The Limitless Possibilities of the Negro Race

In the Service of our Ancestors and African Love,
Listen Seeker, I come in peace,

“All speech comes from all listening
But all wise from where is wise”

— Onitaset Kumat in “Maroon and Build For Self”

It’s a basic fact of life that one’s society, environment and spirit influence one’s ideas.  How so is the question of several scientific disciplines: Sociology, Ecology, Psychology respectively.  Whereas the African Blood Siblings seeks and develops these three sciences, along with Ideology, in the African tradition.  Of the many, many African Communities in the African diaspora, not one hosts even an African University, let alone a school for African Social Sciences.  For all of our resources and resourcefulness, we haven’t built a substantial number of indigenous institutions for our problem of ideas.  Certainly, Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee school was admirable; as was Marcus Garvey’s School of African Philosophy; yet to look at an African Community in the African Diaspora today–or more clearly a hood–you’ll see little to no opportunity for an African Wisdom tradition.  Of course, many can not help themselves.  Foreign ideas took hold and Impoverishment, Dependence, and Individualism took its toll.  Yet the African who reads the African Blood Siblings Newsletter and refuses to take up the small projects designed to build for our Ancestors, our Siblings and our Unborn is the true African who refuses to resist the brutality, the exploitation and the misleading perpetrated against us.

The following essay is from Charles W. Anderson.  He speaks many Errors.  For instance, he believes that two races can cohabit peacefully though in reality the races are spiritually different like Lions and Hyenas!  However, there is a lot of Wisdom too.  I highlighted the essay in our tradition: RED for Occidental or Oriental (foreign) ideas; BLACK for ideas to reflect on; and GREEN for Original (indigenous) ideas.  Dismiss the first, consider the second and embrace the third.

Do not be the African who refuses Self-Help.  Donate what you can, write the ABS and join this Organization.

The Limitless Possibilities of the Negro Race
By Charles W. Anderson, of New York
An address delivered before the Tennessee Centennial Exposition,
Nashville, Tenn., June 5, 1897
Highlighting by Onitaset Kumat

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I sometimes feel that we, as a race, do not fully appreciate the importance of industrial education. I feel that the day is near at hand when the physical apparatus of civil education will play a larger part in the progress of the world than it has hitherto done. In other words, I firmly believe that the industrial victories are in the future and not in the past. We have done much and wrought many miracles, but the miracles are but evidences of possible powers rather than the high-tide marks of development. In my mind the possibilities of physical and scientific achievement are limitless, and beyond the compass of human conception. Look at iron alone. See what has been done with it in the last fifty years. See what you are able to do with it here in Tennessee. From it are made things dainty and things dangerous, carriages and cannon, spatula and spade, sword and pen, wheel, axle and rail, as well as screw, file, and saw. It is bound around the hull of ships and lifted into tower and steeple. It is drawn into wire, coiled into springs, woven into gauze, twisted into rope, and sharpened into needles. It is stretched into a web, finer by comparison than the gossamer of the morning along the bed of the ocean, and made to tick out the yesterday of Europe on the to-day of America. All of this variety of use has been made out of the stubbornness of metals by the sovereign touch of industrial and scientific education. There is inexhaustible promise in this development. It has brought, and is still bringing, the two great races closer together. These iron veins and arteries which interlock our cities and confederate our States do much to familiarize each race with the hopes and aspirations of the other, and to weave their histories into one harmonious contexture, as telegraphic messages fly instantaneously across them, and screaming trains rush back and forth like shuttles upon a mighty loom. When our fullest expectations shall have been fulfilled, both races will have the freest opportunity for the development of their varied capabilities, and, through mutual bonds of interest and affection and mutual bonds of sympathy and purpose, will rise the unmatched harmonies of a united people to the imperial accompaniment of two mighty oceans.

It is a peculiar fact that immediately after the abolition of human slavery the country started upon an unparalleled career of prosperity. The West, then almost unexplored, began to develop, and has continued to do so until now it is studded with proud cities, teeming with throbbing life, growing like the grass of the prairies in spring-time, advancing like the steam-engine, baffling distance like the telegraph, and spreading the pulsations of their mighty hearts to the uttermost parts of the world. There they stand with their echoing marts of trade, their stately spires of worship and their magnificent institutions of learning, as free as the encircling air, as independent as the soaring eagle, and more powerful than the Roman Empire when in the plenitude of her power. All of this has been accomplished since the energies of men were unfettered. Thus it may be said that both races started almost simultaneously on their careers to fulfill the destiny of this great country among the countries of the world. And as we started together substantially, we must end together. We started with most unequal equipment, to be sure, and under conditions as far apart as the sky from this pavilion, but we have marched to the same music and in the same direction ever since, with varying fortunes and unequal steps, but with no steps backward, until to-day we are able to recognize in each other and be recognized by all mankind as equals in our attachment to the land, the laws, the institutions, and the flag of our common country.

The responsibility now rests upon you to improve each minute of your lives in fitting yourselves for a wiser, better and worthier discharge of the obligations of American citizenship. You may be constrained to ask, “What shall we do?” or, with Archimedes of old, exclaim “Give me where to stand and I will move the world.” Let me advise you to stand where you are. That’s the place. Act well your part, and you shall have accomplished all that is expected of you. My friends, a country like ours is not governed by law, or courts of justice, or judges, however wise or puissant. It is governed by public sentiment. Once poison it, and courts are impotent and judges powerless. Therefore we are responsible, each and all of us, according to our talents and influence, for the public sentiment of the day. If it is healthy and just, it is we who have made it so; if it is unhealthy and unjust, it is we who have made it or permitted it to become so. And what is this all-powerful, but imperceptible, entity, this potent influence which controls presidents, cabinets, congresses, courts, judges, juries, the press and—I regret to say it—the pulpit? What is public sentiment or public opinion? It is the multiplied, accumulated opinion of all the people. Every word spoken or written by man or woman goes to make up this great stream of public opinion, just as every drop of dew or water goes to make up that mighty river which divides this imperial continent and turns the spindles of the ten thousand factories which hug its shores. Hence we are all responsible for our contribution to the public opinion of the day, whether our contribution be a raindrop or a Niagara. We are responsible for what we say and what we leave unsaid, for what we do and what we leave undone, for what we write and what is unwritten. We are responsible for the errors we have committed and for those we have taken no part in overthrowing. So, whether we realize it or not, we are consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally, directly or indirectly, according to our opportunities and our influence, responsible for the public sentiment which secures or deprives every citizen of his rights and of the opportunity for the highest intellectual and industrial development.

I know that it is sometimes said that we have done very little. Be that as it may. Thirty years is but a brief time compared with the centuries in which Norman, Saxon, and Dane have been fusing into the English race. And yet, we have something to remember when great names are counted, something to show when great deeds are told. At the same time I would not have you sit supinely down and wait for the millennium. Far from it. It is said that all things come to him who waits. That is in part true, but it is only fifty per cent. of the whole truth. All things come to him who waits, if he hustles while he waits.

You will need not only education and character, but you also need level-headedness and accuracy of judgment. Acquire intellectuality, but acquire practicality at the same time. Do not join that large and constantly increasing class in this country to whom nothing is desirable but the impossible. Do not indulge in the pastime of throwing stones at the stars. Learn to be practical, and, whatever you attempt in life, remember to think out a plan and a policy before you begin the work. When you are called upon to go out and do battle, stop and reflect, and see if there is a reasonable probability of your whipping anybody. If the probability is not apparent, I would advise you to decline the glove and reserve your lance for a more “convenient season.” Martyrdom is very attractive, especially attractive to vigorous young men, but it “butters no parsnips.” Therefore, cultivate prudence as well as valor, and study men as well as books; for you will needs be prepared to meet the living issues of the present; and if you are wise, you will anticipate the possible exigencies of the future. To do this you will want both courage and discretion. Learn the proper value of organization and union, and never cease to remember that an army divided is an army defeated. You will neither be able to help yourself nor hurt the enemy by firing paper bullets. You must organize.

To make steam effective you must bind it up in an engine; to make water serviceable, you must harness it in a mill; to make electricity manageable, you must mask it in a battery; and to make men useful in reformatory or remedial work, you must recruit them into an organization.

And to those present who have not enjoyed the advantages of an education, let me direct a few remarks. You must not believe that you cannot assist in the work of building character for the race. Every man or woman who plays his or her part according to the best lights, who bears a respected name, or bears the proud title of a “good citizen,” who is industrious, temperate, upright, law-abiding, and devoted to whatever is lovely and of good report, is unconsciously pleading the cause of the race before the great tribunal of the civilized world.

To all such we can only render the tribute which history accords to those who fight as privates in the battles of human progress, with all the more devotion and fidelity because their names will never be known. Whenever a man earns the respect of the community in which he resides, some part of that respect, some breath of that fragrance is reflected upon the race of which he is a member.

As a race, we have done much, but we must not forget how much more there is still to do. We have already demonstrated the possession of powers, but we must now bring forth the fruits of sustained racial achievement. To some extent we have been given opportunity, but we must not cease to remember that no race can be given relative rank—it must win equality of rating for itself. Hence, we must not only acquire education, but character as well. It is not only necessary that we should speak well, but it is more necessary that we should speak the truth. We must not only acquire that culture which is the golden key that unlocks all doors and unbars all gates, but we must cultivate that straightforwardness of purpose and unconquerable determination which enables a people to face conditions “without fear and without reproach.”

And so the last suggestion comes which the hour presents. In the work of race advancement, we need the service and assistance of all true men and women. We must have the co-operation of all sections and all conditions. The cotton-fields of Alabama, the sugar-plantations of Louisiana, and the coal-mines of Tennessee; the great lakes of the North which winter roofs with ice, and from which drips refreshing coolness through the hot summer months, from the fisheries and the factories, from wheat-fields and pine forests, from meadows billowed with golden grain and orchards bending beneath their burdens of golden fruit, this advance movement must receive support. The humble laborer following his plow afield must do his part; the blacksmith at his forge, the lawyer at the bar, the fisherman on the banks, the man of science putting nature to the question, all, without distinction and without exception, must contribute, according to his station and his opportunity, to the hastening of the day when the Negro shall take his place by the side of the other great race of men and form that grand spectacle which Tennyson had in mind when he spoke of “the parliament of man, the federation of the world.”


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