Christian Recorder: October 19, 1893
30 Young St., Atlanta, Ga., Sept. 30th, 1893.
To the colored people of the United States in anguish, Greeting:
On the 18th of July last the undersigned issued a notice through the public press, to the friends of African repatriation or Negro nationalization elsewhere. That owing to the dreadful, horrible, anomalous and unprecedented condition of our people in the United States, it would seem, that some common action; move or expression on our part as a race, is demanded. The revolting, hideous, monstrous, unnatural, brutal and shocking crimes charged upon us daily on the one hand, and the reign of mobs, lynchers, and fire-fiends, and mid-night and mid-day assassins on the other; necessitated a national convention upon our part, for the purpose of crystallizing our sentiments and unifying our endeavors for better conditions in this country or a change of base for existence.
The history of the world furnishes no analogy for the state of things transpiring this country. The bloody reign of Queen Mary, the horrible massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day, nor the bloody orgies of the world present no parallel. For they were political, religious or civil persecutions, while ours is up on the plea of most revolting crimes perpetrated.
Therefore, if we are the execrable demons as is alleged through the public press daily, the facts should be impartially investigated and unquestionably established, and we should do it ourselves; and if our guilt is established, and mobs are indispensable to the eradication of our hideous crimes, we should constitute our own mobs and punish our own culprits, and free white
men from that villainous task, as a large majority of us have always been law-respecting and law-abiding.
But on the other hand, if after rigid investigation, we find that our race is not guilty of the indictments as charged, we should so inform mankind throughout the world. For as we are now represented we occupy the status of incarnate fiends to such an extent that only civilized man would be justified in loathing us, but heathen savages of the lowest order, might well shun us; and we ourselves might reasonably charge God with folly, if not for cruelty, for creating such monstrosities and perpetuating our existence by supplying us with food to eat, raiment to wear and air to breathe.
At all events, while other people are saying so much about us, and doing so much effecting our destiny we as a free and distinct race should meet in council and say or do something ourselves; otherwise, mankind will rightly decide that we are not only an inferior race, but hopelessly ignorant, woefully degraded and a set of such inhuman brutes that we are not fit to be the vassals of cannibals. Further silence upon our part would be an outrage upon our posterity and a scandalous shame upon our race now living.
Therefore, in consideration of the fact that in harmony with the previous proposition, over three hundred letters and postal cards (307) have been received from every state in the Union except Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Oregon – from Bishops, ministers of the gospel, judges, lawyers, ex-congressmen and persons, including white and black, recommending such a Council, most of whom suggested Cincinnati, Ohio, as the most central and convenient point for all parts of the country.
We, in the name of too many persons to mention individually, invite our people in the respective states, territories and District of Columbia to send twenty-five sober, thoughtful intelligent, race-respecting and honorable delegates to meet in National Council in Cincinnati, Ohio, November 28th, at 12 pm., and there assemble to review and pass upon our condition patiently, impartially, and to report truthfully our knowledge of every person murdered by mobs and lynchers, and when and what for, with documentary evidence, if possible, for the use of the committee or committees, as will have such matters in hand.
We also call upon such white men as have participated in these mobs, lynchings and lawless murders, to meet us at the same time and place and show the reason why they have thus participated, which they will not hesitate to refuse to do if they are justified by their conscience and are satisfied at their rectitude in the premises, as we desire to inaugurate a reformation among our people if we can be satisfied they are guilty as charged.
We trust all point of-order-raisers, interrupters of persons allotted the floor, cheap notoriety seekers and irritable or hot-headed squallers, will not be sent to the said council, as we have no time to bother with such persons. Matters are too solemn. It is also presumed somebody will be elected chairman who has judgment and experience enough to preside over the Council intelligently and creditably. The venerable Bishop Payne well writes: “Take care some inexperienced and hot-headed speaker does not say something that will be regarded as the expression of the whole race, and cause much harm.” Let us avoid such a contingency, if possible.
As to how these delegated will be selected, we leave to the several states; but should over twenty-five meet the council from any one state, they will only be allowed half or quarter votes according to the number. Scores of letters have requested that a number of select men should be designated from each state to meet in Council; but that would not be a representative body. We need a representative body now, as never before, as we are confronted with awful issues. For if we are so corrupt and infernalize, that we cannot exist here and no reformation is possible, in this country, rather than be exterminated by mobs and lynching assassins, we had better ask Congress, or the Nation, for at least a hundred million of dollars to leave this country if we can go no further than Canada, which Dr. Derrick is so eloquently advocating, and where we are assured we could be so cordially welcomed, or over to Mexico, where we are offered a whole State, if we will accept it. Therefore a representative body is an absolute necessity to enable the delegates not only to speak for themselves and to petition Congress for themselves, if found necessary, but for a constituency, even if that constituency should be limited to one million persons. Moreover, it is presumable that a portion of our people, like all other peoples, will take no interest in the Council – for reasons satisfactory to themselves and we should exercise much reluctance in speaking for them; hence the indispensability of a constituency, that each delegate may know that he speaks and acts for himself and for others at home.
We recommend as much as possible, that each delegate who may expect to occupy the floor, prepare his speech in manuscript before leaving home, so that any attempt to misrepresent him may be thwarted by his written or prepared speech.
This council or convention will have no political character whatever. Those who wish to discuss party politics will please look for another platform for occupancy, as our meeting will be as far above politics as heaven is above earth.
Please allow the immediate writer of this call for a national Council to beg the delegates who may attend, what ought to be the gravest convention ever held by our people in America, to come self-possessed, cool-headed and resolved to mutual respect. Let no man, who uses ardent spirits, dream of attending unless he can promise his God that he will not touch the accursed cup while the Council is in session, for it will be no place for unbalanced men. States, communities or sections sending delegates, we hope will see that they are amply supplied with funds to creditably meet their expenses and return home like gentlemen at the close of session, which may be a week, or until we get through, at all events.
Papers please copy.
By the approval of three hundred prominent and distinguished endorsers.