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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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educational training; and he who is devoid of a spirit to improve is certainly an incubus to society and a dead weight to this progressive age.
If, therefore, we wish to elevate our race to a higher standard of honor, respectability, and recognition, we must see that they are educated. We must use our utmost endeavors to push forward the great ear of education, and impress upon the people the necessity of their throwing off the despicable yoke of ignorance and superstition, and fitting themselves properly to live up to the demands and requirements of the age. Our Government, recognizing the utility, benefit, and blessings of an intelligent populace, has instituted a system of free public education. The doors of the school-house are open alike to all. It is said to the poor as well as the rich: "Go fit and qualify yourself for the duties of citizenship;" but, sad to say, too many are heedless of the command. Let us warn them of this irreparable injustice which they are not only doing themselves but their race. Those who are prejudiced by the fear of our ultimate success always dwell with marked emphasis upon the evil that emanates from the careless and reckless, not upon the good which we endeavor, through our humble efforts, to achieve. Let us from to-day form a new resolution: to work as we never have before. Let us unfurl the banner of education to the breeze , and implore all to look upon it, imbibe its benefits, thereby becoming fitted to lead useful and honorable lives. The wonder-working developments of this nineteenth century demand an intelligent populace; a thousand physical and moral causes are in operation to produce the grand result, and a failure to improve the means and advantages allotted would be unpardonable, base, and ignoble. The vast and impressive prospects of creation, with its innumerable agencies and requisites for the happiness and comfort of man, are all before us; the glory of the heavens, the beauty and adaptability of the earth, the grandeur and sublimity of the ocean, the fertility of the hills, dales, and swamps, the inexhaustible resources of the mine and quarry, all unite in one common language to man--their monarch--to improve. They are all calculated to inspire and impress upon man the necessity of his improvement.
In solving the problem of a successful destiny, self-reliance should be considered as a commendable, distinguishing, and most beneficial element. We are unmistakably and unchangeably the framers of our own destiny, and above all things we should strive to depend upon our own industry.
In matters of a secondary importance, substitution and dependence may be practiced; but in the all-important duty of making a creditable and honorable history, we should fit ourselves in such a manner as to be self-reliant. I do not pretend to say that we should be independent of all about us; that cannot be. We are by nature dependent creatures. Man is a being who, from the cradle to the grave, is constantly undergoing changes, and without the care and assistance of others he could not exist. I mean that spirit of independence which will prompt us to rely upon our own industry, depend upon our own resources, and work our such a history as will demand the appreciation and admiration of those who righteously desire to see the race prosper.
"The gods help those who help themselves." Let us realize this fact, govern ourselves accordingly, and it cannot fail to be a grand step toward advancement.
In unity there is strength and perpetuity. If we ever wish to succeed as a race, we must be united. There exists among our people too much of the spirit of antagonism, and too much diversity of sentiment. These are damaging qualities and cannot fail to cause retrogression. If
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