“An Answer to the Appeal to White America” and Marcus Garvey’s Preface

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

“The Problem with Europeans and Asians is Europeans and Asians, the Solution for Africans is Africans”An African Blood Siblings Core Tenet

I read “Philosophies and Opinions of Marcus Garvey” (see full text here) several years ago.  Back then, I was very thrilled by the following essay.  Here was a “White Supremacist” saying more than most Africans I knew.  This European, member of the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America, admitted that Africans had civilization 6,000 years ago while Europeans were clad in skins.  He further admitted that Marcus Garvey and the UNIA were noble institutions for Race Purity.  The reason that this interested me was because I was not meeting with Africans weekly to discuss Racial Empowerment (see Discussion Groups).  Now, meeting, sharing and building reminds me of the tenet above–Europeans are the problem and Africans are the solution.  When we look into the speech, a lot of it does mirror what needs to be said.  Yet it remains misleading.  Africans mobilized on behalf of Europeans.  What’s more how can we be self-determining yet permitting of European consciousness?  Africans, it’s alright to see the reality of what Europeans know and think.  But you are called hereafter to be an African of action.  Either join a local discussion group or start a local discussion group (see here.)  But realize that 88 years passed and you do not have a Community Center.  Not that you never have, but you don’t and that’s a necessary aspect of Community.  We have work to be done.  The following is Marcus Garvey’s preface and John Powell’s speech.  Emphasis mine (red for error, green for wisdom.)

The Ideals of Two Races
A Message to the Negroes of Harlem introducing Mr. John Powell of the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America.

October 28, 1925.

Fellow Members and Friends of the Universal Negro Improvement Association:

As you are aware our Association stands for the highest and best in human effort. We desire for ourselves a fixed and permanent place in the affairs of the world — fixed and permanent from the viewpoint of autonomous recognition. Our longing cry has been for a “Free and Redeemed Africa” — a home where our scattered race might assemble itself in the exclusive promotion and development of those things that are dear and precious to the human heart, and representative of the loftiest in progressive ideals.

In our desire to achieve greatness as a race, we are liberal enough to extend to others a similar right. We are not selfish in desiring all to the exclusion of others. We believe in the doctrine of “Live and let live.” To others, not of our race, we extend the heartiest of best wishes, and in so doing we feel that there are others who also wish us well.

In the great American confusion of races it is hard to discern our friends, but as a people we have not been entirely friendless. When I speak of friendship I mean that which is sturdy, honorable and sincere. Such a friendship I desire to apprise you of in the introduction of Mr. John Powell, of the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America.

Mr. Powell represents a body of men and women for whom I maintain the greatest respect because of their honesty and lack of hypocrisy. They represent the clean-cut and honest section of the white race that uncompromisingly stands for the purity of their race, even as we unhesitatingly and determinedly agitate and fight for the purity of the Negro race. All races should be pure in morals and in outlook, and for that we, as Negroes, admire the leaders and members of the Anglo-Saxon Clubs. They are honest and honorable in their desire to purify and preserve the white race even as we are determined to purify and standardize our race.

Mr. Powell and his organization sympathize with us even as we sympathize with them. I feel and believe that we, the two organizations, should work together for the purpose of bringing about the ideal sought — the purification of the races, their autonomous separation and the unbridled freedom of self-development and self-expression. Those who are against this are enemies of both races, and rebels against morality, nature and God; for acting to the contrary, no good or ethical purpose can be served, but a continuation of world confusion, immorality and sin.

I unhesitatingly endorse the race purity idea of Mr. Powell and his organization, and I have pledged my moral support to their program in that direction, expecting of the honorable and honest of his race the same regard and support for ours. We do not ask more than we will give. We want a free and independent nation of our own, with the right to make our distinctive contribution to civilization, and for this we offer no apology.

I am asking you, my friends and co-workers, to hear Mr. Powell, whom I have invited to speak to you. Extend to him and the Anglo-Saxon Clubs the courtesy and fellowship that is logical to the program of the Universal Negro Improvement Association.

With affectionate regards and best wishes, I have the honor to be,

Your Obedient Servant,



Universal Negro Improvement Association.

An Answer to the Appeal to White America
Speech delivered by Mr. John Powell of the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America, at Liberty Hall, New York City, U. S. A., on the 28th day of October, 1925.

(Reprint from Negro World)

Mr. Chairman and members of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, I have never in my life been more touched and more moved, than by the cordial reception you have given me and my friends tonight. I wish I were an orator so that I might give adequate expression to the feelings and the thoughts that are moving in me.

I would like to tell you how it was that I came to know more about your organization, and the purposes for which it stands. Major Ernest Sevier Cox, a man who spent six years of his life traveling all around the world in order to study racial problems in various parts of the world, wrote a book called “White America.” Major Cox was for several years in Africa; he worked in the mines in South Africa; he went through the whole length and breadth of Africa from the Cape up to Cairo, studying the various problems that came under his observation. He wrote this book, “White America,” the purpose of which was to find a real and ultimate solution to that great problem which has vexed the mind and heart of all America now for 200 years and more. His book was very violently criticised by certain newspapers which I believe, are under the influence of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. So it was a great surprise as well as a great pleasure to Major Cox when he received a letter from a member of the Garvey organization in St. Louis. his letter told Major Cox that its writer had seen a copy of “White America,” had read it and felt tremendously encouraged to find that there was a white man advocating essentially the cause of the Garvey movement. He wrote that there were many things in that book which he could not approve of, as his point of view was different, but it was a great joy to the members of that Chapter of the Universal Negro Improvement Association to find that there was a white man who was seriously advocating those very purposes for which Marcus Garvey stood.

Major Cox’s Letter

He requested Major Cox to write a letter to be read before that branch of your organization. Major Cox wrote a very strong and very moving letter, which was read by Mr. Ditto before his organization, and he wrote back to Major Cox and said, “I wish you could have been here to have seen the enthusiasm with which your letter was received; our members are reading and studying “White America,” and many of the members have said that “White America” should be in every Negro’s home along with the Bible.” Major Cox was naturally very pleased with this, and later when Mr. Ditto asked if he might publish the letter Major Cox suggested that he enlarge on the letter. The result of that was a little pamphlet which Mr. Cox wrote and published, entitled “Let My People Go.” It is a message from white men who wish to keep the white race white to black men who wish to keep the black race black; and it is dedicated to Marcus Garvey, that great leader who has sought to do for his own race what the greatest of white Americans sought to do for that race and to encourage the race to do for itself — none other than Abraham Lincoln.

With Marcus Garvey at Atlanta

This pamphlet was brought to the attention of your great leader and he corresponded with Major Cox, and last June when I went down to Georgia to address the Georgia Legislature in favor of a bill for the preservation of racial integrity, I went to the prison to see Marcus Garvey. I expected to see a man with bowed head; I expected to see a man depressed and unhappy and embittered, because in the meantime I had read his “Appeal to the Soul of White America,” and it had touched me to the heart. When I saw him I saw a man with head erect, with eyes open and clear, unashamed and unafraid, free from all bitterness, free of rancor; not one word of complaint escaped his lips, not one word of bemoaning; his one thought was for you — his people and his loyal followers. And as we discussed these matters I found that in every essential principle the ideals and ideas of Marcus Garvey were identical with those of the organization which I have the honor to represent — the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America.

There was nothing that Marcus Garvey could not say frankly and freely to me without danger of misunderstanding; there was nothing that I could not say to Marcus Garvey openly and frankly and freely without danger of misunderstanding; and I realized that I was in the presence of a man of the highest idealism and the noblest courage and the profoundest wisdom; a man dedicated to a noble and a sacred cause — the cause of the independence and integrity of his race.

On my return to Richmond at the next meeting of the Anglo-Saxon Clubs, I reported the result of my conference with your leader. The newspapers were represented at that meeting and the Richmond Times-Dispatch (white) published an account of my talk. In the next issue of the Norfolk Journal and Guide — a Negro newspaper — there were large headlines spread across the top of the page “Garvey In Prison Forms New Alliance.” The readers of the Norfolk Journal and Guide were reminded that Garvey had formerly been a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and that his association with the Ku Klux Klan having been cut short by his imprisonment, even in prison he had taken occasion to ally himself with other enemies of the race, namely, the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America. That article was copied in the Negro Press all over the country, and unfortunately, I am afraid, caused a great deal of ill feeling and ill will.

Garvey did not hesitate to assume full responsibility for everything that he had said to me and for every assurance that he had given to me and Major Cox. As a result of that, the wife of your great leader came to Richmond about that time. I introduced a resolution at the meeting of the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America, that our organization write a message of sympathy and of confidence to the Richmond Chapter of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, expressing our indignation at the injustice that had been meted out to Marcus Garvey, expressing our approval of his activities for the integrity and independence of his race, and requesting that our sentiments be communicated to his wife, who was to be the guest of honor on that occasion, and requesting that if it were possible that arrangements may be made by which members of our organization could attend that meeting. The chairman of the Richmond Chapter at once replied cordially and courteously inviting us to attend the meeting. We did attend the meeting, and never in all my life have I heard speeches of greater force, of greater power than I heard that night, and it is as a result of that night that I was asked to appear before you tonight.

The Negro Is Awake

One more thing: A member of your organization in Detroit got in touch with Major Cox and asked him to send out 50 copies of “White America.” Major Cox sent the copies out. A few days later he received a letter saying that before the package was opened all the copies were disposed of; please send 250 more. Major Cox did not have 250 copies to send but sent what he had. A few days later he received a letter from Detroit saying that there were several Negroes acting as book agents in Detroit selling “White America” to white people in Detroit. Within two weeks 17,000 copies of Major Cox’s pamphlet were used in Detroit. Think of what that means! It means that the Negro in the United States is today awake; he is aroused; he listens no longer to the flattery and the blandishments of the politician; he is beginning to look facts in the face. It means that at least in Detroit, and I believe over the whole length and breadth of this land, the Negro is beginning to show more clearly the way towards a real solution of this problem than the white man who considered himself so wise.

It was a joy to me to realize that there were such men as the members of your organization in St. Louis and Detroit. It was a bitter mortification to me to realize that the members of your organization were doing spontaneously what I have been laboring for ten years to get the people of my race to do. And I want to congratulate you from the bottom of my heart for the courage and independence that you are showing in facing those facts and seeing them clearly and distinctly. And I speak to you not merely as a white American; I speak to you as a Virginian; I speak to you as the descendant of slave owners.

The South Does Not Hate the Negro

I want to say to you tonight that there is no decent white man in the South who can hate the Negro race; no decent man, no sane man who can have aught in his heart but feelings of kindliness and of gratitude towards the Negro race. As you have heard before, your people did not come here willingly; they were captured by force and violence; they were thrust in between decks in the horrible pest ships; they were brought to America, and when they thought they were going to breathe the free air of God’s blue heaven and see God’s green earth they found themselves still shackled in the chains of slavery. And why? There were forests to be cut down; there was land to be tilled; there was work of all kinds to be done, and the white man wanted the work done but did not want to take the trouble to do it himself. Your ancestors did that work; it is owing to their muscle, to their brawn, to their industry, to their good-will that this country made the progress in a few years that otherwise would have taken hundreds of years.

Not only that; but there never was a people who under hardship and oppression showed the spirit of kindliness and forgiveness which your people have shown. At a time when the armies of the South were fighting in a great war between the States — a war which was being fought on the part of the North to free you and your ancestors; at that very time, your people in the South stayed on the plantations, protected the women and children, raised the crops and sent the food to the front to the army that was fighting to keep them in slavery. And white people in the South know that; and white people in the South know what it means, and they are not insensible to feelings of gratitude and of thankfulness. We know what we owe you; we know it, and we intend that the whole world shall see that we appreciate this debt and pay it not only justly but generously. (Applause.)

The Negro Not Yet Free

And what is this situation that faces us? It is not a new situation; it has come up again and again in the past; we see it in various parts of the world today. What is this situation? The Civil War was fought that the slaves in America might be free, that war was won, the Emancipation Proclamation proclaimed them free; the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution secured that freedom; the 14th Amendment made them citizens of this country, and the 15th Amendment provided penalties on any State that should attempt to take the right of suffrage from any man on account of his race, color or previous condition of servitude. The great war; three constitutional amendments, and is the Negro in America today free? (Cries of No! No!)

In the South, honest people will tell you, the Negro does not get a square deal in any court of justice; any honest man will tell you that the Negro is not allowed to vote freely in the South. In the South he is treated legally and politically with less consideration than if he were some alien born beyond our shores, who had lived in this country for a few years and taken out naturalization papers. No one denies the unfairness and the injustice of that; I least of all. In spite of the fact that the Emancipation Proclamation and these amendments to the Constitution exist, there is slavery today in the South and a worse slavery than that which existed before the war of secession. At that time the slave at least was the property of his master, and it was to the master’s interest that his property be well taken care of. Today in sections of the South they have something worse than chattel slavery; they have peonage where the people are slaves, but are not the property of masters, and it is not to the advantage of the man who is getting the benefit of that slavery to see to it that his workers are properly housed, properly fed, properly clothed and properly looked after.

The Peonage System

Such conditions exist in some parts of the South that would make your blood run cold. The story I am going to tell you I have from a former governor of Georgia — a man whom many of you at one time learned to hate, but a man who sacrificed his whole political career in order that he might break up peonage in the State of Georgia. He told me of the case of this farmer who had gone into the court; he wanted labor; certain Negroes were brought in this court for trivial offenses. You see, they arrest them for vagrancy; if they do not happen to have a job, they arrest them and make it a crime not to have a job. They are brought into court and fined. This poor fellow cannot pay the fine and is to be put in prison. The farmer steps up and pays the fine, and then the prisoner is turned over to him to work until his labor has paid back the amount of the fine. That sounds pretty fair because anybody would rather work on a farm than to rot in jail. But let us see how it works out. The poor fellow is taken on the farm; he has got to eat; he has got to have clothes; he is not allowed to go into some market and buy his food and clothes; no, he buys them from the farmer and the farmer keeps the account, and by the time that poor devil has worked for that farmer for two years he is more in debt to him than he was at the start; if he tries to get away they put the blood hounds after him and shoot him.

Now there was a farmer who had a lot of those peons and they began to get restless; they wanted to get away and the farmer got frightened because he had a guilty conscience. And this is what he did: He took eleven men out to his field in broad daylight — 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and started them digging a pit, until they had a wide ditch deep enough. He took his gun and shot number one of his eleven laborers in the head and kicked him over in the ditch, and the other ten covered him up; when he was covered up he shot number two and the other nine covered him up; and so he went on down the line and shot the eleven, and kicked the last one over the ditch and covered him up himself.

“Hugh Dorsey’s Sacrifice”

That happened in America; our America, free America. But Hugh Dorsey determined that these things should not be, and he attempted to break up that hideous custom, with the result that he did not break it up entirely but he did improve conditions tremendously, and he was kicked out of office and will never again hold political office in the State of Georgia as a result. Many people whom you have been taught to regard as your enemies are really your friends, and Hugh Dorsey is one of them who has sacrificed his whole political career to attempt to stop that injustice. It did not stop there; they began soon to make peons of white people too. You all know of the case down in Florida where they had white peons. The Legislature heard of it and they had something to say about it and things have been cleaned up a little bit since then.

You cannot be unjust to one member of your citizens without endangering the liberty of all your citizens. If there is going to be justice in America there has got to be justice for the colored man as well as the white man. (Applause.)

The South Offers No Social Equality

Now, my friends, in the South we do not offer social equality; we do not offer you political equality. You know why. You have heard the reasons for that expounded by your great leader, Marcus Garvey. I have given you some idea now, if you did not know it before, as to how your people are treated in the South. But in the North and West they do offer you political and social equality. Let us see how you are treated in the North and the West. How many of you have heard of Springfield, the home of Abraham Lincoln, where hundreds of your people were shot down like cattle? How many of you have heard of East St. Louis, where the only fault of your people was that they were willing to work when the white people wanted to live and get higher wages for loafing. How many of you have heard of Chicago, where the fault of your people was that they wanted decent houses to live in, in decent communities. Not only did they shoot your people down by the hundreds, they looted your houses; they burned the roofs off over your heads; and in Pennsylvania a few years ago the Mayor of Chester, Pa., got his police force and rounded up every Negro in Chester — there were about 600 of them — and marched them down to the southern border of that town and said, “Go back South where you belong; we won’t have you here.” More recently the mayor of Johnstown, Pa., said that no Negro should live in the town and tried to send all the Negroes out of town.

Has the Negro a Chance in America?

Yes, we do have horrible things in the South. We have lynching, we have peonage, but you never heard of any such thing happening south of the Mason-Dixon line. Worse things are done to you in those parts of the country where they claim they are going to give you social equality, and many people really believe they are going to get it. If worse things happen to you there than happen to you in the South, what chance is there for you here in America?

Now, there is no use being sentimental; there is no use being visionary; we live in a practical time and we are practical people, and we have got to face facts; and the fact of the matter is that there is not a Negro in the United States of America today who is free; not one. The war did not make you free, and constitutional amendments did not make you free and the N. A. A. C. P. has not made you free. Why aren’t you free? Let us go right down to the rock bottom of it. Why aren’t you free? You have got magnificent people here in this country — people of learning, people of intelligence, people of culture, people of courage; yes. We are the first people to proclaim it to the world. Why is it that you are not free? What I am going to say to you is nothing new to you.

You are not free because the civilization that you are living under is not your own. (Applause.) That man would indeed be bold, who would deny to the Negro the possibility of the development of a higher order of civilization. Perhaps the Chinese may do it. Your civilization goes back 6,000 years. That white man (whose ancestors were going either naked or clad in skins through the jungles three thousand years ago) would be indeed bold who would assert that it was impossible for the Negro to develop his own civilization and his own culture. But it is perfectly sure that you will never do that in America. In America you have the position of intellectual and cultural parasites. No race can develop, no race can evolve unless it is standing on its own feet, and is supported by its own backbone.

The Indians did everything to stop mixed marriages; their whole legal system was based on this idea of caste; their religion was based on this idea of caste; their politics was based on this idea of caste; their whole civilization was based on it; everything was based on it. It was the most ironclad system that human wit has ever devised. They even went so far as to authorize the soldiers to slay all illegally mixed persons and they did not stop it. Nothing has ever stopped it. Watch a man smoking a cigarette. You see the smoke go up in circles, curling and mixing in the air around you; diffusion, yes; and it is a law of physics that no two fluids whether local or gaseous can come in contact without diffusing, and that diffusing widens until a state of equilibrium is reached and you have a uniform fluid. What is true of fluids is true of races. As surely as God is in His heaven any two races that live side by side for any length of time are going to mix.

Well, now, it does not necessarily mean that either of these races is a bad race, because you want to prevent that mixing. Here are two chemicals; this chemical is a beneficent chemical; it is a good thing; it is fine for you; it does you a lot of good; and here is another that is splendid; it is a harmless, good chemical; but mix them together and you may get a deadly poison.

The Danger of Mixed Races

Now it is not a question of whether this race is higher or lower or the other race is higher or lower; that is not the point at all. The danger does not come from one being higher and the other lower. The danger comes from their being different, and it is not to say that either of two races is evil or injurious, but realize that the mixture of these races may produce something that may be tremendously harmful and hurtful to both races. Now, if you people stay in America, you are going to mix with the white people and the white people outnumber you eight to one. What will that mean, my friends? That will mean the death of your race. If you stay here willingly it will mean the suicide of your race.

Yes, I know the white people that want to keep you here — those white people who go around saying, “Yes, the Negro birthrate is decreasing, and the Negro death rate is increasing, and at the end of 300 years there won’t be a Negro living in America.” That is what they are saying. “We will keep them here and use them and let them die out.” That is what most of them are saying at inter-racial conferences, and they are saying that to your people to try to cajole you. Are you going to stay here and let yourselves be used? By a decreasing birth rate and an increasing death rate if you stay here it means the death of your race — the suicide of your race. There is no use deceiving yourselves and there is no use our deceiving ourselves, with all the good will in the world, with all of the understanding in the world, we cannot do away with conditions that make America a place of toil and trial and tribulation for you. People cannot help their instincts; they cannot help it to save their necks, and some of the wisest and best people are very often the people who are most filled with prejudice and with bigotry. You have seen that yourself and we cannot help it; we cannot take it out of people. What we can do is to realize, as President Coolidge said the other day, “That we are in the same boat.”

Preserving the Races

Now your people and our people are in the same fix; you want to preserve your people; and don’t want the Negro race to die in America and I want to preserve my people. I do not want the white race to die in America. We have that interest in common. In addition to that, you have labored nobly and generously to help us here in America, and it is up to us to realize what you have done for us, what you have meant to us, and to see to it that in any solution of this problem you get not only what is coming to you, but get the tribute and the glory that grateful hearts should pour out in abundance to you.

A Miscarriage of Justice

My friends, I had hoped tonight that another Southerner would be here with me and address you; I mean George Gordon Battle, the attorney for your great leader. Several weeks ago I was asked to prepare an article on Garvey and his movement, and I wrote to Mr. Battle telling him what I wanted to do and asked him to give me some facts to write a book. He sent me Garvey’s appeal to the President of the United States for a pardon; he told me that every word of that appeal was genuine and sincere, and this morning when I called him to get his final answer as to whether or not he could be with us tonight, he told me it was a great distress to him; that this was his very busiest week in the year, and he did not have a moment, and it was quite impossible to get away; but he authorized me to say to this meeting tonight that, in his opinion, the trial of Marcus Garvey was the greatest miscarriage of justice; that there was no testimony — no evidence which could fairly have convicted him of that of which he was accused, and that he believes that it was only a matter of time when that injustice will be atoned and Marcus Garvey will be pardoned. (Applause.)

And I want to say to you that in my opinion and belief, if the white people in the South of this country realize that Marcus Garvey was standing not only for the salvation of his own race but for the salvation of the white race as well — if they realize that he had been railroaded into prison merely because he did not have a white face — if they realized what he stood for and what he meant, I believe that the South would rise to a man and demand that your great leader be released and restored to you. (Great applause.) There are some of us down there who realize that, and we are going to leave no stone unturned to spread that. Your enemies in your own race have the help and support of white people; white people give them money; white people go and flatter them and hold out false hopes to them and hob-nob with them, and offer them social equality and put up money to help them; and some of those white people are people of great wealth and influence. I want to tell you this: that man for man we can match them; we will raise up for you and for your organization, man for man, as many as your opponents have among the whites of this country and they won’t be whites who stay around in one district of the country; they will be whites from the North, from New England, from the Middle States; from the Southern Atlantic States, from the Gulf States, from the Middle West, from the Pacific Coast, from the far Northwest. It is coming and you will see it.

I noticed when I came in, the first things that struck my eye were some tags which all of you are wearing, and I looked at them and I saw “Let him go.” I want to offer an amendment — free him; we don’t want to let him go; we want to keep him here to do this work. (Thunderous applause.) And, my friends, if there is any honor in the American nation, I can promise you that when Marcus Garvey is free he shall not be deported.

The Negro and his Latent Powers
To Bless All Humanity

Nature is yet to be fully explored and conquered. The mysteries of Creation and the wonders of man’s creative instinct are still to be revealed. Hidden truths are still to be unfathomed. Civilization is but a small and meagre achievement to what is still possible of man by his mastery of, and ascendency over, the mysteries that surround us. The ingenuity of man is not completely explored. When black Africa awakens, brushes his latent intelligence and stretches out his hand to achieve through the impulse of his God, as he is gradually doing, in spite of the opposition of the Caucasian world, there will come the true realization of the power and genius of man. Our race once partially uncovered the mysteries of the Universe, then, drunk with power and success, we went to sleep for thousands of years. Like Rip Van Winkle we are rising from our slumber of the ages and shortly we shall bless mankind with the wonder and greatness of life as revealed to us through God from the sleep of countless centuries. We once handed down a civilization through the ages that has been claimed, exploited and abused by a morally weaker people, who, like ourselves, in the past, are forgetting their God and making a mockery of Him. Our sins lead us astray and into bondage, but the time is near at hand when our Princes will rise to bless and glorify the true and ever living God. Surely the Negro shall put the world to wonder in the revelation of God through the race.

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