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Booker T. Washington 




By L. ' H;- HAMMOND 

Author of The Master JFord, In Black and Wkke: 
An Interpretation of Southern I^fe^ etc. 

Published jointly by 


Nbw Yosk 


CoxnxasL or Womeit fob Homs Hissioirs 


MissiONABT Education Movcmient or thb 
Unitbd States and Canada 

» m 

Pbintbd in thb Unitbd States o# Akebioa 


To that great company of Negro women, 

bond and free, unlettered and coUege-hred, 
whose living faith and loving sacrifices 
have creaied and are enriching 
the ideds of a race. 




Pbefaoe ix 

I A Long Ascent 1 


II A Story of Service Iff 

Booker T. Washington and Robert E. Moton 

III A Doctor of Medicine 35 

Dr. Charlee V. Roman 

IV Saving an Idea 47 

Miss Nannie H. Burroughs 

V A CiTT Pastor 6? 

Dr. W^illiam N. DeBerry 

VI A Believer in Happiness .... 78 

Mrs. Janie Porter Barrett 

Vll A Builder op Prosperity .... 94 

John B. Pierce 

VIII A Woman Banker 108 

Mrs. Maggie L. V^alker 

IX ^'A Composer by Divine Right'' . 119 

Harry T. Burleigh 

X A Light in a Dark Place .... 131 

Miss Martha Drummer 

XI Sure Foundations 148' 

Rev. James H. Dunston 

XII A Seed of Plame 1«2' 

Joseph S. Cotter, Jr. 


Facing Paok 

Booker T. Washington . . Frontispiece 

Tuskegee Institute 32 

Dr. Soman's clinic * . 40 

Miss Nannie H. Burroughs ^> 

Dr. DeBerry and his staff 64 

Mrs. Janie Porter Barrett ^'gW 

John B. Pierce 96 

Mrs. Walker's office force 112 

Harry T. Burleigh . 128 

Miss Martha Drummer and her school . • • 144 

Rev. James H. Dunston 160 

Joseph S. Cotter, Jr 168 


Pebhaps the most striking feature of this book 
is what is not in it. The material for it was 
sharply limited by reason of the necessity for 
keeping it within the size and price of the series 
to which it belongs. Any general survey of Negro 
literary, artistic, educational, or business achieve- 
ments was prohibited by its biographical form, in 
which it adheres to the method adopted for a 
group of books already issued. 

Unless the telling of their stories does them 
injustice, the men and women whose biographies 
are included in this book are manifestly worthy 
of the rank accorded them. But any one ac- 
quainted with Negro life can furnish a much 
longer list of members of the race quite as dis- 
tinguished as those here given with the exception 
of a very few preeminent names. 

I have felt especially the limitations in regard 
to the artistic side of Negro life. Mr. Burleigh, 
the musician chosen, speaks for himself ; yet there 
are so many others of whom the race may well be 
proud. Among painters there are E. M. Banister, 
one of whose pictures was awarded a medal at the 
Centennial Exposition of 1876 ; W. E. Scott, whose 
picture, '^The Poor Neighbor,'* was purchased by 
the Argentine Eepublic, and who has done mural 
paintings for many public buildings in Illinois; 


X • Preface 

and Henry 0, Tanner, foremost of them all, who 
is a frequent exhibitor in the Paris Salon. Sev- 
eral of the latter 's paintings have been purchased 
by the French Government and placed in the 

The honors as sculptors are with the women. 
Edmonia Lewis's work was accepted for the Cen- 
tennial Exposition ; Mrs. Meta Warrick Fuller has 
exhibited in the Paris Salon and executed a group 
for the Jamestown Exposition; and Mrs. May 
Howard Jackson has won high praise from art 
critics for work exhibited in the Corcoran Art 
Gallery, Washington. 

Among actors, none who have seen him will for- 
get Charles Gilpin, who drew thousands of white 
people to his extraordinary presentation in New 
York of **The Emperor Jones, '* and whose work 
was listed by the American Drama League among 
the ten outstanding achievements of the American 
stage in 1921. 

The list of singers is long and notable. It in- 
cludes Roland Hayes, who has won success in 
Europe as well as in America, and who was re- 
cently presented with a jeweled pin by King 
George of England as a token of appreciation of 
his art. Joseph Douglass and Clarence White are 
both well-known violinists, the latter having also 
won distinction as a composer. One passes Cole- 
ridge-Taylor, most distinguished of them all, only 
because he belongs to England rather than to 

Preface xi 

America, yet, like Dumas and Pushkin, he belongs 
to the Negro race. 

So with the other groups ; the men and women 
written of are representative of classes. The con- 
sciousness of this large and growing body of lead- 
ers should be the mental background against which 
should be set the individual achievements here 

One thing which will doubtless strike the reader 
is the frequency with which, at some vital turning- 
point in the lives narrated, the mother's character 
and influence have been deciding factors. These 
mothers are typical of unnumbered thousands 
from every level of opportunity, whose standards 
of faith, conscience, and self-forgetfulness have 
shaped those of the race and are a light upon the 
long, hard path which it must climb in the years 
to come. They show the Negro women bearing 
their share of the responsibility of womanhood to 
the Race of Man. The creation of ideals, plant- 
ing them in the hearts of children, unfolding and 
enriching them from generation to generation— 
this, the biggest and finest of all human tasks, is 
preeminently the work of the women of every race. 
Like all the big, essential things of life, it may be 
achieved by common folk because it is primarily 
of the heart and not of the head. We have per- 
verted the original meaning of the fine old word 
** common'* into something to be regarded as in- 
ferior; but the things which are common to the 

xii Preface 

Bace of Man and to the individuals of all races 
are the most precious possessions of every race. 
However wide and deep the separation of the low- 
est savage from the most highly developed man, 
science and religion alike declare that the things 
which they hold in common and which separate 
them both from all other creatures are wider and 
deeper yet. 

The deepest of all our comtnon possessions is 
a capacity for God. This the Negro brought with 
him from Africa ; and it was chiefly the Christian 
white women of America, and especially those of 
the South, who kindled in the Negro women's souls 
that which this capacity awaited — ^the light of 
Christian ideals. Notwithstanding the evils and 
wrongs of slavery, in thousands of kitchens, 
nurseries, and sewing-rooms the house-servants 
of the old days found God through their mis- 
tresses' lives and took up their predestined task 
of making Him real and lovable to their own peo- 
ple by living in His spirit from day to day. 

So the race advanced, in slavery and through 
it. To-day the broadening opportunities of its 
leading women are quickening its progress; yet 
the humbler women still bear their vital part in 
the movement. When we think how few genera- 
tions ago these Negro women had to begin at the 
beginning, and of the ages through which our own 
women have been lifting our ideals, we must ad- 
mit that the Negro women are entitled, not only 

Preface xiii 

to our sjmapathy, but to our respect and coopera- 
tion. The advance of both races largely depends 
upon the extent to which this respect and coopera- 
tion are given henceforth. In a book like this, only 
glimpses can be given of the growing recognition 
of this fact by both white and colored women ; but 
it is the biggest and most hopeful of all the hope- 
ful facts in the wide field of interracial relations 


The authorities for the historical and scientific 
statements made in the first chapter of the book 
are Greenes Short History of the English People, 
Hallam's Middle Ages, CampbelPs The Puritcm in 
England, Holland and America, Wells's Outline 
of History, Kipling's Short History of England, 
and Scott Elliot's Prehistoric Man. 

For various statements in regard to the Negroes 
and interracial relations before the Civil War, the 
writer has referred to Washington's Story of the 
American Negro, Brawley's Short History of the 
American Negro, Helper's The Impending Crisis, 
an anti-slavery book by a white North Carolinian 
published four years before the Civil War, and the 
Negro Year Book, compiled by Monroe N. Work, 
of Tuskegee Institute. 

In conclusion, I would thank the following 
friends and helpers for information, advice, and 
many kindnesses in the preparation of my book : 
Miss Ida A. Tourtellot of the Phelps-Stokes Foun- 

xiv Preface 

dation. Miss Flora Mitchell of the Woman's Home 
Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, Mrs. Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee, 
Mr. Jackson Davis of the General Education 
Board, Mr. N. C. Newbold of the North Carolina 
State Department of Education, Mr. W. T. B- 
Williams of the Jeanes and Slater Boards, Pro- 
fessor G. Lake Imes of Tuskegee, and Dr. A. M* 
Moore of Durham, North Carolina. 

L. H. Hammond 




Slow moves the pageant of a climbing race. 

— Paul Laurence Dunbar 

BETWEEN fifteen and sixteen hundred yeartr. 
ago England was a rich and peaceful coun- 
try with many prosperous cities connected^ 
by splendid roads. Ships from all parts of the* 
known world came to her harbors bringing rich-v 
cargoes and carrying back grain, wool, furs, an^ 
tin. Churches stood in many towns, and the ^ 
homes of the wealthy dotted the country. These • 
homes were built of stone and marble, with beau- 
tiful gardens about them. They were heated by 
furnaces and piped for running water which, 
flowed into splendid marble baths and fountains.. 
The law of Eome ruled from the Channel to Sol- 
way Firth and had ruled, unopposed, for two hun- 
dred and fifty years. The island, prosperous an(B 
increasingly Christian, was part of the highest 
civilization the world had ever known, for Eome, 
after her fashion, had first conquered the wild 
heathen Britons mercilessly, and then tamed and 
taught them and blessed them with peace and pros- 

Then came the pirates, swooping down before 
the north wind in their queer little ships, each' 
oarsman bent on plunder and ready for any 

2 In the Vangtmrd of a Race 

cruelty to obtain it. Huge, red-haired, blue-eyed 
fellows they were, these English ancestors of ours, 
heathen barbarians every one, bold, cruel, and 
bloodthirsty. Their gods were like themselves, 
and they believed in a heaven to which only those 
who died in battle could go and in which they 
could drink and boast of their bold deeds forever. 

Britain was a fat and fertile land, and these 
jLngles meant to have it; but they wanted no 
Britons in it, and they left none. The churches 
and priests they especially hated, burning the 
former and slaying the latter on their own altars. 
They destroyed the beautiful country houses and 
left city after city a heap of ruins ** without fire, 
without light, without songs.*' 

For fifty years they fought and pillaged and 
l)utchered and made slaves. By that time all the 
eastern half of England was theirs. It took them 
a hundred and fifty more years to root out the 
last Britons, for the dark little folk fought bravely 
and long ; but at last they were all gone, and with 
them civilization and Christianity. Britain was 
England now, a wild heathen country where our 
forefathers lived in rude huts open to the weather. 
They ate and drank like gluttons and fought one 
another like wild beasts. 

They lived in little villages made up of kins- 
folk, with marshes or forests around them, or per- 
haps both, as a protection from the men of other 
villages whose pirate instincts might set them on 

A Long Ascent 3 

the war-path against their neighbors. They had 
very few horses and plowed with oxen. They 
raised sheep for wool and cattle for plowing^ 
Their nsual meat came from their droves of hogs* 
Each village had a swineherd who took all the 
pigs to the forest every day, where they could 
root for acorns and other food. 

A stranger was always considered an enemy 
until he proved himself a friend, and often, to 
be on the safe side, they killed him anyway, and 
bothered no more about him. After a while 
a law was made that when a stranger came to the 
woods or marsh about a village, he should blow 
a horn to show that he came honestly and openly^ 
not trying to sneak in to murder or rob. If he 
failed to blow a horn or if nobody heard him blow,^ 
he was to be killed on sight. 

A hundred years after these savage men came 
to Britain, it was written of them that they were 
** barbarians,'' ** wolves," **dogs," '* whelps from 
the kennels of barbarism," '^hateful to God and 
man. ' ' In France and Spain and Italy when bar- 
barians overthrew the power of Rome, they settled 
down among the cultivated people they had con- 
quered, learned their language, adopted their laws 
and customs, and took on civilized ways ; but the 
men who came to England made a clean sweep of 
all these things. They did not even keep many of 
the Britons alive as slaves, they made slaves of 
one another. When village fought with village 

4 In the Vanguard of a Mace 

or, long afterward, when one little king whom the 
growing tribes set up fought another, the captives, 
nobles and slaves alike, were made slaves by their 
captors. Sometimes they were taken to their con- 
queror's home, or, frequently, they were sold to 
pirate vessels that carried them to the slave- 
markets of southern Europe. 

It was the sight of some of these English slaves 
put up for sale in Italy that led to missionaries 
being sent once more to what had been Christian 
Britain, and which was now heathen for a second 
time. Missionaries came, too, from Ireland, at 
this time one of the brightest spots in a dark and 
troubled world. Roman Britain had furnished 
many Christian martyrs when the savage Eng- 
lishmen first came, and now Irish and Roman. 
-Christians came to this wild and cruel land, not 
counting their lives dear to themselves if only they 
<^uLd win the heathen to the gospel. 

It took two hundred years to establish Chris- 
tianity firmly on the island, for now and again 
there would occur relapses into heathenism when 
some petty king arose who preferred to worship 
Odin rather than Christ. 

Sometimes we hear people say that foreign 
missions to-day accomplish very little in China 
or India or Japan. See how few Christians those 
countries have, they say, after trying for a hun- 
dred years to convert them! That is not quite 

A Long Ascent 5 

true, for it is not much over a hundred years 
since the pioneer of modem missions in China, 
Eobert Morrison, went there. At that time most 
Christian people who knew about him thought him 
crazy, or silly, at best, and for long years the 
Church did almost nothing for missions. It is only 
in the last fifty years that it has made any great 
effort as a whole. Fifty years among hundreds 
of millions of heathen ! 

In the days when the Boman and Irish mis- 
sionaries came to Britain, the English could have 
been counted by only the hundred thousand. 
Even a thousand years after missionaries came to 
England, there were only five or six million peo- 
ple in the whole country— about as many as in 
the city of New York to-day. Yet it took two hun- 
dred years to make our ancestors Christian, even 
in name. We should remember this when we feel 
like criticizing people of other races whose prog- 
ress we think is slow. And we should think of it, 
too, when people ask if missions pay. Has it paid 
to have a Christian England in the world? 

For a long time a tribe was Christian or heathen 
only as its **king'' ordered it out either for bap- 
tism or for worship of Odin. However, some of 
these early Englishmen made noble Christians. 
But it was not until Elizabeth became queen, a 
thousand years later, that Christianity had gone 
deep enough for the people to take such a stand 
for the open Bible that their rulers did not dara 

6 In the Vanguard of a Race 

to forbid it to them or to kill those who disobeyed. 
.And so, all down the centuries are scattered the 
shining names of those who greatly lived or 
greatly died for the love of Jesus Christ, 

They were splendidly brave, these early Eng- 
Kshmen. They always had been brave, even as 
savages, with a rough, cruel, selfish courage, but 
now they were brave for finer reasons. It was 
not only for personal gain and glory that Drake 
sailed unknown and dreaded seas and carried the 
flag of England around the world. It was with 
no thought -of self that Philip Sidney fought free- 
dom's battle in Holland, or that he refused, in 
iis dying agony, to relieve his own raging thirst 
that the water might be given to one suffering 
more than he. It was a glorious day when little 
England faced the great Spanish Armada to die, 
if need be, for God and freedom. Nor can any of 
English blood forget Ridley and Latimer and all 
that noble army of martyrs who, in Mary's time, 
passed through the fire up to God rather than deny 
their faith. The barbarians had come far in a 
thousand years. 

But Christian though they had become in Eliza- 
beth 'sf time, there were still many of their ways 
and thoughts which seem neither civilized nor 
Oiristian to us who live over three hundred years 
later. A climbing race moves slowly, and behind 
the shining banners of those who lead skulk ugly 
things and wicked and stupid things which most 

A Long Ascent 7 

of the people do not yet know are ugly or stupid 
or wicked, and so permit them. Along with 
all the noble things and the spleiidid intellectual 
power of Elizabeth's reign went others, disgust- 
ing and barbarous— after a thousand years ! Pun- 
ishments were many and horrible. Mutilation^ 
torture, and death were meted out for petty of- 
fenses. The sight of bodies hanging by the road- 
side and falling into decay was not uncommon. 
The people lived in filth. Garbage and sewage 
were habitually emptied into the middle of Lon- 
don's streets, where it rotted and bred disease and 
smelled to heaven. The people had very little 
knowledge of washing their bodies. The queen 
had three thousand dresses ; but most people had 
only one and wore that one day and night till it 
dropped to rags. Underclothes, if worn, were 
never washed. Few, even of the rich, had carpets^ 
and those they had were used for table-covers. 
The floors were of dirt or, in grand houses, of 
wood or stone covered with rushes into which 
bones and other refuse of meals were thrown as 
people sat at table. Forks were just beginning to 
be known among the wealthy, and it was quite 
proper to eat with one 's fingers and dip them into 
the dishes as well. Chimneys began to come into 
use at about this time. Before this, smoke got 
out as best it could at openings in the walls. 
These openings, which were without glass, let in 
both the light and the weather. 

8 In the Vanguard of a Race 

Some of the prevailing ideas of justice were 
much more like those of onr pirate ancestors than 
like our own. The men who first made England 
famous on the seas were freebooters and traders 
in human flesh. Many of the great fortunes piled 
up in the last half of Elizabeth's reign were made 
by seizing unarmed ships of friendly countries — 
even those of Protestant Holland — and appro- 
priating their cargoes. Hawkins, one of the sea- 
heroes of his day, began England's slave-trade 
with a cargo of Negroes he kidnaped on the Afri- 
can coast and sold in the West Indies. This traffic 
was legal in England and in America until a little 
over a hundred years ago. The last serfs of Eng- 
lish blood in England were freed by Elizabeth in 
1574, but long after that, Englishmen were 
shipped to the American colonies and sold as 
slaves as a punishment for crime or for political 

Over three hundred years have passed since 
these conditions prevailed, and the higher a na- 
tion climbs, the faster it can go. We have come 
further, as a people, in the last three hundred 
years than in the previous thousand years. Who 
can say what heights are ahead? Would any of 
those Christian Britons have believed when 
Eoman civilization was being blotted out by the 
English barbarians that that same race would one 
day stand as one of the world 's great bulwarks of 
justice among men, creators of wonders beyond 


A Long Ascent 9 

the dreams of magic, with ideals that reached the 
stars? Yet all this we have seen come to pass 
in England and in America in these last few years. 
We are yet far from where we wonld be. There 
are wrongs and injustices still to give way before 
God's laws of justice and kindness rule us all. 
How soon this comes to pass depends largely on 
the young people now coming into power. If we 
assume that our own race is already on the 
heights, it will never attain its highest possible 
plane through help of ours. If we forget our own 
slow and incomplete progress as a race or despise 
others who are climbing the same hard and painful 
path, we shall be, not lifters of mankind, but a 
stumbling block in the path of the human race. 

The part of Africa best known to us is the little 
strip around the Mediterranean Sea. But this, 
so far as we can tell, was not settled by Negroes, 
but by peoples who came out of Asia in widely- 
separated times. South of these lands lived the 
Negroes, of whose life at that time little is known. 
Few explorations have been made south of Egypt, 
though at one point, Zimbabwe, the ruins of a van- 
ished civilization have been found. 

For hundreds of years the upper western coast 
of Africa was raided by white pirates, most of 
them English, and the people were kidnaped and 
sold as slaves. Probably for thousands of years 
the east coast was raided in the same way by 


10 In the Vangtiard of a Race 

Arabs and other Asiatics, but except along the 
coast, the continent was almost unknown to white 
men nntil within the memory of men now living. 
Between 1850 and 1900 the land was explored, and 
European nations seized it for themselves as 
though the people who had lived there for thou- 
sands of years had no rights in it at all. The only 
parts of Africa still belonging to Negroes are 
Abyssinia and the little country of Liberia. These 
fifty years and the twenty following have seen 
thousands of white men from Europe and Amer- 
ica flocking in — ^missionaries, explorers, traders, 
men bent on service and men bent on ruthless gain 
— ^until Africans geography and races are fairly 
well known. 

The oldest races are the pygmies of the Congo 
and of South Africa. They are a queer little folk 
who. Professor Elliot says in his Prehistoric Man, 
* ' seem to have been the very first race to under- 
stand and realize the importance of botany.'' 
Their knowledge of plants is quite wonderful. 
They are also ** clever artists and musicians, and 
may be the inventors of the first violin.'' But 
they are a very savage little people for all that 
and very deadly to their enemies by reason of 
their cunningly-poisoned weapons. Between them 
and the Zulus and people of Uganda, the most 
highly developed of the many African races, are 
peoples as varied as those of eastern Europe or 
Asia and of many grades of intelligence. Many 


A Long Ascent 11 

of them are clever iron-workers. In fact iron is 
believed to have been made into tools and weapons 
in Africa long before Europe learned its uses and 
even while our own forefathers still had no tools 
but flints. 

But except for its sea-coasts, Africa has be«n 
cut off for ages from the rest of the world. In 
Europe and Asia men passed back and forth so 
that what was learned in one place, sooner or later 
became known in others. Isolated people can- 
not learn very fast, and Africa, in some respects 
ahead of Europe when we were all savages to- 
gether, seems to have stood still while other coun- 
tries have forged far ahead of her. 

Among Americans the first knowledge of Af ri- 
cans came through the Negroes who had been 
stolen from their homes by Ehitch and English 
pirates and sold in the colonies as slaves. Later, 
Americans joined in this trade. It must be re- 
membered that Christian nations had no idea, in 
those days, that they should behave like Christians 
to savages. Wicked things went on because good 
people did not understand it was their duty to 
stop them. When some of the unjust things still 
allowed by Christian people are put a stop to, it 
will be by the same steps that ended first the 
slave-trade and then slavery. 

First a few people who best understood God^s 
thoughts of justice began to talk and write and 
work against the slave-trade. They were mis- 


12 In the Vanguard of a Race 

understood^ laughed at, and abused just as are 
the people who nowadays fight social abuses. But 
they kept right on until more and more people 
understood what was right, and then, in 1807, laws 
were passed forbidding slave-trading in England 
and America. Since that time England, where 
only two hundred years before Christian Eng- 
lishmen had sold their own coimtrymen into slav- 
ery in the colonies, has led the world in trying to 
end slavery everywhere. 

In our country some people. North and South, 
defended slavery by saying that the Negroes had 
not sense enough to rise much above the animals, 
and that God meant them to be ruled as such. But 
the Negroes themselves proved this to be untrue. 
From the very beginning, among the slaves 
brought here from Africa were some gifted men 
and women who showed unusual mental ability. 
Phillis Wheatley, bom in Africa, wrote a book 
of poems which ran through three editions and 
won her recognition in England and America. Ira 
Aldridge, whose father came from Africa, be- 
came an actor and was decorated by the Emper- 
ors of Austria and Russia and by the King of 
Prussia. Edmund Kean, the great English 
actor, played lago to his Othello. Sojourner 
Truth, bom in Africa, and Frederick Douglass, 
bom a slave in Maryland, both became famous 
as speakers against slavery. Douglass was well 
known in England, and in his later life he not 


A Long Ascent 13 

only saw his great hope for his people realized, 
but foimd himself their trusted leader. Harriet 
Tubman, bom a slave in Maryland, ran away 
when about twenty years old; but instead of en- 
joying a peaceful freedom, she spent her life, 
until the Civil War, in helping others of her 
people to freedom, often at the cost of great 
risk and hardship to herself. She showed an 
ability, courage, and resourcefulness which 
would have been remarkable anywhere. In the 
Eevolutionary War, Negroes fought bravely, as 
they have in every subsequent war of ours. 

Many of the old slaves were noted for their 
eloquence as preachers. John Chavis, of North 
Carolina, was the first home missionary of the 
Presbyterian Church; and John Stewart, who 
went as a missionary to the Indians, is said to 
have been the first missionary of the Methodist 
Church. CaBsar Blackwell, an Alabama slave, 
was bought by the Alabama Baptist Convention 
for $1,000. As he could not be set free, a white 
man was made his guardian, and he was given 
practical freedom, traveling with the white 
preachers and helping them in their work. 
Amanda Smith, another slave, became a great 
evangelist, preaching not only in America, but in 
England, India, and Africa. John Jasper, of 
Richmond, a slave for fifty-two years and a 
preacher for sixty, had the respect of all Eich- 
mondy white and black; and Jack, another Vir- 


14 In the Yanguard of a Race 

ginia slave, bom in Africa, was considered by 
men of both races the best preacher in his county. 
Many white people were converted under him, 
and plantation owners, instead of punishing their 
slaves who did wrong, sent them to Jack to be 
disciplined. The white people of his county 
bought his freedom and gave him a house and 
land, that he might give his whole time to his 
work. Alexander Crummell, whose father was a 
native African, graduated from Cambridge, Eng- 
land, and went to Africa as a missionary. After- 
ward he came back to America and was long the 
rector of an Episcopal church in Washington. A 
number of these old-time Negroes gained distinc- 
tion as composers of music and as singers, some 
of them being recognized in Europe. 

These and many others stand out from the 
great mass of Negroes who were slaves in Amer- 
ica. But back of the more gifted folk is that 
great throng whom the white people of the South 
learned to love and trust : the men who gave their 
masters honest service; the women who kept the 
house, cared for the children, were faithful in all 
things, and whose lives and teaching made Chris- 
tianity real to their little white charges. A race 
that can keep faith in slavery, can keep faith in 
freedom. There is proof enough from the days 
of the early slave ships that among the captives 
were men of business ability, of intelligence, and 
of various and worthy gifts. But after all, the 

A Long Ascent 15 

possibilities of a people cannot be measured 
wholly or chiefly by their brains. Character is 
worth far more, and where we find so much of it 
among a people, we may be sure that as a race 
they may yet go far. They need time and oppor- 
tunity. We ourselves, the scientists tell us, have 
been learning some hundreds of thousands of 
years ; yet as a people, we are only beginning to 
learn that first great law of justice — ^to love our 
neighbors as ourselves. 

We like to believe that the men and women of 
loving hearts, noble minds, and heroic lives who 
through the centuries stand out from the mass of 
our own race, foreshadow the destiny of the race 
itself when it has had full time for growth and 
training. This book, in giving the life-stories of 
a very few of our fellow-citizens of African 
blood, would lead you to think of their race in 
the same way. May you not only respect the 
achievements of to-day and yesterday, but see 
them as foreshadowings of the possibilities of a 
people. How fast they climb will depend in large 
part on us, on our faithfulness to our common 
Lord, and on our obedience to His big, simple 
laws of justice and kindness to all. 



DOWN in Alabama is a big school called Tus- 
kegee Institute, covering 2,300 acres of 
land. There are on the ground one hun- 
dred and twenty buildings built mostly of brick, 
with stone trimmings. The bricks were made 
and the buildings were put up by the students, 
hundreds of whom have in this way been able to 
pay their way through school. Without this op- 
portunity, they could have had no education 
worth the name. 

There are big brick dormitories and a great 
dining-haU with windows on all sides and a gal- 
lery where, on state occasions, the Tuskegee band 
plays beautiful music. And the food in the big, 
spotless kitchens! The mere sight of it makes 
the visitor ^s mouth water. There is a beautiful 
chapel seating over two thousand people, with a 
place for a choir of five himdred, whose singing, 
once heard, is never forgotten — there is not any- 
thing quite like it anywhere else. There is a 
handsome library, a fine hospital, buildings for 
classes and industries of all kinds, a wonderful 
power-house which supplies light and heat for 
the whole place, from the lamps that twinkle at 


A Story of Service 17 

dusk over the campus to the necessities of the big- 
gest of all the big buildings. 

There is a large farm, with bams for cattle, 
horses, sheep, pigs, poultry, and farm machinery. 
Why, there isn't room in this book to tell about 
all there is at Tuskegee, much less about all that 
is done there. One must go and see for oneself. 
The value of the whole plant is nearly two mil- 
lion dollars, and the endowment nearly two mil- 
lion and a quarter more; and every penny is 
wisely invested and yields wonderful returns. 

These are the things at Tuskegee. There is 
also that which things are made to serve — ^lif e in 
the making. Sitting on the chapel platform, 
looking into two thousand faces. dark of skin yet 
alight with eager, intelligent interest, watching 
the students march out, trim and spotless, with 
heads erect and steady step, one sees beyond 
question that, like our own, the Negro is '*a 
climbing race.*' 

The students at Tuskegee come from most of 
our states, from the West Indies, and from the 
countries of far-off Africa, and they go back to 
all these places to show in their daily lives that 
skilled hands should go with skilled brains and 
that character and the spirit of service are the* 
finest things in the world. Tuskegee has trans- 
formed thousands of homes and of lives. It has 
changed the people in whole stretches of country. 
It has brought hope, knowledge, self-respect. 

18 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

thrift, independence, and happiness to thousands 
all over the South. It has promoted friendship 
and understanding between the races in every 
Southern state. It is known and honored all over 
the world, and educators and statesmen of many 
races and countries travel thousands of miles to 
see the Institute and learn its ways. 

Now a great institution like this does not 
spring up overnight like a mushroom. Where 
did Tuskegee begin? 

It began with a little black slave baby. His 
mother, a slave in Virginia, could not read or 
write and knew little of anything except cook- 
ing. She never could tell her little boy just when 
he was bom, but she thought it was in 1858 or 

There were three children, and they and their 
mother lived in a one-roomed cabin that had a 
dirt floor, a rickety door with cracks all round 
it, and holes in the walls instead of windows. 
There was no furniture, and only rags on the 
floor to sleep on. It was frightfully cold in win- 
ter — almost like outdoors, and in summer it was 
frightfully hot, for the mother had to cook for 
all the slaves by a roaring log fire in the big fire- 
place. The children ate around a skillet, fishing 
the food out with their fingers. They each wore 
one little cotton garment. In short, their way of 
living was quite like that of the red-haired, blue- 
eyed pirates who came to Britain long ago. 

A Story of Service 19 

The little boy had only one name — Booker. 
The Civil War ended when he was six or seven 
years old. Already he had been at work for some 
time. He helped clean the yard, carried water to 
the men in the fields, fanned the flies off the white 
folks' table at meal-times, and carried com to 
the mill to be ground. He was so little that he 
and his bag of com had to be lifted on to the 
horse. Often they would both slip off to the 
road. Then Booker would have to wait, some- 
times for hours, till some one came along who 
would take pity on the crying, frightened child 
and put him and his bag on the horse again. 
Often when he reached home, it was far into the 
cold, black night, and he would still be terrified 
from coming through the dark woods along the 

After freedom came, the family moved to West 
Virginia, the little boy walking most of the long 
mountainous way, and all of them sleeping by the 
road at night. They went to Maiden, near 
Charleston, where Booker's step-father, his older 
brother John, and even Booker himself went to 
work in the salt mines, beginning work as early 
as four o 'clock in the morning. 

The boy had always been determined to learn 
to read, and when his mother somehow got him 
an old blue-backed speller, he learned the alpha- 
bet without a teacher. He was only eight or nine 
years old when he persuaded some one to teach 

20 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

tiim a little at night, when the long day^s work in 
the mines was over. Sometime later, a school for 
Negroes was opened, and for a little while 
Booker was allowed to attend it by getting up 
extra early for work in the mine before school and 
by working again when school was out. The first 
day he went to school, the teacher asked all the 
children their names. Booker noticed that the 
others had two or three names. When his tnm 
came, he made up a last name for himself, saying, 
** Booker Washington.'* Afterward he found 
that when he was a tiny baby he had been called 
Booker Taliaferro, so he took Taliaferro for his 
middle name. 

As the years went on, the boy worked in a coal 
mine and later as a house-servant, but always 
with the thirst for an education in his heart. At 
last he heard of Hampton, where boys might 
earn enough to pay for their education by work- 
ing part of the time on the farm and in the shops. 
He went to Hampton, walking most of the dis- 
tance, sleeping out of doors, working along the 
way for money to buy food, but hungry much 
of the time. He reached Hampton tired out and 
so dirty and shabby, having had no chance for so 
long a time to wash or change his clothes, that he 
looked like a tramp. The teacher who first saw 
him did not like to admit him. Finally, however, 
she told him to go and sweep one of the rooms. 
He wanted to study books, not sweep floors; but 

A Story of Service 21 

instead of crying or getting angry, he saw his 
chance and took advantage of it. This spirit ex- 
plains much of the secret of his wonderful life. 
So instead of a hook, Booker took a hroom and, 
without knowing it, showed the teacher the kind 
of hoy he was. He swept that room three times, 
— closets, comers, and all. Then he dusted it 
four times, furniture and woodwork too. When 
he called her, how that teacher hunted for 
dirt! When she couldn't see any, she took out 
her pocket-handkerchief and ruhhed suspicious 
places, but not a speck could she get on it. 
**Well, boy,'* said she, **I guess you will do.'* 

There followed many years of hard work and 
privations, but when Booker Washington grad- 
uated, he carried away the trust and friendship 
of every one at Hampton, white and black. He 
had in his heart a passion for truth, for knowl- 
edge, and for service. His power was won by do- 
ing every least thing within his reach, however 
hard or disagreeable, as perfectly as he could and 
as cheerfully as if it were the deepest desire of 
his heart. 

After graduation, Booker taught school, deny- 
ing himself severely that he might help his 
brother John and an adopted brother also 
through Hampton. He was then called back to 
the Institute and given charge of the dormitory 
for Indian boys. His power to understand, con- 
trol, and inspire these boys of a race so widely 


In the Vanguard of a Bace 

different from his own showed once more hie 
unusual quaKty. 

Ths gi ^g^e ^^L^J^^^ ^^ ^ ^ life-work. Som^ 

Whi te^tizens Ot^ Tij y ftkftff ftAj AlRTmniai^^wrnfA fA 

General Annstrong, Hampton ^s foun defs-asking 

scEool to be op ened there .forNegroeg^ /d&eneral 
A rmstron g; sent Booker Wasl^gtj^ ^Tijpr^H th^ 
American Miseionary_^A£ao^ation tiiatT^backing 

General Armstro ng, made Hampton poij»i ble, 
fl^^'""tfr"^\gas_Ha^ton that had m ade possib le 
Booker JSP^shingJon lM^Ajii eri and the wo^l d 
ftanift to Tmo yr him and through him, Tuskegee . 
T hus Hampton and Tuske^ e, tTrn nf thn yr^nf 
est forces in the world ^gT^ 
Both owe their existenceto thelChristian Churcl 

jrived at TuskegeeTTSfPT 



no school building and only a small sum to pro- 
vide one, pay the teacher's salary, and meet 
other expenses, A dilapidated church and a 
near-by shanty were secured, neither of them 
weather-proof. When it rained, the teacher had 
to stand under an umbrella. But here, with 
thirty pupils and one teacher, there began on 
July 4th, 1881, a school which has become one of 
the famous institutions of the world. 

Soon after, an abandoned plantation, the **big 
house'' of which had burned down, was offered 
for sale for five hundred dollars. To the man 
j^ho afterward raised millions, this seemed an 


A Story of Service 23 

almost staggering sum, but he was able to borrow 
the money, penniless a s he was-^aHEact which 
shows not only his own courage, but the kind of 
faith he inspired in white people. The four old 
buildingaontte^f arm — a cabin, a kitchen, a stable, 
and a hen-hou«e — ^were cleaned and repaired after 
school , hours, teacher and students working to- 
gether.*' Soon these new class-rooms were ready 
for use, and Mr. Washington sent to Hampton for 
an assistant teacher. Together they got up sup- 
p ers and festivals to jeay-ior ^hp ti^w piafift. Whitft 

hAJh- rqP Q fl \Kr(^r^ pnnr. Offpn fiiA Npgr^o^^ ^^^^^^ 

g ive only ^ piaItaI ^ r u dinift. One old colored 
woman, too poor eveli forTms, brought six eggs 
*'JtaP^t into de eddication ob dese boys an' girls.'* 
[^gst- JJogroQB at thio time thought of an edu ca- 
tion's some magifi qdc\([ thatjarnuld help thorn to 
liv e without workin g Bjt Mr Wa8hington had 
leiTrned at Hampton that ev*> ^Y <?iip ^^^ Qamg the 
r i^ht to livft Tnuflt work in som a-^ wav^ and that th e 
grpflf. THfj ioritv of people of ^y^ry t*«^q TYmof wnrV 
with their hands He wanted to teach his people 
to honor work and to put brains and character 
into it. Hft^J^li ftvftd ^' y ^ ft YftyylinHy^ wliifo and 

black, hflviT^g all flip ndnnnfinn pnnmb1f>; but he 

knew that the first thing for his people, poor and 
ignorant as they were, wap to learn to work in- 
tell igently and ha pxjiy ftt -prTifl^-AYftr tf^ ev could get 
ti Ldo, suck as faroiing and the simplfi i Jndustries ^ 

24 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

He knew they could learn a kind of fanning that 
would bring them money enough to build com- 
fortable homes instead of such cabins as the one 
in which he had been bom. He wanted them to 
learn how to be clean and healthy, to have plenty 
of fruit, vegetables, chickens, eggs, and milk for 
their children, instead of their everlasting diet of 
fat pork and combread. He undertook to revolu- 
tionize the habits of a people, their thoughts, and 
their standards. And he did it. And in so doing, 
he, more than any other one man, taught the world 
the kind of education that the masses of every 
race need. All over the world **the Hampton 
idea^' is being adopted by governments, mission 
boards, and experts in education for those masses 
of people whose development has been retarded. 
Th-jfi thr Hnmptnn idrn ftftuftral ArmRfrppg^ 
idea— which he worked out at Hampton; but 
Booker Washington, even more than its great 
originator, made it famous. 

At first the Negroes did not like this idea of 
work. They came to school in order that they 
might not have to work. When the land of the 
new farm was to be cleared and planted, the stu- 
dents balked. But when their teacher took an ax 
and went to the woods, inviting them to come with 
him, they went. If he would chop trees and plow 
and hoe, they were willing to do it also. They 
were very proud of a teacher who was a real grad- 

A Story of Service 25 

oate, and if he was willing to work like that^ pos* 
8ibly it was not so bad, after all. 

The white people, watehing, were well pleased, 
more and more so as they saw the Negro hovels 
changing into thrifty homes, and intelligent fann- 
ing bringing lal*ger crops for themselves as well 
as for the Negroes. The white stores began to 
prosper, also. The Negroes were putting money 
in the bank and buying land. But they were buy- 
ing building material, too, and better clothes and 
comforts and conveniences such as they had never 
had. They did better work for the white people 
and were to be trusted more. The white people 
saw that Negro prosperity was good for every- 
body, and they began to believe in that kind of 
education for all races. They saw that honest 
wo^;;jae««ag-iha JiBdlding of character, and that 
iTifplliyATif worTr T neans mental growth and inde- 
pendence and happy homes. These things are 
good for everybody. The Negro needs them not 
because he is a Negro, but because he is a human 

The whole wonderful story of Tuskegee cannot 
be told here. It can be found in a book which 
should be read by every American, black and 
white; a book to interest young people and old 
people and to make even a coward brave — Up 
from Slavery by Booker T. Washington. The 
North Carolina State Board of Education has in- 

26 In the Va/nguard of a Race 

dnded it in its list of books for high school li- 
braries of both riaces. It will broaden the mind 
and cheer the heart of any who will read it. 

Mr. Washington began to speak in public to his 
own people first, then to white people of the North, 
where he went to raise money, then to Southern 
white people. If the test of oratory is the speak- 
er's power to make people who do not sympathize 
with him or believe as he does feel sympathy, see 
as he sees, accept his doctrine, and believe in him, 
then Booker Washington was one of the greatest 
orators America has produced. In New Orleans 
he spoke before a great audience of Southern 
white people most of whom, in those early days 
before Mr. Washingtoilr was known, were hostile 
to any Negro set forward as a leader. In five 
minutes he had gripped their interest, and soon 
he held them in the hollow of his hand. They 
laughed and cried as he moved them — ^men and 
women, thousands of them ; they rocked the walls 
with their applause ; they flocked about him After- 
ward, eager to grasp his hand. Over and over he 
aroused the same enthusiasm. Presidents, gov- 
ernors, bishops, heads of great universities pub- 
licly honored him. At Charleston, five miles from 
the old salt mines, the governor of West Virginia 
and his staff gave him a public reception to which 
both races flocked. In Atlanta he swept the 
crowds off their feet, including the governor of 
Georgia who sat beside him -en the stage. It was 

A Story of Service 27' 

the same way in staid Boston and in England, 
where the greatest came to hear him. But it was 
not just emotion that he stirred. He made people 
see and love the real things, the big, simple, 
Christ-like things that never change. He made 
right look wise and beautiful, as it is, and he 
showed two different races the way to live side 
by side in justice and friendship, * * in things purely 
p^f^^l ni^ ftfipflTatft f^fl t■^^ fi^g^^°j y^^ ^^^ .pflTKo 
h and in all things essential to m iiti^^^ p^^g^^^^ '^ 
Booker Waehington did the work of a dozen 
men. H e stimulated Negro business throughout 
th e country Dv his orgap^'^ atior ^^ ^'^a i^i^^ffrft ^^ usi- 

n ess League and his inspiyatlV^n pTifl rlirfi^tiou ftf 
it- Hifl health work has influenced the whole 
South and has won cooperation, not only from 
local white organizations, but fi-om state officers, 
boards of health, federations of women ^s clubs, 
chambers of commerce, and the like. He never 
spared himself, and, as men see things, he died 
before his time. Broken down in body, Mr. Wash- 
ington was taken to St. Luke^s Hospital in New 
York. When he found the end was near, he asked 
to be taken home to die. They put him in a special 
car with doctors and nurses and his devoted wife. 
The country watched that journey, and the great 
newspapers told everywhere how he was standing 
the trip — this man bom a slave on the earthen 
floor of a windowless cabin. He reached Tuskegee 
just alive, and there, in his own beautiful home. 


28 In the Vanguard of a Race 

amid hearts that loved him and the folk he had 
lifted up, Booker Washington passed out to meet 
hie Master and to get his praise from God. 

What made him great f He had a strong, broad 
mind, but not a preeminent one. Some of his own 
race, many of ours, were his mental equals or su- 
periors, yet they were not in the same class with 
him at all. He was a highly gifted administrator, 
a remarkable speaker, but so are many lesser per- 
sons. Where was the secret of his power? I puz- 
zled over it until I heard him talk to his own 
people one day, and then I knew. 

Speaking to white people, he appealed to their 
common sense, their love of justice, their spirit of 
sympathy and fair play, their business interests. 
To his own people that day, he spoke of Jesus 
Christ and of how He would help them meet diffi- 
cult conditions in the right way. He spoke of 
injustices the Negro often suffers and of the dan- 
ger of bitterness and hatred against a people be- 
cause of the wrongdoing of some. *'I have felt 
these things, ^ ^ he said. * * I suffered much. I grew 
to hate white men as some of you do to-day. I 
hated them until my soul began to dry up. My 
power to love and help my own people was shrivel- 
ing. I found that hate in my heart to any man 
would kill my usefulness to all men. Then I car- 
ried my hate to Jesus Christ, and He delivered 
me from it. He took it out of my heart. He keeps 
me free. He showed me how to love white men, 

A Story of Service 29 

and now I can serve them and my own people to- 
gether and alike. ' ' 

That was the secret. God had given him, in 
answer to his prayer, a wonderful largeness of 
heart — the greatest greatness that there is. It 
magnified every natural gift, and set him in the 
class of those who are great by eternal standards. 

Biding down Fifth Avenue some months after 
his death, a crowd of people was seen blocking the 
sidewalk. Coming nearer one noticed a different 
look on their faces — ^not the alert Fifth Avenue 
look, keen for new fashions and costly trifles, but 
one that seemed to go beyond the great buildings 
and splendid sjiops. They were gazing at a 
bronze bust in the window of a great silversmith. 
Its face was furrowed and tired and black — the 
face of this same Negro and one-time slave. Yet 
there stood before it rich and poor, glimpsing 
something of the beauty of a life of unselfish 
service and its splendid eternal unshakableness ; 
and one Southern woman thanked God death 
makes so plain the things really worth living and 
dying for, and looked at the black face through a 
mist of tears. _^ 

But what of Tuskegee when the heart and brain 
from which it grew were gone! The spirit of 
service which had filled its founder's life was 
still there, a flame kindled in hundreds of hearts ; 
and God, who carries on His work even when He 

30 In the Vanguard of a Race 

calls His workmen home^ had a man ready for the 
task now grown so great. 

This man, too, is from Virginia, bom soon 
after the Civil War. One unusnal thing about him 
is that he knows all about his ancestors for gen- 
erations back. Not very many white people, and 
few Negroes, know as much about their great- 
great-great-grandfather as does this black man. 

When this grandfather was young, in 1735, his 
father, an African chief, fought a battle in which 
he took many captives. Some of them he sent in 
chains down to the sea-coast, to be sold as slaves. 
His son had charge of the convoy. The young 
man sold his slaves and then accepted the invita- 
tion of the traders to go on board their wonderful 
ship and inspect it. Afterwards he took dinner 
with them. His food must have been drugged, for 
when he came to himself, he T^as far out at sea, 
chained in the hold with the very slaves he had 
himself so recently sold. 

(jDogman, the son of an African chief, 
was brfiUfimTR) Richmond, Vif giiiia7an3"soMr He 
lived to a very great age, Uubled und kindly 
treated by his master. He told the story of his 
capture to his great-granddaughter, who, in turn, 
told it to her grandson, Dr. Robert Moton, now 
president of Tuskegee Institute. 

Dr. Moton 's father's mother also came from 
Africa, and all his people afterwards, on both 
sides, were slaves. He himself was bom free and 

A Story of Service 31 

grew up happily on the plantation where his 
father was foreman and his mother the cook for 
''the big house,*' 

His mother had learned to read, and she taught 
her little son at night by the light of a pineknot 
fire. When at length the white folks in the big 
house found this out, one of the young ladies 
taught Eobert herself. Afterwards, he went to 
the country school when it was open, working the 
rest of the time, first as house-boy and then in the 
fields. For years he attended the colored Sunday- 
school, which was taught by the best white people 
of the neighborhood, among whom he had many 

But for his mother, Eobert Moton might have 
missed the great opportunity which came to him 
at Booker Washington's death. When he was only 
eighteen, he was superintendent of the Baptist 
Sunday-school, leader of the church choir, and a 
notable speaker at religious and political gather- 
ings of his people. This was in * * reconstruction ' ' 
times, and some white and colored politicians 
wanted him to go to the legislature. It was 
against the law for a minor to fill such an office, 
but he was six feet tall and could pass for twenty- 
one. The politicians said that the only thing nec- 
essary was for his motiier to swear that he was of 
age. It was a dazzling offer to a poor colored 
boy, and he was finally talked into a half-hearted 
consent. But he reckoned without his mother. 

32 In the Vanguard of a Race 

Not even for her beloved and only child would she 
swear to a lie, and instead of going to the legis- 
lature, Robert went to Hampton — the beginning, 
Uttle as he dreamed it, of a far more distinguished 

The next years were filled with hard study and 
harder work in the school lumber mill and at all 
sorts of jobs in summer. One whole year he took 
off, teaching a country school. On graduation, 
young Moton made so fine a record that he was 
offered the position of assistant to the comman- 
dant, the white oflScer in charge of the students' 
discipline. "When the commandant resigned, 
Major Moton, as he was then called, took his place. 
There were many Indians in the school, a 
sprinkling of Chinese, Japanese, African Negroes, 
Armenians, and Hawaiians. The faculty was 
made up of Northern and Southern white people, 
with Major Moton the only Negro on it. To main- 
tain both discipline and good-will among those stu- 
dents of many races and to grow in the confidence 
and esteem of the white faculty was no small ac- 
complishment. But for twenty-seven years it was 

North and South, Major Moton made friends for 
the school, speaking before audiences of white and 
of black people. In Virginia he drew into the 
Negro Organization Society all the scattered col- 
ored societies — educational," economic, secret, and 
open — ^to work together for ** better schools, bet- 


A Story of Service 33 

ter health, better homes, better farms. * ' They be- 
gan with clean-ups and health work, secnring 
hearty cooperation from the state and from local 
organizations of white people. They bought a 
farm on which the state put up a sanitarium for 
Negro consumptives. Many leading men and 
women of both races have been brought into con- 
tact with one another through the work of the 
Society, and interracial good-will has been pro- 
moted to a noteworthy extent. 

When Dr. Washington died, in 1915, Major 
•Moton was elected president of Tuskegee Insti- 
tute. He was perhaps the one man who could take 
the position without being dwarfed by his great 
predecessor. The influence of the school goes on 
as before, broadening and deepening with the 

During the war, Dr. Moton was frequently called 
to Washington by the Government for consulta- 
tion about matters concerning the Negroes within 
and without the army. Tuskegee did fine work in 
training colored officers and technical experts, and 
the school's great service flag is a wonderful rec- 
ord of loyal Americanism. In stimulating produc- 
tion among colored workers, in the thrift. Liberty 
Loan, and Bed Cross campaigns, and in all other 
war work, Dr. Moton was a force felt, not only 
throughout the state of Alabama, but among his 
people throughout the country. In this work he 
was brought into contact as never before with the 

34 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

leading white men of the South, whose confidence 
and respect he won. He is, therefore, a great force 
for interracial understanding and friendship. 
When colored men were added to the Interracial 
Commission, composed of leading white people 
from every Southern state. Dr. Moton was 
the first Negro chosen to represent his race in 
that body. 

In 1918 President Wilscn and the Secretary of 
War sent Dr. Moton to France to look into and 
report upon conditions affecting the Negro sol- 
diers and to suggest whatever changes he thought 
would add to their usefulness and well-being. 
This mission called for tact and insight of a high 
order and was of great benefit to both races, clear- 
ing up misunderstandings, removing friction, and 
promoting justice and goodi-will. 

His work still broadens out. ** Speaking the 
truth in love" to both races, never dodging an 
issue, but meeting men of both races in the spirit 
of Christ, Dr. Moton is one of the constructive 
forces in America to-day. 



TWENTY years or so before the Civil War, 
a Maryland slave ran away from his master 
and went to Canada by the ** underground 
railway.'* That was the name for the chain of 
homes and stopping-places where Negroes fleeing 
from slavery were hidden and cared for by those 
who sympathized with them. If slaves were dis- 
covered before they got out of the United States, 
the law required sheriffs and policemen, even in 
the free states, to arrest them and return them 
to their masters ; but if they once got across the 
line into Canada, they could not be brought back. 
Quakers and others who thought, even then, that 
slavery was wrong arranged stopping-places from 
many points along the borders of the slave states 
and all the way up to Canada, and many colored 
people made their way along these routes to free- 
dom. So this Maryland slave, named Boman, 
when once he had found friends, was passed on 
from hiding-place to hiding-place until at last he 
reached Ontario, in Canada, and there he lived 
and worked for over twenty years. He married 
the daughter of a Negro farmer who had, himself, 
run away from Virginia long years before. 


36 In the Vanguard of a Race 

When Lincoln's proclamation freeing the slaves 
made it safe to retnm to the United States, Roman 
took his family to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, 
and there, on the 4th of Jnly, 1864, his son Charles 
was bom. 

There was a large family, and they knew what 
it was to be poor and without many of the com- 
forts of life. Sometimes, however, people who do 
without comfort get something bigger and .better 
in its place; they learn to be brave and cheerful 
no matter what their surroundings are. This little 
colored boy was one of these fortunate people. 
The hard lessons he mastered helped him during 
the struggle of his early years. Now that he has 
won comfort and independence for himself and 
his family, these lessons still help him by giving 
him a quick sympathy for those who struggle. 
Much of his happiness comes from giving to others 
the help he himself used to need so much. 

Charles was a chap who liked to discover things 
for himself. A little brook ran near his home, and 
he wanted to find out where it came from. He 
was a tiny child, only three or four years old, but 
he set out to find the beginning of that brook. 
He walked a great distance, resting by the way, 
no doubt, but he was gone so long that his mother 
roused the neighborhood to help her find him. 
They searched the fields and the woods, and at last 
they found the boy at the place where the brook 
began — a little pool with a bubbling spring at the 

A Doctor of Medicine 37 

bottom of it. He was watching it as hard as he 
couldy more puzzled than ever as to where the 
water oame from and still determined to find ont. 
Bnt his mother carried him off home, and if he 
had intended trying to get down the hole at the 
bottom of the pool, his plans were nipped in the 

When he was six years old, Charles ^s father, a 
broom-maker by trade, went back to Canada, and 
until he was twelve, the boy spent much of his time 
on his grandfather ^s farm. He had all sorts of 
adventures here, trying to ride the steers like the 
big boys and being tossed over the fence, walking 
a mile to the pasture gate to open it for his grand- 
father, that he might ride back with him as a 
reward, climbing the fruit trees to eat all one boy 
could possibly hold, trotting after the sheep, and 
often getting into mischief which tried his grand- 
mother's patience more than he found comfort- 
able. His grandfather was his refuge at such 
times aud usually arranged a peace for him. The 
old man liked the boy's fearlessness, his honesty, 
his eagerness to find out things, his readiness to 
take a hand in whatever came along. Like most 
men, he did not take the messes the child made or 
his mischief as seriously as his wife, who had to 
set things in order. 

But play-days were soon over. When Charles 
was twelve years old, his parents moved to Dun- 
das, and the boy went to work in a cotton mill. 

38 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

The machinery started at six o'clock, and any one 
who was not at the mill ten minutes beforehand 
had to go to the office for discipline. This was 
snch an unpleasant experience that most of the 
boys arrived far ahead of time. Charlie Soman 
put himself on the safe side by being on hand 
every morning at half -past five. 

With work lasting for ten and a half hours, 
there was little time left for other thingg. But 
the boy's heart was so set on having an educa- 
tion, — ^there were so many things he wanted to 
find out, — that he spent two hours every evening 
at night-school, studying afterwards at home until 
far into the night. He read every book he could 
lay his hands on, borrowing them wherever he 
could. On Sundays he went regularly to Sunday- 
school and studied his Bible as far as his oppor- 
tunities made possible. Charlie belonged to a lit- 
tle band of teetotalers, who were much less num- 
erous then in Canada, or anywhere else, than they 
afterward became. And behind everything he did, 
this boy had one settled purpose in life. 

One day at the noon hour the boys at the mill 
were telling each other what they meant to be 
when they grew up. Charles, the one colored boy 
in the group, and a white boy named Arthur were 
the only two who had nothing to say. The col- 
ored boy, kindly treated by many of his mill asso- 
ciates, was made by others to feel very sharply 
3fliat tiiey looked down upon him, not because of 

A Doctor of Medicine 39 

what he was, but because of the color of his skin ; 
so when the others talked, he often listened and 
said nothing. Arthur said nothing because he was 
a shy boy with different thoughts from most of 
the others. After a while, one of the bigger boyi^ 
turned to him in a bullying, sneering way and 
asked, **Well, Arthur, what are you going to bef 

**I'm going to be a musician,'* replied the boy, 

A howl of derision went up at this. They 
looked at him, poorly clad, without money or 
friends, tied to a factory ten hours a day for 
barely enough to keep him alive, and they 
laughed until they nearly lost their breath. 

When the delightful edge of the joke was dulled 
a little, the big boy, in an effort to repeat his suc- 
cess with Arthur, turned to the silent colored boy, 
sneering more than ever. ** And what are you go- 
ing to be, if you please f he inquired. 

** A doctor of medicine,'* came the answer, quick 
as a flash. 

How they roared at that ! They laughed until 
they almost cried, and went back to work at last 
still chuckling and thinking the big boy who had 
asked the questions a very master of humor. 

But both those boys told the truth. The white 
boy has gone home already, carrying back to God 
the gift which had been given him and which he 
did his best to develop and use. When he died, 
he was the leader of an orchestra. And the col- 

40 In the Vanguard of a Race 

ored boy— but you shall hear what the colored boy 

He worked in the mill for five years — until he 
was seventeen years old. All this time he studied 
and read at nighty and all this time his thirst for 
kiiowledge grew. Then came an accident at the 
mill which sent him to the hospital badly hurt. 
He was there a long time. One operation after 
another was performed, and for months the boy 
fought for his life through suffering and almost 
despair. When at last he came out of the hospital, 
he was on crutches, lame for life. To such a big, 
strong, active young fellow, this must have been a 
great trial. It was well that he had developed a 
strong Christian faith, for he needed all the com- 
fort it could give him. 

But often, through the very troubles which seem 
to block our way, God opens a door through which 
we pass to sometiiing even better than our dreams. 
Now that Charles was hopelessly disqualified as a 
mill worker, it was decided that he must have a 
chance at the brain work he so wanted. On 
crutches, therefore, he went to the Collegiate In- 
stitute in Hamilton. Here he worked as hard as 
though lameness did not exist, finishing the six 
years' course in three. Before school and after, 
Charles found time to help pay his way through 
school. He sold * * notions ' ' wherever he could find 
a buyer and did all the odd jobs possible to one 
in his condition. Despite his drawbacks, the young 

I I5 

* 11 

" 8.1 



» * • 

^ » ' • 

A Doctor of Medicine^ 41 

man kept such brave good- cheer that he made 
friends for himself everywhere he went, among 
both white and black people. Whatever could help 
him, his friends put in his way, and above all, the 
mother whom he so devotedly loved stood by him 
as brave and cheerful as he himself, helping him 
in every possible manner. His teachers were es- 
pecially kind to him, not because he was black, but 
because he was an eager student and learned so 
quickly and even brilliantly. 

**I have taught hundreds of boys,*' said one, 
years afterward, **but among them all this boy 
had the brightest mind I ever touched.'' 

After graduation Charles went South, feeling 
that there he could best serve his people. He 
taught school in Kentucky, then in Tennessee, and 
at length in Nashville, the capital. 

Meharry College, the best medical school for Ne- 
groes in the South, is in Nashville. The school 
has been, and is, a blessing to both races all over 
the South, for with Negroes in every white home 
aAd business house, sickness for either race means 
sickness for both. Meharry raised health-stand- 
ards for Negroes first in Nashville, then in every 
state to which its graduates have gone. Young 
Boman was anxious to enter the college at once, 
but could not for lack of money. However, while 
teaching in the public schools, he began to study 
the books in the medical course. As soon as he 
had saved enough money, he entered Meharry as 

42 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

a regular student. He worked during vacations in 
a colored physician's office and finished his course 
wif h honor. 

After practising briefly in Tennessee, Dr. 
Boman went to Dallas, Texas, where he built up 
a successful practice. He was still a student by 
nature, and from time to time took post-graduate 
courses in Chicago and Philadelphia. Then he 
went to London and Paris, specializing in diseases 
of the eye, ear, nose, and throat. On his return 
from Europe, he was offered a professorship at 
Meharry along the lines of his special prepara- 
tion. He has been there ever since, except during 
the World War when the Government appointed 
him special lecturer to the colored troops, on so- 
cial hygiene. He traveled all over the country in 
the war-years, reaching many thousands of young 
men of his own race with sound teaching and pow- 
erful appeal founded both on his knowledge of 
medicine and his living faith in Jesus Christ. 

While teaching at Meharry and attending to his 
large and growing practice in the city, he still 
found time to study, not alone to keep up in his 
profession, but to broaden his life in other fields. 
He had been offered the degree of M.A. from sev- 
eral colored colleges of excellent standing as an 
honorable recognition both of his scholarship and 
of his services as a citizen, but he would have 
nothing he had not earned. Professor though he 
was, he studied at Fisk University, winning his 

A Doctor of Medicine 43 

M.A. in 1913. He was nearly fifty years old at 
this time, but he never expects to be too old to 
learn. He is now director of physiology and hy* 
giene at Fisk as well as a professor at Meharry. 

Dr. Roman is an active worker in the A. M. B. 
Church, of which he is a member. Into his Bible 
class of two hundred young men and women, he 
puts his whole heart. Sunday after Sunday and 
year after year as the students crowd his class, 
the hold he has upon them is evident. 

It is the same with his medical classes. Because 
of a real love for teaching and for his students, he 
quickens both their minds and their hearts. They 
love him and trust him, and he has helped so many 
in difficulty and trouble, both outward and inward, 
that he cannot remember the half of it himself. 
He has never forgotten his own struggles with 
poverty, with misunderstanding, with pain, and 
with discouragement, and he knows how to help 
and comfort others who are themselves strug- 
gling in like manner. 

For years Dr. Eoman has been known to South- 
em white people as a man of unusual character 
and gifts. He has stood for full justice to his own 
people, but he has always taught and lived his be- 
lief that full respect is possible between the races 
without intermingling and without antagonism. 
This was the burden of his message to the white 
I>eople at the annual meeting of the Southern 
Sociological Congress in Atlanta a few years ago. 

44 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

This address, published afterward in **The Hu- 
man Way,'* a pamphlet issued by the Congress, 
is, like all of Dr. Roman's addresses, full of epi- 
grammatic thought. For example : 

** Misunderstanding, rather than meanness, 
makes men unjust to each other." 

** Ignorance and prejudice feed upon each 

*'As a man thinks, not as he looks, finally fixes 
his status." 

* ' Thoughts, not bites, win the battles of life. ' ' 

** Man's attitude toward new or unpleasant 
truth is the greatest tragedy of human life." 

**No man is secure in his rights so long as any 
man is deprived of his." 

**Let us accept it as a fact, that the Negro and 
the white man must survive or perish together in 
the South, and that there can be no mutual fair 
play without mutual respect. ' ' 

To bring this respect about, Dr. Boman pleaded 
for fairer dealing in the newspapers. They re- 
port crimes committed by Negroes as if they were 
especially Negro crimes, not as a crime committed 
by a criminal, as white crimes are reported. No 
one thinks of blaming a whole race for one bad 
white man's deeds, but a Negro's crime is re- 
ported as something different — something any 
member of that race might be expected to do. 

He asked three other things which would do 
much in promoting fair play and mutual respect : 

A Doctor of Medicine 45 

The first was to clear white speech of such con- 
temptuous terms as ** nigger,'' **coon,'' and the 
like. Courtesy, one might say, never belittles 
either its user or its recipient. The second was 
never to report the speeches of race agitators who 
try, especially on certain political levels, to stir 
prejudice for personal gain. The third was to 
publish the creditable things the Negroes do and 
to try to learn more about those members of the 
race whose live? and achievements are worthy of 

These are sensible suggestions. Hundreds of 
Southern white people are now at work trying to 
get them and others like them adopted through- 
out the South. In every Southern state and in 
over eight hundred counties in the South there 
have been formed in the last three or four years 
interracial committees composed of leading white 
and leading colored men and women. Sometimes 
they aU belong to the same committee, sometimes 
there is a white committee and a colored one. In 
the latter case, the two committees meet frequently 
together. All over the South the best members of 
both races are coming to know one another. Dr. 
Eoman is an influential member of the Tennessee 
state committee, and the white men who serve with 
him believe in him. One of these men, Br. Kirk- 
land, the chancellor of Vanderbilt University, said 
of him that he had the respect and esteem of the 
thoughtful men of both races, and that his life 

46 In the Vanguard of a Ra^ce 

and work had done much for the uplift of his race. 

Dr. Boman's own people have honored him in 
many ways. Layman though he is, his Church 
sent him as fraternal messenger to the Canadian 
Methodist Church and also as a delegate to the 
Ecumenical Methodist Conference which met in 
Toronto in 1911. His fraternal address was 
widely commented on in the Canadian papers as 
of remarkable eloquence without regard to the 
speaker's race. He has served as president of 
the National Negro Medical Association and has 
done much to raise the standards of health and 
sanitation among his people. Dr. Boman is much 
sought after as a speaker at Negro colleges, North 
and South. His addresses make, not only for 
better living and higher standards within his own 
race, but also for helpful relations of the two 
races one with another. He has written much 
for the best class of Negro publications. A book 
written by him on American civilization and the 
Negro has won high praise. 

Dr. Boman does not propose to grow old if he 
lives to be a hundred. He thinks hard work, hard 
study, and helping others, if wisely mixed and 
regularly taken, is a better elixir of youth than 
Ponce de Leon's fabled fountain. He is still in 
full vigor, still studying, still growing, still broad- 
ening his service to his fellow man. 


SOME people seem bom to get those things 
done which nobody else would even attempt. 
Some driving force within sends them out 
on a new, imtried, hard way, on what seems to all 
their friends to be a wild-goose chase. To them, 
however, it is a veritable quest of the Holy Grail. 
They go from one difficulty to another, with no 
better sense, the onlookers think, than to tackle 
the impossible; and then, all at once, when the 
wild project is thought to be dead and as good as 
buried, the thing, in some amazing way, is done 
— a success beyond dispute. Then people begin to 
praise it and the doer of it, and forget that they 
said it couldn't be done. That is what happened 
to Nannie Burroughs and her big idea. She says 
the Lord worked it out, and that it couldn't pos- 
sibly have been done without prayer and faith. 

Nannie was bom in Orange, Virginia. Her 
mother's people and her father's belonged to that 
small and fortunate class of ex-slaves whose en- 
ergy and ability enabled them to start towards 
prosperity almost as soon as the war which freed 
them was over. When she was still a very little 
girl, one of her grandfathers owned a good farm, 


48 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

and the other made a comfortable living as a 
skilled carpenter. Her mother, left with her 
little girl to provide for, conld have been sup- 
ported by either of these men, but she was un- 
willing to be dependent on relatives; and besides, 
she wanted her child to have a better education 
than the country town could afford. When Nannie 
was five years old, her mother went to Washing- 
ton. Here she worked aud kept her chUd in school 
until Nannie graduated with honor from high 

The young girl took a thorough business course, 
and special work in domestic science. She 
wanted to teach the latter branches, and as she 
had led her class in all her work, she was given 
to understand that if she would take this special 
preparation, she would be made assistant teacher 
of domestic science ia the high school. The posi- 
tion was given, however, to some one else, who, it 
was rumored, had ^'pulP' with the authorities. 

**I can't tell you how it broke me up,'' she said. 
**I had my life all planned out — ^to settle down in 
Washington with my mother, do that easy, pleas- 
ant work, draw a good salary, and be comfortable 
the rest of my life, with no responsibilities %o 
weigh me down. I never would have done the 
thing I have done ; I would xiot even have thought 
of it. , ' 

* * But somehow, an id^a was struck out of the 
suffering of that disappointment — that I would 

MiBB Nannie H. Bubboughs 

Saving an Idea 49 

8ome day have a school here in Washington that 
politics had nothing to do with, and that would 
give all sorts of girls a fair chance and help them 
overcome whatever handicaps they might have. 
It came to me like a flash of light, and I knew I 
was to do that thing when the time came. But I 
couldn't do it yet, so I just put the idea away in 
the back of my head and left it there. ' ' 

She went to Philadelphia and worked in an 
office for a year. Then she went to Louisville, 
Kentucky, where, at the headquarters of the Na- 
tional Baptist Convention of the Colored Church, 
she became bookkeeper and editorial secretary. 
Like her mother, she had been a devoted church 
member from childhood, and she put her energy, 
her training, and her great gifts into the service 
of her church. 

But even the heavy official work for both the 
men 's and the women 's conventions could not con- 
sume the energy of this human dynamo. 

Because she had had such good opportunities at 
school and knew so much about right ways of liv- 
ing, Miss Burroughs felt a responsibility toward 
helping those who had had no chance to learn. 
She was teaching in Sunday-school and was being 
asked to talk at all kinds of church meetings. 
*^But what's the sense of talk," she said, '4f you 
don't do something? You talk, and people get 
stirred up and think they'd like to do something, 
and that makes them feel good, and they go off 

50 In the Vanguard of a Race 

happy and satisfied, feeling as though they're 
some account in the world because they Ve felt like 
doing something — and they haven *t done one thing 
to help one soul alive. If you^re going to be a 
Christian, you^ve got to do something week-days 
as well as talk and feel about it Sundays. ' * 

So she organized a Woman's Industrial 
Club. They rented a house and served cheap, 
wholesome lunches for colored workings-folk. 
In the evenings she taught domestic science 
Ihere. She started a class in millinery and a class 
in what she called, * ' every-day things needed in the 
home.'' This included sanitation, hygiene, suit- 
able dress, care of children, cooking, sewing, and 
laundry work. The women of the Industrial Club, 
her helpers and backers, each paid ten cents a 
week toward the work, and she managed the rest 
^f it herself. She carried on this work during 
«the nine years she lived in Louisville. 

One day one of the leading white women of the 
«ity came into her office and asked if she was run- 
ning the cooking-school at the colored women's 
club. When Miss Burroughs said yes, the womau 
asked how she got the money for it. 

**Why, we dub women pay ten cents a week, 
and we make pies and cakes and sell themi." 

* ' Well, ' ' said the white woman, * ^ don 't give your 
lessons for nothing any longer. People value more 
highly that which they pay for. If they can afford 
only a penny, let them pay that. I will pay you 

Saving an Idea 51 

regularly for every pupil you have, so that yott 
can get whatever you need for the school. ' ' 

After this, the club grew until Miss Burroughs 
was forced to put others in charge of the classes, 
merely supervising the work herself. 

In 1900 she went to the annual meetitig of 
the Colored Baptist Convention and gave a 
talk which seems to have electrified the 
assembly. As one result, she was made secretary 
of the Woman's Auxiliary, a small and feeble mis- 
sionary organization of this great Church which 
had raised the year before just $15 for the gen- 
eral mission work of the denomination. She has 
been its secretary ever since. In her first year as 
secretary, the women raised over $1,000. In 1920 
they raised over $50,000, and in the twenty years 
of her leadership they have put $366,000 into the 
missionary treasury of their Church. 

But while Miss Burroughs worked with enthusi- 
asm and energy for her denomination, she wanted 
to enlist her churchwomen in something which 
would draw together and help all the women of 
her race. 

That idea of a school for girls who needed help 
had been tucked away for some time in the back 
of her head ; now she took it out and considered it. 

There were schools for colored girls, of course; 
but they were, for the most part, founded and all 
were largely supported by white people. WhUe 
Miss Burroughs knew how invaluable this help to 

52 In the Vanguard of a Bacp 

her race had been, and is, yet she felt that the 
Negroes were far enough along now to begin to 
do more for themselves. 

The year after she became secretary of the 
Woman's Auxiliary, she tried to get her Baptist 
women together as a starting point for this 
broader work. 

* ' We will work harder than ever for the foreign 
fields of our Church, ' ' she said ; * * but let us start 
a national school for girls here at home — ^not a 
Baptist school, but one that all Negro women, of 
every creed, can come together on. We don't know 
what we can do until we all get together/' 

But the women would not listen. They would 
have none of Miss Burroughs ' school. They were 
Baptists, working for the great Baptist Church. 
Again she put her idea away in the back of her 
head for safe-keeping and returned to her work 
in Louisville and to the building up of her Baptist 
organization in the one direction it was as yet 
willing to take — that of Baptist good works. 

Five years later the Auxiliary was raising 
$13,000 a year. The women had just put up a 
brick building for some of their mission work in 
Africa. Miss Burroughs told them that they 
needed to help girls here in America as well as 
in Africa, and that if they had the school she pro- 
posed, they could bring girls here from Africa and 
prepare them to go back as missionaries. They 
liked that idea and proposed to rent a little cot- 

Saving an Idea 53 

iage somewhere and put some African girls in it 
to be trained as Baptist missionaries. 

^^' That's not my idea,'* said the secretary. *'It 
must be national, not Baptist, — something all col- 
ored women can do for all colored girls.'* 

They appointed a committee. * * You know, ' ' she 
said, with a flash of the laughter that is always 
ready to bubble up, ^^when we women just must 
dodge an issue, we put it over on a committee. 
But when the committee met in Louisville, in Jan- 
uary, 1907, they endorsed the plan I suggested.'' 
When Miss Burroughs had her vacation that sxma- 
mer, she went to Washington to look for a site. 
With a horse and buggy she drove all over that 
part of the District, and found a hill site. 

^ ^ Somehow I felt the school had to be set on a 
hill. It was all red gullies up here and a sight 
to see, with a dilapidated eight-room house atop 
of it all ; but there were six acres of land and this 
beautiful view. It was for sale for $6,500, $500 
to be paid in ten days and $500 more twenty days 
later; the remaiader could wait at interest. I 

**Had the women given you the money?" 

<*Why, no, not a cent." 

**Had you saved all that yourself?" 

Again that look of flashing laughter. 

**Why, no; I hadn't saved any money. I'd had 
too many things to do with my money. I had 
saved an idea." 

54 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

''I see. But what about the $500?" 

**I went to Louisville and raised it. From 
my own people — ^yes. You see'' — soberly — ^^I'd 
prayed about this thing for a long time. I felt 
God wanted me to go ahead, and I knew if I did 
what I could and trusted Him, He would see it 
through. And He did. ' ' 

She stayed on in Louisville for two years until 
the whole $6,500 was raised and the place 
paid for. Then she went to Washington and 
opened her school in October, 1909, with eight 
pupils. The property is vested in a self -perpetu- 
ating board of trust, the majority of the members 
being women. If the board is ever dissolved, it 
goes to the Baptist Convention and the Women's 
Auxiliary jointly, to be used for educational pur- 

Both races bewailed Miss Burroughs' leaving 
Louisville. She was offered a site for her school 
as a gift if she would stay, but she felt that as a 
national institution, it should be in the nation's 
capital. The Louisville Courier-Journal, one of 
the most distinguished papers of the South, paid 
her a remarkable tribute : ^ * Probably no woman 's 
organization in Louisville or, for that matter, else- 
where is doing as much practical, far-reaching 
good" as the organization founded by *^ this re- 
markable young colored woman, Miss Nannie Bur- 

Of course the school grew. And its young prin- 

Saving an Idea 55* 

eipaly still secretary of the Women's Auxiliary and 
having to raise money for her teachers' salaries^ 
must provide means for enlargement. She dedded 
to turn an old stable back of the house into class- 
rooms and a dormitory. 

But for once it looked as though she must fail-. 
The women who had wanted the school to be a. 
Baptist training-school did not call it the National 
Training School, as Miss Burroughs did. Most 
of them just called it, *' Nannie Burroughs^ 
school" and washed their hands of it. But one 
Baptist woman stood by her. When things looked 
most hopeless, Mrs. Maggie L. Walker, the woman, 
banker of Eichmond, gave her $500 on condition- 
that she would not tell any one who gave it to 
her. That started the fund, and soon all the 
money needed was in hand. 

**I had to keep my promise, of course,'' said 
Miss Burroughs, ^*and not say a word. But you. 
see what I did. ' ' 

My eyes followed hers to a substantial, well- 
painted building which bore above its white col- 
umns the legend, ^^ Maggie L. Walker Hall" — a 
monument to a woman's faith in a woman and in 
her idea of service. 

The briers and weeds were gone by this time; 
the girls were cultivating a three-acre garden and 
canning the surplus yield ; they had filled the gul- 
lies themselves, students and teachers; they had 
set out trees ; and soft green slopes covered the 

56 In the Vanguard of a Race 

once-bare hill. Concrete walks came next, and 
then Pioneer Hall, built new from the ground up, 
three stories and a basement. A white man lent 
the money for this building, but colored people 
paid for it. During the war two additional acres 
were purchased, with a dwelling which was re- 
modeled for sleeping-rooms, industries, and a 
clubroouL The Northern Baptist white women 
then offered $3,500 for a model cottage to be used 
in the domestic science work. Negroes added $500 
for the building and furnished the cottage taste- 
fully. The senior class in domestic science runs 
the Home on a practical and profitable basis. 
Conventions meeting in Washington and all sorts 
of local organizations, clubs, and groups come out 
for luncheons and dinners. The girls serve them^ 
and the money goes to the school. 

One day a Washington bank called up Miss Bur- 
roughs and told her they had $1,000 for her. 

*'For mef " she gasped. '^ Where 'd you get it? 
Are you sure it 's for me ? ' ' 

* * It 's for Nannie H. Burroughs of the National 
Training School. Come down here and we'll tell 
you what we know about it. ' ' 

She lost no time. The money, she learned^, 
came from the estate of a white Californian 
who had left a certain sum for work begun 
and developed by Negroes who showed initia- 
tive and vision. A colored man had told the execu- 
tors about Miss Burroughs' school, and after due 

Saving an Idea 57 

investigation they had sent her $1,000 for her 

**I couldn't put a big gift like that into some- 
thing already started,'' she said. ** There's al- 
ways a place for money— our water-works cost us 
$7,000 up on this hill, and we 've put in steam heat 
and electric lights. But this money had to give 
us something we never would have had without 
it. I got $3,000 more from my own people and 
we built the community house down there at the 
foot of the hill, across the road. Then we put four 
thousand books into it, upstairs. The public 
schools and our school and the whole community 
use those books. ' ' 

They showed use when we went to look at them 
— ^use, not abuse. They are undoubtedly appre- 
ciated. They are in a big room used for commu- 
nity gatherings and entertainments. Downstairs 
is a store. Formerly there was not a place within 
a mile where a spool of thread could be bought. 
Here the neighbors can get notions, staple gro- 
ceries and canned goods, and almost anything that 
a housekeeper is likely to need in a hurry. The 
girls of the domestic science department have a 
cake and pie department that is very popular. 

The community house quickens the mental and 
spiritual life of the whole neighborhood, ties the 
school and the community together, gives the girls 
training both in business and in service to the com- 
munity, and yields the school an annual cash in- 

58 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

oome of nine per cent on the investment. Doesn't 
a thousand dollars have to be energized with vi- 
sion, business ability, and human sympathy before 
it can bring in returns like thatf 

With the war came a severe testing of the qual- 
ity of the work the school was doing for the souls 
of the students. The bitter cold of the war-winter 
put the school pump quite out of commission — ^this 
was before the $7,000 water-works went i;i. All 
winter long — and how long that winter lasted ! — 
teachers and girls carried in buckets every drop 
of water used on the place from the neighborhood 
springs and wells up that steep, icy hill to the tank 
in the third story of Pioneer Hall : water for 
cooking, bathing, laimdry, dish-washing, cleaning 
for a hundred and fifty people. **And we all kept 
clean, and we all kept sweet," said Miss Bur- 
roughs, who did her full share of water-carrying. 

They carried coal, too, — all of them. Miss JBur- 
roughs included, — for the coal companies, hard 
pressed for labor, refused to carry coal up the 
difficult hill. They would dump it at the bottom, 
at the entrance to the grounds, or they would not 
deliver it at all. 

*'I just explained it to the girls,'' said the prin- 
cipal. **I showed them it was really a part of 
Qur service to our country, — and a mighty small 
part compared to what our boys were doing with- 
out a word of complaint, — and they caught the 
spirit and the coal-scuttles too. We all did. We 

Saving an Idea 59 

brought every piece of coal the school used that 
winter all the way up this hill. Not a man on the 
place, you understand. We carried coal and 
water, tended to our pigs and chickens, cooked, 
cleaned, and did our school work in a cheerful, 
happy spirit. You know,'' she went on thought- 
fully, '*I think the *hard' years were the best ones 
we had. We built more character. Souls grow 
imder pressure. ' ' 

So do ideas — the kind Miss* Burroughs saved in 
the back of her head so long. That special idea 
took a fresh start once the water-works were in, 
and assumed the shape of a laundry. The girls 
had done their personal laundry mTh the pSni- 
tive equipment of wooden tubs, but the school had 
been paying $500 a year for laundering its house- 
hold linen, aad its principal has that rarest of 
business gifts which can turn liabilities into as- 
sets. Since sheets must be laundered, they should 
bring money in by the process instead of taking 
it out. If they had a big, modem laundry, the 
girls who desired to do so could learn the work 
as a trade, and by taking in outside work, those 
who needed to earn their school expenses could 
do so, at least in part, and the school could earn a 
profit on its investment — all instead of paying out 
$500 a year to somebody else for washing sheets. 
Miss Burroughs worked it all out after due in- 
vestigation and so convinced her board of trus- 
tees that they told her to go ahead. If she could 

60 In the Vanguard of a Race 

raise $10,000, the remainder could remain on mort- 
gage for a while. One of her trustees told her 
if she wonld get $9,000 hy a certain date, he 
would give her a thousand himself. So she did 
an amazing thing. 

She went to white contractors, told them she 
hadn't a cent as yet, and asked them to begin 
on the building at once ; and they did. When the 
building was almost finished, — a. fine, big, modern 
plant, — she was asked, **Have you got the 
money f ' ' 

* ' I haven *t tried yet, ' ' she answered. * ^ I 've just 
been preparing for my campaign. I'll get it, be- 
cause God will give it to me. I look to Him, and 
He never fails me. It's His work. I began it 
for Him, I take it to Him day by day. When we 
need anything, I look to Him for it, then I think 
and pray and work over my part of it the very 
best I can, and what we need is given. ' ' 

A $15,000 building almost finished on pure faith 
— faith of white contractors in a Negro woman, 
faith of the woman in God ! The school has been 
run like that throughout its twelve years of life. 
In the first eleven years $232,000 in cash has gone 
into it. Of this, the Women's Auxiliary has given 
$4,300, the white Baptist women, $3,500, a white 
Californian, $1,000, and a few thousand dollars 
have come from the students in board. All the 
remainder has been raised by the principal from 
people of her own race, and secured while she has 

Saving an Idea 61 

been raising the income of the Baptist Women's 
Auxiliary from $15 a year to $50,000. 

Yet the test of a school is not the money put 
into it, but the character that comes out of it. 
By this standard the National Training School is 
an asset to the nation. No one can see the girls 
without being impressed with their eflBciency and 
their spirit of service. It is hard to estimate the 
loss to both races from lack of room at the school 
for those who apply for admission. 

**But I believe,'* says the woman who has built 
all this out of the idea she saved so carefully, 
*Hhat some day God will move some white per- 
son to give the school something big — endowment 
and equipment to do the best work it is capable 
of. I've felt all along that if we colored people 
could start it and prove that it is worth while 
and would do our very best for it, that before I 
am clean worn out and can't do any more, He 
would put it into the heart of some one of His 
rich white children to do what we can't — endow 
it and make it a permanent help to my people and 
my country after I'm dead and gone. I pray for 
that, and I'm trusting for it, too. But I'm not 
asking anybody but God for it. It must come 
from Him." 

Miss Burroughs is at present working to unite 
the women of her race for mutual service. She is 
organizing them as workers — including artists, 
teachers, business and professional women, do- 

62 In the Vanguard of a Race 

mestics, and home women in one big gronp, with- 
out regard to class distinctions. She wants them 
to stand together as women with common ideals 
of work, of standards of living, of service, and 
of self-respect. She wants the most favored 
women of her race to stand beside the poorest 
and, in doing so, to give the latter a new respect 
for themselves and their work, new hope, and new 
ambition, that, through a better service, they may 
win a better reward. 

Miss Burroughs' influence over her people can 
hardly be estimated. She has dynamic power. 
Measured, not as a Negro woman, but as a woman, 
she has extraordinary ability ; and her living faith 
in God and in all His children, of whatever race, 
her spirit of service and sacrifice have energized 
her gifts as only faith and love can do. 


THEEE was once a colored boy who thought 
he would some day be a preacher, but as 
he grew older, he decided that being a 
preacher was too poor an occupation for a young 
man with braing and an education. He wanted 
to make money and of course that cut preaching 
out. Yet to-day in a Massachusetts city, William 
DeBerry is the pastor of one of the largest Con- 
gregational churches for colored people in Amer- 
ica. Far from being as rich as he once hoped to 
be, he is, however, as happy as the day is long, 
and he is bringing happiness to hundreds of others 
every year. 

William DeBerry was bom in Nashville, Ten- 
nessee, where for thirty years his father worked 
in the railroad shops on week-days and preached 
to his people on Sundays. The boy's idea of 
preaching came from his father's example and 
also from his mother, who taught him that to be a 
preacher was to have the noblest of opportunities. 

The boy had a well-developed bump of per- 
sistence. This characteristic was evident even 
when William was a little chap, for one bitterly 
cold day he nearly turned himself into an icicle 


64 In the Vanguard of a Race 

finishing up something that was ahnost too much 
for him — almost, but not quite. On this day he 
was outdoors, not too warmly clad, when an old 
Negro came by leading a horse and asking the way 
to the mill, which was on the edge of town. The 
old man could not understand the child's direc- 
tions, and William, not having been out long 
enough to realize how cold it was, became sud- 
denly fired with a great ambition. He offered to 
go with the man to the mill if he could ride the 
horse. In a moment he was lifted to the horse's 
back, and rode off gloriously, the envy of all 
his playmates. But it was two or three miles 
to the mill. The weather was making a new low 
record, and a high wind cut like ice. The little 
boy ached with cold and nearly cried with it. His 
hands could scarcely hold the reins. He wished he 
had stayed at home. He longed to get down on 
his poor frozen toes and dance to warm them. 
But he had said he would ride to the mill, so he 
tried to set his chattering teeth and went on. 
When they reached the mill, the boy was just a 
little frozen lump, too stiff to stand, at first. * ' But 
I managed to limber up a little walking home,'' 
he said, laughing. **I was glad I hadn't said I'd 
ride both ways." 

A few years after this, when he was about 
ten years old, the city was repairing its streets 
with macadam, and many small boys of both races 
broke the stone for the roadways. They called 

is is I 
> I » !f 


° sa-sti- 



» c s 


of the 
and h 

A City Pastor 65 

it * Specking' ' stone. The boy who persisted till 
he 'Specked a perch'* — ^a pile of rock a foot high 
and five and a half feet each way — was rewarded 
with the munificent sum of fifty cents. So William 
decided to peck a perch. He worked after school 
every day and at last received a slip of paper giv- 
ing an order on the paving company for half a 
dollar. To get it cashed, the boy had to go two 
or three miles, from away out in North Nashville 
nearly to the river, but that was a small matter. 
He trotted ojSf gaily, got his money, and turned 
back home, when a wonderful thing happened ! A 
man asked him to hold his horse for him. When 
he came back, he gave the boy a whole silver 
dime — ^just for holding a horse ! 

William never knew quite how he got home ; he 
thinks maybe he flew. But in any case, he rushed 
in to his mother, almost bursting with excitement, 
and thrust all his wealth into her hands. 

**I earned it myself!*' he shouted joyfully. 
''It's to buy you a dress with. I earned it I Go 
get a dress!" 

And so she did. All the way to town she 
walked and bought with fifty cents calico enough 
to make a dress. The ten cents she would not 
take; William must spend that for himself. But 
the dress! How they both loved and admired 
it, and how proudly the mother wore it, with her 
boy who had given it to her walking beside her ! 

William attended public school until he was 

'66 In the Vanguard of a Race 

.tibout fourteen, when his father thought he should 
.go to work. He ** hired ouf in the country that 
summer, tending to the horse, doing the chores, 
helping in the garden. He was very proud of 
having money of his own, and he meant to get a 
place in one of the hotels in the fall. He had 
quite suflScient education, he thought, to preach 
when he was old enough. 

But in the fall a friend who was entering the 
preparatory school at Fisk University persuaded 
him to go to school again. His mother was very 
much pleased that her boy should want more of 
.an education. But his father, who lived usefully 
with very little book-learning, was doubtful about 
so much schooling doing William any good. How- 
ever, he did not oppose his wife 's wishes, and the 
boy entered Fisk. Once started, he stuck to his 

The same quality of persistence helped the boy 
to win in the preparatory school a scholarship 
which aided him year after year. He worked hard 
during vacation, spending two summers in a saw- 
mill. In the fall he did odd jobs in the hotels. 
After entering college at Fisk, he taught school 
in the summer except for one year when he was 
a porter on a Pullman car — a year that tested 
liim as no year had done yet. 

He went to Cincinnati for this job, and a friend 
lent him his carfare and ten dollars over. He 

A City Pastor 6T 

carried letters of recommendation from Dr. Cra- 
vath, the president of Fisk, from the school 
superintendents where he had taught, and from 
several white people for whom he had worked. 
But in Cincinnati he was met by other Nashville 
boys who told him no more porters were being 
engaged, they had all applied in vain. Yet he 
went to see for himself. The man who employed 
the porters was out, he was told, not to return 
until morning. He spent the afternoon look- 
ing for other work, but without success. The next 
morning he returned to the Pullman office. 

** There's the boss,'* said the office boy. ** He- 
won 't give you a job, but there he is." 

The **boss" was talking with friends, among 
whom was a lady. Young DeBerry knew that if 
he interrupted the man to ask for a job, he would 
be told, as his friends had been, that there were 
no vacancies. So he walked up to the great man's 
desk, without a word laid before him his sheaf of 
recommendations, and stepped back, waiting in. 

The ''boss," not knowing what the papers con- 
tained, read them. Then he turned. *'Are you 
William DeBerry?'' he demanded. 

^*Yes, sir." 

**What do you want?" 

'*A porter's job on a Pullman." 

**Can you fill out an application blank?" 

68 In the Vanguard of a Race 

^^Yes, sir.'' 

^^Then go fill out this one and bring it here 
to me.'' 

He could scarcely believe his good fortune. He 
filled out that blank with the greatest care. 

**Did you write this yourself?" inquired the 

'^Yes, sir." 

**Well, I'll take you — ^if you can buy your uni- 
form. You must pay twenty-five dollars for it, 
cash down. Can you get it ? " 

'*Yes, sir," came the instant reply. ('*I knew 
I could get it some way," he said afterwards, 
** because I just had to, and I had ten dollars 
toward it in my pocket.") 

*'Very well," said the boss. ** Here's the ad- 
dress of the tailor. You can report for duty to- 
morrow. ' ' 

The tailor was an old Jew. William told him 
his story and showed his recommendations. He 
offered ten dollars cash and a draft for fifteen 
dollars on his first month's wages. The old man 
shook his head. 

^ ^ I never give credit, ' ' he said. Then he paused, 
read over the letters again, and looked at De- 
Berry with sharp eyes. '*I believe you're hon- 
est," he said, ''and I'll take a chance on you, since 
you want an education. Here's the suit." 

So began the young man's best summer for 
money-making. He was sent first to help an old 

A City Pastor 69 

porter who taught him his duties. This man, of- 
fering him a cigarette one day, was astonished 
to learn that DeBerry neither smoked nor drank. 

**Well, you'll do both pretty soon," he said. 
**If you aren't smoking and taking a drink in two 
months, I'll give you a new uniform myself." He 
failed to do this, however, even though two months 
later he had to admit that his prophecy had not 
come true. 

When DeBerry fiaiished his first run as a full- 
fledged porter, the conductor handed him a roll of 
bills, saying it was his half of the *^ cutting." 
He knew already that the conductor was keep- 
ing back some of the company's money, be- 
cause he had not given him the checks to certain 
berths for which passengers had paid on the train 
rather than in the station. The conductor was re- 
quired to give the porter checks for all berths oc- 
cupied, and these checks, turned in by the porter 
at the end of the run, must tally with the cash 
given in by the conductor. But if porter and con- 
ductor agreed to steal — or ''cut," as they called 
it — the money of those passengers who paid on 
the train, the checks were destroyed, and there 
was no way for the company to find them out. 
Many conductors kept the money for such fares, 
dividing it with the porter at the end of the run. 
This insured the porter's silence and made the 
conductor safe. 

When the conductor gave him the money, De- 

70 In the Vanguard of a Race 

Berry was frightened. If he refused it, he was 
sure the conductor would suspect him of wanting 
to better himself with the company by reporting 
i;he conductor, and that official would probably pro- 
tect himself against this imaginary danger by 
making up some complaint against him and so 
have him dismissed. He couldn^t afford to lose 
Ms job, it would mean dropping out of college. 
Anyway, it was the conductor's stealing, not his, 
lie tried to think. So he took the money for that 
and for several trips afterward. 

But the young man kept getting more and more 
miserable. His mother had taught him from his 
babyhood that he must be honest no matter what 
happened, and he knew he wasn't honest now. At 
last he felt that he would rather lose his job and 
"drop out of his class than to take the money again. 
When he refused it, the conductor could hardly 
believe his ears. 

**Why, you're a fool," he said. ** Everybody 
*does it. Here, take it as a present from me; 
youVe got nothing to do with where it came 
from. ' ' 

When he still refused, the conductor was angry, 
thinking DeBerry meant to report him. He as- 
sured him he would not, but the conductor did not 
trust him. He warned all the other conductors not 
to ^*cut" when they had DeBerry along, he was 
queer and wouldn't go halves, and he might teU. 
So nobody offered him any more money. Soon. 

A City Pastor 71. 

afterward, William was assigned to an old con- 
ductor who had been with the company thirty 
years and had never ^*cut" a dollar. He stayed 
with thiB man, who turned in some report on the 
young porter which brought him an unusual trust*. 
At the ends of the run the conductor changed to 
another car, and DeBerry, in sole charge, col- 
lected the money paid for these short-distance^ 
rides, sending in his own reports. He was very- 
happy over being trusted — a young Negro, only 
four months on the road. 

William had decided by this time that preach- 
ing was out of the question for him ; he would be 
a doctor. He knew a good many preachers, and. 
few of them were educated men. Most of those* 
he met were ignorant leaders of ignorant folk. 
The Church, he thought, was given over to emo- 
tionalism and superstition or to blind ignorance,.. 
which was almost as bad. He did not respect the 
institution as he had when he himself was igno- 
rant. Besides, ministers never made any money^, 
and money he meant to have — ^money and the com- 
forts and power money brings. 

While he was in his senior year at Fisk, De- 
Berry went to Dr. Hubbard, the dean of Meharry 
Medical College, also at Nashville. Dr. Hubbard 
knew the young man *s record as a student and was 
glad to have him enter Meharry. He knew noth- 
ing of William's old determination to be a 
preacher. He offered him a position as tutor ini 

72 In the Vanguard of a Race 

Latin at the college, the income from which would 
help him through his course. He should be happy 
now, William thought, with most of his struggles 
behind him and the way to a profession dear. But 
instead, he was very unhappy. The inward strug- 
gle was acute. 

One of his teachers at Fisk sensed his difficulty. 
She would not urge him, but she asked him what 
he thought was the need of his people for edu- 
cated ministers as leaders. He found it a hard 
question to put out of his mind. Then she lent him 
Drummond's Natural Law in the Spiritual World, 
and the book left him with a new sense of the 
world's need of God's love and of ministers to in- 
terpret it. Not long afterward, Mr. Moore, field 
agent of the American Missionary Association, 
came to Fisk as a lecturer. He taJked at chapel 
about the Negro Church. 

**Some of you young people,*' he said, ** think 
you've outgrown the Church, you think you're too 
educated for it. You look down on it because you 
think its ministers are ignorant. I want to know 
which of you who criticize the Church in this way 
is willing to give your life to make conditions 

^^That question," says Dr. DeBerry, **was 
meant for me. God meant it for me. I couldn't 
get away from it, day or night. I went to Dr. 
Hubbard at last and told him I couldn't come to 
Meharry. I had to preach." 

A City Pastor 73 

DeBerry went to Oberlin for his theological 
course and won a scholarship. He was assigned 
to a little church where he preached on Sundays 
and during vacation. In this way, together with 
the scholarship, he worked his way through to 

He wanted to work among his people in the 
South, where he felt the need was greatest, but 
when he graduated, there was no opening in a 
Southern Congregational church. The home mis- 
sion board advised his going temporarily to a 
small church in Springfield, Massachusetts, whose 
pastor had just died. He went, expecting to 
stay only until he could find an opening in the 
South. He has remained in Springfield twenty- 
two years. 

St. John^s Church had about a hundred mem- 
bers when William DeBerry became its pastor. 
There was no parsonage, but they wanted a mar- 
ried preacher. This suited the young man beau- 
tifully. He went back to Tennessee and married 
the girl who was waiting for him, another Fisk 
graduate, and brought her to Springfield. Of 
course a parsonage had to be built then. With his 
wife to help him, the new pastor began to build up 
his work in earnest. 

While he was still hoping for the Southern open- 
ing, the missionary authorities of his church be- 
gan to send him to large white gatherings and to 
churches to speak of church work among the Ne- 

74 In the Vanguard of a Race 

groes and to tell what the church schools were ao- 
complishiBg. He knew the need as only a Negro 
could ; he knew what the work of the Church 
meant in his own life and in that of his friends ; 
and his heart was burdened for his race. He spoke 
with such force and effect that wherever he went, 
he made friends for his people and for the effort 
to help them. At last the Missionary Association 
urged him to stay in the North. They felt he could 
do more for his people in this way than in any 

For years Mr. DeBerry's church grew stead- 
ily in members, in liberality, and in the regard 
of the white churches of the city. But he him- 
self was not satisfied. He had received calls to 
several large churches, and now one came from 
his home city of Nashville. He told his people 
he could not stay with them unless they would 
undertake a broader service to the colored com- 
munity of Springfield. He wanted a church that 
would be open seven days in the week, helping 
people on work days and rest days alike. It 
seemed an almost impossible undertaking, but the 
elders were willing to follow their leader. The 
church raised the first thousand dollars in cash 
toward a new church and then went to work to 
raise more. With this backing, Dr. DeBerry went 
to the white church and to white friends. The re- 
sult is a big, modern church on a large comer lot. 
It has a beautiful organ and fine institutional 

A City Pastor 75 

equipment. There are large, well-fumished par- 
lors, with a piano and a victrola, magazines and 
books, a sub-station of the public library. Prayer- 
meetings are held here on Thursday nights, but on 
all other week nights the rooms are open to vari- 
ous clubs for women and girls under the care of a 
trained worker. Three hundred are enrolled in 
these clubs. Downstairs is a big room with mov- 
able seats for Sunday-school and for entertain- 
ments. Here also are kindergarten rooms, the 
church kitchen, and rooms for classes in cooking 
and in arts and crafts. 

The clubs for boys and young men, which have 
a hundred members enrolled, are in a building 
around the comer, where are billiard tables, 
games, books, and magazines. A brass band flour- 
ishes here also. A printing-press has just been 
bought, and printing and other trades are to be 
taught. There is an employment bureau for men 
in this building, and one for women in the parish 

Next door to the church is the parish home for 
working girls, which cost $15,000. It contains an 
apartment for the pastor's family and rooms for 
fourteen girls. It is tastefully furnished and 
beautifully kept. Mrs. DeBerry acts as matron. 
The rooms are always full, with a waiting list for 
vacancies. Parlors and an oflSce are on the first 
floor. In the basement there is a well-equipped 
laundry and a kitchen for the girls' use, with small 

76 In the Vanguard of a Race 

individual lockers in which each girl may keep 
her stock of groceries. 

During the war the munition factories of 
Springfield attracted numbers of colored workers, 
and the housing situation became acute. A white 
friend of St. John's bought a large apartment 
house and let it to colored people under the 
church's management. Later, the property was 
deeded to the church. Other friends who believe 
in the pastor and in the kind of spiritual and so- 
cial upbuilding he is doing, followed this example. 
St. John's now owns a number of small houses 
in addition to the apartment house and provides 
shelter for twenty-eight families. The net rent 
from these properties goes to the support of the 
institutional work. Eecently a farm of fifty-four 
acres was given to the church. This is being used 
for vacation groups of boys and men. A Hampton 
graduate in agriculture has charge of the place. 
The vacation guests this summer have given their 
mornings to work on the farm and their after- 
noons to fishing, games, and various sports. This 
part of the work is as yet in its earliest stages of 

The church members are no exception to their 
race in point of liberality. Like most colored 
Christians, they put white people to shame when 
it comes to "giving as the Lord hath prospered." 
The membership is divided into circles, each unit 
" ' ■ ;h does bis or her part in a cheerful spirit 

A City Pastor 77 

of teamwork. But the expenses are heavy, and 
the church could not meet them all, even with the 
help of the rents. Including the pastor, eleven 
paid workers are necessary, eight of them giving 
full time to the work. In the lean days since the 
war, there is the same unemployment and suffer- 
ing among the Negroes as among the white poor. 
Some help has been given by the white Congrega- 
tional church, but for the social work the principal 
aid comes from the Springfield Community Chest. 
This fund receives the gifts of all citizens for all 
forms of conununity service. The trustees appor- 
tion it among carefully-selected agencies. To St. 
John^s is entrusted the amount set aside for social 
work among the colored people of the city. 

Dr. DeBerry, in addition to his work in Spring- 
field and his wider work for his people in the Con- 
gregational Church, has been made a trustee of 
risk University, his alma mater — an honor which 
any college graduate appreciates. The Inter- 
church World Movement, after its recent survey 
of American churches, reported this church of a 
colored Tennesseean as having **the most efficient 
system of organization and work of any church in 
the group surveyed, regardless of race or de- 
nomination. ' * The man who is called to be a phy- 
sician has a noble calling; but the man who is 
called to preach and answers with his whole life 
need not fear that he will be shut up to a service 
less than the best. 


NOT so very many years ago there lived in 
Georgia a little colored girl who needed no 
fairy godmother for she had some of the 
most beautiful gifts in the world. One of them 
was a mother of remarkable character and insight ; 
one was an inborn spirit of happiness which noth- 
ing could dampen and which those around her 
found contagious ; and one was an opportunity for 
development such as few children of her race and 
generation dreamed of. 

Janie's mother, a widow, was housemaid and 
seamstress in the home of a Northern woman of 
wealth and education who lived in the South for 
a number of years. The little colored girl came 
to the white home with her mother. The children 
in the family were about her own age, and they 
all played together, as would have been the case 
in any household while they were little. The white 
children found something oddly attractive about 
Janie. It wasn't just that she was pretty or that 
she had loose, wavy hair and a skin no darker 
than an Italian's or that wherever she was, a good 
time was sure to be going on; it was something 
that belonged to her soul — a kind of delight in liv- 


A Believer in Happiness 79 

ing and a love of living things that radiated aU 
about her. The white children and their mother 
really loved her. 

When her mother married again and went 
back and forth to work between her own home and 
her employer's, Janie was kept at the **big house*' 
and became almost a member of the family. The 
children were read to a great deal, and Janie was 
always an interested listener. As the years went 
on, she gained a knowledge and love of good lit- 
erature such as only favored folk can have. She 
was very prettily dressed, her room was daintily 
furnished, . and all her surroundings were those 
of refinement and ease. She knew little of school, 
but her education from reading and from her asso- 
ciations was superior to that of most of her race. 

Life went on pleasantly for the children until 
they grew old enough for their continued com- 
panionship to seem strange to the neighbors. The 
mistress of the house loved Janie and was un- 
willing to send her away to live among untaught 
Negroes. The life of the average colored woman 
seemed terribly hard to the Northern white 
woman, and she offered to send Janie North, to 
give her as good an education as could be had 
there, and to establish her afterward in some com- 
munity where her race would not be known and 
where life would be easy and pleasant. 

*^But of course,.' ' she said to the child's mother, 
**you must give her up. You must make me her 

80 In the Vanguard of a Race 

legal guardian and agree never to see her again. 
You will do this because it is for her good and 
because you love her/' 

But the mother would not hear of it. She was 
wise enough to know that no good can come to 
those who run away from the obligations into 
which they are born. Janie was colored, she 
said; she h^d had a wonderful chance in life, so 
far ; she must share it with her people. She might 
go North for her education, — her mother would 
be most grateful, — but she must come back South 
to live and work. Furthermore, her mother would 
never give her up. 

They argued for days. The white woman, firm 
in what she thought was right, refused to do any- 
thing more for the child unless she were given to 
her outright. The mother, equally determined, 
took Janie home and prepared to give her such 
an education as she could afford. 

Janie 's step-father was a prosperous Negro, a 
worker in the railroad shops. He had been taught, 
as a slave, the trade of a mechanic and had been 
allowed to ^^hire his time" before the Civil War; 
that is, he had worked where he pleased, paying 
his master a yearly sum to offset what he might 
have been worth as a slave, and keeping the rest 
himself. When the War ended, he had money 
enough to buy some land and build himself a home. 
He had worked and saved ever since. He meant 
to do as well by his step-daughter as by her half- 

'. * • 

JL -r>i >r'¥r" i% ^r j^smitt» 

sLe TiP5cn:- —IV*- nziti*£ yurr ^^! I^^ ji ^.'^c'k 

ycwi -:^ iarr* i,> sctl^. r»->:T5 ^2?sre — ^r t^ $^v2: :j;'^%;:3; 
doit. T]^z±of j^LiTii:rtos»cr::>f.VT^r" 

iai Zf-y w-^1 ce^rt to scmK *ri ^i:^ :V"^ 

a bit dav:<r^ fiT a irrr-^iie: Isal i^er KCuf :::: :>.^ 
bappy possSiZitiss of Efe was ELOt to Iv viA:irxto^$. 
Somethis^ rose up within her and aitjwvrvsi ^^- 
most without her knowledge. 

'*I don't believe Toa^re mined my 1::\\*^ >^h<^ 
said stofnthr: *'I d<Hi't see wby I ean^ do $\\n^^ 
things for mr people yet that will be wvr:h a?* 
yonVe done for me — and worth the floorsj^oruK 

Years afterward she said she hadnt an tdi^ wf 
doing anything for her people when $ht> ^^vkoi 
she didn't know where the words came from. SU<v 
wanted to make her weeping friend happy; anvi 
in the crisis, the deei)est thing in her, unknown to 
her as yet, stirred to life and spoke. 

So she went to Hampton and scrubbed fioon^^^ 
and incidentally scrubbed the skin off her kt\tH>5^* 

**I hated scrubbing floors," she said, lau|rhin|r 

82 In the Vanguard of a Ba^e 

as she told of it. **I^d never learned how. But 
I had learned that I must obey, so whatever they 
told me to do, I did the best I could, whether 
I liked it or not ; and I learned. ' * 

But helping her people! She didn't want to. 
Everybody thought it so great and solemn an 
obligation. Janie hated solemn things — she 
wanted fun. She was homesick for the old home, 
the old friends, the old, beautiful refinements of 
life. Why should she scrub floors or help ignorant 

Then one day she read a book — ^Walter Bes- 
ant's All Sorts and Conditions of Men. All young 
people should read it. **The Palace of DeligW 
would intrigue their hearts as it did hers; and 
perhaps it would change their lives as it did hers. 

^^Why, that's helping folks — ^to make them 
happy!'' she exclaimed. ^*It needn't be solemn at 
all. I'd love to help that way; and I will." 

Her head was full of the idea after that, and 
her heart too. When she graduated, Janie chose, 
out of several places offered her, to teach a school 
in a little community in the ** wire-grass country," 
one of the most backward places in Georgia at 
that time. The salary could hardly be discovered 
without a microscope. 

*^Why, child," gasped her mother, **are you 
crazy? That's no place for you to go to!" 

**I don't believe they ever have much fun down 
there, ' ' Janie answered. * * I 'm going to give them 

A Believer in Happiness 83 

a good time. Of course I can 't live on the ^ salary * ; 
but you can help me out. ' ' 

Janie^s mother always had stood by her, and 
she did now. 

They had a good time in that community that 
year. Janie visited the children's homes week- 
ends to find out what they needed most. Such 
places! Poor souls, no outlook on life at all — 
just a grind of work and poverty and deprivation. 
She taught the children calisthenics and games. 
They played. They bought some croquet sets and 
learned tiie game. They had picnics and trips in 
the woods. They learned in school, too. And the 
white people were all kind. Janie was told they 
wouldnH be, but they were. 

Then she was offered a position at Hampton, 
and in the fall went to Virginia for life. 

In 1889 she married Harris Barrett, a Hamp- 
ton graduate who, from his graduation until his 
death in 1915, was cashier and bookkeeper at 
Hampton. He took her to the home he had bought 
for her, and for years they worked over it to- 
gether until it became a beautiful place. One 
rule they made and never broke: nothing was 
ever to go into the home that was not theirs, 
paid cash for to the last cent before it entered 
the house. The furniture came piece by piece, 
and was the better loved for that reason. But 
Janie had to have some lovely things to start with. 
She called her home the ^'Palace of Delight, '' be- 

84 In the Vanguard of a Race 

cause she meant it to be that to everybody aroand 
her ; and though a palace might be abort on fur- 
niture, what there was of it must be dainty and 
beautiful. She asked her mother to give her only 
the plainest and most necessary clothes for her 
wedding outfit, but to buy her some household 
linen and solid silver. 

"Silver!" gasped her mother. "I can't fit you 
out with solid silver, child." 

"Oh, no," agreed Janie; "I don't want to be 
'fitted out'; but I want a table like the one I was 
brought up to see every day — ^with flowers and 
the whitest cloth and enough silver spoons and 
forks for us two to eat with. I can't have tin 
spoons on my palace table!" , 

So she had silver things from her mother and 
from her many friends at the Institute, and added 
to them, piece by piece, through the years. When 
her home was furnished, with a good many gaps 
where pretty things were going to be some day, 
yet dainty and attractive as far as it went, she 
hunted up people to give a good time in it. 

She found them literally at her gate — the little 
black children turned out in the streets to shift 
for themselves while their mothers cooked or 
washed all day. Mrs. Barrett scrubbed them 
clean and told them stories and played games with 
them. In no time she had a whole kindergarten 
on her hands. Evenings she coaxed in the 
— thers and the young folks, who had so little 

A Believer in Happiness 85 

chance for clean, happy fun in their lives, and 
some of the men. She formed clubs for all of 
them. While they were having a good time, she 
showed them all sorts of ways of better and 
healthier and happier living. By and by the 
*^ Palace of Delight'^ wasn't big enough to hold 
the people who flocked to it. 

All this time Mrs. Barrett and her husband were 
saving money for a bathroom. She wouldn 't have 
one until she could have the kind she wanted, — 
white-tiled, with a set-in tub, and a beautiful big 
bowl, — a bathroom to enjoy for a lifetime. It 
would cost several hundred dollars; and at last 
the money was ready. There was nothing to do 
but select the fixtures and engage the workmen, 
when in came, quite uninvited, the most discon- 
certing thought! 

For a long time Mrs. Barrett had tried tre- 
mendously hard to get the mothers in her clubs 
to love cleanliness. You have to love it very much 
to keep your home and children clean when you 
wash or cook for other people all day and are tired 
out when you get home. Mrs. Barrett never had 
to work out, the mothers said; she had time to 
be clean, and they didn 't. Now if she had a bath- 
room — a lovely, shining, white place with hot and 
cold water on tap instead of stone-cold in a well 
down the street, and a big porcelain tub instead 
of an old wash-tub to bathe in — oh, she could never 
do anything with them again! They would say, 

86 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

**Tou donH know anything abont our hard times 
— you with your comforts and conveniences. Let 
us alone ! ' ' 

She thought about it a long time. She did 
80 want that bathroom! She had dreamed about 
it so long I But at last she decided she wanted 
happiness more-everybody's happiness, which 
is the only real kind, though everybody doesn^t 
know it yet. She talked it over with her hus- 
band, who always understood things, and they 
decided to spend the bathroom money on a com- 
munity house to be built in their own yard. When 
the dubs gave entertainments, as they constantly 
did, the house wouldn't hold the people any more. 
They needed a^eat big room. And so, by love's 
magic, the bathroom became a house that was all 
one big room and could be used by turns for a 
kindergarten, a bad-weather play-ground, a club 
house, a gymnasium, a reading, assembly, concert, 
and lecture room — surely the most Protean bath- 
room ever known. 

The work Mrs. Barrett was doing broadened 
until it touched the whole colored community. 
Teachers and students at Hampton helped, and 
many an Institute boy and girl found there inspi- 
ration for community service in their own f ar-oflF 
homes. Love is always like that — a seed that 
grows, bearing other seeds that fly on the winds 
of life to all sorts of unsuspected spots. The 

A Believer in Happiness 87 

** Palace of Delight^* came true, too big for the 
walls of any one building to hold. 

Mrs. Barrett ^s work did more than leaven the 
Negro community: it built a bridge between the 
races. Long before the women ^s federated dubs 
generally adopted ** Clean-up Week," a civic- 
minded white woman of Hampton, a leader in so- 
cial circles, planned a ** Clean-up'* for her town* 
She knew it would never be clean without the 
Negroes* help, and having heard of Mrs. Barrett's 
work, she asked her help with the colored people. 
Thus brought together, the two women became 
friends, with large consequences, as the sequel will 

During these happy years, the colored club 
women of Virginia made Mrs. Barrett their state 
president. They had a small, struggling organiza- 
tion with a very few hundred members. 

**And it will never be any bigger," thought the 
president, ** until it does something together — 
something for somebody else and together. ' ' 

Who needed happiness most? Girls needed it^ 
surely; girls who grew up without care, either be- 
cause their mothers were dead or because they 
had to work away from home all day so that 
their children grew up in the streets and never had 
any chance. Her heart had often ached over such 
girls. Sometimes they stole something — a trifle, 
usually, or they got into some other trouble the 

88 In the Vanguard of a Baee 

police had to notice. Then they were sent to jail 
and shut up with hardened criminals ; not taught 
anything useful or good, but shut up where there 
was nothing to learn but sin. And yet they were 
just children who had had no chance. Couldn^t 
the fortunate colored women of the clubs do some- 
thing to help these girls t Perhaps the thought of 
her own two protected daughters helped her to 
see the need of these unfortunate girls who were 

So she and all the club women went to work. 

*'We must show Virginia that colored women 
can be useful as citizens,^* said the president; 
* * that we can and will serve our state in a worth- 
while way. We will take this poor human wreck- 
age that is such a dead loss and waste and turn it 
into an asset for the state. '^ 

They worked three years, that handful of 
women, and they raised $5,300. They bought a 
farm of a hundred and forty acres at Peake, 
eighteen miles from Eichmond. Mrs. Barrett 
wrote Dr. Hart, head of the Child Welfare De- 
partment of the Eussell Sage Foundation, for ad- 
vice about pla ns for an industrial training school , 
and he gave fisr the best the Foundation had. 
The school was to be built on the cottage plan, 
that the girls might have the home life they had 
missed. The first cottage, built of concrete and 
brick, was for thirty girls and cost $8,000. 

The women wanted the state to help. It did 

A Believer in Happiness 89 

nothing now for delinquent colored girls, and they 
wanted an appropriation for the building. To 
get it, they knew they must have white people on 
their board of trustees. So Mrs. Barrett went 
to the civic-minded white woman who believed in 
^^ clean-up week.** She was interested at once. 
Soon she had secured the white half of the board 
— herself, and two Richmond women distinguished 
in club and social life, the rector of General Lee *s 
old church in Richmond, a prominent business 
man, and one or two others. Mrs. Barrett se- 
cured Negroes equally well-known among their 
people for her half of the board; and then the 
white and colored women went together to the 
legislature. The committee agreed to recommend 
an appropriation of $3,000, and two white women 
promised $2,000 more. 

It was about this time that Mrs. Barrett *s great 
sorrow came. Her husband died. For twenty-five 
years they had lived in understanding love. One 
can only state the loss and leave it. 

Dr. Hart wrote her that when the house at 
Peake was built, she ought to take charge of it 
herself. **Tou had the vision,** he said; **you 
must go there and make it come true.** 

She showed the letter to a white friend in some 
indignation. *'I go to Peake I** she exclaimed; 
**and leave my lovely home and my friends and 
all my pretty things — to eat in an institution din- 
ing-room off thick plates with tin forks! Of 

90 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

course I'm going to work for it harder than ever; 
but to live there ! ' ' 

Her friend looked at her a minute and then said 
quietly, '*0f course, if you don't feel you ought 
to go, that settles it." 

Somehow she could not get away from these 
words. Then came a telegram from Eichmond. 
The legislature, about to pass the appropriatibn, 
had received a protest from the white people of 
the Peake community ; they didn 't want the school 
there. '*The legislature won't give the money 
in the face of this protest," telegraphed one of 
the white women trustees. ^*What shall I do!" 

Mrs. Barrett answered, **Beg them to give us 
one chance — to try us. If the school proves ob- 
jectionable, I promise to move it. " 

* * That settled me, ' ' she said, laughing a little 
as she told the story. *^I had promised to move it, 
and I wasn't going to move it, so it was up to 
me to make it succeed. I went there to live, and 
I've been there ever since." 

**You must miss your home," it was suggested. 

She looked sober for a minute and then laughed, 

**0h, well, I carried my silver spoons — and 
sometimes, on grand occasions, I use them. My 
two girls have been so sweet about it. And the 
other girls— did you notice when you went over 
the place any difference between the girls in the 
new cottage — ^the fifty-nine new-comers — and the 
honor girls in the first cottage?" 

A Believer in Happiness 91 

^^I certainly did,^' was the reply. **The honor 
girls had a look — ^it was as though something in- 
side of them had waked np/' 

^'That's it/^ she cried. ^^That's it exactlyl 
Their souls wake up. There is scarcely a girl 
there who isn^t a Christian, and their lives and 
th^r work show it. We fail sometimes ; but when 
our girls go out on parole they nearly all make 
good. Most of them go out to service — until they 
marry. They all know how to make a good home 
when they leave us. Some of them win scholar- 
ships in good schools and become teachers. Some 
of our old girls teach here now. ' * 

During the World War Mrs. Barrett had a sur- 
prise. One afternoon when she was out, a party 
of white people came from Washington, inspected 
everything on the place, and went off. Soon after, 
there came from the federal government an offer 
of $20,000 to enlarge the place for work among 
the colored girls around the Virginia camps, if the 
state would give $20,000 to match it. The state 
did, promptly, and two buildings were erected 
which were crowded all during the war. 

The first cottage is the ** honor cottage'* to 
which the best girls are promoted with privi- 
leges after proving their trustworthiness. The 
girls in this honor cottage are those whose faces 
showed so plainly the spirit which had been kin- 
dled within them. In the white uniforms which 
they are allowed to wear on Sundays and special 

92 In the Vanguard of a Race 

occasions, they are a happy, promising looking 

The third building is a big one, midway between 
the other two, and still little more than a shell. 
It was a crowded dormitory in war days, a real 
emergency building, where many a neglected girl 
obtained shelter and care and a start toward 
better things. It is used now for class-rooms, for 
entertainments, and for industries. Eventually it 
will be finished and equipped in a manner worthy 
of the great commonwealth to which it belongs. 
This faith which Virginia has in the work the 
school is doing was strikingly shown two or three 
years ago when the state legislature passed the 
following resolution: 

WhereaSy it has come to the knowledge of the General Assembly 
that most valuable and important services have been rendered by 
the colored women of the State of Virginia, known and organized 
as the "Virginia State Federation of Colored Women's Clubs," and 

WhereaSf this organization originated, raised funds for, and 
established an institution for the reform of wayward colored 
^rls in the establishment of the Industrial Home School at 
Peake, Hanover County, Virginia, which has met with signal 
success and performed services of reform and conservation at 
this vital time, when aU the services of all the people are so 
sorely needed, 

Therefore^ he it resolved, by the House of Delegates, the Senate 
concurring, that the services and sacrifices on the part of these 
citizens be recognized, and that this resolution express our ap- 
preciation of this work looking to the betterment of the morals 
of the State of Virginia. 

Certainly Mrs. Barrett has made good. Of the 
white neighbors who feared to have such an insti- 


A Believer in Happiness 93 

tution come among them, not one can be found 
to-day who is not a warm friend of the school. In 
the state, appreciation of the work has so grown 
that support of it, at first entirely borne by the 
colored women, and then shared by them and the 
state, has been entirely taken over by the state. 

But that isn't the whole story. Loving-kind- 
ness is a very contagious thing. Down in South 
Carolina the State Commissioner of Charities and 
Correction heard of Peake, and so did the colored 
women's clubs. They decided that the colored 
women should begin a similar work in their state, 
the Commissioner to help them in every way he 
could. Accordingly, the South Carolina colored 
women started a school. They have run it now 
for two years, and they have done so well with 
it that if it had not been for the af ter-the-war 
money troubles of the country and the farmers' 
losses in cotton, the state would probably have 
taken it over before this. But even though that 
step must wait, the white people are helping in 
other ways. 

So good work spreads. As time goes on, there 
will be more schools and fewer prisons every- 
where because people will see more and more 
clearly that the just and sensible thing to do is 
to take care of the children who have had no 
chance, and more people will understand the re- 
sponsibility their own opportunities have placed 
upon them. 


IN Nottoway County, Virginia, in a little conn- 
try village lives John Pierce, a man who 
serves his country in eight states. He is a 
Negro, and his service is primarily to his own 
people; yet it is of scarcely less importance to 
white people than to his own race. 

The reasons for this fact are plain. All mer- 
chants are helped when ill-housed, poorly-clad, un- 
derfed people become able to buy lumber and 
plumbing and electric lights and screens and rugs 
and furniture, to build and furnish comfortable 
homes. The grocers and butchers and dry-goods 
men make more money when those who have been 
poor become able to buy plenty of good food and 
comfortable clothes. They will soon want farm 
machinery, too, and automobiles and fertilizers 
and books and musical instruments and life and 
fire insurance — everything, in fact, that anybody 
in America makes a living by selling. 

People who are prospering also have money to 
put in banks. If the government needs to borrow 
money, these people can lend it. The Negroes 
in the South were once an almost beggared folk, 
but during the World War, a single business com- 


A Builder of Prosperity 95 

pany of Negroes, the Mutual Life Insurance Com- 
pany of Durham, North Carolina, bought $300,000 
worth of Liberty Bonds, a Negro in Louisiana 
bought $100,000 worth, a Negro farmer near Tus- 
kegee, Alabama, who has made every cent of his 
money out of his land, gave his check for $20,000 
worth of bonds at one time, and the Negroes alto- 
gether put $225,000,000 into Liberty Bonds and 
War Savings Stamps, besides giving great sums 
to the Red Cross. Was it not better for our gov- 
ernment and our cause and for every kind of busi- 
ness in America, that these people were no longer 
the penniless slaves they had been sixty years 
before f 

John Pierce was bom in Greensboro, Alabama, 
His father, a devout Christian, was a brick-layer 
and a hard worker. His mother was a hard 
worker, too, and a Christian whose daily living 
impressed all who knew her. But despite hard 
work, the family was very poor. Not only were 
wages low, but there were ten children to feed and 
clothe, all healthy and hungry and as busy as 
only children can be in wearing out and outgrow- 
ing their clothes. It was a hard test, such pov- 
erty as theirs, yet they met it cheerfully and with 
much love for one another. 

Their main trouble lay in how to get an edu- 
cation. In those days few colored people were 
prepared to teach, and in the long years of pov- 
erty in the South after the Civil War, there was 

96 In the Vanguard of a Race 

very little money for schools for either white or 
black people. The colored schools would have 
been even poorer than they were, had the Negroes 
themselves not made sacrifices, sometimes little 
less than heroic, to eke ont the school-money given 
by the county. John^s mother, hard as she strug- 
gled, took the teacher to board at half what she 
was asked for board anywhere else, because she 
felt that the mere presence of a better-educated 
woman in the home would help her children to 
better ways of speech and a better outlook on life. 

As soon as he was old enough, John followed 
the family tradition and went to work. By the 
time he was ten, he was helping his father lay 
bricks. Of course he had done other things be- 
fore then. He had been 'Hotin^ chips'* from the 
woodpile to the kitchen ever since he could walk, 
and '^chopping cotton'* in the little family patch, 
and picking it, too, from the time he was five or 
six. From the white folks' house to his mother's 
tubs and big iron pot in the back yard, he could 
carry on his head an amazing bundle of ** wash- 
in ' " all tied up in a sheet; and he could take it 
back again, snowy white, still on his head, but 
folded carefully in a big basket of * * splits. ' ' John 
didn't mind the load, for he was proud to be 
trusted and to help. 

Even when he was a little chap, he had friends 
among the white people and earned many a wel- 
come nickel by running errands. His mother 

PAoto bp Chenyfg 

John b. Pikboe 


A Builder of Prosperity 97 

taught her children to be honest and to work hon- 
estly, and for this reason people trusted them. 
They were thrifty, too. When they would earn a 
nickel or a dime, their mother taught them to save 
it. As a result, when John Pierce went to Tuske- 
gee, he had money saved, and it helped him to get 
a start. 

The same ambition that led his mother to take 
the school-teacher to board, was largely responsi- 
ble for John's going to Tuskegee. Booker Wash- 
ington came to Greensboro once when John was 
just a boy. His mother had heard something 
about the man who was helping so many Negro 
boys and girls, and she had him come and stay 
at her house that she might find out more about 
means of securing an education for her children. 
Mr. Washington told her all about Tuskegee, 
how boys and girls could work their way there 
even if they had no money. That settled things. 
John went to Tuskegee, and so did his sister 
and several of his brothers. The first year he 
was at school, his father died. He wanted to 
go home at once and take charge of things, but 
his mother would not hear of it. She told him to 
stay where he was and to make the most of his 
opportunity, that that was the best way to help 
her, and that she and the younger children would 
manage alone. 

When John graduated, Mr. Washington recom- 
mended him as a teacher of brick-laying and other 

98 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

work at the Quaker school at High Point, North 
Carolina, where he taught for two years. One 
day he found on the ground some clay that would 
make brick. He and his pupils dug it out, used 
the excavation for a cellar, made the bricks, and 
built a dormitory with student labor. 

At that time — ^it was while Cleveland was presi- 
dent — ^there was great business depression in the 
country. It was a very hard time for the Negroes. 
Grown men worked aU day for fifty cents or even 
less ; tenants could not make anything out of their 
cotton. They lived the year round on corn-pone 
and bacon, and the farmers they worked for had 
to advance them that. The cotton hardly paid 
in the fall for their poor food. They were sunk 
in a hopeless grind of drudgery, with not one 
comfort in life. John Pierce was greatly trou- 
bled. He knew there was a better way; he had 
seen it at Tuskegee. All those tenants could have 
raised vegetables for the year round if they had 
only known how, and they could have had chickens 
and ducks and eggs and could have lived well. 
And if they would learn how to do better farm- 
ing, they could raise bigger crops and have enough 
even to sell some. Gradually they could live in 
real homes instead of huts, and they could educate 
their children and have money in the bank. He 
wanted to show them how. 

But he knew he had to learn more himself be- 
fore he could teach others. He had seen the farm- 

A Builder of Prosperity 99 

ing at Tuskegee and knew what oonld be done; 
bnt he had not learned farming, his work having 
been in the trades. He had to know about analyz- 
ing the soil and building it up and rotating crops 
and a lot of things an agriculturist should know. 

He took what money he had saved and went 
to Hampton. He partly worked his way there 
and worked in summer on the school farm. For 
three years he studied and finished all the post- 
graduate work in agriculture. Part of the time he 
was assistant instructor in the Whittier School 
gardens at Hampton, and after he graduated, he 
was instructor in the normal agricultural work, 
both in class and in the gardens for three years 
more. The head of the States Eelations Service 
in Washington said his work was the best in 
^school gardens in the United States. 

In the spring of 1906 Mr. Pierce began to do 
the work he had been looking forward to. He 
went out from Hampton on extension work to 
near-by places — school gardens and farm demon- 
strations. The government had no farm demon- 
stration work among*Negroes then, but in the fall 
the General Education Board offered to pay the 
salaries of some Negro demonstration agents if 
the Department would select the men and take 
charge of their work. Mr. Pierce was made 
county agent and later state agent for colored 

When he goes to a meeting which the county; 

100 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

agent has worked up, the district agent goes with 
him, and they have meetings for one or two or 
three days. They talk over the school situation 
and make plans to better it. They spray fruit 
trees and potatoes, make the proper kind of sweet- 
potato beds, test seeds and soils, and plant cotton 
and corn and tobacco in demonstration fields, ex- 
plaining everything as they go. They test cattle 
for tuberculosis and immunize hogs from cholera. 
The farmers learn much better if they see the 
things actually done as well as hear that they 
should be done. They pull down a poor poultry 
house or an insanitary toilet and build it back 
again right. They show the people how to screen 
their houses, how to keep their water-supply pure, 
how to grow and store vegetables, how to grow 
flowers and make things attractive. They do not 
do all these things every time at every place, but 
as many as they can each time. Sometimes the 
people come from adjoining counties, and they all 
bring their problems and ask questions. The 
wives and children come too— especially the boys. 
Pig and com clubs are started, in which the boys 
and girls make their own money and save it for 
schooling or to buy a little land. Often at these 
demonstrations the boys put on a ball game in the 
afternoon, and the girls of the canning clubs put 
on contests and games. 

In telling of these things, Mr. Pierce said : 
^* Yesterday I was over in a county where we We 

A Builder of Prosperity 101 

pnt on a special poultry campaign. We had about 
a hundred people — ^men, women, and children. We 
pulled down and reconstructed a chicken house, 
freed it of mites and the hens of lice, taught how 
to breed for better stock, how to feed for eggs, 
and how to keep eggs for winter. When the meet- 
ing was over, the women made lemonade, the boys 
and girls put on games, and we all had a social 
time. There'll be a new poultry record in that 
county after this, better fare on the tables, and 
more money for little comforts and conveniences 
in the homes. ' ' 

When America entered the War, and it was 
vital to speed up food production, Mr. Pierce was 
put in charge of the colored work in eight states 
— ^Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, West Vir- 
ginia, Teimessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas. The 
extension work the Government had been doing 
for ten or twelve years was largely responsible for 
the intelligence, loyalty, and efficiency with which 
the Negroes responded to the country's call. It 
was largely responsible, too, for the good relations 
existing between the races. The white people see 
how much better it is in every way and for every 
one for the colored people to prosper, and they 
aid the work wherever it is established. In speak- 
ing of his work, Mr. Pierce said, * * I am just back 
from a meeting in Henderson, Tennessee, pro- 
moted by the cashier of the white bank. We had 
five hundred people out, a number of them white. 

102 In the Vangiiard of a Race 

We often have white people, especially the county 
superintendent of education, and people of both 
races talk. It cultivates a friendly feeling; and 
the white people take an interest. Over in Hen- 
derson they're planning new buildings for our 
schools. Out in Arkansas, in Elaine, where the 
riots were, white people are employing colored 
farm demonstration agents. There was a meet- 
ing in Little Eock, too, and the governor and the 
secretary of state recognized the need of better 
state colleges of agriculture. They said the 
Negroes could count on having better provision 
made for them. ' ' 

The record of crop yields is an interesting com- 
mentary on John Pierce's life-work. Fifteen 
years ago the average yield of corn in Virginia 
was fifteen bushels per acre. Now it is forty 
bushels, and in the last five years men have often 
raised as high as seventy-five bushels per acre. 
Cooperation is growing, too. The white farmers 
are forming associations to market their crops 
better, and they admit the colored farmers on 
exactly the same terms as the white. That means 
more money for all the people and more friend- 
liness, too. In Charlotte County the county asso- 
ciation has put a colored farmer on the executive 
committee. The interracial committees also co- 
operate with the farmers. 

The story of Wellville and Nottoway County, 
John Pierce's home territory, is another example 

A Builder of Prosperity 103 

of this man^s ability and helpfulness to his coun- 
try. Wellville is just a village, with Blackstone 
the nearest town. When Mr. Pierce went there in 
1908 the schoolhouses were one-roomed log cabins ; 
school ran five months; there were only ** emer- 
gency *' teachers in the whole county — those who 
have not even the lowest certificate. They each 
received twenty-five dollars a month the five 
months they taught. 

The colored people bought some land and deeded 
it to the school board. The white people gave 
lumber, and the Negroes gave labor. They built a 
good one-roomed school, painted it, and fitted it 
out with patent desks. Such a school is now in 
every colored community in the county, with teach- 
ers holding first or second grade certificates. 
They run seven months of the year, and the teach- 
ers get fifty dollars a month. 

Agricultural teaching and farm demonstration 
work have gone on all over the county. Com 
production has risen from fifteen to seventy-five 
bushels an acre, and other crops have increased in 
the same way. The people put in ^* cover crops '* 
to build up and preserve the soil ; and they have 
vegetables the year round. 

The houses used to be built of logs. Over sev- 
enty-five per cent of them have been rebuilt or 
remodeled, and painted or whitewashed. They 
all have sanitary outbuildings. Musical instru- 
ments are now in the homes, the people have better 

104 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

clothes, and they have money in the bank. The 
chnrch at Wellville was poor and there was no 
way to baptize the people in it. It was remodeled, 
a baptistery was pnt in, and chnrch finances were 
pnt on a business basis. The church is now used 
as a community center. At first the pastors of 
country churches thought it was not religious to 
use a church to talk about community health or 
to give community pleasure; but all that has 
changed in Nottoway — and in many other 
counties, also. 

Mr. Pierce 's extension work was the beginning 
of the County Training School at Blackstone. 
**We can't claim credit for all of it,'' he said, 
when asked about it. **We had co-operation 
from colored and white people too." The 
colored people raised a certain amount, and 
the county board promised so much more. The 
colored people agreed to employ at least five teach- 
ers, to have eight grades and an eight months' 
school, to have instruction in agriculture and home 
industries, and an elementary course in the art of 
teaching. As soon as possible, they were to add 
at least two years of high school work. That is 
the standard for a county training school; and 
where it is met, the Slater Fund and the General 
Education Board both cooperate with the county 
board and bear part of the expense. There is a 
fine school at Blackstone now, with seven or eight 
teachers, and they will never lack for good teach- 

A Builder of Prosperity 105 

ers in the county again. There are dormitories 
for those who live too far away to go back and 
forth, and land for school gardens and for pig and 
poultry and farm demonstration work. 

By this time Dr. Knapp, of the Department of 
Agriculture at Washington, thought Mr. Pierce 
had done enough for the people in Virginia and 
wanted to get him down in the Gulf States. But 
the white people rose up and refused to let him go. 

**The white people are good friends to us here 
in Virginia,'' said Mr. Pierce. **It is good for the 
colored people to feel safe. In Blackstone a col- 
bred man committed a horrible crime. The city 
oflScials feared a lynching and telegraphed the gov- 
ernor for troops, but the leading white men of 
the town got together, telegraphed the governor 
their pledge that the man should have a fair trial 
and asked him to let them guard Blackstone 's 
good name. No troops were sent, and those white 
men guarded the jail and the courtroom until the 
trial was over and the prisoner lawfully executed. 
It made the colored people feel they could get 
justice there and a fair trial. They are buying 
homes and putting their money in the banks. 

'*My own boys are getting a start already. 
They go seven miles and back every day to school 
at Blackstone. In addition they each cultivate a 
piece of land and bank their money. This sum- 
mer they cut fifteen tons of hay from their land 
and sold it for thirty dollars a ton." 

106 In the Vanguard of, a Race 

Iiooking at the quiet, kindly face, peaceful with 
years of service, despite the many outward 
struggles, one wondered if there have been any 
very sharp inward struggles-temptations and 
diflSculties that threatened to wreck his life. 

^*Why, of course, *' he said slowly in response 
to such a question. ** Every one has temptations 
enough to prove his mettle. There have been 
those who would exploit the farmers, one way or 
another, and I could have made a good deal of 
money if I had agreed to help them in their 
schemes. But I — things like that never really 
mattered. You see, for all our family our mother 
has been — ^well, just a clear light before us. It 
was always so, and even the white people knew 
it. When I was a little fellow at Greensboro, an- 
other colored boy set on me one day in the street. 
I fought him off the best I could — ^he was bigger 
than I — and a policeman came along and took us 
both up to the city court. The judge sent the 
other boy to jail and told me to run along home. 
He said he knew my mother, and he knew how she 
raised her children. She was just like that." 

**Did she live long enough to know anything 
about this work you are doing now?" he was 

His whole face lighted up. **Why, she's living 
now, down in Greensboro I I see her every now 
and then. All her children want her to live with 
them — ^we can all take good care of her; but she 

A Builder of Prosperity 107 

likes to stay on in the old home. So we all take 
care of her there and see her when we can. She 
knows all about my work. * * 

Thinking of one's own home and of those who 
grew to manhood and womanhood in it, one knows 
that the highest honor which can come to any 
woman is that she should be * * a clear light before ' ' 
her children. Ignorant she may have been, strug- 
gling on in grinding poverty through years of 
hardest work, but measured by God's standards, 
which are the only real ones, tiiis colored mother 
had attained. 



ON a comer just a block from Broad Street, 
in Bichmond, Virgmia, stands a handsome 
three-story building of brick and stone 
which bears a tablet with the legend, '*St. Luke's 
Penny Savings Bank. Established 1902. '^ This 
is said to be the first bank in the country founded 
by a woman, and it is still one of the very few 
that have a woman president — the only bank 
founded or run by a colored woman. 

St. Luke 's Bank started with $25,000 of paid-up 
capital. This was afterwards increased to 
$50,000 ; and it has a surplus of $25,000 more. It 
has paid its stockholders a five per cent dividend 
steadily, regardless of panics and hard times ; and 
once, during a severe money stringency, when the 
white banks of Richmond were unable to extend 
further loans to the city, this colored woman 
banker lent the city $100,000 in cash to carry 
on the public schools for both the white and black 

How did the daughter of a colored laundress 
and one-time slave come to start a bank and guide 
it to success through twenty-one years filled with 
other important work ? Something went before it, 


A Woman Banker 109 

of course; not merely unusual ability, which she 
plainly has, but long, hard, faithful work in help- 
ing the poorer members of her race to win through 
in times of adversity and to get on their feet. 

Mrs. Maggie L. Walker was bom in Richmond. 
Her mother was Elizabeth Mitchell — a woman 
bom a slave and unable to make a living for her- 
self and her little girl except at the washtub. But 
what she could do, she did well, and her own lack 
of opportunity fixed in her the determination that 
her child should have a chance. What this deter- 
mination cost the mother in toil and sacrifice one 
may not know, — washing was not a lucrative 
profession in those days in the South. But 
mother and daughter took their hardships cheer- 
fully, and the girl did her best to lighten her 
mother's load so far as she could. When she was 
eighteen, she graduated from high school, and 
that fall became a teacher in one of the public 
schools. From that time to the present, one of 
her main purposes in. life has been to make life 
easier for the mother to whose sacrifices she owes 
her first start toward better things. 
^ Mrs. Walker was married when she was twenty 
and went into the business of home-making with 
the same joyful and energetic eflSciency which 
had marked her work as a teacher. Her husband, 
a skilled workman, prospered, and with his wife *s 
good management, they and their two little sons 
lived in comfort and began to prosper. 

110 In the Vanguard of a Race 

As the boys grew older and went to school, the 
mother found herself growing restless. She was 
well and strong, her home work was thoroughly 
organized and went like clock-work, her husband 
and the boys were away most of the day, and 
although her church work had grown considerably, 
she still had time on her hands for more work. 
' ' I felt like a spendthrift, ' * she said, in speaking 
of this time. **I knew I had the energy to do a 
lot of things for my people that needed doing, and 
I felt I ought to be about it some way. Yet I 
didnH know what I could do or where to begin. 
I was restless and wanted work that was of some 
account. ' ' 

Then her opportunity came — such a tiny one, 
apparently, that one could hardly have blamed 
her, had she refused it. But she had made it 
the rule of her life to do what she could with 
whatever came to her hand. That was one of the 
valuable lessons she learned from her mother, the 

There was a little benefit society in Richmond — 
one of probably a dozen or two such. They are 
pathetically popular among Negroes, to whom 
sickness is a catastrophe such as only the poorest 
people can fully comprehend. This particular so- 
ciety was the Lidependent Order of St. Luke. It 
collected small weekly dues from its members, of 
whom at that time it had a thousand. If they 
fell ill, it paid them a certain sum weekly. If they 

A Woman Banker. Ill 

died, a death benefit was paid which provided for 
the funeral expenses, thus saving the f amUy from 
what is often, among the very poor, a crushing 
burden of debt. 

Mrs. Walker was offered the secretaryship of 
this society at the munificent salary of eight dol- 
lars a month. She was to collect dues, verify cases 
of illness and of death, keep the books, and pay 
out all sums due. 

She accepted the opportunity at once. The 
Order might be a small one — for an Order, but 
looking after a thousand members did seem a job 
to keep one busy, and it certainly helped the 
people it reached. As soon as she had the 
work at her fingers* ends, however, she began 
reaching out. If the Order helped a thousand, 
why shouldn^t it help twenty thousand — ^fifty — a 
hundred thousand? Why should it confine itself 
to giving help in trouble! Why couldn't it train 
people to help themselves in time of health to 
save, to invest, to win their way to economic in- 
dependence? Why couldn't it get hold of the 
children and teach them thrift, build up self-con- 
trol and forethought in their careless little souls, 
and start them on the path to success before they 
should form habits of self-indulgence and waste? 
Why, it could do all that! And it should, and it 
would. So it has done and still does to-day. 

There are now a hundred thousand members 
of the Order in twenty-one states, seventy-five 

112 In the Vanguard of a Race 

thousand of whom have held their membership 
long enough to be entitled to benefits if they be- 
come ill or die. Five dollars a week is paid in 
case of sickness; and from one hundred to five 
hundred dollars, according to the amount of dues 
paid, in case of death. There is over $70,000 cash 
in the emergency fund — a fund that didn't exist 
when Mrs. Walker took charge. A hundred and 
forty field workers are employed, and forty-five 
clerks are in the home office. The assets of the 
Order amount to $360,000. A handsome office 
building has been put up at 900-904 St. James 
Street, Richmond, costing $100,000. It provides 
ample office space for the work of the Order, a 
large auditorium, a number of rooms for club and 
lodge meetings, a large supply department where 
the badges, regalia, account books, and so forth, 
of the Order are manufactured and sent out, and 
a complete printing establishment with two lino- 
type machines. Here the St. Luke^s Herald, an- 
other of Mrs. Walker's enterprises, is printed and 
goes out to its big constituency. It gives full re- 
ports of the Order's business, stories of members, 
both children and adults, who are getting ahead 
financially or doing anything else worth while, 
suggestions for meetings, and sound teaching in 
regard to health, thrift, morals, and education. 
It goes to city and country, to educated and igno- 
rant. To scores of thousands of unprivileged 
Negroes it is giving inspiration and a horizon. 



A Woman Banker 113 

J t was beeanfle of all this rapidly extendi ng 
^o^ tlii 

wo^ that Mrs, walker fel i the need oi a Dalflc> 
In 1902 she star Wd uuu aiidnbiiilt a home for it a 
few bloeks away from the headquarters bnildine. 
In 1920 this bank had nearly six thousand deposi- 
tors and resources of over half a million dollars* 

This does not, however, nearly represent the 
thrift work of St. Luke^s. Over fifteen thousand 
children who are members, scattered through 
many states, meet weekly with a regular program 
which includes Bible instruction and lessons in 
thrift and in hygiene. Each child is given a card- 
board *' rainy-day bank''; as soon as he has a 
dollar, the leader encourages him to put it in a 
regular savings bank just as is done with adult 
members. These savings, for the most part, find 
their way to local white banks, the Eichmond in- 
stitution serving only adjacent territory. 

* * When any of our girls is advanced to making 
as much as fifty dollars a month,'' said Mrs. 
Walker, *'we begin to persuade them to buy a 
home. As soon as they save enough for the first 
payment, the bank will help them out. There is 
a woman in the office here who came to us eighteen 
years ago. She did odd jobs of cleaning, and 
we paid her a dollar a week, which she was glad 
to get. But we encouraged her to fit herself for 
better things. She studied, took a business course 
at night-school, and has worked her way up until 
now she is our head bookkeeper, with a salary of 

114 In the Vanguard of a Race 

one hundred and fifty dollars a month- She owns 
a nice home, well furnished and fully paid for, and 
has money in the bank. 

* * Then there was that one-legged little bootblack 
at Second and Clay streets. He joined our Order. 
He had a rented chair out on the sidewalk in the 
weather. We helped him save, and when he had 
fifty dollars, we helped him rent a little place with 
three chairs. That was seven years ago. Now he 
has a place of his own with twelve chairs. He 
has bought a home for his mother — ^paid $1,900 for 
it — ^and has it furnished and free of debt And 
his bank account never falls below five hundred 

*' Numbers of our children have bank accounts 
of from one hundred to four hundred dollars. 
They sell papers, cut grass, do chores, run er- 
rands, work in stores Saturdays. We teach them 
to save with the definite purpose of wise use of 
the money. We try to give them a sense of moral 
responsibility for its wise use. Of course we 
can 't do that without religious teaching. We teach 
them the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Command- 
ments, the words of Christ, and some of the 
Psalms. We try to connect these things with 
every-day living and to show them that part of 
their duty in becoming independent is getting 
where they can help others. 

*^We do a good deal of the same kind of work 
with the grown people. Our bank lends money 

A Woman Banker 115 

for home-building at six per cent, and we tide 
the deserving ones over times of trouble. Six hun- 
dred and forty-five homes have been entirely paid 
for through our bank's help." 

All this really does look like work enough for 
one woman, with the travel it involves through 
nearly half the states of the Union, the constant 
speaMng, writing, and oversight of so many ac- 

Besides these business interests there is Mrs. 
Walker's church work, which includes her local 
church and Sunday-school, and her position as one 
of the trustees of the Woman's Auxiliary of the 
National Baptist Convention. 

But Mrs. Walker's social service work is enough 
for a story in itself. Through her club affiliations, 
she became deeply interested in Mrs. Barrett's 
school at Peake. She organized in Eichmond a 
Council of Women with fourteen hundred mem- 
bers, which did yeoman service in raising the first 
five thousand dollars to buy the farm at Peake 
and has ever since given liberally to all the needs 
of the school. Mrs. Walker is one of the colored 
members of the school's bi-racial board of trust. 
As a result of this work for Peake came the com- 
munity work in Richmond. 

* ^ The white women of Richmond began it, ' ' she 
said. *^You know what some of them have done 
here — ^women who stand at the top socially and 
who are leaders in the church and the club life of 

116 In the Vanguard of a Race 

the city and state. They had done fine community 
work for white people, and at length they went to 
our preachers and asked them to invite their lead- 
ing women to a conference. As a result, we began 
some forms of community work. Then a white 
philanthropist who gave the white women a house 
for a working girls ' home said that if we colored 
women would show our interest in social work 
among our people by raising a tho.usand dollars 
for it, he would give us the use of a large house, 
and if we made good, he would deed it to a board 
of white and colored women for colored work. 

**You know we had to make good after that. 
We raised the thousand dollars, and we have kept 
right on. The house has been deeded now to our 
bi-racial board. The white women don 't work for 
us, — they work with us; and theyVe helped us to 
connect up with every charitable organization in 
the city. We have four paid workers, and the 
Community House is just such a center of in- 
fluence as we have needed all these years. ' * 

Of Mrs. Walker's interest in this work, her 
grasp of the problems it touches, and her will- 
ingness to spend and be spent in it, the white 
women of the joint board speak with high praise. 
Here, as at Peake, and as a trustee of Miss Bur- 
roughs ' school at Washington, she shows her con- 
cern especially for the young womanhood of her 

When Mrs. Walker, who is a literal believer in 

A Woman Banker 117 

the injunction to keep one hand in ignorance of 
what the other does, told Miss Burroughs that 
she ought not to have put her name over the build- 
ing she gave to the National Training School, Miss 
Burroughs replied, 

*' You ought not to feel that way. It helps those 
girls there struggling for an education to know 
that a successful woman like you cares about 
them; and the thought of your success is an in- 
spiration to them to try harder to succeed, them- 
selves. And better than all, it^s an object-lesson 
to teach them that the finest use of success is to 
serve others." 

When asked about the new laundry at the Wash- 
ington school and the ten thousand dollars Miss 
Burroughs so urgently needed for it soon, the 
banker trustee said placidly : 

* ^She'll get it. She always does. Nannie Bur- 
roughs sits down there in her office when she wants 
some money and writes off a letter. Then she 
mimeographs it and sends it to our people all over 
the country. If you read the first line, you finish 
it ; and by the time you finish it, your money is as 
good as out of your pocket into hers. There's 
nothing to do but to send her what she asks for. 
Don't you worry about that laundry; it's all right, 
and she is too." 

One can but be impressed with the way Mrs. 
Walker, Mrs. Barrett, and Miss Burroughs work 
together. Their personalities are markedly differ- 

118 In the Vanguard of a Race 

ent, their gifts differ, their calls to service leaxi 
them along divergent lines. Yet each is among 
the most notable present-day women of their race ; 
and their friendship and cooperation, their hearty 
faith in one another *s work, the absence of petty 
self-conscionsness and the rivalry which springs 
from it are beautiful to see. 

Mrs. Walker's two sons, grown men now, are 
closely associated with her in her business. They 
talk things over together ; and sometimes, when a 
decision in some matter is hard to come by, the 
boys discuss it between themselves. Such talks 
are liable to end with : 

**Has Mother been praying over this thing f 

**Why, of course she has." 

'^Well, there's no need to worry then. I notice 
when Mother prays things do straighten ouf 

That is really the secret of all these women's 
power. They are all women of unusual endow- 
ment; but they are also women of faith and 


IF Harry Burleigh 's musical gift had been less 
genuine^ it might have been smothered out by 
the difficulties of his life, for this composer- 
to-be was bom and reared in deep poverty, with 
the added handicap of Negro blood. 

In that blood, however, there was a strain of 
courage and determination the boy might well be 
proud of. His grandfather, Hamilton Waters, 
was an escaped slave who became blind as a result 
of the hardships which he endured. Yet blind, he 
worked on down to a ripe old age, supporting him- 
self and aiding as far as he could his children. 

His daughter Elizabeth, Harry's mother, was 
bom near Lansing, Mich., in a wagon in which 
her parents were trying to make their way into 
Canada. Perhaps it was her baby needs which 
changed their plans for they did not cross the 
border, but turned aside and settled in Erie, Penn- 
sylvania. Here the blind father set himself to 
provide for his family. 

Whether through independence or through 
friendlessness — perhaps through both — the father 
set up in business for himself as a presser of 
men's clothing. For this, he needed only an iron 


120 In the Vanguard of a Race 

and a board and the wise touch of fingers which 
serve the blind for eyes. He brought character to 
his work and the will to succeed. 

For many years Harry's grandfather was also 
the town crier, a position not to be obtained now- 
adays when an extra paper is printed at any hour 
of the day that anything unusual happens. In 
those days, newspapers, even the biggest of them, 
were printed but once a day, and those issued in 
small places, but once a week. If anybody died, 
the town crier went through the streets ringing 
his bell and telling the hour of the funeral. If an 
important meeting was to be held, he told that. 
He carried the news of any outside happening that 
was of importance to the community or to the 
world at large. But it was hard work tramping 
the streets in all weathers, and did not bring in 
very much money. Yet by the time the baby bom 
in the wagon had grown up and finished high 
school, her father was able, by what sharp self- 
denial one can guess, to send her to college. She 
graduated, only to find that no place was open to 
her to do the work for which she had fitted her- 
self. The Civil War was not yet over, and neither 
North nor South had any place for educated col- 
ored people. She married later and had five chil- 
dren. One, bom in 1866, was christened Henry 
Thacker and grew up to become known as Harry 
T. Burleigh, singer and composer. 

While he was still a little fellow, Harry's father 

*^A Composer hy Divine Bight'^ 121 

died, and his mother had to go out from her home 
to win bread for her children* She took the only 
kind of work open to her and became janitress of 
a public school. It was poorly paid work, and it 
was all she and her father could do to keep the 
wolf from the door. As soon as they could, the 
children worked too. From the time he was big 
enough to do anything at all, Harry sold papers 
and ran errands and did any odd chores he could 
find to do. Later he was employed as a lamp- 
lighter. Boys and girls of to-day are used to the 
flashing on of electricity in a moment, but not so 
very many years ago oil lamps lighted the smaller 
cities, and even New York and London were 
lighted at night by dim gaslights. As each lamp 
had to be lighted by hand, quite an army of boys 
and men found employment in lighting them at 
dusk and turning them out at dawn. 

During these years, the boy was going to public 
school. Children, then as now, were taught sing- 
ing in school, and here it was discovered that 
Harry had quite a wonderful voice. His teachers 
took great pains with him. The gift which God 
had given him began to grow and blossom until 
a passionate love for music filled his soul. 

His mother, like her son, was eager to do any 
extra work which would bring more money to the 
family purse; and being both intelligent and 
highly trained, she was in demand to help in serv- 
ing at large entertainments in the homes of 

122 In the Vanguard of a Race 

wealthy people of Brie. In this capacity she was 
frequently employed by a lady who brought to her 
home for the entertainment of her friends many 
distinguished musical artists. Harry's mother 
would tell the boy when a recital was to be given, 
and he would stand outside, often in bitter cold 
weather, in the hope of hearing some of the mas- 
ters of the art he so loved. One day his mother 
told him that the great Joseffy was coming. That 
night he stood outside the windows of Mrs. Eus- 
selPs home, the snow up to his knees, drinking 
in the great artist's magic. He barely escaped 
pneumonia as a result of this experience. To pre- 
vent the repetition of such an illness, his mother 
told her employer the story ; and after that, when 
Mrs. Eussell gave a concert for her friends, 
Harry was inside, opening the door to guests. 

Mme. Oarreno was one of the artists whom 
he heard in this way, and with her at Mrs. 
Eussell 's home was Mrs. MaoDowell, the mother 
of the Am^erican composer. Harry saw and re- 
membered Mrs. MacDowell, and years afterward 
she played an important part in his life. 

Through his school singing the boy's voice be- 
came known to a number of people. From the 
time he was sixteen, he sang in church choirs in 
Erie on Sunday and in the Jewish synagogue on 
Saturday. He went to school until he was twenty, 
always working hard outside of school hours and 
in vacation. In summer, as he grew older, he 

^^A Composer by Divine RighV^ 123 

worked on the big lake steamers. But all the 
money he could earn was far from enough for 
what he wanted, and the desire of his heart seemed 
destined to remain a dream. He studied stenog- 
raphy and worked at that until he was twenty-six 
years old. 

Then he heard that the National Conservatory 
of Music in New York City had, through its pres- 
ident, Mrs. Jeannette M. Thurber, offered some 
scholarships, and he decided to try for one of 
them. He came to New York and sang before a 
committee of judges, Joseffy himself being one. 
There was some question of his winning a schol- 
arship, but when he sought out the registrar of 
the conservatory, he recognized her as Mrs. Mac- 
Dowell and gave her a letter of recommendation 
which Mrs. Eussell had written for him. She 
turned the scale in his favor and during his four 
years of study was his unfailing friend. She gave 
him clerical work in her office and helped him in 
every way she could. 

Dvordk, greatest of Bohemian composers, was 
the director of the conservatory, the faculty of 
which was composed of famous men. Dvorak was 
interested in the eager student and gave him much 
of his time outside of class hours. Burleigh copied 
many of his orchestral compositions for him. He 
also played and sang for Dvorak the old Negro 
^^ spirituals.'' These weird and beautiful melo- 
dies made a deep impression on the great com- 

124 In the Vanguard of a Race 

poser, who wove one of them into one of his 
greatest compositions, the *^New World Sym- 

Burleigh studied hard during these four years, 
developing his splendid voice and learning har- 
mony and counterpoint under men who were real 
masters. But always there was the struggle for 
daily bread. His scholarship covered only his tui- 
tion. Odd jobs and chores were still necessities 
to supply food and clothes. His mother, firm in 
her beUef in her boy's great gifts, found ways to 
help him out, as mothers will. What he could not 
have, he did without, and there was no complaint 
or self-pity. The first summer after he came to 
New York, he went to Saratoga and worked in a 
hotel; but by the next summer his voice was be- 
coming known, and he went again to Saratoga for 
the vacation months, this time as baritone soloist 
in an Episcopal church. The worst was now be- 
hind him. Since that time, while he has worked 
hard, he has been doing work he loves and is 
fitted for. Later years have brought him the re- 
wards of work well done. His early struggles and 
privations have left not the slightest touch of 
bitterness on his spirit. He went through them 
all and conquered them with that best of all cour- 
age which carries good cheer high, like a guidon. 

In 1894, when the position of baritone soloist 
became vacant in St. George's Episcopal Church 
in New York, one of the largest churches in the 

*^ A Composer hy Divine Right '^ 125 

city, Mr. Burleigh applied for the position. He 
was the only Negro among the sixty applicants, 
but he had the voice wanted, and Dr. Rainsford, 
the rector, and the vestrymen did not think the 
color of his skin should rule him out of serving 
with it in God's house. For twenty-eight years 
he has remained a member of this choir. For 
twenty-two years he has sung also in Temple 
Emanu-El, one of the largest synagogues of the 

Burleigh ^s voice became known far and wide, 
and work crowded in upon him. He undertook 
the training of choirs in a number of churches 
in New York and its vicinity, doing the work with 
such modest courtesy and yet with such ability 
and success that each effort added to his reputa- 
tion. His voice was beautiful, rich, full, and musi- 
cal to the last vibration, and it had been splen- 
didly trained. He was soon in demand at con- 
certs and at private musicales. Several European 
tours were arranged for him, and for years his 
annual vacations were spent abroad, where he 
sang in England and on the continent with great 
and increasing success. He sang for King Ed- 
ward VII, who greatly admired his voice, and for 
many of the other crowned heads of Europe. But 
the real test of his ability was the power of his 
voice to move all kinds of people in the mixed 
audiences of great cities. Measured by that stand- 
ard, he sang greatly. 

126 In the Vanguard of a Race 

It is as a singer that he classifies himself. * ^ A 
composer?" he says, when his musical works are 
spoken of. * * Oh, no. Just a few songs I Ve done, 
and practically no orchestration. My life has been 
spent as a singer — is spent that way now. I can- 
not lay claim to the name of composer." 

But many musicians of rank disagree with him. 
He has composed the music for about a hundred 
songs and several festival anthems for choruses, 
and he has written the scores for a volume of 
Negro * * spirituals ' * which are not the least of his 

These old Negro melodies were sung, as all 
Southern people know, by groups of slaves and 
were without any instrumental accompaniment. 
So sung, by hundreds of voices, their beauty 
fills the heart and makes words diflScult. One 
feels them, and in them the faith and aspira- 
tion of a race. They may be heard in perfec- 
tion at Hampton, Tuskegee, and Fisk Univer- 
sity, and at many of the Negro schools of the 
South. But except for the occasional tours of 
some small group of Negro singers in the North, 
until recently they were seldom heard outside the 
Southern states. Yet some of the world 's leading 
musicians and composers agree that these melo- 
dies are America's most distinctive gift to the 
music of the world. For a long time Southern 
people thought lightly of this treasure. Many of 
them regarded Negro songs as a joke, and laughed 

^^A Composer hy Divine RigJiV 127 

over them until the Negroes themselves grew half 
ashamed of their wonderful melodies and tried 
above everything to ^*sing like white folks/ ^ 

But with time came a broader view of the unique 
place of Negro music in the world of art. Among 
white people, those who laughed were silenced by 
those whose hearts had always been moved by the 
weird and haunting melody of Negro songs. Be- 
fore they dropped into oblivion, white and Negro 
scholars and musicians began to collect them and 
teach them to the rising generation. Mr. Bur- 
leigh *s contribution to this movement, of such 
value to America and the world, has been the set- 
ting of the old melodies to a musical accompani- 
ment so that they may be sung anywhere, by any 
singer, just as other songs are sung. 

It was, owing to the very nature of the music, 
a most difficult thing to do, and perhaps no man 
not a Negro, however gifted, would have dared to 
attempt it. But Mr. Burleigh has done it su- 
premely well. **Baoh composition,*' says a musi- 
cal authority, * 4s a classic in itself. ' ' Their suc- 
cess is attested by the famous singers who to-day 
use Burleigh's settings of the ** spirituals. " 
Perhaps the most famous of this well-known 
group of songs is *^Deep River''; but it is hard to 
select where all are of merit. 

One of Burleigh's finest pieces of work, accord- 
ing to musical critics, is ^^Stkiopia Saluting the 
Colors," a setting of Walt Wkitraan's poem. An- 

128 In the Vanguard of a Race 

other noted song is his setting of Bnpert Brooke 's 
sonneti '*The Soldier.** **Jean'* has been sung 
by thousands of people here and abroad, and also 
**The Young Warrior/' a wonderful setting of 
the war song of a Negro poet, James Weldon 
Johnson. The words themselves are noble: 

Mother, shed no mournful tears, 

But gird me on my sword ; 
And give no utterance to thy fears, 

But bless me with thy word. 

Now let thme eyes my way puraue 

Where'er my footsteps fare; 
And when they lead beyond thy view 

Send after me a prayer. 

Still, pray not to defend from harm, 

Nor danger to dispel ; 
But rather, that with steadfast arm 

I fight the battle well. 

Pray that I keep, through all the days, 
My heart and purpose strong, 

My sword unsullied, and always 
Unsheathed against the wrong. 

The lines are drawn, the fight is on, 

A cause is to be won ; 
Mother, look not so white and wan : 

Give Godspeed to thy son. 

The music stirs the blood. There is in it a 
very passion of patriotic fervor and sacrifice. 
That it was sung all over America and France 
by our Negro troops is no wonder. It swept Italy 
like a flame ; the soldiers of the Italian army sang 


^^A Composer hy Divine Bight ^' 129 

it on the battlefield, and their people sang it at 
home. Zandonai, a notable Italian composer^ 
wrote an orchestration for it, that the song might 
pour from thousands of throats with the full 
power of the instruments behind it. One musical 
critic has said that it is **one of the few really 
admirable songs America has produced in recent 

One of Mr. Burleigh's greatest successes has 
been his music for a song by Walter Brown, 
''Little Mother of Mine." John McCormack sang 
this with tremendous effect in the New York Hip- 
podrome before ''the largest audience ever seen 
in America's largest playhouse." A thousand 
people sat on the stage behind the singer for want 
of room in the house. At the close of the song 
the audience rose in an ovation, and McCormack 
insisted that Burleigh, who sat near him, should 
go forward with him to acknowledge the applause^ 

"You went, of course," he was asked. 

He shook his head. "I couldn't. I couldn't. 
But he sang it wonderfully." 

The songs are not all. There are "Southland 
Sketches," four compositions for the violin which 
have won high praise ; and orchestrations for some 
of the songs arranged as choruses. The "Five 
Songs of Laurence Hope ' ' are counted among his 
best work. 

Harry Burleigh is still a singer with a voice 
which is a joy to hear. But he is a composer, too ; 

130 In the Yanguard of a Race 

Ihose who know his work agree with Kramer, who 
*call8 him **a composer by divine right/' Con- 
cerning this, his publisher has also a word to say. 

*'He has done remarkable things, '' said he; 
^Hhings which would have been remarkable in 
a man who began with everything in his favor and 
Tiad no such fight to make as Burleigh had. But 
he has so much more in him. If only some one 
liad had the vision, in Burleigh's youth, to set him 
free from that long struggle for mere existence 
and make it possible for him to spend his strength 
in the work he was made for, he would rank with 
MacDowell himself. One must have time for sym- 
phonies, months and years ; and they bring in no 
ready money. America, and the whole world of 
art, is the poorer because Burleigh had to fight for 
his daily bread so long. * ' 

But Burleigh himself only smiles at this. **I 
lad my living to make,'' he says. **I am like 
^ther people, I must do the best I can with what 
I have and not cry for what I can't get." 

He is the musical editor for the American 
branch of the Eicordi house. No piece of music 
is submitted to them which does not pass through 
his hands and rest its fate on his judgment. But 
with all his success as a singer, composer, and 
judge of music, Harry Burleigh is as modest, as 
simple, as unspoiled as the boy who stood knee- 
^eep in snow to catch a strain of the music he so 


MARTHA DRUMMER was bom in a little 
Georgia town. Her people were very 
poor, and her father's death left the fam- 
ily an added burden of poverty. She had two 
sisters, and while they were still small, their 
mother moved to GriflSn, a larger town, where 
there was a better school. For poor and igno- 
rant though she was, this colored mother planned 
the best her love could compass for her girls, love 
and the spirit of sacrifice being God's common 
gifts to the mothers of all the world. She worked 
and pinched to keep her girls in the public school^ 
and of course they helped by working in vacation^ 
even when they were little. 

Martha finished the sixth grade — ^no smaE 
achievement under the circumstances. Then, she 
** hired out,'* as is said in the South, to white 
folks, and began at the age of twelve or thirteen 
to support herself. 

But two things had happened to her: meager 
though it was, her schooling had awakened a 
bright mind, and she was athirst for an education ; 
and her soul had wakened too, so that she wanted 
the education as a means of better service to God 


132 In the Vanguard of a Race 

and her fellows. It seemed like wanting the rain- 
bow, but she wanted it, and the Lord knew how 
great her desire was. 

There were schools in the South for just such 
girls as Martha. The Southern white people 
hardly realize yet what the schools for Negroes 
opened in the South by the Northern churches 
after the war have done for the development both 
of the Negroes and the South. There were bitter 
years in which both races lost their old trust in one 
Another ; and a time of such poverty that adequate 
schools for white children were impossible, and 
little was done for Negroes. K the Northern 
Christians had not stood in the breach, bringing 
opportunity to gifted Negroes and a chance to 
many more of fair ability, the race would have 
been leaderless during most critical times, a prey 
to every evil influence. What would be the rela- 
tions of the races to-day without the lives and 
influence of men like Booker Washington, Dr. 
Moton, Isaac Fisher, George Haynes, Bishop 
Clinton, John Hope, Bishop Jones, Archdeacon 
Eussell, John Gandy, and scores and scores more 
— ^ministers, teachers, doctors, business men, who 
have taught their people higher ways of living for 
mind and body and soul! 

The South is spending thousands of dollars now 
where it scarcely spent hundreds in the lean years 
for Negro education. But for many years there 
were no Negro teachers worthy the name except 

A Light in a Dark Place 133^ 

those trained by the Northern churches. They 
sent out such women as Miss Lucy Laney, MisB 
Georgia Washington, Mrs. Julia Harris, Mrs-. 
Charlotte Brown, Mrs. Washington — one is per- 
plexed about naming any of so great a company 
becausfe of the many who must be omitted. All 
over the South these women have built character 
and industry and Christian service, a blessing to 
white and black alike. 

There was a school, therefore, for Martha 
Drummer. Dr. Thirkield, who is now Bishop 
Thirkield, was at that time in charge of the theo- 
logical department of Clark University. At one 
time when he visited Griffin to preach to the Ne- 
groes, Martha's pastor told him about her. Dr^ 
Thirkield went to see her and was impressed, as. 
the pastor had been, by her unusual promise. 
Maybe the twinkle in her eyes helped, for, as good 
judges of human nature know, a keen sense of 
kindly fun and humor is a pretty good indication 
of brains and force, and Martha's eyes have twin- 
kled all her life. Dr. Thirkield secured a tuition 
scholarship for her, and she went to Atlanta to 
enter the preparatory school at Clark. 

The first year, she worked for a family who 
gave her time during school hours to attend her 
classes ; but she needed more time for study. She 
so clearly showed her worth that the second year 
a way was made for her to live at the girls ' dor- 
mitory. She worked on Saturdays and taught 

134 In the Vanguard of a Race 

school in vacation. By hard economy, she event- 
ually graduated from Clark. 

One of her teachers relates that when she first 
'entered the dormitory, she would cause outbreaks 
of laughter during study hour by her comical 
^'asides'* on the lessons. But her teacher soon 
found that what she said was not only funny, 
but that it set the girls to thinking, so that she 
always had better lessons from them the days 
jrfter Martha had bubbled over. 

Her sense of humor sometimes helped her 
to shrewd decisions in a tight place. One sum- 
mer she had in her vacation school seven or eight 
-children from one family. In those days the 
county schools had very short terms, which the 
colored parents lengthened by paying the teacher 
themselves by the week or month after the public 
ierm was over. When Martha called on the 
mother of this numerous brood for her first pay- 
ment, she was told that in that family school bills 
were always paid in a lump at the end of the 
term, and knowing the woman to be prosperous, 
well able to pay the money all at once, she 
waited. But at the end of the term she was calmly 
told that her patron had no money at all and could 
not pay a cent. Martha knew this was not true. 
She also knew that she had earned her money, and 
that she had to have it. So she borrowed a horse 
and wagon and a rope and drove out to the 
:woman's home. Her eyes must have danced on 

A Light in a Dark Place 135 

the way, though she looked as solemn as possible 
when she arrived. The woman was more than 
solemn, she **was plumb worried to death," she 
said, '*but she didn't have nary a cent to pay — 
not one.'' 

*' Never mind," said Martha kindly, **some of 
your farm products will do. I would just as soon 
have a couple of pigs. I'm sure I can sell them^. 
and don't you worry another minute." 

The pigs were all over the yard, so the woman 
could not possibly say she didn't have **nary 
a pig." Martha caught two, got them into the 
wagon and tied them, the woman looking on, petri^ 
fied. Martha bade her a cheerful good-evening 
and started off; but before she got to the big 
road, the woman came to life. She couldn't lose 
all that bacon and sausage, to say nothing of hams, 
and '^chitlin's"! She found a purse or an old 
stocking in no time and ran after the teacher hot- 
foot. They had a pleasant chat down by the gate-. 
The pigs went home with their mistress, while 
Martha went home, her eyes dancing more than 
ever, with her hard-earned money in her pocket. 

She wanted to be a foreign missionary. There 
was need at home, she knew, but out in Africa- 
were millions who had never heard of a God 
of love; millions who knew no comfort of bodjr 
or mind or soul. Whoever helped them must 
give up home and friends and comfort. When one 
really sees the need, things which to most people 

136 In the Vanguard of a Race 

aeem essential do not matter ; and Martha Dram- 
mer saw. 

She took the two years' deaconess course at 
the Methodist women's training school in Boston, 
and then the three years ' course for a nurse. In 
February, 1906, she was ready to go. She was 
sent to Quessua, Angola, West Africa, where 
there was only one colored missionary in the prov- 
ince — Miss Susan Collins, at the Quessua orphan- 
age and to her village and school Miss Drummer 
was assigned. 

Being a missionary in Africa is a pretty sharp 
test of one's desire to serve, and Quessua is no 
exception to this rule. It is in Angola, down on 
the West Coast, in the temperate zone, 3,500 feet 
above sea-level. If the swamps could be drained, 
it would be a pleasant country. The village takes 
its name from a little stream which springs from 
the foot of Mount Bango near by. Several native 
villages are close around, but the nearest post- 
office and telegraph and railroad stations are at 
Melange, six miles away. When Miss Drummer 
first went out, the railroad stopped eighty-five 
miles away, and that distance had to be traveled 
in a hammock slung on poles carried by native 
bearers. This seemed to Miss Drummer a selfish 
way of traveling, so she tried to walk; but she 
found it a dangerous thing for one unaccustomed 
to the climate to attempt. She couldn't aflford to 
ivaste the years and the money her preparation 

A Light in a Dark Place 137 

had cost by killing herself with dengue fever as 
soon as she reached Africa. The porters, trained 
for generations in such work, and quite at home 
in the African sun, had no trouble at all in carry- 
ing her. 

At length she was set down in the Quessua or- 
phanage of the Methodist Women's Foreign Mis- 
sion Society. It was a low, small, crowded build- 
ing, with none of the conveniences or comforts to 
which she had grown accustomed in her years of 
training; but neither she nor Miss Collins, her 
fellow-worker, ever mentioned these facts. They 
were working among savage folk, all of whom lived 
in poverty and need. Even to-day many of the 
villagers have no clothing except the skins of wild 
animals; and many more wear loin cloths or a 
few yards of cheap cotton wound about their 
bodies. Those who manage to get something more 
like our clothes are without any of the comforts 
of life, as we think of comforts. Miss Collins and 
Miss Drummer hated to have so much more than 
the poor people they had come there to help, so 
they never told of the discomforts. It was not 
until one of the white women sent out by the 
Board went there and wrote back about what these 
colored women were putting up with that any one 
at home knew. A comfortable two-story home, 
with plenty of room, was then built for them, and 
they could not help enjoying it. 

But though their home is at the foot of the 

138 In the Vanguard of a Race 

motmtain in this high country and commands a 
beautiful view, it is neither as healthful nor as 
comfortable as it would be in a different climate. 
The heavy African rains pour down for months 
until the land is saturated with water, and every 
valley and little hollow becomes a marsh. Here 
insect pests breed by millions, carrying not only 
grave discomfort, but disease and even death. So 
heavy are the rains that it takes nearly the whole 
of the dry season for the swamps to disappear. 
Then the rains come again, and the marshes begin 
once more to form. 

Not long after Miss Drummer reached Quessua 
an epidemic of fever broke out. She herself 
nursed thirty-eight cases, bringing thirty-seven 
back to health. The suffering from disease, so 
much of it preventable, and from the ignorance 
which makes sickness even more dangerous, she 
still finds among the hardest things to bear. In 
her trips through the heathen villages, she takes 
as many simple remedies as she can, never know- 
ing what she may have to face. On a recent trip 
she heard a baby screaming with pain. The child 
was ill, and the mother had sent for the witch- 
doctor, the only doctor she had ever known about. 
He had cut the baby's head in ugly gashes and 
given the mother a mixture of green leaves boiled 
together to rub into the wounds. Poor ignorant 
soul! She sat there torturing her baby in the 
belief that she was doing the only thing that could 

A Light in a Dark Place 139 


save its life. Another baby had a great boil on 
its neck which would not come to a head until 
Miss Drummer's magic salve brought relief. The 
mother was sure the owner of the magic stuff 
was a god. The witch-doctors were the most won- 
derful of human beings, she knew; and no witch 
doctor could do a thing like that; it must be the 
work of a god I 

After five years in Africa Miss Drummer wrote 
to a friend, **I hardly think you could enjoy the 
hardships here. I fit in like a cup in a saucer; 
but you see I've always had things hard. ... I'm 
not reaping where another has sown, so I'm get- 
ting a taste of real heathenism. They think it 
folly to teach a woman anything but farm work. 
They think we ought to give them presents for 
letting us feed and teach a girl. . . . You have no 
conception of their heathenish customs. ... I am 
glad from my soul that I came. Last Sunday I 
spoke to over two hundred people in one yard. 
We have all our services at the mission station in 
the morning, so the afternoon can be used for 
village work. All my services are outdoors. 

**My regular work is in the orphanage with 
forty girls. This is our family. My co-worker 
has spent twenty-one years in Africa. She is a 
fine house-mother. We have six children under 
six years and two just on their legs for the first 
time and into all sorts of mischief. One has just 
poured a cup of sand in the middle of my clean 

140 In the Vanguard of a Race 

floor. But they are nice, if they are naughty some- 
times. I have learned that everything human is 

* * I put a great part of my earnings in my work. 
I started to ask the Lord for twenty-five desks for 
the school ; but I got ashamed and got up to an- 
swer the prayer myself, I am negotiating now. 
If my fifty dollars won^t cover buying and freight, 
I will ask the Lord to raise what is lacking. Pray 
for me. I am engaged in the best of services, for 
the best of masters, and on the best of terms.'* 

Miss Drummer has served not only her own 
people, but any who were in need. When she came 
home in 1911 she said she had nursed people of 
twelve nationalities. A Portuguese officer, out in 
the wilds, brought his young wife to this mission- 
ary nurse 's home as the only place where medical 
care could be secured for her. When the wife went 
back home, Miss Drummer went with her to care 
for her and the baby through the hard journey. 
The officer wanted her to stay with them a while 
and rest ; but her work called her. After paying 
his wife's expenses, he gave Miss Drummer fifty 
dollars personally as an expression of his grati- 
tude. At that time she had some more prayers on 
hand to answer herself, so she spent ten dollars 
for a silver watch and gave the rest of the money 
to the orphanage. 

In 1918 Miss Drummer came home on furlough 
again and spoke at many white missionary gath- 

A Light in a Dark Place 141 

erings with telling effect. She did not like their 
prayers, she said, so one day she told them about 
it. She said they all prayed for China and Japan 
and India and the islands of the sea and Mexico 
and South America, *^and all the resf It was 
that * * all the rest * ' she was tired of. * ^ There isn't 
any 'all the rest' but Africa," she said. '*Oall it 
by its name. Say 'Africa' when you pray, and 
then maybe you will think to pray for it of tener. ' ' 

In Boston she made so strong an appeal for 
her medical work that a thousand dollars was 
given her from the floor before she could sit down. 
She made them see her people, the suffering old 
folk, the poor, hopeless mothers, the little chil- 
dren, as ready to learn kindness and happiness 
and to grow strong and healthy as any of the 
children of the world. 

When she returned to Africa, she bought a 
donkey for near-by trips, as ridiag would be 
cheaper than going in a hammock. He was such 
a solemn donkey that she named him Jeremiah. 
He was very gentle and went beautifully on dry 
land, but he refused entirely to cross a stream 
or to step in a muddy place. He was gentle,, but 
inflexible. So she had to sell him, saying that 
*'a stubborn donkey without rubbers" was not 
much help in mission work in such a new country. 

Trips make up a large part of the work of a 
missionary in Africa. The longer ones must be 
taken in the dry season and often occupy several 

142 In the Vanguard of a Race 

weeks. Where it is possible, two missionaries go 
together, with five or six bearers apiece for their 
hammocks and baggage. Much of their food must 
be carried in a box as nearly insect-proof as pos- 
sible. This box is all the furniture, except the 
camp-beds, they have with them. After they take 
out their food and granite plates, they sit on the 
chest while they eat. If they forget the salt or 
anything else, they must both stand up while they 
hunt it out. Men, women, and children crowd 
about them while they eat, touching them, feeling 
their clothes, peering at them, and talking about 
their looks, their food, and the way they eat it, 
until meal-time is an ordeal gladly ended. 

At first Miss Drummer felt she must share her 
food with all these curious and sometimes hungry 
folk, but she found she could not possibly carry 
enough for the throngs of even a single village; 
she had to keep the contents of her box for her- 
self or give up all thought of missionary journeys. 
And after all, she found this enforced eating in 
public a very good way of advertising her pres- 
ence and attracting a crowd to hear the story she 
had. come so far to tell. 

The instant the plates are back in the box, and 
before the people begin to scatter. Miss Drummer 
gets them to sit down on the grass and begins to 
sing a hymn, teaching it to them line by line. 
** Jesus loves me'* is usually the one she begins 
with, and they are quick to learn it. Then she 

A Light in a Dark Place 143 

reads and explains a few verses from the Bible 
and closes with a short prayer. 

One evening she and her helper came to a village 
called Ngala. The chief gave them the biggest 
half of his two-room hut to sleep in. He and his 
family took the smaller room, and the missionaries 
put their camp-beds in one end of the other, cur- 
taining off with the hammocks a place at the other 
end for their ten bearers to sleep on mats. The 
chief ^s goats and chickens slept in the room also, 
and plenty of rats — ^no, the rats didn^t sleep I 
That was their time for exercise. The mission- 
aries got some eggs and sweet potatoes in the 
village and cooked their supper on a little out- 
door fire. They had a prayer-meeting in the hut. 
Miss Drummer and her helper sat on the bed, one 
holdmg the candle, the other reading the Bible 
and talking. The room was packed with young 
and old, all straining to catch a word. Nor would 
they go away when the meeting was over until 
the candle was put out and there was no more 
chance to stare at the strangers. 

Next morning nearly two hundred of the villag- 
ers went a couple of miles with them on their way, 
begging, as they so often do, for some one to come 
and stay with them and teach them ^*the new 
way. ' ^ Miss Drummer finds that everywhere she 
goes, the songs that they like best are those that 
tell of the great Friend, and of the love of Otod. 
They need a Friend so much 1 

144 In the Vanguard of a Race 

One night she came to a village where the only 
shelter to be had was a hut with only two-and-a- 
half sides to it. The bearers stretched the ham- 
mocks around the open part to keep out wild 
animals. Just as they were dropping o£f to sleep 
after the meeting, they heard terrible noises — a 
hyena attacking a cow. The government doe^ not 
allow the natives to have firearms, so the whole 
village got out of bed to make noise enough 
to scare the hyena away. They screamed and 
ran about with fishing-spears and with feathers 
and horns stuck on their heads. They were afraid 
the visitors had made the hyena so bold, for while 
there are many all about, they do not often come 
right into the village as this one did and kill a 
hog and attack a cow. Miss Drummer was afraid 
the people would not come to her meeting in the 
morning, but they did, and afterward they went 
along the road with her for quite a distance. 

One great trouble on these journeys is the dif- 
ficulty of finding water. They must get down by 
a wayside stream to do their washing, for they 
can hardly carry enough clothes to last without 
laundering on these long trips. Sometimes as 
they scrub things in the stream, they hear a pan- 
ther or a hyena howling near by and decide it is 
best to move on. On reaching the villages, they 
may find the nearest water is a mile or two away, 
and when they go to it, it may be covered with 
green scum. Thirsty as they are, they cannot 

A Light in a Dark Place 145 

drink ity but. thej boil it and make tea or cocoa 
and drink that. 

The women in these villages work very hard. 
They do all the work in the fields, from planting 
to harvesting, as well as all the work in the homes. 
One heavy task is the making of flour. For this 
they dig and dry the root of the manioca, a plant 
which grows in great abundance, and pound it 
fine. No wonder they do not have time to think 
about the way they look. There are mats to be 
woven for the houses, baskets to be made for 
bringing in the crops, skins to dress, and so on. 
Usually the men fight and hunt, but occasionally 
they work. Once Miss Drummer found an old 
chief crippled with leprosy setting an example of 
industry to his people by making rope. But per- 
haps if he had not been crippled, he too would 
have been hunting or fighting. 

Some things we spend a good deal of time on, 
these people make very short work of. For in- 
stance, think how mothers in this country comb 
and brush their own and their children's hair 
every day. An African woman does the family's 
ha;r to last for months or even years. She pow- 
ders up a red stone, mixes it with oil, and rubs it in 
until the hair is all dyed red. Then she does it up 
in funny little tight braids all over the head, and 
that child's hair is off her mind for good. Our 
notions about hair seem very peculiar to them. 
Onoe a white missionary went on a trip with Miss 

146 In the Vanguard of a Ra^ce 

Dmimner. They crowded into the room, as nsual, 
and they thought the missionary's hair the very 
queerest thing their eyes had ever beheld. It 
was so straight and funny, with such a queer, big 
tnot. They said she looked like a **hoje/' or 
lion, with a big mane. So you see our being ac- 
customed or unaccustomed to things has a great 
deal to do with our thinking them ugly or pretty. 

One day when Miss Drummer was nearing a vil- 
lage she met the chief and some of his people 
going hunting. They turned back and went to 
the village with her, saying to each other they 
didn't dare not to, for the gods had come and 
would be angry with them if they didn't listen to 
them. The chief said he would call his people 
in his other villages. This he did by means of 
a telephone of real African make. They brought 
out a *^drum," which was a hollow log with holes 
all down the sides, and they beat it with little 
wooden mallets. The sound carries for miles, 
and it means, **Come quick. It's the chief's 
orders. " It would be a very bold man who would 
disobey a summons like that. They can send 
other messages, too, for they have a code of long 
and short taps that can be made into all sorts of 

In one of the many villages where the people S 
begged for teachers they said, when Miss Drum- 
mer told them there was no one to send, **0h, 
surely you can find one person to send! And 

A Light in a Dark Place 147 

if you will, we will build a hut for her. Send us 
just one." And think of all the people here in 
America who are not doing anything to really 
help other people, and who could so easily go ! 

The people in Africa are ready to learn. On 
her way back from one of these long trips Miss 
Drummer met some men from a village she had 
been to a couple of weeks before. They were out 
hunting. They told her they had been keeping 
Sunday since she had been there. They wanted 
a teacher, too. Some miles further down the road 
the missionaries heard some little children sing- 
ing ^ * Jesus loves me, ' ' and came upon a company 
from another village who had heard in some way 
that the missionaries were coming on their way 
back home. The old crippled chief was with them, 
hobbling along on his cane. He said they tad 
been in such a dangerous country he had expected 
them to be killed by the natives, and he was so 
glad they had escaped. They had had no trouble 
at all, God had taken care of His children who 
trusted Him. 

It is no easy task being a missionary in Africa. 
But Martha Drummer has found out that ^ * every- 
thing human is human." May God give us each 
an understanding heart, that need in any guise 
may draw us, and that we may recognize our 
brothers and love them wherever and whatever 
they may be ! 


IN Wake County, N. C, James Bunston was 
bom, before the war, but bom free, as his 
father had been, before him. His father ^s 
parents had been set free by their owner before 
his father's birth; but why the thing was done, 
he does not know. 

Before the Civil War, there were almost half 
a million of **free people of color, '* as they were 
<»alled, in the United States. Most of them were 
in the South,^ and the causes of their freedom 
were numerous. Frequently a master allowed a 
very eflScient or favored slave to take charge of 
himself. Such a man, usually skilled in some 
trade, would hire himself out, paying his master 
a stated sum each year and keeping the rest for 
himself. In this way, not infrequently, slaves 
saved enough to buy themselves; and sometimes 
they were able to buy their wives and children too. 

Many were set free because their masters did 
not believe in slavery. George Washington 's will 
provided that all his slaves should be set free at 
his wife's death; but Mrs. Washington, we are 
told, as soon as she learned of this provision in- 
sisted on their being set free at once. Some mas- 


Sure Foundations 149 

ters, like John Bandolph, of Virginia, not only set 
their slaves free, but bequeathed money to buy 
land for them in a free state and to transport them 
thither. In this way several prosperous colonies 
were planted in the Middle West. 

Some slaves were set free in gratitude or af- 
fection, after especially faithful service. A few 
won their freedom by some deed of courage or 
sacrifice. There is the famous case of the slave 
in Charleston, South Carolina, who saved St. 
MichaePs Church from the flames. This quaint 
and ancient Episcopal church, one of the oldest 
in the country, whose bricks were brought from 
England in colonial times, and in which many of 
the state's most distinguished men have wor- 
shiped, is dear to all South Carolinians regard- 
less of church affiliations. The story goes that 
a fire which swept a whole section of the city waa 
stayed by herculean effort before it reached the 
church; but just as it was thought to be safe, a 
great gust of wind blew a bit of burning timber 
high against the old wooden steeple, where it 
caught and lodged. A groan went up from the 
crowd. The church seemed doomed, for human 
hands could never reach that dangerous peak. 
The people stood in silent sorrow, watching. Sud- 
denly, from a slit-like window on the side of the 
steeple there appeared a man who began to climb 
up towards the brand. The crowd below, thrilled 
by his heroism, expected every second to see him 

150 In the Vanguard of a Race 

fall to his d^ath; he was attempting the impos- 
sible. Yet, as if by miracle, he went on. Higher 
and higher he crept. At last he reached and 
seized the brand and flung it clear of the beloved 
building, down to the churchyard, harmless. A 
great shout went up — to be stilled instantly. 
Could the man possibly come down safely? Must 
he pay with his life for the church? The people 
watched, breathless, till he reached the window 
again and disappeared inside. A sigh of relief 
swept over the crowd. Who was he, this herof 
They searched one another's faces to see which 
of their everyday companions was absent, turned 
hero in an hour. The church door opened — and a 
Negro slave came forth. The story, as told long 
after by the old sexton, goes that when he stepped 
out, for a moment Charleston gasped — then it 
oheered ! The mayor ran forward and caught the 
black man's hand, and after the mayor came the 
orowd. The slave 's master, who was among them, 
then and there gave him the freedom he had so 
bravely earned. 

But these fortunate freedmen were the excep- 
tion. The lot of such people was often harder 
than that of slaves. With no white people to look 
to for protection or to care for them in sickness or 
old age, often looked upon with suspicion by their 
white neighbors, envied, perhaps, and yet despised 
by the slaves, unable to mingle freely with their 

Sure Foundations 151 

own race, and exploited by nnscrupnlous white 
people from whom they had no protection, life 
was indeed difficult for many of this class. 

James Dunston^s parents found it so. His 
father rented land from a white farmer and 
worked as hard as he could. But the land was 
poor, nothing was known about scientific agricul- 
ture, and farm machinery was a thing of the 
future. The family was large, and the task of 
filling the hungry mouths was almost more than 
the father and mother could manage. They lived 
in a poor little cabin and knew nothing about the 
most ordinary comforts of life. But both parents 
were devout Christians, and they brought up their 
children with Christian ideals of honesty and kind- 
ness in all their doings. 

James had one great ambition: he wanted to 
learn to read. But at that time there were no 
schools for Negroes anywhere. Had he been a 
slave, he might have been fortunate enough to 
find among **his white folks'' somebody — ^his 
Christian mistress, perhaps, or one of her daugh- 
ters — ^who would have gratified his great desire 
and started him on the path to knowledge. But 
who was there to teach a free Negro, a bit of drift- 
wood on the current of life, for whom nobody 
cared, and whose existence mattered to nobody? 
He knew what a wild dream his was, and yet he 
clung to it. 

152 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

With poor food and poorer shelter as work's 
utmost reward, he grew up working on his 
father's rented place. When he was fifteen he be- 
came a Christian and joined the church. This was 
in 1866. Not long after, a wonderful thing hap- 
pened: in a log hut not very far away, a school 
was opened for Negroes I And the school-teacher 
was a Negro — miracle number two! James was 
tremendously excited about it. He was going to 
that school whether he had anything to eat or not. 
He was going to learn to read. 

The boy got a blue-backed spelling book and 
started in, as eager a scholar as ever a teacher 
had. But it was only a little while before his 
hopes were all in ruins. He found that he already 
knew as much as his teacher did. He had come 
to the end of that road. The poor ** teacher" did 
not even know his own ignorance. He knew the 
alphabet and a few words and could spell out 
some others. What more in the way of learning 
could one aspire to! 

James, however, was determined to read the 
whole Bible right straight through, like — well, like 
white folks. Now that he had the key to words, 
he meant to unlock the Book. If he couldn't have 
a teacher to help him, he must work it out for him- 
self, for read he must and would. And he did. 

He clung to his blue-backed speller and his 
Bible until he mastered both. It took him years 
to do it in the brief times of rest between his long 

Sure Foundations 153 

hoars of work in the field. He married, mean- 
tiiney when he was about twenty years old, and 
he and his wife started in on the same treadmill 
life his parents lived — ^renting a few poor acres 
and a little cabin and working from snn-up till 
dark for just enough to keep them alive. 

But after a while James Dunston faced the 
astonishing fact that he was getting a little ahead 
— a few dollars left at the end of the year and 
never a cent of debt I New vistas opened before 
him. He really had the gift of farming as some 
have the gift of music. For one thing, he dearly 
loved it and felt the life of the earth very close 
to that of the God he loved. No trouble was too 
small or too great for him to take with growing 
things. He used his wits, too, and profited by 
his own experience and that of others, as far as he 
could learn it. While he was still very young, 
he began to be called a good farmer. 

^*The white folks called me that,'^ he said, with 
a smile as shy as a child's. **I hope you won't 
think I'm boasting — I don't mean it that way — ^I 
just worked hard, and I got the name of doing well 
with the land." 

Seven years from the time he was married, 
Dunston bought his first land, four whole acres 
of it, and all his very own! To this poor f reed- 
man of the third generation it must have been a 
wonderful day. He still rented a place and made 
a little more than a living on it, but his own land 

154 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

was dear profit. Before long the four acres had 
grown to thirty-five. He felt that he had now 
mastered adversity, and the future lay plain be- 
fore him, so far as material things were con- 

In other respects it was not at all clear. He 
was studying his Bible harder than ever, for he 
had learned to read it all at last and knew much 
of it by heart. The simplicity and sincerity of 
his faith made it easy for him to see how simple 
a thing our Lord's way of living is. He wanted 
with all his heart to tell other people about it. 

**But how could I preach f he asked, that 
curious child-look again in his eyes. **I was 
so ignorant. I'm ignorant yet. And for me to 
set up to teach my people! I was ashamed of 
myself for even thinking about it. I kept telling 
myself it wasn't the Lord calling me, it wasn't 
anything but my own foolishness. The Lord 
couldn't want anybody like me to preach. I would 
put it clean out of my head. And then it would 
come back. I couldn't get away from it. It kept 
on that way for years. 

** At last I gave in. I was always ready to give 
in if the Lord really wanted me, of course, and 
at last it looked to me like maybe He did, and I'd 
better try it and do the best I could. That would 
be aU He'd ask." 

Mr. Dunston began to preach in 1882. He kept 
right on with his farming all the week — he had 

Sure Foundations 155 

to do that to five — but he began to preach to his 
neighbors right there where he lived, and they 
gave him two hundred and fifty dollars a year. 
All this time he was taking care of his wife, who 
was an invalid until her death, a few years ago. 

**We went through bad times here in North 
Carolina after the War — reconstruction times, 
folks called them. It was bad, and it stirred 
up trouble that lasted a long time. There were 
some white folks wanted to use the colored folks, 
especially about election time. It was too much 
politics; and it wasn't for our good. Our folks 
were so poor and so ignorant, and they kept ex- 
pecting somebody to come along and do some- 
thing for them or give them something instead 
of their getting right down to work and doing 
something for themselves with what muscle and 
sense the Lord gave them. I made the condition 
of my people a subject of prayer for years, and 
their relations with white people, too. And I 
saw what they needed: they needed to work, to 
fix up their houses, to educate their children, and 
quit depending on politics. '^ 

After Dunston understood what was needed, he 
tried to settle some of the Negroes on land they 
could buy for themselves. He wanted to help 
them to own their homes and be independent. 
He secured two thousand acres, and let the people 
pay for it as fast as they made the money. By 
this time he owned three hundred acres himself 

156 In the Vanguard of a Race 

and began with nothing, so he knew others conld 
do the same if they wonld. 

''But how could you finance so big a projects 
he was asked. 

He gave a little chuckling laugh, whether of 
amusement at the simplicity of any one who could 
be puzzled over a matter so clear or of happiness 
in the help which had been given him, one could 
not tell. 

''Why, the Lord tended to the finances, ma'am: 
I just had to do the part I could manage. I knew 
three white men who had plenty of money, and 
they knew me and trusted me. They wouldn't 
have lent the money to the men I wanted to help 
— they didn't know them like I did. But they 
lent it to me. Then I picked men I knew I could 
depend on. Every man on that two thousand 
acres owns his farm and house now." The farms 
run from fifty acres to a hundred and sixty. 
His own land was right alongside, and he lived 
with the men, plowing and working and running 
his farm, and of course showing them every- 
thing he knew and could learn about right ways 
of farming. On Sundays they all went to Mr. 
Dunston's church — that first church he took 
when he began to preach, and where he has 
been preaching ever since. They built up a 
good, strong community of Christian people, 
happy and prosperous, right there on their own 

Sure Foundations 157 

Of course, they had to have a school. It was a 
long time ago when all this was started, and school 
money was then hard to get even for white people, 
and much harder for colored people. The county 
board of education agreed that if they would get 
the land and bear half the cost of the building, 
the county would bear the other half. The matron 
at Shaw University, in Ealeigh, had some lots in 
the village. She gave enough land for the school, 
and the. people gave their part of the building, 
some in money and some in work. As they became 
able to do so, they improved the school. 

As time went on other villages in that section 
of the county grew, and the pastor felt the need 
of more churches. He persuaded about twenty 
of his members at Shiloh, the original church, to 
form a new society at Mebane, which was nearer 
their farms than the old church. There he built 
up a second membership, dividing time between 
the two churches on Sundays and working on his 
farm and with his neighbors during the week. 
At Mebane he preached the same doctrines that 
had proved so effective at Shiloh: that religion 
meant living right every day in one's home and 
with one 's neighbors ; and that it also meant hon- 
est work, thrift, and a fair chance for the children. 

In time, after the same manner, a third and a 
fourth church were added to his charge. Then, 
the two thousand acres being bought and paid 
for, he secured fourteen hundred acres more, 

158 In the Vanguard of a Race 

which is still in process of being paid for by the 

''But I'm not farming myself now,*' he said, 
with a touch of what would have been regret if 
he had not been so sure that everything in life 
happens just right for the man who trusts in God. 
'*You see, I'm seventy years old now, and I'm 
not — ^well, not exactly able to work quite so hard. 
I did my own plowing as long as I could walk 
between the handles, but for three or four years 
now I've had rather to oversee things and tend 
to my preaching, and have somebody else do the 
real work. I've been farming ever since I was 
a little boy, but now I've got to where most of my 
farming is done." 

** You've helped a lot of people with your farm- 
ing," it was suggested. 

''Yes'm, I have, with the Lord's help. And 
IVe been able to help with money, too. 'Tisn't 
so much, and yet in all these years it counts up, 
too. Three or four years after I began to preach, 
I promised the Lord I'd give a tenth of all I made 
to His work, and I've always had a little some- 
thing ready when it was needed — ^twenty-five dol- 
lars or maybe fifty; I've never had more than 
fifty at one time, but then after a while I'd have 
some more, and in thirty-fivie years it's right sur- 
prising how much it all comes to." 

I was talking to him after service at one of his 
four churches. I had gone eighteen miles in the 

Sure Foundations 159 

oountry from Dnrham to see the man whom hard- 
headed business men of his race speak of as 
though he were of different clay from the ordinary 
run of people. ^ * The best Christian I ever knew, V 
said one of them; and another, whose own re- 
ligion is respected and believed in by men of both 
races, said in a tone which lent wonderful mean- 
ing to his words, **I wish you could see him" — 
as if nothing short of that would enable one to 
understand quite what he was like. 

So I went to one of his churches, where he had 
been holding a ten days^ meeting. It is a well- 
kept building, freshly painted, and seating about 
two hundred people. It was well over half full, 
this week-day morning. As I went up the steps, 
I heard through the open windows the quiet, ear- 
nest voice of the preacher. He had closed his 
meeting the night before and baptized his con- 
verts. This was just a little farewell talk with 
the new Christians before he went on his way. 
They sat on the two front benches, with a goodly 
gathering of young people behind them and the 
older members on the sides, while he stood behind 
the altar railing and told them what being a Chris- 
tian means. 

He may not know very much about books, but 
he knows the Book — ^he was saturated with it. He 
said nothing about creed or doctrines, he was talk- 
ing about the life of Christ in the heart. He stood 
there in his spotless linen and worn, well-brushed 

160 In the Vanguard of a Bace 

clothes, an upright, gray-haired old man with a 
fresh, young, unUned face, and a look of one long 
acquainted with Gtod and joyfully at peace with 
Him. There was something child-like about him 
— ^^his simplicity, his lack of self-consciousness. 
When the service was over and I spoke to him, 
he talked with me with a sort of gentle shyness 
which had in it neither distrust nor self -depre- 

The people, young and old, gave him all their 
attention ; the entrance of a white stranger passed 
almost unnoticed. They were country people, 
but they were all comfortably and nicely dressed, 
clean, healthy, prosperous-looking people. There 
were a number of men in middle life iv the congre- 
gation — ^men who had left their farms in working 
hours to hear this old man talk about his Master. 
When he finished and went down to the front 
benches to shake hands with the new members and 
bid them Godspeed, the whole membership rose 
and followed his example. It seemed to the on- 
looker, as they filed past, that in the older faces 
was reflected something of the preacher's look. 
One old woman, especially, had almost the same 
air of shining peace. 

Somehow the old man seemed typical of Christ's 
work for men in all countries and races and 
through the centuries. Most of the service men 
need cannot be given by learned or gifted people 
—there are not enough of them to go around. No 

• • « 

» w 


Sure Foundation's 161 

unusual equipment is necessary to really help — ^no 
unusual gifts ; only an unusual faithfulness in the 
use of ordinary gifts, such faithfulness as any of 
us may bring to our service if we will. And when 
we bring it, He uses it like this. All over the 
world it is love of Him in somebody's heart that 
has laid, and is yet laying, foundations of char- 
acter, of opportunity, of higher ideals, of cleaner, 
happier, everyday living among poor and hitherto 
unfriended folk, lifting them from whatever depth 
they may be in toward that high end for which 
mankind was made. 

It was this simple, loving, faithful service from 
some who had come to know God that first 
lifted our own savage ancestors, and many an- 
other wild race, and set their feet on the long road 
toward Christian civilization. All over the South 
to-day, among the poorest, this force is at work. 
It is like the lifting power of light, silently, the 
world around, drawing unnumbered tons of cold, 
dark earth into the beauty and glory of green 
leaves and flowers and food for a hungry world. 

This old man, James Dunston, as he goes from 
village to village, with the peace of God in his 
face, is one of the real builders of America's pros- 
perity and progress. It is people of his spirit 
who lay the real foundations of race or national 
life — the only foundations that can endure. 


WHEN Negro literature is mentionedy 
most white people think of Paul Lau- 
rence Dunbar, the great Negro poet 
whom William Dean Howells discovered, and of 
whom he proclaimed to all America that, Negro or 
no Negro, here was a writer **of innate distinc- 
tion '* whose ** refined and delicate art'* attained 
* * a very artistic completeness. * ' Dunbar has been 
widely read, and his gifts as widely acknowledged. 
To many white people he still represents the whole 
of Negro literature. Others, however, add a few 
names to his. No one who has read Dr. DuBois's 
Souls of Black Folk will deny that it is litera- 
ture of most unusual quality, or will they soon 
forget its haunting beauty. Beaders of the At- 
Icmtic Monthly know Chesnutt's stories and the 
poems of Braithwaite, whose work has also ap- 
peared in the Century. Mr. Braithwaite is dis- 
tinguished as both poet and critic, having served 
in the latter capacity on the staff of the Boston 
Transcript for many years. Since 1913 he has 
issued a yearly anthology, giving the best poems 
of the year which have appeared in American 
periodicals. He edits the 'New Poetry Review of 


A Seed of Flame 163 

Cambridge, and is general editor of the series of 
Contemporary American Poets. 

Of these four men, Dunbar, bom in 1872, was 
the youngest. Of the still younger generation of 
Negro writers, few white people are aware. One 
reason for this is that the younger men, growing 
up in a new time, are passionately concerned for 
justice to their race. They have chosen between 
protest and literature, and men like James Weldon 
Johnson and others of his class, who could un- 
doubtedly achieve distinction in the latter field, 
are pouring their gifts and energies into other 
channels. There will be those after them, they 
say, to write essays and novels and poems ; their 
work is something more pressing. 

But this story is of none of these. It is the 
story of one who barely crossed the threshold of 
manhood, of a poet most of whose poems were 
still unwritten when his long struggle with suffer- 
ing ended in the fulness of life and light. 

There was no struggle against hardship in this 
boy^s youth, no fight for an education against 
odds. His father had waged that fight and won 
it splendidly before the boy was bom. The son 
opened his baby eyes in a home of comfort and 
refinement and grew up a boy of brilliant promise, 
an only son, and the idol of his parents. 

His father, Joseph S. Cotter, for whom the boy 
was named, was the son of a slave who was her- 
self the daughter of free Negroes, but in some: 

164 In the Vanguard of a Race 

vraj she had been bonded as a slave. She must 
have seemed a strange woman, with much of her 
life beyond the understanding of the slaves about 
her. She worked hard, but she sang a great deal, 
improvising her songs as she worked. She made 
up plays and acted them before her admiring fel- 
low-slaves. She was a deeply religious woman 
who was sometimes caught up into religious ec- 
stasies. There was plainly something in her quite 
different from those about her. In thinking of 
her and of her son and her grandson, in whom her 
own strange spark of life flamed up, one is re- 
minded of Browning ^s lines: 

. . . God drops his seed of heavenly flame 
Just where He wills on earth. 

Looking at the slave woman, **the naked unpre- 
paredness of rock" seems best to describe the bar- 
ren circumstances into which the seed had fallen 
for her. For a long time life seemed little more 
propitious for her son. He learned to read when 
he was four years old, but forgot all about it, being 
long unused to books ; so that when, in his early 
twenties, he entered night-school, he had to learn 
the alphabet all over again. 

But he used some of his gifts in those lean years, 
nevertheless. At ten years of age he was work- 
ing with boys and men in a brickyard in Louis- 
ville, Kentucky. He was set upon by the bigger 
boys and much tormented. Knowing the hopeless- 
ness of physical resistance, Joseph set his wits to 


A Seed of Flame 165 

work. He noticed that in the noon hour the men 
gathered around those of their number who could 
tell a good story. Why shouldn't boys do the 
same! And something within him told him he 
could furnish the stories. So he tried it and found 
it worked like a charm. The boys forgot to tease 
and crowded round him with growing respect and 
interest. The men, noticing their absorption from 
day to day, began to stroll over to investigate, 
and before long there was only one group at the 
noon hour — ^boys and men gathered around the 
little black boy, listening to the tales which he 
daily fashioned for them out of his own fancies. 

At the age of twenty-two, hunger for an educa- 
tion stirred within him, and he went to night- 
school, beginning with the alphabet. In two 
years' time he was prepared to teach, and from 
that day to this he has been a student. He be- 
came principal of the Louisville Coleridge-Tay- 
lor school, named in honor of the great Negro 
musician who lives in London and is ranked as 
one of the foremost composers of our time. Mr. 
Cotter's work, however, is not confined to the 
school. When Louisville, first of all Southern 
cities, opened playgrounds for colored children, 
this older Joseph Cotter gave them a story-hour. 
He does the same thing at the two colored 
branches of the Louisville Public Library, and 
is helping to inspire and train in the same fine 

166 In the Vanguard of a Race 

art yotmg teachers and the children who will one 
day teach. He owns a comfortable home and 
a library especially rich in poetry. He has his 
mother's love of poetry and her gift, with a finer 
power of expression. A poet himself, he first 
made Dunbar known among his own people in the 
South, quick to acknowledge in another the gift 
he himself shared. 

Into this home came Joseph Cotter, Jr., in Sep- 
tember, 1895. He and his sister Florence, who 
was two years older, grew up together, devoted 
friends and chums. Florence taught Joseph to 
read. When he started to school at the mature 
age of six, he had read about thirty books, includ- 
ing the readers of all the eight grades of the 
public schools and parts of the Bible. 

The parents, seeing how eagerly their children 
learned, very wisely held them back. They were 
both rather delicate, and their father and mother 
felt that sound bodies were of the first importance. 
Several times they refused consent when the chil- 
dren's teachers would have given them more rapid 
promotion ; yet even so, Florence graduated from 
high school at sixteen with first honors, and Jos- 
eph, two years later, graduated at the same age, 
wiih second honors. He was first in scholarship, 
but some bit of mischief had forced his teachers 
to discipline him, and so he was given second 

He seems to have been a real boy, for all his 

A Seed of Flame 167 

physical delicacy and his voracious love of books. 
He worked hard as a newsboy, and while he was 
still a little f ellow, he and his friends formed a 
grass-cutting club and made it pay. He did not 
waste the money he earned, but showed self-con- 
trol and good sense in managing it. He was in- 
terested in doing all he could for himself. 

The boy was an enthusiast in athletics and dis- 
tinguished himself in them. He was especially 
fond of football, which he played well despite his 
slight physique. He always said it took brains 
rather than muscle to play football anyway, and 
the handicap he would not yield to could not block 
his way. While he was in high school, his jaw was 
broken by a base-ball and had to be wired in place. 
For two weeks he could not open his mouth, and 
was fed liquids through a straw; but he kept on 
attendiQg school, doing his work well. 

He was a quiet chap, with gentle and courteous 
manners; but if he felt it necessary, he would 
fight, giving his entire interest and attention to 
the matter in hand. He was popular because he 
thought of others. One of his great gifts was 
the power to draw people out, and he was always 
ready to help them discover the best in them- 

Joseph was as fond of books as of people. The 
books of poetry in his father's library especially 
appealed to him, and he drank deep of this great 
spring of literature and of life. 

168 In the Vanguard of a Race 

Tliat he should be particularly well-informed on 
the race question seems a matter of course; the 
significant thing is that his interest was never 
confined to it. His alert and eager mind went out 
to the whole world, to everything that concerned 
the Race of Man, to which all races belong. He 
was a keen student of world history and world 
movements, and this explains the poise and bal- 
ance of his outlook on the problems of the race 
with which he himself was identified. This atti- 
tude is well shown in the following poem which is 
not only filled with a courage that looks facts and 
the world squarely in the face but is saturated 
with serenity of soul : 

The Mulatto to His Clitics 

Ashamed of my race? 

And of what race am I? 

I am many in one. 

Through my veins there flows the blood 

Of Ked Man, Black Man, Briton, Celt, and Scot, 

In warring clash and tumultuous riot. 

I welcome all, 

But love the blood of the kindly race 

That swarths my skin, crinkles my hair, 

And puts sweet music into my soul. 

*'And puts sweet music into my soul.*' That is 
especially the dower of African blood. It pours 
out in kindly laughter and friendly human cheer- 
fulness amid circumstances which would turn Nor- 
dic blood to gall or flame. It wells up to God in 
the strange, soul-moving melody of the ** spir- 
ituals'* out of slavery itself. White slaves have 

a Studio, Louisville, £ll. . 

A Seed of Flame 169 

attained spiritual vision — ^Epictetus is undying 
witness to that, but did ever a whole race of 
slaves lift their hearts in song before 1 When the 
races of men are all developed and the contribu- 
tion of each to the Bace of Man can be defined, that 
of the African race will be based on this very 
quality — that it **puts sweet music into my soul/* 

After finishing at high school, Joseph followed 
his sister to Fisk University at Nashville. He was 
there for a year and a half when he developed 
tuberculosis and was forced to come home. For 
six years he fought a good fight, his soul conquer- 
ing, his body going under, slipping down toward 
the last surrender in increasing weakness and 
pain. As long as he could move, he worked. He 
was associate editor of the Louisville Leader, a 
position which suited him and which he fiUed with 

In December of the year in which Joseph left 
the university, his sister Florence was stricken 
with the same disease and came home, as he had 
done, to go under the doctor's care. She died just 
a year later, in December, 1914. 

This was a heavy sorrow. The family was a 
deeply affectionate one, and the tie between the 
brother and sister was unusually close. It was 
while visiting her grave, some months after her 
death, that the impulse came upon him to ex- 
press his grief in verse, and he wrote there the 
lines, **To Florence,*' which began his career as 

170 In the Vangtiard of a Race 

a poet. He recognized clearly that it was a ques- 
tion of but a short time before his own body would 
be laid beside hers, but he went on, meeting life 
as best he could from day to day, with failing 
strength but with a valiant heart. He had the best 
of medical care, and the white physician who at- 
tended him said that for courage, patience, and 
cheerfulness, he was, during the six years of his 
illness, the most remarkable patient he had ever 

One of his special friends in the grass-cutting 
club of his boyhood was Abram Simpson, the 
youngest colored captain in the World War, and 
now a banker in Louisville. WMle he was facing 
death ra France, Joseph, his friend, was facing it 
here at home in the silence of his quiet room. 

But no one who suffers much and yet turns to 
those about him a steady and cheerful spirit can 
achieve that victory without times of fierce inward 
struggle. Yet in the little book of poems published 
a year before his death there is but one hint of dis- 
couragement. It is this short poem : 


I am BO tired and weary, 

So tired of the endless fight. 
So weary of waiting the dawn 

And finding endless nigh^ 
That I ask but rest and quiet — 

Kest for the days that are gon^ 
And quiet for the little space 

That I must journey on. 

Next to this, however, we find the following: 

A Seed of Flame 171 

The Goal 

I have found joj, 

Surc^se from sorrow. 
Prom qualms for today 

And fears for tomorrow. 

I have found love 

Sifted of pain 
Of life's harsh goading 

And worldly disdain. 

I have found peace 

Still-born from grief. 
From soul's bitter mocking, 

And heart's unbelief. 

Now may I rest, 

Soul-glad and free; 
For, Lord, in the travail 

I have found Thee. 

That his pure joy in the beauty of the world 
about him was fresh and keen this lyric witnesses, 
almost singing itself : 

Rain Mnsic 

On the dusty earth-drum 

Beats the falling rain. 
Now a whispered murmur. 

Now a louder strain. 

Slender silvery driunsticksy 

On an ancient driun. 
Beat the mellow music. 

Bidding life to come. 

Chords of earth awakened, 

Notes of greening spring. 
Rise and fall triumphant 

Over everything. 

Slender silvery drumsticks 

Beat the long tattoo- 
God, the great musician. 

Galling life anew. 

172 In the Vanguard of a Race 

The little book of poems published before his 
death takes its name, The Bcmd of Gideon^ from 
the first poem in the book, a weird fancy of storm- 
driven black clouds, which seems akin to some of 
the old ** spirituals. ' ' The book is manifestly the 
work of youth and as such, immature. '*A 
Prayer '^ voices his own consciousness of this, and 
his desire to work out in well-wrought lines that 
which he sees with the eyes of his soul but cannot 
yet fully express. 

A Prayer 

As I lie in bed, 

Flat on my back, 

There passes across my ceiling 

An endless panorama of things — 

Quick steps of gay-voiced children, 

Adolescence in its wondering silences. 

Maid and man on moonlit simimer's eve, 

Women in the holy glow of motherhood. 

Old men gazing silently through the twilight 

Into the beyond. 

O God, give me words to make my dream-children live. 

The strongest poem in the book, with one ex- 
ception, is a sonnet, ^*To the Negro Soldiers. ^^ 
Confined to his bed by suffering, he was now often 
too weak to write or to think, but his heart was 
with his comrades who had gone to the front, and 
with them he hoped most passionately that the loy- 
alty and sacrifice of Negro Americans during the 
war would win for the race a better justice here 
at home and fuller respect as citizens. 

A Seed of Flame 173 

To the Negro Soldiers 

They shall go down unto Life's Borderland, 
Walk unafraid within that Living Hell, 
Nor heed the driving rain of shot and shell 

That round them falls; but with uplifted hand 

Be one with mighty hosts, an armM band 
Against man's wrong to man — ^for such full well 
They know. And from their trembling lips shall swell 

A song of hope the world can understand. 

AU this to them shall be a glorious sign, 
A glimmer of that resurrection morn 

When age-long faith, crowned with a grace benign. 
Shall rise and from their brows cast down the thorn 

Of prejudice. E'en though through blood it be. 

There breaks this day their dawn of liberty^ 

Joseph Cotter's best work was done for the 
most part after the publication of his book. It is 
found in a sequence of nineteen love-sonnets of 
remarkable beauty and workmanship for so young 
a man. They are published in the A. M. E. Zion 
Quarterly Review for the third quarter of 1920. 
The last one, especially, of the little child 

Who never was, nor is, nor e'er shall be. 

is of a moving and haunting beauty. He left these 
sonnets, with a few short poems and one-act plays, 
unpublished at his death. 

He sank toward death for years, fighting at 
every step. At the last, sight and hearing failed 
him, yet his whispered words were still of courage 
and cheer. He died in his father *s arms on the 
third day of February, 1919. 

Considering his youth and the heavy handicap 

174 In the Vanguard of a Ba^^e 

of illness during those few years, when, even in 
full vigor, his powers would but have been put- 
ting forth their first buds, his literary achieve- 
ments are full of promise — a promise which in 
God's own time will find fulfilment in a broader 
life than this. One quality of his work is its di- 
rect and full sincerity. This quality blazes 
through what is, to the writer, the strongest of 
all his poems. There is no bitterness in it, nor 
was there any in his life, yet he knew the facts 
— ^knew them better and knew more of them, 
doubtless, than we white people ever do. And 
what he knew he felt. He was fully identified in 
his own heart and will with the Negro race — ^his 
people, entirely his people, though strains of many 
races mingled in his life. But feeling as he did 
the injustices from which his people suffer, he asks 
withput rancor or reproach of his white brother: 

And What Shall You Say? 

Brother, come! 

And let us go linto our God. 

And when we stand before Him 

I shall say — 

"Lord, I do not hate, 

I am hated. 

I scourge no one, 

I am scourged. 

I covet no lands, 

My lands are coveted. 

I mock no peoples, 

My people are mocked." 

— ^And, brother, what shall you say? 

The longer one thinks of it, the deeper that