Carter G. Woodson- Mis-Education of the Negro- Chapter 10: The Loss of Vision

It’s Black History Month, so I am revisiting a series of posts regarding Shaw resident and Father of Black History, Carter G. Woodson and his book The Mis-Education of the Negro, published in 1933.

I originally posted 2 posts for this chapter and I welcome you to view Part 1 and Part 2. However, this year I decided to focus on one theme in this chapter, Carter’s possible anti-segregationist/ pro-integration ideas. Besides his criticisms of the ‘educated’ African American have been beaten to death.

There are a few passages where Woodson appears to criticize segregation:

…An irate resident in an exclusive district protests against an invasion by Negroes because he has learned that these poverty-stricken people are carriers of disease and agents of crime; the Negroes, believing that such is the truth, remain content in the ghetto. The irrational parent forces the separation of the races in some schools because his child must occupy a seat next to a pupil of “tainted” African blood; the educated Negro accepts this as inevitable and welcomes the makeshift for his people. Children of Negroes are excluded from the playgrounds because of the assertion that they will contaminate those of the whites; the Negroes yielding, settle down to a policy of having their children grow up in neglected fashion in the most undesirable part of the city. The Negro is forced to ride in a Jim Crow car to stamp upon him more easily the badge of his “inferiority”; the “educated Negro” accepts it as settled and abandons the fight against this social proscription. 


These timorous men were very much like some Negroes who were employed near the author’s home in Virginia by a Northern farmer, who had moved into the State after the Civil War. When breakfast time came the first morning he called them in to eat at the table with his family. These actual slaves, however, immediately lost their appetite. One finally called the employer aside and settled the matter in another way. He said:

“Now boss, you ain’t used to de rules ob dis country. We just can’t sit at de table wid wite folks. We been use ter eating a cake er bread out yonder ‘tween de plow handles. Les us go out dar.”

The system, therefore, has extended from one thing to another until the Negroes today find themselves hedged in by the color bar almost every way they turn; and, set off by themselves, the Negroes cannot learn from the example of others with whom they might come into contact. In the ghetto, too, they are not permitted to construct and carry out a program of their own. These segregating institutions interfere with the development of self-help among Negroes, for often Negroes fail to raise money to establish institutions which they might control, but they readily contribute large sums for institutions which segregate persons of African blood.


…The same balance of power was evident also during the American Revolution when Negro soldiers insisted on serving side by side with others; today many Negroes are content as menials in the army. At that time Negroes preached to mixed congregations; today we find Negroes busy separating them. The eighteenth-century Negro resented any such thing as social distinctions; today Negroes are saying that they do not want social equality. Negroes of that epoch said with the ancient poet, “I am a man and deem nothing that relates to man a matter of indifference to me”; today, however, the average Negro says, “Now, I am a colored man, and you white folks must settle that matter among yourselves.”