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Title: Half a Man - The Status of the Negro in New York
Author: Ovington, Mary White, 1865-1951, Boas, Franz
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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 _Copyright, 1911, by_

 [W · D · O]



Miss Ovington's description of the status of the Negro in New York City
is based on a most painstaking inquiry into his social and economic
conditions, and brings out in the most forceful way the difficulties
under which the race is laboring, even in the large cosmopolitan
population of New York. It is a refutation of the claims that the Negro
has equal opportunity with the whites, and that his failure to advance
more rapidly than he has, is due to innate inability.

Many students of anthropology recognize that no proof can be given of
any material inferiority of the Negro race; that without doubt the bulk
of the individuals composing the race are equal in mental aptitude to
the bulk of our own people; that, although their hereditary aptitudes
may lie in slightly different directions, it is very improbable that the
majority of individuals composing the white race should possess greater
ability than the Negro race.

The anthropological argument is invariably met by the objection that the
achievements of the two races are unequal, while their opportunities are
the same. Every demonstration of the inequality of opportunity will
therefore help to dissipate prejudices that prevent the best possible
development of a large number of our citizens.

The Negro of our times carries even more heavily the burden of his
racial descent than did the Jew of an earlier period; and the
intellectual and moral qualities required to insure success to the Negro
are infinitely greater than those demanded from the white, and will be
the greater, the stricter the segregation of the Negro community.

The strong development of racial consciousness, which has been
increasing during the last century and is just beginning to show the
first signs of waning, is the gravest obstacle to the progress of the
Negro race, as it is an obstacle to the progress of all strongly
individualized social groups. The simple presentation of observations,
like those given by Miss Ovington, may help us to overcome more quickly
that self-centred attitude which can see progress only in the domination
of a single type.

This investigation was carried on by Miss Ovington under the auspices of
the Greenwich House Committee on Social Investigations, of which she was
a Fellow.[1]



[1] The Greenwich House Committee on Social Investigations is composed
of Edwin R. A. Seligman, Chairman, Franz Boas, Edward T. Devine,
Livingston Farrand, Franklin H. Giddings, Henry R. Seager, Vladimir G.
Simkhovitch, Secretary.

Miss Ovington's is the second publication of the Committee, the first
being Mrs. Louise Bolard More's "Wage-Earners' Budgets," published by
Henry Holt & Co.


 CHAPTER                                               PAGE

    I "UP FROM SLAVERY"                                   5

   II WHERE THE NEGRO LIVES                              31

  III THE CHILD OF THE TENEMENT                          52




  VII RICH AND POOR                                     170


   IX CONCLUSION                                        218

      APPENDIX                                          229

      INDEX                                             233



Six years ago I met a young colored man, a college student recently
returned from Germany where he had been engaged in graduate work. He was
born, he told me, in one of the Gulf States, and I questioned him as to
whether he intended going back to the South to teach. His answer was in
the negative. "My father has attained success in his native state," he
said, "but when I ceased to be a boy, he advised me to live in the North
where my manhood would be respected. He himself cannot continually
endure the position in which he is placed, and in the summer he comes
North to be a man. No," correcting himself, "to be half a man. A Negro
is wholly a man only in Europe."

Half a man! During the six years that I have been in touch with the
problem of the Negro in New York this characterization has grown in
significance to me. I have endeavored to know the life of the Negro as I
know the life of the white American, and I have learned that while New
York at times gives full recognition to his manhood, again, its race
prejudice arrests his development as certainly as severe poverty arrests
the development of the tenement child. Perhaps a study of this shifting
attitude on the part of the dominant race, and of the Negro's reaction
under it, may not be unimportant; for the color question cannot be
ignored in America, nor should the position taken by her largest city be
overlooked. And those who love their fellows may be glad, among New
York's four millions--its Slavs and Italians, its Russians and
Asiatics--to meet these dark people who speak our language and who for
many generations have made this country their home.



The status of the Negro in New Amsterdam, a slave in a pioneer
community, differed fundamentally from his position today in New York.
His history from the seventeenth to the twentieth century contains many
exciting incidents, but those only need be considered here that show a
progress or a retardation in his attainment to manhood. What were his
struggles in the past to secure his rights as a man?

Slavery in the early days of the colonies was more brutal than at the
time of final emancipation. Savages recently arrived from Africa lacked
the docility of blacks reared in bondage, and burning and torturing, as
well as whipping, were recognized modes of punishment. Masters looked
upon their Negroes, bought at the Wall Street market from among the
cargo of a recently arrived slaver, with some suspicion and fear. Nor
were their apprehensions entirely without reason. In 1712 some of the
discontented among the New York slaves met in an orchard in Maiden Lane
and set fire to an outhouse. Defending themselves against the citizens
who ran to put out the flames, they fired, killing nine men and wounding
six. Retribution soon followed. They were pursued when they attempted
flight, captured and executed--some hanged, some burned at the stake,
some left suspended in chains to starve to death.

Perhaps it was the memory of this small revolt that caused the people of
New York in 1741 to lay the blame for a series of conflagrations upon
their slaves. Nine fires that seemed to be incendiary came one upon
another, and a robbery was committed. To escape death herself, a
worthless white servant girl gave testimony against the Negroes who
frequented a tavern where she was employed, declaring that a plot had
been conceived whereby the slaves would kill all the white men and take
control of the city. New York was aflame with fear, and evidence that at
another time would have been rejected, was listened to by the judges
with grave attention. The slaves were allowed no defence, and before the
city had recovered from its fright, it had burned fourteen Negroes,
hanged eighteen, and transported seventy-one.[1]

Historians today think that the slaves were in no way concerned in this
so-called "plot." The two thousand blacks in the city might have done
much mischief to the ten thousand whites, but their servile condition
made an organized movement among them impossible. We may infer, however,
from the fear which they provoked, that they were not all docile
servants. In a letter written at the port of New York in 1756, an
English naval officer says of the city, "The laborious people in general
are Guinea Negroes who lie under particular restraints from the attempts
they have made to massacre the inhabitants for their liberty."[2]
Janvier in his "Old New York" thinks, "that the alarm bred by the
so-called Negro plot of 1741 was most effective in checking the growth
of slavery in that city." Probably the restlessness of the slaves, their
efforts toward manhood, in a community where there was little economic
justification for slavery, contributed to the movement for emancipation
that began in 1777.

Emancipation came gradually to the New York Negro. Gouverneur Morris at
the state constitutional convention of 1776-1777 recommended that "the
future legislature of the state of New York take the most effectual
measures consistent with the public safety and the private property of
individuals for abolishing domestic slavery within the same, so that in
future ages every human being who breathes the air of this state shall
enjoy the privileges of a freeman." The postponement of action to a
future legislature was keenly regretted by John Jay, who was absent from
the convention when the slavery question arose, but who had hoped that
New York might be a leader in emancipation. The state's initial measure
for abolishing slavery was in 1785, when it prohibited the sale of
slaves in New York. This was followed in 1799 by an act giving freedom
to the children of slaves, and in 1817 by a further act providing for
the abolition of slavery throughout the state in 1827. This law went
into effect July 4, 1827, the emancipation day of the Negroes in New

With gradual emancipation and the cessation of the sale of slaves, the
Negroes numerically became unimportant in the city. In 1800 they
constituted ten and a half per cent of the population. Half a century
later, while they had doubled their numbers, the immense influx of
foreign immigrants brought their proportion down to two and seven-tenths
per cent. In 1850 and 1860 their positive as well as their relative
number decreased, and it was not until twenty years ago that they began
to show some gain. The last census returns of 1900 give Greater New York
(including Brooklyn) 60,666 Negroes in a population of 3,437,202, one
and eight-tenths per cent. It seems probable that the census of 1910
will show a large positive and a slight relative Negro increase.[3]

The relative decrease in the number of Negroes did not, however, produce
a decrease in the agitation upon their presence and position in the
city. Their political status was a subject for heated discussion even
before their complete emancipation. The first state constitution,
drafted in 1777, was without color discrimination, since it based the
suffrage upon a property qualification requiring voters for governor and
senators to be freeholders owning property worth £100. A Negro with such
a holding was a phenomenon, a curiosity. But by 1821, when the framing
of the second constitution was in progress, Negroes of some education
were an appreciable element in the population, and with them ignorant,
recently emancipated slaves. Should they be admitted to the full manhood
suffrage contemplated for the whites? Those who favored the new
democratic movement were doubtful of its applicability to colored
people. Livingston, a champion of universal white manhood suffrage, was
against giving the black man the vote. On the other hand, the
conservative Chancellor Kent, apprehending in the new constitution "a
disposition to encroach on private rights,--to disturb chartered
privileges and to weaken, degrade, and overawe the administration of
justice," would yet have made no color discrimination, and Peter A. Jay,
who did not believe in universal white manhood suffrage, urged that
colored men, natives of the country, should derive from its institutions
the same privileges as white persons. The second constitution when
adopted enfranchised practically all white men, but gave the Negroes a
property qualification of $250. The issue of the revolution, however,
was not far from men's thoughts, and "taxation without representation"
was not permitted; for while no colored man might vote without a
freehold estate valued at 250 dollars, _no person of color was subject
to direct taxation unless he should be possessed of such real estate_.

In 1846 a third constitutional convention was held, and the same matter
came up for debate. John L. Russell of St. Lawrence declared that "the
Almighty had created the black man inferior to the white man," while
Daniel S. Waterbury of Delaware County believed that "the argument that
because a race of men is marked by a peculiarity of color and crooked
hair they are not endowed with a mind equal to another class who have
other peculiarities is unworthy of men of sense." John H. Hunt of New
York City proclaimed that "We want no masters, least of all no Negro
masters.... Negroes are aliens." And he predicted that the practical
effect of their admission to the suffrage would be their exclusion from
Manhattan Island. A delegation of colored men appeared at Albany before
the suffrage committee, but their arguments and those of their friends
produced no effect. The new constitution contained the same Negro
property qualification, and it was not until 1874, after the passage of
the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States, that
legislation placed the Negro voter of New York upon the same footing as
the white.[4]

Had New York sincerely desired to keep the Negro in an inferior
position, it could have accomplished this by refusing him an education.
This it never did, though it suffered much tribulation regarding the
place and manner of his instruction. Before the establishment of a
public school system, the Manumission society, an association composed
largely of Friends, though including in its membership John Jay, De Witt
Clinton, and Alexander Hamilton, undertook the education of the Negro.
In 1787 it opened a school for Africans on Cliff Street. One of the
early teachers was Charles C. Andrews, whose little book on "The African
Free Schools," published in 1830, shows a kindly tolerance for the black
race. "As a result of forty years' experience," he writes, "the idea
respecting the capacity of the African race to receive a respectable and
even a liberal education has not been visionary." And he recites the
names of some of his pupils: "Rev. Theodore S. Wright, graduate of
Princeton Theological Seminary; John B. Russworm, graduate of Bowdoin;
Edward Jones, graduate of Amherst; William Brown and William G. Smith,
students of the medical department, Columbia College: all of them
persons of color." Describing an annual exhibition of his school on May
12, 1824, he quotes from the _Commercial Advertiser_ of the same date:
"We never beheld a white school, of the same age (of and under the age
of fifteen), in which, without exception, there was more order and
neatness of dress and cleanliness of person. And the exercises were
performed with a degree of promptness and accuracy which was

In 1834 the public school association took over the schools of the
Manumission society, but before this time the Negroes had begun to
assert themselves regarding the method and place of instruction for
their children. They clamored for colored teachers and succeeded in
displacing Charles Andrews himself. In 1838, at their desire, the word
African was changed to colored in describing the race; but of chief
importance to their educational future, they began a protest, only to
end in 1900, against segregation.

Removed from the care of the Manumission society, the colored schools
deteriorated. Their grade was reduced,[5] and owing to the growth of the
city, their attendance was very irregular, the severe winter weather
often keeping children who lived at a distance at home. A Brooklyn man
tells me that, when a boy, he used to walk from his home at East New
York to Fulton Ferry, passing inferior Brooklyn colored schools, and
after crossing the river, on up to Mulberry Street to be instructed by
the popular colored teacher, John Peterson. Here he received a good
education; but few boys would have endured a daily trip of fourteen
miles. Increasingly parents, if the colored school of their neighborhood
was not of the best, sent their boys and girls to be instructed with the
white boys and girls of their district.

The state law declared that any city or incorporated village might
establish separate schools for the instruction of African youths,
provided the facilities were equal to those of white schools, and when,
in 1862, a colored parent brought a case against the city for forcing
her child to go to a colored school, the case was lost.[6] Nevertheless,
during the nineteenth century Negroes in some numbers attended white
schools in both Brooklyn and New York, and Negro parents continued in
their quiet but persistent efforts against segregation. Then again, New
York grew too rapidly to segregate any race. The Negro boys and girls
were scattered through many districts, and the attendance at colored
schools fell off; in 1879 it was less than in 1878, and in 1880 less
than in 1879; so that the Board of Education in 1883 decided to
disestablish three colored schools.

But this involved another factor. If the colored schools were
disestablished, what would become of the colored teachers? The Negroes
met this issue by delaying disestablishment for a year, while the
teachers went about among the parents of the ward, making friends and
urging that children, _white or colored_, be sent to their schools.
Numbers of new pupils of both races were brought in within the year, and
at the end of the time, after a hearing before the governor, then Grover
Cleveland, a bill was passed prohibiting the abolition of two of the
three colored schools, but also making them open to all children
regardless of color.[7]

Occasionally a colored girl graduated from the normal college of the
city, but if there was no vacancy for her in the four colored schools
she received no appointment. In 1896, however, a normal graduate, Miss
S. E. Frazier, insisted upon her right to be appointed as teacher in any
school in which there was a vacancy. She visited the ward trustees and
the members of the Board of Education, and represented to them the
injustice done her and her race in refusing her the chance to prove her
ability as a teacher in the first school that should need a normal
graduate. She was finally appointed to a position in a white school. Her
success with her pupils was immediate, and since then the question of
race or color has not been considered in the appointment of teachers in
New York.

Until 1900, the state law permitted the establishment of separate
colored schools. In that year, however, on the initiative of Theodore
Roosevelt, then governor, the legislature passed a bill providing that
no person should be refused admission or be excluded from any public
school in the state on account of race or color.[8] This closed the
question of compulsory segregation in the state, though before this it
had ceased in New York. Public education was thus democratized for the
New York Negroes, their persistent efforts bringing at the end complete

While the colored people in New York started with segregated schools and
attained to mixed schools, the movement in the churches was the reverse.
At first the Negroes were attendants of white churches, sitting in the
gallery or on the rear seats, and waiting until the white people were
through before partaking of the communion; but as their number increased
they chafed under their position. Why should they be placed apart to
hear the doctrine of Christ, and why, too, should they not have full
opportunity to preach that doctrine? The desire for self-expression was
perhaps the greatest factor in leading them to separate from the white
church. In 1796 about thirty Negroes, under the leadership of James
Varick,[9] withdrew from the John Street Methodist Episcopal Church,
and formed the first colored church of New York. Varick had been denied
a license to preach, but now as pastor of his own people, he was
recognized by the whites and helped by some of them. He was the founder
of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

The Abyssinian Baptist Church was organized in 1800 by a few colored
members who withdrew from the First Baptist Church, then in Gold Street,
to establish themselves on Worth Street,[10] and in 1818 the colored
Episcopalians organized St. Philip's Church. In 1820 one of their race,
Peter Williams, for six years deacon, became their preacher.

Another prominent church was the colored Congregational, situated, in
1854, on Sixth Street; and it was the determined effort of its woman
organist to reach the church in time to perform her part in the Sunday
morning service that led to an important Negro advance in citizenship.

In the middle of the last century the right of the Negro to ride in car
or omnibus depended on the sufferance of driver, conductor, and
passenger. Sometimes a car stopped at a Negro's signal, again the driver
whipped up his horses, while the conductor yelled to the "nigger" to
wait for the next car. Entrance might always be effected if in the
company of a white person, and the small child of a kindly white
household would be delegated to accompany the homeward bound black
visitor into her car where, after a few minutes, conductor and
passengers having become accustomed to her presence, the young
protector might slip away. Such a situation was very galling to the
self-respecting negro.

In July, 1854, Elizabeth Jennings, a colored school-teacher and organist
at the Congregational Church, attempted to board a Third Avenue car at
Pearl and Chatham Streets. She was hurrying to reach the church to
perform her part in the service. The conductor stopped, but as Miss
Jennings mounted the platform, he told her that she must wait for the
next car, which was reserved for her people. "I have no people," Miss
Jennings said. "I wish to go to church as I have for six months past,
and I do not wish to be detained." The altercation continued until the
car behind came up, and the driver there declaring that he had less room
than the car in front, the woman was grudgingly allowed to enter the
car. "Remember," the conductor said, "if any passenger objects, you
shall go out, whether or no, or I'll put you out."

"I am a respectable person, born and brought up in New York," said Miss
Jennings, "and I was never insulted so before."

This again aroused the conductor. "I was born in Ireland," he said, "and
you've got to get out of this car."

He attempted to drag her out. The woman clung to the window, the
conductor called in the driver to help him, and together they dragged
and pulled and at last threw her into the street. Badly hurt, she
nevertheless jumped back into the car. The driver galloped his horses
down the street, passing every one until a policeman was found who
pushed the woman out, not, however, until she had taken the number of
the car. She then made her way home.

Elizabeth Jennings took the case into court, and it came before the
Supreme Court of the State in February, 1855, Chester A. Arthur,
afterwards President of the United States, being one of the lawyers for
the plaintiff. The judge's charge was clear on the point that common
carriers were bound to carry all respectable people, white or colored,
and the plaintiff was given $225 damages, to which the court added ten
per cent and costs; and to quote the New York _Tribune's_ comment on the
case,[11] "Railroads, steamboats, omnibuses, and ferryboats will be
admonished from this as to the rights of respectable colored

When you talk with the elderly educated colored people of New York
today, they tell you that before the War were "dark days." The
responsibility felt by the thoughtful Negroes was very great. They had
not only their own battles to wage, but there were the fugitives who
were entering the city by the Underground Railroad, whom they must
assist though it cost them their own liberty. In 1835 a Vigilance
Committee was formed in New York City to take charge of all escaping
slaves, and also to prevent the arrest and return to slavery of free men
of color. Colored men served on this Committee, and its secretary was
the minister of the church to which Elizabeth Jennings was endeavoring
to make her way that Sunday morning, the Reverend Charles B. Ray. In
1850 the New York State Vigilance Committee was formed with Gerritt
Smith as President and Ray as Secretary. Ray's home was frequently used
to shelter fugitives.[13] Once a young man, stepping up to the door and
learning that it was Charles Ray's house, whistled to his companions in
the darkness, and fourteen black men made their appearance and received
shelter. There would also come the task of negotiating for the purchase
of a slave, or this proving impossible, for the careful working out of
a means for his escape. Dark days, indeed, but made memorable to the
Negro by heroic work and the friendship of great men. Perhaps the two
races have never worked together in such fine companionship as at the
unlawful and thrilling task of protecting and aiding the fugitive.

The hardest year of the century for the Negro was 1863, when the draft
riot imperilled every dark face. Many Negroes fled from the city.
Colored homes were fired, the Orphan Asylum for colored children on
Fifth Avenue was burned, and even the dead might not be buried save at
the peril of undertaker and priest. Elizabeth Jennings, now Mrs. Graham,
lost a child when the rioting was at its height. An undertaker named
Winterbottom, a white man, was brave enough to give his services,
winning the lasting gratitude and patronage of the colored people. With
the danger of violence about them, the father and mother went to
Greenwood Cemetery, where the Reverend Morgan Dix of Trinity Church read
the burial service at the grave.

With the end of the War and the passage of the fourteenth and fifteenth
amendments came a revulsion of feeling for the race. "I remember," an
old time friend of the Negro tells me, "when the fifteenth amendment was
passed. The colored people stood in great numbers on the streets, and on
their faces was a look of gratitude and thanksgiving that I shall never
forget." Following the amendment came the State Civil Rights Bill in
1873, declaring that all persons should be entitled to full and equal
accommodations in all public places; and discrimination for a time
largely ceased.

While the colored people were winning citizenship, their progress in
industry was also considerable. Until 1860 the race was infrequently
segregated, and black and white were neighbors, not only in their homes,
but in business. Samuel R. Scottron, a careful Negro writer, compiled a
long list of the trades in which Negroes engaged before the War. Besides
the various lines of domestic service, in which they were more
frequently seen than today--coachmen, cooks, waitresses, seamstresses,
barbers--there were many craftsmen, ship-builders, trimmers, riggers,
coopers, caulkers, printers, tailors, carpenters. "Second-hand clothing
shops were everywhere kept by colored men. All the caterers and
restaurant keepers of the high order, as well as small places, were kept
by colored men.... Varick and Peters kept about the most pretentious
barber shop in the city. Patrick Reason was one of the most capable
engravers. The greatest among the restaurateurs was Thomas Downing, who
kept a restaurant under what is now the Drexel Building, corner of Wall
and Broad Streets. The drug stores of Dr. James McCune Smith on West
Broadway, and Dr. Philip A. White on Frankfort Street, were not
outclassed by any kept by white men in their day."[14]

And so the list goes on. It is perhaps somewhat exaggerated in the
importance in the city's business life which it gives to the colored
race. Charles Andrews, in 1837, says of the pupil who graduates from his
school, "He leaves with every avenue closed against him--doomed to
encounter as much prejudice and contempt as if he were not only
destitute of that education which distinguishes the civilized from the
savage, but as if he were incapable of receiving it." And he goes on to
tell of those few who have been able to learn trades, and their
subsequent difficulties in finding employment in good shops. White
journeymen object to working in the same shop with them, and many of the
best lads go to sea or become waiters, barbers, coachmen, servants,
laborers. But he is writing of an early date, and the opinion of the
colored people seems to be that, before our large foreign immigration,
the Negro was more needed in New York than today and received a large
share of satisfactory employment. His chief competitor was the Irish
immigrant, like himself an agricultural laborer, without previous
training in business, and he was frequently able to hold his own in his
shop. His long experience in domestic service, moreover, made him a
better caterer than the representatives of any other nationality that
had yet entered the city. His churches were flourishing, thus securing a
profession for which he had natural ability, and as we have seen,
colored men and women taught in the New York schools.

The city grew rapidly after 1875, and the colored society, the little
group that had attained to modest means and education, bought homes,
chiefly in Brooklyn, where land was easier to secure than in Manhattan,
and strove to enlarge the opportunities for those who were to come after
them. Color prejudice had waned, and they often met with especial
consideration because of their race. Had they been white they would have
slipped into the population and been lost, as happened to the Germans
and the Irish, who had been their competitors. As it was, they formed a
society apart from the rest of the city, meeting it occasionally in work
or through the friendship of children, who, left to themselves, know no
race. They had battled against prejudice and had won their rights as

As we look at the life of a segregated people, however, we see that we
tend always to regard not the individual but the group. The Negro is a
man in Europe, because there he is an individual, standing or falling
by his own merits. But in America, even in so cosmopolitan a city as New
York, he is judged, not by his own achievements, but by the achievements
of every other New York black man. So we will leave these able colored
Americans, who won much both for themselves and for their race, and turn
to the mass of the Negroes, the toiling poor, who dwell in our tenements


[1] Daniel Horsmanden, "New York Conspiracy, or a History of the Negro

[2] James Grant Wilson, "History of New York," Vol. II, p. 314.


             Total        Negro       of Negroes

 1800        60,515       6,382          10.5

 1810        96,373       9,823          10.2

 1820       123,706      10,886           8.8

 1830       202,589      13,976           6.9

 1840       312,710      16,358           5.2

 1850       515,547      13,815           2.7

 1860       805,658      12,574           1.6

 1870       942,292      13,072           1.5


 1880     1,206,299      19,663           1.6

 1890     1,515,301      23,601           1.6

 1900     2,050,600      38,616           1.9


 1900     3,437,202      60,666           1.8

[4] For a full account of the Negro's political status in New York
consult Charles Z. Lincoln's "Constitutional History of New York."

[5] Thomas Boese's "Public Education in the City of New York," p. 227.

[6] King _v._ Gallagher, 1882.

[7] A. Emerson Palmer, "The New York Public School."

[8] Laws of New York, Chapter 492.

[9] B. F. Wheeler, D.D., "The Varick Family."

[10] Geo. H. Hansell, "Reminiscences of New York Baptists."

[11] _New York Tribune_, February 23, 1855.

[12] "The Story of an Old Wrong," in _The American Woman's Journal_,
July, 1895.

[13] Life of the Reverend Charles B. Ray.

[14] _Colored American Magazine_, October, 1907.



It is thirty-five years since, in his Symphony, Sidney Lanier told of

                             "The poor
 That stand by the inward opening door
 Trade's hand doth tighten evermore,
 And sigh their monstrous foul air sigh
 For the outside hills of liberty."

Were Lanier writing this today, we should wonder whether New York's
crowded tenements had not served as inspiration for his figure. The
island of Manhattan, about eight miles long by two miles wide, with an
additional slender triangle of five miles at the north end, in 1905,
housed two million one hundred and twelve thousand people. These men and
women and children were not scattered uniformly throughout the island,
but were placed in selected corners, one thousand to the acre, while a
mile or so away large comfortable homes held families of two or three.
This was Manhattan's condition in 1905, and with each succeeding year
more congestion takes place, and more pressure is felt upon the inward
opening door.[1]

The Negro with the rest of the poor of New York has his part in this
excessive overcrowding. The slaver in which he made his entrance to this
land provided in floor space six feet by one-foot-four for a man, five
feet by one-foot-four for a woman, and four feet by one-foot-four for a
child.[2] This outdoes any overcrowding New York can produce, but an
ever increasing cost in food and rent is bringing into her interior
bedrooms a mass of humanity approximating that of the slaver's ship.
These new-comers, however, are not unwilling occupants, since unlike the
slaves they may spend their day and much of their night amid an ocean of
changing and exciting incidents. If you are young and strong, you care
less where you sleep than where you may spend your waking hours.

From among the millions of New York's poor, can we pick out the Negroes
in their tenements? This is not so difficult a task as it would have
proved fifty years ago when the colored were scattered throughout the
city; today we find them confined to fairly definite quarters. A black
face on the lower East Side is viewed with astonishment, while on the
middle West Side it is no more noticeable than it would be in Atlanta or
New Orleans. Roughly we may count five Negro neighborhoods in Manhattan:
Greenwich Village, the middle West Side, San Juan Hill, the upper East,
and the upper West sides. Brooklyn has a large Negro population, but it
is more widely distributed and less easily located than that of

Of the five Manhattan neighborhoods the oldest is Greenwich Village,
according to Janvier once the most attractive part of New York, where
the streets "have a tendency to sidle away from each other and to take
sudden and unreasonable turns." Here one finds such fascinating names as
Minetta Lane and Carmine and Cornelia Streets. These and neighboring
thoroughfares grow daily more grimy, however, and no longer merit
Janvier's praise for cleanliness, moral and physical. The picturesque,
friendly old houses are giving way to factories with high, monotonous
fronts, where foreigners work who crowd the ward and destroy its former
American aspect.

Among the old time aristocracy bearing Knickerbocker names there are a
few colored people who delight in talking of the fine families and past
wealth of old Greenwich Village. Scornful of the gibberish-speaking
Italians, they sigh, too, at their own race as they see it, for the
ambitious Negro has moved uptown, leaving this section largely to
widowed and deserted women and degenerates. The once handsome houses,
altered to accommodate many families, are rotten and unwholesome, while
the newer tenements of West Third Street are darkened by the elevated
road, and shelter vice that knows no race. Altogether, this is not a
neighborhood to attract the new-comer. Here alone in New York I have
found the majority of the adults northern born, men and women who,
unsuccessful in their struggle with city life, have been left behind in
these old forgotten streets.[3]

The second section, north of the first, lies between West Fourteenth and
West Fifty-ninth Streets, and Sixth Avenue and the Hudson River. In 1880
this was the centre of the Negro population, but business has entered
some of the streets, the Pennsylvania Railroad has scooped out acres for
its terminal, and while the colored houses do not diminish in number,
they show no decided increase. No one street is given over to the Negro,
but a row of two or three or six or even eight tenements shelter the
black man. The shelter afforded is poorer than that given the white
resident whose dwelling touches the black, the rents are a little
higher, and the landlord fails to pay attention to ragged paper, or to a
ceiling which scatters plaster flakes upon the floor. In the Thirties
there are rear tenements reached by narrow alley-ways. Crimes are
committed by black neighbor against black neighbor, and the entrance to
the rear yard offers a tempting place for a girl to linger at night. A
rear tenement is New York's only approach to the alley of cities farther

There are startling and happy surprises in all tenement neighborhoods,
and I recall turning one afternoon from a dark yard into a large
beautiful room. Muslin curtains concealed the windows, the brass bed was
covered with a thick white counterpane, and on either side of the
fireplace, where coal burned brightly in an open grate, were two rare
engravings. It was a workroom, and the mistress of the house, steady,
capable, and very black, was at her ironing-board. By her sat the
colored mammy of the story book rocking lazily in her chair. She
explained to me that her daughter had found her down south, two years
ago, and brought her to this northern home, where she had nothing to do,
for her daughter could make fifty dollars a month. This home picture was
made lastingly memorable by the younger woman's telling me softly as she
went with me to the door, "I was sold from my mother, down in Georgia,
when I was two years old. I ain't sure she's my mother. _She_ thinks so;
but I can't ever be sure."

Homes beautiful both in appearance and in spirit can rarely occur where
people must dwell in great poverty, but there are many efforts at
attractive family life on these streets. A few of the blocks are orderly
and quiet. Thirty-seventh Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, is
largely given over to the colored and is rough and noisy. Here and down
by the river at Hell's Kitchen the rioting in 1900 between the Irish and
the Negro took place. Men are ready for a fight today, and the children
see much of hard drinking and quick blows.

"The poorer the family, the lower is the quarter in which it must live,
and the more enviable appears the fortune of the anti-social class."[4]
A vicious world dwells in these streets and makes notorious this section
of New York. For this is a part of the Tenderloin district, and at
night, after the children's cries have ceased, and the fathers and
mothers who have worked hard during the day have put out their lights,
the automobiles rush swiftly past, bearing the men of the "superior
race." Temptation is continuous, and the child that grows up pure in
thought and deed does so in spite of his surroundings.

Before reaching West Fifty-ninth Street, the beginning of our third
district, we come upon a Negro block at West Fifty-third Street. When
years ago the elevated railroad was erected on this fashionable street,
white people began to sell out and rent to Negroes; and today you find
here three colored hotels, the colored Young Men's and Young Women's
Christian Associations, the offices of many colored doctors and lawyers,
and three large beautiful colored churches. The din of the elevated
drowns alike the doctor's voice and his patient's, the client's and the

From Fifty-ninth Street, walking north on Tenth Avenue, we begin to
ascend a hill that grows in steepness until we reach Sixty-second
Street. The avenue is lined with small stores kept by Italians and
Germans, but to the left the streets, sloping rapidly to the Hudson
River, are filled with tenements, huge double deckers, built to within
ten feet of the rear of the twenty-five foot lot, accommodating four
families on each of the five floors. We can count four hundred and
seventy-nine homes on one side of the street alone!

This is our third district, San Juan Hill, so called by an on-looker who
saw the policemen charging up during one of the once common race fights.
It is a bit of Africa, as Negroid in aspect as any district you are
likely to visit in the South. A large majority of its residents are
Southerners and West Indians, and it presents an interesting study of
the Negro poor in a large northern city. The block on Sixtieth Street
has some white residents, but the blocks on Sixty-first, Sixty-second,
and Sixty-third are given over entirely to colored. On the square made
by the north side of Sixty-first, the south side of Sixty-second
Streets, and Tenth and West End Avenues, 5.4 acres, the state census of
1905 showed 6173 inhabitants.[5] All but a few of these must have been
Negroes, as the avenue sides of the block, occupied by whites, are short
and with low houses. It is the long line of five-story tenements,
running eight hundred feet down the two streets, that brings up the
enumeration. The dwellings on Sixty-first and Sixty-second Streets are
human hives, honeycombed with little rooms thick with human beings.
Bedrooms open into air shafts that admit no fresh breezes, only foul
air carrying too often the germs of disease.

The people on the hill are known for their rough behavior, their
readiness to fight, their coarse talk. Vice is abroad, not in insidious
form as in the more well-to-do neighborhood farther north, but open and
cheap. Boys play at craps unmolested, gambling is prevalent, and Negro
loafers hang about the street corners and largely support the Tenth
Avenue saloons.

But San Juan Hill has many respectable families, and within the past
five years it has taken a decided turn for the better. The improvement
has been chiefly upon Sixty-third Street where two model tenements, one
holding one hundred, the other one hundred and sixty-one families, have
been opened under the management of the City and Suburban Homes Company,
the larger one having been erected by Mr. Henry Phipps. Planning for a
four per cent return on their investment, these landlords have rented
only to respectable families, and their rule has changed the character
of the block.[6] Old houses have been remodelled to compete with the
newer dwellings, street rows have ceased, and the police captain of the
district, we are told, now counts this as one of the peaceful and
law-abiding blocks of the city. When its other blocks show a like
improvement, San Juan Hill will no longer merit its belligerent name.

The lower East Side of Manhattan, a many-storied mass of tenements and
workshops, where immigrants labor and sleep in their tiny crowded rooms,
was once a fashionable American district. At that time Negroes dwelt
near the whites as barbers, caterers, and coachmen, as laundresses and
waiting-maids. But with the removal of the people whom they served, the
colored men and women left also, and it is difficult to find an African
face among the hundreds of thousands of Europeans south of Fourteenth
Street. On Pell Street, in the Chinese quarter, there used to be two
colored families on friendly terms with their neighbors, who, however,
went uptown for their pleasures and their church.

It is not until we reach Third Avenue and Forty-third Street that we
come to the East Side Negro tenement. From this point, such houses run,
a straggling line, chiefly between Second and Third Avenues, to
the Bronx where the more well-to-do among the colored live. At
Ninety-seventh Street, and on up to One Hundredth Street, dark faces are
numerous. About six hundred and fifty Negro families live on these four
streets and around the corner on Third Avenue. Occasionally they live in
houses occupied by Jews or Italians. Above this section there are a
number of Negro tenements in the One Hundred and Thirties, between
Madison and Fifth Avenues--almost a West Side neighborhood, since it
adjoins the large colored quarter to the west of Fifth Avenue. On the
whole, the East Side is not often sought by the colored as a place of
residence. Their important churches are in another part of the city, and
every New Yorker knows the difficulty in making a way across Central
Park. Yet, the neighborhood is not uncivil to them, and one rarely reads
here of race friction. Doubtless this is in part owing to the smallness
of the population, all of Manhattan east of Fifth Avenue containing but
fourteen per cent of the apartments occupied by colored in the city; but
it is partly, too, that Jews and Italians prove less belligerent
tenement neighbors than Irish.

Five years ago, those of us who were interested in the Negro poor
continually heard of their difficulty in securing a place to live. Not
only were they unable to rent in neighborhoods suitable for respectable
men and women, but dispossession, caused perhaps by the inroad of
business, meant a despairing hunt for any home at all. People clung to
miserable dwellings, where no improvements had been made for years,
thankful to have a roof to shelter them. Yet all the time new-law
tenements were being built, and Gentile and Jew were leaving their
former apartments in haste to get into these more attractive dwellings.
At length the Negro got his chance; not a very good one, but something
better than New York had yet offered him--a chance to follow into the
houses left vacant by the white tenants. Owing in part to the energy of
Negro real estate agents, in part to rapid building operations,
desirable streets, near the subway and the elevated railroad, were
thrown open to the colored. This Negro quarter, the last we have to note
and the newest, has been created in the past eight years. When the
Tenement House Department tabulated the 1900 census figures for the
Borough of Manhattan, and showed the nationalities and races on each
block, it found only 300 colored families in a neighborhood that today
accommodates 4473 colored families.[7] This large increase is on six
streets, West Ninety-ninth, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, West One
Hundred and Nineteenth, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, and West One
Hundred and Thirty-third to One Hundred and Thirty-sixth Streets,
between Fifth and Seventh Avenues, with a few houses between Seventh and
Eighth, and on Lenox Avenues. There are colored tenements north and
south of this; and while these figures are correct today,[8] they may
be wrong tomorrow, for new tenements are continually given over to the
Negro people. Moreover, on all of these streets are colored boarding and
lodging houses, crowded with humanity. Houses today fall into the hands
of the Negro as a child's blocks, placed on end, tumble when a push is
given to the first in the line. The New York _Times_, in August, 1905,
gives a graphic account of the entrance of the colored tenant on West
Ninety-ninth Street. Two houses had been opened for a short time to
Negroes when the other house-owners capitulated, and the colored influx
came: "The street was so choked with vehicles Saturday that some of the
drivers had to wait with their teams around the corners for an
opportunity to get into it. A constant stream of furniture trucks loaded
with the household effects of a new colony of colored people who are
invading the choice locality is pouring into the street. Another equally
long procession, moving in the other direction, is carrying away the
household goods of the whites from their homes of years." The movement
is not always so swift as this, but it is continuous.

This last colored neighborhood perhaps ought not to be spoken of as
belonging to the poor; not to Lanier's poor whose door pressed so
tighteningly inward. Here are homes where it is possible, with
sufficient money, to live in privacy, and with the comforts of steam
heat and a private bath. But rents are high, and if money is scarce, the
apartment must be crowded and privacy lost. Moreover, vice has made its
way into these newly acquired streets. The sporting class will always
pay more and demand fewer improvements than the workers, and, unable to
protect himself, the respectable tenant finds his children forced to
live in close propinquity to viciousness. Each of these new streets has
this objectionable element in its population, for while some agents
make earnest efforts to keep the property they handle respectable, they
find the owner wants money more than respectability.

In our walk up and down Manhattan, turning aside and searching for
Negro-tenanted streets, we ought to see one thing with clearness--that
the majority of the colored population live on a comparatively few
blocks. This is a new and important feature of their New York life, and
in certain parts of the city it develops a color problem, for while you
seem an inappreciable quantity when you constitute two per cent of the
population in the borough, you are of importance when you form one
hundred per cent of the population of your street. This congestion is
accompanied by a segregation of the race. The dwellers in these
tenements are largely new-comers, men and women from the South and the
West Indies,[9] seeking the North for greater freedom and for economic
opportunity. Like any other strangers they are glad to make their home
among familiar faces, and they settle in the already crowded places on
the West Side. Freedom to live on the East Side next door to a Bohemian
family may be very well, but sociability is better. The housewife who
timidly hangs her clothes on the roof her first Monday morning in New
York is pleased to find the next line swinging with the laundry of a
Richmond acquaintance, who instructs her in the perplexing housekeeping
devices of her flat. No chattering foreigner could do that. And while to
be welcome in a white church is inspiring, to find the girl you knew at
home, in the next pew to you, is still more delightful when you have
arrived, tired and homesick, at the great city of New York. So the
colored working people, like the Italians and Jews and other
nationalities, have their quarter in which they live very much by
themselves, paying little attention to their white neighbors. If the
white people of the city have forced this upon them, they have easily
accepted it. Should this two per cent of the population be compelled to
distribute itself mathematically over the city, each ward and street
having its correct quota, it would evince dissatisfaction. This is not
true of the well-to-do element, but of the mass of the Negro workers
whose homes we have been visiting. Loving sociability, these new-comers
to the city--and it is in the most segregated districts that the greater
number of southern and British born Negroes are found--keep to their own
streets and live to themselves. If they occupy all the sidewalk as they
talk over important matters in front of their church, the outsider
passing should recognize that he is an intruder and take to the curb. He
would leave the sidewalk entirely were he on Hester Street or Mulberry
Bend. New-comers to New York usually segregate, and the Negro is no

While congestion and segregation seem important to us as we look at
these colored quarters, I suspect that the matter most pertinent to the
Negro new-comer is, not where he will live nor how he will live, but
whether he will be able to live in New York at all, whether he can meet
the landlord's agent the day he comes to the door. For New York rents
have mounted upwards as have her tenements. The Phipps model houses,
built especially to benefit the poor, charge twenty-five dollars a month
for four tiny rooms and bath; and while this is a little more than the
dark old time rooms would bring, it takes about all of the twenty-five
dollars you make running an elevator, to get a flat in New York. What
wonder that, once secured, it is overrun with lodgers, or that, if
privacy is maintained, there is not enough money left to feed and clothe
the growing household. The once familiar song of the colored comedian
still rings true in New York:

 "Rufus Rastus Johnson Brown,
 What you gwine ter do when de rent comes roun'?"


[1] Harold M. Finley in _Federation_, May, 1908.

[2] Thomas Clarkson, "History of the Abolition of the Slave Trade," p.

[3] Place of birth of 1036 New York Negro tenement dwellers. These
figures were obtained chiefly from personal visits:

                      | Totals | East | Greenwich | Middle | San  | Upper
                      |        | Side |  Village  |  West  | Juan | West
                      |        |      |           |  Side  | Hill | Side
 New England          |   18   |   1  |     4     |    7   |   5  |   1
 West                 |   11   |   1  |     0     |    5   |   4  |   1
 New York             |  157   |   6  |    47     |   42   |  55  |   7
 New Jersey           |   18   |   1  |     4     |    3   |   9  |   1
 Pennsylvania         |   19   |   0  |     3     |    3   |  12  |   1
 Maryland             |   37   |   1  |     0     |    6   |  27  |   3
 District of Columbia |   26   |   0  |     1     |    5   |  16  |   4
 Virginia             |  375   |   8  |    15     |   71   | 244  |  37
 Carolinas            |  217   |   6  |    16     |   64   | 127  |   4
 Gulf States          |   65   |   0  |     2     |   23   |  39  |   1
 Canada               |    2   |   0  |     1     |    1   |   0  |   0
 West Indies          |   87   |   1  |     6     |   13   |  67  |   0
 Europe               |    4   |   0  |     1     |    0   |   3  |   0
                      | 1036   |  25  |   100     |  243   | 608  |  60

[4] S. N. Patten, "New Basis of Civilization," p. 52.

[5] Some doubt is cast upon this figure. The New York Health Department
in an enumeration of its own, in 1905, found a population of 3833. There
is no question, however, of the great congestion of this block and the
one north and south of it. The erection of new tenements has gone on
rapidly since 1905, sweeping away the children's playgrounds, and making
this one of the most crowded centres of New York.

[6] Too much cannot be said of the beneficial effect of good housing in
a colored neighborhood, when under such able management as the City and
Suburban Homes Company. Decent homes under competent management are
absolutely necessary to an improvement in the Negro quarters of
Manhattan and of Brooklyn as well. I can speak with some authority of
the good done by the Phipps houses on West Sixty-third Street, as I
lived, for eight months, the only white tenant in the one hundred and
sixty-one apartments. Church and philanthropy had done and are doing
excellent work on these blocks, but a sudden and marked improvement came
from good housing, from the building of clean, healthful homes for
law-abiding people.

[7] The Tenement House Department tabulated the number of Negro
families living in tenements on these streets. I have counted the number
of flats rented to colored people.

[8] July 15, 1910.

[9] The yearly arrivals of "African blacks" at the port of New York,
secured from the Immigration Commissioner, are as follows: 1902-03, 110;
1903-04, 547; 1904-05, 1189; 1905-06, 1757; 1906-07, 2054; 1907-08,
1820; 1908-09, 2119. The year runs from July 1 to June 30.



Within the last few years white Americans, many of whom were formerly
ignorant of their condition, have been taught that they are possessed of
a racial antipathy for human beings whose color is not their own. They
have a "natural contrariety," "a dislike that seems constitutional"
toward the dark tint that they see on another's face. But however well
they may have conned their lesson, it breaks down or is likely to be
forgotten in the presence of a Negro baby; for a healthy colored baby
is a subject, not for natural contrariety, but for sympathetic
cuddling. They are most engaging new-comers, these "delicate bronze
statuettes,"[1] only warm with life, and smiling good will upon their

Not many colored babies are born in New York, at least not enough to
keep pace with the deaths. The year 1908 saw in all the boroughs 1973
births as against 2212 deaths at all ages.[2]

In this same year the colored births for Manhattan and the Bronx were
1459, and the deaths under one year of age 424, an infant mortality rate
of 290 to every thousand.[3] That is, two babies in every seven died
under one year of age. The white infant mortality rate was 127.7, a
little less than half that of the colored.

Why should we have in New York this enormous colored infant death rate?
Many physicians believe it indicates a lack of physical stamina in the
Negro, an inability to resist disease. This may be so, but before
falling back upon race as an explanation of high infant mortality, we
need to exhaust other possible causes. We do not question the vitality
of the white race when we read that in parts of Russia 500 babies out
of every thousand die within the year; nor do we believe the people of
Fall River, a factory town in Massachusetts, have an inherent inability
to resist disease, though their infant mortality rate in 1900 was 260 in
one thousand births. We look in these latter cases, as we should in the
former, to see if we find those conditions which careful students of the
subject tell us accompany a high infant death rate.

Among the first of the accepted causes of infant mortality is the
overcrowding of cities. We have viewed overcrowding as a usual condition
among the Negroes of New York, and have seen the small, ill-ventilated
bedroom where the baby spends much of its life. Heat, with its
accompanying growth of bacteria and swift process of decomposition, is a
second cause. New York's high infant mortality comes in the summer
months when in the poorest quarters it has been known to reach four
hundred in the thousand.[4] In the hot, crowded tenements, and no
place can be so hot as New York in one of its July record-breaking
weeks, the babies die like flies, and yet not like flies, for the flies
buzz in hundreds about the little hot faces. Excitement, late hours,
constant restlessness, these, too, cause infant mortality. On a city
block tenanted by hundreds of men and women and little children, no hour
of the night is free from some disturbance. Children whimper as they
wake from the heat, babies cry shrilly, and the brightly-lighted streets
are rarely without the sound of human footsteps. The sensitive new-born
organism knows nothing of the quiet and restful darkness of nature's

But the most important cause of infant mortality[5] is improper infant
feeding. And here we meet with a condition that confronts the Negro
babies of New York far more than it confronts the white. For a properly
fed baby is a breast fed baby, or else one whose food has been prepared
with great care, and mothers forced by necessity to go out to work,
cannot themselves give their babies this proper food. It is among the
infants of mothers at work that mortality is high. Mr. G. Newman, an
English authority on this subject, gives an interesting example of this
in Lancashire, where, during the American civil war, many of the cotton
operatives were out of employment and many more worked only half time.
Privation was great. A quarter of the mill hands were in receipt of poor
relief, the general death rate increased, but _the infant mortality rate
decreased_. The mothers, forced by circumstances to remain away from the
factory, though in a state of semi-starvation, by their nursing and by
their care of the home preserved the lives of their infants. Negro
mothers, owing to the low wage earned by their husbands, for the general
welfare of the family and to avoid semi-starvation, like the Lancashire
women, leave their homes, but they thereby sacrifice the lives of many
of their babies. The percentage for 1900 of Negro married women in New
York engaging in self-supporting work was 31.4 in every hundred; of
white married women 4.2 in every hundred, seven times as many in
proportion among the Negroes as among the whites.[6] The Negro also
shows a large percentage of widows, a quarter of all the female
population over ten years of age. Some of these, we have no means of
knowing how many, are widows only in name, and have babies for whom they
must in some way provide support. The colored mother who has no husband
often takes a position in domestic service and boards her baby, paying
usually by the month, and finding the opportunity to visit her infant
perhaps once a week. Sometimes she secures a "baby tender" who can give
kindly, intelligent care; but under the best conditions her child will
be bottle fed and in tenement surroundings inimical to health, while
sometimes the woman to whom she intrusts her infant will be ignorant of
the simplest matters of hygiene.

I remember an old colored woman, she must be dead by this time, who kept
a baby farm. Her health was poor, and when I saw her, she had taken to
her bed and lay in a dark room with two infants at her side. They were
indescribably puny, with sunken cheeks and skinny arms and hands,
weighing what a normal child should weigh at birth, and yet six and
seven months old. The woman talked to me enthusiastically of salvation
and gave filthy bottles to her charges. She was exceptionally
incompetent, but there are others doing her work, too old or too
ignorant properly to attend to the babies under their care.

Mothers who go out to day's-work are also unable to nurse their babies
or to prepare all their food. The infant is placed in the care of some
neighbor or of a growing daughter, who may be the impatient "little
mother" of a number of charges. When the hot summer comes, such a baby
is likely to fall the victim of epidemic diarrhoea, caused by pollution
of the milk. Newman has a striking chart of infant death rates in Paris
in which he pictures a rate mounting in one week as high as 256 in the
thousand among the artificially fed infants, while for the same week,
among the breast fed babies, the mortality is 32. The Negro mother,
seeking self-support by keeping clean another's house or caring for
another's children, finds her own offspring swiftly taken from her by a
disease that only her nourishing care could forestall.[7]

Remedial measures have for some time been taken in New York to check
infant mortality, and they have met with some success. The distribution
of pasteurized milk by Mr. Nathan Straus, the establishment of milk
stations during the summer months in New York and Brooklyn where mothers
at slight cost may secure proper infant food, and where much educative
work is done by the visiting nurse, the multiplication of day nurseries,
all these have helped to decrease the death rate. The Negroes have been
benefited by these remedial agencies, but their percentage of 290 is
still a matter for grave attention.

Two out of seven of New York's Negro babies die in the first year, but
the other five grow up, some with puny arms and ricketty legs, others
again too hardy for bad food or bad air to harm.

Like the babies these children suffer from their mother's absence at
work. Family ties are loose, and more than other children they are
handicapped by lack of proper home care. In an examination of the
records of the Children's Court for three years I found that out of 717
arraignments of colored children, 221 were for improper guardianship,
30.8 per cent of the whole. Among the Russian children of the East Side,
Tenth and Eleventh Wards, only 15 per cent of arraignments were on this
complaint, indicating twice as many children without parental care among
the colored as among the children of the Tenth and Eleventh Wards. Rough
colored girls, also, whose habits were too depraved to permit of their
remaining without restraint, were frequently committed to reformatories.

Truancy is not uncommon in colored neighborhoods, though few cases come
before the courts. Sometimes the boy or girl is kept at home to care for
the younger children, but again, lacking the mother's oversight, he
remains on the street when he should be in school, or arrives late with
ill prepared lessons.

Asking a teacher of long experience among colored and white children
concerning their respective scholarship, he assured me that the colored
child could do as well as the white, but didn't. "From 20 to 50 per cent
of the mothers of my colored children," he said, "go out to work. There
is no one to oversee the child's tasks, and consequently little
conscientious study."

One can scarcely blame the children; and certainly one cannot blame the
mothers for toiling for their support. And the fathers, though they work
faithfully, are rarely able to earn enough unaided to support their
families. Perhaps in time the city may improve matters by opening its
school-rooms for a study period in the afternoon.

But meanwhile the children are without proper care. This is not hard to
endure in the summer, but in winter it is very trying to be without a
home. Poor little cold boys and girls, some of them mere babies! You see
them in the late afternoon sitting on the tenement stairs, waiting for
the long day to be done. It seems a week since they were inside eating
their breakfast. The city has not pauperized them with a luncheon, and
they have had only cold food since morning. Sometimes they have been all
day without nourishment. When the door is opened at last, there are many
helpful things for them to do for their mother, and reading and
arithmetic are relegated to so late an hour that their problem is only
temporarily solved by sleep.

Not all the colored working women, however, go out for employment.
Laundry work is an important home industry, and one may watch many
mothers at their tubs or ironing-boards from Monday morning until
Saturday night. This makes the tenement rooms, tiny enough at best,
sadly cluttered, but it does not deprive the children of the presence of
their mother, who accepts a smaller income to remain at home with them.
For after we have made full allowance for the lessening of family ties
among the Negroes by social and economic pressure, we find that the
majority of the colored boys and girls receive a due share of proper
parental oversight. They are fed on appetizing food, cleanly and
prettily dressed, they are encouraged to study and to improve their
position, and they are given all the advantages that it is possible for
their mothers and fathers to secure.

Jack London tells in the "Children of the Abyss" of the East Side of
London, where "they have dens and lairs into which to crawl for sleeping
purposes, and that is all. One can not travesty the word by calling such
dens and lairs 'homes.'" I have seen thousands of Negro dwelling-places,
but I cannot think of half a dozen, however great their poverty, where
this description would be correct. No matter how dingy the tenement, or
how long the hours of work, the mother, and the father, too, try to make
the "four walls and a ceiling" to which they return, home. Visitors
among the New York poor, in the past and in the present, testify that
given the same income or lack of income, the colored do not allow their
surroundings to become so cheerless or so filthy as the white, and that
when there is an opportunity for the mother to spend some time in the
house, the rooms take on an air of pleasant refinement. Pictures
decorate the walls, the sideboard contains many pretty dishes, and the
table is set three times a day. Meals are not eaten out of the paper bag
common on New York's East Side, but there is something of formality
about the dinner, and good table manners are taught the children. The
tenement dwelling becomes a home, and the boys and girls pass a happy
childhood in it.

Watching the colored children for many months in their play and work, I
have looked for possible distinctive traits. The second generation of
New Yorkers greatly resembles the "Young America" of all nationalities
of the city, shrill-voiced, disrespectful, easily diverted, whether at
work or at play, shrewd, alert, and mischievous--the New York street
child. I remember once helping with a club of eight boys where
seven nationalities were represented, and where no one could have
distinguished Irish from German or Jew from Italian, with his eyes
shut. Had a Negro been brought up among them he would quickly have taken
on their ways. Of the colored children who model their lives after their
mischievous young white neighbors, many outdo the whites in depravity
and lawlessness; but among the boys and girls who live by themselves, as
on San Juan Hill, one sees occasional interesting traits.

The records of the Children's Court of New York (Boroughs of Manhattan
and the Bronx) throw a little light on this matter, and are sufficiently
important to quote with some fulness. For the three years studied, 1904,
1905, 1906, I tabulated the cases of the colored children brought before
the court, and also the cases of the children of the Tenth and Eleventh
Wards, chiefly Hungarians and Russian Jews, expecting to find, in two
such dissimilar groups, interesting comparisons. The following table
shows the result of this study. The court in its annual report gives the
figures for the total number of arrests which I have incorporated in my

 1904, 1905, 1906

 Key to Column Headers--
   A: No. of children.
   B: Arrests per cent.

                          |            |    10th    | Total arrests
                          |            |    and     |    for all
                          |    Negro   |    11th    |   children
                          |   Arrests  |   Wards    | in Manhattan
                          |            |  Arrests   |  and Bronx
                          |  A  |  B   |  A  |  B   |   A   |  B
 Petit larceny            |  56 |  7.8 | 139 |  6.8 | 2,697 | 10.1
 Grand larceny            |  27 |  3.8 | 108 |  5.3 |   878 |  3.3
 Burglary--Robbery        |  27 |  3.8 | 116 |  5.7 | 1,383 |  5.2
 Assault                  |  27 |  3.8 |  61 |  3.0 |   669 |  2.5
 Improper guardianship    | 221 | 30.8 | 305 | 15.0 | 6,386 | 23.9
 Disorderly               |     |      |     |      |       |
  child--ungovernable     |     |      |     |      |       |
  child                   |  90 | 12.6 | 124 |  6.1 | 1,980 |  7.4
 Depraved girl            |  33 |  4.6 |  21 |  1.1 |   312 |  1.2
 Violation of labor law   |   0 |  0   |  73 |  3.5 |   592 |  2.1
 Unlicensed peddling[8]   |   0 |  0   | 130 |  6.4 |     0 |   .0
 Truancy                  |   5 |   .7 |  23 |  1.0 |   298 |  1.1
 Malicious mischief       |   1 |   .1 |   9 |   .4 |   179 |   .7
 Violation of Park        |     |      |     |      |       |
  Corporation ordinances  |   0 |  0   |  25 |  1.2 |   175 |   .7
 Mischief, including      |     |      |     |      |       |
  craps, throwing stones, |     |      |     |      |       |
  building bonfires,      |     |      |     |      |       |
  fighting, etc.          | 214 | 29.8 | 896 | 43.7 |10,267 | 38.4
 Unclassified felonies,   |     |      |     |      |       |
  misdemeanors            |  13 |  1.8 |  16 |   .7 |   799 |  3.0
 All others               |   3 |   .4 |   3 |   .1 |    90 |   .4
                          | 717 |100.0 |2049 |100.0 |26,705 |100.0

 Percentage of Negro to total, 1904-1907      2.7
 Percentage of Negro to total, 1907-1910      1.9

Our table shows us that which we have already noted, the high percentage
of improper guardianship among the Negroes and the grave number of
depraved Negro girls. For the sins of petit larceny, grand larceny, and
burglary, putting the three together, the colored child shows a slightly
smaller percentage than the East Side white, a noticeably smaller
percentage than the total number of children. The sin of theft is often
swiftly attributed to a black face, but this percentage indicates that
the colored child has no "innate tendency" to steal. Ten per cent of the
arrests among the East Side children are for unlicensed peddling and
violation of the labor law, but no little Negro boys plunge into the
business world before their time. They have no keen commercial sense to
lead them to undertake transactions on their own account, and they are
not desired by purchasers of boy labor in the city.

The most important heading, numerically, is that of mischief, and here
the Negro falls far behind the Eastsider, behind the average for the
whole. While depravity among the girls and improper guardianship are the
race's most serious defects, as shown by the arrests among its children
in New York, tractability and a decent regard for law are among its
merits. The colored child, especially if he is in a segregated
neighborhood, is not greatly inclined to mischief. My own experience has
shown me that life in a tenement on San Juan Hill is devoid of the
ingenious, exasperating deviltry of an Irish or German-American
neighborhood. No daily summons calls one to the door only to hear wildly
scurrying footsteps on the stairs. Mail boxes are left solely for the
postman's use, and hallways are not defaced by obscene writing. There is
plenty of crap shooting, rarely interfered with by the police, but there
is little impertinent annoyance or destructiveness.

An observer, watching the little colored boys and girls as they play on
the city streets, finds much that is attractive and pleasant. They sing
their songs, learned at school and on the playground, fly their kites,
spin their tops, run their races. They usually finish what they begin,
not turning at the first interruption to take up something else. They
move more deliberately than most children, and their voices are slower
to adopt the New York screech than those of their Irish neighbors on the
block above them. Altogether they are attractive children, particularly
the smaller ones, who are more energetic than their big brothers and
sisters. Good manners are often evident. While receiving an afternoon
call from two girls, aged four and five, I was invited by the older to
partake of half a peanut, the other half of which she split in two and
generously shared with her companion. "Gim'me five cents," I once heard
a Negro boy of twelve say to his mother who walked past him on the
street. She did not seem to hear, but the boy's companion, a youth of
the same age, reproved him severely for his rude speech. When walking
with an Irish friend, who had worked among the children of her own race,
I saw a colored boy run swiftly up the block to meet his mother. He
kissed her, took her bundle from her, and carrying it under his arm,
walked quietly by her side to their home. "There are many boys here," I
said, "who are just as courteous as that." "Is that so?" she retorted
quickly, "Then you needn't be explaining to me any further the reason
for the high death rate."

The gentle, chivalrous affection of the child for its mother is daily to
be seen among these boys and girls. "Your African," said Mary Kingsley,
"is little better than a slave to his mother, whom he loves with a love
he gives to none other. This love of his mother is so dominant a factor
in his life that it must be taken into consideration in attempting to
understand the true Negro."[9] And if the child lavishes affection upon
its parent, the mother in turn gives untiringly to her child. She is the
"mammy" of whom we have so often heard, but with her loving care
bestowed, as it should be, upon her own offspring. She tries to keep her
child clean in body and spirit and to train it to be gentle and good;
and in return usually she receives a stanch devotion. I once found
fault with a colored girl of ten years for her rude behavior with her
girl companions, adding that perhaps she did not know any better, at
which she turned on me almost fiercely and said, "It's our fault; we
know better. Our mothers learn us. It's we that's bold." As one watches
the boys and girls walking quietly up the street of a Sunday afternoon
to their Sunday-school, neatly and cleanly dressed, one appreciates the
anxious, maternal care that strives as best it knows how, to rear honest
and God-fearing men and women.

Paul Lawrence Dunbar has painted the Negro father, his "little brown
baby wif sparklin' eyes," nestling close in his arms. Working at unusual
hours, the colored man often has a part of the day to give to his
family, and one sees him wheeling the baby in its carriage, or playing
with the older boys and girls.

Negroes seem naturally a gentle, loving people. As you live with them
and watch them in their homes, you find some coarseness, but little
real brutality. Rarely does a father or mother strike a child.
Travellers in Central and West Africa describe them as the most friendly
of savage folk, and where, as in our city, they live largely to
themselves, they keep something of these characteristics. But it is only
a step in New York from Africa into Italy or Ireland; and the step may
bring a sad jostling to native friendliness. To hold his own with his
white companions on the street or in school, the Negro must become
pugnacious, callous to insult, ready to hit back when affronted. Many
are like the little girl who told me that she did not care to play with
white children, "because," she explained, "my mother tells me to smack
any one who calls me nigger, and I ain't looking for trouble." The
colored children aren't looking for trouble. They have a tendency to run
away from it if they see it in the form of a gang of boys coming to them
around the corner. They believe if they had a fight, it wouldn't be a
fair one, and that if the policeman came, he would arrest them and not
their Irish enemies. So they grow up on streets through which few white
men pass, leading their own lives with their own people and thinking not
overmuch of the other race that surrounds them. But the day comes when
school is over, and the outside world, however indifferent they may be
to it, must be met. They must go out and grapple with it for the means
to hire a cooking stove and a dark bedroom of their own; they must think
of making money. So they stand at the corner of their street, looking
out, and then move slowly on to find what opportunity is theirs to come
to a full manhood. The way ahead does not seem very bright, and some
move so timidly that failure is sure to meet them at the first turning.
But some have the courage of the little colored girl, aged four, who led
a line of kindergarten children up their street and then on to the
unknown country that lay between them and Central Park. At the first
block a mob of Irish boys fell upon them, running between the lines,
throwing sticks, and calling "nigger" with screams and jeers. The leader
held her head high, paying no attention to her persecutors. She neither
quickened nor slowed her pace, and when the child at her side fell back,
she pulled her hand and said, "Don't notice them. Walk straight ahead."


[1] Dudley Kidd's, "Savage Childhood," a delightful book.

[2] Report of the Department of Health, City of New York, 1908, pp.
844, 849. The returns for births, the report states, are incomplete.

[3] This per cent is obtained from two sources, the births from the
Department of Health report, and the deaths from the Mortality
Statistics of the United States Census, 1908. "Colored" includes
Chinese, a negligible quantity in the infant population.

[4] Third Annual Report of the New York Milk Committee, 1909.

[5] See G. Newman, "Infant Mortality," for a careful study of this
whole subject.

[6] Census, 1900, combination of Population table and Women at Work.

[7] It is interesting to see that the married women of Fall River,
where we found a very high infant death rate, show a percentage of
married women at work of twenty in a hundred.

[8] My tabulations of the Negro and Tenth and Eleventh Ward Children
are from the Court's unpublished records to which I was allowed access.
The absence of any figures for Unlicensed Peddling in the Total
indicates that in its printed reports the Court has included Unlicensed
Peddling with Unclassified Misdemeanors.

[9] Mary Kingsley, "West African Studies," p. 319.



In "The American Race Problem," one of our recent important books upon
the Negro, the author, Mr. Alfred Holt Stone of Mississippi, after a
survey of the world, declares that "to me, it seems the plainest fact
confronting the Negro is that there is but one area of any size wherein
his race may obey the command to eat its bread in the sweat of its face
side by side with the white man. That area is composed of the Southern
United States."[1]

On examination we find that only men of English and North European stock
are "white" to Mr. Stone, and that his statement is too sweeping by a
continent or two, but as applying to the United States, it will usually
meet with unqualified approval. It is generally believed that
discrimination continually retards the Negro in his search for
employment in the North, while in the South "he is given a man's chance
in the commercial world." Northern men visiting southern colored
industrial schools advise the pupils to remain where they are, and
restless spirits among the race are assured that it is better to submit
to some personal oppression than to go to a land of uncertain
employment. The past glory of the North is dwelt upon, its days of black
waiters, and barbers, and coachmen, but the present is painted in harsh

There is some truth in this comparison of economic conditions among the
Negroes in the North and in the South, but it must not be taken too
literally. Today's tendency to minimize southern and maximize northern
race difficulties, while strengthening the bonds between white
Americans, sometimes obscures the real issues regarding colored labor in
this country. We need to look carefully at conditions in numbers of
selected localities, and we can find no northern city more worthy of
our study than New York.

The New York Negro constitutes today but two per cent of the population
of Manhattan, one and eight-tenths per cent of that of Greater New York;
and, as many workers in Manhattan live in Brooklyn, the larger area is
the better one to consider. In 1900, the census volume on occupations
gives the number of males over ten years of age engaged in gainful
occupations in Greater New York at 1,102,471, and of that number 20,395
or 1.8 per cent, eighteen in every thousand, are Negroes. In Atlanta, to
take a southern commercial centre, 351 out of every thousand male
workers are Negroes. This enormous difference in the proportion of
colored workers to white must never be forgotten in considering the
labor situation North and South. We cannot expect in the North to see
the Negro monopolizing an industry which demands a larger share of
workers than he can produce, nor need we admit that he has lost an
occupation when he does not control it.

We often come upon such a statement as that of Samuel R. Scottron, a
colored business man, who, writing in 1905, said, "The Italian,
Sicilian, Greek, occupy quite every industry that was confessedly the
Negro's forty years ago. They have the bootblack stands, the news
stands, barbers' shops, waiters' situations, restaurants, janitorships,
catering business, stevedoring, steamboat work, and other situations
occupied by Negroes."[2] Did the colored men have all this forty years
ago when they were only one and a half per cent of the population? If
so, there were giants in those days, or New York was much simpler in its
habits than now. At present the control by the colored people of any
such an array of industries would be quite impossible. To take four out
of the nine occupations enumerated: the census of 1900 gives the number
of waiters at 31,211; barbers, 12,022; janitors, 6184; bootblacks, 2648;
a total of 52,065. But in 1900 there were only 20,395 Negro males
engaged in gainful occupations in New York. Without a vigorous astral
body the 20,000-odd colored men could not occupy half these jobs. If
they dominated in the field of waiters they must abandon handling the
razor, and not all the colored boys could muster 2684 strong to black
the boots of Greater New York. We must at the outset recognize that as a
labor factor the Negro in New York is insignificant.

The volume of the federal census for 1900 on occupations shows us how
the Negroes are employed in New York City. There are five occupational
divisions, and the Negroes and whites are divided among them as follows:

                               |   White   |  Per  |  Negro  |  Per
                               |           |  cent |         |  cent
 Agricultural pursuits         |     9,853 |    .9 |    251  |   1.2
 Professional service          |    60,037 |   5.6 |    729  |   3.6
 Domestic and personal service |   189,282 |  17.6 | 11,843  |  58.1
 Trade and transportation      |   398,997 |  37.1 |  5,798  |  28.4
 Manufacturing and mechanical  |           |       |         |
  pursuits                     |   417,634 |  38.8 |  1,774  |   8.7
 Total                         | 1,075,803 | 100.0 | 20,395  | 100.0

But in examining in detail the occupations under these different
headings, we get a clearer view of the place the Negro maintains as a
laborer by finding out how many workers he supplies to every thousand
workers in a given occupation. He should average eighteen if he is to
occupy the same economic status as the white man. Taking the first
(numerically) important division, Domestic and Personal Service, we get
the following table:


 Key to column headers--
   A: Total number of males in each occupation.
   B: Number of Negroes in occupation.
   C: Number of Negroes to each 1000 workers in occupation.

                               |    A    |    B   |  C
 Barbers and hairdressers      |  12,022 |    215 |  18
 Bootblacks                    |   2,648 |     51 |  20
 Launderers                    |   6,881 |     70 |  10
 Servants and waiters          |  31,211 |  6,280 | 201
 Stewards                      |   1,366 |    140 | 103
 Nurses                        |   1,342 |     22 |  16
 Boarding and lodging house    |         |        |
  keepers                      |     474 |     10 |  21
 Hotel keepers                 |   3,139 |     23 |   7
 Restaurant keepers            |   2,869 |    116 |  40
 Saloon keepers and bartenders |  17,656 |    111 |   6
 Janitors and sextons          |   6,184 |    800 | 129
 Watchmen, firemen, policemen  |  16,093 |    116 |   7
 Soldiers, sailors, marines    |   3,707 |     56 |  15
 Laborers (including elevator  |         |        |
  tenders, laborers in coal    |         |        |
  yards, longshoremen, and     |         |        |
  stevedores)                  |  98,531 |  3,719 |  38
                               |         |        |
  Total, including some        |         |        |
   occupations not specified   | 206,215 | 11,843 |  57

The most important of these groups, not only in absolute numbers, but in
proportion to the whole working population, is the servants and waiters.
Two hundred out of every thousand (we must remember that the proportion
to the population would be eighteen out of every thousand) are holding
positions with which they have long been identified in America. We
cannot tell from the census how many "live out," or how many are able to
go nightly to their homes, how many have good jobs, and how many are in
second and third rate places. A study of my own of 716 colored men helps
to answer one of these questions. Out of 176 men coming under the
servants' and waiters' classification, I found 5 caterers, 24 cooks, 26
butlers, 30 general utility men, 41 hotel men, and 50 waiters. Sixty per
cent of the 176 lived in their own homes, not in their masters'. Some of
the cooks and waiters were on Pullman trains or on river boats or
steamers; only a few were in first-class positions in New York. In the
summer many of these men are likely to go to country hotels, and with
the winter, if New York offers nothing, migrate to Palm Beach or stand
on the street corner while their wives go out to wash and scrub.[3]
"An' it don't do fer me ter complain," one of them tells me, "else he
gits 'high' an' goes off fer good." Waiters in restaurants sometimes do
not make more than six dollars a week, to be supplemented by tips,
bringing the sum up to nine or ten dollars. Hall men make about the
same, but both waiters and hall men in clubs and hotels receive large
sums in tips or in Christmas money. The Pullman car waiters have small
wages but large fees.

Looking again at the census, we see that 129 out of every thousand
janitors and sextons are colored. The janitor's position varies from the
impecunious place in a tenement, where the only wage is the rent, to the
charge of a large office or apartment building. Then come the laborers,
nearly four thousand strong, with the elevator boy as a familiar figure.
Forty per cent of the 139 laborers in my own tabulation were elevator
boys, for, except in office buildings and large stores and hotels, this
occupation is given over to the Negro, who spends twelve hours a day
drowsing in a corner or standing to turn a wheel. Paul Lawrence Dunbar
wrote poetry while he ran an elevator, and ambitious if less talented
colored boys today study civil service examinations in their unoccupied
time; but the situation as a life job is not alluring. Twenty-five
dollars a month for wage, with perhaps a half this sum in tips, twelve
hours on duty, one week in the night time and the next in the day--no
wonder the personnel of this staff changes frequently in an apartment
house. A bright boy will be taken by some business man for a better job,
and a lazy one drifts away to look for an easier task, or is dismissed
by an irate janitor.

Quite another group of laborers are the longshoremen who, far from
lounging indolently in a hallway, are straining every muscle as they
heave some great crate into a ship's hold. The work of the New York
dockers has been admirably described by Mr. Ernest Poole, who says of
the thirty thousand longshoremen on the wharves of New York--Italians,
Germans, Negroes, and Swedes, "Far from being the drunkards and bums
that some people think them, they are like the men of the lumber camps
come to town--huge of limb and tough of muscle, hard-swearing,
quick-fisted, big of heart." Their tasks are heavy and irregular. When
the ship comes in, the average stretch of work for a gang is from twelve
to twenty hours, and sometimes men go to a second gang and labor
thirty-five hours without sleep. Their pay for this dangerous,
exhausting toil averages eleven dollars a week. "There are thousands of
Negroes on the docks of New York," Mr. Poole writes me, "and they must
be able to work long hours at a stretch or they would not have their
jobs." At dusk, Brooklynites see these black, huge-muscled men, many of
them West Indians, walking up the hill at Montague Street. In New York
they live among the Irish in "Hell's Kitchen" and on San Juan Hill. They
are usually steady supporters of families.

New York demands strong, unskilled laborers. To some she pays a large
wage, and Negroes have gone in numbers into the excavations under the
rivers, though a lingering death may prove the end of their two and a
half or perhaps six or seven dollar a day job. Many colored men worked
in the subway during its construction. One sees them often employed at
rock-drilling or clearing land for new buildings. About a third of the
asphalt workers, making their two dollars and a half a day, are colored.
Some educated, refined Negroes choose the laborer's work rather than
pleasanter but poorly paid occupations. A highly trained colored man, a
shipping clerk, making seven dollars a week, left his employer to take a
job of concreting in the subway at $1.80 a day. His decision was in
favor of dirty, severe labor, but a living wage.

When the next census is published, those of us who are carefully
watching the economic condition of the Negro expect to find a movement
from domestic service into the positions of laborers, including the
porters in stores, who belong in our second census division.

Kelly Miller[4] describes the massive buildings and sky-seeking
structures of our northern city, and finds no status for the Negro above
the cellar floor. One can see the colored youth gazing wistfully through
the office window at the clerk, whose business reaches across the ocean
to bewilderingly wonderful continents, knowing as he does that the
employment he may find in that office will be emptying the white man's
waste paper basket.


 Key to Column Headers--
   A: Total number of males in each occupation.
   B: Number of Negroes in each occupation.
   C: Number of Negroes to each 1000 workers in occupation.

                                       |    A    |   B  |  C
 Agents--commercial travellers         |  27,456 |   67 |   2
 Bankers, brokers, and officials of    |         |      |
  banks and companies                  |  11,472 |    7 |   0
 Bookkeepers--accountants              |  22,613 |   33 |   1
 Clerks, copyists (including shipping  |         |      |
  clerks, letter and mail carriers)    |  80,564 |  423 |   5
 Merchants (wholesale and retail)      |  72,684 |  162 |   2
 Salesmen                              |  45,740 |   94 |   2
 Typewriters                           |   3,225 |   36 |  11
 Boatmen and sailors                   |   8,188 |  145 |  18
 Foremen and overseers                 |   3,111 |   18 |   6
 Draymen, hackmen, teamsters           |  51,063 | 1439 |  28
 Hostlers                              |   5,891 |  633 | 107
 Livery stable keepers                 |     967 |    9 |   9
 Steam railway employees               |  11,831 |   70 |   6
 Street railway employees              |   7,375 |   11 |   1
 Telegraph and telephone operators     |   2,430 |    6 |   2
 Hucksters and peddlers                |  12,635 |   69 |   5
 Messengers, errand and office boys    |  13,451 |  335 |  25
 Porters and helpers (in stores, etc.) |  11,322 | 2143 | 188
 Undertakers                           |   1,572 |   15 |   9
                                       |         |      |
   Total, including some occupations   |         |      |
    not specified                      | 405,675 | 5798 |  14

This, however, does not apply to government positions, and a large
number of the 423 colored clerks in 1900 were probably in United States
and municipal service. The latter we shall consider later as we study
the Negro and the municipality. Of the former, in 1909 there were about
176 in the New York post-offices.[5] Ambitious boys work industriously
at civil service examinations, and a British West Indian will even
become an American citizen for the chance of a congenial occupation. The
clerkship, that to a white man is only a stepping-stone, to a Negro is a
highly coveted position.

I have made two divisions of this census list; the first includes those
occupations requiring intellectual skill and carrying with them some
social position, the second, those demanding only manual work. It is in
the second that the colored man finds a place, and as a porter he
numbers 2143, and reaches almost as high a percentage as the waiter and
servant. Porters' positions are paid from five to fifteen dollars a
week, the man receiving the latter wage performing also the duties of
shipping clerk. There is some opportunity for advance, always within the
basement, and there are regular hours and a fairly steady job.

The heading of draymen, hackmen, and teamsters, with 28 colored in every
thousand, shows that the Negro has not lost his place as a driver. The
chauffeur does not appear in the census, but the Negro is steadily
increasing in numbers in this occupation, and conducts three garages of
his own.

The last census division to be considered in this chapter is that of
Manufacturing and Mechanical Pursuits.


 Key to Column Headers--
   A: Total number of males in each occupation.
   B: Number of Negroes in each occupation.
   C: Number of Negroes to each 1000 workers in occupation.

                                       |    A    |   B   | C
 Engineers, firemen (not locomotive)   | 16,579  |  227  | 14
 Masons (brick and stone)              | 12,913  |   94  |  7
 Painters, glaziers, and varnishers    | 27,135  |  177  |  6
 Plasterers                            |  4,019  |   51  | 12
 Blacksmiths                           |  7,289  |   29  |  4
 Butchers                              | 12,643  |   31  |  2
 Carpenters and joiners                | 29,904  |   94  |  3
 Iron and steel workers                | 10,372  |   40  |  4
 Paper hangers                         |    962  |   18  | 19
 Photographers                         |  1,590  |   22  | 14
 Plumbers, gas and steam fitters       | 16,614  |   31  |  2
 Printers, lithographers, and pressmen | 21,521  |   53  |  2
 Tailors                               | 56,094  |   69  |  1
 Tobacco and cigar factory operators   | 11,689  |  189  | 16
 Fishermen and oystermen               |  1,439  |   65  | 45
 Miners and quarrymen                  |    326  |   21  | 64
 Machinists                            | 17,241  |   47  |  3
                                       |         |       |
   Total, including some occupations   |         |       |
    not specified                      |419,594  | 1774  |  4

 Bakers, boot and shoe makers, gold and silver workers, brass workers,
 tin plate and tin ware makers, box makers, cabinet makers, marble and
 stone cutters, book-binders, clock and watch makers, confectioners,
 engravers, glass workers, hat and cap makers, and others--not more than
 nineteen in any one occupation, nor a higher per cent than four in a

When Mr. Stone wrote of the Southern States as the only place in which
the Negro could "earn his bread in the sweat of his face," side by side
with the white man, he must especially have been thinking of workers in
the skilled trades. Unskilled laborers in New York are drenched in a
common grimy fellowship. But in this last division the Negro is
conspicuous by his absence. Only four in every thousand where there
should be eighteen! In Atlanta, under this division, the race reaches
almost its due proportion, 279 in a thousand instead of 351. The largest
number in any trade in New York is 189 men among the Cuban tobacco
workers. Seventy-five per cent of all the masons in Atlanta are colored
men, while in New York the colored are less than one per cent. Looking
down the list we see that the figures are small and the percentage
insignificant. The highly skilled and best paid trades are seemingly as
far removed from the Negro as the positions of floor-walkers or cashiers
of banks.

Omitting for the present the professional class, we have reviewed the
Negro as a worker, and neither in wages nor choice of occupation has he
risen far to success. In domestic service he has gone a little down the
ladder, serving in less desirable positions than in former years. Why
has this happened? What good reasons are there for these conditions?

The first and most obvious reason is race prejudice. No display of
talent, however prodigious, will open certain occupations to the colored
race. As a salesman he could teach courteous manners to some of our
white salesmen in New York, but he is never given a chance. There are a
few Negroes, digging in the tunnels or sweeping down the subway stairs,
who are capable of filling the clerkships that are counted the
perquisites of the whites; but clerkships are only accessible as they
are associated with municipal or federal service. Of course there are
exceptions, and though they do not affect the rule, they show the
existence of a few employers who ignore the color line, and a few
Negroes of inexhaustible perseverance.

Mr. Stone argues that the Negro in the South profits by the strict
drawing of the color line, since the white man, always considered the
superior, is not lowered in the eyes of the community by working with
the black man. The Southern white may lay bricks on the same wall with
the Southern black, secure in his superior social position. But this
seems fanciful as an explanation of labor conditions. The black doctor,
for instance, in those localities where the color line is most rigid,
may not ask the white doctor to consult with him; or if he does, his
prompt removal from the community is requested. Colored postal clerks
are in disfavor in the South, though not colored postmen. North or
South, _the Negro gets an opportunity to work where he is imperatively
needed_. Constituting one-third of the working population, he can make a
place for himself in the laboring world of Atlanta as he cannot in New
York. Pick up the 20,000 New York Negroes and drop them in Liberia, and
in two or three weeks Ellis Island could empty out sufficient men to
fill their places; but remove a third of the male workers from Atlanta,
and the city for years would suffer from the calamity. If they are the
only available source of labor, colored men can work by the side of
white men; but where the white man strongly dominates the labor
situation, he tries to push his black brother into the jobs for which he
does not care to compete.

We have seen, however, that in some occupations in New York the Negroes
appear in such proportion as should be sufficient to secure them
excellent positions; the most conspicuous instance being that of the
200 colored waiters out of every thousand. Why, then, do we not see
Negroes serving in the best hotels the city affords?

It has been an ideal of American democracy, a part of its strenuous
individualism, that each member of the community should have full
liberty in the pursuit of wealth. The ambitious, capable boy who walks
bare-footed into the city, and at the end of twenty years has
outdistanced his country school-mates, becoming a multi-millionaire
while they are still farm drudges, is the example of American
opportunity. But this ability to separate one's self from the rest of
one's fellows and attain individual greatness is rarely possible to a
segregated race. In domestic service individual colored men have shown
ambition and high capability, but they have never been able to get away
from their fellows like the country boy--to leave the farm drudges and
take a place among the most proficient of their profession. They must
always work in a race group. And this Negro group is like the small
college that tries to win at football against a competitor with four
times the number of students and a better coach. The two hundred
colored waiters, competing against the eight hundred white ones, lose in
the game and are given a second place, which the best must accept with
the worst. When, then, we criticize a capable colored man for failing to
keep a superior position we must remember that he is tied to his group
and has little chance of advancement on his individual merit.

The census division of mechanical pursuits shows only a few colored men
working at trades, and the paucity of the numbers is often attributed by
the Negro to a third obstacle in the way of his progress, the

To the colored man who has overcome race prejudice sufficiently to be
taken into a shop with white workmen, the walking delegate who appears
and asks for his union card seems little short of diabolical; and all
the advantages that collective bargaining has secured, the higher wage
and shorter working-day, are forgotten by him. I have heard the most
distinguished of Negro educators, listening to such an incident as this,
declare that he should like to see every labor union in America
destroyed. But unionism has come to stay, and the colored man who is
asked for his card had better at once get to work and endeavor to secure
it. Many have done this already, and organized labor in New York, its
leaders tell us, receives an increasing number of colored workmen. Miss
Helen Tucker, in a careful study of Negro craftsmen in the West
Sixties,[6] found among 121 men who had worked at their trades in the
city, 32, or 26 per cent in organized labor. The majority of these had
joined in New York. Eight men, out of the 121, had applied for entrance
to unions and not been admitted. This does not seem a discouraging
number, though we do not know whether the other 81 could have been
organized or not. Many, probably, were not sufficiently competent
workmen. In 1910, according to the best information that I could secure,
there were 1358 colored men in the New York unions. Eighty of these were
in the building trades, 165 were cigar makers, 400 were teamsters, 350
asphalt workers, and 240 rock-drillers and tool sharpeners.[7]

Entrance to some of the local organizations is more easily secured than
to others, for the trade-union, while part of a federation, is
autonomous, or nearly so. In some of the highly skilled trades, to
which few colored men have the necessary ability to demand access, the
Negro is likely to be refused, while the less intelligent and well-paid
forms of labor press a union card upon him. Again, strong organizations
in the South, as the bricklayers, send men North with union membership,
who easily transfer to New York locals. Miss Tucker finds the
carpenters', masons', and plasterers' organizations easy for the Negro
to enter. There is in New York a colored local, the only colored local
in the city, among a few of the carpenters, with regular representation
in the Central Federated Union. The American Federation of Labor in 1881
declared that "the working people must unite irrespective of creed,
color, sex, nationality, or politics." This cry is for self-protection,
and where the Negroes have numbers and ability in a trade, their
organization becomes important to the white. It may be fairly said of
labor organization in New York that it finds and is at times unable to
destroy race prejudice, but that it does not create it.[8]

A fourth obstacle, and a very important one, is the lack of opportunity
for the colored boy. The only trade that he can easily learn is that of
stationary engineer, an occupation at which the Negroes do very well.
Colored boys in small numbers are attending evening trade schools, but
their chance of securing positions on graduation will be small. The
Negro youth who is not talented enough to enter a profession, and who
cannot get into the city or government service, has slight opportunity.
Nothing is so discouraging in the outlook in New York as the crowding
out of colored boys from congenial remunerative work.

The last obstacle in the way of the Negro's advancement into higher
occupations is his inefficiency. Race prejudice denies him the
opportunity to prove his ability in many occupations, and the same
spirit forces him to work in a race group; but the colored men
themselves are often unfitted for any labor other than that they

The picture that is sometimes drawn of many thousands of highly skilled
Southern colored men forced in New York to give up their trades and to
turn to menial labor is not a correct one. Richard R. Wright, Jr., who
has made a careful study of the Negro in Philadelphia,[9] finds that
the majority of colored men who come to that city are from the class of
unskilled city laborers and country hands; the minority are the more
skilful artisans and farmers and domestic servants, with a number also
of the vagrant and criminal classes.

In New York the untrained Negroes not only form a very large class, but
coming in contact, as they do, with foreigners who for generations have
been forced to severe, unremitting toil, they suffer by comparison. The
South in the days of slavery demanded chiefly routine work in the fields
from its Negroes.[10] The work was under the direction either of the
master, the overseer, or a foreman; and there has been no general
advance in training for the colored men of the South since that time.
Contrast the intensive cultivation of Italy or Switzerland with the
farms of Georgia or Alabama, or the hotels of France with those of
Virginia, and you will see the disadvantages from which the Negro
suffers. America is young and crude, but opportunity has brought to her
great cities workmen from all over the world. In New York these men are
driven at a pace that at the outset distracts the colored man who
prefers his leisurely way. Moreover, the foreign workmen have learned
persistence; they are punctual and appear regularly each morning at
their tasks. "The Italians are better laborers than any other people we
have, are they not?" I asked a man familiar with many races and
nationalities. "No," was his answer, "they do not work better than
others, but when the whistle blows, they are always there." Mr. Stone,
whose book I have already quoted a number of times, shows the
irresponsible, fanciful wanderings of his Mississippi tenants, whom he
endeavored, unsuccessfully, to establish in a permanent tenantry. The
colored men in New York are far in advance of these farm hands, who are
described as moving about simply because they desire a change, but they
are also far from the steady, unswerving attitude of their foreign
competitors. Inadequately educated, too often they come to New York with
little equipment for tasks they must undertake successfully or
starve--unless, puerile, they live by the labor of some industrious

I have tried to depict the New York colored wage earners as they labor
in the city today. They are not a remarkable group, and were they white
men, distinguished by some mark of nationality, they would pass without
comment. But the Negro is on trial, and witnesses are continually called
to tell of his failures and successes. We have seen that both in the
attitude of the world about him, and in his own untutored self, there
are many obstacles to prevent his advance; and his natural sensitiveness
adds to these difficulties. He minds the coarse but often good-natured
joke of his fellow laborer, and he remembers with a lasting pain the
mortification of an employer's curt refusal of work. Had he the
obtuseness of some Americans he would prosper better. As we have seen,
many positions are completely closed to him, leading him to idleness and
consequent crime. Just as not every able-bodied white man, who is out of
work and impoverished, will go to the charities wood-yard and saw wood,
so not every colored man will accept the menial labor which may be the
only work open to him. Instead, he may gamble or drift into a vagabond
life. A well-known Philadelphia judge has said that "The moral and
intellectual advance of a race is governed by the degree of its
industrial freedom. When that freedom is restricted there is unbounded
tendency to drive the race discriminated against into the ranks of the
criminal." Discrimination in New York has led many Negroes into these
ranks. But as we look back at the occupations of our colored men we see
a large number who secure regular hours, and if a poor, yet a fairly
steady pay. For the mass of the Negroes coming into the city these
positions are an advance over their former work. Employment in a great
mercantile establishment, though it be in the basement, carries dignity
with it, and educating demands of punctuality, sobriety, and swiftness.
Richard R. Wright, Jr., whose right to speak with authority we have
already noted, believes that the "North has taught the Negro the value
of money; of economy; it has taught more sustained effort in work,
punctuality, and regularity." It has also, I believe, in its more
regular hours of work, aided in the upbuilding of the home.

I remember once waiting in the harbor of Genoa while our ship was
taking on a cargo. The captain walked the deck impatiently, and, as the
Italians went in leisurely fashion about their task, declared, "If I had
those men in New York I could get twice the amount of work out of them."
That is what New York does; it works men hard and fast; sometimes it
mars them; but it pays a better wage than Genoa, and there is an
excitement and dash about it that attracts laborers from all parts of
the earth. The black men come, insignificant in numbers, ready to do
their part. They work and play and marry and bring up children, and as
we watch them moving to and from their tasks the North seems to have
brought to the majority of them something of liberty and happiness.


[1] Alfred Holt Stone, "Studies in the American Race Problem," p. 164.

[2] New York _Age_, August 24, 1905.

[3] Occupations in 1907 of 716 colored men (secured from records of the
Young Men's Christian Association and personal visits) compared with
census figures of occupations in 1900.

                                            | 716 Men | Census
 Agricultural pursuits                      |    --   |   1.2
                                            |         |
 Professional service, 27 men               |    3.8  |   3.6
                                            |         |
 Domestic and personal service, 363 men     |   50.6  |  58.1
  5 barbers, 5 caterers, 24 cooks,          |         |
  30 general utility men, 41 hotel men,     |         |
  76 waiters and butlers, 8 valets,         |         |
  35 janitors and sextons, 29 longshoremen, |         |
  5 laborers in tunnels, 7 asphalt          |         |
  workers, 57 elevator men, 41 laborers.    |         |
                                            |         |
 Trade and transportation, 279 men          |   39.0  |  28.4
  10 chauffeurs, 35 drivers, 13 expressmen, |         |
  8 hostlers, 12 messengers, 14 municipal   |         |
  employees, 127 porters in stores,         |         |
  15 porters on trains, 24 clerks,          |         |
  21 merchants.                             |         |
                                            |         |
 Manufacturing and mechanical               |         |
  pursuits, 47 men                          |    6.6  |   8.7
                                            |  100.0  | 100.0

[4] Kelly Miller's "Race Adjustment," p. 129.

[5] It is difficult to get accurate figures as no official record is
kept of color.

[6] _Southern Workman_, October, 1907, to March, 1908.

[7] In 1906, and again in 1910, I secured a counting of the New York
colored men in organized labor. The lists run as follows:

                                    1906        1910

 Asphalt workers                     320         350
 Teamsters                           300         400
 Rock-drillers and tool sharpeners   250         240
 Cigar makers                        121         165
 Bricklayers                          90          21
 Waiters                              90    not obtainable
 Carpenters                           60          40
 Plasterers                           45          19
 Double drum hoisters                 30          37
 Safety and portable engineers        26          35
 Eccentric firemen                    15           0
 Letter carriers                      10          30
 Pressmen                             10    not obtainable
 Printers                              6           8
 Butchers                              3           3
 Lathers                               3           7
 Painters                              3    not obtainable
 Coopers                               1           2
 Sheet metal workers                   1           1
 Rockmen                               1    not obtainable
                                    ----        ----
     Total                          1385        1358

The large number of bricklayers in 1906 is questioned by the man,
himself a bricklayer, who made the second counting. However, the number
greatly decreased in 1908 when the stagnation in business compelled many
men to seek work in other cities.

[8] The comment of the Negro bricklayer who secured my figures is
important. "A Negro," he says, "has to be extra fit in his trade to
retain his membership, as the eyes of all the other workers are
watching every opportunity to disqualify him, thereby compelling a
superefficiency. Yet at all times he is the last to come and the first
to go on the job, necessitating his seeking other work for a living, and
keeping up his card being but a matter of sentiment. While all the
skilled trades seem willing to accept the Negro with his travelling
card, yet there are some which utterly refuse him; for instance, the
house smiths and bridge men who will not recognize him at all. While
membership in the union is necessary to work, yet the hardest part of
the battle is to secure employment. In some instances intercession has
been made by various organizations interested in his industrial progress
for employment at the offices of various companies, and favorable
answers are given, but hostile foremen with discretionary power carry
out their instructions in such a manner as to render his employment of
such short duration that he is very little benefited. Of course, there
are some contractors who are very friendly to a few men, and whenever
any work is done by them, they are certain of employment. Unfortunately,
these are too few."

[9] R. R. Wright, Jr.'s "Migration of Negroes to the North," Annals of
the American Academy, May, 1906.

[10] See Ulrich B. Phillips' "Origin and Growth of the Southern Black
Belts," _American Historical Review_, July, 1906.



If we walk west on Fifty-ninth Street, at Eighth Avenue, we come upon
one of the colored business sections of New York. Here, for a block's
length, are employment and real estate agents, restaurant keepers,
grocers, tailors, barbers, printers, expressmen, and undertakers, all
small establishments occupying the first floor or basement of some
tenement or lodging house, and with the exception of the employment
agency all patronized chiefly by the colored race. Another such section
and a more prosperous one is in Harlem, on West One Hundred and
Thirty-third, One Hundred and Thirty-fourth, and One Hundred and
Thirty-fifth Streets. From the point of view of the whole business of
the city such concerns are insignificant, but they are important from
the viewpoint of Negro progress, since they represent the accumulation
of capital, experience in business methods, and hard work. Very slowly
the New York Negro is meeting the demanding power of his people and is
securing neighborhood trade that has formerly gone to the Italian and
the Jew. Husband and wife, father and son, work in their little
establishments and make a beginning in the mercantile world.

The Negro, as we have seen, has conducted businesses in New York in the
past, businesses patronized chiefly by whites. Barbering and catering
were his successes, and in both of these he has lost, despite the fact
that one of the city's wealthiest colored men is a caterer. But if he
has lost here, he has gained along other lines. Among a number of
photographers he has one who is well-known for his excellent
architectural work. Two manufacturers have brought out popular goods,
the Haynes's razor strop, and the Howard shoe polish. These men, one a
barber and one a Pullman car porter, improved upon implements used in
their daily work and then turned to manufacture. The headquarters of
the Howard shoe polish is in Chicago, where the firm employs thirty
people, the New York branch giving employment to twelve.

A wise utilization of labor already trained and at hand is seen in the
Manhattan House Cleaning and Renovating Bureau. This firm contracts for
the cleaning of houses and places of business and has also been
successful in securing work on new buildings, entering as the builders
leave and arranging everything for occupancy. In one week the Bureau has
given employment to sixty men.

In those businesses in which he comes in contact with the white, the
most pronounced success of the colored man has been real estate
brokerage. The New York Negro business directory names twenty-two real
estate brokers, and though a dozen of them probably handle altogether no
more business than one white firm, a few put through important
operations. The ablest of these brokers, recently clearing twenty
thousand dollars at a single transaction, turned his operations to
Liberia, where he went for a few months to look into land concessions.
This broker has aided the Negroes materially in their efforts to rent
apartments on better streets. His energy, and that of many more like
him, is also needed to open up places for colored businesses, better
office and workroom facilities for the able professional and business
men and women. In New York as in the South the Negro needs to obtain a
hold upon the land. In this he is aided not only by his brokers, but by
realty companies. The largest of these, the Metropolitan Realty Company,
in operation since 1900, is capitalized at a million dollars, and had in
1910 $400,000 paid in stock, and $400,000 subscribed and being paid for
on instalment. This company operates in the suburban towns, and has
quite a colony in Plainfield, New Jersey, where it owns 150 lots. It has
built eighty cottages for its members, and has bought eighteen.

Among the businesses that cater directly to the colored, probably none
is more successful than undertaking. The Negroes of the city die in
great numbers, and the funeral is all too common a function. Formerly
this business went to white men, but increasingly it is coming into the
hands of the colored. The Negro business directory gives twenty-two
undertakers, one of them, by common report, the richest colored man in
New York. Profitable real estate investment, combined with one of the
largest undertaking establishments in the city, has given him a
comfortable fortune. Another large and increasingly important Negro
business is the hotel and boarding-house. As the colored men of the
South and West accumulate wealth, they will come in increasing numbers
to visit in New York, and the colored hotel, now little more than a
boarding-house, may become a spacious building, with private baths,
elevator service, and a well-equipped restaurant. In today's modestly
equipped buildings the catering is often excellent, and good,
well-cooked food is sold at reasonable prices. Occasionally the Hotel
Maceo advertises a southern dinner, and its guests sit down to Virginia
sugar-cured ham, sweet potato pie, and perhaps even opossum.

Printing establishments, tailors' shops,[1] express and van companies,
and many other small enterprises help to make up the Negro business
world. One colored printer brings out an important white magazine. There
are seven weekly colored newspapers, of which the New York _Age_ is the
most important, and two musical publishing companies. All these
enterprises are useful, not only to the proprietor and his patrons, but
especially to the clerks and assistants who thus are able to secure some
training in mercantile work. In the white man's office, white and
colored boys start out together, but as their trousers lengthen and
their ambitions quicken, the former secures promotion while the latter
is still given the letters to put into the mail box. If the Negro lad,
discouraged at lack of advancement, leaves the white man and ventures
with a tiny capital into some business of his own, his ignorance is
almost certain to lead to his disaster. He is indeed fortunate if he can
first work in the office of a successful colored man.[2]

We have one more census division to consider, Professional Service. The
table runs as follows:


 Key to column headers--
   A: Total number of males in each occupation.
   B: Number of Negroes in each occupation.
   C: Number of Negroes to each 1000 workers in occupation.

                                     |   A    |  B  |  C
 Actors, professional showmen, etc.  |  4,733 | 254 | 54
 Architects, designers, draftsmen    |  3,966 |   2 |  0
 Artists, teachers of art            |  2,924 |  13 |  4
 Clergymen                           |  2,833 |  90 | 32
 Dentists                            |  1,509 |  25 | 16
 Physicians and surgeons             |  6,577 |  32 |  5
 Veterinary surgeons                 |    320 |   2 |  6
 Electricians                        |  8,131 |  18 |  2
 Engineers (civil) and surveyors     |  3,321 |   7 |  2
 Journalists                         |  2,833 |   7 |  2
 Lawyers                             |  7,811 |  26 |  3
 Literary and scientific             |  1,709 |  10 |  5
 Musicians                           |  6,429 | 195 | 30
 Officials (government)              |  3,934 |   9 |  2
 Teachers and professors in colleges |  3,409 |  32 |  9
                                     |        |     |
   Total including some occupations  |        |     |
    not specified                    | 60,853 | 729 | 12

Examining these figures we find few colored architects[3] or engineers,
and a very small proportion of electricians, though among the latter
there is a highly skilled workman. The New York Negro has no position in
the mechanical arts. It may be that, as we so often hear, the African
does not possess mechanical ability.[4] You do not see Negro boys
pottering over machinery or making toy inventions of their own. But
another and powerful reason for the colored youth's failing to take up
engineering or kindred studies is the slight chance he would later have
in securing work. No group of men in America have opposed his progress
more persistently than skilled mechanics, and, should he graduate from
some school of technology, he would be refused in office or workshop. So
he turns to those professions in which he sees a likelihood of

Colored physicians and dentists are increasing in number in New York and
throughout the country. The Negro is sympathetic, quick to understand
another's feelings, and when added to this he has received a thorough
medical training he makes an excellent physician. New York State
examinations prevent the practice of ignorant doctors from other states,
and the city can count many able colored practitioners. These doctors
practise among white people as well as among colored. As surgeons they
are handicapped in New York by lack of hospital facilities, having no
suitable place in which they may perform an operation. The colored
student who graduates from a New York medical college must go for
hospital training to Philadelphia or Chicago or Washington.[5]

Colored lawyers are obtaining a firm foothold in New York. From
twenty-six in the 1900 census they now, in 1911, number over fifty,
though not all of these by any means rely entirely upon their profession
for support. Some of our lawyers are descendants of old New York
families, others have come here recently from the South.

Turning to our census figures again we see that the three professions in
which the colored man is conspicuous are those of actor, musician, and
minister. Instead of the average eighteen, he here shows fifty-four in
every thousand actors, thirty in every thousand musicians, and
thirty-two in every thousand clergymen. And since the pulpit and the
stage are two places in which the black man has found conspicuous
success it may be well in this connection to consider, not only the
economic significance of these institutions, but their place in the life
of the colored world.

The Negro minister was born with the Negro Christian, and the colored
church, in which he might tell of salvation, is over a century old in
New York. Today the Boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn have twenty-eight
colored churches besides a number of missions. Some of the societies own
valuable property, usually, however, encumbered with heavy mortgages,
and yearly budgets mount up to ten, twelve, and sixteen thousand
dollars. The Methodist churches lead in number, next come the Baptist,
and next the Episcopalian. There are Methodist Episcopal, African
Methodist Episcopal, and African Methodist Episcopal Zion. Bethel
African Methodist Episcopal Church, as we have seen, is one of the
oldest and is still one of the largest and most useful Negro churches in
New York. Mount Olivet, a Baptist church on West Fifty-third Street, has
a seating capacity of 1600, taxed to its full on Sunday evenings. St.
Philip's gives the Episcopal service with dignity and devoutness, and
its choir has many sweet colored boy singers. At St. Benedict, the Moor,
the black faces of the boy acolytes contrast with the benignant
white-haired Irish priest, and without need of words preach good-will
to men. Only in this Catholic church does one find white and black in
almost equal numbers worshipping side by side.

The great majority of the colored churches are supported by their
congregations, and the minister or elder, or both, twice a Sunday, must
call for the pennies and nickels, dimes and quarters, that are dropped
into the plate at the pulpit's base. Contributors file past the table on
which they place their offering, emulation becoming a spur to
generosity. These collections are supplemented by sums raised at
entertainments and fairs, and it is in this way, by the constant
securing of small gifts, that the thousands are raised.

The church is a busy place and retains its members, not only by its
preaching, but by midweek meetings. There are the class meetings of the
Methodists, the young people's societies, the prayer meetings, and the
sermons preached to the secret benefit organizations. Visiting sisters
and brothers attend to relief work, and standing at a side table,
sometimes picturesque with lighted lantern, ask for dole for the poor.

The Sunday-schools, while not so large as the church attendance would
lead one to expect, involve much time and labor in their conduct. A
colored church member finds all his or her leisure occupied in church
work. I know a young woman engaged in an exacting, skilled profession
who spends her day of rest attending morning service, teaching in
Sunday-school, taking part in the young people's lyceum in the late
afternoon, and listening to a second sermon in the evening. Occasionally
she omits her dinner to hear an address at the colored Young Men's
Christian Association. On hot summer afternoons you may see colored boys
and girls and men and women crowded in an ill-ventilated hall, giving
ear to a fervid exhortation that leads the speaker, at the sentence's
end, to mop his swarthy face. The woods, the salt-smelling sea, the
tamer prettiness of the lawns of the city's park, have not the impelling
call of sermon or hymn. If the whole of the Negro's summer Sunday is to
be given to direct religious teaching, one wishes that it might take
place at the old time camp meeting, where there is fresh air and space
in which to breathe it. The first of Edward Everett Hale's three rules
of life as he gave them to the Hampton students was, "Live all you can
out in the open air." The religious-minded New York Negro succumbs
easily to disease, and yet elects to spend his day of leisure within

With the exception of the Episcopalians, the churches undertake little
institutional work. Money is lacking, and there is only a feeble
conviction of the value of the gymnasium, pool table, and girls' and
boys' clubs. The colored branches of the Young Men's Christian
Association, however, are places for recreation and instruction. The
lines that Evangelical Americans draw regarding amusements, prohibiting
cards and welcoming dominos, allowing bagatelle and frowning upon
billiards, must be interpreted by some folk-lore historian to show their
reasonableness. Doubtless the extent to which a game is used for
gambling purposes has much to do with its good or bad savor, and pool
and cards for this reason are tabooed. Dancing is also frowned upon by
many of the churches, while temperance societies make active campaign
for prohibition. To New York's black folk, the church-goers and they who
stand without are the sheep and the goats, and the gulf between them is
digged deep.

Of the five colored Episcopal churches, St. Philip's and St. Cyprian's
have parish houses. St. Philip's has moved into a new parish house on
West One Hundred and Thirty-Fourth Street, where with its large,
well-arranged rooms, its gymnasium, and its corps of enthusiastic
workers it will soon become a powerful force in the Harlem Negro's life.
St. Cyprian's is under the City Episcopal Mission, and has unusual
opportunity for helpfulness since it is separated only by Amsterdam
Avenue from the San Juan Hill district and yet stands amid the whites.
Its clubs and classes, its employment agency, its gymnasium, its
luncheons for school children, its beautiful church, are all primarily
for the Negroes; but the colored rector has a friendly word for his
white neighbors, tow-headed Irish and German boys and girls sit upon his
steps, and his ministry has lessened the belligerent feeling between
the east and the west sides of Amsterdam Avenue. St. David's Episcopal
Church in the Bronx has a fresh air home at White Plains, cared for
personally by the rector and his wife, who spend their vacation with
tenement mothers and their children, the tired but grateful recipients
of their good-will.

If there were ninety colored clergymen in New York in 1900, as the
census says, a number must have been without churches, itinerant
preachers or directors of small missions, supporting themselves by
other labor during the day. Those men who now fill the pulpits of
well-established churches have been trained in theological schools of
good standing, for the ignorant "darky" of the story who leaves the hot
work of the cotton field because he feels a "call" to preach does not
receive another from New York. The colored minister in this city works
hard and long, and finds a wearying number of demands upon his time. The
wedding and the funeral, the word of counsel to the young, and of
comfort to the aged, a multiplicity of meetings, two sermons every
Sunday, the continual strain of raising money, these are some of his
duties. With a day from fourteen to seventeen hours long he earns as few
men earn the meagre salary put into his hand. But his position among
his people is a commanding one, and carries with it respect and

Strangers who visit colored churches to be amused by the vociferations
of the preacher and the responses of the congregation will be
disappointed in New York. Others, however, who attend, desiring to
understand the religious teaching of the thoughtful Negro, find much of
interest. They hear sermons marked by great eloquence. In the
Evangelical church the preacher is not afraid to give his imagination
play, and in finely chosen, vivid language, pictures his thought to his
people. Especially does he love to tell the story of a future life, of
Paradise with its rapturous beauty of color and sound, its golden
streets, its gates of precious stones, effulgent, radiant. He dwells not
upon the harshness, but rather upon the mercy of God.

A theological library connected with a Calvinistic church, when recently
catalogued, disclosed two long shelves of books upon Hell and two slim
volumes upon Heaven. No such unloving Puritanism dominates the Negro's
thought. Hell's horrors may be portrayed at a revival to bring the
sinner to repentance, but only as an aid to a clearer vision of the
glories of Heaven.

The Negro churches lay greater stress than formerly upon practical
religion; they try to turn a fine frenzy into a determination for
righteousness. This was strikingly exemplified lately in one of New
York's colored Baptist churches. During the solemn rite of immersion the
congregation began to grow hysterical, or "happy," as they would have
phrased it; there were cries of "Yes, Jesus," "We're comin', Lord," and
swayings of the body backward and forward. The minister with loud and
stirring appeal for a time encouraged these emotions. Then in a moment
he brought quiet to his congregation and called them to the consecration
of labor. Faith without works was vain. Baptism was not the end, but
only the beginning of their salvation. "You-all bleege ter work," he
said, "if yer gwine foller der Lord. Ain't Jesus work in der carpenter
shop till he nigh on thirty year old? Den one day he stood up (he ain't
none er yer two-by-fo' men) an' he tak off his blue apun (I reckon he
wore er apun like we-alls) an' he goes on down ter der wilderness, an'
John der Baptist baptize him."

From oratory one turns naturally to music. The feeling for rhythm, for
melodious sound, that leads the Negro to use majestic words of which he
has not always mastered the meaning, leads him also to musical
expression. He has an instinct for harmony, and, when within hearing
distance of any instrument, will whistle, not the melody, however
assertive, but will add a part.[6] Those who have visited colored
schools, and especially the colored schools of the far South where the
pupils are unfamiliar with other music than their own, can never forget
the exquisite, haunting singing. When a foreman wants to get energetic
work from his black laborers he sets them to singing stirring tunes. The
Negro has his labor songs as the sailor has his chanties, and it would
be impossible to measure the joy coming to both through musical

In New York, despite their poverty, few Negroes fail to possess some
musical instrument--a banjo perhaps, or a guitar, a mandolin or zither,
or it may be the highly prized piano. Visiting of an evening in the
Phipps model tenement, one hears a variety of gay tinkling sounds. And
besides the mechanical instruments there is always the great natural
instrument, the human voice. Singing, though not as common in the city
as in the country, is still often heard, especially in the summer, and
remains musical, though New York's noise and cheap and vulgar
entertainments have an unhappy fashion of roughening her children's

Music furnishes a means of livelihood to many Negroes and supplements
the income of many others. Boys contribute to the family support by
singing cheap songs in saloons or even in houses of prostitution. A boy
"nightingale" will earn the needed money for rent while learning, all
too quickly, the ways of viciousness. Others, more carefully reared,
sing at church or secret society concert, perhaps receiving a little
pay. Men form male quartettes that for five or ten dollars furnish a
part of an evening's entertainment. There are many Negro musicians and
elocutionists who largely support themselves by their share in the
receipts from concerts and social gatherings.

We speak of men crossing the line when they intermarry with the whites,
but there is another crossing of the line when some Negro by his genius
makes the world forget his race. Such a man is the artist, Henry Tanner;
and New York has such Negro musicians. Mr. Harry Burleigh, the baritone
at St. George's, has won high recognition, not only as an interpreter,
but as a composer of music; and one of the richest synagogues of the
city has a Negro for its assistant organist. There are five colored
orchestras in New York, the one conducted by Mr. Walter A. Craig having
toured successfully in New England and many other northern states.

But the colored musician has usually found his opportunity for
expression and for a living wage upon the stage. Probably many of the
actors noted on the census list are musicians, and many of the
musicians, actors; the writer of the topical song having himself sung it
in vaudeville or musical comedy. Few New Yorkers appreciate how many of
the tunes hummed in the street or ground out on the hand-organ, have
originated in Negro brains. "The Right Church but the Wrong Pew,"
"Teasing," "Nobody," "Under the Bamboo Tree," which Cole and Johnson,
the composers, heard the last thing as they left the dock in New York,
and the first thing when they arrived in Paris, these are a few of the
popular favorites. Handsome incomes have been netted by the shrewder
among these composers, and the demand for their songs is continuous.

With a bright song and a jolly dance comes success. Picking up the copy
of the New York _Age_, that lies on my desk, I find jottings of
twenty-four colored troupes in vaudeville in the larger cities of the
North and West. Three are at Proctor's and three at Keith's. Their
economic outlook is not so hilarious as their songs, for transportation
is expensive and bookings are uncertain; yet pecuniarily these actors
are far better off than their more sober brothers who stick to their
elevators or their porters' jobs.

Twenty years ago the Negro performer probably had little anticipation of
advancing beyond minstrel work, in which he sang loud, danced hard, and
told a funny story. S. H. Dudley, the leading comedian in the "Smart
Set" colored company, said in 1909: "When I started in business I had no
idea of getting as high as I am now. A minstrel company came to the
little town in Texas where I was raised, and at once my ambition fired
me to become a musician. So I bought a battered horn and began to toot,
to the great annoyance of my neighbors. Then I secured an engagement
with a minstrel company whose cornet player had fallen into the hands of
the law; and now here I am with one of the best colored shows ever
gotten together and a starring tour arranged for next season." The
movement from the minstrel show to the musical comedy, from the cheapest
form of buffoonery to attractive farce, and even to good comedy, has
been accomplished by a number of colored comedians. Williams and Walker
may be considered the pioneers in this movement, and the story of their
success, as Walker has told it, is a fine example of what the Negro can
do along the line of decided natural aptitude. And it is important to
notice this, for today, in the education of the race, æsthetic instincts
are often suppressed with Puritan vigor, and labor is made ugly and

Bert Williams and George Walker, one a British West Indian, the other a
Westerner, met in California where each was hanging around a box
manager's office, looking for a job. Hardly more than boys, they secured
employment at seven dollars a week. That was in 1889. In 1908 they made
each $250 a week, and in later times they have doubled and quadrupled
this. Their first stage manager expected them to perform as the
blacked-up white minstrels were performing, but the two boys soon saw
that the Negro himself was far more entertaining than the buffoon
portrayed by the white man. They wanted to show the true Negro, and
billing themselves as the "real coons" (their white rivals called
themselves "coons") they played in San Francisco with some success.
Later they came to New York, and at Koster and Bial's made their first

"Long before our run terminated," Walker said in telling of those early
days, "we discovered an important fact: that the hope of the colored
performer must be in making a radical departure from the old time
'darky' style of singing and dancing. So we set ourselves the task of
thinking along new lines.

"The first move was to hire a flat in Fifty-third Street, furnish it,
and throw our doors open to all colored men who possessed theatrical and
musical ability and ambition. The Williams and Walker flat soon became
the headquarters of all the artistic young men of our race who were
stage-struck. We entertained the late Paul Lawrence Dunbar, who wrote
lyrics for us. By having these men about us we had the opportunity to
study the musical and theatrical ability of the most talented members of
our race."

In 1893 the World's Fair was held at Chicago, and on the "Midway" the
visitor saw races from all over the world. Here was a Dahomey village,
with strange little huts, representative of the African home life. The
Dahomeyans themselves were late in arriving, and American Negroes,
sometimes with an added coat of black, were employed to represent them.
Among them were Williams and Walker, who played their parts until the
real Dahomeyans arriving, they became in turn spectators and studied the
true African. This contact with the dancing and singing of the primitive
people of their own race had an important effect upon their art. Their
lyrics recalled African songs, their dancing took on African movements,
especially Walker's. Any one who saw Walker in "Abyssinia," the most
African and the most artistic of their plays, must have recognized the
savage beauty of his dancing when he was masquerading as an African

After the Dahomey episode the success of the two men was continuous. "In
1902 and 1903," Walker said, "we had all New York and London doing the
cake walk." In February, 1908, they appeared in "Bandanna Land," at the
Majestic Theatre, and remained there for six months. Only those colored
men who have made a steady, uphill struggle for the chance to play good
comedy, know how important such recognition was for the Negro. "Bandanna
Land" was probably the most popular light opera in New York that winter
next to "The Merry Widow." The singing, especially that of the male
chorus, was often beautiful. Mrs. Walker's dancing and charming acting
were delightful, the chorus girls were above the average in beauty
and musical expression, and the two men who made the piece were
spontaneously, irresistibly funny; added to this, unlike its successful
rival, "Bandanna Land" was without a vulgar scene or word.

This was the last time the two men played together. Walker became
seriously ill, and died in January, 1911. After their company disbanded,
Williams went back to the one-piece act of vaudeville, but as a star in
a white troupe. His position as a permanent actor in the "Follies of
1910" marks a new departure for the colored comedian, a departure won by
great talent combined with character and tact.

Since 1908 the Majestic has seen another colored company, Cole and
Johnson's, presenting a half-Negro, half-Indian, musical comedy, the
"Red Moon." These two men, for years in vaudeville, have written songs
for Lillian Russell, Marie Cahill, Anna Held, and other popular musical
comedy and vaudeville singers. They have played for six months
continuously at the Palace Theatre, London. Accustomed to writing for
white actors, their own plays are not so distinctively African as
Williams and Walker's. Both Johnson and Cole are of the mulatto type,
and neither blackens his face. Cole is one of the most amusing men in
comedy in New York. He is tall and very thin, with a genius for finding
lank and grotesque costumes that are delightfully incongruous with his
grave face. The words of the musical comedies are his, the music,
Johnson's. He, too, has become seriously ill, and his company has
disbanded. In three years the colored stage has suffered serious loss,
but we see forming new and successful companies whose reputation will
soon be assured.

Comedy has always furnished a medium for criticism of the foibles of the
times, and there are many sly digs at the white man in the colored play.
Ernest Hogan, now deceased, better than any one else played the rural
southern darky. In the "Oysterman" we saw him in contact with a white
scamp who was intent upon getting his recently acquired money. He was
urged to take stock in a land company, to buy where watermelons grew as
thick as potatoes, and chickens were as common as sparrows. The audience
hated the white man heartily and sided with the simple, kindly, black
youth, sitting with his dog at his side, on his cabin steps. Behind
boisterous laughter and raillery the writers of these comedies often
gain the sympathy of their hearers for the black race.

In this attempt to show the occupational life of the Negro, we have
found that race prejudice often proves a bar to complete success, to
full manhood. Something of this is true with the actor as well as with
the laborer and the business man. In securing entrance in vaudeville,
color is at first an advantage. The "darky" to the white man is
grotesquely amusing, and by rolling his eyes, showing a glistening
smile, and wearing shoes that make a monstrosity of his feet, the Negro
may create a laugh where the man with a white skin would be hooted off
the stage. And since the laugh is so easily won, many colored actors
become indolent and content themselves, year after year, with playing
the part of buffoon. But with the ambition to rise in his profession
comes the difficult struggle to induce the audience to see a new Negro
in the black man of today. The public gives the colored man no
opportunity as a tragedian, demanding that his comedy shall border
always on the farcical. And what is demanded of the actor is also
demanded of the musician. Writers of the scores of some of our musical
comedies are musicians of superior training and ability, but rarely are
they permitted full expression. Mr. Will Marion Cook, the composer of
much of the music of "Bandanna Land," for a few moments gives a piece of
exquisite orchestration. When the colored minister rises and exhorts his
quarrelling friends to be at peace with one another, one hears a
beautiful harmony. I am told that Mr. Cook declares that the next score
he writes shall begin with ten minutes of serious music. If the audience
doesn't like it, they can come in late, but for ten minutes he will do
something worthy of his genius.

However light-hearted a people, and however worthy of praise the
entertainment that brings a jolly, wholesome laugh, let us hope that in
the near future the Negro will find a more complete expression for his
musical and histrionic gifts. Some actor of commanding talent, whose
claims cannot be ignored, may reveal the larger life of the race. The
nineteenth century knew a great Negro actor, Ira Aldridge, a _protégé_
and disciple of Edmund Kean. He played Othello to Kean's Iago, and in
the forties toured Europe with his own company, receiving high honors in
Berlin and St. Petersburg.[7] A dark-skinned African, of immense power,
physically and emotionally, he made Desdemona cry out in real fear, and
caused Bassanio instinctively to shrink as he demanded his pound of
flesh. Today's actor must be more subtle in his attack, but it may be
given to him to reveal the thoughts at the back of the black man's mind.
The genius of Zangwill gave us the picture of the children of the
Ghetto; perhaps from the theatre's seat the American will first
understand the despised black race.


[1] On West 133d Street two former Hampton students have a prosperous
little tailor and upholstering shop.

[2] Those interested in the Negro in business should look for an
intensive study, shortly to be published, on the wage-earners and
business enterprises among Negroes in New York. It is entitled "The
Negro at Work in New York City," and has been made by George E. Haynes,
under the direction of the Bureau of Social Research of the New York
School of Philanthropy.

[3] Since going to press the new and very beautiful building of St.
Philips' Episcopal Church, on W. 134th Street, has been opened. This is
a fine example of English Gothic and its architects are two young
colored men, one of whom was for years in the office of a white firm.

[4] Mary Kingsley has some interesting generalizations on this point.
She speaks of the African mind approaching all things from a spiritual
point of view while the English mind approaches them from a material
point of view, and of "the high perception of justice you will find in
the African, combined with the inability to think out a pulley or a
lever except under white tuition."--_West African Studies_, p. 330.

[5] Lincoln Hospital in New York, while receiving white and colored
patients, was especially designed to help the colored race. It has a
training school for colored nurses, but neither accepts colored medical
graduates as interns, nor allows colored doctors upon its staff. This is
one of many cases in which the good white people of the city are glad to
assist the poor and ailing Negro, but are unwilling to help the strong
and ambitious colored man to full opportunity.

[6] See H. J. Wilson, "The Negro and Music," _Outlook_, Dec. 1, 1906.

[7] William J. Simmons's "Men of Mark."



The life of the Negro woman of New York, if she belong to the laboring
class, differs in some important respects from the life of the white
laboring woman. Generalizations on so comprehensive a subject must, of
course, meet with many exceptions, but the observing visitor, familiar
with white and colored neighborhoods, quickly notes marked contrasts
between the two, contrasts largely the result of different occupational
opportunities. These pertain both to the married woman and the unmarried
working girl.

The generality of white women in New York, wives of laboring men,
infrequently engage in gainful occupations. In the early years of
married life the wife relies on her husband's wage for support, and
within her tiny tenement-flat bears and rears her children and performs
her household duties--the sewing, cooking, washing, and ironing, and the
daily righting of the contracted rooms. She is a conscientious wife and
mother, and rarely, either by night or by day, journeys far from her own
home. When unemployment visits the family wage earner, she turns to
laundry work and day's cleaning for money to meet the rent and to supply
the household with scanty meals; but as soon as her husband resumes work
she returns to her narrow round of domestic duties.

After a score of these monotonous years more prosperous times come to
the housewife. Every morning two or three children go out to work, and
their wages make heavier the family purse. Son and daughter, having
entered factory or store, bring home their pay envelopes unbroken on
Saturday nights, and the augmentation of the father's wage gives the
mother an income to administer. After the young people's wants in
clothing and entertainment have been in part supplied, it becomes
possible to buy new furniture on the instalment plan, to hire a piano,
even to move into a better neighborhood. The earnings of a number of
children, supplementing the wage of the head of the family, make life
more tolerable for all.

These days, however, do not last long. Sons and daughters marry and
assume new responsibilities; the husband, his best strength gone, finds
unemployment increasing; and since saving, except for wasteful
industrial insurance, has seemed impossible without sacrificing the
decencies and pleasures of the children, the end of the woman's married
life is likely to be hard and comfortless.

This rough description may fairly be taken to represent the life of the
average New York white woman of the laboring class. It is not, however,
the life of the average colored woman. With her, self-sustaining work
usually begins at fifteen, and by no means ceases with her entrance upon
marriage, which only entails new financial burdens. The wage of the
husband, as we have seen, is usually insufficient to support a family,
save in extreme penury, and the wife accepts the necessity of
supplementing the husband's income. This she accomplishes by taking in
washing or by entering a private family to do housework. Sometimes she
is away from her tenement nearly every day in the week; again the bulk
of her earnings comes from home industry. Her day holds more diversity
than that of her white neighbor; she meets more people, becomes familiar
with the ways of the well-to-do,--their household decorations, their
dress, their refinements of manner; but she has but few hours to give to
her children. With her husband she is ready to be friend and helpmate;
but should he turn out a bad bargain, she has no fear of leaving him,
since her marital relations are not welded by economic dependence. An
industrious, competent woman, she works and spends, and in her scant
hours of leisure takes pride in keeping her children well-dressed and

At the second period of her married life, when her boys and girls, few
in number if she be a New Yorker, begin to engage in self-supporting
work, her condition shows less improvement than that of the white woman
of her class. Sometimes her children hand her their whole wage, far
oftener they bring her only such part as they choose to spare. The
strict accounting of the minor to the parent, usual among Northerners in
the past, and today common among the immigrant class, is not a part of
the Negro's training. Rather, as the race has attained freedom it has
copied the indulgent attitude of the once familiar "master," and regrets
that its offspring must enter upon any work. Children with this
tradition about them use the money they earn largely for the
gratification of their vanity, not for the lessening of their mother's
tasks. But a more potent factor than lack of discipline keeps the mother
from being the administrator of the family's joint earnings. White boys
and girls in New York enter work that makes it possible and advantageous
for them to dwell at home; Negroes must go out to service, accept long
and irregular hours in hotel or apartment, travel for days on boat or
train. The family home is infrequently available to them, and money
given in to it brings small return. Under these circumstances it is not
strange if the mother must continue her round of washing and scrubbing.

The last years of life of the Negro woman, probably a little more than
the last years of the white, are likely to bring happiness. With a
mother at work a grandmother becomes an important factor, and elderly
colored women are often seen bringing up little children or helping in
the laundry--that great colored home industry. Accustomed all their
lives to hard labor, it is easy for them to find work that shall repay
their support, and in their children's households they are treated with
respect and consideration.

The contrast in the lives of the colored and white married women is not
more strongly marked than the contrast in the lives of their unmarried
daughters and sisters. Unable to enter any pursuit except housework, the
unskilled colored girl goes out to service or helps at home with the
laundry or sewing. Factory and store are closed to her, and rarely can
she take a place among other working girls. Her hours are the long,
irregular hours of domestic service. She brings no pay envelope home to
her mother, the two then carefully discussing how much belongs
rightfully for board, and how much may go for the new coat or dress,
but takes the eighteen or twenty dollars given her at the end of the
month, and quite by herself determines all her expenditures. Far oftener
than any class of white girls in the city she lives away from the
parental home.

These are some of the differences found by the observer who looks into
the Negro and the white tenement. They need not, however, rest alone
upon any observer's testimony. We have in the census abundant statistics
for their verification. Scattered among the volumes on Population,
Occupations, and Women at Work are many facts concerning Negro women
workers of New York, all of them confirmatory of the description just
given. We may note the most important.

In 1900, whereas 4.2 per cent of the white married women in New York
were engaged in gainful occupations, 31.4 per cent of the Negro married
women were earning their living, over seven times as many in proportion
as the whites.[1]

Again, in the total population of New York's women workers, 80 per cent
were single, 10 per cent married, and 10 per cent widowed and divorced;
while among the Negroes, the single women were only 53 per cent, the
married 25 per cent, and the widowed 22.[2]

Statistics of the age period at which women are at work, show the
Negro's long continuing wage-earning activity. Between sixteen and
twenty is a busy time for the women of both races. Among the whites 59
per cent are in gainful occupations, among the Negroes 66 per cent. But
as the girl arrives at the period when she is likely to marry, the per
cent of workers among the whites drops rapidly, until for white women,
forty-five and over, it is 13.5, about one in seven. With the colored,
among the women forty-five years of age and over, 53 per cent, more
than half, still engage in gainful toil.[3]

Family life can be studied in the census table. While 59 per cent of the
unmarried white girls at work live at home, this is found to be true
of but 25 per cent of the colored girls; that is, 75 per cent,
three-quarters of all the colored unmarried working women, live with
their employers or board.[4]

The census volume on occupations reveals at once the narrow range of the
New York colored woman's working life. Personal and domestic service
absorbs 90 per cent of her numbers against 40 per cent among the white.
But before considering more fully the colored girl at work, we need to
notice another statistical fact, the preponderance in the city of Negro
women over Negro men.

Like the foreigner, the youth of the Negro race comes first to the city
to seek a livelihood. The colored population shows 41 per cent of its
number between the ages of 20 and 35. But unlike the foreigner, the
Negro women find larger opportunity and come in greater numbers than the
men. Their range of work is narrow, but within it they can command
double the wages they receive at home, and if they are possessed of
average ability, they are seldom long out of work. With the immense
growth of wealth in New York the demand for servants continually
increases, and finding little response from the white native born
population, many mistresses receive readily the services of the
English-speaking southern and West Indian blacks. So the boats from
Charleston and Norfolk and the British West Indies bring scores and
hundreds of Negro women from country districts, from cities where they
have spent a short time at service, girls with and girls without
experience, all seeking better wages in a new land.

Mr. Kelly Miller was the first to call attention to the presence in
American cities of surplus Negro women.[5] The phenomenon is not
peculiar to New York. Baltimore, Washington, New Orleans, all show the
same condition. In Atlanta the women number 143 to every hundred colored
men. New York shows 123 to every masculine one hundred. These surplus
women account in part for the number of Negro women workers in New York
not living at home. Some are with their employers, but others lodge in
the already crowded tenements, for the southern servant, unaccustomed to
spending the night at her employer's, in New York also, frequently
arranges to leave her mistress when her work is done. In their hours of
leisure the surplus women are known to play havoc with their neighbors'
sons, even with their neighbors' husbands, for since lack of men makes
marriage impossible for about a fifth of New York's colored girls,
social disorder results. Surplus Negro women, able to secure work,
support idle, able-bodied Negro men. The lounger at the street corner,
the dandy in the parlor thrumming on his banjo, means a Malindy of the
hour at the kitchen washboard. In a town in Germany, where men were
sadly scarce, I was told that a servant girl paid as high as a mark to
a soldier to walk with her in the Hofgarten on a Sunday afternoon.
Colored men in New York command their "mark," and girls are found who
keep them in polished boots, fashionable coats, and well-creased
trousers. Could the Negro country boy be as certain as his sister of
lucrative employment in New York, or could he oftener persuade her to
remain with him on the farm, he would better city civilization. But the
demand for servants increases, and the colored girl continues to be
attracted to the city where she can earn and spend.

The table on the following page shows in condensed form the occupations
of the Negro women in New York. As we see, the Negro women number
forty-four in every thousand women workers.


                             |         |        | Number to
                             |  Total  | Negro  | every 1000
                             |         |        |  workers
 Professional service        |  22,422 |    281 |      12
                             |         |        |
 Domestic and personal       |         |        |
   service                   | 146,722 | 14,586 |     100
  Laundresses                |  16,102 |  3,224 |     200
  Servants and waitresses    | 103,963 | 10,297 |      99
  All others                 |  24,657 |  1,065 |      43
                             |         |        |
 Trade and transportation    |  65,318 |    106 | Between one
                             |         |        |   and two
 Manufacturing and           |         |        |
   mechanical pursuits       | 132,535 |  1,138 |       7
  Dressmakers                |  37,514 |    813 |      22
  Seamstresses               |  18,108 |    249 |      14
  All others                 |  76,913 |     76 |       1
                             |         |        |
 Total including some        |         |        |
   occupations not specified | 367,437 | 16,114 |      44

 Federal Census 1900: Occupations, Table 43, p. 638

Ninety per cent of all the Negro women workers of New York are in
domestic and personal service. This includes a variety of positions.
Some Negro girls work in stores, dusting stock, taking charge of cloak
or toilet rooms, scrubbing floors. Their hours are regular, but the pay,
five or six, or very occasionally eight dollars a week, means a scanty
livelihood without hope of advancement. The position of maid in a
theatre where perquisites are larger is prized, and a new and pleasant
place is that of a maid on a limited train. But the bulk of the girls
are servants in boarding-houses, or are with private families as nurses,
waitresses, cooks, laundresses, maids-of-all-work, earning from sixteen
and eighteen to twenty-five and even thirty dollars a month.
Occasionally a very skilful cook can command as high a monthly wage as
fifty dollars.

The colored girl is frequently found engaged at general housework in a
small apartment. Her desire to return to her lodging at night makes her
popular with families living in contracted space. With the conveniences
of a New York flat, dumb-waiter, clothes-dryer, gas, and electricity,
general housework is not severe. Work begins early, seven at the latest,
and lasts until the dinner is cleared away, at half-past eight or nine.
Released then from further tasks, the young girl goes to her tiny inner
tenement room, dons a fresh dress, and then, as chance or her training
determines, walks the streets, goes to the theatre, or attends the class
meeting at her church. Entertainments among the Negroes are rarely under
way until ten o'clock, and short hours of sleep in ill-ventilated rooms
soon weaken the vitality of the new-comer. Housework under these
conditions does not create much ambition; the mistress moves, flitting,
in New York fashion, from one flat to another, and the girl also flits
among employers, changing with the whim of the moment.

Few subjects present so fascinating a field for discussion as domestic
service, and the housewife of today enters into it with energy,
sometimes decrying the modern working girl, again planning household
economics that shall lure her from factory or shop. The only point we
need to consider now is the dissatisfaction that results when 64 per
cent of the women of a race are forced by circumstances into one
occupation. Those with native ability along this line succeed and make
others and themselves happy. The faithful, patient, loyal Negro servant
is well-known, the black mammy has passed into American literature, but
not every colored woman can wisely be given this position. Some of the
Negro girls who take up housework in New York are capable of more
intelligent labor, and chafe under their limitations; others have not
the ability to do good housework; for domestic service requires more
mental capacity than is demanded in many factories. In short, a great
many colored girls in New York are round pegs in square holes, and the
community is the loser by it.

Among these round pegs are girls who, determining no longer to drudge in
lonely kitchens, contrive, as we shall see later, to find positions at
other more attractive reputable work. Others, deciding in favor of
material betterment at whatever cost, lower their moral standard and
secure easier and more remunerative jobs. A well-paying place, with
short hours and high tips, at once offers itself to the colored girl who
is willing to work for a woman of the demi-monde. In the sporting house
also she is preferred as a servant, her dark complexion separating her
from other inmates. In 1858, Sanger wrote in his "History of
Prostitution," "The servants (in these houses) are almost always colored
women. Their wages are liberal, their perquisites considerable, and
their work light." Untrained herself, bereft of home influence, with an
ancestry that sometimes cries out her parent's weakness in the contour
and color of her face, the Negro girl in New York, more even than the
foreign immigrant, is subject to degrading temptation. The good people,
who are often so exacting, want her for her willingness to work long
hours at a lower wage than the white; and the bad people, who are often
so carelessly kind, offer her light labor and generous pay. It is small
wonder that she sometimes chooses the latter.

Not all the colored girls who work in questionable places and with
questionable people take the jobs from choice; some are sent without
knowing the character of the house they enter. A few years ago an
agitation was started for the protection of helpless Negro immigrants
who had fallen into the hands of unscrupulous employment agencies. A
system existed, and still exists, by which employment agencies were able
to advance the travelling expenses of southern girls, who on their
arrival in New York were held in debt until the cost of the journey had
been many times repaid. Helpless in the power of the agent, the
new-comer was forced to work where he wished. Under the city's
department of licenses some of the more unscrupulous of these agencies
have been closed, and philanthropy has placed a visitor at the docks to
give aid and advice to unprotected girls. But the danger is by no means
over. Those familiar with the subject assert that there is a
proportionately larger black slave than white slave traffic.

There is a gainful occupation for women, black and white, too important
to be left unnoticed. The census does not tabulate it. The best people
strive to ignore it, and carefully sheltered girls grow up unconscious
of its existence. But the employment agent understands its commercial
value, and little children in the red light neighborhood are as familiar
with it as with the vending of peanuts on the street. To the poor it is
always an open door affording at least a temporary respite from
dispossession and starvation. How many of the colored turn to it, we do
not know--certainly not a few. Some gain from it a meagre livelihood,
but others, for a time at least, achieve comfort and even luxury.

Among the round pegs that the square holes so uncomfortably chafe are
colored girls of intelligence and charm who deliberately join the
anti-social class. Probably a few in any case would lead this life, but
the history of many shows an unsuccessful struggle for congenial work,
ending with a choice of material comfort however high the moral cost. In
One Hundred and Thirty-fourth and One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Streets
are apartments where such girls live, two or three together, surrounded
by comforts that their respectable neighbors who go out to cook, wash,
and iron may fruitlessly long for all their lives. A colored
philanthropic worker, stopping by chance at the door of one of these
places, saw an old college friend. "How can you do it!" she cried as she
recognized the life the girl was leading, "How can you do it! I would
rather kill myself scrubbing!" "There is the difference between us,"
came the answer, "I am not willing to die, and I cannot and will not

It is pleasant and encouraging to turn from colored women who have given
up the struggle, to ambitious, successful workers. Some among these are
in the domestic service group and enjoy with heartiness their tasks as
nurse-maid or cook. "This is my piano day," an expert colored
washerwoman says of a Monday morning. Among the domestic service
workers, as classified by the census, is the trained nurse, filling an
increasingly important position in New York. In 1909, Lincoln Hospital
graduated twenty-one colored nurses, some of whom remain in New York to
do excellent work.

In the professions, with the women as with the men, the first place
numerically is occupied by performers upon the stage. So much has been
said of the Negro as an actor that there is little to add. A rather
better class of colored than of white women join musical comedy chorus
troupes, for fifteen or eighteen dollars a week that will attract a
Negro to the stage can be made by a white girl in a dozen other ways.
Lightness of color seems a requisite for a stage position, unless a dark
skin is offset by very great ability, as in the case of Aida Walker, one
of the most graceful and charming women in musical comedy.

No record is kept of the number of colored teachers in the city's public
schools, but each year Negro graduates from the normal college secure
positions. These are found from the kindergarten through the primary
and up to the highest grammar grade. The colored girl with intellectual
ability, particularly if she comes of an old New York family, is apt to
turn to teaching. Her novitiate is long, but a permanent certificate
secured, she is sure of a good salary, increasing with her years of
service, and ending in a pension. This path of security has perhaps
tended to keep New York colored girls from going into other lines of
work. I have not yet found one who has graduated from a university.
Pratt Institute and the Teachers' College have colored normal students,
but they are usually from the South or West, not New Yorkers born.

Philanthropy is opening up important lines of opportunity to the Negro
woman in New York. In 1903, a colored graduate nurse secured an
interview with the Secretary of the New York Charity Organization
Society, and so ably presented to him the need of Negro visitors among
Negroes that she was appointed visiting nurse for the colored sick who
came under the notice of the Society. In time the position changed into
that of a colored district visitor, other colored nurses entering in
numbers into district nursing work. In 1910, three nurses were employed
by the Nurses' Settlement, two by the Association for Improving the
Condition of the Poor of Manhattan, and two by the District Nursing
Association of Brooklyn. With increased knowledge of the sickness and
suffering amid the Negro poor, and of their need of proper care in their
homes, the number of these nurses will doubtless increase. Colored women
rank high among the trained nurses of New York.

Other philanthropic work lately has been undertaken by Negro women in
New York. In 1910, besides the nurses of whom we have spoken, there were
at the head of societies in salaried positions, two settlement workers,
two matrons of day nurseries, two matrons of homes in which much social
work was carried on, many employees in colored orphan asylums, a teacher
of domestic science in a home-keeping flat, a traveller's aid visitor,
a playground instructor, besides workers in various religious
organizations. This does not include the many colored women doing
social and recreation work in the public schools and on the city's
playgrounds. Indeed, the difficulty in New York is to secure trained
colored women for philanthropic work, the Negro's attitude still being
that of the great majority of white women a few years ago, that love for
children and a sentimental kindness constitute the requisites for work
among the poor. But the school of experience is training workers, and as
the schools of philanthropy of New York, Boston, and Chicago also
graduate colored students, we shall have in the North the intelligent,
trained workers whom we need.

The little kindergarten girl who, with head erect, walked past the
jeering line of boys to the green trees and soft grass of the park has
her counterpart in many young women of New York. In 1909, a colored girl
graduated from one of the city's dental colleges, the first woman of her
race to take this degree in the state. From the first her success was
remarkable. Colored girls with ability and steady purpose and dogged
determination have won success in clerical and business work; but the
last large and efficient group is that classified in the census under
mechanical and manufacturing pursuits: the dressmakers, seamstresses,

Colored women have always been known as good sewers, and recently they
have studied at their trade in some of the best schools. From 1904 to
1910, the Manhattan Trade School graduated thirty-four colored girls in
dressmaking, hand sewing, and novelty making. The public night school on
West Forty-sixth Street, under its able colored principal, Dr. W. L.
Bulkley, since 1907, has educated hundreds of women in sewing,
dressmaking, millinery, and artificial flower-making. While the majority
of the pupils have taken the courses for their private use, a large
minority are entering the business world. They meet with repeated
difficulties; white girls refuse to work in shops with them, private
employers object to their color, but they have, nevertheless, made
creditable progress. The census reports the number of Negro dressmakers
to have quadrupled in the United States from 1890 to 1900. Something
comparable to this increase in dressmaking and allied trades has taken
place among the Negroes of New York, and it has come through education
and persistence, and the increase of trade among the colored group
itself. Numbers of these dressmakers and milliners earn a livelihood,
though often a scanty one, from the patronage of the people of their own

But despite her efforts and occasional successes, the colored girl in
New York meets with severer race prejudice than the colored man, and is
more persistently kept from attractive work. _She gets the job that the
white girl does not want._ It may be that the white girls want the wrong
thing, and that the jute mill and tobacco shop and flower factory are
more dangerous to health and right living than the mistress's kitchen,
but she knows her mind, and follows the business that brings her liberty
of action when the six o'clock whistle blows. What she desires for
herself, however, she refuses to her colored neighbor. Occasionally an
employer objects to colored girls, but the Manhattan Trade School
repeatedly, in trying to place its graduates, has found that opposition
to the Negro has come largely from the working girls. Race prejudice
has even gone so far as to prevent a colored woman from receiving home
work when it entailed her waiting in the same sitting-room with white
women. Of course, this is not the universal attitude. In friendly talks
with hundreds of New York's white women workers, I have found the
majority ready to accept the colored worker. Jewish girls are especially
tolerant. They believe that good character and decent manners should
count, not color; but an aggressive, combative minority is quite sure
that no matter how well educated or virtuous she may be, no black woman
is as good as a white one. So the few but belligerent aristocrats
triumph over the many half-ashamed, timid democrats.

The shirtwaist makers' strike of 1910 was so profoundly important in its
breaking down of feeling between nationalities, its union of all working
women in a common cause, that the colored girl, while very slightly
concerned in the strike itself, may profit by the more generous feeling
it engendered. Certainly an entrance into store and workshop would be to
her immense advantage. She needs the discipline of regular hours, of
steady training, of order and system. She needs also to become part of a
strong labor group, to share its working class ideal, to feel the weight
of its moral opinion; instead of looking into the mirror of her wealthy
mistress, she needs to reflect the aspirations of the strong, earnest
women who toil.

Before bringing the story of the life of the New York colored working
woman to a close, it may not be amiss to look closely at the
discrimination practised against her, not only in her work, but in her
daily life. The Negro comes North and finds himself half a man. Does the
woman, too, come to be but half a woman? What is her status in the city
to which she turns for opportunity and larger freedom?

Four years ago, within a few hours' time, two stories were told me,
illustrative of the colored woman's status. Neither occurred in the city
of New York, but both are indicative of its temper. The first I heard
from a woman skilled in a difficult profession, a Canadian now residing
in the United States, and the descendant of a fugitive slave. Her
youthful companions had all been white, and while an African in the
darkness of her skin and her musical voice, her rearing had been that of
an Englishwoman. "Shortly after coming to New York, I went for the first
time," she told me, "to a little resort on the Jersey coast. A board
walk flanked the ocean, and on the other side were shops and places of
amusement. Going out one morning with two companions, a colored man and
woman, we turned into an enclosure to examine a gaily painted
merry-go-round. The place was open to the public, and a few nursery
maids with their charges were seated about. The man in our party,
interested in the mechanism of the machine, went up to it and began to
explain it to us. Quite suddenly a rough fellow, in charge of the place,
walked over and called out, 'Get out of here! We don't allow niggers.'
The attack, to me at least, was so overwhelming that I did not move at
once. Thereupon I was again called 'nigger,' and ordered out.

"When I reached the beach, I asked my companions to leave me, and I sat
on a bench looking upon the waves. After a time an old woman came to my
side, and said a little timidly, 'What are you thinking about, dearie?'
Looking in her face I saw that she feared that I would commit suicide.
'I am thinking,' I said turning to her, 'that I wish the ocean might
rise up and drown every white person on the face of the earth.' 'Oh, you
mustn't say that,' she cried horrified, and left me. After I cannot tell
how many minutes or hours, I returned to my boarding-house, and then to
my home in New York. I had had a great many white friends in my native
home; I had played with them, eaten with them, slept with them. Now I
destroyed their letters, and resolved never to know them again. That was
my first affront in the United States, and while I have learned to feel
somewhat differently, a little to discriminate, I can never forget that
the white people in the North stand for the insult which was cast upon

On the evening of the same day I had learned of this happening, a man
from a prominent college in New York State told me of a Negro classmate.
"He was a pleasant, intelligent fellow from the South," he said, "and
while I never knew him well, I was always glad to see him. One day, at
commencement time, when we were all having our relatives about, he
boarded my car with a young colored woman, evidently his sister. Without
a thought I rose, lifted my hat, and gave her my seat. Never again shall
I see such a look of gratitude as that which lighted up his face when he
bowed in acknowledgment of my courtesy. It revealed the race question to
me, and yet I had performed only the simplest act of a gentleman."

In these two incidents we see the undecided, perplexing position of the
Negro woman in New York. Today she may be turned out of a public resort
as a "nigger," tomorrow she may receive the dues of a gentlewoman. And
since, while I write, I hear the cry of a class in the community who
adjudge the expulsion necessary since the other course must lead at once
to social equality, I make haste to add that the second story did not
end in wedlock. As far as I have seen, it never does. Intermarriage of
white and black in New York is so slight as to be a negligible quantity,
but amalgamation between the two races is not uncommon. And this we may
say with certainty, the man most blatant against the "nigger" in New
York as all over the country is the man most ready to enter into illicit
relationship with the woman whom he claims to despise. The raising of
the hat to the colored woman brings a diminution in sexual immorality.

If the Negro civilization of New York is to be lifted to a higher level,
the white race must consistently play a finer and more generous part
toward the colored woman. There are many inherent difficulties against
which she must contend. Slavery deprived her of family life, set her to
daily toil in the field, or appropriated her mother's instincts for the
white child. She has today the difficult task of maintaining the
integrity and purity of the home. Many times she has succeeded, often
she has failed, sometimes she has not even tried. A vicious environment
has strengthened her passions and degraded her from earliest girlhood.
Beyond any people in the city she needs all the encouragement that
philanthropy, that human courtesy and respect, that the fellowship of
the workers can give,--she needs her full status as a woman.


[1] These figures are obtained by a combination of tables, one in
Population, Vol. II, Part II, p. 332, describing the whole of Greater
New York, the other in Women at Work, pp. 266 to 275, describing
Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. The error through the omission of
Richmond and Queens is probably negligible.

[2] Federal Census 1900: Women at Work, Table 28, pp. 266 to 274. Among
800 married and widowed colored women whom I myself visited, I found
only 150, 19 per cent, who were not engaged in gainful occupations.

[3] Federal Census 1900: Women at Work, Table 10, pp. 147 to 151.

[4] Federal Census 1900: Women at Work, Table 28, pp. 266 to 275.

[5] This is incorporated in a chapter in Mr. Miller's volume on "Race



Of the many nations and races that dwell in New York none, with the
exception of the Chinese, is so aloof from us in its social life as the
Negro. The childish recollection of an old school friend, recently
related to me, well illustrates this. Across the way from where she
lived there was a house occupied by a family of mulattoes. They were the
quietest and least obtrusive people on the block, and the wife, who was
known to be very beautiful, on the rare occasions when she left her
home, was always veiled. The husband was little seen, and the child, a
shy boy, never played on the street. For years the family lived aloof
from their neighbors, the subject of hushed and mysterious questioning.

Probably had one of the white women dropped in some day to say
good-morning or to borrow a recipe book, the mystery would have been
wholly dispelled,--a pity surely for the children. Few of New York's
citizens are so American as the colored, few show so little that is
unusual or picturesque. The educated Italian might have in his home some
relic of his former country, the Jew might show some symbol of his
religion; but the Negro, to the seeker of the unusual, would seem
commonplace. The colored man in New York has no associations with his
ancient African home, no African traditions, no folk lore. The days of
slavery he wishes completely to forget, even to the loss of his
exquisite plantation music. He is ambitious to be conventional in his
manners, his customs, striving as far as possible to be like his
neighbor--a distinctly American ambition. In consequence, after
indicating the lines along which he has achieved economic success, one
finds little to describe in the lives of the well-to-do that will be of
interest. And yet this sketch would be open to criticism if, after so
long a survey of the working class, it gave no space to those Negroes
who have achieved a fair degree of wealth and leisure; and perhaps the
very recital of the likeness of these people to those about them may be
of importance, for the great mass of white Americans are like a
vivacious Kentuckian of my acquaintance, who, on learning something of a
well-to-do Negro family, assured me that she knew less of such people
than she did of the Esquimaux.

Mr. William Archer, in his book, "Through Afro-America," describes a
round of visits to southern Negro homes, where, with touching pride, his
hostesses show their material wealth, or rather the material wealth of
their race as embodied in drawing-room, dining-room, and bedroom. There
seemed to be nothing remarkable about the rooms unless their very
existence was remarkable. So the interiors of colored homes in New York
would reveal nothing to mark them from the homes of their neighbors,
save perhaps the universal presence of some musical instrument. In
Brooklyn, the Bronx, and in the Jersey suburbs, Negroes buy and rent
houses, sometimes with a few of their race in close proximity, sometimes
with white neighbors only on the block. Brooklyn seems always to have
shown less race antagonism than Manhattan (where, indeed, anything but
the apartment is beyond the pocket-book of people of modest means), and
it has been in Brooklyn for the past three generations that the
well-to-do colored families with their children have chiefly been found.

Much pleasant hospitality and entertainment take place behind these
modest doors. Visitors are common, relatives from the east and west and
south, and little dinner and supper parties are numerous. If church
discipline does not interfere, the women have their afternoons of
whist, and despite church discipline, dancing is very common, few
entertainments proving successful without it. To play well upon some
musical instrument is almost a universal accomplishment, and, as with
the Germans, families and friends meet the oftener for this harmonious

The social life of the well-to-do colored family generally centres about
the church, and with a regularity unusual among the white people, father
and mother and children attend the Sunday and week-day meetings.
Colored society is also at the period of the bazaar and fair, the
concert and dramatic entertainment. Money is raised by this means for
the church, the private charity, or to supplement the dues of the mutual
benefit society. There are a number of Negroes in the different large
cities who support themselves by concerts and readings, appearing at
benefits in the North and South, where they receive a third or a half of
the receipts. Amateur performances are also common. A young New York
college man, one winter evening, saw two refined, remarkably
well-dressed colored women turn in at the entrance of the Grand Central
Palace. Purchasing a ticket for the benefit, as it proved, of a colored
day nursery (the entertainment netted $2300), he followed them to find
himself in the Afro-American social world. For while the amateur dancing
and singing upon the stage were pretty and attractive, the young man was
far more interested in the audience. "And the disappointing thing about
it," he remarked in telling of it afterwards, "was that they were
exactly like other people." To use the newspaper phrase, "there was no
'story.'" They were a group of Americans, trained in the social
conventions of their own land.

There are many secret and benefit societies among the Negroes in New
York. The Masons have nine meeting places; the Elks, ten lodges. The Odd
Fellows have twenty-two places of meeting. The United Order of True
Reformers, a strong Negro organization in the South, where it conducts
large business enterprises, has forty-four head-quarters in church and
hall and private house, where meetings are held twice a month. Many
benefit societies are closely associated with the churches. Colored men
and women are very busy with their multitudinous church and society and
benefit meetings. I remember once attending an evening service at a
colored church when the minister preached the sermon to the benefit
orders of St. Luke's and the Galilean Fishermen. The officers, some of
them carrying spears with blue and red and white trimmings, marched down
the aisle and took their seats at the front of the pulpit. Their leader
was in purple, wearing a huge badge like a breastplate with yellow and
green stones. The women, equally prominent with the men, were dressed
one in yellow with green over it, and broad purple bands, two in white
with golden crowns. The pageant was very pretty, even beautiful, but too
artless in its simple enjoyment of color and display for the
conventional society of New York, and the colored "four hundred" were
not in it.

Who are the four hundred in New York's colored society? An outsider
would be very bold who should attempt to answer. Twenty-five years ago
the New Yorker born, especially the descendant of some prominent
anti-slavery worker, would have held foremost social position. The taint
of slavery was far removed from these people, who looked with scorn upon
arrivals from the South. Many were proud of their Indian blood, and told
of the freedom that came to their black ancestors who married Long
Island Indians. But these old New York colored families, sometimes
bearing historic Dutch and English names, have diminished in size and
importance as have the old white families beside them. The younger
generation has gone west, or has died and left no issue. And into the
city has come a continual stream of Southerners and more recently West
Indians, some among them educated, ambitious men and women, full of the
energy and determination of the immigrant who means to attain to
prominence in his new home. These new-comers occupy many of the pulpits,
are admitted to the bar, practise medicine, and become leaders in
politics, and their wives are quite ready to take a prominent part in
the social world. They meet the older residents, and the various groups
intermingle, though not without some friction. Like a country village,
the New York Negro social world knows the happenings of its neighbors,
gossips over their shortcomings, rejoices, though with something of
jealousy, over their successes, and has its cliques, its many leaders,
but also its broad-minded spirits who strive to bring the whole village
life into harmony.

As we have learned from a study of the occupational life of the Negro,
the majority of men and women of means are in the professional class, or
in the city or federal service. Such positions do not carry with them
large incomes, and remembering the high cost of living in New York, and
the exorbitant rental paid by black men, we can see that, gauged by the
white man's standard, the Negro with his two or three or four thousand
dollars a year is poor. Yet with his very limited income the demands
upon him are enormous. In the first place, he must educate his children,
and this means a large expenditure, for only in the technical schools or
the college can his boy or girl be prepared for a successful career. The
white boy may find some business firm that will give him a chance of
advancement, but the colored boy must receive such an education as shall
fit him to start an enterprise by himself, unless he enters public
service. So the trade or professional school or college absorbs the
savings of many years.

The church is another large recipient of the Negro's slender means.
Watching the dimes and quarters drop into the contribution plate as the
dark-faced congregation files past the pulpit on a Sunday evening, one
wonders whether any other people in America willingly give so large an
amount of their income to their religious organizations. And not only
will money be requested for the church's need, but special offerings
will be given to home and foreign mission work. In 1907, the African
Methodist Church alone raised $36,000 for home and foreign missions. The
Baptists raised $44,000. Educational work demands a share: the African
Methodists support twenty schools, the African Zion twelve, and the
Negro Baptists one hundred and twenty. The other denominations do their
share, and the Negroes also give to the schools conducted by white
churches for their people. This money comes from all over the country,
and the well-to-do New York Negro must contribute his part.

Home charities also help to drain the Negro's purse. Manhattan and
Brooklyn have a number of colored philanthropies, orphan asylums, old
people's homes, rescue missions, Young Men's and Young Women's Christian
Associations, and social settlements. Some are supported entirely by
white people, but the greater number receive some contributions from the
colored, and a few are dependent for money upon that race alone.
Thousands of dollars are raised yearly, among the well-to-do New York
Negroes, for these institutions.

Yet, with all these various philanthropic activities, one too frequently
hears that the Negro does not support his own charities. As though
anything of the sort could be expected of him! A little time ago, in
asking for money for settlement work among Negroes, I was asked in turn
by the exquisitely dressed woman before me, whose furs and gown and
jewels must have represented a year's salary of a school-teacher, the
type of wealthy woman among the colored, why the well-to-do Negroes did
not support the settlement themselves. No such question is asked when we
demand money for work among the Italians or the Jews, who have
incomparably larger means. Indeed, one may question whether the Negro is
not too generous for the materialistic city of New York, whether his
successes would not be greater were he niggardly toward himself and
others. He lives well, dresses well, enjoys a good play, strives to give
every advantage to his children, helps the poor of his race. To hold his
own today in this civilization, he needs to be taught to seek first
riches, waiting until much treasure has been laid up before he allows
philanthropy to draw upon his bank account.

The traveller to the British West Indies finds three divisions among the
inhabitants, white, colored, and black, each group having a distinct
social status. In the United States, on the other hand, there are but
two groups, white and colored, or as the latter is now more frequently
designated, Negro, the term thus losing its original meaning, and
becoming a designation for a race. But while the white race usually
makes no social distinction between the light and the dark Negro,
classing all alike, social lines are drawn within the color line. Years
ago these were more common than they are now. Charles W. Chesnutt, the
novelist, tells some amusing and pathetic stories of distinctions
between colored and black. One of his mulatto heroes, upon finding, as
he thinks, that the congressman who is to call upon his daughter is a
jet black Negro instead of the mulatto he was supposed to be, to prevent
a breach of hospitality, invents a case of diphtheria in the family
and quarantines the house, only to learn later, to his intense
mortification, that he has committed a mistake of identification, and
that the congressman is light after all. But this story belongs with the
last generation. Black men, if they are distinguished citizens, can
enter any colored society, and they not infrequently marry light wives.
Success, a position of probity and importance, these are attributes that
count favorably for the suitor, and as they are quite as often in the
man of strong African lineage as in the mulatto, they gain the desired

Within this little colored world of a few thousand souls, a drop in the
city's human sea, there is great upheaval and turmoil. The North is the
Negro's centre for controversy regarding his rightful position in the
commonwealth; and in the large cities, in Boston and Chicago,
Philadelphia and New York, the battle rages. The little society is
often divided into hostile camps regarding party politics or the
acceptance of a government position that brings the suspicion of a
bribe. Political, economic, educational matters as they affect the black
race, these are the subjects that fill the mind of the thoughtful
colored man and woman.

In his "Souls of Black Folk," Dr. Du Bois describes the white man's
tactlessness when, as always, he approaches the Negro with a question
regarding his race. But the Negro, apart from his personal home
affairs, impresses the outsider as having little else as subject for
conversation. World politics, these concern him only as they affect the
race question. Australia is a country where the government excludes
Africans. England rules in South Africa and has lately recognized the
right of African disfranchisement. Germany in Africa is cruel to black
men. The Latin people know no color line. At home, the conflict of
capital and labor is important as the Negro wins or loses in the
economic struggle; the enfranchisement of woman is wise or unwise as it
would affect Negro enfranchisement, one colored thinker arguing against
it since it would double the white vote in the South where the Negro has
no political rights; literature is the poetry of Dunbar, the writing of
Washington and Du Bois, the literature of the Negro question, and art is
largely comprised in Tanner's paintings.

This picture should not imply that the colored people of means are
without the possibility of wide culture and sympathy. They are perhaps
more sympathetic by nature than the white people about them. But each
year, as the white American grows increasingly conscious of race, as he
argues on racial differences, the Negro feels his dark face, is
sensitive to every disdainful look, and separates himself from the
people about him and their problems.

There is a struggle against this. The majority of white people have
heard, in a vague way, that there is a difference of opinion in the
Negro world; and again, vaguely, that it takes the form of opposition to
Dr. Booker T. Washington and industrial training. But the difference of
opinion among the Negroes is a difference of ideals, and reaches far
beyond the controversy of industrial or cultural training, or the
question of individual leadership. It is difficult to formulate,
inasmuch as few, if any, Negroes hold logically to one ideal wholly to
the exclusion of the other. They cannot be logical and live. But their
division into radical and conservative is too important to omit;
especially since, as we have seen, there is nothing in their social life
to distinguish them from their neighbors; only in their thoughts are
they aloof from us--aliens upon whose shoulders is the problem of a

How can one explain these two ideals? Roughly, they accept or reject
segregation. The first looks upon the black man in America, for many
generations at least, as a race apart. Recognizing this, the race must
increasingly grow in self-efficiency. It must run its own businesses,
own its banks, its groceries, its restaurants, have its dressmakers,
milliners, tailors; it must establish factories where it shall employ
only colored men and women; its children shall be brought into the
world by colored doctors, taught by colored teachers, buried by colored
undertakers. Education, along industrial lines, shall help train the
worker to this efficiency, and a proper race pride shall give him the
patronage of the Negroes about him. When, as will of course happen in
the majority of cases, the Negro works for the white man, he must
consider himself and his race. He must not go out on strike when the
white man strives for higher wages; he is justified, if he is willing to
risk a broken head, in filling the place of the striking workman, for he
has to look after his own concerns.

The second point of view resists segregation. It believes that the Negro
should never cease to struggle against being treated as a race apart,
that he should demand the privileges of a citizen, free access to all
public institutions, full civil and political rights. As a workman, he
should have the opportunity of other workmen, his training should be the
training of his white neighbor, and in business and the professions he
should strive to serve white as well as black. And just as in the
battle-field he fights in a common cause with his white comrade, so in
the struggle for better working class conditions he should stand by the
side of the laborer, regardless of race. Believing these things and
finding that America fails to meet his demands, he thinks it should be
his part to struggle for his ideal, vigorously to protest against
discrimination, and never, complacent, to submit to the position of

As I have said, few men hold logically to either of these ideals, and as
that of acquiescence to present conditions is naturally popular with the
whites, who are themselves responsible for discrimination, material
success sometimes means a departure from the aggressive to the
submissive attitude. However, the whole question of the Negro as a wage
earner is yet scarcely understood by this small professional and
business class. They are in turmoil, in a virile struggle, harsh,
bewildering, baffling.

"I cannot conceive what it would mean not to be a Negro," a prominent
New York colored man once said to me. "The white people think and feel
so little; their life lacks an absorbing interest."

This is the characteristic fact of the life of the well-to-do Negro in
New York. He is not permitted to go through the city streets in easy
comfort of body or mind. Some personal rebuff, some harsh word in
newspaper or magazine, quickens his pulse and rouses him from the
lethargy that often overtakes his comfortable white neighbor. Looking
into the past of slavery, watching the coming generation, the most
careless of heart is forced into serious questioning. A comfortable
income and the intelligence to enjoy the culture of a great city do not
bring to the Negro any smug self-satisfaction; only a greater
responsibility toward the problem that moves through the world with his
dark face.

Before turning to our last topic, the Negro and the Municipality, we
ought to note two further characteristics of the Negro in New York.

There are certain statistics quoted by every writer upon the Negro,
statistics of mortality and crime. We have noted these for the child,
but not as yet for the Negroes as a whole. They have been left until
this point in our study that we may view them in relation to what we
have learned of the Negro's economic condition and his environment.

Looking for criminal statistics first, we find them difficult to obtain
in New York. The courts' reports do not classify by color, but we can
learn something from the census enumeration of 1904 of the prisoners in
the New York County Penitentiary and the New York County Workhouse.
These are short term offenders sent up from the city of New York. The
enumeration is as follows:


         | Total  | Males | Females | Per cent | Per cent
         |        |       |         |   Total  |  Females
 White   |   582  |  533  |    49   |   91.8   |   8.4
 Colored |    52  |   33  |    19   |    8.2   |  36.5


 White   |  1126  |  870  |   256   |   96.5   |  22.7
 Colored |    41  |   12  |    29   |    3.5   |  70.7

In view of the proportion of Negroes to whites in Manhattan, two per
cent, we find the percentage of colored prisoners high, but no higher
than we expect when we remember that the Negro occupies the lowest plane
in the industrial community, "the plane which everywhere supplies the
jail, the penitentiary, the gallows."[1] But the very large percentage
of crime among colored women calls for grave consideration. In the
workhouse, imprisoned for fighting, for drunkenness, for prostitution,
the colored women more than double in number the colored men. Here is a
condition that we noted in the Children's Court records: an unduly large
percentage of disorderly and depraved colored female offenders.

We have already touched upon the subject of morality among colored
women. Various causes, some of which we have noted, go to the making up
of this high percentage of crime. The Negroes themselves believe the
basic cause to be their recent enslavement with its attendant unstable
marriage and parental status. They point to the centuries of healthful
home relationships among Americans and Europeans, and contrast them
with the thousands upon thousands of yearly sales of slaves that but two
generations ago disrupted the Negro's attempts at family life. With this
heritage they believe that it is inevitable that numbers of their women
should be slow to recognize the sanctity of home and the importance of
feminine virtue.

The mortality figures for the New York Negro are more striking than the
figures for crime. In 1908 the death rate for whites in the city was
16.6 in every thousand; for colored (including Chinese), 28.9, almost
double the white rate. The Negroes' greatest excess over the white was
in tuberculosis, congenital debility, and venereal diseases as the table
on the following page shows.

The Negro's inherent weakness, his inability to resist disease, is a
favorite topic today with writers on the color question. A high
mortality is indeed a matter for grave concern, but we may question
whether these figures show inherent weakness. If a new disease attacks
any group of people, it causes terrible decimation, and tuberculosis and
venereal diseases, the white man's plagues, have proved terribly
destructive to the black man. But recalling the conditions under which
the great majority of the colored race lives in New York, the long hours
of labor, the crowded rooms, the insufficient food, we find abundant
cause for a high death rate. For poverty and death go hand in hand, and
the proportion of Negroes in New York who, live in great poverty far
exceeds the proportion of whites.[2]

            New York, 1908.        | White. | Colored.
 Number of deaths from all causes  |        |
  per 1000 population              |   16.6 |   28.9
 Number of deaths per 1000 deaths: |        |
   Tuberculosis                    |  136.  |  232.8
   Pneumonia                       |  126.  |  136.3
   Diarrhoea and enteritis         |   91.8 |   79.
   Bright's disease                |   78.3 |   56.5
   Heart disease                   |   76.7 |   83.4
   Cancer                          |   45.5 |   24.8
   Congenital debility             |   24.5 |   34.1
   Diphtheria and croup            |   23.7 |   15.
   Scarlet fever                   |   19.  |    3.2
   Typhoid                         |    7.3 |    6.9
   Venereal diseases               |    4.  |   13.4
 All others                        |  367.2 |  314.6
                                   | 1000.0 | 1000.0

The students at Hampton Institute sing an old plantation song that runs
like this:

 "If religion was a thing that money could buy,
 The rich would live and the poor would die.
 But my good Lord has fixed it so
 The rich and the poor together must go."

Some of our rich men seem to have fixed it with religion to escape from
the condition the poem describes, but it depicts a reality in the
Negro's life. Rich and poor, as we saw when we left our old New Yorkers,
competent and inefficient, pure and diseased, good and bad, all go
together. Much of the recent literature written by Negroes, and
especially that by Dr. Booker T. Washington, attempts to separate in the
minds of the community the thrifty and prosperous colored men from the
helpless and degraded; but the effort meets with a limited success. When
we can have a statistical study of some thousands of the well-to-do
Negroes compared with an equal number of well-to-do whites, we may find
striking similarity. From my own observations I find that the well-to-do
Negroes bear and rear children, refrain from committing crimes that put
them into jail, and live to an old age with the same success as their
white neighbors. But they get little credit for it. Willy-nilly, the
strong, intellectual Negro is linked to his unfortunate fellow. Whether
an increase in material prosperity will break this bond, or whether it
will continue until it ceases to be a bond as humanity comes into its
own, is a secret of the future. For today the song rings true, and the
rich and the poor go together.


[1] Quincy Ewing, "The Heart of the Race Problem," _Atlantic Monthly_,
March, 1909.

[2] The statistician, Mr. I. B. Rubinow, in a discussion of high death
rates (American Statistical Association, December, 1905) quotes the rate
in five agricultural districts in a province of Russia, districts
inhabited by peasantry of a common stock. With almost mathematical
certainty, prosperity brings longer life. He divides his peasants into
six groups showing their death rate as follows:

                         Death Rate
 Having no land             34.7
 Less than 13.5 acres       32.7
 13.5 to 40.5 acres         30.1
 40.5 to 67.5 acres         25.4
 67.5 acres to 135 acres    23.1
 More than 135 acres        19.2

Mr. Rubinow suggests that the high Negro death rate may be explained by
noting the poorly paid occupations in which the Negro engages.



A capricious mood, varying with the individual, considerate today and
offensive tomorrow, this, as far as our observations have led us, has
been New York's attitude toward the Negro. Is it possible to find any
principle underlying this shifting position? The city expresses itself
through the individual actions of its changing four millions of people,
but also through its government, its courts of justice, its manifold
public activities. Out of these various manifestations of the
community's spirit can we find a Negro policy? Has New York any
principle of conduct toward these her colored citizens? This question
should be worth our consideration, for New York's attitude means its
environmental influence, and helps determine for the newly arrived
immigrant and the growing generation whether justice or intolerance
shall mark their dealings with the black race.

The first matter of civic importance to the Negro, as to every other New
York resident, is his position in the commonwealth; is he a participant
in the government under which he lives, or a subject without political
rights? The law since 1873 has been explicit on this matter, wiping out
former property qualifications, and giving full manhood suffrage.
Probably, even with a much larger influx of colored people, the city
will never agitate this question again. Since the death of the
Know-nothing Party, New York has ceased any organized attempt to lessen
the power of the foreigner, and the growing cosmopolitan character of
the population strengthens the Negro in his rights. Only in those states
where the white population is homogeneous can Negro disfranchisement
successfully take place.

With the vote the Negro has entered into politics and has maintained
successful political organizations. The necessity of paying for rent and
food out of eight or ten dollars a week is the Negro's immediate issue
in New York, and he tries to meet it by securing a congenial and more
lucrative job. The city in 1910 showed some consideration for him in
this matter. An Assistant District Attorney and an Assistant Corporation
Counsel were colored, and scattered throughout the city departments were
nine clerks making from $1200 to $1800 apiece, and a dozen more acting
as messengers, inspectors, drivers, attendants, receiving salaries
averaging $1275. Three doctors served the Board of Health, and there
were six men on the police force (none given patrol duty), and one first
grade fireman, while the departments of docks, parks, street cleaning,
and water supply employed 470 colored laborers. Altogether 511 colored
men figure among the city's employees.[1]

In her communal gifts the city acts toward the Negro with a fair degree
of impartiality. At the public schools and libraries, the parks and
playgrounds, the baths, hospitals, and, last, the almshouse, the blacks
have equal rights with the whites. Occasionally individual public
servants show color prejudice, but again, occasionally, especial
kindness attends the black child. The rude treatment awaiting them,
however, from other visitors keeps many Negro children, and men and
women, from enjoying the city's benefactions. Particularly is this true
with the public baths and with some of the playgrounds. The employment
by the city of at least one colored official in every neighborhood where
the Negroes are in great numbers would do much to remedy this condition.

One department of the city might be cited as having been an exception to
the rule of reasonably fair treatment to the colored man. Harshness, for
no cause but his black face, has been too frequently bestowed upon the
Negro by the police. This has been especially noticeable in conflicts
between white and colored, when the white officer, instead of dealing
impartially with offenders, protected his own race.

There have been two conflicts between the whites and Negroes in New York
in recent years, the first in 1900, on the West Side, in the forties,
the second in 1905, on San Juan Hill. Each riot was local, representing
no wide-spread excitement comparable to the draft riots of 1863, and in
each case the police might easily in the beginning have stopped all
fighting. Instead, they showed themselves ready to aid, even to
instigate the conflict.

The riot of 1900 was caused by the death of a policeman at the hands of
a Negro. The black man declared that he was defending his life, but the
officer was popular, and after his funeral riots began. Black men ran to
the police for protection, and were thrown back by them into the hands
of the mob.[2]

The riot of 1905 commenced on San Juan Hill one Friday evening in July
with a fracas between a colored boy and a white peddler; both races took
a hand in the matter until the side streets showed a rough scrambling
fight. Saturday and Sunday were comparatively quiet; men, black and
white, stood on street corners and scowled at one another, but nothing
further need have occurred, had each race been treated with justice.
The police, however, instead of keeping the peace, angered the Negroes,
urged on their enemies, and by Monday night found that they had helped
create a riot, this time bitter and dangerous. Overzealous to proceed
against the "niggers," officers rushed into places frequented by
peaceable colored men, whom they placed under arrest. Dragging their
victims to the station-house they beat them so unmercifully that before
long many needed to be handed over to another city department--the
hospital. Little question was made as to guilt or innocence, and some of
the worst offenders, colored as well as white, were never brought to
justice.[3] "If," as a colored preacher whose church was the centre of
the storm district pointed out, "the police would only differentiate
between the good and the bad Negroes, and not knock on the head every
colored man they saw in a riot, we should be quite satisfied. As it is,
there is no safety for any Negro in this part of the city at any

The result of these two riots was the bringing to justice of one
policeman and the placing of a humane and tactful captain on San Juan
Hill. But for some time the colored man felt little protection in the
Department of Police, finding that he was liable to arrest and clubbing
for a trivial offence. Often the officer's club fell with cruel force.
This, however, was before the administration of Mayor Gaynor, who has
commanded humane treatment, and the brutal clubbing of the New York
Negro has now ceased.

From the police one turns naturally to the courts. What is their
attitude toward the Negro offender? Is there any race prejudice, or do
black and white enjoy an impartial and judicial hearing?

As the Negro comes before the magistrates of the city courts, he learns
to know that judges differ greatly in their conceptions of justice. To
the Southerner, let us say from Richmond, where the black man is
arrested for small offences and treated with considerable roughness and
harshness, New York courts seem lenient.[5] To the West Indian,
accustomed to British rule, justice in New York is noticeable for its
variability, the likelihood that if it is severe tonight, it will be
generous tomorrow.

"Three months," the listener at court hears given as sentence to a
respectable-looking colored servant girl who has begged to be allowed to
return to her place which she has held for five years. "I never was up
for drinking before," she pleads; "I have learnt my lesson; please give
me a chance; I will not do this again."

"What should you two be fighting for?" another judge, another morning,
says to two very battered women, one white and one colored, who come
before him in court. And talking kindly to both, but with greater
seriousness to the Irish offender, his own countrywoman, he sends them
away with a reprimand.

How much of this unequal treatment comes from color prejudice or
caprice or temperament, the Negro is unable to decide, but he soon
learns one curious fact: while his black skin marks him as inheriting
Republican politics, it is the Democratic magistrate, the Tammany
henchman whose name is a byword to the righteous, who is the more
lenient when he has committed a trifling offence.

"Didn't I play craps with the nigger boys when I was a kid?" one of
these well-known politicians says, "and am I going back on the poor
fellows now?" Of course, the Negro is assured such men only want his
vote, but he believes real sympathy actuates the Tammany leader, who is
too busy to bother whether the man before him is black or white. The
reformer, on the other hand, big with dignity, at times makes him vastly
uncomfortable as he lectures upon the Negro problem from the eminence of
the superior race.

But whether Republican or Democrat, the Negro learns that it is well to
have a friend at court; that helplessness is the worst of all
disabilities, worse than darkness of skin or poverty. So he soon
becomes acquainted with his local politician, and if his friend is in
trouble, or his wife or son is locked up, pounds vigorously at the
politician's door. It may be midnight, but the man of power will dress,
and together they will turn from the dark tenement hall into the lighted
street and on to the police-station or magistrate's court to seek
release for the offender. That too often the gravity of the offence
weighs little in the securing of lenient treatment is part of the muddle
of New York justice. The Negro finds that he has taken the most direct
way to secure relief.

As far as we have followed, we have found the municipality of New York
generally ready to treat her black citizens with the same justice or
injustice with which she treats her whites. Exceptions occur, but she
does not often draw the color line. Perhaps, in this connection, it
might be well to stop a moment and see what return the black man makes,
whether by his vote he helps secure to the city honest and efficient

Walking through a Negro quarter on election day, the most careful
search fails to reveal any such far-sighted altruism. With a great
majority of colored voters the choice of a municipal candidate is based
on the argument of a two-dollar bill or the promise of a job, combined
with the sentiment, decreasing every year, for the Republican Party--the
party that once helped the colored man and, he hopes, may help him
again. The public standing of the mayoralty candidate, his ability to
choose wise heads of departments, the building of new subways, the
ownership of public utilities, these are unimportant issues. The matter
of immediate moment is what this vote is going to mean to the black
voter himself.

Such a selfish and unpatriotic attitude, not unknown perhaps to white
voters, leads some of our writers and reformers to doubt the value of
universal manhood suffrage. Mr. Ray Stannard Baker tells us that the
Negro and the poor white in New York, through their venality, are
practically without a vote. "While the South is disfranchising by
legislation," he says, "the North is doing it by cash." "What else is
the meaning of Tammany Hall and the boss and machine system in other
cities?"[6] New York's noted ethical culture teacher argues against
agitation for woman's suffrage on the ground that so many of those who
now have the vote do not know how to use it. But looking closely at
these unaltruistic citizens, we see that after all they are putting the
ballot to its primary use, the protection of their own interests. The
Negro in New York has one vital need, steady, decent work. He dickers
and plays with politics to get as much of this as he can. It is very
insufficient relief for an intolerable situation, but it is partial
relief. In another city, Atlanta for instance, he might find education
the most important civic gift for which to strive. Atlanta is a
fortunate city to choose for an example of the power of the suffrage,
for since the Negro's loss of the vote in Georgia, educational funds
have been turned chiefly to white schools, and 5,000 colored children
are without opportunities for public education. 1885 saw the last school
building erected for Negroes, the result of a bargain between the
colored voters and the prohibitionists.[7] Should a colored teacher in
New York be refused her certificate, a colored consumptive be denied a
place in the city's hospital, a colored child meet with a rebuff in the
city park, the colored citizen would find his vote an important means
of redress. Then, too, while there are so many men to buy, it is
important to have a vote to sell, lest the other citizens secure the
morning's bargains. Venality in high and low places will not disappear
until we are dominated by the ideal of social, not individual
advancement. Before that time, it is well for the weak that they are
able, at least in the political field, to bargain with the strong.

The importance to the Negro of the vote is quickly appreciated when we
consider New York's attitude unofficially expressed. With the franchise
behind him the colored man can secure for himself and his children the
municipality's advantages of education, health, amusement, philanthropy.
He is here a citizen, a contributor to the city treasury, if not
directly as a taxpayer, as a worker and renter. But as a private
individual, seeking to use the utilities managed by other private
individuals, he continually encounters race discrimination. Private
doors are closed, and were the state not so wealthy and generous,
disabilities still graver than at present would follow.

A few examples will show the condition. A Negro applies by letter for
admission to an automobile school, and is accepted; but on appearing
with his fee his color debars his entrance. Carrying the case to court,
the complaint is dismissed on the ground that the law which forbade
exclusion from places of education on account of race and color is
applicable only to public schools. Private institutions may do as they

Again, a colored man tries to get a meal. At the first restaurant he is
told that all the tables are engaged; at the next no one will serve him.
Fearful of further rebuffs, he has to turn to the counter of a railway
station. He wants to go to the theatre. Like Tommy Atkins, he is sent to
the gallery or round the music halls. The white barber whose shop he
enters will not shave him; and when night comes, he searches a long time
before the hotel appears that will give him a bed. The sensitive man,
still more the sensitive woman, often finds the city's attitude
difficult to endure.

American Negroes have become familiar with racial lines, but the
foreigner of African descent, a visitor to the city, meets with rebuffs
that fill him with surprise as well as rage. Haytians and South
Americans, men of continental education and wide culture, have been
ordered away as "niggers" from restaurant doors, and at the box office
of the theatre refused an orchestra seat. English Negroes from the West
Indies, men and women of character and means, learn that New York is a
spot to be avoided, and cross the ocean when they wish to taste of city
life. In short, the stranger of Negro descent, if he be rash of temper,
hurls anathemas at the villainously mannered Americans; or, if he be
good-natured, shrugs his shoulders and counts New York a provincial
settlement of four million people.

Northern Negroes believe this discrimination in public places against
the black man to be increasing in New York. One, who came here fifteen
years ago, tells of the simple and adequate test by which he learned
that he had reached the northern city. Born in South Carolina, as he
attained manhood he desired larger self-expression, broader human
relations--he wanted "to be free," as he again and again expressed it.
So leaving the cotton fields he started one morning to walk to New York.
After a number of days he entered a large city and, uncertain in his
geography, decided that this was his journey's end. "I'll be free here,"
he thought, and opening the door of a brightly lighted restaurant
started to walk in. The white men at the tables looked up in
astonishment, and the proprietor, laying his hand on the youth's
shoulder, invited him, in strong southern accent, to go into the
kitchen. "I reckon I'm not North yet," the Negro said, smiling a bright,
boyish smile. Interested in his visitor's appearance, the proprietor
took him into another room, gave him a good supper, and talked with him
far into the night, urging the advantages of his staying in the South.
But the youth shook his head, and the next morning trudged on. At length
he reached a rushing city, tumultuous with humanity, and entering an
eating-house was served a meal. To him it was almost a sacrament. He
belonged not to a race but to humanity. He tasted the freedom of
passing unnoticed. But it is doubtful if the same restaurant would serve
him today.

Color lines, on these matters of entertainment as on others, are not
hard and fast. A few hotels, chiefly those frequented by Latin people,
receive colored guests; and while the foreign Negro meets with rudeness,
he is rebuffed less than the native. "I can't get into that place as a
southern darky," a black man laughingly says, pointing to a fashionable
restaurant, "I'll be the Prince of Abyssinia." But as Prince or American
his status is shifting and uncertain; here, preeminently, he is half a

Discrimination against any man because of his color is contrary to the
law of the state. After the fifteenth amendment became a law, New York
passed a civil rights bill, which as it stands, re-enacted in 1909, is
very explicit. All persons within the jurisdiction of the state are
entitled to the accommodation of hotels, restaurants, theatres, music
halls, barbers' shops, and any person refusing such accommodation is
subject to civil and penal action. The offence may be punished by fine
or imprisonment or both.[8]

In 1888, the attempt to exclude three colored men from a skating-rink at
Binghamton, N. Y., led to a suit against the owner of the rink, and his
conviction. The case[9] reached the Court of Appeals, where the
constitutionality of the civil rights bill was upheld. "It is evident,"
said Justice Andrews in his decision, "that to exclude colored people
from places of public resort on account of their race is to fix upon
them a brand of inferiority, and tends to fix their position as a
servile and dependent people."

But despite the law and precedent, the civil rights bill is violated in
New York. Occasionally colored men bring suit, but the magistrate
dismisses the complaint. Usually the evidence is declared insufficient.
A case of a colored man refused orchestra seats at a theatre is
dismissed on the ground that not the proprietor but his employees turned
the man away. A keeper of an ice-cream parlor, wishing to prevent the
colored man from patronizing him, charges a Negro a dollar for a
ten-cent plate. The customer pays the dollar, keeps the check, and
brings the case to court. Ice-cream parlors are then declared not to
come under the list of places of public entertainment and amusement. A
bootblack refuses to polish the shoes of a Negro, and the court decides
that a bootblack-stand is not a place of public accommodation, and
refusal to shine the shoes of a colored man does not subject its
proprietor to the penalties imposed by the law.[10] This last case was
carried to the Court of Appeals, and the adverse judgment has led many
of the thoughtful colored men of the city to doubt the value of
attempting to push a civil rights suit. Litigation is expensive, and
money spent in any personal rights case that attacks private business,
whether the plaintiff be white or colored, is usually wasted. The civil
rights law is on the books, and the psychological moment may arrive to
insist successfully on its enforcement.

If there is an increase in discrimination against the Negro in New York
solely because of his color, it is a serious matter to the city as well
as to the race. Every community has its social conscience built up of
slowly accumulated experiences, and it cannot without disaster lose its
ideal of justice or generosity. New York has never been tender to its
people, but it has a rough hospitality, what Stevenson describes as
"uncivil kindness," and welcomes new-comers with a friendly shove,
bidding them become good Americans. After the war, the Negro entered
more than formerly into this general welcome. He was unnoticed, allowed
to go his way without questioning word or stare, the position which
every right-minded man and woman desires. But today New York has become
conscious that he is dark-skinned, and her attitude affects her growing
children. "I never noticed colored people," an old abolitionist said to
me, "I never realized there were white and black until, when a boy of
twelve, I entered a church and found Negroes occupying seats alone in
the gallery." As New York returns to the gallery seats, her boys and
girls return to consciousness of color and, from fisticuffs at school,
move on to the race riots upon the streets with bullets among the

The municipality, as we have seen, treats the Negro on the whole with
justice; its standard is higher than the standard of the average
citizen. It cherishes the ideal of democracy, and strives for
impartiality toward its many nationalities and races. And the New York
Negro in his turn does not allow his liberties to be tampered with
without protest. But the New York citizen can hardly be described as
friendly to the Negro. What catholicity he has is negative. He fails to
give the black man a hearty welcome. "Do you know where I stayed the
four weeks of my first trip abroad?" a colored clergyman once asked me.
I refused to make a guess. "Well," he said a little shamefacedly, "it
was in Paris. Paris may be a wicked city--any city has wickedness if you
want to look for it--but I found it a place of kindliness and good-will.
Every one seemed glad to be courteous, to assist me in my stumbling
French, to show me the way on omnibus or boat, or through the difficult
streets. It was so different from America; I was never wanted in the
southern city of my youth. In Paris I was welcome."

"How is it in New York?" I asked.

"In New York?" He stopped to consider. "In New York I am tolerated."


[1] The total number of municipal employees is 55,006--Negro employees,
511--Percentage of Negro to whole, 0.9.

[2] "Story of the Riot," published by Citizens Protective League.

[3] New York _Age_, July 27, 1905.

[4] New York _Tribune_, July 24, 1905.

[5] A southern student says, "The Negro in Richmond is arrested for
small offences and fined in the city courts. He is treated with
considerable roughness and harshness in his punishment for these
offences. It looks as though he were being imposed upon as an individual
of the lower strata of society. But the Negro responds so impulsively to
what appeals, that constant fear, dread, and impressiveness of the
police act well as resistants to temptations."

[6] Ray Stannard Baker, "Following the Color Line," p. 269.

[7] The following story of Athens, Georgia, told by a Northerner
teaching in the South, illustrates this point. "The city of Athens was
planning to inaugurate a public school system, and also wished to 'go
dry.' It made a proposal to the colored voters promising that if their
combined vote would carry the city, two schools should be built, of
equal size and similar structure for each race. I visited Athens shortly
after the two buildings were built, and I found two beautiful brick
buildings very similar in all their appointments. At an interval of
several years I again visited the little city and again spent an hour in
the same brick school-house of the colored folk.

"At my third visit, I found my colored friends occupying a wooden
structure on the edge of the city, and not only inconveniently located,
but much less of a building than the one hitherto occupied. Upon inquiry
I found that in the growth of the school population of the whites, it
was cheaper to seize the building formerly occupied by the colored
children, and to build for them a cheap wooden structure on the
outskirts of the town.

"The colored school was still occupying this inadequate building at my
visit this last September, 1909. A second wooden structure has been
added to the colored equipment on the east side of the town."

This story of the Athenians well illustrates what will be done when the
Negro counts for something politically, and also what may be undone if
his value as a political asset is reduced.

[8] Civil Rights Law, State of New York. Chapter 14 of the Laws of
1909, being Chapter 6 of the Consolidated Laws.

"Article 4.--Equal rights in places of public amusement.

"Section 40.--All persons within the jurisdiction of this state shall be
entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities,
and privileges of inns, restaurants, hotels, eating houses, bath houses,
barber shops, theatres, music halls, public conveyances on land and
water, and all other places of public accommodation or amusement,
subject only to the conditions and limitations, established by the law
and applicable alike to all citizens.

"Section 41.--Penalty for violation. Any person who shall violate any of
the provisions of the foregoing section by denying to any citizen,
except for reasons applicable alike to all citizens of every race, creed
and color, and regardless of race, creed and color, the full enjoyment
of any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges in
said section enumerated, or by aiding or inciting such denial, shall,
for every such offence, forfeit and pay a sum not less than one hundred
dollars nor more than five hundred dollars to the person aggrieved
thereby, to be recovered in a court of competent jurisdiction in the
County where said offence was committed, and shall also, for every such
offence, be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof
shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five
hundred dollars, or shall be imprisoned not less than thirty days nor
more than ninety days, or both such fine and imprisonment."

[9] People _vs._ King, 110 N. Y., 418, 1888.

[10] Burke _vs._ Bosso, 180 N. Y., 341, 1905.



A new little boy came two years ago into our story-book world. When Miss
North, taking Ezekiel by the hand, led him into her school-room,[1] we
met a child full of what we call temperament; dreaming quaint stories,
innocently friendly, anxious to please for affection's sake, in his
queer, unconscious way something of a genius. We saw his big musing eyes
looking out upon a world in which his teacher stood serene and
reasoning, but a little cold like her name; his friend, Miss Jane, kind
and very practical; his employer, Mr. Rankin, amused and contemptuous;
all watching him with the impersonal interest with which one might view
a new species in the animal world. For Ezekiel, unlike our other
story-book boys, had a double being, he was first Ezekiel Jordan, a
little black boy, and second, a Representative of the Negro Race.

Ezekiel was too young to understand his position, but the white world
about him never forgot it. When he arrived late to school, he was a
dilatory representative; when, obliging little soul, he promised three
people to weed their gardens all the same afternoon, he was a
prevaricating representative. He never happened to steal ice-cream from
the hoky-poky man or to play hookey, but if he had, he would have been a
thieving and lazy representative. Always he was something remote and
overwhelming, not a natural growing boy.

Ezekiel's position is that of each Negro child and man and woman in the
United States today. I think we have seen this as we have reviewed the
position of the race in New York; indeed, the very fact of our
attempting such a review is patent that we see and feel it. We white
Americans do not generalize concerning ourselves, we individualize,
leaving generalizations to the chance visitor, but we generalize
continually concerning colored Americans; we classify and measure and
pass judgment, a little more with each succeeding year.

Now if we are going to do this, let us be fair; let us try as much as
possible to dismiss prejudice, and to look at the Ezekiels entering our
school of life, with the same impartiality and the same understanding
sympathy with which we look upon our own race. And if we are to place
them side by side with the whites, let us be impartial, not cheating
them out of their hard-earned credits, or condemning them with undue
severity. Let us try, if we can, to be just.

When we begin to make this effort to judge fairly our colored world, we
need to remember especially two things: First, that we cannot yet
measure with any accuracy the capability of the colored man in the
United States, because he has not yet been given the opportunity to show
his capability. If we deny full expression to a race, if we restrict its
education, stifle its intellectual and æsthetic impulses, we make it
impossible fairly to gauge its ability. Under these circumstances to
measure its achievements with the more favored white race is
unreasonable and unjust, as unreasonable as to measure against a man's
a disfranchised woman's capabilities in directing the affairs of a

The second thing is difficult for us to remember, difficult for us at
first to believe; that we, dominant, ruling Americans, may not be the
persons best fitted to judge the Negro. We feel confident that we are,
since we have known him so long and are so familiar with his
peculiarities; but in moments of earnest reflection may it not occur to
us that we have not the desire or the imagination to enter into the life
emotions of others? "We are the intellect and virtue of the airth, the
cream of human natur', and the flower of moral force," Hannibal Chollup
still says, and glowers at the stranger who dares to suggest a different
standard from his own. Hannibal Chollup and his ilk are ill-fitted to
measure the refinements of feeling, the differences in ideals among

This question of our fitness to sit in the judgment seat must come with
grave insistence when we read carefully the literature published in this
city of New York within the past two years. Our writers have assumed
such pomposity, have so revelled in what Mr. Chesterton calls "the
magnificent buttering of one's self all over with the same stale butter;
the big defiance of small enemies," as to make their conclusions
ridiculous. Ezekiel entering their school is at once pushed to the
bottom of the class, while the white boy at the head, Hannibal Chollup's
descendant, sings a jubilate of his own and butters himself so copiously
as to be as shiny as his English cousin, Wackford Squeers. Then the
writer, the judge, begins. Ezekiel is shown as the incorrigible boy of
the school. He is a lazy, good-for-nothing vagabond. Favored with the
chance to exercise his muscles twelve hours a day for a disinterested
employer, he fails to appreciate his opportunity. He is diseased,
degenerate. His sisters are without chastity, every one, polluting the
good, pure white men about them. He is a rapist, and it is his criminal
tendencies that are degrading America. The pale-faced ones of his family
steal into white society, marry, and insinuate grasping, avaricious
tendencies into the noble, generous men of white blood, causing them to
cheat in business and to practise political corruption. In short there
is nothing evil that Ezekiel is not at the bottom of. Sometimes, poor
little chap, he tries to sniffle out a word, to say that his family is
doing well, that he has an uncle who is buying a home, and a rich cousin
in the undertaking business, but such extenuating circumstances receive
scant attention, and we are not surprised to find, the class dismissed,
that Ezekiel and the millions whom he represents, are swiftly shuffled
off the earth, victims of "disease, vice, and profound discouragement."

Now this is not an exaggerated picture of much that has recently been
printed in newspaper and magazine, and does it not make us feel the
paradox that if we are to judge the Negro fairly, we must not judge him
at all, so little are we temperamentally capable of meeting the first

"My brother Saxons," says Matthew Arnold, "have a terrible way with them
of wanting to improve everything but themselves off the face of the
earth." And he adds, "I have no such passion for finding nothing but
myself everywhere." Among our American writers a few, like Arnold, do
not care to find only themselves everywhere, and these have told us a
different story of the American Negro. They are poets and writers of
fiction, men and women who are happy in meeting and appreciating
different types of human beings.[3] If these writers were to instruct
us, they would say that we must individualize more when we think of the
black people about us, must differentiate. That, too, we must remember
that when we pass judgment, we need to know whether our own standard is
the best, whether we may not have something to learn from the standards
of others. Supposing Ezekiel is deliberate and slow to make changes or
to take risks; are we who are "acceleration mad," who acquire heart
disease hustling to catch trains, who mortgage our farms to buy
automobiles, who seek continually new sensations, really better than he?
Is it not a matter of difference, just as we may each place in different
order our desires, the one choosing struggle for power and the
accumulation of wealth, the other preferring serenity and pleasure in
the immediate present? And lastly, after having praised our own virtues
and our own ideals, must we not beware that we do not blame the Negro
when he adopts them, that we do not turn upon him and fiercely demand
only servile virtues, the virtues that make him useful not to himself
but to us?[4]

No one can talk for long of the Negro in America without propounding the
all-embracing question, What will become of him, what will be the
outcome of all this racial controversy? It is a daring person who
attempts to answer. We, who have studied the Negro in New York, may
perhaps venture to predict a little regarding his future in this city,
his possible status in the later years of the century; whether he will
lose in opportunity and social position, or whether he will advance in
his struggle to be a man.

Looking upon the great population of the city, its varied races and
nationalities, I confess that his outlook to me begins to be bright. New
York is still to a quite remarkable extent dominated socially by its old
American stock, its Dutch and Anglo-Saxon element. Few things strike the
foreign visitor so forcibly as that despite its enormous European
population, American society is homogeneous. But this is not likely to
continue for very long. When the present demand for exhausting
self-supporting work becomes less insistent, we shall feel in a deeper,
more vital way the influence of our vast foreign life. With a million
Jews and nearly a million Latin people, we cannot for long be held in
the provincialism of to-day. I suspect that to many Europeans New York
seems still a great overgrown village in "a nation of villagers,"
pronouncing with narrow, dogmatic assurance upon the deep unsolved
problems of life. But in the future it may take on a larger, more
cosmopolitan spirit. Its Italians may bring a finer feeling for beauty
and wholesome gayety, its Jews may continue to add great intellectual
achievements, and its people of African descent, perhaps always few in
number, may show with happy spontaneity their best and highest gifts. If
New York really becomes a cosmopolitan city, let us believe the Negro
will bring to it his highest genius and will walk through it simply,
quietly, unnoticed, a man among men.


[1] Lucy Pratt, "Ezekiel."

[2] "The world of modern intellectual life is in reality a white man's
world. Few women and perhaps no blacks have entered this world in the
fullest sense. To enter it in the fullest sense would be to be in it at
every moment from the time of birth to the time of death, and to absorb
it unconsciously and consciously, as the child absorbs language. When
something like this happens we shall be in a position to judge of the
mental efficiency of women and the lower races. At present we seem
justified in inferring that the differences in mental expression between
the higher and lower races and between men and women are no greater than
they should be in view of the existing differences in opportunity." W.
I. Thomas, "Sex and Society," p. 312.

[3] Note especially the stories of Alice MacGowan and Grace MacGowan
Cooke, and the poems of Rosalie M. Jonas.

[4] Careful readers of economic Negro studies by white writers will
notice this tendency to look upon the Negro as belonging to a servile
class. Emphasis is laid upon his responsibilities to the white man, not
upon the white man's responsibilities to him. Any one familiar with the
sympathetic attitude toward the workers in such a study as the
_Pittsburg Survey_ will notice at once the difference in attitude in
Negro surveys by whites, the slight emphasis laid upon the black
laborers' long hours and poor pay, and the failure to emphasize the
white man's responsibility. Negro laborers are still studied from the
viewpoint of the capitalist. There is one notable exception to this, the
study by the governor of Jamaica, Sir Sidney Olivier, on "White Capital
and Coloured Labor."


The federal census in 1900 contained a volume on the Negro in the United
States, a source of information quoted by nearly every writer on the
American Negro. The tables in that volume, however, do not classify by
cities, and any one desiring information regarding the Negro in some
especial city must search through other volumes. As this is a lengthy
task, I am affixing a list of the tables in the census of 1900, treating
of the Negro in New York City, believing that it may also be a guide to
students of the new census of 1910, who wish to find New York Negro

     Population. Vol. I, Part I. Published 1901.

     Page 868, Table 57. Aggregate, white, and colored population
     distributed according to native or foreign parentage, for cities
     having 25,000 inhabitants or more: 1900.

     Page 934, Table 81. Total males twenty-one years of age and over,
     classified by general nativity, color, and literacy, for cities
     having 25,000 inhabitants or more: 1900.

     Vol. II. Published 1902.

     Page 163, Table 19. Persons of school age, five to twenty years,
     inclusive, by general nativity and color, for cities having 25,000
     inhabitants or more: 1900. Also, pages 165 and 167, Tables 20 and

     Page 332, Table 32. Conjugal condition of the aggregate population,
     classified by sex, general nativity, color, and age periods, for
     cities having 100,000 inhabitants or more: 1900.

     Page 397, Table 54. Negro persons attending school during the
     census year, classified by sex and age periods, for cities having
     25,000 inhabitants or more: 1900.

     Page 737, Table 111. Persons owning and hiring their homes,
     classified by color, for cities having 100,000 inhabitants or more:

     Vital Statistics. Vol. III. Published 1902.

     Page 458, Table 19. Population, births, deaths, and death rates at
     certain ages, and deaths from certain causes, by sex, color,
     general nativity, and parent nativity: census year 1900.

     Occupations. Published 1904.

     Pages 634 to 642, Table 43. Total males and females, ten years of
     age and over, engaged in selected groups of occupations, classified
     by general nativity, color, conjugal condition, months unemployed,
     age periods, and parentage, for cities having 50,000 inhabitants or
     more: 1900.

     Supplementary Analysis. Published 1906.

     Page 262, Table 87. Per cent Negro in total population, 1900, 1890,
     and 1880, per cent male and female in Negro population, per cent
     illiterate in Negro population at least ten years of age, and among
     negro males of voting age, and per 10,000 distribution of Negro
     population by age periods.

     Women at Work. Published 1907.

     Page 146, Table 9. Number and percentage of breadwinners in female
     population, sixteen years of age and over, classified by race and
     nativity, for cities having at least 50,000 inhabitants: 1900.

     Pages 147 to 151, Table 10. Number and percentage of breadwinners
     in the female population, sixteen years and over, classified by
     age, race, and nativity.

     Pages 266 to 275, Table 28. Female breadwinners, sixteen years of
     age and over, classified by family relationship, and by race,
     nativity, marital condition, and occupation, for selected cities:

     Pages 354 to 365, Table 29. Female breadwinners, sixteen years of
     age and over, living at home, classified by the number of other
     breadwinners in the family, and by race, nativity, marital
     condition, and occupation, for selected cities: 1900.

     Mortality Statistics. Published 1908.

     Page 28. Number of deaths from all causes per 1,000 of population.

     Page 376, Table 2. Deaths in each registration area, by age: 1908.

     Pages 566 to 568, Table 8. Deaths in each city having 100,000
     population or over in 1900, from certain causes and classes of
     causes, by age: 1908.


 Aldridge, Ira, 137.

 Amalgamation, 168.

 Andrews, Charles, civil rights of Negroes, 214.

 Andrews, Chas. C., on education, 14;
   on industrial opportunity, 27.

 Archer, William, 172.

 Arnold, Matthew, 224.

 Arthur, Chester A., 23.

 Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, 159.

 Athens, Ga., 207.

 Atlanta, Negroes in occupations in, 77, 91, 93;
   proportion of Negro women to men in, 148;
   suffrage in, 206.

 Baker, Ray Stannard, on suffrage, 205.

 Benefit societies, 175.

 Birthplaces, 35.

 Boese, Thomas, 15.

 Brokers, real estate, 45, 108.

 Brown, William, 14.

 Bulkley, W. L., 161.

 Burke _v._ Bosso, 215.

 Burleigh, Harry, 126.

 Businesses, 106-112.

 Cahill, Marie, 133.

 Charity Organization Society, 158.

 Chesnutt, Charles W., 181.

 Chesterton, Gilbert K., 222.

   Baptist, 20, 116, 123;
   Catholic, 116;
   Congregational, 20;
   Episcopal, 20, 113, 116, 120;
   Methodist, 20, 116.

 City and Suburban Homes, 41.

 Civil rights:
   state bill, 213;
   violations of, 209, 210.

 Clarkson, Thomas, 32.

 Cleveland, Grover, 17.

 Clinton, De Witt, 14.

 Cole and Johnson, 127, 133.

 Constitutional conventions, state, 11-13.

 Cook, Will Marion, 136.

 Cooke, Grace MacGowan, 224.

   children's, 66;
   magistrate's, 202-204.

 Craig, Walter A., 126.

   among children, 66-68;
   among adults, 189.

 Dahomeyans, 131.

 District Nursing Association of Brooklyn, 159.

 Dix, Morgan, 25.

 Domestic Service, 80-83, 149-153.

 Downing, Thomas, 27.

 Du Bois, W. E. B., 183.

 Dudley, S. H., 128.

 Dunbar, Paul Lawrence, 71, 83, 131.

 East Side, 42-44.

   colored teacher, 17, 18;
   private colored schools, 14;
   public colored schools, 15-19.

 Emancipation, 8.

 Ewing, Quincy, 190.

 Fall River, mortality among infants, 59.

 Finley, H. M., 32.

 Frazier, S. E., 18.

 Gaynor, William J., 201.

 Government service, Negroes in, 88.

 Greenwich Village, 33-35.

 Hale, Edward Everett, 119.

 Hamilton, Alexander, 14.

 Hampton Institute, 110, 119, 193.

 Hansell, George H., 20.

 Haynes, George E., 112.

 Health Department, 40, 53, 197.

 Held, Anna, 133.

 Hell's Kitchen, 37, 85.

 Hogan, Ernest, 134.

 Horsmanden, Daniel, 7.

 Housing, 34, 36, 40, 45-51.

 Hunt, John H., against Negro suffrage, 13.

 Janvier, Thomas, 8, 33.

 Jay, John, on emancipation, 8;
   interest in education, 14.

 Jay, Peter, on Negro suffrage, 11.

 Jennings, Elizabeth, 21.

 Jonas, Rosalie M., 224.

 Jones, Edward, 14.

 Kean, Edmund, 137.

 Kent, Chancellor, favors Negro suffrage, 11.

 Kidd, Dudley, 52.

 King _v._ Gallagher, 16.

 Kingsley, Mary, 70, 113.

 Lanier, Sidney, 31.

 Lincoln, Charles Z., 13.

 Lincoln Hospital:
   attitude towards Negro doctors, 114;
   graduates of, 157.

 Livingston, against Negro suffrage, 11.

 London, Jack, 63.

 MacGowan, Alice, 224.

 Manhattan Trade School, 161, 162.

 Manumission society, 14.

 Middle West Side, 35-38.

 Miller, Kelly, 86, 147.

 Morris, Gouverneur, on emancipation, 8.

   among infants, 53-60;
   death rate by diseases, 192.

 Municipal service, Negroes in, 197.

 Music, 125-127.

 New York Conspiracy, 7.

 New York Milk Committee, 54.

 Newman, G., infant mortality, 55, 58.

 Nurses' Settlement, 159.

 Olivier, Sidney, 226.

 Palmer, A. Emerson, 18.

 Patten, S. N., 38.

 People _v._ King, 213.

 Phillips, Ulrich B., 101.

 Phipps, Henry, 41.

 Phipps tenement, 42, 51, 125.

 Pittsburg Survey, 225.

 Police department, 198-201.

 Poole, Ernest, 84.

 Population, Negro, 9;
   total, 31.

 Pratt, Lucy, 218.

 Prostitution, 155, 156.

 Ray, Charles B., 24.

 Reason, Patrick, 27.

 Religion (see Churches).

   draft riots, 25;
   riot of 1900, 199;
   riot of 1905, 199-201.

 Roosevelt, Theodore, 18.

 Rubinow, I. B., relation of death rate to poverty, 193.

 Russell, John L., 12.

 Russell, Lillian, 133.

 Russia, infant mortality in, 54;
   mortality and poverty, 193.

 Russworm, John B., 14.

 Sanger, William W., 153.

 San Juan Hill, 39-42.

 Schools (see Education).

 Scottron, Samuel R., on industrial opportunities, 26;
   on occupations, 78.

   churches, 19;
   dwelling-places, 48-50;
   schools, 15-19.

 Shirtwaist makers' strike, 163.

 Simmons, William J., 137.

 Slave ships, 32.

 Slaves, brutality towards, 5;
   insurrections of, 6-8.

 Smith, Gerritt, 24.

 Smith, James McC., 27.

 Smith, William G., 14.

 Stage, 127-137.

 Stevenson, Robert Louis, 215.

 Stone, Alfred Holt, on Negro in occupations in South, 75;
   color line in South, 89, 92;
   irresponsibility of Negroes, 102.

 Straus, Nathan, 59.

 Street cars, discrimination, 21-23.

   past, 11-13;
   present, 196;
   Negro's use of suffrage, 204-208;
   in Athens, Ga., 207.

 Tanner, Henry, 126.

 Tenements (see Housing).

 Thomas, W. I., 221.

 Trade-unions, 95-99.

 Trinity Church, 25.

 Tucker, Helen, on Negro craftsmen, 96, 98.

 Underground Railroad, 24.

 Upper West Side, 45-48.

 Varick, James, 20.

 Walker, Aida, 157.

 Washington, Booker T., 184, 194.

 Waterbury, Daniel S., 12.

 West Indies, arrivals from, 48.

 Wheeler, B. F., 20.

 White, Philip A., 27.

 Williams, Peter, 20.

 Williams and Walker, 129-133.

 Wilson, H. J., 124.

 Wilson, J. G., 8.

 Winterbottom, 25.

 Wright, Richard R., on the city Negro, 100, 104.

 Wright, Theodore S., 14.

 Zangwill, Israel, 137.

    Transcriber's notes:

    The date of the case of King _v._ Gallagher, given in the text
    as 1862, and in Footnote 6 as 1882, is 1883.

    The following is a list of changes made to the original.
    The first line is the original line, the second the corrected one.

    their positive as well as there relative number
    their positive as well as their relative number

    See H. J. Wilson. "The Negro and Music," _Outlook_,
    See H. J. Wilson, "The Negro and Music," _Outlook_,

    peoples, receive colored guests; and while
    people, receive colored guests; and while

    trains, who mortgate our farms to buy automobiles,
    trains, who mortgage our farms to buy automobiles,

    nearly a million Latin peoples, we cannot for
    nearly a million Latin people, we cannot for

    pupulation by age periods.
    population by age periods.

    Keane, Edmund, 137.
    Kean, Edmund, 137.

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