The Times and Dr. Jones’ Assertions.

August 6, 1898

Summary

The Richmond Times claims to understand the "Negro problem"; John Mitchell, Jr. knows otherwise.

Transcription

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Lower Left
The Times and Dr. Jones’ Assertions.

The Richmond, Va., Times never loses an opportunity to express the sentiment of the Negro. It seems that it is ashamed of the good things which it has said of him, and is anxious to win favor with the Negro-hating elements by making it appear that it holds ideas similar to their own relative to this “disturbing element” in the body politic.

In the issue of the 4th inst., it says:

“The Negro problem is the most difficult and dangerous one that any people ever were confronted with in their domestic affairs. In the present state of evolution of the two races it is an absolute impossibility for the two races in the Southern States to live together upon terms of social equality. It is just as impossible as converting night into day or of a union between fire and water. The thing cannot be done, and no one but an idle dreamer—and a very weak-minded one, at that—would expect it.”

No colored leader proposes or has proposed that the colored people here shall live together upon terms of social equality, as understood by the average southerner.

We do contend that we shall live together upon a basis of civil equality. Social matters have always regulated themselves. Mr. A calls upon and dines with Mr. B because it is agreeable with both of them. Either the one or the other can terminate the relationship. It is a matter which is self-adjusting and requires no attention from either the law or outside parties.

The Times says:

“Yet we find the constitutional law of the land placing the Negro as a citizen in all respects upon the same footing as a white man, and it is hardly surprising with this as a fact Negroes should assert a right to free intercourse with the whites as their equals and familiars.”

One reading of the above would presume that the law passed upon the “social rights” rather than the civil rights of the citizen.

Before the law, we are “equals and familiars,” —no more, no less. It adds:

“It is quite natural that they should have such aspirations, but if Negroes would only reflect a little they would know that what they seek is impossible and that they will only bring disaster to themselves by attempting it.”

We seek what the law guarantees us and if disaster follows, it rests with the government of which we are a component part. Our equality was proven at Santiago De Cuba when the Tenth Cavalry faced death with an intrepid bravery which has won the admiration of the civilized world. The other colored troops similarly distinguished themselves.

Men who would face death under such dangerous circumstances would hardly pause and hesitate over the croakings of “an old woman” who is so prejudiced and blinded as to be unable to recognize merit and ability save behind a white skin.

We have become used to disaster, sir, seasoned with trouble and acquainted with death. The Times says:

“It is barely possible that the more sensible of the Negro race are learning this and that conditions here are changing for the better in this respect. Certainly, there is one Negro in Richmond who has learned from the teaching of events, and it may be that he is not the only one.”

And again says:

“At the meeting of Negroes held in Richmond last Tuesday evening to take into consideration plans for making a Negro organization having in view of the improvement of the race, Dr. R. E. Jones, a prominent member of the race, said”

‘He wanted it known that this was not e a movement directed toward securing social equality. Social equality was only a dream. The intelligent colored man recognized the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race. Social standing could not come through organization or upon demand. There were white men with whom he would not think of associating. The proposed organization was to protect the colored man in his civil rights and to aid him in business and to help him become a better citizen.

The doctor told his hearers that they should be proud of the progress they have made since they became free men. He urged them to remember that cleanliness, good behavior and money would give them a standing among men that every colored man should seek.’”

We agree with all that Dr. R. E. Jones is accredited with saying, except the part which declares that “the intelligent colored man recognized the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race.”

The intelligent, educated colored man is the very one who believes nothing of the sort. We are forced to the conclusion that the doctor was incorrectly quoted. Such a statement would be a reflection upon every German, Italian, Frenchman, Turk, African, and even the bone and sinew of this country—the laboring white man who cannot trace his ancestral lineage.

It would be a recognition of the “divine rights of kinds; that birth makes the man. It was in opposition to this very theory that this government was established, and caused Thomas Jefferson to declare that “all men are created equal.”

People who do not believe in this doctrine are out of place in this country, and should leave at once for Europe where the caste holds sway.

But the Times rolls under its tongue as a sweet morsel all that Dr. Jones is alleged to have said. It continues:

“This is sensible talk, and Dr. Jones shows by it that he is a man that the Negroes would do well to look up to as a counsellor and adviser.”

Thanks for the recommendation.

And again:

“Dr. Jones is perfectly right in saying that ‘social equality’ is a dream and we are glad to learn from him that ‘the intelligent colored man recognizes the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race.”

But did Mr. Jones say that? If he said it, he must not have meant it. Personally, we know that Dr. Jones does not believe that a man lives who is inherently his superior.

Then, if he made the statement, how can he separate himself from the people with whom he is identified. If his people are inferior to other races, then logically speaking, he must be inferior.

But, we repeat, evidence must flow from Dr. Jones’ own lips in order to make us believe that he said anything of the sort. The Times says:

“Social equality is an impossibility, as much so as for the Negro to attempt to change the color of his skin, and it is only to invite misfortune for himself to attempt to force himself upon the white man as his social equal.”

We have already given our opinion on the phase of the question. The Times says:

“The Almighty has created racial distinctions between the Negro and the white man. The history of the world proves beyond all possibility of denial that the Anglo-Saxon race is the superior race, and the Anglo-Saxons of the South will not tolerate an attempt to force the Negro into their homes than they will tolerate anything else which they look upon as a premeditated affront to them.”

Will you please give us a list of the Anglo-Saxons in Richmond? We won’t worry you to find them in the South. The census-takers did not undertake the job. It would be too much like trying to find a Negro in the midst of a ship-load of mulattoes. One Negro might have served to furnish coloring for five hundred of them.

You’d better secure the lantern of Diogenes and begin the task of finding one full-blooded Anglo-Saxon. We challenge you to make an effort. It says:
“There may be nothing important in this Richmond movement. It may be no more than a spurt, of which we shall hear nothing more. But it would be a blessed thing, indeed if it really indicates that a large part of our Negroes are learning to take the broad and enlightened view of the subject that Dr. Jones’ takes.”

And again:

“So long as the Negroes remain banded together as a solid body to vote as a body in a way opposite to that in which they think the white people will vote, so long as the white people will regard such a banded organization as an attempt of the Negroes to rule them and to force social equality upon them, and so long there will be friction between the two races—ending always in misfortune to the Negroes.”

We are not banded against the white people, but only against the prejudiced, Negro-hating element of it. This is human nature, and we do not see how anyone could expect us to do less.

Misfortune has been ours more than once. It usually accompanies or follows success. No one can eternally “enjoy” either the one or the other. Then why tender us such advice? The Times says:

“The white people of the South will never allow the Negroes to rule them either through their own agencies or through the white men who put themselves up as Negro leaders. The experience that the Negro has had in the last thirty-odd years ought to demonstrate this to him.”

The colored people are not trying to rule the white people of the country. They insist that the whole people shall rule them. And again:

“The sensible thing for the Negro to do, therefore, is to abandon politics as a race and to devote his time to trying to improve his condition in life by industry, thrift and economy. If he votes at all, let each Negro vote as he would like and not as his race votes, and the Negro will find his condition steadily improving from the time this policy is adopted.”

The sensible thing for us to do is to engage in business, politics and religion. To be a good, true citizen, one must officiate in the government of the whole country. To argue otherwise would be to discredit the teachings of centuries.

This is a government of the whole people. No north, no south, no east, no west, no Negro, no white man—this is Jefferson’s ideal, and a realization of it must come sooner or later.

Prepare yourself, sir, for the dawn of the morning.
About this article

Location on Page

Lower Left Quadrant

Contributed By

Cali Hughes

Citation

“The Times and Dr. Jones’ Assertions.,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed December 9, 2022, https://blackvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1517.