A Colored Man to Colored Men

October 22, 1867


A "colored" man speaks out to his fellow "colored" citizens about the important decision they must make in the election as they are currently being taken advantage of and will continue to be mistreated by their employers if they make the wrong choice."


A Colored Man to Colored Men. (The following letter from Solon Johnson) respectable colored man of this city, to his fellow-citizens of the one race, contains reflections worthy of consideration by them: To my Colored Fellow Citizens my return to the city after an absence of three months, finding much confusion of opinion and feeling among my people on the eve of the most important day for our race, I wish to address a few words of explanation and of warning to my own people, whose interest is the same as mine. As soon as it became known that for the first time we were to be entitled to vote in the elections, I saw that mean and designing men were trying to get the ear of the colored people, and to put them at enmity with those they have lived with all their lives; and alter a little While I was satisfied that many of them had carried away by these evil people, who were strangers among ns and adventurers, and I thought it right, with some others, that we should hear what gentlemen we had known and respected all our lives had to say, and so wo invited them to address us at the Theatre. From that day to this some of the colored people, under the lend of these bail men, have threatened and abused me, and called me a rebel and other names, though my only object has been, ns it is now, to benefit my race and advance their interests. I knew that my people were ignorant about political matters, and I wanted them to be informed. I did not wish them to be tied hand and foot, as they are now by these men, in a worse slavery than before, because it is a slavery of the mind. A great many of them have gone beyond the reach of reason; but there are very many of them who are beginning to find out that I was right : that the while people and the colored have got to live together in the South, and that it is better to uveal peace than at war I wished to be with my people in all things if possible, but I could not follow them in giving up and abusing old friends, and tying on to men I knew nothing about, who would use them as long as they wanted to, and then throw litem aside and trample on them. So, as I cannot go with them, they abuse me; but the day will come, and it is not long, when they will see that I have been their truest friend, and they will wish they had not
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“A Colored Man to Colored Men,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed December 7, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/740.