Part 3: The Conscience of Guilt: The Impact of White Abolitionists and Philanthropists

 

The stimulus for the awakening conscience of America can be left to speculation. We argue though that the following quote taken from "Black Abolitionist” by Benjamin Quarles has some merit.

 

”The religious impulse that guided the early reformers was the belief that slavery was a sin for which God would eventually extract retribution.”

 

Radical abolitionism began to emerge. Benjamin Lundy a Quaker and editor of a paper called” The Genius of Universal Emancipation" became a leader in the movement to abolish slavery. Lundy sought out the services of a young brash idealist named William Lloyd Garrison. Garrison believed in immediate abolition. The Negro must be freed and treated as an equal by all whites, he preached. Compensated emancipation would be criminal, colonization unthinkable.

 

Two other events soon came to impact on the series of events that would shape a new direction for the Abolitionist movement. First was "David Walker’s Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of The World" published in 1829. Walker a free Black born in North Carolina and living in Boston advocated for a more radical approach than Garrison. Walker appealed to the slaves to rise up and free themselves. One cannot say exactly what effect Walker had on the slaves, but the record does show that he created a sensation between the slave owners and between moderate and conservative White people in the north.

 

The second event that stirred the conscience of America and stimulated the abolitionist movement was the fear created by Nat Turner’s rebellion in 1831. Turner hardened the hearts of many slave owners. Many slaveholders who had previously apologized for owning slaves now declared that they would own slaves to the death.

 

The slave revolts also became associated with the philosophy of racism ingrained in Christianity. Carter G. Woodson, "The History of the Negro Church,” records:

 

"Rev. C.C. Jones a Presbyterian, tried to prove that Negroes who had been instructed in the doctrines of Christianity had less tendency toward servile insurrection than those who had been left to heathenism. Even the South Hampton insurrection started by Nat Turner, he contended was due to the fact that, being unable to understand the real scheme of things; Turner had mis-guided the slaves by his false prophecy. Those Negroes who had been well instructed in the principles of Christianity had never been found guiltily of any such crimes.”

 

Meanwhile as the abolitionists continued to stir the conscience of America, the conscience of guilt opted for the developing philosophy of racism. Believing that Blacks would take on the attitude of Nat Turner most slave owners opposed all instruction of Blacks during the 30s and 40s. Thus because of the movements of rebellion staged by Blacks like Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner it became unpopular to teach Blacks to read and the fear of rebellion rested on the hearts and minds of the gatekeepers.

 

A brief look at the inspiration for rebellion witnessed by Gabriel Prosser and Nat Turner reveals that they were two of our early preachers who did not accept the slave rendition of Christianity. Gabriel Prosser in 1800 planned a revolt in Richmond, Virginia. He used the Bible to describe how the slaves could assume the posture of the Israelites and discharge the bonds of slavery, with the aid and comfort of God.

 

Nat Turner in 1831 in South Hampton County, Virginia was a Baptist preacher, who discovered in the Bible the way out of bondage. Through prayer and Bible reading he saw a way of fulfilling his goals of rebellion. (See Joseph Washington, Jr., "Black Religion The Negro and Christianity In The U.S.").

 

The attack on injustice (slavery) by the people of God has not gone unnoticed. Those that have never heard the Word still hear the pain of lost souls worked to extinction in fields of white cotton, stained with the scarlet dried blood of the people from "The Land of the Blacks." They also feel and taste the smell of human sweat produced by the boiling southern sun. We thank Almighty God for the angels that hovered over the fields of southern misery; as the wings of the wind brought the smell of those worked to exhaustion it also gave the presence of life.

 

Meanwhile William Lloyd Garrison launched the Liberator as a newspaper as a militant voice for the tear stained souls of Black folk. "Small wonder, wrote his children, that there were some who took Mr. Garrison for a Black man." (Benjamin Quarles, "Black Abolitionist.")

 

Philanthropy in the United States began to gain greater prominence at the end of the Civil War. The Dictionary of American History records the following:

 

"After the Civil War, and especially after 1900, philanthropy was simulated by prosperity, by tax exemption of charitable and benevolent institutions, and exemption for charitable gifts under income and inheritance tax laws.”

 

Thus, we see the philanthropy of Julius Rosenwald, Andrew Carnegie and the Rockefellers. What was the real interest of these people? Were they really interested in the progress of the Black community? Did they sincerely have an interest in compassion for those less fortunate than themselves? Were these people imperialist and moved by a conscience of pain for lost souls that they had exploited to gain such massive wealth?

 

E. Franklin Frazier in "Black Bourgeoisie" notes the following:

 

"Scarcely two years after the abolition of slavery, philanthropic foundations in the North began to support Negro education in the south. The Peabody Fund in 1867 established common schools for Negroes and were not in favor of racial equality. The Trustees of the fund opposed the Civil Rights Bill pending in congress in 1873.”

 

Meanwhile there were those that reaped cash rewards, the monetary benefits for mis-education. Frazier notes further:

 

"Booker T. Washington's formula for the solution of the race problem was announced at the Atlanta Exposition in 1895. His speech was regarded by the South as the Negroes acceptance of his subordination in America life.”

 

The record shows that northern capitalist who gave support to Black education wanted to control the educational process. Thus, producing programmed Negroes and not Black men. Meanwhile, the South with a more sustained philosophy of racism opposed the proper education of Blacks for various other reasons.

 

As the philosophy of racism developed a soul of guilt clouded the skies of man. Especially clouded were the African sky, the southern sky, and the skies of the Caribbean. Meanwhile this wretched philosophy of economic exploitation produced the role model for Uncle Tomism and Accommodation, as Booker T. (Kiss the Backside of White Folks) Washington. Washington as the representative of the schools offering industrial education became the recipient of millions of dollars from philanthropists for mis-education. Black leadership that protested against the denial of support for other educational programs for Blacks were run out of town and listed as radicals. For example, Atlanta University where DuBois had started a sociological study of the Negro lost the support of the philanthropist. DuBois eventually was forced to leave Atlanta University. For the record Atlanta University (Clark Atlanta University) has a history of denying Academic Freedoms to Afro-Centric scholars. Thus, the FreedomJournal makes no mistake in labeling Clark Atlanta University as one of the leading institutions of Mis-Education in the Black community over time.

 

As the philanthropists developed their philosophy of mis-education the philosophy of racism was further developed. Schools of so-called industrial education were supposed to instill in Black students a spirit of humility and an acceptance of inferior status. Thus, this education of the heart and hand excluded the education of the mind and the power to think.

 

A final note on the role and impact of the philanthropist and the crisis of the Black male promotes the FreedomJournal to make the following statement. We fail to see, the undying faith so many people have in the thinking and philosophy of Booker T. Washington. I even read the other day that there is a comparison being made between Washington and Black leaders that are advocates for self-sufficiency in the Black community. Where does this kind of thinking come from? The self-sufficiency of Washington is not akin to the self-sufficiency proposed by any existing or non- existing Black Nationalist organization. Washington saw self-sufficiency as the training of Blacks to serve White people in menial tasks, as maids, cooks and pseudo-slaves. The contemporary Black Nationalist, and/or religious groups and Marcus Garvey (during the early period of the last century) have never advocated that Blacks should strive to be good servants and flunkies for White America. In the following quote by Frazier in his research "The Black Bourgeoisie" we see what I believe is another example of the Uncle Tom role of Booker T. Washington:

 

"The Rosenwald Fund was set up with the influence of Booker T. Washington. The fund subsidized aspiring Negroes in the fields of art, literature, and science and teaching. It was hostile to any Negro who avowed independence in his thinking in regard to racial and economic problems. When leaders like DuBois and a few others had gained sufficient prestige and security in their profession as not to be crushed by its power the Fund was willing to grant them aid and claim them as allies."

 

 

 

 


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