If the alternative were presented to us of learning a trade or of getting an education, we would learn the trade, for the reason, that with the trade we could get the education while with the education we could not get the trade. What we, as a people, most need, is the means for our own elevation.—An educated colored man, in the United States, unless he has within him the heart of a hero, and is willing to engage in a lifelong battle for his rights, as a man, finds few inducements to remain in this country. He is isolated in the land of his birth—debarred by his color from congenial association with whites; he is equally cast out by the ignorance of the blacks. The remedy for this must comprehend the elevation of the masses; and this can only be done by putting the mechanic arts within the reach of colored men.
We have now stated pretty strongly the case of our colored countrymen; perhaps some will say, too strongly, but we know whereof we affirm.
In view of this state of things, we appeal to the abolitionists. What Boss anti-slavery mechanic will take a black boy into his wheelwright’s shop, his blacksmith’s shop, his joiner’s shop, his cabinet shop? Here is something practical; where are the whites and where are the blacks that will respond to it? Where are the antislavery milliners and seamstresses that will take colored girls and teach them trades, by which they can obtain an honorable living? The fact that we have made good cooks, good waiters, good barbers, and white-washers, induces the belief that we may excel in higher branches of industry. One thing is certain; we must find new methods of obtaining a livelihood, for the old ones are failing us very fast.
We, therefore, call upon the intelligent and thinking ones amongst us, to urge upon the colored people within their reach, in all seriousness, the duty and the necessity of giving their children useful and lucrative trades, by which they may commence the battle of life with weapons, commensurate with the exigencies of conflict.—African Repository, vol. xxix., pp. 136, 137.
(Written by a highly respectable gentleman of the South in 1854)
Several years ago I saw in the Repository, copied from the Colonization Herald, a proposal to establish a college for the education of young colored men in this country. Since that time I have neither seen nor heard anything more of it, and I should be glad to hear whether the proposed plan was ever carried into execution.
Four years ago I conversed with one of the officers of the Colonization Society on the subject of educating in this country colored persons intending to emigrate to Liberia, and expressed my firm conviction of the paramount importance of high moral and mental training as a fit preparation for such emigrants.