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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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the most facile victims of demagogism and most eager to drink in the pernicious doctrines to which we have referred.
It may be well to note that it is in the kind, not the quantity, of education that the proper and effective remedy lies. It goes without saying that if an advertisement for a book-keeper, teacher, or clerk, were inserted in the columns of our daily papers, the responses would be far more numerous than if inquiry be made for a skilled architect, a draftsman, a civil engineer, or a proficient chemist; and yet, though the latter when found manifest no preference for the former occupations, in a majority of cases, it would be found that he was equally as competent to teach or to keep accounts as a large number of so-called professional men. But by industrial or technical education, undertaken by Government, as in European cities the education which trains the hand and the eye, which gives instruction in all those sciences upon which all the different processes of manufacture depend, and upon which the development of the natural resources of the earth is based, the education which enters into the realm of art itself the future man will be fully equipped to grapple with those conditions of modern life which require a higher skill and an unending variety of resource, as application after application of science apparently narrows the field in which manual and direct individual labor is employed.
There is no doubt that the advent of machinery, as a force in the activities of life, has wrought a revolution in the labor systems of the past ; but had man' s eyes and hands- better still, had his artistic sense- kept pace with this force, there would be no permanent derangement, but constant and continual readjustment of labor forces would solve the problem.
That in this establishment and maintenance of technical schools, the proper and effective remedy for the evils resulting from the rush of unskilled labor to the centers of population is found, is fully illustrated in the rapid increase of such schools in our country, and the favorable results of their establishment.
In 1870 there were 17 such schools, with 144 teachers, and 1,413 pupils ; in 1872, 70 schools, 724 teachers, and 5,395 pupils, but in 1875 the number rose to 74 schools, 758 teachers, and 7,157 pupils.
A writer who has given this matter special attention says:
"Muhlhausen, Creuzot, and Besancon, with their celebrated industrial schools ; Belgium, with 50 such institutions and 15,000 apprentices, who had attended these schools with great satisfaction to themselves and the manufacturers ; France, with its 12,000 industrial scholars, and Germany, with its 52,127 apprentices in 1,450 industrial schools, are sufficient proof of the practicability of such institutions."
In these general reasons the necessity for the industrial training of our youth stands justified ; but there are special and urgent reasons why of all classes in this country, the colored youth need this kind of training rather than that which has not enabled the present generation to favorably accommodate itself to the constantly recurring changes in our social development.
To a certain extent, these reasons are quite fully set forth in an address delivered by me last year before the Virginia Historical and Educational Association, entitled "Wanted—A Policy ; " as follows :
"Improvements in machinery, cheapening the cost of production, and the increased artistic taste necessary to insure products which will stand rival competition, make it possible for none but the thoroughly educated mechanic and artisan to have any place in the workshops of the future. If the future Negro-American is to take any honorable position in the labor market of the country, one thing is clear : he must fit himself for the changed requirements and necessities of that market. In one section of the country he is so weak, numerically, as not to rise to the dignity of an
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