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Gregory Zhdanov
Gregory Zhdanov

Take It Like A Man Boy George Ebook

For some minutes there was great rejoicing, andthanksgiving, and wild scenes of ecstasy. But therewas no feeling of bitterness. In fact, there was pityamong the slaves for our former owners. The wildrejoicing on the part of the emancipated colouredpeople lasted but for a brief period, for I noticedthat by the time they returned to their cabins therewas a change in their feelings. The great responsibilityof being free, of having charge of themselves,of having to think and plan for themselvesand their children, seemed to take possession ofthem. It was very much like suddenly turning ayouth of ten or twelve years out into the world toprovide for himself. In a few hours the great questions with which the Anglo-Saxon race hadbeen grappling for centuries had been thrown uponthese people to be solved. These were the questionsof a home, a living, the rearing of children, Page 22education, citizenship, and the establishment andsupport of churches. Was it any wonder thatwithin a few hours the wild rejoicing ceased and afeeling of deep gloom seemed to pervade the slavequarters? To some it seemed that, now that theywere in actual possession of it, freedom was a moreserious thing than they had expected to find it.Some of the slaves were seventy or eighty yearsold; their best days were gone. They had nostrength with which to earn a living in a strangeplace and among strange people, even if they hadbeen sure where to find a new place of abode. Tothis class the problem seemed especially hard. Besides, deep down in their hearts there was a strangeand peculiar attachment to "old Marster" and"old Missus," and to their children, which theyfound it hard to think of breaking off. With thesethey had spent in some cases nearly a half-century,and it was no light thing to think of parting.Gradually, one by one, stealthily at first, the olderslaves began to wander from the slave quarters backto the "big house" to have a whispered conversationwith their former owners as to the future.

Take It Like A Man Boy George Ebook

Of course the coloured people, so largely withouteducation, and wholly without experience in government,made tremendous mistakes, just as any peoplesimilarly situated would have done. Many ofthe Southern whites have a feeling that, if theNegro is permitted to exercise his political rightsnow to any degree, the mistakes of the Reconstructionperiod will repeat themselves. I do not thinkthis would be true, because the Negro is a muchstronger and wiser man than he was thirty-five yearsago, and he is fast learning the lesson that hecannot afford to act in a manner that will alienatehis Southern white neighbours from him. Moreand more I am convinced that the final solution ofthe political end of our race problem will be foreach state that finds it necessary to change the lawbearing upon the franchise to make the law applywith absolute honesty, and without opportunity fordouble dealing or evasion, to both races alike. Anyother course my daily observation in the Southconvinces me, will be unjust to the Negro, unjust Page 87to the white man, and unfair to the rest of thestates in the Union, and will be, like slavery, a sinthat at some time we shall have to pay for.

In the fall of 1878, after having taught school inMalden for two years, and after I had succeeded inpreparing several of the young men and women,besides my two brothers, to enter the HamptonInstitute, I decided to spend some months in studyat Washington D.C. I remained there for eightmonths. I derived a great deal of benefit fromthe studies which I pursued, and I came intocontact with some strong men and women. At theinstitution I attended there was no industrial traininggiven to the students, and I had an opportunityof comparing the influence of an institution with noindustrial training with that of one like the HamptonInstitute, that emphasized the industries. Atthis school I found the students, in most cases, hadmore money, were better dressed, wore the lateststyle of all manner of clothing, and in some caseswere more brilliant mentally. At Hampton it wasa standing rule that, while the institution would beresponsible for securing some one to pay the tuitionfor the students, the men and women themselves mustprovide for their own board, books, clothing, androom wholly by work, or partly by work and partlyin cash. At the institution at which I now was, I Page 88found that a large proportion of the students bysome means had their personal expenses paid forthem. At Hampton the student was constantlymaking the effort through the industries to helphimself, and that very effort was of immense valuein character-building. The students at the otherschool seemed to be less self-dependent. Theyseemed to give more attention to mere outwardappearances. In a word, they did not appear tome to be beginning at the bottom, on a real,solid foundation, to the extent that they were atHampton. They knew more about Latin andGreek when they left school, but they seemed toknow less about life and its conditions as theywould meet it at their homes. Having lived fora number of years in the midst of comfortablesurroundings, they were not as much inclined as theHampton students to go into the country districtsof the South, where there was little of comfort, totake up work for our people, and they were moreinclined to yield to the temptation to become hotelwaiters and Pullman-car porters as their life-work.

I felt that the conditions were a good deal likethose of an old coloured man, during the days ofslavery, who wanted to learn how to play on the Page 94guitar. In his desire to take guitar lessons heapplied to one of his young masters to teach him, but the young man, not having much faith in theability of the slave to master the guitar at his age,sought to discourage him by telling him: "UncleJake, I will give you guitar lessons; but, Jake, Iwill have to charge you three dollars for the firstlesson, two dollars for the second lesson, and onedollar for the third lesson. But I will charge youonly twenty-five cents for the last lesson."

In the course of the journey from Tuskegee toAtlanta both coloured and white people came tothe train to point me out, and discussed withperfect freedom, in my hearing, what was going totake place the next day. We were met by acommittee in Atlanta. Almost the first thing that Iheard when I got off the train in that city was anexpression something like this from an old coloured Page 214man near by: "Dat's de man of my race what'sgwine to make a speech at de Exposition to-morrow.I'se sho' gwine to hear him."

I believe that one always does himself and hisaudience an injustice when he speaks merely for thesake of speaking. I do not believe that one shouldspeak unless, deep down in his heart, he feels Page 244convinced that he has a message to deliver. Whenone feels, from the bottom of his feet to the top ofhis head, that he has something to say that is goingto help some individual or some cause, then let himsay it; and in delivering his message I do notbelieve that many of the artificial rules of elocutioncan, under such circumstances, help him very much.Although there are certain things, such as pauses,breathing, and pitch of voice, that are very important,none of these can take the place of soul in anaddress. When I have an address to deliver, I liketo forget all about the rules for the proper use ofthe English language, and all about rhetoric andthat sort of thing, and I like to make the audienceforget all about these things, too.

These meetings have given Mrs. Washingtonand myself an opportunity to get first-hand, accurateinformation as to the real condition of the race,by seeing the people in their homes, their churches,their Sunday-schools, and their places of work, aswell as in the prisons and dens of crime. Thesemeetings also gave us an opportunity to see therelations that exist between the races. I never feelso hopeful about the race as I do after beingengaged in a series of these meetings. I know that Page 249on such occasions there is much that comes to thesurface that is superficial and deceptive, but I havehad experience enough not to be deceived by meresigns and fleeting enthusiasms. I have taken painsto go to the bottom of things and get facts, in acold, business-like manner.

One of the most encouraging signs in connectionwith the Tuskegee school is found in the fact thatthe organization is so thorough that the daily workof the school is not dependent upon the presenceof any one individual. The whole executive force,including instructors and clerks, now numberseighty-six. This force is so organized andsubdivided that the machinery of the school goeson day by day like clockwork. Most of our Page 259teachers have been connected with the institutionfor a number of years, and are as much interestedin it as I am. In my absence, Mr. Warren Logan,the treasurer, who has been at the school seventeenyears, is the executive. He is efficientlysupported by Mrs. Washington, and by my faithfulsecretary, Mr. Emmett J. Scott, who handles thebulk of my correspondence and keeps me in dailytouch with the life of the school, and who alsokeeps me informed of whatever takes place inthe South that concerns the race. I owe more to histact, wisdom, and hard work than I can describe.

But, after all this is said, the time when I get themost solid rest and recreation is when I can be atTuskegee, and, after our evening meal is over, cansit down, as is our custom, with my wife and Portiaand Baker and Davidson, my three children, andread a story, or each take turns in telling a story.To me there is nothing on earth equal to that,although what is nearly equal to it is to go with themfor an hour or more, as we like to do on Sunday Page 265afternoons, into the woods, where we can live for awhile near the heart of nature, where no one candisturb or vex us, surrounded by pure air, the trees,the shrubbery, the flowers, and the sweet fragrancethat springs from a hundred plants, enjoying thechirp of the crickets and the songs of the birds.This is solid rest.




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