“So, beloved fellow citizens, when we calmly survey the evil and the good that came to us through American slavery, it is my opinion that we find more good for which to thank God than we find evil for which to curse man.
“Our President truly says that Abraham Lincoln was in such a position that he was forced to set the negro free. But let us remember that it was Abraham Lincoln and those who labored with him that created this position, from which he could turn neither to the right nor to the left.
“If, in his patriotic soul, we see love for the flag of his country overshadowing every other love, let us not ignorantly deny that other loves were there, deep, strong, and incapable of eradication; and let us be grateful for that.
“Prejudice, pride, self-interest, prompt the whites to oppose our leaving in too large numbers the lower forms of labor for the higher; and they resort to any extreme to carry out their purpose. But this opposition is not an unmixed evil. The prejudice and pride that prompt them to exclude the Negro from the higher forms of labor, also exclude themselves from the lower forms, thus leaving the Negro in undisputed possession of a whole kingdom of labor.
“Furthermore, by denying us clerical positions, and other higher types of labor we shall be forced into enterprises of our own to furnish labor for our own talent. Let us accept the lesson so plainly taught and provide enterprises to supply our own needs and employ our own talents.
“If there is any one thing, more than another, that will push the Negro forth to build enterprises of his own, it will be this refusal of the whites to employ the higher order of labor that the race from time to time produces. This refusal will prove a blessing if we accept the lesson that it teaches. And, too, in considering this subject let us not feel that we are the only people who have a labor problem on hand to be solved. The Anglo-Saxon race is divided into two hostile camps—labor and capital. These two forces are gradually drawing together for a tremendous conflict, a momentous battle. The riots at Homestead, at Chicago, at Lattimer are but skirmishes between the picket lines, informing us that a general conflict is imminent. Let us thank God that we are not in the struggle. Let us thank Him that our labor problem is no worse than it is.
“For our civil rights we are struggling and we must secure them. But if they had all come to us when they first belonged to us, we must frankly admit that we would have been unprepared for them.
“Our grotesque dress, our broken language, our ignorant curiosity, and, on the part of many our boorish manners, would have been nauseating in the extreme to men and women accustomed to refined association. Of course these failings are passing away: but the polished among you have often been made ashamed at the uncouth antics of some ignorant Negroes, courting the attention of the whites in their presence. Let us see to it, then, that we as a people, not a small minority of us, are prepared to use and not abuse the privileges that must come to us.