Richard Brown’s Statement

February 2, 1895


An unfair trial leads to a black man being persecuted while a white man of equal guilt remains free.


The plain, straight-forward statement of Richard Brown, relative to the treatment accorded him both by his employer and the courts has awakened much interest and caused positive expressions of sympathy. Here is a colored man who had earned $3.33 for the week. His employer Charles H. Page pays him $1.33, an amount which is insignificant. He retains $2.00 to pay on a fine that he presumed would be imposed upon him [Page] either for running an unlicensed cart upon the streets or over-loading a mule.
Richard Brown demanded the money which Charles H. Page unlawfully withheld and upon his refusal to give him the same threatened him. Page becomes frightened and pays him the money, and then after, as Brown alleges chasing him a square with a gun goes and secures a warrant for the arrest of Brown, charging him with having feloniously secured from him by threat the money referred to.
Brown did not strike Page. The latter does not even claim that he did, but a jury after hearing the facts in the case finds him guilty and ascertains his punishment at Five Years in the penitentiary. Brown’s counsel moves for a new trial and Judge Witt sets aside the verdict of ‘assault and battery.”
Now as to where the assault took place or who “got the battery” is the most interesting question. Suffice it to say that upon such a misleading plea and indictment. Brown was sentenced to one year in jail and today gazes through the bars of the prison a monument to the disregard of law and the visitations of injustice. If Chas. H. Page had a gun and chased Richard Brown, was he not guilty of even a more heinous offense than that with which the latter stood charged?
… Moreover, there is no record that Charles H. Page has been punished for running an unlicensed wagon upon the streets. There is no record that a warrant has been sworn out for his arrest, although it is now known that he had no such license upon the wagon which Brown drove.
Charles H. Page did unlawfully pursue one Richard Brown with a gun for the purpose of killing him. Has any such charge been preferred against him , and if so has he been punished? Brown should not have threatened Mr. Page, but the latter had the former’s money and would not give it to him. Would not any man have acted just as Brown did? If it was unlawful for Brown to demand his money under threat, was it not wrong for Page to retain it without due process of law?
We maintain that every official in this state is in honor bound to recognize the civil and political equality of all men before the law. In dealing with a white man and a colored one they must treat the two just as they would two white men or two colored ones when the aforesaid gentlemen come to them with conflicting interests. It won’t do to say gentlemen that he is a “nigger.”
If your prejudices will not allow you to administer justice impartially, far better will it be for you now, and your souls in the hereafter that you resign the office or decline to accept a position which causes you to live a lie and to practice perjury. We aver that severity in dealing with a negro and leaning in dealing with a white man is in direct antagonism with the oath of office and in violation of the guarantees of the Bill of Rights of Virginia. No Christian should be guilty of such conduct; no unbeliever should labor under such a monument of dishonor. Lynch-law must go!
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Lower Left Quadrant

Contributed By

Cord Fox


“Richard Brown’s Statement,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed March 25, 2019,