Source type: newspaper
Document type: letter to the editor
Document title: “A Tribute to the Negro”
Author(s): Gilliam, Edward L.
City of publication: Indianapolis, Indiana
Date of publication: 14 September 1901
Volume number: 14
Issue number: 37
|Gilliam, Edward L. “A Tribute to the Negro.” Freeman 14 Sept. 1901 v14n37: p. .|
|McKinley assassination (African American response); McKinley assassination (religious response); anarchism (African American response); James B. Parker.|
|Leon Czolgosz; Edward L. Gilliam; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; James B. Parker.|
A Tribute to the Negro
Editor Freeman—In the Indianapolis Journal of
Sept. 10 there appeared the following paragraph relative to the Negro, which
is worthy of more than passing notice. I give it in full:
“The colored man Parker, who fell upon the assassin of the President, has a good reputation as a man of intelligence and courage. Of his race it can be said that it has no Anarchists. Some of them are guilty of the lesser crimes and a few are inclined to use deadly weapons when in passion, but not one can be found who could be drawn into a conspiracy to strike down President, Governor or other representative of high authority. In that respect all are loyal Americans.”
The hand of God is in every movement, there are no chance happenings, no accidents—all is permitted to take place under divine sanction. Sometimes it is a part of the divine plan to bring the individual, or the race, up to higher plains through much tribulation, and oftimes in this test He leads us through paths dark and dreary, wherein those upon whom we had been leaning and looking to for sympathy and help, turn their backs upon us, and instead of aiding us, misunderstand, misrepresent, abuse and impose upon us. But God is always keeping a watchful eye over an oppressed people. The Negro as a human being is weak, and has many infirmities, but will not fall so far short in the average measurement with other men, if the same rules be applied to each. God, I believe, had in His divine mind the good of the Negroes of this country when, on Friday last, as the assassin made attempt to take the life of our President, James B. Parker was next to him. He was the man for the emergency—calm, cool, ready, quick, strong, trained and brave. How many persons, permit me to ask, would have acted with the promptness displayed by Parker under the excitement, and whose bravery undoubtedly saved the President’s life? But it is not only to the fact that this brave action saved the life of President McKinley that I would point, but that through it God has forced the American white man to look at the Negro as he has not been looking heretofore. I note in the papers of various parts of the country, in their discussion of the necessary steps to be taken to prevent the spread of anarchistic teachings, and a recurrence of attempts to assassinate our high officials, that in every paper this expression occurs: “The prevention of admission to this country of Swedes, Poles, Hungarians, Italians and other foreigners would not stamp out anarchy, for there are anarchists to be found amongst the native white Americans, and in fact Czolgosz is an American born and reared.” This is an indictment at once broad and true. It is certainly to the credit of a race that it can be surrounded by other races, who pride themselves upon being the patterns for all others, but who themselves confess to the existence among them of many who are disloyal. To have these same superior races acknowledge that the despised and inferior race is loyal, and that “not one” of their race could be drawn into any attempt to take the life of President, Governor or other high official. The Negro of to-day, through James Parker, has wrung from the white man a tardy acknowledgement [sic] of the possession of that virtue without which no country can stand—loyalty.
The Negro does not need be afraid, if he but trust in God, and does his part as a man, measuring up to every requirement, meeting every obligation, discharging every duty, ready for every opportunity and preparing for every emergency, when the time comes God will see to it that even his enemies give him justice, acknowledge his manhood and hail with joy his assistance in making this the greatest and grandest country in the world. Let no one become discouraged at the outlook, as in the past, when in response to Abraham Lincoln’s call he answered “We’re coming, Father Abraham, a hundred thousand strong.” At San Juan, in the Phillippines [sic] and at Buffalo, on Friday last, the Negro showed himself a man and a patriot. So will he in the future, and by his manliness, his courage, his patriotism, prove to the world that it is not the contour of the skull, the texture of the hair, or the color of the skin which makes the man, but that the highest type of patriotic citizen may be found in Ebon caskets as well as in Alabaster boxes.
EL. G ,
Pastor Simpson Chapel Church.