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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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As citizens of the States in the South and of the United States, the colored people of the South, invested with the rights, prerogatives, and high privileges of citizenship by the national Congress, do dispute the title of the white man to the sole government of this country, whether he is situated in South Carolina or Massachusetts, Louisiana or Kansas.
It is also a well-known fact that during the past two years the Democratic party in the South has had entire control of all their respective State governments, until the South has, under such control, passed into the proverb, "the solid South." They have, in plain words, their own local self-governments, and in every instance it has resulted in handing over every Southern State to Democratic rule, whether they were entitled to it or not. The colored people of the South have closely watched events that have transpired under this new order of things. They have felt keenly the policy which transferred them from a National and Republican protection—so far as ' their lives and rights were concerned—to a solid Democratic South, against which the Southern Negro had so determinedly and persistently voted since he possessed the right to vote.
But even then we did not hear of any extended migration movement on the part of the colored people so transferred. No, not even because Democracy and the champions and defenders of a white man's government had obtained complete control of their votes, their rights—aye, even their lives. It is only now, after two years' experience of the true inwardness of Democratic rule from a Southern standpoint, that the colored people are fleeing from what they justly consider the inadequateness, unwillingness, or downright refusal and failure—call it what you will—of the Democratic party to protect them in their civil, religious, and political rights.
2. Another and important cause is the almost, if not the total, failure on the part of any Democratic State administration in the South to faithfully carry out and perform their promises made to the colored people when said Democracy assumed control of their respective State governments.
The whole country knows what those Democratic promises were—made in some instances through Democratic orators, newspapers, conventions, but more notably, and in many instances, through legislative enactments. They were telegraphed all over the country, and published in nearly every newspaper in the land. We were to have no more political proscription; no more murders for political or color causes. The courts were to protect their black as well as their white citizens. The white lion and the black lamb were to lie down together, and a local democratic self-government was to lead them toward a new era of peace, prosperity, and good will to all men in the Southern States. Need we ask, have these legislative promises been kept? True, Democracy has "led" the colored man; but it has led him to believe that any place is better for him than his present home.
In the short space of two years the Democratic party of the South has fully satisfied the colored people here that they are not the safe custodians of their political and civil rights. They also find that the political prejudices of the Democratic party are paramount to all promises heretofore made by the representatives of said party; for, be it remembered, these promises were not made to the colored people alone, but to the Federal Government and the people of the United States; and the colored man naturally argues that if the Democratic party of the South proves false to promises made to such high authorities, he certainly has no hope for their being carried out with him. He has been made to feel, very sensibly, that the more vigorously he remonstrates against Democratic rule by the ballot the greater the disfavor in which he stands, and the larger the measure of the local denial of his constitutional rights.
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