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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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—can learn a few trades and callings, but no place where this is the principal design and not secondary to other objects. Third, because the present system of education will result in an undue prominence of professional men, of lawyers without briefs, doctors without patients, preachers without congregations, starving in the midst of plenty, while, the hidden resources of our country lie undeveloped for those of another race who have received the benefits of a technical education. Fourth, because the first result of this new training will be to give the race a direct representation in the industrial, manufacturing and commercial interests of the country. Fifth, at present our youth are confined to a few occupations, by reason of the prejudices and traditions of the past; but this practical education, by developing our talent and mechanical skill to a higher degree than can be reached by mere empiricism, will unquestionably open, and open forever, lucrative avenues of employment hitherto confined to the white American. Sixth, because if the Negro possesses art capabilities of a high order, this is the best possible preparation for their rational and symmetrical development.




Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Conference:

The subject assigned me is one of great importance. The axioms which teach us of the strength in unity and the certain destruction following close upon the heels of strife and dissension, need not be here repeated. Race elevation can be attained only through race unity. Pious precepts, business integrity, and moral stamina of the most exalted stamp, may win the admiration for a noble few, but unless the moral code, by the grandeur of its teachings, actuates every individual and incites us as a race to nobler aspirations and quickens us to the realization of our moral shortcomings, the distinction accorded to the few will avail us nothing. The wealth of the Indies may crown the efforts of fortune's few favored ones. They may receive all the homage wealth invariably brings, but unless we as a race check the spirit of pomp and display, and by patiently practicing the most rigid economy, secure homes for ourselves and children, the preferment won by a few wealthy ones will prove short-lived and unsatisfactory. We may have our educational lights here and there, and by the brilliancy of their achievements they may be living witnesses to the falsity of the doctrine of our inherited inferiority, but this alone will not suffice. It is a general enlightenment of the race which must engage our noblest powers. One vicious, ignorant Negro is readily conceded to be a type of all the rest, but a Negro educated and refined is said to be an exception. We must labor to reverse this rule; education and moral excellence must become general and characteristic, with ignorance and depravity for the exception.

Seeing, then, the necessity of united action and universal worth rather than individual brilliancy, we sorrowfully admit that race unity with us is a blessing not yet enjoyed, but to be possessed. We are united only in the conditions which degrade, and actions which paralyze the efforts of the

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