Go To Africa Yourself
Christian Recorder: May 15, 1890
Some of us, none more eagerly and hopefully than myself, had spotted Rev. J.M. Henderson as the scion of a great man; we had expected from this young man broad views, philosophical ideas and masterly conceptions just as soon as he reached intellectual maturity, (forty or forty-five) as no young man can be great in the sense that the world recognizes greatness. But his letter in your issue of the 8th inst. Under the heading; “Go to Africa Yourself, “shows conclusively that his eager expectants are doomed to be disappointed.
I am not surprised that he should be at a loss in dealing with the American question, for it is the mightiest question of the age. The great men of the world stand before it paralyzed; and as for our so-called colored politicians, they have no more conception of it than a horse has of mathematics. They do not know enough to defend their own objections.
I did expect of brother Henderson, however, in his attempt to treat a subject so grave, some kind of argumentative manipulation, enough, at least, to show a little respect for those who might see differently. But the coming giant has joined the ranks of the intellectual dwarfs an pigmies, or advertised himself as belonging to that gang. Listen to his profound logic. “Go to Africa yourself.”
Again; “There is no method of suasion more potent than that of example.” Again: “Those who are so anxious to have the Afro-American emigrate to Africa, can do nothing more consistent than start the stampede.” Again: “It is indeed unfortunate that the lost continent has been presented to the colored men of America.” Again, “It would take just one thousand years to become able to support a church like the great A.M.E. church, if every Afro-American went to the jungles and worked like a Turk.’’
I shall not attempt to reply to these quotations at all, but note the learning, logic, philosophy, statesmanship and the accursed theology of the last paragraph; he would allow four quintillions of African souls to go to hell (if I have figured it rightly) in the next thousand years, rather build up or try to build up a church in Africa that will give the SUPPORT that our four hundred thousand members here give, and give principally, too, from the wash tub and table-waiting. My God, the thing makes me sick! If that is the kind of theology Brother Henderson feeds his members upon, God have mercy upon his soul. Surely the man did not know what he was saying. Why, Tom Paine is an angel of light compared to him.
As far as the common babbler, who not being able to say anything else, has to join in with the old women and exclaims, “Go yourself, go yourself, I say;” I will let that pass, for it is not worth notice. Brother Henderson simply thought that remark was smart. But smartness and wisdom are far apart, my brother. Great men do not study to be smart, but to be wise; nor can a great question like this be discussed by smartness. It needs though, time, patience, reading, historic analogy and something more than smartness and witticism.