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Proceedings of Consultation Convention of 350 leading Colored Men of Georgia. Held in Macon, Georgia, January 25th and 26th, 1888

1888GA-proceedings-12.pdf

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10

MINUTES OF CONSULTATION CONVENTION

them all a start in life; but our government emancipated the Negro penniless, friendless, ignorant, and without experience, and upon that the responsibility of citizenship was thrust upon him at a time when he was not at all prepared for it. No people should be more interested about federal aid to education than the colored man. It is a lever that will lift him from the grave of ignominy and hatred and give him a prominent place on the stage of progress. The time has fully come in the history of the colored race when the Negro must no longer be a chattel and a tool. If he has any manhood he must assert it, if he has ability he must demonstrate it; if he expects to be a citizens in all the constitutes citizenship, the time has come for him to play the man; emancipated more than 21 years he is full grown, and the time has come to speak and act like a man and put away childish things. The Negro has been told to wait, don't be hasty. If we are citizens why wait any longer than others, we have proven to the government that we are a peaceable, loyal, law-abiding people. Let us no longer lie supinely on our back hugging the delusive phantoms of hope supposing our wants are already known, and will be attended to. Heretofore we have asked for nothing and have received nothing. For all time to come let none be more solicitous for our welfare, then we ourselves. Let us crowd our petitions into the national halls of legislations, let us us solve our problems, shape our destiny, make for ourselves a history, and take our places in the onward march of progress along side with the other races of this country. We thank God that we have no anarchrist, no liberalist no communist among us. We are bona fide citizens of this country; we have bedewed the soil with our sweat and tears. Our fathers cleared the forest, felled the timber, built up and perpetuated its history and the Natianal Congress could not bestow upon us a more appreciative benediction than to appropriate national aid to education.

The vast amount of illiteracy among our people should call forth united efforts in petitioning our Congressmen and Senators to give their votes and influence for the passage of the Blair bill. We are not asking Congress for the mule and 40 acres, but for an appropriation to educate its citizens. An appropriation that will produce a crusade of virtue against vice; an appropriation that will dispell ignorance where it is now predominating, that will obliterate buying and selling of votes; an appropriation that will produce a happy, prosperous and intelligent citizenship. to-day, the Savannah Valley Convention is assembled in Augusta. Parts of Georgia and South Carolina have assembled to memorialize Congress to make an appropriation for the Savannah River. So we, in common with other citizens, must ask for what we most need. We are not making an unreasonable request. We will not call upon them in the language of an ambitious Hannibal, to scale the cloudcapped Alps, nor with the voice of a Napoleon to dig our way through ice and snow to a Moscow. Nor do we ask to have uncapped the cloudy Andes, but we simply ask for federal aid to education. If it is the duty of Congress to grant appropriations to harbors, rivers, armies, military institutions and expositions, and if these grants are not at variance with the Constitution, is it not the duty of Congress to grant an appropriation for education and thereby lift its citizens from ignorance to civilization and honor, to activity and respectability? for in this grant it would open to its citizens the gates of virtue, glory and immortality. Many claim the Blair bill to be unconstitutional; and yet some of the ablest lawyers advocate its passage. It may not be inappropriate to mention the statements of some of the leading journals and sentiments of our law-makers, and moulders of public sentiment.

The "Birmingham Age" said recently editorially, "Congress appropriates money, and your anti-Blair-bill Congressman votes for it without hesitation or without the slightest qualm of conscience, to educate Indians and soldiers and also sailors and yet when it is proposed to appropriate some of the surplus in an overflowing treasury, to the education of illiterate whites of blacks, it is called the most monstrous scheme of the age. How inconsistently absurd!" A Philadelphia paper says: "We can see no adequate reason for opposing the Blair bill, aiding common school education in the southern states where the illiteracy is the greatest. There is money enough in the treasury; in fact every one acknowledges there is too much." The only semblance of a real objection that we have seen, is the assertion that the proposed aid will tend to pauperize the aided States, encouraging them to depend on the general government, rather than on themselves. But this objection does not seem valid. Is not the case parallel to that of the aid given by the several states to the towns? The state says to a town, we will give you so

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