Douglass: ‘A sensible modification of black’

“When Douglass displayed pride in presenting himself as the product of a racially mixed parentage — ‘a very sensible modification of black,’  he told an 1872  Raleigh, North Carolina, audience — he was implicitly presenting himself as a prototype of the future American, even the modern man of the future.”

— From “Frederick Douglass: Race and the Rebirth of American Liberalism” by Peter C. Myers (2008)

Douglass: ‘The race has lost its ablest advocate’

“Virtually forgotten today, Joseph C. Price was once internationally celebrated…. W. E. B. Du Bois, who as a  college student heard Price lecture in Boston’s Tremont Temple, pronounced him ‘the acknowledged orator of his day.’…. After Price’s untimely death at the age of 39, Frederick Douglass lamented that ‘the race has lost its ablest advocate.’…

“In 1881… a speaking tour of Britain… raised the $11,000 necessary to found Zion Wesley College (later Livingstone) in Salisbury, North Carolina. He served as president until his death of Bright’s disease in 1893….

— From “Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900,” edited by Philip S. Foner and Robert J. Branham (1998)

“Du Bois and others felt that it was the leadership vacuum created by Price’s death into which Booker T. Washington moved, and that had he lived the influence and reputation of Price and of Livingstone College would have been as great as or greater than that achieved by Washington and Tuskegee.”

— From “Dictionary of North Carolina Biography,” edited by William S. Powell (Price entry by John Inscoe)

Price was significantly less accommodationist than Washington, as suggested by this incisive observation in 1890: “The Confederacy surrendered its sword at Appomattox, but did not there surrender its convictions.”

Pictured: A pinback button marking Livingstone’s first 25 years. “A Price Builder”? Maybe a donor.

Even after slavery, blacks held against their will

“Why does the Negro not emigrate? He has not a cent to emigrate with, and if he had, and desired to exercise that right, he would be arrested for debt, for nonfulfillment of contract, or be shot down like a dog in his tracks.

“When Southern senators tell you they want to be rid of the Negro, they are speaking simply to mislead the North. Only a few days ago armed resistance was made in North Carolina to colored emigration from that state….[The Negro’s] labor is wanted to-day in the South just as it was wanted in old times when he was hunted by two-legged and four-legged bloodhounds.”

— Frederick Douglass, addressing the Bethel Literary and Historical Society, Washington, D. C., April 16, 1889