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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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to impede our progress; but with ail surrounding adversities and impediments, we have endeavored to stem the current and push onward to the moorings of a just and honorable estimate as American citizens. Whether or not we are entitled to these, I shall not say. I will appeal to that supreme tribune—the conscience of this nation—to answer for me. Submissively, earnestly and patiently have we longed, waited and prayed for a better and brighter era to dawn upon us. Our hopes, desires and anticipations have resulted in no more than their conception. We feel by virtue of our present surroundings and condition that our advancement is not as fast as it should be; we feel that there is vast room for improvement.
Being actuated by these feelings, and prompted by a desire and anxiety to better our condition, we are here in this National Conference to deliberate and discuss our condition, and ascertain the medium through which a change maybe effected, and an extrication from the thraldom of our present circumstances.
The all-absorbing topic that now agitates our people in this country, and especially in the South, is migration. The colored people of the South hold in their hands the boasted grandeur and material wealth of that section. They also possess the most potent means of all success, that is, labor. Labor rightly estimated is, indeed, the most powerful and effective element of success; without this no wealth, no happiness, no comfort could be obtained—all of these blessings are the products of successful labor. No region under the heavens is better adapted and more conducive to the race than the South, The only question that interests them is: Can they, in this section, situated as they now are, work out a successful and peaceful destiny? Does their labor meet with a just and commensurate recompense? Are their rights and liberties duly respected ?
These are the questions to be discussed l and settled for them. Loth and unwilling are these people to leave the homes of their birth, the joyous surroundings and pleasant associations of their childhood; grievously does it affect them to leave the soil within whose bosom sleeps those who were near and dear to them. These people, though untutored and deemed inferior, possess those feelings of attention and devotion to "home" and and its surroundings that are possessed by the erudite and refined. Their souls, bedewed with the memories of happy and joyous associations, cause them to reluctantly turn their backs upon home to seek abodes in distant and unknown regions ; but the unconquerable spirit of manhood arises within them and inspires them to seek homes where labor is better respected and compensated, and their rights better regarded. In equity and justice can they be blamed? An emigration of any magnitude cannot fail to seriously and disastrously affect the material wealth of the South. If large numbers of our people, stimulated by the hope of bettering their condition, leave the South, the very grave question of "What will become of us?" will soon disturb the repose of those who are most benefited by the labors of the race in that section. It has already caused great commotion, and in many instances pledges and promises for an improvement upon the present manner of conducting affairs in that section have been made. It is needless to say that, if they are carried out to the letter, it will redound to the lasting good of both the laborer and the land owner.
This section is, as is well known, one of the finest regions that adorn the face of creation, inexhaustible in its resources, unparalleled in the fertility of its soil, and unsurpassed in the salubrity of its climate. The fertility and productive properties have ever existed in this section. Yes. they existed during the countless ages of the forgotten past, when its hills,
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