With Eloquence: W. E. B. Du Bois
I published my first “With Eloquence” post last month with an excerpt from a very eloquent speech delivered by Booker T. Washington as a response to what I see as society’s writ large degenerating verbal and written communication skills.
The post was also intended to be a lead in for me to set up for this month a Relating to Humans all-call for submissions celebrating African-American History Month similar to what I did for last year’s Women’s History Month.
Well, like the reason for so many of my productivity issues lately – I blame Trump for knocking me dizzy with all his scary and/or moronic autocratic antics. thereby making me lose my focus.
However, it is with clarity I persist in and insist on celebrating African American History Month here and I encourage everyone to celebrate with me.
I kick off the belated celebration with our second With Eloquence post by sharing the eloquent words of the revolutionary Renaissance Man, W. E. B. Du Bois. (Yes, unlike the Department of Education, I spelled his name correctly.)
You can find his speech in its entirety at BlackPast.org
EXCERPTS FROM W. E. B. DU BOIS’ ADDRESS TO THE SOUTHERN YOUTH LEGISLATURE IN COLUMBIA SOUTH CAROLINA, OCTOBER 20, 1946
Behold the Land
The future of American Negroes is in the South. Here three hundred and twenty-seven years ago, they began to enter what is now the United States of America; here they have made their greatest contribution to American culture; and here they have suffered the damnation of slavery, the frustration of reconstruction and the lynching of emancipation. I trust then that an organization like yours is going to regard the South as the battle-ground of a great crusade. Here is the magnificent climate; here is the fruitful earth under the beauty of the southern sun; and here, if anywhere on earth, is the need of the thinker, the worker and the dreamer. This is the firing line not simply for the emancipation of the American Negro but for the emancipation of the African Negro and the Negroes of the West Indies; for the emancipation of the colored races; and for the emancipation of the white slaves of modern capitalistic monopoly.
Slowly but surely the working people of the South, white and black, must come to remember that their emancipation depends upon their mutual cooperation; upon their acquaintanceship with each other; upon their friendship; upon their social intermingling. Unless this happens each is going to be made the football to break the heads and hearts of the other.
I should be the last to insist that the uplift of mankind never calls for force and death. There are times, as both you and I know, when:
“Tho’ love repine and reason chafe,
There came a voice without reply,
‘Tis man’s perdition to be safe
When for truth he ought to die.”
At the same time and even more clearly in a day like this, after the millions of mass murders that have been done in the world since 1914, we ought to be the last to believe that force is ever the final word. We cannot escape the clear fact that what is going to win in this world is reason if this ever becomes a reasonable world. The careful reasoning of the human mind backed by the facts of science is the one salvation of man. The world, if it resumes its march toward civilization, cannot ignore reason…