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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the Convention of the Equal Rights and Educational Association of Georgia : assembled at Macon, October 29th, 1866 : containing the annual address of the president, Captain J.E. Bryant
1866 Macon GA State Convention.8.pdf
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have been severely punished in accordance with the laws of the State, and, if he had been killed, the verdict of the entire community would have been, 'served him right.' I knew that laws and customs as old as these, which the people were forced to give up against their will, must leave a prejudice, bitter and hard to overcome; I knew that, if I accepted this position, I should be astrocized for years from the society of most white citizens of this State, and I knew that I risked even life itself, neverthelsss I did not, for a moment, hesitate.
What is life ! We have but a few years to live, and he who does most good, accomplishes most. It is pleasant to enjoy the advantages of good society; it is pleasant to die a natural death, for die we all must, but that man is a coward who fails to do good, because there are dangers in the way; he is unfit to live, if he will fail to do good, because, perchance, he may be deprived of some of the pleasures of society.
The great work, in my judgment, which first presented itself to me, was to organize Subordinate Associations throughout the State as rapidly as possible, and establish, upon a permanent basis, the organ of your Association, the Loyal Georgian. Indeed, that has been the great work of the past year.
I have found much difficulty in establishing Subordinate Associations in the different counties. When you were slaves, you had no leaders, no smart men, or, more properly, your smart men were not permitted to become your leaders.The laws prevented you from securing an education. You could not become aquainted with each other through the public press, or by letter, as free persons can, and as you now may. Indeed, I found that, outside of the eities and large towns, the colored people knew nothing of each other, except in the neighborhood in which they lived. It was neccssary that I should find out who could read and write, and also who were most respected among you. For the reasons given, it has been a difficult task; nevertheless I have succeeded in discovering some of these men in fifty counties, and Associations have been organized in those counties. The Constitution provides that each member shall pay an initiation fee of one dollar, which is to be sent by each Subordinate Association to the President of the State Association. Very few Subordinate Associations have done this. I have been informed that in some counties the money has been raised and given to the Vice President of the county, who has failed to forward it, and that, in other counties, the Vice President has failed to forward all that has been entrusted to his care. I desire that, if you are prepared to prove such charges, you will not fail to report them at this time, for I desire to appoint a committee to investigate all charges of this kind. If any officer of this Asseeiation has been dishonest, he should be expelled from office and denounced, We have undertaken a great work, and one
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