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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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and not because of any respect the white publication may have for the rank or standing of those colored papers. None of those colored papers are in a position to force themselves upon the notice of their white confreres, unless, perhaps, they do so as mendicants.
White people prefer to show us off than to have us show ourselves off. If there are any dollars to be made off the Negro they prefer to make them. The white man wants to "run" the Negro now as always before. It seems to me that I have heard of a certain distinguished colored lecturer who, when he was talking by rote the talk that his white agents found was profitable talk to them, he was a most wonderful genius, but when he would talk to suit himself and tell the white folks what he thought about them and matters generally, he was a terribly bad fellow. Our agriculture, our fairs, our mechanical contrivances, our schools, our silk culture never become popular until their "special correspondent" has written them up, or their "special artist" has illustrated them, and the result of this is that
"Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its fragrance on the desert air."
We have a very natural and very pardonable pride of race-identity whenever anything good and ennobling is accomplished by us.
Who of the race is not proud of that great scholar and teacher, that Christian pupil and modest man. Bishop Payne, or the learned traveler. Dr. Blyden, or our revered Douglass, or the gentle sculptress, Miss Edmonia Lewis, or the polished lawyer and accomplished gentleman. Minister Langston, with scores of others ; but, with the exception of Bishop Payne, to whom are they compelled to give the jewels of their best thoughts? To the white people! Our periodicals neither invite nor command their respect. For them to till our tiny journals with the rich, ripe treasures of their minds would be worse than casting pearls before swine; their thoughts and judgments and opinions would be lost to the world. They must go to the journals of the whites and lose their race identity.
We Negro-Americans do not tell to each other our grievances ; we simply know we have them, but we cannot express them to one another from one end of the land to the other, and the result of this is that people are disposed to think that our grievances are more imaginary than real ; that we have no real tangible grounds for complaint ; that we are perpetually happy and joyous, and that our complaining is merely the result of a chronic unrest. We cannot get our grievances in tangible shape without a more perfect and complete channel of communication.
The scientific, the literary, the political, or the religious world needs no Negro National Review. They are all supplied with reviews adapted to each specific field. Neither does the Negro- American have need of any review in any of these branches of civilization. If he seeks any information in doctrines of religion, in politics, in literature, in art and science, the works of the scholars of the world are before him and he can buy cheaper than he can make ; if he has anything to contribute to the ever swelling volumes of scientific or literary research, the magazines and reviews are accessible to his pen at only the cost of his race identity.
There are none to look after our interests but ourselves. "Othello's occupation's gone." Slavery is abolished ; the laws have been so amended that, ostensibly, we stand before the law equal with all other American citizens. The Anti-slavery men and Abolitionists sit idle. We have no further use for their services, public opinion informs us. The women-workers, who served fried chicken and biscuit to the passengers and tourists at the stations on the "Underground Railroad." may now sit twirling their thumbs as they listlessly rock to and fro with their eyes half closed, dreamingly croning, " nothing to do; I've nothing to do." Nathan
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