October 14, 1870


In response to a New York Times article empowering African-Americans against those whites who have "shown by word or deed since 1865 this cruel and ungodly pride," The Daily Dispatch has a different solution for African-Americans. The article urges African-Americans take pride in themselves, and stop trying to associate with the white community that has no interest in associating them.


Under this caption the New York Times publishes a report of the proceeding of public meeting of colored people held in that city on the 20th instant. The object of the meeting "appeared to set before the public the present social condition of the colored people" of New York city. The resolutions which were adopted denounce the Democratic party as "wholly undeserving the suffrages of colored voters ether North or South" and call upon the Republican party to "go forward,' and by the "necessary legislation protect the colored people from the injustice they still suffer at the hands of licensed hotel proprietors and chartered "corporations." They also "deplore the continued existence of the spirit of caste which still frequently excludes colored people from hotels, the saloons and staterooms of steamboats, sleeping cars. workshops, places of amusement. equal educational advantage," and from social "recognition." A letter was read from Wendell Phil in which he calls upon the negroes to "never to forgot or forgive at the ballot-box any man who has even once, through ignorance even, shown byword or deed since 1855 this cruel and ungodly pride." Fred. Douglas also wrote a letter to the meeting. If the colored people wish to be respected by the whites, they must first learn to respect themselves. We can imagine no better proof of their inferiority, and no course of proceeding better calculated to call down upon them with general contempt, than their lugubrious complaint that the whites do not want to associate with them. If they are as good as the whites, why do they not show it by their acts? Let them open their own hotels, theatres, churches, and what not, and refuse to admit the whites. They have the right to do so. We should in that event soon see whether the whites would complain of this exclusion. The whites claim to be better than the biacks, and they prove that they assert this claim in good faith by segregating themselves from the company of the blacks, and never asking to be allowed to associate with them. They frequent their own theatres and hotels, and associate only with person of their own race. The blacks proless to consider themselves as in every way the equals of the whites, and yet they are eternally whining out the complaint that the are not permitted to associate with people who, so they declare, are not a whit better than themselves. If the blacks are the equals of the whites, why cannot the blacks content themselves with their own excellent company? Why should they shame their manhood and belie all their fine speeches by efforts to force themselves into the company of people who look upon them as inferiors? The unavoidable inference from such conduct is that the blacks are so conscious of their inferiority that they cannot hide that consciousness even when they most affect an arrogant carriage. They confess to this consciousness whenever they complain of their ostracism from the company of the whites. If they really believed themselves to be the equals of the whites, they would scorn the idea of asking for social recognition at their hands, just as the humblest white man in the land would scorn to ask of any other white man lie privilege of associating with him. We utter these unpleasant truths - truth as they seem to us - in no spirit of unkindness. We would have the blacks respect themselves. We would like to see them too proud to ask for social recognition from our race. We are pleased that in this city they have their own hotels and churches, and we would like to set them carry the same spirit of independence into other places. They cannot build railroads for themselves; but they can be proud enough to ride in the cars assigned to colored people and not base enough to crave the company of men who do not wish to associate with them. They should have for the the same price as comfortable seats as the whites have, and should not be compelled to ride in smoking ears. They should, in a word, be treated with even-handed Justice and the respect due to them. But when this is done, all will have been doue that the colored people of sense would expect.
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Travis Terry




“"Caste",” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed November 28, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1858.