Strong Negro Endorsements of the Proposition to Have a Building for Afro- Americans
The Atlanta Constitution: Jan 7, 1894, pg.17
Editor Constitution- I was delighted yesterday morning with your editorial referring to the progress that has been made in our Southland, especially by the Afro- Americans, as you are pleased to call us, and which is the proper name for us, I grant. For that is about what we are—Americans from Africa. Yet, I have been called a negro so long that I rather prefer the title. You assure us in your complimentary editorial that we are to be offered a prominent place in the great exposition contemplated in Atlanta, and invited to exhibit the evidences of our industry, skill, genius, enterprise, economy, learning, art and what-ever will give evidence of our progress and development.
As one, I exceedingly regret that we were not aware that this overture would be made at an earlier day as I believe the results would have been far more creditable. I believe this is the second time where such an invitation has been made to our people, the first being by Director General Burke of the New Orleans exposition some ten or eleven years ago, I think, and this is the second instance when we have been offered an opportunity to exhibit the results of our industry in common with the whites, and promised a prominent place. The world’s exposition at Chicago, or rather our national exposition, only tendered us the exalted position of taking care of the toilet rooms, and excused themselves from further recognition of us upon the plea that the south would become offended, and would not patronize the great exposition. Now it would seem that the south is about to do the very thing that so frightened Chicago—that she pretended that she had to snub the negro for. I did not fully believe it at the time and now this settles it.
I do not mean to criticize the people of the city of Chicago as such, but I do mean to tell the country and the manipulators of the Chicago exposition that there is something that needs explanation, for there are tens of thousands still indignant about our recognition there, and the writer is one of that number. Nothing that has occurred so intensified my African emigrational proclivities as our treatment by the national exposition in Chicago. I thought, as did many other colored people, that possibly southern prejudice had increased since the great New Orleans exposition and was serving somewhat as a bar to our recognition, but lo and behold, it all turns out to be hoax. Since writing the above I have discovered that the exposition is to be held in 1895 instead of ’94 as I thought, so there will be more time allowed than I had presumed.
Atlanta, G., January 5, 1894