1835 constitution spelled hard times for black people

“There early began to be some internal development and growth of self-consciousness among the Negroes…. In North Carolina until 1835 [its] Constitution extended the franchise to every freeman, and when Negroes were disfranchised, several hundred colored men were deprived of the vote. In fact, as Albert Bushnell Hart says, ‘In the colonies freed Negroes, like freed indentured white servants, acquired property, founded families, and came into the political community if they had the energy, thrift, and fortune to get the necessary property.’ ”

— From “The Negro” by W.E.B. Du Bois (1915)

 

Penalty for blacks worshiping together: 39 lashes

“[In reaction to Nat Turner’s rebellion in Virginia in 1831] a wave of legislation passed over the South….In North Carolina slaves and free Negroes were forbidden to preach, exhort, or teach ‘in any prayer meeting or other association for worship where slaves of different families are collected together’ on penalty of not more than thirty-nine lashes.”

— From “The Negro” by W.E.B. Du Bois (1915)

 

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.

Traveling while black: A Jim Crow survival guide

A revival of attention to “The Negro Motorist Green Book: An International Travel Guide” (1936-1964) roused my curiosity about what places in North Carolina welcomed black travelers under Jim Crow.

It isn’t long, but the list in the 1949 edition includes some evocative names: the Carver, Lincoln and Booker T. Washington hotels; the Friendly City beauty parlor; the Black Beauty Tea Room; the New Progressive tailor shop; the Big Buster tavern and Blue Duck Inn.

Also mentioned is the Alexander Hotel in Charlotte, where such prominent figures as  W.E.B. Du Bois and Louis Armstrong stayed before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 required that public accommodations be public.