Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

to prevent lynchings or to act unless requested to by local authorities who fear offend mobs and who are at times participants in lynchings.

Gov. Bilbo's declaration that “I am utterly powerless," etc., has already bee alluded to in our printed brief of September, 1919.

In a letter addressed to the secretary of the association February 21, 1918, Go' Tom C. Rye, of Tennessee, said:

“I deplore this murder (that of Jim McIlheron at Estill Springs) as much as you association or any other citizen of our common country, but I could not anticipai that local officers, whose duty it is to take custody of prisoners, would fail to accor protection, nor could any action upon my part be taken without being requested s to do by the local police authorities or court officers."

In his annual report submitted to the legislature July 3, 1918, Gov. Hugh M Dorsey of Georgia said:

“When information of impending mob violence is brought to the attention of th executive he should not be handicapped by having to await a call for military assist ance from local authorities."

STATEMENT OF MR. ARCHIBALD H. GRIMKÉ. Mr. GRIMKÉ. I am head of the local branch of the national asso. ciation here, and my legal residence is in Boston.

Mr. Chairman, I have been tremendously interested in this hearing and I think you ought to know how it has reacted on me, a colored man, 70 years of age. A most appalling situation has been described here, wrongs which are almost incredible, and the effect that has been produced on me when these 12,000,000 of people have come up here to speak to the lawmakers, the great Judiciary Committee of the House (all of you, I suppose, are authorities on constitutional law), the reaction on me is a certain apathy on the part of the committee in the presence of these wrongs. “What can we do about them? We know they exist; they are terrible, and you have our sympathy." But do you know that lynchings are going on of these 12,000,000 of people and that this thing is burning into them. What is it? Criminal anarchy in the United States, which the Attorney General is pursuing night and day when the colored people are not involved in it.

Now, what we want, we want you to look at our case, just to look

a part of the United States; we have been here 250 or 300 years, with our never having done anything to it but on the good side amd never having gotten anything out of it but on the bad side. And from a few millions of people we have grown to twelve millions and this terrible wrong is eating into the souls of these twelve million people in your own midst.

(Thereupon, at 12.15 o'clock p. m., the committee took a recess to 2 o'clock p. m.)

AFTER RECESS.

The committee reconvened pursuant to recess at 2.15 o'clock p. m., Hon. Andrew J. Volstead (chairman) presiding.

The CHAIRMAN. I think we might as well proceed. It is very difficult to get a full attendance of members of the committee at this time. I assume you will want to have your views put in the record so they can be read as a part of the hearing.

STATEMENT OF MR. ARCHIBALD H. GRIMKÉ-Resumed.

Mr. GRIMKÉ. Mr. Chairman, I was wondering just as this comimttee adjourned at noon how long it would take the Committee of

the Judiciary to find the way to reach a situation in the South in smich the whole thing was reversed, where the colored people not saly were in a large majority but actually had the money power and the physical power and were lynching at will and burning white men who committed what they call rape upon colored women.

It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, to inquire what would be done under such circumstances? Would not this committee find a way to put an end to that situation in which members of the white race, men, vomen, and children, were being outraged in that way. Such a atuation would not exist. It would not exist more than two or three reeks once it got up here. Of course, what we are up against is southern propaganda in which the colored people are put down as arutes, and that the main thing for which colored men are lynched is this usual crime. That is distributed all over the country by newspapers and word of mouth, and the southerners are here in the Sorth and everywhere talking the thing up and have infected everybody with it so that if you are a white person you are not free from he infection.

That is what we are up against. I think that we have shown in this case what underlies the whole thing is that there is this propaganda based on inferiority of a certain class of people in the country, and the thing is preached night and day subconsciously and consciously to the white men and white women and taught to the white child. All these colored people whom you see are so atterly inferior to you that there is no rossible way for them to ever get up to your level. Now, you see what the effect of that sort of teaching is going to be on reorle, unless there is anything introduced to change the psychology of the Nation because that is the only way you can abolish lynching.

That sort of thing affects the self-respect of the colored people; it affects the sense of justice and the conscience of white people, and would make a white man believe that this person is not a human being, but he is a human being, with rights and wrongs just like white people.

Nobody seems to believe it, because you can listen apparently with utmost indifference to these terrible outrages, which burned themselves into us while the committee had not even heard of them; 82 persons lynched in one year in the United States, 78 of them colored people. Why? Because the papers keep all that out. There is no propaganda to spread and to develop public opinion against this lynching thing. Why? Because persons who are lynched are colored. In Mexico where there were only 29 lynched in a year in the whole of that country, the powers of the National Government are stirred to excite the indignation of this country and bring it to the boiling point of war. There is absolutely no comparison between the two.

The rights which we ask here are the simple rights of American citizens. Can not we live in this country at peace with ourselves and at peace with our neighbors? If we walk upon the street and happen to jostle a belligerent white man in the South, it is a signal for what? For a lynching bee. It is an impudent Negro. That is the cry. If a man wants to look into a Bible in a white churchthis really happened-and took the Bible out of the church, he was lynched because he wanted to read the Scriptures belonging to the

at seems. Chaces ay

white church. That seems incredible, but that actually took place. So we are up against it, Mr. Chairman, and gentlemen. If you could really put yourselves in our places and just reverse the whole thing, suppose that a lot of colored people were lynching white people, men and women, and sometimes children, as it has occurred, do you think that you would sit down quietly under it? Do you not think that you would find a way, a committee like this, Constitution or noConstitution, that you would find a way to reach those colored people who were doing it, and save the honor of the country and protect the white men and women and children in peace and in safety. Can not we get the same protection? Can not we get anything like that? Look at the Arkansas matter. There was simply an attempt on the part of some colored tenant farmers to get an accounting. There had been no accounting for years, and what was the trouble? Because they employed one of their Southern lawyers they made a case against them in order to keep them in this sort of slavery; tenantfarm slavery. Never mind how much you make in a year, $1,600 a a year, it is all eaten up at the end of the year, and there was the absolute refusal to give you any itemized account of what you had done, and you and your family living in penury, in the utmost poverty, and when at last you ask for it, what happens ?

Mr. SUMNERS. Would it interrupt you to state the case you are speaking of ?

Mr. GRIMKE. Elaine, Ark.
Mr. SUMNERS. What date?

Mr. GRIMKE. That happened just a few months ago, three or four months ago, and that whole thing was so successfully worked by the owners of the farms that they made not only the governor, but they made the attorney general believe that the negroes had conspired to massacre whites, and what was the result? They banded themselves together and when they thought they needed more help they called upon the United States to come to their assistance, and the United States very quickly, under this administration, sent troops there and disarmed all those colored people, going into their houses and taking their arms away, and the result was that they arrested and tried over a hundred of them, who had never done anything at all except rebel against the tenant-farm system and ask for an accounting. They condemned and sentenced to be electrocuted 12 of them, and 60 of them were ordered to long terms of imprisonment. Why? In order to continue to exploit them. The whole thing is done so skilfully. You know what the propaganda is. I can makeyou believe anything if I have the press and all the avenues of information to the intelligence of the peolpe, and they have it, and the result is that they have made the country believe that sort of thing and the Attorney General has been in it, too, the Department of Justice. They are all in it. The War Department is in it. The whole thing is done so that these Southern farmers who do not care for the people who work for them any more than they do for cattle, not as much as the old slave masters cared for them, because if a slave died, the master lost so much, but to-day if a tenant farmer were to die before an accounting, why, the owner reaps the benefit, there is no occasion for an accounting. It is a terrible condition and situation. It leads to lynch law. There were four brothers who. had gone to Elaine on a visit only, educated men, men of means,

whom the whites considered to be dangerous people in that country. One of the four brothers had served in France. They were perfectly innocent people, away from home, and they were waylaid and shot down.

Mr. Cook. That is the Arkansas case.

Mr. GRIMKE. That is the Arkansas case. It is one of the worst miscarriages of justice that has ever disgraced any civilized country in the world. Talk about the Turkish atrocities in Armenia. Talk about the Germans in Belgium. I do not know anything that is quite equal to that Arkansas matter that I have ever read about, because it was done absolutely out of whole cloth, and for only one reason, for the purpose of exploiting these poor people who hardly had anything at all but their miserable huts and worked night and day for these farm owners and at the end of the year_they wanted an accounting because they wanted to live better. They wanted to give their children shoes and stockings and decent clothes and send them to school, and they could not do it unless they got an accounting; but it does not suit these farm owners that sort of people should live in the South. That is the reason they are opposed to education. You educate a person and you can not exploit him so well. The mind is a good bed for ideas.

That is the danger the country faces. The Government under which these people live not only refuses to protect them but oppresses them, and at the bidding of their enemies haled them into court and tried them and sentenced to be electrocuted 12 of them and sent 61 up for long terms of imprisonment? What are you going in such & case? Is it the fault of such people when they ask Democrats and Republicans, the two parties in power, for help and they do not get it, while there are people who do promise to give it to them, attempt to give sympathy, call them bolsheviki, call them socialists, call them I. W. W., call them anything you choose, but there they are connecting up with the rankling feeling of wrong of the colored people. It is something terrible. I know that they are outnumbered and that they must get the worst of it, but there is a limit just as true as any thing you can possibly say, there is a limit to the endurance of a man's. mind, and when you reach that limit something is going to break

of the oppression. They must strike and do something. They look around and they are helpless and no government to protect them.

We come here to this great committee, Mr. Chairman; there is not any committee greater anywhere in the world than this Committee of the Judiciary, with the best trained minds, I suppose, of both parties, legal minds in it. Is not there any way by which you can reach this thing and give a chance to these people, lift the repression and oppression and suppression of this great body of people, because on that thing rests the salvation of the Negro and the nation. Never mind what they do; never mind how much money they get; never mind how educated they are; never mind how much moral worth they display. The lowest white man, that is what the South says, is superior to them. That is the doctrine down there. As long as that doctrine is taught and is not offset by something here, there will be lynch law. It is based on that doctrine of utter inferiority, of their utter inability to ever rise to the dead level of the lowest white man. This the generie

163953—205

than the best Negro. Then these white people go man hunting as they do possum hunting or fox hunting or bear hunting or deer hunting. That is what we are up against to-day, and I beg you to consider that matter. I want to get at the fundamentals of it because underlying lynch law is just that attitude of the whites in the country towards colored people.

STATEMENT OF DR. WILLIAM H. WILSON.

Dr. WILSON. I speak as a member of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Mr. Chairman, I heard read here this morning a statement from one of America's foremost lawyers, which gave me occasion for thought, and made me feel that to say what I shall say in the way of random remarks will best cover the situation in so far as it is possible for me to cover it. That remark was from Mr. Storey. It was in the nature of a prophecy, a prophecy which will eventuate in all probability except there is taken some action by this Government which will have for its purpose the prevention of its eventuation. Mr. Storey was quoted as stating that if the practice of lynching is continued in this country it could end only in civil war. The statement does not come from me; it comes from one of America's leading lawyers. I am bound to concur in it. I am aware that one of two ways to stop lynchings is to stop the things which cause it. The other way is to stop it by force, which America displays no inclination to do. The things which cause it are the things which have for their purpose and intent the preachment that negroes are less than other men, that negroes must accept less, have less, enjoy less, be less, and thus they are less, and therefore, they can be lynched. It is possible that men might say we are unlike you, but we feel and know that we have sensibilities, that we have consciousness; we have those things which tend to make us feel that except we get out of of life what you get, we are less than you, and you are practicing upon us those things which you will not practice upon one another. Then if it is impossible that all white men be made to forego those things which tend to make us less than men, lynching can not be stopped.

There is one other way and that way is force. I am not a lawyer. I am simply a practitioner of medicine, knowing little about it, and less about law, but it seems to me I know this—where men want to do a thing they will do it. Where a thing ought to be done and men see that it ought to be done a way is found to do it. If we had all the constitutional lawyers in America here to-day, none of them

could cite specific details, and decisions. All they could tell you would be their opinion. They could give you no judgment on the result of your act and their opinion might be no better than mine because in the final analysis judgment must come from another source. The fact that they might tell you that judgment has always been different from what it may be in a given case does not imply that judgment will remain different. Men's minds change and decisions which have gone differently heretofore may go as they should in the future.

« AnteriorContinuar »