Listen Seeker, I come in peace,
” . . . What you seen wasn’t no dust of changes rising. It was the dust of sameness settling.” — Sterling Plumpp
This may be the most disappointing post I could write. Not for any violence, though I can write on violence; not for any abuses, though I can write on abuses; not for any villainy, though I can write on villainy: this may be the most disappointing because it’s a survey done one-hundred years ago that reads as if it were done yesterday. One-hundred years of Oppression, the 20s, the 30s, the 40s, the 50s, the 60s, the 70s, the 80s!, the 90s!, the new millennium!, this last decade!!, one-hundred years of Oppression and no change! African what more do you need to know?
In 1914, W. E. B. Du Bois asked four-thousand Africans from all walks of life,
- What is the condition of Colored people whom you know in regard to Good Manners, Sound Morals, Habits of Cleanliness, Personal Honesty, Home Life, Rearing of Children, Wholesome amusement for young people and Caring for old people.
- What is the church doing along these lines?
- How do present conditions in these respects compare with conditions ten (or twenty) years ago?
Of those four-thousand, ten percent responded and he preserved them in a study. I chose several indicative ones illustrating the point above. We are actually less Organized today than we were then, we have much less wealth, much less property, much less power, and the exact same Oppression. If you can read the following article, and not see the necessity of Organization, and still neglect to donate or enlist, my African Sibling, where is your love of self?
Time heals all wounds but no Oppression: This Last Century
By Onitaset Kumat
Question: What is the condition of colored people whom you know in regard to the following? Good Manners?
It seems to me that we are losing our good manners in cities. Parents take too little time to train their children. The older folks are selfish and to a very large degree don’t regard the feelings of people they don’t know. There seems to be an effort to break away from the old ways.
Negroes here are very well behaved. I find them too ready to resent minor insults from one another while they calmly suffer any indignity or insult from whites,–possibly due to lack of protection before the law.
The truth and nothing but the truth:–There are a few who possess this grace. Every day I see the Bible is more and more true. We are truly living in the last days according to II Timothy, 3:1-17. Read St. Matthew, 7:13-14. “Few there be that find it”.
The colored people have great respect for the white people but they are greatly wanting in manners for their own people.
A large percent are still very much too loud in public places, but the Negro as a whole is improving in his manners.
2013 Observation by Onitaset Kumat:
No Change. We remain imitators of Europeans. We must restore our manners. See: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/kmt-self-knowledge-and-cosmic-wisdom-quotations/
Question: What is the condition of colored people whom you know in regard to the following? Sound morals?
Condition as to this feature poor, especially females. Larger element of “grass widows” here than any place I have lived. Cause, most usually, infidelity. Adultery common. Larger number of bastards born since 1870 I think than any other town in the state–proportionately. Miscegenation has been the order of the day–changing however for better. Most products of this mating among females are some of our worst characters. Been low white trash and Negro, mostly mulattoes, concerned.
Very poor. The old Spanish treaty insured exemption from slavery to the Creoles in this section of the state, opened an avenue for white men to make inroads upon the morals of Negro women who were anxious for their children’s future. The effects still last.
The morals are good and sound except one family and we had them leave the settlement.
It is lamentable that there is not more emphasis placed on sound morals. The people are not classified in this particular. Character does not count, if one has money and can dress well and put on a good exterior. There are only a few exceptions in this particular city.
The morals of the older of the race are very good. Those of the younger set are very bad. To my personal knowledge we have many young girls from twelve to eighteen who are morally wrong and yet they have good moral parents and good homes. The under class (from whom these children take lessons in public schools), they number the sands. They are to be found in every city I have traveled, North, South, and East and West, (the West not so much as the other sections and none so prolific as the Southern cities). I find them in the country also. Poor public schools are the cause in my opinion.
The crowded conditions, fashions, pleasures, resorts, etc., seem to be making hard against our sound morals. Temptations are carrying us away. The high cost of living and small opportunities for earning money have a great deal to do with lowering our standard.
I do not think the Negro is wholly to blame. The whole country seems to suffer from the hypnotism of debauchery. The Negro is not more to be charged than the white race that invented the debased system.
Young people should be taught that they will kill the race by not having sound morals. It should be imprest upon them to be sound in morals.
In my personal estimation, they are worse than cannibals, altho they are only imitating their white brothers.
The question of morals is rather a grave one due mostly to the fact that girls are not taught to be strong of volition in order to resist the snares set for them. I think much can be done along this line, too, by teaching colored women and girls their rights and privileges when insulted by white men. My attention has been called often to cases where white men have insulted colored women and the women feeling the sting refrained from calling public attention when they should have gone as far as the law would protect them in the case.
Some of our women and men stand for absolute purity. I regret to say, as a whole, Negro men have not and do not accord our women that respect and attention so much in evidence in Southern white men. Again a Negro woman, self-respecting and good looking, is too often the target of attack for white men and when Negro women fall, they seem to be cheaper and fall lower and are more common than white women.
The schools and churches are popular here. All of the teachers and most of the people are church going people. The ministers are above the average and the teachers are of sound morals generally. I can’t say so much for the younger set; seems to be a reign of loose morals. I believe children are trusted too much alone. The wants of the parents have increast; the mothers leave home to work; charity no longer begins at home. The mothers give their time to churches and clubs.
It is below the average of the white race. The sexual instinct seems not to be governed by high respect for female chastity.
The superficial are prone to imitate the degenerate society of the whites in evenings of debauchery.
The morals are undergoing quite a change due to the influx of people from the South. That is, it is a common thing for the better class as well as the lower, to be mistresses of white men. This is a serious matter here.
From all points of vantage the morals of the people deserve favorable comment, despite adverse criticism from many sources. Morality from the civilized viewpoint receives less insulting thrusts from the Negro than from the Caucasian, for the simple reasons that: First–the former adopts principles somewhat foreign to those of his ancestral teachings. Second–he is forct to adopt idealistic theories which are inconsistently practict by their creator, the latter. Hence, the questionable exemplary effect on the imitator. Ethnologists have satisfied us that the primitive peoples, and those slightly more fortunate, enjoy a more serene phase of “Sound Morals” than do the so-called highly civilized.
Reformed municipal government has driven to the wall open houses of shame. Divorces on the ground of adultery or desertion are rare. There are few instances of illicit relations openly practiced. On a whole, there is room for improvement.
In morals, I believe we are making fair headway in an upward tendency. The thousands of good and pious people are likely to be overlookt in considering the large number of the vicious and the criminal who are members of the race. One very bad man will very frequently attract more attention than a thousand good people.
Morals in the masses are not so good. The failure to enforce the laws has caused many to go astray. Here in our city colored women are allowed to remain in the red-light district for the exclusive use of white men. Many of the leading people are divorct. Improper causes are at the bottom of the trouble. Many of our women will get fine clothes at any cost and by any means. I consider their morals below par.
For the most part, according to the educational advantages the people have had, there ought to be a higher moral standard. The women and girls are not as chaste as they ought to be.
I fear that the people feel that they have done well by their children when they are properly sheltered, fed and clothed. My impression is that but little time is spent in moral instruction. It seems that this is one of Clarksburg’s greatest weaknesses.
2013 Observation by Onitaset Kumat:
No Change. Notice how Miscegention was popular following Emancipation (as between an African woman and a European man); furthermore we imitate European manners (exception to those who had the self-management to remove from their settlement violators of morals.) Today Miscegenation is Promoted too, but Sound Morals isn’t at all a topic. On Miscegenation, see Garvey’s take on the author of this study, Du Bois: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/the-west-indian-solution-of-the-negro-problem/
Question: What is the condition of colored people whom you know in regard to the following? Habits of cleanliness?
Growth of self pride seems to go hand in hand with increase in cleanliness in small particulars. High standard here. Public assemblies display tastefully drest, clean people in numbers as large as 5000 at one time. Alley, drinking population below the standards of any whites in the city in filth. Bodies, clothes, houses, neighborhoods and relations all indicate shiftlessness which demands continued training to induce the feeling of cleanliness. Our dictum to graduates is: “Wherever you go, clean up first, teach afterwards”.
Bath tubs and shower baths are becoming very fashionable. Most all try to be clean and appear well. Large numbers of hair dressing and manicure parlors are establisht among them.
The increast instruction given in the schools regarding hygiene and sanitation, and the attention given in the pulpit, press and on lecture platform to “Gospel of Cleanliness” and to matters involving the question of good health, and the removal of the belief that it is “Saintly to be sickly and sinful to be healthy and strong,” are having good results among the rank and file of our people.
The sanitary conditions of our people are good. We have an infirmary owned and controlled by Dr. R. T. Burt which is a credit to the race. Proud to say the colored people are ahead of the white people in that respect, there being not an infirmary for the white people in the city. Dr. Burt is called by all one of the finest surgeons in the country.
2013 Observation by Onitaset Kumat:
No Change. While Africans today do appear “clean,” our cleaning is wholly dependent. Where the European neglects to clean us, we neglect to be cleaned. The European even sells us dirty meat and “we go along with it.” See: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/is-the-chicken-that-you-eat-chicken-or-pork/
Question: What is the condition of colored people whom you know in regard to the following? Personal Honesty?
Very little. The Negro here is divided and it is impossible to look for personal honesty where each one of any race feels that his success depends upon the destruction of all else besides and that he has a right to a part of whatever the other fellow has, his own improvidence notwithstanding.
They are not honest to themselves. Therefore cannot be to their fellowmen.
No. Here again the tendency is quick and easy money with the least effort.
They are not as honest and trust-worthy as they might be. A great deal of this is due to the leadership of many of those who have had better advantages than the masses trying to take advantage of the weaker and less fortunate to build up their own wealth.
Good toward the white but only fair toward each other.
Good. On a whole the people are hard-working, honest people. Much given to extravagance of dress and entertaining. This has a tendency to impair them financially.
I don’t consider our people actually dishonest but their love to ape the white man in his more expensive living, dress, etc., compels the little money they make to give out and then that is the cause of the trouble. He means well but after getting into debt as a result of these things he finds he cannot get out. This is found more so among the so-called better class. They do but little stealing.
Good. In only a few cases have the servants around white homes or at the places of work violated any trust imposed. Whites have taken advantage of the Negro’s honesty and his abnormal wants. They sell him cheap furniture at high prices on time and lend him money at exorbitant rates of interest and many are kept in real need due to poor management.
They are fairly honest but apparently the law is extreme with most of them. Within ten years only one Negro has been arrested and convicted for dishonesty.
I think, the percentage of petit thievery is too great. I think, too, that this is due to the fact that many Negroes think that the white race took all from them in slavery and that they are justified to get what they can from them now even by theft. Then too, the white race offers very little inducement to inspire the Negro to look upward.
As a rule good. This applies especially to the lower class people. It is a fact that the only Negro bank here has gone to the wall. Many of the Negro business enterprises have gone down as a result of dishonesty. Our leading doctor and several of our leading colored wealthy men are now in the courts charged with stealing church money. It is a common saying here that “You must do this fellow or he will do you.”
As a whole the colored people are honest. It is wonderful to what extent the servant class is trusted by their white employers. If it were not for their honesty they would not be tolerated. Where a Negro appears dishonest, it is more the fault of the economic and socia conditions forst upon him than because of any real defect in his morality. A study of the criminal Negro reveals more delinquency on the part of modern society to give the Negro a chance to be honest than it reveals any disposition on the part of the Negro to be dishonest. He is forst into what often appears dishonesty. The true morality of the Negro is found largely in the awful conditions under which he is forst to live.
2013 Observation by Onitaset Kumat:
No Change. Africans are more honest with Europeans than with one another. In our interactions, it’s implicit that we should not put full faith in one another. When we do, we are burned. See: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/the-allegory-of-the-three-salesman/
Question: What is the condition of colored people whom you know in regard to the following? Home Life?
Family ties are alarmingly too loose, concubinage too common and divorces too popular.
The home life among colored people in the South is so much like that other employment, farming, in which many of us are engaged without a clear knowledge of the rules governing it. For reasons which we will not discuss here, home has not meant and does not mean to the average colored man what it means to some others living under the same flag.
A great deal of the property of the city is owned by colored people.
This among the religious and educational part of the Negro people according to my experience is fairly good, but much improvement is needed among the less fortunate.
The majority of our people are lovers of home and while property is high yet they are making the struggle to make the home-life pleasant and agreeable. Recently in our daily paper an article appeared stating that we owned more property for our numbers than any other race.
There is little real home life due to long working hours and large numbers of secret organizations which take both men and women away from home. Their small wages prevent home from being made attractive.
Every grade and condition of home-life is to be found. The fundamental sacredness of home is absent, however, in even the best. Pride of appearance extends to size of house rather than to condition; but the interiors are artistic and in many cases the reflection of keen artistic sense of owners. Desire for pleasure and lack of opportunities to labor for high returns change many homes to lodging houses with the attendant evils to young girls. Owned homes and homes on principal streets grow by leaps and bounds. No suburban life of any account.
Better classes of colored people have good home life. Among the lower elements it is deplorable.
The Negro home life is far from what it ought to be and that is very evident in the conduct of his children. Taking the Negro as a whole you find very rare cases where the father and mother are both proper examples for their children.
Too careless. Much rather the outer world see their greatness than use scant means at home where they are needed.
He has more respect for the marriage vow than in former times; home and surroundings in general are more comfortable; therefore, home life is more ideal.
Most of the folk are renters and take little interest in where they live and how.
Home life is not ideal, by any means. The conduct of the children in the school rooms and on the streets is the greatest proofs of this statement. Parents being in service has much to do with the great deficiency.
They, for the most part, have well furnisht, well kept houses. There is almost always music but seldom a proper supply of good books. Few comparatively subscribe for a daily paper.
Miserable; fifty per cent of which is due to poverty and lack of time to develop same in the struggle for an existence.
Is improving. For a long time there was this complaint: few children were found in the homes of people of intelligence. There is great improvement along this line but most of the mothers are very young. They need mothers’ clubs to instruct them for they send their children to school without any breakfast and give them money with which they buy pickles and doughnuts.
Improving constantly and yet there is a large margin left for further improvement. At least a third own homes, but many are careless in their keeping of them. Just at this time there is a new awakening among the people in the matter of purchasing homes. This they do mostly thru Building and Loan Associations.
On this subject, as far as their means will permit, they score as high a percentage as any in the country. I think the whites here have the greater number of divorces.
None too good. Conjugal infidelity is common both with spouses and divorces from that cause are very rare. Many of our people come in here from those parts of the South where it is not considered a disgrace for a young woman to bear an illegitimate child.
There is very little real home life among the colored people in this city because they have to live in tenements and flats. I speak of the masses, not the exceptions.
I know of instances where a comparatively poor family has taken some sick person or friendless one in to share their shelter and food.
In the majority of homes the men seem not to realize their responsibility.
Far below normal; many are impure and their habits of life are too bad for the public to know.
Parents could be stricter on children.
Turbulent, or there would not be so many divorce cases.
Judging from the girls who come here, I should think that they did as they pleased and had no proper government.
Sad conditions–constantly moving, renting and mortgaging.
Medium according to surroundings. This is a furnace and publicwork town and women give most of their time to cooking and carrying meals, washing and ironing; consequently they have no time to care for their homes.
Too much time is given to dressing, eating and hunting amusements to spend much time in trying to inculcate the principals of truth, virtue, honesty and cleanliness.
2013 Observation by Onitaset Kumat:
No Change. Yet it appears that Africans owned more during those times and Fathers were more physically present. Also was mentioned Secret Organizations, Mother’s Clubs and Loan Associations. Today we are way more Disorganized. It can be said that we are more Oppressed, but the root of Oppression is Foreign Consciousness, not the conditions thereof, ergo “No Change.” See: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/how-you-can-save-the-african-family/
Question: What is the condition of colored people whom you know in regard to the following? Rearing of children?
Greatly neglected in this city. Many parents allow their children to run at large at late hours of the night. They assemble in dives and hang around the corners in great numbers, especially the boys. Many of them are becoming gamblers and idlers.
The children are neglected in many cases from lack of facilities to rear them properly, inadequate schools, necessity of the parents to work and spend little time in the home.
Four fifths of the children are improperly reared. The parents in equal numbers have never had the proper training themselves.
As a majority they are allowed to go too much undisciplined.
These people are gifted in loving their offspring to such an extent as not to bend them in time, so to speak, consequently so many stray.
A very great falling off along this line. Children are allowed to be idle and slothful.
There is a tendency to permit children to have too many liberties before they are really able to see for themselves or really know what are the consequences that result from too early taking upon themselves the responsibility which belongs to mature years and I believe the parent is wholly in error.
Children are much on the streets and in cheap places of amusement and are harmed.
This, formerly considered the duty of parents, has been delegated to the public schools. Our children are longer in contact with their teachers and under their influence than with and under their parents. Modern conditions.
All grades of care and neglect are to be found in the children of the same schools. Proper feeding and hygiene are the deficiencies. Children of Negroes are dependent upon the schools to a greater extent than the whites for all ideals of living, even in the best homes. Too much dress and cheap pleasure and too little formation of right habits characterize the people as a whole.
If there is any one thing that should be establisht it is a school to teach our people how to rear their children. For God knows they don’t know and don’t care.
They are somewhat careless with their children. The principle of their training comes from mothers and when the boys reach a certain age they are beyond her reach.
I do not think that parents are quite as strict with their children as they were when I was a child.
Entirely too lenient in rearing their children and hire them out to work too young.
Parents don’t seem to be taking enough time to teach children what they ought to know and to encourage them to do what they ought to do. They tell them and just pass on, and then wonder why they do not get better results.
Reared in the streets. Some of our best citizens hardly know what their children are doing.
About the ordinary; some spoiled and over-fed; others neglected and go unwashed; nothing unusual.
There is a great laxity. Not enough education, especially in the higher branches. Too great a stress on dressing.
They raise themselves.
They drift to the city too soon. They should be put to work.
Altho many of our children are neglected and allowed to run to the moving picture shows and public dances at night unaccompanied, yet the “Parent-Teachers’ Association” is making a winning fight to give assistance to incompetent mothers.
Among the lower classes, the children are left entirely to the teachers.
Not so carefully raised as in former years. Parents of the second generation after slavery do not seem to be so expert in that art as their ex-slave parents.
Children are given too great liberties. There is not enough of the wise restrictions that aid positively toward the building of character.
Fair, but girls are cared for more than boys which is always a danger. Out of two hundred school children less than a dozen illegitimate ones among them.
Some of the best women we have in morals and education, are the poorest housekeepers. They are just now beginning to appreciate being taught sewing, cooking and manual training in the schools. They are not the equal of the older people in rearing children.
I know of only one family where the children were desired. Ninety per cent were either accidental or incidental. Very little pride. Sixty per cent are legitimate. Very little interest taken in them.
Many are by far too easy with them. Even our curfew can hardly keep them off the street at night. Their entertainment is left too much for their selection.
The teachers and preachers need to thunder forth a change. There is too much laxity, children are not taught to obey their parents and superiors as they should; they are allowed to go and come too much at will without reporting to superiors; to visit pool rooms, saloons, dances and places of cheap notoriety.
Their children are not cared for as they should be on account of our mothers being called from home much of the time to help make the living.
It is very difficult for the average colored people in this city to rear their children. They have no places in which they may play except the parks and streets; often the parks are far away.
The children have very little of a father’s care and on a whole not enough of a mother’s.
Receives great attention among the people of our race and every school is supported by strong mothers’ clubs who go side by side with teachers in the welfare of the children.
The Father’s Club is doing a grand work. Pastor and people alike have united to see that the children are trained in the home and that good instruction is gently given them.
The teaching of the leaders and especially of teachers is having more weight in our state. So that there is better family government. Parents are firmer in seeing that home regulations are obeyed.
Parents are not giving the attention to their children that they should so as to have them grow up the most useful men and women. In the sections where it is possible to secure homes, that is, purchase homes, the conditions are much improved; but here in the coal fields where it is impracticable to purchase homes, the people have made but slight improvement. There is a large orphanage at Huntington, W. Va.
We have here a parents’ union in which we aim to discuss the practical things of life such as amusements, associations and dress, in fact any phase of life which will benefit the child.
2013 Observation by Onitaset Kumat:
No Change. The Art of Parenting has certainly been lost on us. It is very impressive to review this and see that some of our ancestors formed “Mother’s Clubs,” “Father’s Clubs” and “Parents’ Union” to the point of teaching Parenting, but we are more disorganized than then (and these were not widespread.) See: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/what-is-parenting/
Question: What is the condition of colored people whom you know in regard to the following? Wholesome amusement for young people?
Very little wholesome amusement if any is provided for the young people, hence, they seek the amusement which is not best for them nor for any race.
Wholesome amusement for young people is insignificant when compared with the hurtful amusements, such as gambling, drinking intoxicating liquors, frequenting what is known as “Honky-tonks” etc.
The majority of them seem to take more delight in the unwholesome.
The communities are in poor condition as to wholesome amusement.
As to the wholesome amusement for the young people we use such as the Christian endeavor, Y. M. C. A. and Y. W. C. A. and libraries.
I find that steps are being taken by many intelligent leaders to furnish the young people with wholesome amusements. Many are making the effort to eliminate the dance by the skating rink and such other amusements as will take up their time at times when they usually go to the dance halls.
There is almost none. Here is the greatest avenue for the service of the social worker.
We are wofully lacking in this. The most of the amusements for our young people are furnisht by white people whose interest is financial returns.
In churches only.
Fraternal societies occupy much of their time. The theatre and dance halls form some amusement but ought to be engaged in by the young under parental guidance or ministerial advice, especially the dances.
Y. M. C. A. and churches are seeking to furnish wholesome amusement, but the masses are not attracted.
School play-grounds are in existence but sex contact spoils most of their results for children over twelve. Y. M. C. A. and Y. W. C. A. are engaged in work which are giving better opportunities for adolescents, but fundamental racial feelings are being disregarded for imitation of methods in white institutions of same kind. Culture clubs exist among classes but are offset by cheap dances which attract splendid female possibilities with the usual results. Syncopated music with its sensual stimulus is in every house with a piano and dancing at any hour.
Woefully deficient. Too much time devoted to getting ready for heavenly citizenship; too little for earthly citizenship.
There are no special arrangements made for amusements for children in and thruout this section. Hence, they seek their own amusements.
The church should furnish such but alas it seems that the church has partially joined the rag time amusements which seem to be the only kind which will draw a crowd. To build churches our people seem willing to sacrifice all.
What a fair-minded person would call none for persons between the ages of twelve and twenty years.
Vaudeville theatre and moving pictures are among the chief amusements of the young people.
Not being furnisht as it should be. Hence they amuse themselves with things that destroy them.
Movies, I believe, have an unwholesome effect upon the young people. Roller skating, rag-time music, cabaret songs, and ugly suggestions of the big city are all pernicious. The dancing clubs in the big cities are also vicious.
The Mothers’ Club and the Association mentioned above are trying to supply this great need, knowing that children are truly social beings.
The Dunbar Athletic Club devotes a good bit of its time to provide wholesome amusement for the young. The children are trained in many athletic sports and have several meets a year.
In the abstract, all public amusement (of which there is much here) is open to the race; yet, nevertheless, there is need and want of something more racial in character to bring them more closely together in social contact and intercourse.
Does not receive the attention that should be given it by the parents here. Very often as a result boys and girls are thrown with bad associations which have their demoralizing effects.
I think that we are a sleeping people when it comes to amusements for young people. Little or nothing is being done. Personal efforts were abandoned for lack of support.
No definite kinds–sometimes baseball, tennis, croquet, socials, etc. A few have them but this is greatly neglected in the home. Therefore the streets and public places draw many of the young people to resorts of low repute and demoralizing habits.
Real advancement–popular lectures, concerts, etc.
Moving picture shows maintain a high level. Vaudeville does not edify. Shows generally fair. Concerts and lectures uplifting.
The development of a true home life and the increast personal care given to the young in the matter of educating them in mind and heart, both are, in my opinion, showing themselves also in the growth of a proper sense of the necessity that suitable and helpful as well as instructive and developing amusement be provided; such amusement as will polute not the mind and corrupt not the heart will attract and sustain the interest of the child.
Have about gone into rag-time. No one has charge of affairs except the Police Recorder.
Social centres are in vogue thruout the city for pastime and amusement for our young and work a great benefit in training the young how to amuse themselves in wholesome games.
Dancing, ball playing.
Literary meetings and church socials.
Has received but little attention but thru the Parents’ Union we hope to arouse the parents. Indiscriminate nickelodium attendance is common here. Parents are careless about attending different places of amusement with their children.
In many sections they are few and far between. The dance halls are the curse of the day.
2013 Observation by Onitaset Kumat:
No Change. Social Centres were referenced which reminds Loyal readers about the African Blood Siblings Community Centers, but as we can see, “There grows no wheat where there is no grain,” and there are no grain for Youth Amusements. Oftentimes “Conscious” events are absent of young people. Despite that in Africa Youth Amusements were a norm. See: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/of-dances-for-enjoyment-by-mtoro-bin-mwinyi-bakari/
Question: What is the condition of colored people whom you know in regard to the following? Caring for old people?
Much attention is given. Have old people’s homes here for colored supported by the colored people.
A committee of colored citizens have establisht an Old Folks’ and Orphans’ Home and an attempt is made to care for the old people.
There is no organized effort to care for the old people nearer than the city of Birmingham.
Old people who have homes or people who are able to see after them are cared for by their people. As a rule the old people who have not someone to care for them see a very hard time.
Women’s clubs here do a most commendable work in this respect, especially the Dunbar Club.
I can point to a good many Old Folks’ Homes started and maintained by colored women. Dozens of cases of young people giving up education and pleasures for aged parents come under my notice annually.
Our Women’s Club and one or two of the churches assist the aged.
A philanthropic association by the name of the Buckingham-Smith Association left considerable cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, etc., all of which is very valuable to the old colored people of St. Augustine. The value exceeds over a half million but it is now in the hands of a white man who gives a small pittance to a few now and then. This gift is worthy of investigation but the colored people here seem afraid to tackle it. The leading whites say that something should be done about it.
They die here before they get old. Notwithstanding, Pensacola has begun to operate an Old Folks’ Home and Orphan Home.
No arrangement is made for them. They are left to individual care of whoever may do for them. A number are cared for by their former white employers.
There seems to be a growing pride in the Old Folks’ Home. The churches are establishing them and the Women’s Clubs as well.
I really believe better efforts would be put forth in this respect if the Negro’s salary was better. His spirit is willing but his pocket weak.
An old and invalid hospital home. In place of the old people going to the poor farm, we get the County Courts to let us have them in the Hospital and give us what it would cost to keep them at the poor farm and we beg the rest of the money necessary.
Great interest manifested in the past ten years due, I think, to the fact that white people are gradually withdrawing their support along this line.
2013 Observation by Onitaset Kumat:
No Change. Although then it seemed we had Women’s Clubs, Old Folk Homes and so forth, it was also then that “Social Security” was rare. This suggests we became more Dependent on Europeans and our Independent Institutions lost their support. It can be said that we got worse, but again, our Oppression is a matter of Foreign Consciousness not our conditions. For instance, we know little of longevity. See: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/the-secret-of-african-longevity/
Question: What is the church doing along these lines?
Sorry to say that the church seems backward along these lines. The Negro minister has not yet been trained for social service. He is a slave still to the old individualism. At present the school is the chief agency along these lines.
Nothing. Our pastors are advising all the time but the people are far from us so we can’t do anything but tell them and give the plans. The regular societies connected with all the churches do their part. Nearly every church has its special young people’s society and occasional concert or social–that is about all. The churches mostly content themselves with frowning upon conditions without taking the lead in substituting better ones.
Altogether too little. Individuals are helpt but many I fear go unaided. The large Episcopal churches of this and other cities spend much money in rendering help but the smaller ones fail to do the little they might do. Aside from ordinary church work we have Saturday morning classes for girls in sewing and physical culture with paid teachers; Saturday afternoon classes for boys in electrical experiments, photography and physical culture; weekly free socials for young people. We continue to support our poor.
Rather, what effect have these conditions on the church? The church is less concerned about the improvement of morals and manners and personal honesty, the home life, the rearing of children, etc., than about getting money and preaching the gospel of materialism.
The young peoples’ societies are largely literary in their nature and the Sunday school is perfunctory. Intensive study of Bible history is neglected and little interest is manifested in social activities outside of the church as a unit of property. Even church weddings are less common. Catholic and Episcopal churches seem to be striving to imitate the activities of their parents. Moving pictures and spectacular entertainments take much time formerly given to church activities. The Negro Protestant church needs to learn the truth uttered by Van Dyke somewhere, “The man who aims to save his own soul is on the road to Heaven but will never arrive; while he who serves his fellows cannot miss the goal”.
Some of the churches are doing some good while most of the smaller ones only preach Heaven and Hell and never tell their people how to live each day.
The church is doing most along these lines by establishing institutions of learning and the many small domestic schools which it maintains. The Negro pulpit is well up on teaching religion but deficient in the science of hygiene and the rules of right living.
Very little as the minister is almost alone so far as this work is concerned.
Nothing. City and state authorities protect places which are breeding crime and criminals and the preachers have made no organized effort to destroy these places.
Practically nothing. Ladies’ Club doing excellent work. Civic League also is especially interested in this work.
It has organized Missionary Societies, B. Y. P. U., Old Folks’ Home and a Young People’s League.
Gradually awaking to the real sense of its real duty, rather than the Lodge doing it all. Our missionary societies are doing a grand work.
Not much. It cannot as it seems that all they can do is to meet current expenses and keep out of debt. There ought to be fewer churches and larger congregations. We need to study up in Church Economy. Our pastor can preach to a thousand as easily as to a hundred, then the salary of the other two pastors would be better.
Practically nothing that is worthy of note. The average church is so deeply in debt that it takes all of its energies to look out for its debt.
More than they have ever done in helping on in the good work mentioned under the above questions. There is a less and less influence now being exerted by the ministerial hobo and vicious “whangdoodle” in the pulpit than before. The preacher who succeeds is finding that it requires more than a strong voice and a saintly moan and hallelujah groan to hold a respectable charge these days and that religious life must more and more show itself.
We have seven handsome churches which are in a prosperous and thriving condition and are doing much good for the uplifting of our people. Each church has its B. Y. P. U. or other society for the uplift of our people.
Not as much as the lodges. There is a number of lodges and every one belongs to one or more lodges and insurances and in that way everybody is cared for; but the churches are doing very little altho people have church pride. We have seven good churches, four brick, three frame and people attend well and think a great deal of their churches.
They help some along these lines but not as they could or should; this is due to the fact that out of ten churches, nine are led by ignorant, mercenary ministers, whose only aim is self gain. The secret orders do more for the uplift than the churches.
Not what it might do for the reasons that too much attention is given to the secret societies to do this work.
Just about what the average Negro church does and that is not much. They seem to emphasize the spiritual rather than the social life.
2013 Observation by Onitaset Kumat:
No Change. Although quite a few mentions go to Secret Societies and Lodges, as well as Ladies’ Clubs. It does show that Organization was and is the answer; but also that we are less Organized today. As repeated, while this can seem like we are in worse conditions, our problem is Foreign Consciousness, not our conditions. “Judge by Cause not Effect.” See: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/excerpt-from-the-foreword-of-a-quest-for-spiritual-transformation/
Question: How do present conditions (1914) in these respects compare with conditions ten (or twenty) years ago?
Present conditions are indeed encouraging. Ten or twenty years ago the situation was quite different. “Let us then be up and doing” and success will crown our efforts.
They are two hundred per cent better now than they were twenty years ago.
There is not much general improvement in a general way over that ten years ago. There is considerable improvement being done by individuals but no concerted efforts on the part of the people generally.
People are much wiser but no better and we might truthfully say it might be worse, because much learning with a corrupted heart makes people more wicked.
In the present condition there is a vast change. The people have nice churches and schools, societies, good roads and nice homes which they did not have ten or twenty years ago.
Conditions to-day compared with ten or even twenty years ago are almost too far ahead to suffer comparison. The almost innumerable benevolent, fraternal and church institutions have raised this question beyond the point of speculation or experiment.
I believe we were better then morally; now we excel along other lines.
Surpass them with exception of good morals and manners.
My hope is that the condition existing will arouse us to our sense of duty. The need is greater and greater. People from the Southland are flocking to the northern cities and the privileges as they call them are often engaged in to the detriment of their health. As a result age or disease siezes them and they become wards. This illustrates individual cases. On the other hand the man born on southern soil is the most thrifty class among us.
With reference to morals and training of children conditions do not seem as hopeful as ten years ago. This may be due to the fact that long residence has given us better knowledge.
The general average is higher than ten or twenty years ago but in different directions. More effort is expended to make money for money’s sake. The standard of dressing is higher and more becoming. The ambitions are more rational. The morality is more conscious. The chastity of girls is more deliberate. The care of the body is gaining its respect. The preparations for living is longer and better. Marriage is postponed and the size of families reduced thru regard for children as well as aim to live well.
It seems as if the race is short of competent leaders and is at a loss as to proper instruction. Moving pictures and places of fun and amusement seem to be in majority on the Sabbath day.
Ten or twenty years ago the colored people were not as able as they are now to do what they desired to do.
Ten or twenty years ago, our people were in a better condition religiously and morally. You askt me my candid opinion and I have given it. I do not mean to say that this applies to every one in the race but the majority.
I think in many ways they are better while in some of them I think they have taken a decided fall especially in rearing their children and in sound morals.
They are far different now than twenty years ago. There was more union and we used more cordiality among ourselves and punctuality made us live better then than now in many ways; and in some ways we are better off; in some ways by having our own publications.
Now, as a matter of fact, I believe that the times are better but the church in some respects has lost his grip on young people and they no more go to church or enjoy themselves as they did in days gone by.
Some are in the front of that time and some are in the rear.
In the matter of homes, rearing of children and caring for the old there is decided improvement over the conditions that obtained ten years ago. The morals and manners of the children are also better.
To my judgment morals are growing worse and raising children the same; but other matters have improved ten to thirty per cent.
The help which we are getting from white people, especially northern white friends, has lifted us to that degree.
There is a perceptible advancement along all worthy lines.
They are not as good. This is an exceptionally bad place. The morals are the lowest here of any place I have ever been.
Cannot say. I have lived here only eight years and it seems that immediate circumstances are making the race restless and unstable. Of course, the older and wiser ones are careful and by their frugality are accumulating means and getting real estate.
Ninety per cent are worse than they were ten or twenty years ago.
He is better prepared to-day than he was twenty years ago.
I do not know so much about twenty years ago, but there is a wonderful improvement on forty years ago. Much of it is due to having more property. I do not know as the disposition to be upright and prudent is much more than forty years ago. Our people are making great strides in bettering their condition.
There seems to be less individual pride relatively and less individual feeling of responsibility, but greater effort collectively than we have had before.
This city is a Mecca for the criminals from other places and is growing worse. The school advantages are excellent.
Children have less respect for parents than they did twenty years ago and lack the modesty and courtesy of long ago.
Some very great progress has been made in many different directions; I think the race has lost what it may not retrieve in a great many years by the easy acceptance of false standards–too much gaudy gloss, fine feathers, no fixt notions, excuses, promises, resolutions, determinations, etc.
We are more easily discouraged, farther apart, more jealous, better educated, more restless and less persistent than we were ten years ago.
In comparing conditions would say that in every respect, it is a great increase, except in rearing children. The new mother is too indulging.
Many are still in the dark and are a shame and disgrace to the race. Yet, in the past decade, the ranks of those going “Onward and Upward,” have greatly increast.
The last decade has been a decade of progress except probably along the lines of commercial honesty. The American greed has greatly influenct the Negro.
There is no apparent improvement whatever. Immorality and ignorance reign supreme. The greatest impediment in the way of general improvement among the colored people is its poor public school system.
The improvement has been so markt and wonderful that one would hardly realize that we are the same people. Taking all in all, I think that you who carry the torch of advancement in these matters have reason to be exceedingly glad.
There seems an improvement in all save in morals and personal honesty, in which there seems a decline.
I think there is improvement along all lines,–less in morals, in my judgment, than anywhere else.
They are worse in many respects. The Negro is being lured by the vanities and superficialities of life and is losing the seriousness of twenty years ago.
In many respects, conditions are not as good as they were ten years ago and in some they are better. The young people seem to be disregarding church and are going after the evil things of life. It seems to be the home that is not discharging its duty to the children.
Speaking for this vicinity alone, there appears a seventy-five per cent advancement, except in religious worship. In this respect, there seems to be a strong tendency to “Stick to the oft-trodden path.”
There is some improvement; one good sign is, these people seem wiling to follow a competent leader.
There appears to be a gradual improvement along all lines, except it is now more difficult for colored men to secure good employment at fair wages.
The conditions of say ten years ago are vastly different. The child has become the parent, therefore, it makes discipline wanting.
There are to my mind not as good as twenty years ago. People are careless and unconcerned about these things. Everybody must look out for himself, and not be interested in any one else much. Live if you can, if not, die. “Might is right” is the slogan now with the people.
They have more money, more property, live in better houses, have better schools and their opportunities along all lines are better; but they seem to lack ambition for those things to make them useful. Education, spiritual development, strict home rules are things of the past and held very cheap here; but money, fine dress, a big house to live in are the things they are striving for here, regardless of other things and at any sacrifice.
Ten years has made quite a difference for the better, especially financially and intellectually. More could have been done on other lines.
There seems to me to be a steady growth in the right direction all along the line with the possible exception of rearing of children. I sometimes think of the past generation, how they were more on the Puritan line.
Sound morals decreasing. Personal honesty decreasing. On the whole, I believe there is an improvement.
This is a new state and town. The town is a little more than eight years old. I judge conditions are about as they would be in any newly opened country where mines are opened. Hence, it requires time and patience, energy and money to bring about the needed reformations.
I think there is an advance in this regard, but nothing to what it should be. Colored people ought to learn to look after their own people as other races are doing.
The developing sense of ownership, as is evident by the increasing number of home buyers; exhibition and cultivation of personal and racial pride; the markt decrease in illiteracy; and the attention, protection and forethot given to those who have braved the wars of time, and who scarce tell of their conflicts with varied vicissitudes; these conditions and more compare most favorably with those of a decade or two, thus giving hope to all.
I have been in the practice of medicine for the last twenty years, and this work has given me a different insight into the real life of our people. Previous to that I taught school, and thot then that we were making fair progress. In this state everything is as bad as anyone should want to see it. In my opinion, most if not the greatest progress that we have made has been in getting homes and farms etc.; but I am aware that the most valuable asset we can have is men and women of character and efficiency.
In all these respects there has been, in my opinion, a great advance. The thousands of lodge members, who in the secret meetings are taught valuable lessons of duty and destiny and receive therein earnest training in the matters involved in their relation to themselves, to their neighbor and their God, are having great influence in showing and setting good examples of the necessity of recognizing the moral obligations resting upon them in all their relations in life. The better schools and the cleaner pulpits are also helping ably in this great improvement that I believe is daily going on all around us.
Much improved, resulting from the progress of education and constant agitation along the above lines. The people are being aroused and are moving towards the light. They are knowing the truth, which is setting them free.
There have been advancements in enlightenment along all lines except sound morals. There I cannot see much improvement owing I suppose, to transitory people who do not care for building up as they are not long in a place.
It seems to be a day of reaction. In some respects, they are better; and in some, apparently worse. There is more intelligence of a kind, but not the improvement in manners, morals, parental training that you would expect. The Negro has far to come. He had to go so far and reverse himself and begin again. Moral growth is very slow and the teaching, training and development of our young is a work of generations.
Conditions are growing worse; we have been flattered and we flatter ourselves with the idea of the contrast.
I am thoroly acquainted with conditions in almost every city of Texas. Sorry to say, but I firmly believe the conditions in this city are worse today than formerly.
This is a hard question to answer, but I think I may safely say that social and economic conditions are making it more difficult in every way for the Negro to make an excellent moral showing.
Except the freedom of children, everything better. The strain is too great on the bodies and souls of the young people. If they could only find amusement and happiness in their own homes, instead of the public places, there would be less vice, disease and death.
Conditions are not as good now as they were twenty years ago. Our leaders fear to speak of the true condition; they seem to think it will be detrimental to their financial gains. In this section, I think conditions are a little better than they were five years ago.
All things considered, conditions are more hopeful due to education of the masses, and largely to civic organizations.
Dancing, games and organized play for young colored folk must be openly encouraged or they will be pushed, as they are to-day, into the furtive and questionable.
2013 Observations by Onitaset Kumat:
Change. We have gotten more deeply Colonized. Though the 1914 answers read like they are 2013 answers. Clearly, the African Blood Siblings is necessary. See: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/the-fourth-necessity/
1914 Observation by W. E. B. Du Bois:
(a) That many economic forces of the South depend largely on the courts for a supply of labor.
The really dangerous excess of Negro crime would appear to be in assault and homicide, fighting and killing. Here again interpretation is difficult: How much of these are aggressions on whites, repelling of white aggressions on Negroes, and brawling among Negroes themselves? Undoubtedly the majority of cases belong to the last category, but a very large and growing number come under the other heads and must be set down to the debit of the race problem.
Any Negro tried for perjury, assault, robbery, rape, homicide, arson, burglary, larceny or fraud is going to get a severer penalty in the South than a white man similarly charged. This the white community judges to be necessary and its decisions are carried out by police forces, police magistrates and juries drawn from the white classes whose racial prejudices are strongest. The higher judges tend toward greater independence but even they must stand in fear of the white electorate, whose power is exercised at short intervals.
Next to this stands the fact that in the South road-building, mining, brickmaking, lumbering and to some extent agriculture depend largely on convict labor. The demand for such labor is strong and increasing. The political power of the lessees is great and the income to the city and state is tempting. The glaring brutalities of the older lease system are disappearing but the fact still remains that the state is supplying a demand for degraded labor and especially for life and long term laborers and that almost irresistibly the police forces and sheriffs are pusht to find black criminals in suitable quantities.
Alexander Crummell in writing of his darker sister said:
In her girlhood all the delicate tenderness of her sex has been rudely outraged. In the field, in the rude cabin, in the press-room, in the factory, she was thrown into the companionship of coarse and ignorant men. No chance was given her for delicate reserve or tender modesty. From her childhood she was the doomed victim of the grossest passion. All the virtues of her sex were utterly ignored. If the instinct of chastity asserted itself, then she had to fight like a tiger for the ownership and possession of her own person, and ofttimes had to suffer pain and lacerations for her virtuous self-assertion. When she reacht maturity all the tender instincts of her womanhood were ruthlessly violated. At the age of marriage–always prematurely anticipated under slavery–she was mated as the stock of the plantation were mated, not to be the companion of a loved and chosen husband, but to be the breeder of human cattle for the field or the auction block.
PDF Version: E Book (Pages 134-136 missing)
More Du Bois studies: http://www.webdubois.org/wdb-AtlUniv.html