The Healer and the Pirate

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Friday, November 4, 2011

President Harding and Segregation - 1921

When people complain about how awful the world is, these kind of articles put things into perspective for me. This is from an African-American newspaper in Minnesota (I didn't see prominent references to it in other newspapers at the Library of Congress site).


President Harding made a speech Wednesday at Birmingham, Ala., on the race problem, which displayed remarkable misinformation on the subject due to the fact that he has evidently studied from one side only.

Of course Mr. Harding is right, when he says that the colored man should have political, educational and economic rights, but he is wrong when he says that he is not entitled to every right to which every other group of Americans is entitled. The president has no right to say that one-eight of the population of the United States must be differentiated in any way from the other seven-eighths…

The President erroneously confounds "social equality" with amalgamation. He says that amalgamation cannot be, but it exists, it has always existed and always will exist. The combined efforts of the law and public opinion have failed to prevent the mixing of the races. Throughout the ages there has been so much racial mixing that today the scientists and ethnologists agree that there is no such thing as a pure race. In no other country on the globe has there been more racial mixing than in the United States which is the melting pot of the world. The majority of the people of the United States are mixtures of various races and the greater part of this majority is composed of people with more or less Negro blood. The racial mixing in the South is almost wholly illegitimate as the laws make marriage between the races a crime.

Now as to social equality, that exists in some part of the United States and it is only in those parts of the country which have more or less of social equality that the colored people have any rights which the white people respect. The very words, "social equality" imply that all rights are secure. In the South there is neither equality nor respect for rights. The contempt for the colored man is largely due to his inferior social status, which extends through all human relationships in that benighted section of the country. Even at the speech of the President the colored people were segregated and the dispatches say, "In the white section there was a silence which was absolute and stony, only one light flutter of applause came when the President said, "The Negro should be encouraged to be the best possible Negro and not the best possible imitation of the white man." This seemed to please a few of the whites who evidently visioned a "good Negro" of slavery days, who hat in hand bowed low when "ole massa" approached."…

THE APPEAL does not believe, as Mr. Harding puts it, that there is a "fundamental, eternal and unescapable difference between the races." To do so would be to challenge God and Christianity. It is a distinct departure from the ideals of the founders of the Republic who declared that "all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."…There are just as many differences between the individuals of any one race as their (sic) are between the people of any number of races. The idea of race differentiation in any form in the law, in the functions of the government, and in public association is contrary to a just concept of a democracy in which all men are presumed to be equal, and is repugnant to the highest ideals of the Christian's God, who is declared to have made of one blood all nations of men. If Mr. Harding is right, Christianity is wrong…

--The Appeal, Saint Paul, Minnesota, November 5, 1921, page 2

In other news, the Japanese Premier Takahashi Hara was assassinated, as reported by newspapers around November 4 and 5, 1921. The whole cabinet resigned.

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