducive to the increase of the colored population, but rather on the contrary to the decrease, and we might as well look the matter directly in the face. For in nearly every instance where I have examined statistics I find the same results.
And now that I have given the figures of the great mortality you will naturally enough ask, are there any remedies, and what are they? I answer there are remedies, and they are in the hands of the colored people who cannot throw the responsibility on other shoulders. In fact the eyes of the world are upon us, and it is to be hoped we will be equal to the emergency, and use the power in our hands to fulfill the destiny of the race. In the first place, it will be necessary for each city, town, or country to form sanitary associations, to co-operate with boards of health where they exist, and to look after the health of the colored population by getting up free public lectures on matters relating to sanitary affairs, such as ventilation, drainage, diet and the proper care of children. To the latter end they might imitate the old slave-holder, who made the old, worn out and superannuated slave women take care of the young children while their mothers were at work in the field or attending to other matters. And therefore houses might be rented in different parts of the city and be converted into nurseries, furnished with all the comforts for young children; and let them be put in charge of two or three old women acquainted with nursing, with doctors to look out for the sick, and allow mothers to place their children there during the day for a small fee, and no doubt in time they might become self supporting. Then, again, the colored churches should do as the white with regard to orphans, and form church orphan homes. In fact a number of churches might unite together in the large cities, and form one to be supported by the respective churches; and by such institutions you might gather in the young and idle children about the cities and byways. Now, it is a remarkable fact that nearly one-half the population die under five years of age, and of which the colored population furnishes about a little more than a half, from the same causes mentioned above when speaking about the general mortality. Many lives might be saved by having some institution to care for young girls, who are often led by the unscrupulous to a premature maternity. I know it will be said that such institutions are calculated to put a premium on vice, but it should be remembered that many of those who need such a place are often left orphans, and have not had the fostering care of a mother, and therefore more apt to be led astray than otherwise. And besides, they are human beings, subject to all the frailties of mankind, and very often not to be blamed so much as those who lead them captive; and I believe it will be more humane to protect them in their extremities, and afterwards to have them placed into some reformatory institution where they can learn some useful employment which may in time make good and useful woman of them. Such an association might also agitate It; subject of free or penny public baths one of the most important adjuncts for the preservation of health, and which should be established in every city.
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