Stone Collection: Volume 90 - Item 28
28. Samuel J. Barrows, “What the Southern Negro Is Doing for Himself,” Atlantic Monthly (June 1891): 805-15.
Optimistic assessment of the what African Americans in the South have accomplished since the end of the Civil War. The author claims to have traveled 3500 miles through nine Southern states and the District of Columbia in order to gather data for his assessment. His observations are summarized in the article’s final paragraph. “To sum up, then, the facts which show what the Negro is doing for himself, it is clear that the new generation of Afric-Americans [sic] is animated by a progressive spirit. They are raising and following their own leaders. They are rapidly copying the organic, industrial, and administrative features of white society. They have discovered that industrial redemption is not to be found in legislative and political measures. In spite of oppressive usury and extortion, the colored man is buying farms, building homes, accumulating property, establishing himself in trade, learning the mechanic arts, devising inventions, and entering the professions. Education he sees to be the pathway to prosperity, and is making immense sacrifices to secure it. He is passing into the higher stages of social evolution. In religion the ‘old-timer’ is giving way to the educated preacher. Religion is becoming more ethical. The colored people are doing much to take care of their own unfortunate classes. The cooperative spirit is slowly spreading through trade unions, building associations, and benevolent guilds. In no way is the colored man doing more for himself than by silently and steadily developing a sense of self-respect, new capacity for self-support, and a pride in his race, which more than anything else secure for him the respect and fraternal feeling of his white neighbors.”