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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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sings praises to that God who made of one blood all the nations of the earth; in places of public amusement, in the jury-box and in the local affairs of government we are practically denied the rights and privileges of freemen.
We cannot expect to rise to the dignity of true manhood under the system of labor and pay as practically carried out in some portions of the South today. Wages are low at best, but when paid in scrip having no purchasing power beyond the prescribed limits of the land owner, it must appear obviously plain that our condition must ever remain the same; but with fair adjustment between capital and labor, we, as a race, by our own industry, would soon be placed beyond want, and in a self-sustaining condition.
Our people in the North, while free from many outrages practiced on our brethren in the South, are not wholly exempt from unjust discriminations. Caste prejudices have sufficient sway to exclude them from the workshop, trades, and other avenues of remunerative business and advancement.
We realize that education is the potent lever by which we are to be elevated to the plane of useful citizenship. We have the disposition and natural ability to acquire and utilize knowledge when equal facilities are accorded, but we are denied the necessary advantages, owing to the defective common-school system and non-enforcement of laws in most of the Southern States. We therefore favor and recommend a national educational system embracing advantages for all, the same to be sustained by the proceeds derived from the sale of public lands
Wholly unbiased by party considerations, we contemplate the lamentable political condition of our people, especially in the South, with grave and serious apprehensions for the future. Having been given the ballot for the protection of our rights, we find, through systematic intimidation, outrage, violence and murder, our votes have been suppressed, and the power thus given us has been made a weapon against us.
The migration of the colored people now going on from several of the Southern States, has assumed such proportions as to demand the calm and deliberate consideration of every thoughtful citizen of the country. It is the result of no idle curiosity, or disposition to evade labor. It proceeds upon the assumption that there is a combination of well-planned and systematic purposes to still further abridge their rights and privileges, and reduce them to a state of actual serfdom. It is declared in Holy Writ "that the ox that treadeth out the corn shall not be muzzled."
If their labor is valuable, it should be respected. If it is demonstrated that it cannot command respect in the South there is but one alternative, and that is to emigrate. But as the South possesses many advantages for them, they would prefer to remain there if they could peaceably enjoy the rights and privileges to which they are legally entitled and receive fair and equitable remuneration for their labor. The disposition to leave the communities in which they feel insecure, is an evidence of a healthy growth in manly independence, and should receive the commendation and support of all philanthropists. We, therefore, heartily indorse the National Emigration Aid Society recently organized at Washington, D.C., and bespeak for it a successful issue in its laudable undertaking.
We view with gratification the recent efforts of the planters of Mississippi and Louisiana, at the Vicksburg Convention, to effect an adjustment of the labor troubles existing in that section of the country. Believing that through such movements it is possible to establish friendly relations, adjust all differences between the races, and secure a final and satisfactory settlement of the grave causes underlying the unsettled and inharmonious condition of affairs now obtaining among them at the South, we would respectfully recommend to both classes the adoption of similar
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