Despite the disfranchisement of three-fourths of his voting population, the Negro to-day is a recognized part of the American government. He holds 7,500 offices in the executive service of the nation, besides furnishing four regiments in the army and a large number of sailors. In the state and municipal service he holds nearly 20,000 other offices, and he furnishes 500,000 of the votes which rule the Union.
In these same years the Negro has relearned the lost art of organization. Slavery was the almost absolute denial of initiative and responsibility. To-day Negroes have nearly 40,000 churches, with edifices worth at least $75,000,000 and controlling nearly 4,000,000 members. They raise themselves $7,500,000 a year for these churches.
There are 200 private schools and colleges managed and almost entirely supported by Negroes, and these and other public and private Negro schools have received in 40 years $45,000,000 of Negro money in taxes and donations. Five millions a year are raised by Negro secret and beneficial societies which hold at least $6,000,000 in real estate. Negroes support wholly or in part over 100 old folks’ homes and orphanages, 30 hospitals, and 500 cemeteries. Their organized commercial life is extending rapidly and includes over 22,000 small retail businesses and 40 banks.
Above and beyond this material growth has gone the spiritual uplift of a great human race. From contempt and amusement they have passed to the pity, perplexity, and fear on the part of their neighbors, while within their own souls they have arisen from apathy and timid complaint to open protest and more and more manly self-assertion. Where nine-tenths of them could not read or write in 1860, to-day over two-thirds can; they have 300 papers and periodicals, and their voice and expression are compelling attention. Already in poetry, literature, music, and painting the work of Americans of Negro descent has gained notable recognition. Instead of being led and defended by others, as in the past, American Negroes are gaining their own leaders, their own voices, their own ideals. Self-realization is thus coming slowly but surely to another of the world’s great races, and they are to-day girding themselves to fight in the van of progress, not simply for their own rights as men, but for the ideals of the greater world in which they live: the emancipation of women, universal peace, democratic government, the socialization of wealth, and human brotherhood.
The figures given by the census are as follows: 1850, mulattoes formed 11.2 per cent of the total Negro population. 1860, mulattoes formed 13.2 per cent of the total Negro population. 1870, mulattoes formed 12 per cent of the total Negro population. 1890, mulattoes formed 15.2 per cent of the total Negro population. 1910, mulattoes formed 20.9 per cent of the total Negro population.