|Title||Blacks in Galesburg |
|Description||Audio recording of a lecture by Professor Hermann Muelder given on February 13, 1985 at Knox College. Muelder relates some of the history of African Americans in Galesburg in the 19th century, focusing on Joseph Barquet, school integration, Hiram Revels, and Baranbas Root. |
|Named Person||Bailey, Henry; Barquet, Joseph; Beecher, Edward; Carr, Clark E.; Revels, Hiram Rhodes; Gale, George Washington; Allen, Belle; Davis, Scott; Root, Barnabas; |
|Author||Muelder, Hermann R. |
|Date Created (original)||February 13, 1985 |
|Identifier||Special Collections and Archives digital media collection |
|Rights||See http://library.knox.edu/digitalcollections/rightsinfo.htm |
|Collection||Struggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College) |
|Transcript||[unidentified male speaker:]|
[inaudible] cultural and educational awareness of the black experience in the world. And uh, we've come here to listen to a presentation uh, that's part of Knox's ...
[audio cut out]
... faculty members, um, students and other guests who have made it here, we hope that the presentation goes fine and I hope you enjoy it.
Our speaker today is Dr. Hermann Muelder. Dr. Muelder graduated from Knox. He um, received his PhD in history from the University of Minnesota. Um, he was a teacher at Knox, um, a Professor at Knox, I should say, he was a professor at Knox, a dean, um acting president at one time, and currently serves as the college historian. His history of the college was published last year um, by the University of Illinois Press.
And uh, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you Dr. Muelder, who will speak about Knox and um, blacks and Knox-Galesburg history.
[1:26 Hermann Muelder:]
Eric and friends, I can't resist telling you that this room, is, uh, the boards come from what were the roof timbers of Old Main originally. It was, Old Main was thoroughly redone in time for the centenary in 1937 and they took the old roof timbers and made the paneling for this room. It's really a handsome place, isn't it?
As Eric had remarked, it's about the blacks in Knox and Galesburg because, particularly during the period that I'll be emphasizing, you can't separate the two. I don't know how much any one of you knows about the early history or the general history of Knox in Galesburg, but at the risk of boring some of you, I must briefly outline, ah, the origins and the first few decades of the history of the college and of Galesburg.
George Washington Gale, after whom this city is named and who was a leader in the founding of the college, would deserve an important footnote in history even if Galesburg and Knox College had never been started. He was the teacher of two important evangelists who brought about a great religious revival in the 1920s and 1930s.
This religious revival was characterized furthermore by the stimulus it gave to certain reform movements like temperance, for example, or abolition, the elimination of slavery, and it will be with reference to the latter that we will be concerned, although I don't think we should overlook the fact that the founders of Galesburg were also, ah, concerned with the liquor problem and indeed provided this land which they acquired from the United States government should, if alcohol was ever made or sold on that land, revert to the college.
And within my memory, this flaw in the title to the land in Galesburg was occasionally a matter of some concern to the trustees. When we have our trustees' cocktail parties later this week I will refrain from making any reference to this fact.
Okay. Out of this general reform agitation, among other things, came two colleges, which are sisters: Oberlin College in Ohio and Knox College in Illinois. I must say that in many respects, Oberlin remained somewhat more militant on some matters than Knox did, but both of these places are very important in the antislavery movement.
What happened was that a group of New Yorkers bought about 20,000 acres of land at the government price of a dollar and a quarter with the expectation that by developing and selling that land they would be able to establish and endow a college, and eventually it worked out that way, although there were some hard times before it was actually accomplished.
In 19-- in 1836, settlers actually began to arrive and amongst these, interestingly enough, was a black man by the name of John Bryan. John Bryan was hired to handle the canal boat which was the means of transportation for one of the important parties that left New York to come to central Illinois by way of Lake Erie, the Erie Canal, Lake Erie, the canal connecting Lake Erie with the Ohio River, the Ohio River, the Mississippi and then the Illinois.
Of all the trips made to establish a town, a colony in 1836, this was the one which suffered the most hardship, partly because of accidents, partly because of inadequate knowledge regarding navigation on rivers by canal boats. They arrived at Conference Brick, just a little bit below Peoria, in 1836 so exhausted, and in some cases so ill, that they had to be taken to Galesburg by a rescue party that went to the Village of Galesburg, which was just in the process of being settled, because they weren't able to make it by themselves. One member of the party died immediately, three others soon thereafter. Thus the village had immediate use for the cemetery, which had been located along the Cadamous Creek to the west.
All right. You should also know that as originally laid out, this was a village bordered on the north by North Creek, bordered on the south by South Creek—not too hard to remember— [laughter] on the west by Academy Street, on the east by Seminary, obviously suggesting that this was an academic settlement.
The land south of South Street, where we are, was reserved by the college for a campus and about 1,200 acres originally, to provide a farm on which the college students could work because it was at that time believed that manual labor should be an essential part of the college experience. Okay. Now we're here.
What I'm going to do, and now having given you that outline, is to try to emphasize as far as I can for a while the experience of the blacks. The things I have written and most other people have written about Knox College and Galesburg deal with whites, really. You know? My book on the antislavery movement as Knox people, men and women, did it was published in 1959 by Columbia University Press entitled Fighters for Freedom is really about white people. It's about the antislavery movement and that's important, but it was about white people, what they did, you see. The same is true with the later book that uh, Eric referred to. It's really about white people, about white people doing things for black, but it was about white people.
Now, what I'm going to try to do this afternoon, as far as I could get information, is to talk about what blacks did and I'm going to do that this way. We could get lost pretty easily on this, so I'm going to outline my procedure. I want to talk about a particular incident in which the action is action by blacks. It's referenced to a particular situation at a particular time and a particular place. And I'm going to leave with each one of you a place that you can relocate after I finish, if you please, that might remind you of what I talked to you about.
The first of these occurs in April of 1870. Chronological order is not going to be so important, the topics are going to be. In April of 1870, just a few days before, Congress had signaled, had symbolized the ratification of the last of the three amendments to the Constitution which came out of the Civil War.
There were three of these, the 13th, the 14th and the 15th Amendment. The 13th, as you know, abolished slavery. The 14th tried to guarantee civil rights and eventually, incidentally would do that in the famous case in 1954 of Baker, uh, of Brown vs. Topeka, uh, Board of Education. It was supposed to guarantee civil rights for the blacks, although much of the time it was more important to corporations than it was to people, but we won't go into that.
Uh, and then the 15th, which uh, guaranteed the blacks the right to vote. It was uh intended as much as anything else to make sure that the rebel states which were being readmitted into the Union would not undo the gradual suffrage of the blacks which they had been forced to guarantee as a price for coming back into the Union. In fact, four of the states that came back into the Union as of the spring of 1870 were not allowed to come back until they had ratified this amendment. Get the idea? This is part of the reconstruction activity.
In uh, early April after this had happened, there appeared in the local paper, The Republican, a notice that there was going to be a, a celebration by the blacks of this ratification and I want to read it to you because there's something about the language in some of these cases, uh, that's important—the way it's set.
April the 12th, eighteen-hundred and seventy. "Changes have taken place which were not even anticipated by the most sanguine or wise. Chiefly among the changes in our political program is the manumission of four millions of human beings and their endowment with equal political rights and privileges. To commemorate this great event and priceless boon, the colored folk of Galesburg and surrounding towns and villages will hold a grand celebration in this city on Thursday next."
And here is a description, at least part of the description of the event, of the celebration, which uh, occurred a couple days before April the 23rd of 1870.
"At about 10 o'clock in the forenoon, the procession began, began its march and with the excitement, with the utmost decorum and order marked its progress throughout the scene.
Heading the, heading the caval, cavalcade was the college city coronet band, which discoursed the most enlivening music, while immediately behind was a chariot, a chariot containing 29 young ladies of color representing the states that ratified the amendment. They made a really fine appearance, far better than those Democratic females who formerly paraded under the shadow of white husband or none banners.
Probably the most notable feature of the affair was the colored military command, the men kept step with precision and handled these pieces fairly, they handled their pieces fairly, evincing considerable military knowledge in their evolution."
Then in the evening there was a program in what was called Caledonia Hall. It was the hall downtown. It was rented out for these purposes, for events, for example, that couldn't properly go into the auditorium of the church, you see.
"In the evening, Caledonia Hall was filled with an audience of both colored and white people. The stage was decorated with flags, banners and evergreens and we noticed in front the portraits of Grant, Sumner, Garrison and others, while on the stand was a beautiful statue of Abraham Lincoln. The opening prayer was offered by the Reverend Mr. Graves."
And here I want to give you what I promised I would give you—a place that you can relate this to. Ah, you might pass it sometime and it'll remind you of what I just described. The Reverend Mr. Graves was pastor of that Baptist church which is still there, right? East away from what? Davis Hall, right? East away from Davis Hall. That was his church.
Ah, and that location of that is interesting. Remember I told you the land south of South Street was supposed to remain to the College and for a long time it did, but somehow in the middle 1860s a black man by the name of Henry Bailey had on two occasions been unclassified or a special student in Knox College, negotiated the special arrangements by which that black church became a near neighbor of Knox College and that has some special significance.
Another black man participating in this celebration was a Joseph Barquet. And I won't go into his career right now because I'll be doing a good deal with him later. Two white men of importance participated in the program, both of them connected with Knox. One of them was an Edward Beecher, who was a trustee of the /college, pastor of the – of a Congregational church just a couple blocks to the north, which maintained a close connection to the college. In fact, eventually that church became what some of you knew or know was what?
[audience member:] Beecher Chapel.
Beecher Chapel. Became Beecher Chapel. This Edward Beecher belonged to the most famous protestant minister family of the 19th century. The father was the famous Lyman Beecher. His brother was the famous Henry Ward Beecher, ah, the great pulpit orator of the 19th century, ah, and if I may indulge in a TV soap opera temptation for your attention, he also became involved in one of the most interesting adultery trials in the 19th century. [laughter] Okay. Part of Henry Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin was written at his home in the east.
In the middle 1850s he came to Galesburg and had become pastor of a new congregational church because the first one—the older one right on the square where the red stone church is now which was the colony church—was no longer big enough to take care of the congregation. It being a very important part of this community.
The second white man that participated in this program was Clark E. Carr. He went to Knox College five years and that doesn't mean much, you might think. Knox College had an academy in those days and students, many of them went to the academy to get the qualifications out of the way to enter the college courses. In fact, quite often people went to Knox College in that time for seven years. He went to the, to Knox College for five years, that establishes him clearly as a Knox person.
He was strongly identified with the antislavery movement. In fact, on December the 2nd, 1859, when the blacks in Galesburg held a special meeting, a tribute to John Brown on the day that he was executed for his raid on Harper's Ferry, he was one of the speakers. Lincoln appointed him postmaster, and back in those days, that meant that you became the boss or the leader of the political party, and he held that office in Galesburg until the Democrats came back in power in 1850-- 1885 with Grover Cleveland.
Um, in other words, this prominent Galesburg Knox person was also a speaker at that time. So, ah, when you look at that, [inaudible] what it says then, African Baptist church, remember that it was a kind of headquarters for this rather remarkable celebration that occurred.
Later that same year there was another celebration, and for that purpose, for the purpose of identifying a place in connection with that, have you ever noticed the names on the cornerstones of Alumni Hall? Alumni, Adelphi and Gnothautii. Those were the--that building was built primarily to serve the literary societies that dominated life on the campus in the last part of the 19th century until they were more or less dispossessed by fraternities. From my point of view, it's the finest period in the history of Knox.
Um, one of the ways in which these literary societies kept going was to have lecturers come to town, you know? And they raised money that way. In the later part – in the fall of 1870, Gnothautii society, one of these literary societies, the one which had the stand stone for the western wing of Alumni Hall, brought to Galesburg a man by the name of Revels. A man by the name of Revels. Um, now I want to, uh, read you what the paper said about Revels before I get to commenting on it.
"Thirteen years ago this winter, H. R. Revels, a poor young colored man, was a student—was a student under Professor Churchill in the academical department of Knox College in this city and many were the sneers and taunts the poor fellow received for no fault of his own, but simply because he was a nigger. On last Tuesday evening, the honorable H. R. Revels, United States Senator from Mississippi, delivered an able lecture in Caledonia Hall before an audience of the most cultivated people of Galesburg, which was highly appreciated. The nigger schoolboy of 1857 now occupies the distinguished position once held by Jefferson Davis."
Senator from Mississippi. Revels was here for one year in the academy, but it was his culminating educational experience. He became a clergyman During the Civil War served as chaplain in the army. He helped raise colored regiments in Maryland and St. Louis, served as Provost Marshall, that is director or manager of the military police in the vicinity of Vicksburg.
Remember, after Vicksburg fell and the northern army finally got control of the whole [inaudible] Mississippi [inaudible] suggest to the strategic importance of this place. and was in Mississippi when the war ended and became involved in the reconstruction of Mississippi, in the reconstruction of Mississippi, and accordingly, the Mississippi legislature elected him to the Senate.
At that same time, another Knox alumnus by the name of McKee, who had become a general in the union army, was sent to the House of Representatives. Knox had a good deal to do with the reconstruction of Mississippi, you too can see. Um, and in the, in the fall of 1870 the blacks held a celebration having to do with his coming to Galesburg was that kind of special significance to the people of Galesburg.
After the war, uh, under the offices of the American Missionary Association, about which I'll say something later if I have time, ah, he became the president of a new school for blacks in the south: Alcorn University, which still exists today, first president of Alcorn University.
Okay, we've had two celebrations. Now there's another celebration that I want to call your attention to that has meaning, another kind of meaning. Ah, for this purpose, we have to go over on Cherry Street [inaudible] and walk across South Street north, and cross the various streets—all of which had names relating to the people that were involved in exploring for the land and capturing the land for Galesburg, you know, names like Simmons and Tompkins and Ferris and so forth and so on—‘til we come to North Street, which is the northern boundary, and there at the intersection with North Street, there's a jog in the road.
That's where George Washington Gale lived, that large white house that sits back from the street a ways. It's obvious that when Cherry Street was extended further north beyond North Street that they took the land for that extension off the property of George Washington Gale and not off the property.
Anyway, we're now on the premises of George Washington Gale. There in 1857, on the premises of George Washington Gale, a celebration was held, of all things, of the anniversary on August the 1st of the emancipation of the slaves in the West Indies, to free slaves in the West Indies, and there's a significant story behind that. What's this all about?
Uh, you know, the British West Indies are Jamaica—you know? Trinidad and one we just heard about a few months ago, Grenada. You know, it's just they weren't able to take care of [inaudible] but we won't go into that. [laughter] Uh, the leeward islands, the windward islands, okay. By act of the British Parliament in 1833 they achieved their--abolished slavery as of August the 1st, 1834.
The abolitionists left in Galesburg in their agitation— you know, they're speaking propaganda—made a good deal of this when it happened because these are English-speaking people, see? And the fact that an orderly emancipation of slaves occurred here provided some favorable argument, didn't it? For the emancipation of slaves in the United States.
Anyway, this became, and in 1818 [inaudible] already occasionally this day was being celebrated. By 1857 when this was celebrated on Gale's campus, it had become broad in scope because it became an occasion in which blacks coming down from the railroad, which had just come two or three years before; so blacks from Rock Island and Burlington and Quincy and Peoria could get here. And year after year this became, as one man remarked, THE holiday of all holidays for the blacks: New Year's Day and Fourth of July and everything all wrapped into one and they were still celebrating this. The last date I have is 1888, on which occasion incidentally a Knox student, who had just won the interstate oratorical contest, was one of the speakers.
Now there's some meaning behind this. Uh, the antislavery movement was an international movement, not just limited to Galesburg. In 1843, the president of Knox College in this little, this little village, which was just getting underway and this college was just building its first building, went as representative of the antislavery society of Illinois to a world antislavery convention in London and there he was assigned the topic of speaking on prejudice, about which he had unduly optimistic expectation, but he did emphasize the fact that the color line was not and would not be drawn at Knox.
His traveling companion on this occasion, furthermore, was the second president of Knox College, a man who was Jonathan Blanchard, so it wasn't all that nonsensical for the emancipation of slavery in the British Empire to become a scene for celebration in Galesburg, uh, too.
In these events that I've been talking about, oh, um, okay, in these events I've been talking about, there was a black man that was very frequently a speaker, perhaps the most prominent, who became during the ‘70s, um, the leading black politician in Galesburg. His name was Joseph Barquet. B-A-R-Q-U-E-T. According to the census of 1860, which classified people as black, white and mulatto, he and his wife were mulattos from North Carolina. I don't know as much as I would like to someday about his origins.
One of the tantalizing facts about the situation in North Carolina is that there was a group of free blacks, and a Knox College alumnus, incidentally, is working and researching on the fascinating problem that some of these free blacks owned slaves.
But anyway, he came from Carolina. He was about 30-32--34 years old in 1860. Um, and he's, he is related to a fascinating aspect of the Civil War. The abolitionists, like the abolitionists in Galesburg, often became very impatient with Abraham Lincoln, the fact that he did not declare an emancipation of the slaves earlier, also impatient with Lincoln because he did not authorize the recruiting of black regiments sooner.
He was cautious. Among other things, he was fearful about alienating the border colonies, you know? About alienating the border colonies. And it was not until well into 1863 that the United States government as such started to recruit black regiments. However--and Illinois did not start until after that was authorized by the federal government. In Massachusetts, however, which of all the areas was the most forward on this question of what should be done for the blacks, started to recruit on its own, and out of this came what is probably the most famous regiment in the Civil War, the 54th Regiment.
Most of the companies of the 54th Regiment came from the northeast, but one company-- but some of the recruits did not--and one company, Company H, had a considerable number of recruits that came from the uh, uh middle west. Came from the middle west. And, when we come to those coming from Illinois, we come to an interesting statistic. There were 19 from Chicago, 12 from Galesburg and only one from anywhere else, suggesting that, what? Relatively speaking, as we might expect on the basis, as I said, that Galesburg was relatively what? An important place to the blacks in Illinois.
Joseph Barquet became a sergeant major. All of the commissioned officers in this regiment were white, but he achieved rank that was the highest for a black, a sergeant major. They were trained in Massachusetts and then set off by ship to, of all places, from the point of view of what it symbolized, to land in South Carolina in the vicinity of the capital where the war is what?
[audience member:] Started.
Started. They didn't do very well. The colonel, Colonel Shaw, was killed, and to express their antipathy for this military unit, the rebels, instead of giving him the special honors that a commissioned officer was supposed to get, threw him in a common grave with the blacks who had been killed. In Massachusetts he became a special hero, and one of the finest Civil War statues was a statue to him, to Colonel Shaw, in Boston.
Four of the Galesburg blacks were captured. One of them was wounded, two of them were still prisoners of war when hostilities ceased in the spring of 1865. The particular symbol that I want to associate with this is the fact that when on January the first, ah, of 1864, this 54th Regiment of blacks wanted to celebrate the fact that Lincoln had finally used his, ah, presumed constitutional authority as commander in chief in wartime, emancipated the blacks in the south, those parts of the south that were still in a state of rebellion. It was this man, this Galesburg man, who, Barquet, Joseph Barquet, who was chosen to speak the oration, chosen to speak the oration.
What can I give you to look at to remind you of this in Galesburg? Well, you might go over to the Hope Cemetery and see that statue that stands in the northwest corner, northeast corner of the cemetery, which is a kind of stereotype of literally hundreds of statues at that time in the United States, but I suggest that a better one would be to go over here in the courtyard and look at the statue of Mother Bickerdyke, not unfittingly, because it is true that a movement for improving the status of women closely paralleled the movement for the emancipation of the slaves.
Then a man like Henry Ward Beecher, for example, presided over the first national convention to give women their suffrage. And incidentally, Mother Bickerdyke came to Galesburg from Oberlin, which has a kind of fascination. Incidentally you may remember Marlene Merrill, wife of the philosophy teacher at Knox College. She is at the present time doing a special study of what Oberlin College did for the status of women. Knox College wasn't quite so [reckless] in that matter. It wasn't until 1870 that, for example, we had coeducation at Knox.
Okay. So far everything I've given you has been pretty positive, but it didn't always work out that way. Let me give you one more incident of this kind, and then I'll let you ask questions. Another quotation from a newspaper. This is for June the 15th, 1860.
Quote: "The colored citizens have formed an African literary and debating society. Joseph H. Barquet is secretary. The need for it comes from the fact that we are informed that, notwithstanding the teacher at Saluda School" that was a district school in Galesburg, "Makes no objection, the children of Mr. Knox, a white man, a mulatto woman are excluded from the school. These children are so nearly white that they have to be pointed out from the rest of the school."
Ok. As one report put it, even in Galesburg, fear about, quote, "mixing" the races led to separation of the schools, not at Knox, you see, where-- and this is in what was called the free school—what we call public schools today.
And in one of the great issues of the ‘60s, when the population in Galesburg multiplied about 700%, partly due, mainly due to the flight to Galesburg of the so-called contrabands from Missouri that, when the war started, felt they could flee, you see, and escape slavery, there developed -- there appeared a separation of the schools and it's become a very serious issue in which Joseph Barquet was a very active political figure.
Year after year there were petitions. On one occasion, 25 of the children went to what was finally a high school and, and, and, asked to be admitted. And the principal told him he couldn't do that; they'd have to go to the school superintendent. So, they then marched to the superintendent's place [inaudible] of the father and he told them he couldn't do it because the school board would have to do it. The school board wouldn't do it, so Barquet then, among other things, tried to organize a referendum in the politics.
Um, but ultimately, uh and in 1874, two of – there were two of these schools, particularly black schools, um, were burned. The first of these burned early in the year, and it was at that time said because of an accident in handling of a wood fire, but when these students were redistributed to another school down on Monmouth Boulevard—the concentrations of blacks, incidentally, in the southwestern part of Galesburg had appeared almost at once when the town was founded—that school burned, too.
Um, in any event, in 1875 the state of Illinois finally passed a law uh, against this kind of refusal to admit black students to the nearest school, although three or four months after this law was passed, I have a note that indicates there was still de facto a black school in Galesburg, so we've come, in that respect at least, a long way uh since then.
It was not, however, until 1881 that uh, a black person was graduated from the high school, and this is an important thing to remember when you ask, well, "How come their education moved so slow?" And I want to read you, again, a newspaper report.
"Miss Belle Allen, whose name appears in the list of graduates, is a prominent colored lady of this city and is the first of her race to be graduated in the Galesburg High School. She graduated with merited honors.
Some 60 or 70 of our leading citizens desirous of showing their appreciation of her successful career and the example she has set as to how to achieve a proper recognition of her race, purchased a valuable gold watch and chain and presented them to her as a memento on Graduation Day.
It was intended to have presented these beautiful and valuable gifts at an appropriate time during the exercises Friday with an address by Dr. Bateman, who was the president of Knox. But for some reason, Superintendent Andrews objected and the plan was abandoned. We, in common with the donors, fail to see how any objection could be taken to a public presentation as intended.
She was the only colored graduate, and the class, could have felt no slight and would have appreciated the significance of the gift."
At Knox, however, fortunately, it was a different situation. Knox at this time was deeply involved in the activities of the American Missionary Association. And I'll characterize those briefly and then give you a chance to ask questions.
The American Missionary Association was a radical antislavery society already before the war, but even tried to do such reckless things as to send antislavery colonies into the south. A Knox graduate by the name of Scott Davis, for example, actually did make that effort in Kentucky at a place called Berea. While that failed, it was not ultimately entirely unsuccessful because, as you know, there still is a what?
A Berea colony. After the war, Knox people were particularly active as educational missionary bringing some education to the blacks in the south. At one time as many as 20 Knox alumni were engaged in this activity. At one time they totally staffed a school of this kind called Emerson Institute in Mobile, Alabama. It was not well received and it was burned to the ground under circumstances suggesting arson. But it was rebuilt.
They also maintained aggressive missionary activity in the western band of activity-- of Africa, that bend where Liberia and Sierra Leone is located, where, ah, the members of the -- where the American Colonization Society tried to ameliorate, anyway, the slavery problem in the United States, by colonizing black slaves back into Africa. It was also the place where a man who manumitted his slaves for humanitarian reasons might send them, you know. It was also the place where the slave trade, having been forbidden by international agreement, slave ships that were stopped ah, had their cargo rescued and sent back to Africa. The American Missionary Association made a station there.
Ah, in the 1860s, a Knox missionary, a Miss Winthrop, was a teacher there and she had a boy whose name after baptism became Barnabas Root. Another Knox man went there and they were married, but he, as so many of these missionaries did, became afflicted with a drop of a disease, came back to the United States to recover, but brought the boy, Barnabas Root, back with him to Princeton because he wanted to continue, this man did, the study of the African language.
To give the boy some education, the American Missionary Association underwrote his education at Knox and it was under these circumstances that Barnabas Root was graduated in 1874, I think was the date. The first black not only to receive a degree at Knox College, but the first black to receive a college degree in the state of Illinois. In other words, it took very special circumstances, you see, for a black to get a college degree at the time, but [they did agree it].
I think maybe I could close appropriately by reading you, part at least, of a letter which Barnabas wrote, wrote to the president of the American Missionary Society about his experience with prejudice.
[inaudible--audio incomplete; switch to a new tape]
and these teachers in the AMA schools in Africa were people that people that were [inaudible] what? Sensitivity to blacks. So it was in Galesburg, that he first what? Experienced prejudice, and here he writes about it.
[Reading from Root letter:]
In regard to the influence and effect of the prevailing feeling of prejudice of which you desire an expression of my thoughts. I have felt it very keenly since I have been here and more so during the past year, perhaps more exposed to, exposed to it than hitherto.
He's writing in 1868.
[Resume reading from Root letter:]
I have asked God to show me my duty in this matter and to keep me a humble Christian out from the blighty[?] degrading feeling of self-debasement which I see in almost everyone of my race in this country the legitimate effects of this feeling.
One great cause of this feeling I think of many is unacquaintance with us, or rather not being accustomed to coming in daily and familiar contact with the blacks on the part of the whites. I have found that among my fellow students who entertained much of this feeling when I first came here lost at least much of it. I seek not for what I have done but as a natural result of better acquaintance. I think in this way much can be done to help to do away with it.
Just a couple paragraphs out of what is a fascinating letter and I recommend that you read it in this book.
Okay for the next, ah, five or six minutes do you have any questions? Questions that I can answer you understand.
[end at 48:33]
|Physical Description||digital audio produced from analog tape recording |