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Proceedings of the National Convention of the Colored Men of America: held in Washington, D.C., on January 13, 14, 15, and 16, 1869.

1869 National Convention in Washington DC 20.pdf

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14

Eastern States, excepting five; in all the Western States, excepting two; the heel of the oppressor is still upon the neck of the colored American. That is to say, he is deprived of the Elective franchise. Now, the step between this species of oppression, and serfdom, or slavery, is short and quick. The man, the State, the nation that does this, is an Oppressor; and when this oppression is based upon the color of a man, or the race from which he sprang, it assumes the form of an outrage against Humanity itself and Blasphemy against God.

These are sufficient reasons for assembling the intellect, the learning, and the piety of colored Americans, at the National Capital, annually, until the whole Nation, conscious of the truth that the rights of all—the most despised as well as the most honorable, are vigilantly guarded by the shield of justice—and that this shield is upheld by the Omnipopotent Hand—shall compel every State in the Republic to change its organic law, and to alter its statutes, so as to honor God in the person of man, because he is made in the image of God.

Then, there are evils among ourselves to be corrected. The domestic—the conjugal relations of colored Americans, having been invaded and broken up by the Lords of the lash, have left the majority of us, in the most deplorable condition—so that we find ourselves destitute of Mothers—of mothers qualified to train our sons into a noble manhood, and our daughters into a noble womanhood!

Then, there is the ignorance in which slavery has left the masses—the form of which is manifold. And there is also the abject poverty into which oppression, North and South, has plunged us. These are evils which can be removed only by self development. It is true that God in His unspeakable mercy, and marvellous Providence has raised up friends to aid us in this work: and we believe he will multiply these friends—but the complete removal of the evils enumerated, must be the result of manhood. Now, manhood comes not from without, but from within—it is like the growth of a tree, the result of self development.

Now, the means of this improvement are threefold, Education, Piety, Wealth. The masses must be educated and this must be insisted on, not only in the lecture room, but also in the social circles, around the fireside, and in our Pulpit. As to the Minister of religion who neglects to plead the cause of education systematically,—privately, publicly—I do not hesitate to say that he is unworthy of public respect, still less of public confidence.

Every man, woman and child must be urged to self-culture, must be brought under the plastic hand of science and philosophy; and they must be kept there until a radical change shall have been made in our mode of thinking, speaking and acting.

Then, there is the property acquiring power; this must be examined, considered, analyzed and cultivated. From childhood must our people be taught to save their cents until they become dollars, and to convert these dollars into lands, houses, cattle, horses, and into every species of live-stock, and these into gold and silver ; not indeed, to gratify the mean sordidness of the miser, nor the lusts of the man of pleasure, but to erect halls of science, colleges and universities; to send missionaries with the Bible into heathen lands, and thus render ourselves a civilizing power in the Republic, and an enlightening force in the world.

But to secure such grand results, we must be an upright race—a race fearing God and keeping "all his commandments always." Our trust must not be in politicians nor political parties, but in the God-Man. The Eternal has given Him to humanity to be its leader and reformer, its conquerer and its judge. Races and princes, nations and thrones, rise and fall as he smiles or frowns upon them. Through Him we have conquered once, with Him we shall always be more than conquerers.

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