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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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fairest hand-maids, cannot fail to extend its mild, humanizing, and refining influences about the strongholds of ignorance, iniquity and vice causing those demoralizing and degrading obstacles, which have so ruthlessly laid waste the honor and character of the race, "to skulk away and hide in chaos." Then we will arise from our present unhappy situation, and in association with the wise and good, revolve in a sphere more appropriately commensurate with the dignity of humanity. Then will the charge of inferiority cease to be hurled at us, and victorious over all the elements that now serve to retard our advancement, we will prove to the world that our station is, and should be, in the galaxy of earth's grandest, proudest, and best races.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON ADDRESS.
Three years ago, last month, there assembled in this city what at the time was generally believed would be the last national gathering of colored men to consider their relations to and interests in this country as a distinct element.
The rapidity with which the race had passed from the lowest status to a common level before the law with the most favored in the land, warranted the belief that the day of our complete deliverance from all forms of prejudice, oppression, wrong and outrage was near at hand, and with its glorious dawn we would merge into the common brotherhood of the nation, forming a part of a homogeneous, contented and happy people. But that fond delusion has been dispelled. We find ourselves compelled by circumstances of the gravest nature to meet again to consider the educational, moral, material and political interests of our people, and to state our grievances to the country.
It has been said by one of the distinguished men of this country, one who has contributed as much toward shaping the ideas and sentiments of the American people as any other man, living or dead, " that agitation is the method that plants the school by the side of the ballot-box. Agitation prevents rebellion, keeps the peace and secures progress. Every step she gains is gained forever. Agitation is the atmosphere of brains," If in the past agitation has been the elementary power which has served to crystalize and mould public opinion into law—has really formed the basis of a true government, in order to arouse public sentiment in behalf of our rights, we deem it expedient to resort to agitation as being the sure and proper method by which to reach the ears of the American people, and thereby obtain fully the sacred rights which we are by nature and the laws of the country, of which we form a component part, entitled to.
Fifteen years have elapsed since our emancipation, and though we have made material advancement as citizens, yet we are forced to admit that obstacles have been constantly thrown in our way to obstruct and retard our progress. Our toil is still unrequited, hardly less under freedom than slavery, whereby we are sadly oppressed by poverty and ignorance, and consequently prevented from enjoying the blessings of liberty, while we are left to the shame and contempt of all mankind. This unfortunate state of affairs is because of the intolerant spirit exhibited on the part of the men who control the State governments of the South today. Free speech in many localities is not tolerated. The lawful exercise of the rights of citizenship is denied when majorities must be overcome. Proscription meets us on every hand; in the school-room, in the church that
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