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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/158

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148
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

was the ballot. We failed to see that between the primitive station of our race, two thousand years ago, and its present state there lay twenty centuries of toil and pain, spent in winning the state of mind of the citizen. We mocked the African with the gift of the franchise. We have now to begin where we should have begun thirty-five years ago, with measures that are proportionate to the need—with a system of education that may serve to develop the saving qualities of the race. What should this education be?

To most of us education begins with an alphabet and goes on to an indetermined limit of things that are to be had from books. The method is naturally esteemed, for we behold that the useful citizen comes forth from such teaching. Yet, logically, we might as well attribute the shape and quality of the body to the clothes it bears. The real education of our race, that which gives the most of its value to the trifle of instruction we give our children, is clearly a matter of race experience; of training in the generations of deeds since it began to pass from primitive savagery. First came the lessons in the art of continually laboring. Fortunately this lesson of labor the negro either brought with him, or learned so well in the generations of slavery that it is safely acquired. Next came the training in the occupations above the plane of simple agriculture—the industries of the forge, the loom, the ship and of military service and with it the habits of associated action. Along with these came the development of the commercial sense with the enlargements of view it gives, and from this the common sense of public affairs that makes a democracy possible. We assumed all this race training in the African when we cast him the ballot. Now that he has failed to profit by our folly, we begin to doubt whether there is, after all, the making of a citizen in him. A reasonable view of the facts leads us to conclude that he can be made a valuable citizen, provided he has a fair share of real help in the task of becoming such.

The first need of the negro is the conviction that his salvation depends upon himself. So long as he is deluded by the hope that some great external power is to lift him to the social and economic level of the whites, there is no chance that he will come to depend on himself for advancement. From this point of view, at least, it is advantageous that the attention of this country is for the time turned away from them in a search for other, and less practicable endeavors, to lift lowly peoples to the Saxon's estate. The next is that the negroes be as rapidly as possible employed in varied craft work—work in which they may receive a larger training than the toil the fields afford. The simple yet valuable lessons of the soil-tiller they have had. For the greater number of their race, particularly those of the Guinea type, this grade of employment is as high as they may be expected to attain. Yet somewhere near one-third of the people of their color are fit for em-