WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH: THE LYNCHING OF AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN
By Marilyn Kai Jewett
Many of us who are students of history know about the thousands of Black men who were lynched in this nation. However, most don’t know about the many African American women who were also lynched. Last year, I came across a website dedicated to Henrietta Vinton Davis, a prominent and fearless leader in Marcus Garveys’ Universal
Laura Nelson is the only woman of whom a photograph is known to exist who was lynched in America.
Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). The website included a listing of documented cases of African American women who had been lynched between 1870 and 1957. The website provides documented information on these women – their names, dates, places, the reason they were lynched and with whom they were lynched. Reading this made me angry and brought tears to my eyes. Reading the details of these lynchings is hard and painful, but necessary for those who want to know the truth. This is part of our history — Amerikkkan history – world history — that must be taught to our children and grandchildren. They will not learn this in school. It’s up to us to teach them the true history of the U.S. that proclaims that it’s “one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.” Right.
These “women,” many of whom were children, were not just lynched — they were raped and tortured before being hung, shot or burned by mobs of white men. Now days, African Americans ostracize Black people who are Republican. However, the first three women on the list – Mrs. John Simes lynched in 1870 in Henry County, Kentucky and Mrs. Hawkins and her daughter, lynched in 1872 in Fayette County, Kentucky, were all murdered for being Republicans!
Many of these women were lynched for standing up for themselves and their families. If their husband or son was accused of a crime and couldn’t be found, the females in the family were lynched. Entire families, including the children were lynched together. Some were lynched merely because they were Black. Others were lynched because they dared to have a dispute with a white person.
Hannah Kearse was lynched in 1895 in Colleton, South Carolina with her mother and son for supposedly stealing a bible. Jennie McCall was lynched in 1903 in Hamilton, Florida by mistake! Mercy Hall was lynched in 1922 in Oklahoma City for strike activity. Eliza Bryant was lynched May 25, 1926 in Duplin, North Carolina for having the nerve to be successful. The last sister on the list, Mrs. Frank Clay, was lynched November 18, 1957 in Henderson, North Carolina for having a dispute with a white person. I was 3 years-old in 1957.
I’m sure most people don’t know about these women, but we must never forget women like pregnant Mary Turner who was lynched May 17, 1918 in Brooks County, Georgia to teach her a lesson. After her husband was lynched, Mary threatened to have those who lynched him arrested. She fled, but the mob pursued her and found her the next morning. She was eight months pregnant when the mob of several hundred took her to a stream, tied her ankles together and hung her from a tree upside down. She was doused with gasoline and set on fire. One of the mob took a knife and split open her womb so that her unborn baby fell to the ground. The baby’s head was then crushed under the heels of her murderers. But, that wasn’t enough for the demonic mob. They finished Mary off by riddling her body with bullets – to teach her a lesson.
Flyer for the 2015 Sacred Libation Ceremony
Seventeen year-old Marie Scott was lynched on March 31, 1914 in Wagoner County, Oklahoma by a white mob of at least a dozen males. Two drunken white men had broken into her house as she was dressing and raped her. Her brother heard her screams for help, kicked down the door, killed one assailant and fled. Unable to find her brother, the mob lynched Marie. After she was arrested, the mob took Marie from jail, threw a rope over her head as she screamed and hung her from a telephone pole.
Sisters Alma, 16 and Maggie Howze (House) 20, were both pregnant by Dr. E. L. Johnston, a married, white dentist who used them both as his sex slaves, when beaten and hung in 1918 from a bridge near Shutaba, Mississippi for allegedly killing him. Alma was close to giving birth when lynched. Eyewitnesses at her burial said that that the movements of her unborn baby could be detected.
Laura Nelson was accused of murdering a sheriff who had supposedly discovered stolen goods in her house. She was lynched with her 15 year-old son in 1911 in Okemah, Oklahoma. Laura and her son were taken from jail, dragged six miles to the Canadian River, where she was raped by the mob before she and her son were hung from a bridge.
Ann Barksdale (Ann Bostwick) was lynched in Pinehurst, Georgia on June 24, 1912 for supposedly killing her white, female employer. There was no trial and no statement was taken from Ann who authorities claimed had mental issues and should have been placed in a hospital. The mob was in a festive mood when they placed her in a car with a rope around her neck and the other end tied to a tree limb. Her murderers drove at a high speed until she was strangled to death. To make sure she was dead, the mob shot her eyes out and riddled her body with so many bullets that she was “cut in two.”
These lynchings are a part of the “African Holocaust – the Maafa” that some folks, including some Negroes, want us to forget. The Maafa included the Middle Passage, 300+ years of chattel slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow/De Facto segregation and continues to this day. Some of those people – African American and white — who witnessed these lynchings as children are still around.
The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth on them. — Ida B. Wells
These African American women, men and children were lynched with the cooperation of local law enforcement – many of whom were leaders of the local Ku Klux Klan. However, there’s a different kind of lynch mob in 21st Century Amerikkka. People of African descent are still being lynched by those who uphold this tainted, blood-stained system – the police, the courts, politicians who make the laws and yes, the media. So when you speak of the modern day lynchings of Brandon Tate-Brown, Phil Africa, Michael Brown, Troy Davis, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant and the countless men of African descent whose lives were unlawfully taken by police and the judicial system, remember our sisters who were brutally lynched by the mob.
Once again, I am asking all spiritually-conscious women and men of African descent to join me 3:00PM, Sunday, March 29 at Congo (Washington) Square, 7th & Walnut Streets in Philadelphia for the Second Annual Sacred Libation Ceremony in remembrance of our departed sisters. Although we are doing this in Philly, the ancestors want to be remembered with sacred libation ceremonies throughout the nation. We must never forget these women – our sisters, our ancestors — who were brutally tortured and murdered. NEVER AGAIN!
Second Annual Sacred Libation Ceremony in Remembrance on March 29
By Iya Marilyn Kai Jewett
Laura Nelson is the only one of the Black Women who were lynched in America of whom we have a known photograph.
Last year while reading articles on a Black news website, I noticed a link to an article about Black women who were lynched. Being a student of history, I followed the link which led to another Black website and read the story which detailed the history of 150 documented cases of Black women in the U.S. who had been lynched between 1870 and 1957. These “women,” many of whom were mere girls were not just lynched — they were raped and tortured before being hung, shot or burned by mobs of white men. The first three women on the list – Mrs. John Simes lynched in 1870 in Henry County, Kentucky and Mrs. Hawkins and her daughter, lynched in 1872 in Fayette County, Kentucky, were all murdered for being republicans!
I have been a student of history (American, Black/African and ancient history) since I was a child. I knew that thousands of African people in America have been lynched. I read “The Lynching Calendar” that lists 2,400 of the 5,000 documented lynchings of African people in the U.S., but I didn’t realize there were this many women lynched! The website with The Lynching Calendar” has since mysteriously disappeared.
A post on another Black website provided documented information on these women – their names, the dates, places, the reason they were lynched and with whom they were lynched. Reading this made me angry and brought tears to my eyes. I sent it to my email list and told the brothers and sisters to send it to every person of African descent they know. This is part of our history — Amerikkkan history that we must pass to our children and grandchildren. They will not learn this in school. It’s up to us to teach them.
After reading the accounts of the lynchings, the Egun (ancestors) spoke to me and directed me to do something so they will be remembered. I broke down and cried like a baby because I could feel the horror and pain that these women endured. Olódùmarè help me! Egun directed me to conduct a sacred libation ceremony to remember them and bring some peace to their souls. They also directed me to do this annually on the designated day. I will conduct this annual ritual as long as I have breath in my body.
I’m sure most people don’t know about these women, but we must never forget women like pregnant Mary Turner who was lynched May 17, 1918 in Brooks County, Georgia to teach her a lesson. After her husband was lynched, Mary threatened to have those who lynched her husband arrested. She fled, but the mob pursued her and found her the next morning. She was eight months pregnant when the mob of several hundred took her to a stream, tied her ankles together and hung her from a tree with her head down. She was doused with gasoline and set on fire. One of the mob took a knife and split her stomach open so that her unborn baby fell to the ground. The baby’s head was crushed under the heels of the mob. But, that wasn’t enough for the demonic mob. They finished Mary off by riddling her body with bullets.
Sisters Alma (16) and Maggie Howze (20) were both pregnant by Dr. E. L. Johnston, a dentist who used them both as his sex slaves, when lynched in 1918 in Mississippi for allegedly killing him. Eyewitnesses at Alma’s burial said that that the movements of her unborn baby could be detected.
Laura Nelson was accused of murdering a sheriff who had discovered stolen goods in her house. She was lynched together with her son (15), in 1911 in Okemah, Oklahoma. Laura and her son were taken from jail, dragged six miles to the Canadian River, where she was raped by the mob before she and her son were hung from a bridge.
2015 Sacred Libation Ceremony Flyer
These lynchings are a part of the “African Holocaust – the Maafa” that some folks, including some Negroes, want us to forget. The Maafa included the Middle Passage, 300+ years of chattel slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation and continues to this day. For more information on these lynchings, go to https://henriettavintondavis.wordpress.com/2009/07/22/recorded/.
Last year 25-30 of you came in the pouring rain to witness this important ritual. Thank you for standing up for our sisters! Once again, I am asking all spiritually-conscious women and men of African descent to join me 3:00PM, Sunday, March 29 at Congo (Washington) Square, 7th & Walnut Streets for the second annual sacred libation ceremony in remembrance of our sisters. Please wear white – no black or dark colors. Bring your children because they must know and learn about this forgotten history so it will never be repeated. We must never forget these women – our sisters — who were brutally tortured and lynched.
The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth on them. This is an advertisement taken from the Washington Bee newspaper dated Saturday October 22, 1892. It is an advertisement for Ida B. Wells’ lecture held at Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C. Her subject that night was “Southern Mob Rule.” She was introduced by Timothy Thomas Fortune, editor of the New York Age and later an editor of the Negro World Newspaper. Presiding at the event was Mary Church Terrell.
This article tells the journey of three men: their discovery of “The Shero of Our Story,” the lack of a marker on her grave, and the founding of the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation to rectify that historical oversight.
JULY 20, 2013 is HENRIETTA VINTON DAVIS GRAVE MARKER UNVEILING
-Events to recognize cultural icon-
Washington, DC –Today the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation (HVDMF) announced plans to unveil a marker at the grave of its namesake in National Harmony Memorial Park. The Foundation has as its mission to raise awareness of the life and legacy of Shakespearean actor, elocutionist, dramatic reader and activist Henrietta Vinton Davis.
Miss Davis remained relatively unrecognized until July 1983 when an article entitled “Henrietta Vinton Davis and the Garvey Movement” by Professor William Seraile was published in the journal ‘Afro-Americans in New York Life and History’. Nearly a year later, acknowledgment of her contributions increased with the publication of the book ‘Shakespeare in Sable’ written by Professor Errol Hill of Dartmouth University. Her home in Northeast Washington, DC has been listed on Cultural Tourism DC’s African American Heritage Trail since 1999.
On Saturday July 20, 2013 the HVDMF starts the day off with an award presentation and celebration at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, culminating with the unveiling of a marker at Miss Davis’ grave site at National Harmony Memorial Park. Guest speakers and celebrants include:
Dr. William Seraile (Bruce Grit), Barbara Eklof (For Every Season), Kevin Grace (Friends of Joe Gans), Nnamdi Azikiwe (Vinton Davis Weblog) and Mwariama Kamau (UNIA). Producing partners for the occasion are Vaunita Goodman (MTPC) and Michon Boston (Iola’s Letter). Clayton LeBouef (Something The Lord Made, The Wire, Homicide) will serve as Master of Ceremonies.
In 2008, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty issued a proclamation designating August 25 ‘Henrietta Vinton Davis Day.’ The decree acknowledged Davis as the first African American to work at the DC Recorder of Deeds office beginning in 1878, before Frederick Douglass was appointed Recorder. She made her career debut as a Shakespearean actor, elocutionist and dramatic reader in Washington, DC on April 25, 1883 where she was introduced by Douglass, a family friend. The proclamation acknowledges the success of Miss Davis as a public speaker and cultural icon.
Celebration / Award Presentation recognizing Vera J. Katz, (Professor Emerita Howard University Theatre Arts) and others will be conducted in the A-5 Auditorium 11am-1:30-pm at the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial Library 901 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 727-0321
Livication / Henrietta Vinton Davis Marker Unveiling will be conducted 3pm-5pm at her grave site in National Harmony Memorial Park 7101 Sheriff Road Largo, MD (301) 772-0900
Events are free and open to the public.
About Henrietta Vinton Davis
For thirty-five years after her debut performing “Shakespearean delineations”, original plays and dramatic readings with her own performing company, and local troupes throughout the United States, South America and the Caribbean, Henrietta Vinton Davis broke new ground as a successful theatrical artisan. Her commitment to her craft gained her recognition as the first African American “woman of the stage.”
During 1919, a year notable for its “Red Summer,” she joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League headed by Marcus Garvey.
As a leader of the African Redemption Movement, Davis made use of her acting skills to promote the aims and objectives of the UNIA. Her ability to “transport her listeners” to another place with her oratorical skills played a key role in both attracting members to the organization and promoting the Black Star Line Shipping Company. As such, she was elected to numerous positions including International Organizer, and Third Assistant President General of the UNIA. Additionally, as Vice President and a Director of the Black Star Line, Davis was the de facto authority aboard the Black Star Line’s flagship vessel, the S.S. Yarmouth, on its maiden voyage. The ship was laden with a cargo worth upwards of $5.000.000 destined for the Caribbean. On the ship’s return Marcus Garvey proclaimed Miss Davis “the greatest woman of the [African] race today” in a meeting at the UNIA’s Liberty Hall.
About The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation
Initially organized to raise funds for a marker at the grave of Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis
in 2005, the mission of The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation has evolved to include publishing books, producing plays, films/videos and conducting symposiums educating the general public about her life and the times in which she lived.
A scene from the play Christophe by William Edgar Easton
The lynching of Laura Nelson. "The Strangest Fruit of All" is a planned documentary on the lynching of Black Women.
Click here to order a Shield of Righteous Power t-shirt. Your purchase of the Shield of Righteous Power T-shirt aids in funding the production of the documentary "The Strangest Fruit of All: Black Women Who Were Lynched."
We want to make a documentary on Black women who were lynched. We plan to produce the video in honor and recognition of the 148 African American women who are known to have been lynched and those whose names we do not know. We intend to have 148 women speak the names of the women on the list, the date they died and the place where they were made into martyrs. We also intend showing footage from the locations where they joined the ancestors, as well as interviewing Professor Maria Delongoria, Dr. Daniel Meaders and others for their insight into the lynching of women.
1. At least 148 black women are known to have been lynched in America.
2. We want to inform the public of the true nature of lynching.
3. Would you be willing to share this message with others? In so doing we increase awareness and gain support for this project.
Clayton LeBouef has a very clear memory of when he first encountered Henrietta Vinton Davis. It was 1992, not long before he won the role of Baltimore Police Col. George Barnfather in TV’s Homicide: Life on the Street. LeBouef was a Washington, D.C.-based actor performing in a CenterStage production of Shakespeare’s little-produced Pericles. Rehearsals were over, and opening night loomed.
Cultural Tourism DC announced that it will unveil a plaque at the former residence of the Honorable Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis on May 8, 2010 at 2pm.
Miss Davis’ residence has been a part of Cultural Tourism DC’s African American Heritage Trail for nearly a decade. The recognition comes on the heels of a “Livication” program honoring Miss Davis at Washington, DC’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library held on Sunday March 14, 2010. The program was a collaborative effort between the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation and the Martin Luther King, Jr, Memorial Library. The event was the kickoff for an exhibit recognizing Miss Davis’ significance as an elocutionist, dramatic reader and Shakespearean actor.
Her career marked a turning point in the history of Africans in America. She earned a living as a performing artist at a time when there were few with the training and skills to perform with her.
“We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind.”
“Redemption Song” by Bob Marley
Those words are widely associated with the lyrics in “Redemption Song” by Robert Nesta (Bob) Marley:
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds.
The Work That Has Been Done, Marcus Garvey, October 31, 1937, Sydney Nova Scotia
Few know those sentences and thereby the song’s true meaning. Those words can be traced to Marcus Garvey. In fact though Garvey’s movement was disparaged as being a “Back to Africa” movement, Garvey and his supporters refer to it as a movement for “African Redemption,” which has a reference in the song’s title. The earliest known reference to the concept of “African Redemption” can be found in a letter written by Benjamin Lundy on May 28th, 1833. The letter was addressed to the Annual Convention of Free People of Color Convention due to meet in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lundy’s words to that effect are as follows:
A new era has opened upon the world! The “dark age” of African oppression is drawing to its close; and the happy “millennium” of African redemption is near at hand! Let the inhabitants of that ill-fated continent rejoice, and her children wherever scattered, sing praises to the Most High, on the “banks of deliverance.”
In Garvey’s only work that can be considered an actual book “The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey” Volume 1 is “Dedicated to the true and loyal members of the Universal Negro Improvement Association in the cause of African redemption.”
Thereby it can be claimed Bob Marley paraphrased Marcus Garvey’s speech “The Work That Has Been Done” for not only that key lyric, but the song’s title as well. The speech is presented in its entirety below.
MARCUS GARVEY SPEAKING IN MENELIK HALL, SYDNEY, NOVA SCOTIA.
THE WORK THAT HAS BEEN DONE.
Printed in Black Man 3 Number 10, July 1938
The meeting started with a musical programme. Among those present on the platform were the Mayor of Sydney, the Rev. Ford the Chairman, the Hon. Mr. Morrison, M.L.C., Officers of the Divisions and the Choir.
the Rev. ford said: your Hon. President-General, Your Worship, Ladies and Gentlemen: At this meeting, the first of a series that the hon. Marcus Garvey is going to deliver, I stand before you expressing a peculiar and personal greeting to him this evening. We extend greeting to you from this City of Sydney and Cape Breton. In the person of the Hon. Marcus Garvey we have a man of the race who is conscious of his task. In him we have a captain at the helm. He has been called to administer to the people of African descent. He is a tried and true captain. We send our sons and daughters to college because they must cope with conditions. You must answer whether this race is ready for true leadership. We must hope for that time when every man of the race can say, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
There was a musical programme, after which the Chairman called upon His Worship, Mayor Mather, to say a few words.
Mayor Mather: Rev. Mr. Chairman, Hon. Mr. Garvey, Ladies and Gentlemen: I think that this is the second time that it has been my pleasure and privilege to meet you in this hall. I was present at the opening of this hall and I was pleased to have been here. It was a pleasure just as it is now to be with you again. When the committee asked me to be here tonight to say a few words to your President-General I was glad in the first place because I have the opportunity of welcoming him and in the second because I would be allowed to be present to hear the stirring message which I am sure he will deliver to you tonight. On behalf of the citizens of the city of Sydney I extend to you a very cordial welcome to our city of Sydney and hope your stay will be a pleasant one and the message will be of such a nature as will induce you to gird your loins about you and accomplish greater things than they have done so far. The coloured colony in this city is one of which may well be proud. All you have to do is to look around and see this hall that they have built themselves, and it is theirs and theirs alone. This is a hall which any group of citizens in any community in Canada may well be proud. It shows what can be done with united effort on the part of any group. There is one great thing about your colony here. It is a minority colony. The object lesson to be drawn, therefore, is that while granting to the community the same rights, you should stick together in forwarding your own race. If you do that there is no limit to which you will not reach. If you bicker and are jealous of each other you cannot accomplish much. One of the first principles you must have is unity among yourselves because you are a minority group among other large groups. I am glad Mr. Garvey has come to this part of the country, and I am glad to be here to welcome him and to listen to his message. I thank you very much.
Mr. Ford: Your message has been a stimulant to each and every one of us this evening. (A piano solo was rendered.) I will now call on him who by guidance of god will say much that will be uplifting and inspiring.
Mr. Garvey: citizens of Sydney, Ladies and Gentlemen: this is the first time I have had the opportunity of visiting Nova Scotia. In my administrative capacity as President-General of the U.N.I.A. I have had to deal with communications and business matters going through the many Divisions or Branches of the Association in this section. Not having the privilige of knowing some of you by correspondence. I was very pleased at the hearty reception you gave me this morning, but tonight I am flattered with the genuine and spontaneous hospitality extended to me, evidenced by your large and truly representative gathering. I understand that the group of you who live in this section of Canada asked your Mayor to extend to me your goodwill, not only yours but those who could not find it possible to get here. Indeed I am flattered, indeed I am pleased, and I wnt to assure you i shall never forget this myfirst appearance in Sydney and in Nova Scotia.
I have come here to you from the Parent Organization with Headquarters in London as part of a tour I am making in the interest of the Organization. i came to Canada about six weeks ago direct to Toronto to preside over a regional Conference of the Organization of the American and Canadian Branches. I can only spend a short time in your midst. I am visiting two other Divisions — Glace Bay and New Waterford. On the 7th I sail for the West Indies to speak to those islands of the Leeward and Windward group and British Guiana. The U.N.I.A. is engaged in presenting its programme for the next twenty years. We have just passed the first twenty years with glorious achievements. The first twenty years reveal that this Organization did more in this twenty years than any movement since we lost our imperial power in Africa. We brought a consciousness to the race that never existed before. We organized our race throughout the world without the exception of one spot. Africa, the West Indies, the United States, South and Central America, whereever the Negro was to be found the U.N.I.A. reached him and took to him a consciousness of his race and of his responsibility. In the past twenty years we have given consciousness to the race professionally and otherwise. There are people who would not think of their success but for the inspiration they receive from the U.N.I.A. Thousands in the professions, in the Civil Service of the Colonial powers, who never would have had a chance but for the advocacy of the U.N.I.A. which we call the first epoch of the U.N.I.A.
I come to you with the best of fellowship, with the best of spirit, with the desire that you maintain that good relationship with the good Canadians with whom you live.
Mr. Mayor, I thank you very much, sir, for your welcome and for the way you have plainly stated the case of our group here. Indeed, are a minority and a small minority at that. I hope we will all realize it. Minorities wherever they happen to find themselves should unite because they are in the midst of a majority. The temper of the majority cannot always be guaranteed even with the best Government. We have had evidence of that in Germany and in other continental countries. Minorities must be very thoughtful in living in the midst of majorities. Your conduct must be of such as to leave no loophole to constitute you an annoyance to the majority, as to give the majority the idea that you are not a people to be in their midst. Alien minorities are always at a disadvantage because they are not in their homeland. We have our homes and we have one principal home, and that home is Africa. that home is disturbed today — the peace of it — the intrusion of others. Our respective homes have been intruded upon. The result is that a large number of us are abroad because of those circumstances and conditions. But wherever we go as a race we have always maintained the peace, we have always assumed and carried the peace. We have never been the aggressors in any society or any form of government. We have always been a peaceful people, sir, and I feel sure you will never find fault with those who live in Sydney. We are not Communists, we are not Reds of any kind. We are just working in co-operation with others. We are radicals though in connection with our country. We want to restore our country to its ancient glory. We are seeking to restore the land of our fathers. We came here not by our will — we were pulled here. We had a terrible time in those early days. We did our bit under difficult circumstances here to build up the glory of the race that enslaved us at the time. We contributed a lot to that civilization. If for nothing else that race owes us a lot. We think there is no country more able to help us than Canada. Canada has always played a fair game. Canada is conscious of the wrong that was imposed upon us to help build up the civilization of which Canada is a part. We were brought to lay the prop of the present civilization. We toiled for it. We bore on our shoulders the heavy burden of this civilization. Cane, sugar, rum, cotton, were the industries on which the present civilization was built. We carried the load upon our shoulders. If a picture were to be shown as to how the present civilization was built you will find the Negro building it up. We are glad that you are giving the Negro a chance in Sydney. The U.N.I.A. realizes that it has a responsibility not only to the group but to the world at large to place the Negro in his proper place. You, sir, and all, do realize that our world is undergoing changes now — very important changes — changes that are affecting all groups. The changes in the world today are affecting all groups of men. This has led to the particular group seeking its way out. The Jews are seeking the way out; the Japanese, the Chinese, the Hindu, the black man, is seeking his way out, but we are seeking our way out in a different way to other people. We believe in the law of reason and not in the law of the gun. We believe the gunsman is a dangerous man to society anywhere. We believe that nature never intended man to be a gunsman or the Creator would have given him a pistol in the Garden of Eden. The use of the pistol is contrary to the laws of nature. We believe nature is a mighty power. She acts carefully and slowly but she grinds positively. We believe nature is on our side. If we keep within the laws of nature, that first cause and the Almighty Power will in time take care of the human situation. We are not using any pistols where we are. I do not know if in the whole of Sydney you will find more than five pistols among Negroes. I believe you will find more Bibles and Prayer Books than pistols. Whether with or without pistols, the Negro is looking up for his place in the world and i feel sure no self-respecting white man will blame him. We have been the most faithful servants, whether in the stable or in the mines. We have never been disagreeable workers anywhere. We have worked in this Western world to help others, and we feel that the conscience of others will cause them to help us. So long as Canada is Canada and the Negro lives here, he will be a good citizen. But like the Irish in Canada, he has to be thinking of that homeland across the seas. Not that he will think of going there, but he is helping to restore the land of his fathers. The Irish Canadian has helped to restore Ireland, although he has not disturbed Canada. He thinks he should bestow some rights on Ireland. Although we have been away for three hundred years, yet we still have a feeling for the homeland.
In 1928, when I was at the League of Nations, among the many statesmen who gave encouragement to us was the then Prime Minister, the Hon. McKenzie King. He then assured me of his goodwill toward our cause, and he has ever been a good friend of our cause. (A voice: He has to be elected next election.) So long as you have good men like the Hon. McKenzie King you will get your rights as citizens.
Scientists said once that the Negro was the missing link, but now they realize that the Negro is the oldest man in creation. He is so old that he is black, and everything darkens by age, therefore he could not be the missing link. Something must be missing from his link. That the Negro is old and that accounts for his colour there is a lot behind it. Because once upon a time we were a great people. We built the Pyramids and the Sphinx. When history is written in truth you will find that the first civilization was projected from the Nile on the Congo Basin. In the earliest dawn of civilization you found the Negro in Benin, in Timbuktoo, in Alexandria. Anthropologists will tell you that the Pharoahs were black men. When they dug up the mummy of Tutankamen and saw he was a black man they would not tell you the truth. Civilization went across the north to Europe to India, to China, all the way down and proved that the black man had circumnavigated the world. The North American Indian, the Australian Aboriginal, the Aztecs of South America were all people who became what they were through the contact of Africans who had travelled across the continents when they were carrying their civilization, just as how the great white man is travelling around the world to-day and planting the evidence of his race, but before modern history was written and produced in the different continents there were different shades of colour, each had their original civilization. Like all great people we fell. The present civilization is not the only one that existed, but before this we had Roman civilization, Greek Civilization, Persian civilization, Babylonian civilization, and even medieval Egyptian civilization, but the Negro civilization anti-dated that. The African went down with his blundering civilization, the Persian, the Greek, the Roman all went down and we do not know how long this civilization will stand with its Mussolinis and its Hitlers. Civilization is a cycle. It changes. I should like to see black and white get on so well toghether that the black man will remember how kind he was. It is the only way we are going to get along because man is man for that. The white man is no missing link, nor the black man, nor the yellow man either. Surely no animal could achieve what Marconi did, what Edison did, what the great engineers did, what the great scientists did. Surely no man could do what the Japanese are doing, no missing link could do what Carver is doing at Tuskegee. He is the greatest chemist to-day, who can bring out of one product so many chemicals. No monkey could do what the brown bomber did to the Welshman. If man will let a monkey beat him then he is lower than a monkey. We are men whether we are white, yellow or black, because we have one origin. We came from the same place and we are going back to the same place. The Negro went to sleep for a long while, resting from his labours, but he slept too long, so everybody stole a march on him and therefore he is the only man without a country; and so the U.N.I.A. seeks to restore the Negro to his own vine and fig tree. Economically, for his own interest, the white man will not like it, but deep down in his heart he will say that the Negro is right. I would like to see Canada for the Canadians, England for the English, America for the Americans and in the same way I want to see Africa for the Africans, those at home and those abroad, so that when we are sick and tired and weary we may lay our heads in the lap of our mother and ask her to comfort us, bless us before we die. Every people should have a flag, a land of their own, and the U.N.I.A. points you to achieve something. A large number of you were and are members and I bring you the greetings of those in the other parts of the world.
We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign.
The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind, because man is related to man under all circumstances for good or for ill. If man is not able to protect himself from the other man he should use his mind to good advantage. The fool will always carry the heavy burden. The fool will always be crushed without a tear from God or man because God Almight never made a fool. God is all wise. When God Almight made man in His own image and likeness, it wasn’t the physical, it was the mind that was like God. Every man represents God in his unitary intelligence. When man abuses that intelligence he lowers himself. God has given you intelligence to take care of you. He hasn’t repeated Himself yet. God was so thoughtful of man and his progeny that he made a variety of things so as to pander to the taste of the Adams that would come after the first. When God made you He made you the masters of the world, not serfs and slaves, but your mind must be developed intelligently. It is your mind that rules the body. You cannot go further than that mind to seek truth and to know truth and to re-act to truth. That is the only way you will be able to protect your group. The white man is still doing research work with his mind. It has taken him to the bowels of the earth to extract what nature placed there for him. On that same intelligence he has gone into Heaven. What you see in Sydney, in Nova Scotia is only the fringe of the white man’s intelligence. Everything that you see that is methodical is the product of the white man’s mind. He visualizes nations and kingdoms and he has them. There is nothing spiritual around his materialism. They are all objective things realized, dreamt and thought out. Sydney is only what men have visualized to a greater extent. The British Empire was the visualization of men like Raleigh, and Drake, who seeing things of value, attached them to the mother country. If places are not well protected then men take them and add them to their Empires. The U.N.I.A. is dreaming of a day when the Negro will possess himself of a homeland, when he will build for himself. The man who cannot build for himself is not only a poor fish in the sea, but ultimately will be a dead fish, plodding for himself. Nobody wants to die except the fool, because life is a worth-while thing. It is only people who are together can survive now-a-days. It is only by organising that we can get anywhere, as the Mayor told you. We are looking for the redemption and the freedom of our homeland. (We hope, sir, to invite you to Sydney, in Africa, because there we shall have different things than you have in Canada.)
Our obsession is like that of the Jews. They are working for Palestine. We are working for Africa, like the Irishman, he is working for Ireland, and the Canadian is working for a grand and noble Canada. We are helping to send on the great force of power of Canadian industry when the Canadians will realize that they too can help us to do some good as we have been helping them to do some good. We have been helping to build and up to now we are not dead, we have not fallen. The Negro has the power of resistance. He can do the job. I feel sure, as you have done in the past, you will continue in the future, whether I come here or not. Remember the primary purpose that has brought me here — goodwill, co-operation, unity from the rest of your fellows in the United States, Africa and the West Indies. We have celebrated the happiness, the glory of our Organization’s accomplishments. We have had our ups and downs and failures, but that was only a drop in the bucket. If the Mayor were to tell you of the failures of his race, you would wonder at their patience. When the Liberals fail they go out of office and let the Conservatives go in, and the Government goes on. If you Negroes have a penny bank and it fails, you swear that you will never put another penny in it again. You should kick out the first dishonest man and put in an honest one. That is why you will have to it swim to Barbados, Trinidad and Demerara. You know how many times the Canadian Pacific failed until they now have their wonderful system? The only way you can be happy is to lay the foundation in one generation for the succeeding generation. If you do not build ships for the next generation you will always be walking. Take the white race, sometimes you see an old man president of the bank, knowing well that their grandchildren are coming after them and they are storing up for their generations to come after. Our disposition is to eat everything and let the boy work for his. We cannot treat our children as our fathers treated us, so do not eat up everything you get, for God’s sake. Remember that the boy who is coming up is to carry on until God comes. Do not be here as serfs and slaves because God never made you anything else but men. Whatever that has happened to the man it is his own mind that puts him there. He has abused the force of power of that mind. Men can create the environment to suit himself. When you do not use your intelligence you fall and will be submerged. It is because we do not live up to the state of our intelligence why we suffer so much. Before I close, I want to appeal to you to use your intelligence to work out the real things of life. You have to apply that intelligence to the management of your own individual and collective racial affairs. Every race has to lok after its own affairs. You have formulated no legal or moral claim. That is why people are taking away Africa today, just how Mussolini took away Ethiopia because he thought the Ethiopians had no use for it. One man used his intelligence and knocked out while the other tried to pray.
The time you waste in levity, in non-essentials, if you use it properly you will be able to guarantee to your posterity a condition better than you inherited from your forefathers. The U.N.I.A. is carrying throughout the world the message of goodwill. The message is going on. It has reached you. It will go to others, so that we may have one outlook, one purpose in life. I do hope the friendship will continue, sir, economically, politically and that you will never have cause to believe that we are not what we seem. (Cheers.)
The Chairman, Rev. Ford: Speaking on behalf of the peoples of this community permit me to say that hey have enjoyed this message of goodwill immensely. Please take back for us the message that we, in Cape Breton, shall stretch out the curtains of our habitation with this in view — one God, one aim, one destiny. I have spent over six years in college learning the various ologies, but to-night you have taught me one ology and that is Negro ology. The hon. Marcus Garvey told you to-night that the man who doesn’t love his people cannot love his God. This is an epoch-making event. Let us bind ourselves together, not only when he is here, but when he is gone, so that we may be lifted up with wings as he goes.
(At this stage Mr. Pat Comeo rendered a violin solo.)
Hon. Mr. Morrison, M.L.C.: As the hour is growing late and your distinguished guest must need rest, I will not take up much of your time. My first impulse is to break out into politics. I have been wondering if this is a proper place for me to be — a clergyman on my right and a choir on the other. I begin to think that a sinner like me is out of place here. The splendid manner in which they rendered their numbers must be work indeed on the part of themselves and their choir master. I was telling His Worship the other day how a solicitor feels when he is examining his witness. No doubt His worship and myself have found ourselves in worse places. I am a bachelor, and so is he. We will be glad to go to the Kingdom of Africa, but I will be satisfied to eat apples. I think Mr. Garvey made a mistake in not mentioning Eve. I met a gentleman who said that Canada was dis-united As far as the City of Sydney is concerned we are a happy community of various sects, colours, and religion and we get along admirably together. To-day, we welcomed to Sydney the Governor-General, who is over all Canadians, no matter what race, colour or creed. The fact that we welcomed him and your leader shows that we can all be faithful to the one sovereign and adore that which is best in our particular races.
(After an anthem by the choir, Mr. Garvey said he thought is was time for the Sydney Division to commence moving on, as it used to do. It should be resurrected. I should like to meet those who are not at work on Monday.)