Up from Slavery: an autobiography eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 269 pages of information about Up from Slavery.
of the law in the District of Columbia.  The public schools in Washington for coloured people were better then than they were elsewhere.  I took great interest in studying the life of our people there closely at that time.  I found that while among them there was a large element of substantial, worthy citizens, there was also a superficiality about the life of a large class that greatly alarmed me.  I saw young coloured men who were not earning more than four dollars a week spend two dollars or more for a buggy on Sunday to ride up and down Pennsylvania Avenue in, in order that they might try to convince the world that they were worth thousands.  I saw other young men who received seventy-five or one hundred dollars per month from the Government, who were in debt at the end of every month.  I saw men who but a few months previous were members of Congress, then without employment and in poverty.  Among a large class there seemed to be a dependence upon the Government for every conceivable thing.  The members of this class had little ambition to create a position for themselves, but wanted the Federal officials to create one for them.  How many times I wished them, and have often wished since, that by some power of magic I might remove the great bulk of these people into the county districts and plant them upon the soil, upon the solid and never deceptive foundation of Mother Nature, where all nations and races that have ever succeeded have gotten their start,—­a start that at first may be slow and toilsome, but one that nevertheless is real.

In Washington I saw girls whose mothers were earning their living by laundrying.  These girls were taught by their mothers, in rather a crude way it is true, the industry of laundrying.  Later, these girls entered the public schools and remained there perhaps six or eight years.  When the public school course was finally finished, they wanted more costly dresses, more costly hats and shoes.  In a word, while their wants have been increased, their ability to supply their wants had not been increased in the same degree.  On the other hand, their six or eight years of book education had weaned them away from the occupation of their mothers.  The result of this was in too many cases that the girls went to the bad.  I often thought how much wiser it would have been to give these girls the same amount of maternal training—­and I favour any kind of training, whether in the languages or mathematics, that gives strength and culture to the mind —­but at the same time to give them the most thorough training in the latest and best methods of laundrying and other kindred occupations.

Chapter VI.  Black Race And Red Race

Project Gutenberg
Up from Slavery: an autobiography from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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