Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past-William Faulkner

The south of 1933 was not the south of 1897, in many respects it had improved in the relations between the races were better, never the less, the south is not a place where a man of Negro decent would voluntarily and without good reason choose to live.

Its civilization is decidedly lower than that of the North, its state and local governments are poor and full of incompetency, and graft and its whole policy is menaced by mass hysteria and mob law. Its’ police system is wretched and the low grade white policemen, full of crude race hate, is the ruler who comes closest and in most immediate contact with black folk of all classes.

There is a cast system based on color, fortified in law and even more deeply entrenched in custom, which meets and coerces the dark man at nearly every step, in trains, in streetcars, in elevators, in offices, in education and recreation, in religion and in the graveyards.

The economic organization is still in the nineteenth century with ruthless exploitation, low wages, child labor, debt peonage and profit in crime. The better classes, with gracious manners and liberal outlook, exist and slowly grow but with these I would have little contact and fear of the mob would restrain their meeting me or listening to me.

After all, the place to study a social problem is where it centers and not elsewhere. The Negro problem in the United States centers in the southern south, there in the place of its greatest concentration forces our working for a solution and the greatest of these institutions are Atlanta University.   

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