According to the report above cited, I 161 academies and colleges for colored youth in the United States reported. The total number enrolled was 42,328, of which 2,492 were reported in collegiate grades, 13,669 in secondary grades and 26,167 in elementary grades. Even in these colored colleges less than 6 per cent of the students are pursuing collegiate courses. Of these, perhaps not more than 2 per cent are pursuing a college course equal to that offered at Howard. Nearly two thirds of the total enrollment in these colored colleges are receiving elementary instruction in the three R's. Classified by courses of study, 1,711—217 in a million—were taking the classical course; 1,200—150 in a million—the scientific; 4,449—555 to the million—the normal course in preparation for teaching; 1,285—160 in a million—professional courses; 9,724 the English course, and 244 the business course. In each of these courses the colored race has only about one fifth or one sixth of its quota. Is there anything in these figures to alarm the nation?
About one third of the total number of students in these 161 colored schools and colleges are taking industrial training. When we consider the great demand for educated colored ministers, teachers and physicians, and the quick reward for ability in these lines, on the one hand, and the exclusiveness of some trade-unions in shutting out colored workmen, on the other, the wonder is that one third of the total number of colored youth in these schools have chosen the industrial course. For it is by no means certain that they will be allowed to work at their trades after they have learned them.
The number of colored students who have had even a smattering of the higher education has been shown to be ridiculously small, and the total number of colored graduates with the college degree proper does not at the most liberal estimate exceed one thousand. Many of them are dead. Of the number now living, almost every one can be located in some useful and uplifting employment as ministers, teachers, physicians, lawyers, business men, or as wives presiding over nappy, prosperous, cultured homes which white persons seldom enter except on business. Our critics seem to know nothing of these homes, which, as a rule, are owned by their occupants. For the most part these homes are scattered throughout the South, and are centers of culture and refinement that elevate the moral and social status of the entire community.
To deprive the youth of the colored race of the higher education is to deprive them of all the nobler incentives to study, to sacrifice, to struggle to get an education. Every thoughtful person knows that these incentives are necessary for the white race; they are equally necessary for the colored race. Neither the white youth nor the colored, in large numbers, will toil and struggle and apply himself to get an education, unless he sees that education brings power and a better living to its possessors.
The colored race, like every other part of our population, needs all kinds of education. It is a sheer fallacy and a grievous wrong to them to hold all of them down to the rudiments of an education, with industrial training. All can not profit by the industrial training any more than all can profit by the higher training. There is no conflict between the advocates of industrial training and the higher education. Both are right. Both are good in their respective spheres. At any rate, it is not necessary to disparage the magnificent achievements of colored persons who have received the higher training to make an argument in favor of training all of them in the manual trades, or to justify their elimination from politics.
|Andrew F. Hilger,|
|Washington, D. C.|