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LIBERIA IN WORLD POLITICS. Nnamdi Azikiwe. London: Arthur H. Stockwell, Ltd., 1934. 7s. 6d.
T IBERIA, as the last spot on the African continent even technically under the control of black men, today merits consideration beyond that inspired by its size, power, wealth or international status. It is to be regretted that the literature affords us so little of significance on this small republic which for almost a century withstood (though none too well) the intense buffeting of international diplomacy and imperialistic intrigue. There is a crying need for a definitive work on the history and international role of this political "conscience-child" of America's shameful union with Negro slavery.
Mr. Azikiwe, himself a young native of West Coast Africa, who distinguished himself as an excellent student of the social sciences during the several years of study in this country recently, has presented in the volume under consideration a sincere, thorough, but somewhat pedestrian treatment of his subject.
The author carefully traces the origin o'f the black republic from the importation of the first slaves in Virginia through the several colonization projects and backto-Africa migrations, to the day in 1821 when the group carried over on the brig Nautillus under the command of Captain Stockton (and including Reverends Bacon and Andrus, Messrs. Winn and Wiltberger, as agents of the American Colonization Society), met with King Jack Ben at Jumbo Town, and negotiated a treaty with him to obtain land "for the black people in America, to come and sit down upon." By December 1, 1822, the American colonists had settled permanently at Mesurado, and Liberia began its history as an independent political venture.
The first town was named Monrovia, in honor of President Monroe, whose active interest had made possible the American expeditions.
The tribulations suffered by the early settlers, severe as they must have been, were as nothing compared to the international trials which mark the diplomatic history of the country. Weak, defenseless, relying upon a haphazard and vaguely defined sponsorship and protection by the United States, Liberia has been continuously in the direct path of the European imperialistic cyclone which swept down upon and engulfed Africa throughout the nineteenth century, and which has finally exhausted itself in the Italian conquest of Ethiopia,—but only becasue no more of Africa remains in the hands of black men. This diplomatic history, including Liberia" s complicated relations with England, France, Germany (all of whom had sinister designs on the little country) and America, the author carefully describes.
The tragic financial history of the country, and particularly the tentacles woven about the destiny by its agreements with the American Firestone Company, are thoroughly and objectively discussed. It is Mr. Azikiwe's opinion that the notorious 99-year lease of 1,000,000 acres of Liberian land by the Firestone Company,—an
agreement which seriously threatened the sovereignty of the country,—was definitely in conflict with provisions of the Liberian Constitution. The author also considers carefully the much debated role of the United States State Department in winning Liberian approval for Mr. Firestone's rubber plantation project—a role which many authorities have bitterly condemned as a deliberate enlistment of an agency of the American Government on behalf of a private investor, as against the best interests of a technically "friendly" state.
The author assumes a very sympathetic attitude toward the Liberian Government officials in considering the indictments of fostering slavery, pawning and forced labor which have frequently been charged against the Liberian Government. In his discussion oT the League Commissions and the proposed international mandate status, he shows a surprising faith in the sincerity of the League and its potential ability to protect weak states. To quote him:
"One is not of the opinion that the League of Nations is a total wreck beyond repair. Like Liberia, the forces of nationalism and imperialism have not given it ample opportunity for a successful existence. The League as an organization of states is also an agency of human ingenuity. The League and the men who are at its helm need intellectual emancipation and mental regeneration. The leading statesmen of the world could save the League from an ignominy if their bankrupt minds could be liquidated by a breadth of outlook on the natural rights of man—irrespective of race or creed or nationality." This is not merely naivete—it is sheer nonsense. It fails, as the author fails throughout, to comprehend the fundamental nature of the forces at work in an international capitalistic society which breed such horrors as imperialism, which create such institutions as the League of Nations as mere empty gestures, and which make the application of principles of "high morality" to defenseless states like Liberia, utterly impossible.
Mr. Azikiwe concludes on a high note of Pan-Africanism. "Liberia," he states, "is the nucleus of black hegemony. In that Republic lies the hope of an African civilization which should emphasize spiritual values, and should apply the African ideal of hospitality, of friendliness, of honesty, of truth, of justice, and of the brotherhood of man"—than which there is no idler dream. It is unfortunate that his intensely sincere love for Africa and the Africans has not permitted him to see that Africans, in Liberia or elsewhere in Africa, will not be liberated through Pan Africanism. The road to African liberation is not a nationalistic one—it is that road which leads to a fundamental reorganization of the political and economic structures of a world enslaved by monopoly capitalism.
Mr. Azikiwe, in a well-documented work which deserves serious consideration, has presented a wealth of factual data. It must be added, however, that the literary quality of the book leaves much to be desired,—it is loosely written in many places. There is no index.
RALPH J. BUNCHE.
Mrs. James Roosevelt, mother of the President, accepted the honorary chairmanship of a drive to raise $500,000 for Bethune-Cookman College, Daytona Beach, Florida. Mrs. Mary McLeod Bethune is president of Bethune-Cookman, and in a short address delivered on the occasion of a meeting in behalf of the school, which was held at the home of Mrs. Roosevelt, said:
"You people had faith in us fifty years ago. You sent us teachers. You invested in life. There are millions of black boys and girls in the South who need the human touch. It has been difficult for my race. You are aware of the inequalities which result in thirty times as much money being spent on the education of white children as that of Negroes."
Mrs. Estelle Sternberger will serve as chairman of the campaign and former Senator Frederic C. Walcott of Connecticut will act as vice chairman.
T. Arnold Hill, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations of the Urban League; John W. Davis, President of West Virginia State College; Dr. M. O. Bousfield, Associate Director of the medical service of the Julius Rosenwald Fund; and Walter White, Executive Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, were named this week to lead discussion groups at the National Conference on Problems of the Negro and Negro Youth by Mrs Mary McLeod Bethune, Director of the Division ol Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration. The conference will be held in the new Department of Labor building in Washington January 6th, 7th and 8th.
Announcement is made of the Bronze Booklet Series which "present the Negro's own view of his history, problems, and cultural contributions. The project has grown out of certain stimulating experiments in adult education conducted for the last four years in Harlem and Atlanta by local committees sponsored by the American Association for Adult Education and financed by the Rosenwald Fund and the Carnegie Foundation of New York." The Bronze Booklets are:
FIRST SERIES: No. 1—Adult Education Among Negroes
By Ira De A. Reid
By Alain Locke
By Alain Locke
By Ralph J. Bunche
SURVEY OF THE MONTH
Edwin H. Bayliss, former Supervisor of Negro Schools at Hot Springs, Arkansas, has made a study entitled "The Preparation, Interests and Achievements of the Negro Student" at the University of Iowa. The study made in the 1936 term was presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master's degree and was under the direction of Dr. Forrest Chester Ensign of the College of Education.
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Two hundred distinguished church leaders of both races, from all sections of the United States, assembled for the 15th Annual Meeting and Inter-racial Dinner of the Department of Race Relations at the Biennial Meeting of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America recently held at the Berkeley-Carteret Hotel at Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Dr. Allan Knight Chalmers, minister of the Broadway Tabernacle Church of the city of New York, made his first public statement regarding the year's accomplishments of the Scottsboro Defense Committee, of which
he is chairman. In the course of his remarks Dr. Chalmers said:
"One of the most important factors toward bringing ultimate justice in the Scottsboro Case, has been the formation of the Alabama Scottsboro Committee. This committee was originally composed of seventeen white and colored leaders concerned about the case, and now numbers forty-nine of Alabama's foremost citizens, including influential editors and publishers, lawyers, educators, Christian and Jewish ministers, labor leaders and other men and women of prominence in many fields.
"At present these boys are in danger of breaking in mind and body under the long strain. They have lost hope. They are kept in practical isolation in their cells at the top of the jail which surmounts the Jefferson County Court House. That is, they are segregated from other prisoners, in four groups of three and three and two and one. They are allowed out of their cells, only for their daily food, which is given to them in an adjoining, solitary locked corridor, and out of their cellblock only once a week to bathe. They are in utter despair. The long fight to establish their innocence is proving too much for them. Justice must come soon or for some of them it may be too late. One of the aims of both the Northern and Southern committees, in which an informed and aroused public opinion can do great service, is to bring about a change of venue for the next trial, which will begin the first week in January."
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In a speech delivered at the forty-sixth annual session of the Tuskegee Negro Farmers' Conference Judge J. M. Thomas, General Counsel of the Farm Credit Administration, New Orleans, Louisiana, said: "More than four thousand loans have been made to Negro farmers through our office without a single foreclosure, and I am glad to say that every dollar they borrowed has been paid back."
A plan to revitalize the National Negro Business League was initiated at Tuskegee Institute when twentynine prominent Negro businessmen met and subscribed $2,000 to meet the immediate expenses of promotion and centralized effort. Dr. F. D. Patterson was re-elected chairman of the Steering Committee. Recommendations were made for long range future activities, for coordinated efforts to promote a convention in Atlanta in 1937 and for a Negro Trade Journal.
Last May, a national officer of the International Longshoremen's Association addressed the North Carolina State Association of Colored Elks. Deprecating the lack of union organization among longshoremen of Wilmington, North Carolina, he stated that the union had been for twenty years attempting, without success, to organize the Negro longshoremen of that port. He pointed out that I.L.A. members elsewhere were receiv
ing the union wage of 60c to 65c per hour while in Wilmington longshoremen were receiving only 25c per hour.
Present at the meeting was Dr. F. W. Avant, a Negro physician of Wilmington. In responding to the union official's address, he promised to lend his efforts in organizing a local in his own city. As a result of Dr. Avant's efforts there is today a Wilmington local of the International Longshoremen's Association with 500 members paying dues. In appreciation of their support for the organizing campaign, the union elected as honorary members and trustees not only Dr. Avant but also Dr. R. R. Taylor, Mr. F. C. Sadgwar, and Reverend Oscar Holder. John Phillips is President of the new Longshoremen's Local and John Mosley is Secretary.
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Charles Polctti, Counsel to the Governor of the State of New York and treasurer of the National Urban League, has been appointed a member of the State Board of Social Welfare. T. Arnold Hill, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations, National Urban League, is also a member of the Board.
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Our cover this month is a photograph of Miss Frances C. Vashon, information secretary of the St. Louis Urban League, John T. Clark, executive secretary.
public must pay for the failure of our economic society, and the public will want to know why the bill is so high. Thus it will be the public's business to look for causes deeper than surface formation.
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with the laboring group. We shall have social security in many forms and in many states, so that the future of American workers need not now be as hopeless as it once was. The United States Chamber of Commerce has indicated its willingness to liberalize its policies. In all, 1937 promises to be a good year industrially and economically. Business will be good—so good that labor will want its share of it—and so good that industry should have a good disposition to improve upon its past unworthy performance. It will not be so good, however, that vigilance can be relaxed, or aggressive action withheld. There are few people so optimistic as to believe that labor can yet desist from its continuous watchfulness and insistence.
The issues for the ensuing year will engage the attention of all elements of society. The happenings of the past six years have served to emphasize the unavoidable relationship between industry and every other aspect of our national life. So great has been the loss of position and the destruction of incomes deemed impregnable, that every element of our citizenship has had its interest in human values quickened. Our structure for human welfare in 1937 will not rest on grants to the poor by private organizations. The
TRAINING FOR EMPLOYMENT
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Negro glee clubs, organized in CCC camps, are now traveling through neighboring towns delighting audiences with their spirituals and other songs. A colored chorus, the Minnewawa A Cappella Choir, of Company 2924 at Jamui, California, attracted considerable attention at the San Diego International Exposition last June. Negro clubs recently sang over radio programs in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio.
Mr. Edward T. Baker, Educational Advise; of Company 1521, a colored unit at Zanesville, Ohio, writes: "Great strides have been made in teaching enrollees (here) the proper use of their leisure time. A glee club of twenty-five voices was organized and regularly entertains the civic organizations of Zanesville. Piano instruction classes have been organized for a group of 15 enrollees, who are rapidly mastering the fundamentals. The camp has from one to three quartets at all times. One quartet regularly broadcasts over the local radio station."
Music organizations in Negro companies last June numbered 393 with 5,700 men enrolled; dramatic groups numbered 94 with 1,624 registered, and arts and crafts groups totaled 164 with 1,665 men enrolled. In addition, 120 newspapers were published by Negro companies.
Camp officials are anxious to help Negro members find self-sustaining employment. Efforts toward this objective are being more effectively organized. Reports reaching the Office of Education indicate that a number of Negro enrollees have recently found employment in such jobs as auto-mechanics, truck driving, chauffeuring, plumbing, carpentry, laundering, pressing, and personal service.
Through making contacts with prospective employers and gathering employment information, the Camp Adviser attempts to keep his men properly posted on nearby job openings. Enrollees are urged to keep their registration with the Employment Service active as long as they need a job. In addition, they are advised to write employers at home setting forth their qualifications and preparation for work.