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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.15.pdf

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12

few schools in the State, except in the cities and large towns. For the present, we cannot, I fear, expect that schools will be established for you by the State, although I would suggest that you send an address to the Legislature upon the subject, and bring to their attention the importance, justice and wisdom of providing schools for your children, the same as white children. It can do no harm and may do good.

The freed people will therefore be obliged to establish and support schools for their children themselves, or have none. I suggest, therefore, that it shall be the work of our Association, for the coming year, to establish schools in every county in the State. Let the Vice Presidents be instructed to establish schools in their counties for children, and let the Subordinate Associations be night schools, if possible, where men and women may, at least, learnt to read and write. Subordinate Association No. 2, of Augusta, has already established a night school, and the other Subordinate Associations of that city will soon do the same. The members who attend the school pay one dollar per month into the treasury, and appoint a committee of three to employ the superintendent of the school. If you shall, during the year, establish schools in every county in the State, it will be regarded by your friends, everywhere, as one of the most remarkable undertakings ever accomplished by a people just emancipated from slavery.

General Tillson I accepted the position of President of this Association the more willingly, because my relations with General Tillson-- the Assistant Commissioner of the Freedman's Bureau for this State--were of a very friendly nature, and I felt that I might, by bringing to his attention the true condition of the colored people, assist them more than any other person, who would consent to accept the position. I am pleased to say that, for many weeks my anticipations were realized: but I was pained to discover that, in my opinion, the General was less and less willing to protect the freedman, as I thought he might; by degrees, our relations became less and less satisfactory to myself.

In the latter part of May, an attempt was made, by the teachers of the colored schools of Augusta, to enter the city cemetery with their scholars, for the purpose of strewing flowers over the graves of Union soldiers, who be buried in that cemetery. They were met at the entrance by the Mayor and a large forced of armed policemen and admission denied to colored children, unless they entered as the servants, or slaves, of white persons present, to carry flowers for them. The teachers and their white friends refused to enter upon such conditions, and returned to a church near by. It was there decided to send a committee to General Tillson, and request that he would protect the colored children in their effort to do honor to the memory of the Union dead. He not only very unexpectedly

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