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´╗┐Title: Alexander Crummell: An Apostle of Negro Culture - The American Negro Academy. Occasional Papers No. 20
Author: Ferris, William Henry, 1873-1941
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Alexander Crummell: An Apostle of Negro Culture - The American Negro Academy. Occasional Papers No. 20" ***


  American Negro Academy

  Alexander Crummell
  An Apostle of Negro Culture



  R. L.


A noted English lawyer-author has declared that the twelfth chapter of
Ecclesiastes is the final word of the world's philosophy; that no ancient
or modern thinker has uttered a profounder word. And in the seventh verse
of that chapter it reads, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it
was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."

Metaphysicians tell us that through his five senses, man is in touch with
and in relation to his physical environment and a physical world, and that
through his reason, imagination, conscience, aesthetic and religious
intuitions, man is in touch with and in relation to his spiritual
environment and a spiritual world. They also tell us that at death, the
soul and body merely part company and go their respective ways. The
oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and other chemical elements in the body mingle
with the material elements from which they came. And the soul of man, the
ego, the center of self-consciousness, recognitive memory and reflective
thought, which has maintained its identity amid the changes of the
physical organism, will survive the destruction of that organism and live
on and on in the spirit world, embodied in whatever form and clothed with
whatever garments its Maker so decreed.

Scientists tell us that when you throw a pebble in a stream, it sets up a
series of ever-widening circles until it reaches the shore. They tell us
that when you utter an audible sound, you start in motion sound waves
which travel on for miles and miles. So it is with the influence of a
human personality. It does not end at the grave. It lives in the lives
that have been inspired, in the example set and the thoughts thrown out.

Twenty years and three months have elapsed since the soul of Alexander
Crummell bid its bodily partner farewell and took its flight to its
spiritual home. But Alexander Crummell's terrestial influence did not end
thus. It still goes on and will go on for centuries. We will briefly
review his life and career and then estimate the weight, worth and
significance of the ideas which he advocated, for which he lived and which
were incarnated in his personality.

The Rev. Dr. Alexander Crummell, the Negro apostle of culture, was a born
autocrat, a man born to command. And men instinctively bowed before him.
Some even trembled before his wrath.

Crummell was born in New York in 1819, nearly a century ago. He was the
son of Boston Crummell, a prince of the warlike Temene tribe, who was
stolen while a boy playing on the sands of the seashore. At first,
Crummell, with George T. Downing attended a school in New York taught by
the Reverend Peter Williams, then went to the school in Canaan, New
Hampshire, which was hauled into the pond by those who were angry because
the Negro was taught to read. Crummell with others took refuge in a barn.
They were fired upon; but Henry Highland Garnet fired a return shot, at
which they were allowed to depart in peace. Then Crummell attended the
Oneida Institute, of which Beriah Green was the President. He became a
priest in the Episcopal Church, was for twenty years a missionary on the
west coast of Africa, during which period he visited seventy tribes. He
returned to this country in the late sixties or the early seventies, was
for a year or two rector of St. Philip's Church, New York, and for
twenty-three years rector of the St. Luke's Church in Washington, D. C.
The last years of his life were spent in issuing his race tracts and
founding the American Negro Academy, the first body to bring Negro
scholars from all over the world together. He died at Point Pleasant,
N. J., in Dr. Matthew Anderson's summer home in September, 1898, in his
eightieth year.

He was not as famous a man as Douglass, because in the most eventful years
of the Negro race's history from 1850 to 1870 he was in Africa. When he
died, men like Phillips Brooks and Dr. Fuller, of Rochester, who were old
friends of his and who knew him intimately, the man and his work, had
already crossed the mystic stream of death and passed over to the other
shore. But he was a power in his own race to the last. Still in the late
forties, he delivered three addresses that attracted considerable
attention. In 1847 he addressed a colored convention at Troy, N. Y. And in
1848 he visited London and spoke at the annual meeting of the Anti-Slavery
Society, with such fire, force, finish and polish that he made many
friends, both for himself and his race.

He visited Liverpool. He so impressed the Bishop of the diocese, that he
was invited to officiate as minister in the St. George's Church at
Everton, of which the Reverend Mr. Eubanks was rector. The audience had
never heard a colored man preach before. And Crummell's dignity and
bearing in the pulpit, his polish and refinement, his lucid exposition of
the text, his sublimity of thought, beauty of diction, and fire and force
of utterance for nearly an hour held that cultured audience spellbound.
Crummell made history for the race on that Sunday morning in 1848. And I
suppose that Crummell's eulogy on Clarkson, delivered in New York City in
1846, in its grandeur of thought, sublimity of sentiment and splendor of
style, surpasses any oratorical effort of any colored man in the
antebellum days. From that time until his death in 1898, Crummell swayed
both colored and white audiences.

I remember in the fall of 1896, a Baptist preacher lectured in Newport,
R. I. At the close of the lecture, a tall, slender, venerable looking man,
with an aristocratic air, arose and stirred the audience with his heroic
words. The Baptist preacher was so touched that he sought Crummell out.
And then an influence entered his life that made him a new man, a stronger
moral force in the Baptist denomination. I remember, too, when McKinley
was inaugurated in 1897. Men and women, old and young, from all sections
of the country, of varying degrees of culture, of divers religious creeds,
came to Crummell's house as a mecca. Some had been thrilled by his sermons
and commencement addresses; others caught the inspiration of their lives
from his works, "Africa and America," "The Future of Africa," and "The
Greatness of Christ, and Other Sermons." Today his memory is treasured in
Washington, in cities of the north and south, and along the west coast of
Africa. Such was the influence the imperial Crummell wielded.

There you have the historic Alexander Crummell, the finished scholar, the
magnetic preacher, the brave, uncompromising idealist, who was dreaded by
imposters and fakirs and time-servers and flunkies. He was one of those
rugged, adamantine spirits, who could stand against the world for a
principle, but he was gracious, courteous, tender and sympathetic withal.
Tall, slender, symmetrical, erect in bearing, with a graceful and elastic
walk, with a refined and aristocratic face that was lighted up by keen
penetrating but kindly eyes, and surrounded by the gray hair and beard
which gave him a venerable appearance, with a rich, ringing, resonant
baritone voice, which had not lost its power even in old age, with an air
of unmistakable good breeding and a conversation that flavored of books
and literature and art, Dr. Crummell was a man that you could never
forget, once you met him or heard him preach. He frequently said that what
the race needed was an educated gentry, and he was himself one of the
finest specimens of that rugged strength, tempered with Christian culture
and a refined benevolence, which was his ideal, that the race has yet
produced. Sprung from the fierce Timene Tribes, who on the west coast of
Africa cut to pieces a British regiment near Sierre Leone several years
ago, he possessed the tireless energy, the untamed spirit and the fearless
daring that made his warrior ancestors dreaded. But like the apostle Paul,
his native strength was mellowed by the Christian religion.

There was an ineffable charm in his conversation. He was a delightful
companion, ever ready in wit and repartee, versatile and resourceful in
debate, with the wide knowledge that is gained by travel and garnered from
many fields of study. He reminded me of Wendell Phillips as an orator,
with the impression of having an immense reserve power behind him; he
could fill a large hall by speaking in his natural conversational voice.
He possessed the same keen Damascus blade of sarcasm when aroused.
Undoubtedly he was the Sir Philip Sidney of the Negro race.

In my chapter upon "The American Negro's Contribution to literature," I
tell how beautifully DuBois in his "Souls of Black Folk" has drawn the
figure of a man, whom I regard in some respects the grandest character of
the Negro race. Read the chapter and read Crummell's book upon "Africa and
America," and then you will recognize the greatness of Crummell. Some
people say that great Negroes are jealous of each other. But read
Crummell's chapter upon Henry Highland Garnet and DuBois's chapter upon
Crummell, and you will see how kindred spirits appreciate each other's
worth and value.

Those who are interested in Tuskegee Institute will remember that in
February, 1899, a memorable meeting was held in the Hollis Theatre in
behalf of that celebrated school. The Hampton and Tuskegee Quartettes
sang. Dunbar recited his dialect poems; Dr. Washington, as usual, spoke in
an impressive and eloquent manner. But the event that interested many
thoughtful minds was the paper of Dr. Wm. E. Burghardt DuBois upon the
"Strivings of a Negro for the Higher Life."

I. "The Negro Apostle of Culture."

It was for such a delicately drawn portrait, such a halo surrounded it,
that Prof. William James and other Bostonians doubted that it was the
likeness of a real man and believed that it was the picture of an ideal,
an imaginary Negro. But Crummell was not a dream creation. He was a being
who had actually been clothed in flesh and blood, who had actually trod on
these terrestrial shores and walked on this earth.

He was indeed the Newman of the Negro pulpit. If any one desires to read
the romance of his life, of his struggles to get an education, of his
despair in encountering the hostility of the Anglo-Saxon and the
ingratitude and lack of appreciation of his own race, and of his bravely
surmounting his difficulties, I refer him to DuBois' "Souls of Black

After Alexander Crummell, the first Negro apostle of culture, had spent a
few years as a student in Cambridge University, England, nearly a quarter
of a century as a missionary upon the west coast of Africa, he returned
about the year 1870 to the United States, the land of his birth, and for
twenty-three years served as rector of the St. Luke's Episcopal Church of
Washington, D. C. Then he retired from the ministry.

II. History of the American Negro Academy.

He had passed the three score and ten mark. Never strong or robust
physically, he had lived a very active life. It seemed as if his days of
usefulness were over. But, no, this grand old man of the Negro race,
nearly eighty years of age, endeavored to realize a dream that he had
conceived when a student in Cambridge University, England. He proposed to
found and establish the American Negro Academy, an organization composed
of Negro scholars, whose membership should be limited to forty and whose
purpose should be to foster scholarship and culture in the Negro race and
encourage budding Negro genius. He communicated with colored scholars in
America, England, Hayti and Africa. The result was that in March, 1897,
when McKinley was inaugurated, the most celebrated scholars and writers in
the Negro race for the first time assembled together in the Lincoln
Memorial Church and formally organized into a brotherhood of scholars.
Dunbar, the poet; DuBois, the sociologist; Scarborough, the Greek scholar;
Kelly Miller, the mathematician; Dr. Frank J. Grimke, the theologian;
Prof. John W. Cromwell, the historian; President R. R. Wright, Principal
Grisham, Prof. Love and Prof. Walter B. Hayson, noted educators; Prof. C.
C. Cook, the student of English literature, and Bishop J. Albert Johnson,
the brilliant preacher, were among those present. Bishop Tanner, of the A.
M. E. Church, and two or three other bishops were enrolled as members, and
such distinguished foreign Negroes as Prof. Harper were added as members.
The Academy seemed destined to do for the Negro race what the French
Academy did for France.

But Crummell soon died; DuBois was elected president. The industrial fad
swept over the country and men soon forgot the Academy. But Prof. John
Wesley Cromwell, the secretary, Dr. Francis J. Grimke, the treasurer,
Prof. Kelly Miller, Prof. C. C. Cook and Prof. John L. Love, of
Washington, D. C., did not despair. In December, 1902, the Academy
startled the country by a two days' session in which a series of papers
were read upon "The Religion of the Negro." The papers of Prof. Harper,
the Rev. Orishatukeh Faduma and Dr. Matthew Anderson attracted
considerable attention at the time. Later the "Literary Digest" noticed my
paper upon "A Historical and Psychological Account of the Genius and
Development of the Negro's Religion." In December, 1903, Archibald H.
Grimke was elected as President. The Academy took a new lease of life and
in March, 1905, a brilliant series of papers were read upon "The Negro and
the Elective Franchise." They were afterwards published in an eighty-five
page pamphlet and they remain today the best discussion upon Negro
Suffrage and Southern Disfranchisement.

The session of the Academy in December, 1906, was held in Howard
University, and at that session the audience that assembled in the small
chapel of Howard University listened to an illuminating discussion upon
the "Economic Condition of the Negro." Kelly Miller's paper upon "Labor
Conditions in the North" attracted some attention in the "Washington
Post." I do hope the scholars of the race will perpetuate the
organization, which was the dream of Crummell's life. I well remember the
Saturday in September, 1898, when I received a card from Walter B. Hayson,
Crummell's protege, announcing that Crummell was dying. I hurried to
Point Pleasant, N. J., but Crummell had breathed his last and his body was
carried to New York City. For two hours on Monday night I walked up and
down the beach at Asbury Park. I looked up at the stars shining so
silently in the immensity of space and heard the distant murmur of the
ocean as it rolled and broke upon the shore. In the silent midnight hour,
Nature's calmness and repose seemed to touch my soul and then from the
depth of my being came the cry, "Crummell is not dead, but he liveth; he
is now with his God and Maker."

No man is bigger than the idea that dominates him, and that he embodies in
his life. If his personality is grand and sublime, he will live on in the
moral world. But if his ideas are not progressive, he will not live long
in the thought world. Dr. Alexander Crummell believed that the Negro
belonged to the genus vir as well as to the genus homo, that he could be
included in the class aner as well as anthropos, that he had a soul to be
trained as well as a body to be clothed, sheltered and fed. In a word, he
believed that the Negro was made out of the same clay as the rest of
mankind, that he was worthy of the same education and training, and was
entitled to the same treatment, consideration, rights and privileges as
other men.

The question is, were the soaring ideals that inspired Dr. Crummell's
effort dreams of the imagination, or were they grounded in reality? Did
his perspective belong to the class of mirages in the desert, or did his
Weltauschanung belong to that class of visions, of which it was said in
Proverbs, "Where there is no vision, the people perish?"

We can only answer those questions by studying the state of the American
mind when the Academy was formed. In 1776, the high sounding and world
resounding Declaration of Independence was signed, which said that all men
were created free and equal and had an inalienable right to life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness. And yet some of the signers of that
Declaration held slaves. Why was it? The late Prof. William Graham Summer
of Yale said that it was because they did not regard the Negro as a man.

And the whole slavery debate hinged on the question of the humanity of the
Negro, hinged upon the question as to whether he possessed the
intellectual, ethical, aesthetical and religious potentialities and
possibilities which white men possessed, hinged upon the question as to
whether the Negro did or did not possess a soul. The South said that the
Negro was a beast and not a man, and was not capable of intellectual or
moral improvement. In Georgia and other states, they took particular pains
to see that the Negro had no chance or opportunity for mental improvement.
In Georgia they would fine and imprison a white man and whip and imprison
a colored man who was caught teaching a slave to read and write.

The great Calhoun said that "The Negro race was so inferior that it had
never produced a single individual who could conjugate a Greek verb." Dr.
Crummell in his paper before the American Negro Academy upon "The Attitude
of the American Mind Towards the Negro Intellect," wittily said that
Calhoun must have expected Greek verbs to grow in Negro brains by some
process of spontaneous generation, as he never had tried the experiment of
putting a Greek grammar in the hands of a Negro student.

But ere long arose Dr. Blyden, the linguist and Arabic scholar; Prof.
Scarborough, who wrote a Greek text book and "The Bird of Aristophanes"
and the "Thematic Vowel in the Greek Verb;" Dr. Grimke, the theologian;
Prof. Kelly Miller, the mathematician, arose. Colored students of Harvard
like Greener, Grimke, DuBois, Trotter, Stewart, Bruce, Hill and Locke, and
Bouchet, McGuinn, Faduma, Baker, Crawford and Pickens of Yale arose, who
demonstrated every kind of intellectual capacity. Then Trumbull of Brown,
Forbes and Lewis of Amherst, Wright of the University of Pennsylvania, and
Hoffman and Wilkinson of Ann Arbor University, also won honors. Dr. Daniel
Williams distinguished himself as a surgeon, Dunbar as a poet, Chestnut as
a novelist, Tanner as an artist, and Coleridge Taylor as a musician.

So in the days when the American Negro Academy came into existence, the
Bourbons of the south and their northern sympathizers realized that the
Negro had achieved distinction in intellectual fields, where they said he
would be like fish out of water.

So then they changed their tack. They then said that the Negro could be
educated, but education made him "a builder of air castles," in the words
of their colored spokesman, and made him useless to his own people. They
barred the educated Negro from employment in keeping with his natural
tastes and aptitudes and previous training and inclination, and then said
that he couldn't make a living. They said the Negro was mentally inferior
to the Anglo-Saxons and then reduced the curriculum in the state colleges
and high schools to keep him mentally inferior.

At the same time, they encouraged the Negro churches and looked with favor
upon laboring men and washerwomen using their hard earned savings to erect
costly churches. Why did they look cross-eyed at and frown at the higher
education of the Negro, which they said made him impractical, while they
smiled and looked with satisfaction at his religion, which they didn't
take seriously, but regarded as a dope? Why did they emphasize education
and minimize religion for white men, and on the other hand minimize
education and emphasize religion for black men? Why did they set up Yale
and Harvard Universities as the white's ideal of education and Hampton and
Tuskegee as the colored man's ideal?

These Bourbons of the south and their northern sympathizers had a definite
propaganda and programme regarding the Negro. Their plan was to reduce the
colored race to a race of hewers of wood and drawers of water, to
disfranchise the Negro, run him out of Congress and lucrative political
jobs in the south, to jim-crow him and segregate him. They knew that
religion would act as a narcotic and opiate and that it would keep his
eyes and mind centered upon the golden streets, jeweled pavements,
sapphire walls and white-robed angels of the New Jerusalem, while they
were robbing him of the civil and political rights which were won on the
battlefields of the Civil War and guaranteed by the Constitution of the
United States.

They knew that to educate him would be to open his eyes, to cause him to
think and to prevent his being camouflaged. They knew that to educate him
would be to make him dissatisfied with his lot at the bottom of the
ladder. They knew that to educate him would introduce the leaven of divine
discontent into his being. They knew that to educate him would cause him
to aspire to something higher than hard labor or menial service. They knew
that to educate him would cause him to know that robbing him of the ballot
was reducing him to a pariah in American life and society and making him a
political outcast. They knew that to educate the Negro would cause him to
know that when he was being jim-crowed and segregated, a caste system
based on the color of the skin was being established in America. In a
word, those Americans who desired to rob the Negro of the fruits of the
Civil War and to reduce him as far as possible to his previous status as a
slave, knew that to educate the Negro was to open his eyes to the fact
that the restrictions which they were trying to impose upon him were
giving him a social, civil, political and economic status which was lower
than that of the illiterate emigrant from Europe, lower than that of the
Japanese, Chinese, Hindoo, Indian and Filipino. In a word, they knew that
to educate the Negro would open his eyes to the fact that the color of his
skin was a mark of shame and a badge of dishonor and that a caste
prejudice based upon color, was contrary to the spirit of Christianity and
to the democratic principles underlying this government. In a word, they
knew that it would be more difficult for them to carry out their programme
with the Negro educated. And these are the reasons why twenty years ago,
it was regarded as unwise and dangerous to give the Negro any higher
education above the three R's and a training in the trades. And most of
the leaders of the Negro race were asleep at the switch twenty years ago.
They eagerly swallowed the sugar-coated and chocolate-coated pills. They
took the medicine which their Anglo-Saxon friends offered because it was
honeyed and sugared with a few fat jobs and contributions to churches and
schools. And while they slept, as Samson slept on the lap of Delilah, they
were shorn of their political and civil locks, and awoke one bright
morning to find that their strength was gone.

It was a rude awakening that they experienced in the summer of 1917, when
the edict went forth that all American citizens, black as well as white
men, were subject to the selective draft. It was a rude awakening that
they experienced, when they discovered that their sons must cross the
ocean and give their lives to bring a freedom to war-ridden Europe, which
was denied their race in this country. It was a rude awakening that they
experienced when they realized that they who only experienced partial
citizenship in this country were called upon to make the same sacrifice in
blood and treasure as their fairer-skinned brothers, who had experienced
the full blessings of citizenship.

A Baptist preacher whom I met in St. Louis a year ago voiced the thought
of the entire colored race when he said, "Ferris, what a mighty big price
we have to pay for a little freedom."

It was a rude awakening, when Hog Island was calling for riveters and the
Remington Company at Eddystone for machinists, and yet would turn down
colored men who were capable. It was a rude awakening, when colored men
and women who passed the Civil Service in Washington, D. C., during war
times and were certified, were turned down because of their color. It was
a rude awakening, when colored soldiers could fight and die side by side
with white soldiers in France, and yet couldn't visit the same service
camps in America. And it was a still ruder awakening, when the Y. M. C. A.
carried color prejudice to France where it had never existed before and
attempted to jim-crow and segregate the very colored soldiers who were
fighting to save France and to make the world safe for democracy.

Such was the state of the American mind twenty-two years, when Dr.
Alexander Crummell gathered his colored friends around him and formed the
Academy. The same reason that led the American mind to discountenance the
Negro's higher aspirations and strivings and longings caused Dr. Crummell
to encourage them. He realized that living in the same country with the
American white man, facing the same problems and conditions, the Negro
needed the same kind of education and training that the white man needed,
or he would lag hopelessly behind in the race of life. General Armstrong
once triumphantly told a class of colored students at Hampton, "Hampton
will give you enough education to cope with any colored men you may meet."
But Dr. Alexander Crummell saw deeper. He saw that the Negro needed also
an education that would enable him to cope on equal intellectual terms
with any white men that he might meet. For that reason the Negro needed to
dip into literature, history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, sciences,
anthropology and ethnology; needed in a word to be kept in touch with the
trend of modern science and the tendencies of modern thought.

Dr. Crummell was right. If there ever was a time in the Negro's history
when he needed trained and well-equipped leadership, it is now, when the
recent world war has brought about a new earth, when new problems
affecting Europe, America and Africa are pressing for solution, and when a
readjustment of social, political and industrial conditions will be made,
not only in Europe and Africa but in America. If there was ever a time in
the Negro's history when he needed trained and well-equipped leadership,
it is now when tens of thousands of black Africans and black Americans
have demonstrated on scores of bloodstained battlefields in France that
heroism can wear a sable hue and be clothed in ebony; when the American
Negro proved his patriotism and loyalty by subscribing to the Liberty
Loan, the War Chest, War Savings Stamps and by Red Cross service, and when
by reason of his helping to lay low the Prussian menace to civilization,
he has established his title clear to recognition and respectful

At a time, when the humanitarian plums will be handed out at the Peace
Table at Versailles, at a time when the small and weak nations of Europe
will have their day in court, at a time when the oppressed and suppressed
peoples of Europe, Palestine and Armenia will have their innings, now is
the time for the Negro to make his appeal, present his plea and submit his

Twenty years ago we did not fully realize that the treatment and
consideration that an individual, a race or a nation received, is
determined by the estimate in which the world holds the individual or
race, and that this estimate is largely determined by the estimate in
which the individual or race holds itself. And at this golden moment and
rare opportunity, we need far-sighted pilots, wise guides, who can seize
and utilize the civic, political, economic and industrial opportunities,
which may present themselves.

We have had too many leaders who have pursued the Fabian policy of
watchful waiting, who have been the creatures of circumstance, who have
been the sport of chance, who have been determined by their environment,
and who have been dependent upon the turn or course that events would

We need a Scipio Africanus, who saw with an eagle eye that Rome must carry
the war into Africa and forthwith proceeded to take the initiative, made
himself the compeller of circumstances, himself determined the course that
events would take, and made himself the master of Rome's fate and the
architect of her destiny.

In the past we have been dependent upon what our Anglo-Saxon friends have
thought of us and have blindly worshipped the hand-picked leaders our
Anglo-Saxon godfathers have set up for us, to bow down to. The time has
now arrived for us to mold the opinion of our Anglo-Saxon friends by what
we think of ourselves, and to select and follow our own leaders. The time
has now arrived for us to take a hand in shaping our destiny.


But there are other motives for education, besides bread winning and
bettering one's material condition. I remember at Harvard how Charles
Eliot Norton, Prof. Thayer, the New Testament Greek scholar, and Dean C.
C. Everett, of the Harvard Divinity School, impressed students by the
grandeur and nobility of their character. And one, knowing them
instinctively, felt that they realized our ideal of personality. I can see
again the cultured Norton, whom Ruskin said was the only American he met
who was a gentleman. I can see the tall, handsome, erect Thayer, with
musical voice, gracious manners and buoyant walk, whom the boys called
"the captain." I can see again Dean Everett, who blended the wisdom of a
Nestor with a transparent simplicity who blended granite strength of
character with a Christ-like tenderness. And I can see again that trio of
famous Harvard professors, James, Royce and Palmer--the first
distinguished by his buoyancy of spirit, the second by his serenity and
the third by his refinement. And then I can see that famous Yale
philosopher, George Trumbull Ladd, a descendant of Elder Brewster and
Governor Bradford, who came over in the Mayflower, and who himself was a
splendid representative of modern puritanism. These and a score of other
professors in my college days were what ex-President Timothy Dwight of
Yale would call men of high character, and they made the students feel
that merely to achieve character was something worth the effort and
striving. And Dr. Alexander Crummell thought so too. One of the blessings
which this terrible war brought to the world was the lesson that there are
other values in life besides the piling up and the hoarding of money.

I realize that this is a materialistic age. But I am an optimist, not so
much because I believe in the Englishman or the American, as because I
believe in God. I do not believe that the universe is the product of the
blind play of atoms or the chance concourse of electrons. But I believe
that the intricacy of the structure of the atoms, the law and order that
is enthroned in the heavens above from farthest star across the milky way
to farthest star are silent but patent witnesses to the fact that a
Universal Mind is back of and behind and manifests Himself in the
universe. I believe that this Universal Mind works in the hearts and
consciences of men and that He is the ground and source and fount of their
noble impulses and higher aspirations. And I believe that "Eternal Power,
not ourselves, that makes for righteousness," will continue to stir in the
hearts and minds of men until they see the sin of damning a man because of
the color of his skin.

If we believe in God and believe as Crummell believed that the black man
can scale the heights of human achievement and gain the summit, if we
believe that we do not represent a stage in the evolution from the monkey
to man, but that, in the language of Terence, Rome's tawny-colored poet,
we are men and that nothing that is common to humanity is foreign to us, a
spirit will be generated in us that no oppression can crush, no obstacles
can daunt and no difficulties can overpower. Quicken in the Negro youth of
the land a belief in the mighty hopes that make us men and we will write
deeds upon the pages of history, as our black brothers wrote theirs in
letters of blood upon the sunlit plains of fair France, that will command
the attention and compel the recognition of a hostile world.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Alexander Crummell: An Apostle of Negro Culture - The American Negro Academy. Occasional Papers No. 20" ***

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