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24 February 2012

"The Negro Should Not Enter the Army" Missionary Department of the Atlanta, Georgia, A.M.E. May 1, 1899

"The Negro Should Not Enter the Army" Missionary Department of the Atlanta, Georgia, A.M.E. May 1, 1899

"The Negro Should Not Enter the Army"

Missionary Department of the Atlanta, Georgia, A.M.E. Church Voice of Missions 7 (May 1, 1899).

It is about time for the ministers of the A. M. E. Church, who, in the aggregate, are the most
progressive, enlightened and racial of the Africanite ministry of the world,
with the highest regard for all other denominations, to begin to tell the young
men of our race to stay out of the United States army. If it is a white man's
government, and we grant it is, let him take care of it.

The Negro has no flag to defend. There is not a star in the flag of this nation, out of the forty
odd, that the colored race can claim, nor is there any symbol signalized in the
colors of the flag that he can presume to call his, unless it would be the
stripes, and the stripes are now too good for him. He is only regarded as
entitled to powder and lead and the burning fagots. He has no civil, social,
political, judicial or existing rights any longer. He may exist, be or live till
the lynchers say he must die, and when they get ready to demand his life, the
nation, from President McKinley down, down and down to the most contemptible
white riff-raff, says well done! If not in words, they say it by their silence;
and those who did enlist some months ago, were abused, misrepresented and
vilified when they even passed through the country, worse than brutes would have
been. If they came out of the cars and walked about the depot, they were charged
with trying to kill men, women and children, and fire the cities and villages.
If they sat in the cars and failed to get out, the newspapers branded them with
cowardice, and said they were afraid, they knew what would follow, while one
town would telegraph to the next that Negro soldiers would pass through. "Have
your armed police at the railroad station, armed to the teeth and ready to shoot
them down upon the slightest provocation." Yet the same towns and villages were
ready to supply them with all the rot-gut whiskey they were able to purchase, to
transform them into maniacs and human devils, if these soldiers were low enough
to drink the infernal drug.

We now ask, in the face of these facts, and they
are not half told, what does the Negro want to enlist lay his life upon the
alter of the nation and die for? What is to be gained? Where is the credit? Who
will accord it to him? In what particular will the race be benefited? Suppose
the Negro should enlist in great numbers and go to the Spanish islands and help
to subjugate the territory now in dispute, and subordinate it to the dictatorial
whim of the United States. What right, what privilege, what immunity, what
enjoyment, what possession will he be the recipient of?

A Cuban from Havana who was compelled to ride with us in a jim-crow car a week ago,
and who was as mad as vengeance at this restriction of his manhood, told us
that the diabolical prejudice of the United States was being exhibited there, and his curse-words
were sulphuretic vengeance itself. He said "This valuing a man by his color was
unknown in Cuba until the scoundrels and villains of this country went there."
He showed us papers which represented him as a great business man, dealing in
the finest tobacco and cigars, yet he was compelled to ride in the jim-crow car
or be mobbed at every station, and this Cuban was not a black man. We ask the
young men of the Negro race if you have got any life to throw away for such a
country as this? If you have a spare life on hand, that you wish to dispose of
by sacrifice, for mercy's sake, for honor's sake, for manhood's sake, and for
common sense sake throw it away for a better purpose, in a nobler act, in doing
something that will perpetuate your memory, to say the least. While we are the
first Africanite Chaplain in the history of the nation, and have once been proud
of the flag of this nation as it waved and flaunted in the air, as a Negro we
regard it a worthless rag. It is the symbol of liberty, of manhood sovereignty
and of national independence to the white man, we grant, and he should justly be
proud of it, but to the colored man, that has any sense, any honor, and is not a
scullionized fool, it is a miserable dirty rag.

We repeat that the A. M. E. ministry, yes, and the Negro ministry of the country should fight the enlistment of colored men in the United States army, as they would liquor brothels,
thievery, breaking the Sabbath, or any crime even in the catalogue of villainy.
The Negro minister of the gospel who would encourage enlistment in the United
States army, in the conditions things are now, encourages murder and the
shedding of innocent blood for nothing, as the foolish young men do not know
what steps they are taking.

Moreover, the bulk of the white people do not
want colored soldiers. Our own governor disapproves of it. The majority of the
white press is against it. They regard the black soldiers as monstrosities, and
we regard them monstrosities also. Again we say to the colored men, stay out of
the United States army. Take no oath to protect any flag that offers no
protection to its sable defenders.

If we had the voice of seven thunders, we
would sound a protest against Negro enlistment till the very ground shook below our feet.

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