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Report: Colored Men's Convention.
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Colored Men's Convention--Governor Ireland's Address--Pardoned--Charters Filed, Etc.
[Special Telegram to The News.]
Austin, July 11.—The Colored Men's Convention, of Texas, assembled in Representative hall this morning. Nelson, of Galveston, made a speech, contending that in view of the condition of the people of the States and the plethoric condition of the national treasury, it was the duty of the general government to contribute largely in support of general education. He read statistics showing the extraordinary amount of illiteracy of the colored race. He seemed to think the race needed a great deal of education to raise them to the standard of manhood to render them capable of self-government.
The Committee on Homesteads and Lands reported and a speech was made in the interest of the Colonization and Land association scheme, organized by the colored people after their Waco convention. The orator reported the scheme in a very neglected condition, and argued that the colored people could never take their proper position in the body politic, or exercise any influence for good, until they worked for themselves on their own lands.
Governor Ireland was then introduced as the governor of the great Lone Star State with applause, when he came on the stand. The governor said that in looking over the proceedings he found politics interspersed, and severe criticism of Judge Turner's civil rights decision and that the convention had blocked out a vast field of work covering all conditions of the race, political, religious, moral and educational, as well as grievances. He knew something flattering was expected from him, but he had something to say that he feared would not please, but it was the duty of public mean to criticize as they feel they ought. He said: I thought your convention was non-political and hoped it was so, but I find politics throughout your proceedings of yesterday. If you have met here in the capitol to build up race antagonisms, it were better you had never met at all. You are a part and parcel of this people, of this State. Your destinies are linked with the whites. When the whites would undertake to shape government in their interests to your detriment they are guilty of wrong. You are entitled to all privileges you enjoy, and whoever abridges the rights of either is doing that which is detrimental to the best interests of both races. You criticise the decision of Judge Turner. You have no right to sit in judgment upon the decisions of the courts. If a political meeting of whites sat in judgment upon decisions of our Supreme Court, I would say to them, as I do to you, you are talking about something you know nothing of. It is your duty to submit calmly to the decisions of the courts. You will be astonished to learn that Judge Turner's decisions have been sustained by nearly all the district and circuit judges of the Union. Are you capable of deciding what decisions are right and wrong? The Supreme Court of the United States decides that question. This court has decided with Judge Turner. What you should do is to educate your people as invited and aided by the State. If you are wronged in your religious views, your rights as to public schools, or any of your legal rights, I believe you would be at some loss to find any such grievance against this government controlled by a great Democratic people; and right here I might ask you what that party is doing for you that you have so long upheld and are upholding here?
The governor advised the convention that if true to their interests, they will seek to uphold their home people and home government. As to the color line on the railway trains, he said he would not seek to intrude where he was not welcome. He spoke of distinctions; even among colored people—social distinctions, which he contended were by no means race distinctions. He recounted a visit to the Colored Normal school, and repeated what he said there in its praise, and contrasted it with the Bryan college, unfavorably to the latter. It gave him great pleasure to see the evidence of progress, and he assured them such was the feeling of white people generally. White people here in Texas rejoice at the progress of your race, and they are going to continue their efforts to elevate your race. He suggested the education of the race must be accomplished by the State government, intimating the general government had no power to accomplish that task. The governor thought the convention should consider the school amendments to the constitution, and indicated very clearly the necessity of their adoption. As to the argument that they invite increased taxation, he said, under the present constitution, a fifty-cent tax is permitted but only 30 cents is imposed. If the amendment is adopted, 12 to 15 cents would be enough for general purposes, and 13 to 14 cents for schools. Why should the legislature adopt the highest rate of tax? Do the people's representatives come here to violate the people's wishes? If so, the people are incapable of self-government. We are giving you normal schools and free schools as we give the whites, and it is your duty to aid us in that task. He understood they were to send delegates to the Louisville convention, and thought those delegates should represent Texas, and should show the advantages and promising condition of their people here; that as a race they are going better here than in other portions of the whole world. Black men here have cheap lands, good wages, equal laws and their business in courts and State departments transacted without looking to race or color. But if you go on always talking politics and race grievances, and can not afford to throw off the shackles of this or that party for the good of your State, you will do no good. You should belong to the party that best educates your children, protects society and enforces your rights. I don't care what party you vote for; no man ever heard me urge colored men to vote for any party. It is his right to select his party. He contended the colored man who didn't exercise his judgment in voting was not entitled to vote, and was recreant to a duty to his race and country. The civil rights business will settle itself, but the settlement is longer delayed by such tinkering as these conventions propose. Aggressive demands have delayed it, and but for them, made by over-zealous friends of the colored people, their condition would be better. The question will be solved when you teach the white race that yours is their equal in education, intelligence and moral standing. (This was applauded.) Drop political matters let them go: they will correct themselves. Turn your attention to schools, to your moral and social elevation and home matters. Your race is doing more for itself here in Texas than anywhere in the world, and you should keep ahead. I am here to encourage you in this and to discourage useless discussion of other matters.
Rev. Grant, president of the convention, replied to the governor, coinciding with him in many points, but contended politics were not considered by the convention. He contended, however, that the colored people's condition with respect to railroads, was insupportable,
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