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Scripto | Transcribe Page
State Colored Men's Convention
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Governor Antoine then introduced Senator West, who was received with cheers.
Senator West said:
Mr. President and Gentlemen—Allow me to express my acknowledgments for the compliment you extended to me in your invitation. When I was waited on last night I was deeply impressed with the importance of this meeting. When I read Senator Pinchback's able address this morning I was still more impressed. I feel it due to you to say that I recognize in i s amplest sense the right of the colored people to assemble in convention to devise means to protect themselves in the rights that God and the constitution of the United States guarantee them.
The war on you is not on account of your political opinions and actions, but because of your color. You have had the manhood to assert your freedom, the bravery to insist on your rights, and hence your offense. Although there are many of your old enemies who will now accord you your rights, there are still more of them whose sole doctrine is contained in the one sentence, they "don't intend to be under nigger rule."
This senseless and brutal idea is that which can not conceive that if it were not for the labor of the black man the State of Louisiana would be a desert waste. The time has passed when there is nothing to come out of the black man but the sweat of his body. Out of his brain are springing conceptions of life and liberty as high and noble as any ever conceived by man. The time has come for a reversal of the old sarcasm that the white man was as good as a black man if he behaved himself. I have a word of advice to my Fusion opponents—the black man is as good and equal to the white in all respects according to his behavior.
I have been less with you than I should like to be, but I am always with you in spirit. You have been told that it is improper, or shows a lack of prudence in holding a convention entirely of colored men. But you are warred on as colored men, and you should defend yourselves as such. Suppose you were Irish and were ostracised as such, or Germans, or French, or Italians, and you were attacked as such, would you not rally as such? What objection, then, is there to a convention of colored men? The best means of protecting ourselves is to establish and maintain the government of our choice. We know that Louisiana was Republican in November, and
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