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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the Colored national convention, held in Rochester, July 6th, 7th, and 8th, 1853.
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that I propose. It is not worth while that I should dwell upon these at all Once convinced that something of the sort is needed, and the organizing power will be forthcoming. It is the peculiarity of your favored race that they can always do what they think necessary to be done. I can safely trust all details to yourself, and to the wise and good people whom you represent in the interest you take in my oppressed fellow-countrymen.
Never having myself had a day's schooling in all my life, I may not be expected to be able to map out the details of a plan so comprehensive as that involved in the idea of a college. I repeat then, I leave the organization and administration to the superior wisdom of yourself and the friends that second your noble efforts. The argument in favor of an Industrial College, (a College to be conducted by the best men, and the best workmen, which the mechanic arts can afford--a College where colored youth can be instructed to use their hands, as well as their heads--where they can be put in possession of the means of getting a living--whether their lot in after life may be cast among civilized or uncivilized men--whether they choose to stay here, or prefer to return to the land of their fathers,) is briefly this--prejudice against the free colored people in the United States has shown itself nowhere so invincible as among mechanics. The farmer and the professional man cherish no feeling so bitter as that cherished by these. The latter would starve us out of the country entirely. At this moment, I can more easily get my son into a lawyers office, to study law, than I can into a blacksmith's shop, to blow the bellows, and to wield the sledge-hammer. Denied the means of learning useful trades, we are pressed into the narrowest limits to obtain a livelihood. In times past we have been the hewers of wood and the drawers of water for American society, and we once enjoyed a monopoly in menial employments, but this is so no longer--even these employments are rapidly passing away out of our hands. The fact is, (every day begins with the lesson, and ends with the lesson,) that colored men must learn trades--must find new employments, new modes of usefulness to society--or that they must decay under the pressing wants to which their condition is rapidly bringing them. We must become mechanics--we must build, as well as live in houses—we must make, as well as use furniture--we must construct bridges, as well as pass over them--before we can properly live, or be respected by our fellow men. We need mechanics, as well as ministers. We need workers in iron' wood, clay, and in leather. We have orators, authors, and other professional men ; but these reach only a certain class, and get respect for our race in certain select circles. To live here as we ought, we must fasten ourselves to our countrymen through their every day and cardinal wants. We must not only be able to black boots, but to make them. At present, we are unknown in the Northern States, as mechanics. We give no proof of genius or skill at the County, the State, or the National Fairs. We are unknown at any of the great exhibitions of the industry of our fellow-citizens-- and being unknown, we are unconsidered.
The fact that we make no show of our ability, is held conclusive of our inabilty to make any. Hence, all the indifference and contempt, with which
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