Carter G. Woodson and The Mis-Education of the Negro- 2022 Wrap Up

I’m really tempted to go off on a rant. Not against Carter G. Woodson and his faults. No, I’ve taken to heart his criticisms of Black college educated people. Because he’s right. We suck.

We, and I am speaking as an African-American woman with two graduate degrees, haven’t done enough, and some of us have done nothing but exploit Black pain and misery for our own advancement. I look at the test scores for Black children and despair, because they are sorely miseducated. And those Blacks who do succeed in academia do they use their education to serve the Black community? Woodson was annoyed at educated Blacks who could not (would not?) use their education to support Black business or understand the Black customer.

Okay, rant over, here’s a list of the 2022 reprints of the 2021 posts, with a little editing.

Chapter 1- THE SEAT OF THE TROUBLE
Chapter 2- HOW WE MISSED THE MARK
Chapter 3- HOW WE DRIFTED AWAY FROM THE TRUTH
Chapter 4- EDUCATION UNDER OUTSIDE CONTROL
Chapter 5- THE FAILURE TO LEARN TO MAKE A LIVING Part 1 and Part 2
Chapter 6- THE EDUCATED NEGRO LEAVES THE MASSES
Chapter 7- DISSENSION AND WEAKNESS
Chapter 8- PROFESSIONAL EDUCATED DISCOURAGED
Chapter 9- POLITICAL EDUCATION NEGLECTED
Chapter 10- THE LOSS OF VISION
Chapter 11- THE NEED FOR SERVICE RATHER THAN LEADERSHIP
Chapter 12 HIRELINGS IN THE PLACES OF PUBLIC SERVANTS
Chapter 13- UNDERSTAND THE NEGRO
Chapter 14- THE NEW PROGRAM
Chapter 15- VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE
Chapter 16- THE NEW TYPE OF PROFESSIONAL MAN REQUIRED
Chapter 17- HIGHER STRIVINGS IN THE SERVICE OF THE COUNTRY
Chapter 18- THE STUDY OF THE NEGRO
APPENDIX

This was fun and educational. You should read the whole book or listen to the audiobook.

Source: To save on typing I used the History is a Weapon website’s reprinting of The Mis-Education of the Negro.

Carter G. Woodson: History of the Negro Church: Ch. 2 The Dawn of the New Day

For this year I’m just doing two chapters of Carter G. Woodson’s History of the Negro Church because I find the book a little less interesting. Finding an audiobook made this review easier than the one for the first chapter.

In this chapter he takes a look at the Methodists. Woodson does not give a history of Methodism. Maybe his audience of 1921 readers are familiar with the denomination and how it is one of the dissenting sects coming out of Anglicanism/ the Church of England. My quickie version is that Methodism was founded by Rev. John Wesley (with help from brother Charles) where they reached out to the middling and working classes. There was a difference in how they expressed their faith and that comes into play in this chapter.

Woodson focused on how Methodists tackled the question of slavery. The dates covered in this chapter range from 1750 to 1793, so mainly during the colonial period and before the Methodists broke from Anglicans.  The founder Wesley, as well as Thomas Coke, and Francis Asbury opposed slavery.

The Methodists later (1780-ish) required that members not be slaveholders. If a member held a slave, they were expected to not be a slaveholder 12 months. Local leadership were the ones who were supposed to enforce this rule. There were some exceptions made for spouses of slave owners and people who held legal title to people who were too young, too old or too disabled to live on their own.

Despite efforts to purge slaveholding among their ranks, Methodism wasn’t as appealing to African Americans as the Baptist denomination. Whereas the Methodists were making real efforts to address slavery, the Baptists, because they were less organized in this effort, didn’t really address it.  The Baptists deferred to local sentiments and there was less of an abolitionist fervor.

Woodson mentions the Presbyterians, another protestant denomination. It appears they encouraged emancipation but did not require it.

Carter G. Woodson- Mis-Education of the Negro- Chapter 18: The Study of the Negro

It’s Black History Month, so I am continuing with a reprint of the 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.

Okay. Last chapter. Last day of a very short month.

The oppressor, however, raises his voice to the contrary. He teaches the Negro that he has no worth-while past, that his race has done nothing significant since the beginning of time, and that there is no evidence that he will ever achieve anything great. The education of the Negro then must be carefully directed lest the race may waste time trying to do the impossible. Lead the Negro to believe this and thus control his thinking. If you can thereby determine what he will think, you will not need to worry about what he will do. You will not have to tell him to go to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door he will have one cut for his special benefit.

Woodson points to the main problem and the purpose of his life’s work. African Americans in their own schools and in majority white schools were being taught that they had nothing to offer and never had anything to offer to the world. Woodson sought to counter that with the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.

The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, however, has no special brand for the solution of the race problem except to learn to think. No general program of uplift for the Negroes in all parts of the world will be any more successful than such a procedure would be in the case of members of other races under different circumstances. What will help a Negro in Alabama may prove harmful to one in Maine. The African Negro may find his progress retarded by applying “methods used for the elevation of the Negro in America.” A thinking man, however, learns to deal wisely with conditions as he finds them rather than to take orders from some one who knows nothing about his status and cares less. At present the Negro, both in Africa and America, is being turned first here and there experimentally by so-called friends who in the final analysis assist the Negro merely in remaining in the dark.

So not all Black people are alike and there is no one size fits all solution to the African diaspora’s problems.

And finally, the last paragraph:

In this outline there is no animus, nothing to engender race hate. The Association does not bring out such publications. The aim of this organization is to set forth facts in scientific form, for facts properly set forth will tell their own story. No advantage can be gained by merely inflaming the Negro’s mind against his traducers. In a manner they deserve to be congratulated for taking care of their own interests so well. The Negro needs to become angry with himself because he has not handled his own affairs wisely. In other words, the Negro must learn from others how to take care of himself in this trying ordeal. He must not remain content with taking over what others set aside for him and then come in the guise of friends to subject even that limited information to further misinterpretation.

A 2022 summation, don’t waste time thinking about white people. Black Americans must figure out on our own how to take care of ourselves. As it goes for the individual it goes for the group. Only you can quit bad habits. No one can lose weight, stop smoking, and exercise more for you. Someone else can ban Big Gulps, over regulate cigarettes, and make gyms affordable but that won’t have the same effect as someone taking on the challenge of choosing and maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

Carter G. Woodson- Mis-Education of the Negro- Chapter 17: Higher Strivings in the Service of the Country

It’s Black History Month, so I am continuing with a reprint of my 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.

Holy Moley I’m running out of month and I have two more chapters to finish. So sadly these last two chapters are going to be a bit more slap dash than I’d like.

Especially outside of the South, African Americans had the opportunity to vote before the Civil Rights movement of the 60s. So I believe it was those voters Woodson was thinking about when talking about the ‘New Negro’. “The New Negro in politics, moreover, must not be a politician. He must be a man. He must try to give the world something rather than extract something from it.”

This post is going to be rather short so I will post a few opening paragraphs from the chapter and the last two paragraphs. My own commentary is in choosing what sections to bold.

Another factor the Negro needs is a new figure in politics, one who will not concern himself so much with what others can do for him as with what he can do for himself. He will know sufficient about the system of government not to carry his trouble to the federal functionaries and thus confess himself a failure in the community in which he lives. He will know that his freedom from peonage and lynching will be determined by the extent that he can develop into a worthy citizen and impress himself upon his community.

The New Negro in politics will not be so unwise as to join the ignorant delegations from conferences and convention which stage annual pilgrimages to the White House to complain to the President because they have socially and economically failed to measure up to demands of self-preservation. The New Negro in politics will understand clearly that in the final analysis federal functionaries cannot do anything about these matters within the police powers of the states, and he will not put himself in the position of being received with coldness and treated with contempt as these ignorant misleaders of the Negro race have been from time immemorial. The New Negro in politics, then, will appeal to his own and to such friends of other races in his locality as believe in social justice. If he does something for himself others will do more for him.

The increasing vigor of the race, then, will not be frittered away in partisan strife in the interest of the oppressors of the race. It ought not to be possible for the political bosses to induce almost any Negro in the community to abandon his permanent employment to assist them and their ilk in carrying out some program for the selfish purposes of the ones engineering the scheme. It ought not to be possible for the politicians to distribute funds at the rate of fifty or a hundred dollars a head among the outstanding ministers and use them and their congregations in vicious partisan strife. It is most shameful that some ministers resort to religion as a camouflage to gain influence in the churches only to use such power for selfish political purpose.

The Negro should endeavor to be a figure in politics, not a tool for the politicians. This higher role can be played not by parking all of the votes of a race on one side of the fence as both blacks and whites have done in the South, but by independent action. The Negro should not censure the Republican party for forgetting him and he should not blame the Democratic party for opposing him. Neither can the South blame any one but itself for its isolation in national politics. Any people who will vote the same way for three generations without thereby obtaining results ought to be ignored and disfranchised.

and the last two:

Why should the Negro wait for some one from without to urge him to self-assertion when he sees himself robbed by his employer, defrauded by his merchant, and hushed up by government agents of injustice? Why wait for a spur to action when he finds his manhood insulted, his women outraged, and his fellowmen lynched for amusement? The Negroes have always had sufficient reason for being radical, and it looks silly to see them taking up the cause of others who pretend that they are interested in the Negro when they merely mean to use the race as a means to an end. When the desired purpose of these so-called friendly groups will have been served, they will have no further use for the Negro and will drop him just as the Republican machine has done.

The radicals bring forward, too, the argument that the Negro, being of a minority group, will always be overpowered by others From the point of view of the selfish elements this may be true, and certainly it has worked thus for some time; but things do not always turn out according to mathematical calculations. In fact, the significant developments in history have never been thus determined. Only the temporary and the trivial can be thus forecast. The human factor is always difficult for the materialist to evaluate and the prophecies of the alarmist are often upset Why should we expect less in the case of the Negro?

I’m going to add this in 2022. The more things change the more they stay the same. Black Americans are being used as a tool by politicians. As a result, the Black community has been gifted crappy schools, poor public safety, and dependency. Those first two relate to the last one. If a person can barely read or write or do math, what kind of job can they hold? Limited to low-end jobs in an expensive town like DC, dependency on Section 8 and various welfare programs can be a given. Don’t get me started about the Black children injured/killed by because of rising crime.

Carter G. Woodson- Mis-Education of the Negro- Chapter 16: The New Type of Professional Man Required

It’s Black History Month, so I am continuing with a reprint of the 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.

This chapter is focused on two professions, the medical and legal. Woodson wants more Black doctors and lawyers. More importantly, he wants self-less doctors and lawyers.

While we hear much about medicine, law and the like their importance must not be unduly emphasized. Certainly men should not crowd into these spheres to make money, but all professions among Negroes except those of teaching and preaching are undermanned. All Negroes in professions constitute less than two and a half per cent of those over ten years of age who are gainfully employed. At the same time the whites find certain of their professions overcrowded, and some of their practitioners could not exist without the patronage of Negroes.

Too many teachers and preachers, not enough doctors and lawyers. And he wishes people (men) wouldn’t go into the law or medicine just for the money. And here is where I think idealists (Woodson doesn’t strike me as an idealist, but bear with me) forget about human nature. Adam Smith noted that “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”  Smith knew that benevolence gets you only so far. Woodson complained, “Too many Negroes go into medicine and dentistry merely for selfish purposes, hoping thereby to increase their income and spend it in joyous living.

Woodson’s critic of Black lawyers is that they aren’t well practiced and he bemoans what he perceives as selfishness among Black doctors. “Too many of our physicians are like the one whom the author recently visited in New York City. “When I heard you coming up the stairs,” said he, “I began to feel glad, for I was sure that you were another patient from whom I might extract at least two dollars for a prescription.” This reminds me of a an old joke about doctor’s unreadable scribbly handwriting on prescriptions, the comedian said the doctor wrote, “I got mine, now you get yours.”

Carter G. Woodson- Mis-Education of the Negro- Chapter 15: Vocational Guidance

It’s Black History Month, so I am continuing with a reprint of the 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.

The focus of this chapter is the question of how Afro-Americans can make a living, conduct business and maybe thrive. Woodson’s main theme of the book is a criticism of the education of African-Americans (thus the Mis-Education of the Negro). He continues his criticism of vocational schools for Blacks saying they don’t provide any value to their students. “For example, some of our schools are still teaching individual garment making which offers no future today except in catering to the privileged and rich classes. ” Then he mentions,” The education of the masses has not enabled them to advance very far in making a living and has not developed in the Negro the power to change this condition. It is revealed that in many establishments the Negro when a young man starts as a janitor or porter and dies in old age in the same position.

Negroes do not need some one to guide them to what persons of another race have developed. They must be taught to think and develop something for themselves. It is most pathetic to see Negroes begging others for a chance as we have been doing recently. “Do not force us into starvation.” we said. “Let us come into your stores and factories and do a part of what you are doing to profit by our trade.” The Negro as a slave developed this fatal sort of dependency; and, restricted mainly to menial service and drudgery during nominal freedom, he has not grown out of it. Now the Negro is facing the ordeal of either learning to do for himself or to die out gradually in the bread line in the ghetto.

And once again, he is critical of the ‘highly educated’ Black person.

Our advanced teachers, like “most highly educated” Negroes, pay little attention to the things about them except when the shoe begins to pinch on one or the other side. Unless they happen to become naked they never think of the production of cotton or wool; unless they get hungry they never give any thought to the output of wheat or corn; unless their friends lose their jobs they never inquire about the outlook for coal or steel, or how these things affect the children whom they are trying to teach. In other words, they live in a world, but they are not of it. How can such persons guide the youth without knowing how these things affect the Negro community?

Another form of mis-education is what,” the Negro has learned from others how to spend money much more rapidly than he has learned how to earn it.” Then there is the mis-education of imitation and duplication as opposed to invention. He has several success stories of invention. A furniture maker in North Carolina, a man in Cincinnati who created corded beds, and a woman in  Columbia, MO who made some exceptional biscuits which had all races coming to her door. This reminds me of something in Booker T. Washington’s book Up From Slavery, where he talked up Tuskegee’s brick making facilities. Invent or find a product to make that is of good quality, excel in it’s creation and Black and White dollars will make you a success.

Black Anti-Blackness

So there’s this:

….For example, not long ago a committee of Negroes in a large city went to the owner of a chain store in their neighborhood and requested that he put a Negro manager in charge. This man replied that he doubted that the Negroes themselves wanted such a thing. The Negroes urging him to make the change assured him that they were unanimously in favor of it. The manager, however, asked them to be fair enough with his firm and themselves to investigate before pressing the matter any further. They did so and discovered that one hundred thirty-seven Negro families in that neighborhood seriously objected to buying from Negroes and using articles handled by them. These Negroes, then, had to do the groundwork of uprooting the inferiority idea which had resulted from their mis-education.

and

… While persons of African blood are compelled to sustain closer relation to their own people than to other elements in society, they are otherwise influenced socially and economically. The Negro community suffers for lack of delimitation because of the various ramifications of life in the United States. For example, there may be a Negro grocer in the neighborhood, but the Negro chauffeur for a rich man down town and the washerwoman for an aristocratic family in “quality row” will be more than apt to buy their food and clothing at the larger establishment with which their employers have connections, although they may be insulted there. Negroes of the District of Columbia have millions of dollars deposited in banks down town, where Negro women are not allowed in the ladies’ rest rooms.

Right in the heart of the highly educated Negro section of Washington, too, is a restaurant catering through the front door exclusively to the white business men, who must live in the Negroes’ section to supply them with the necessities of life, and catering at the same time through the back door to numbers of Negroes who pile into that dingy room to purchase whatever may be thrown at them. Yet less than two blocks away are several Negroes running cafés where they can be served for the same amount and under desirable circumstances. Negroes who do this, we say, do not have the proper attitude toward life and its problems, and for that reason we do not take up time with them. They do not belong to our community. The traducers of the race, however, are guiding these people the wrong way. Why do not the “educated” Negroes change their course by identifying themselves with the masses?

For similar reasons the Negro professional man may not always have a beautiful home and a fine car. His plight to the contrary may result from action like that of a poor man who recently knocked on the author’s door about midnight to use his telephone to call the ambulance of the Casualty Hospital to take immediate charge of his sick wife. Although living nearer to the Freedmen’s Hospital, where more sympathetic consideration would have been given this patient, he preferred to take her to the other hospital where she would have to be carried through the back yard and placed in a room over a stable. He worked there, however; and because of long association with his traducers and the sort of treatment that they have meted out to him he was willing to entrust to their hands the very delicate matter of the health of his wife. This was a part of his community.

To be fair, if not gushing blood or close to death I’d Uber over to another hospital. Howard (formerly Freedmen’s mentioned above) is the closest hospital to me, and I am grateful it is there. But when given a choice, I’ve chosen other facilities. It’s not because Howard is a hospital that primarily serves the African American community, it is because it has a reputation, and I have choices. Heck even some former Truxton Circle residents didn’t want to be at Freedmen’s.

Carter G. Woodson- Mis-Education of the Negro- Chapter 14: The New Program

It’s Black History Month, so I am continuing with the reprint of 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.

When reading this first paragraph from his chapter, remember the African American has been mis-educated:

IT seems only a reasonable proposition, then, that, if under the present system which produced our leadership in religion, politics, and business we have gone backward toward serfdom or have at least been kept from advancing to real freedom, it is high time to develop another sort of leadership with a different educational system. In the first place, we must bear in mind that the Negro has never been educated. He has merely been informed about other things which he has not been permitted to do. The Negroes have been shoved out of the regular schools through the rear door into the obscurity of the backyard and told to imitate others whom they see from afar, or they have been permitted in some places to come into the public schools to see how others educate themselves. The program for the uplift of the Negro in this country must be based upon a scientific study of the Negro from within to develop in him the power to do for himself what his oppressors will never do to elevate him to the level of others. [emphasis mine]

He has suggestions of how to move forward:

…Men of scholarship and consequently of prophetic insight must show us the right way and lead us into the light which shines brighter and brighter.

In the church where we have much freedom and independence we must get rid of preachers who are not prepared to help the people whom they exploit.

He has a lot of suggestions for the Black church. It furthers my doubt in his assumed atheism.

Regarding the places that produce the ‘highly educated’ Afro-Americans he’s thrown shade at:

We should not close any accredited Negro colleges or universities, but we should reconstruct the whole system. We should not eliminate many of the courses now being offered, but we should secure men of vision to give them from the point of view of the people to be served. We should not spend less money for the higher education of the Negro, but should redefine higher education as preparation to think and work out a program to serve the lowly rather than to live as an aristocrat.

In an alumni email I got it featured a woman, a new faculty member promoting Black English. I thought of her when reading this:

After Negro students have mastered the fundamentals of English, the principles of composition, and the leading facts in the development of its literature, they should not spend all of their time in advanced work on Shakespeare, Chaucer and Anglo-Saxon….

And the last paragraph of this chapter:

In our own particular history we would not dim one bit the luster of any star in our firmament. We would not learn less of George Washington, “First in War, First in Peace and First in the Hearts of his Countrymen”; but we would learn something also of the three thousand Negro soldiers of the American Revolution who helped to make this “Father of our Country” possible. We would not neglect to appreciate the unusual contribution of Thomas Jefferson to freedom and democracy; but we would invite attention also to two of his outstanding contemporaries, Phillis Wheatley, the writer of interesting verse, and Benjamin Banneker, the mathematician, astronomer, and advocate of a world peace plan set forth in 1793 with the vital principles of Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations. We would in no way detract from the fame of Perry on Lake Erie or Jackson at New Orleans in the second struggle with England; but we would remember the gallant black men who assisted in winning these memorable victories on land and sea. We would not cease to pay tribute to Abraham Lincoln as the “Savior of the Country”; but we would ascribe praise also to the one hundred and seventy-eight thousand Negroes who had to be mustered into the service of the Union before it could be preserved, and who by their heroism demonstrated that they were entitled to freedom and citizenship.

Carter G. Woodson- Mis-Education of the Negro- Chapter 13: Understand the Negro

It’s Black History Month, so I am continuing with the reprint of 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.

Statue of Carter G. Woodson in Shaw DC

This is a really short month and this book is 18 chapters. I am going to put this chapter in one post instead of breaking it up into two, though there are two thoughts I want to cover. The first thought is, was, the problem of Black Studies in the early 20th century, there wasn’t really. The second thought was the comparison he makes between European culture and African studies. This is going to be a really long post.

Black Studies, What Black Studies?

Carter G. Woodson is known as the father of Black History. He had to cobble together and create organizations for the study of African Americans because there was almost nothing in existence. So what he was noting (complaining about) was the lack of Black Studies as well as the problem of kind of education African Americans at all education levels received.

A further examination of their curricula shows, too, that invariably these Negro colleges offer courses in Greek philosophy and in that of modern European thought, but they direct no attention to the philosophy of the African. Negroes of Africa have and always have had their own ideas about the nature of the universe, time, and space, about appearance and reality, and about freedom and necessity. The effort of the Negro to interpret man’s relation to the universe shows just as much intelligence as we find in the philosophy of the Greeks. There were many Africans who were just as wise as Socrates.

and

Looking over the courses of study of the public schools, one finds little to show that the Negro figures in these curricula. In supplementary matter a good deed of some Negro is occasionally referred to, but oftener the race is mentioned only to be held up to ridicule…..

and  (warning this contains the N word) Continue reading Carter G. Woodson- Mis-Education of the Negro- Chapter 13: Understand the Negro

Carter G. Woodson- Mis-Education of the Negro- Chapter 12: Hirelings in the Places of Public Servants

It’s Black History Month, so I am continuing with a reprint of the 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.

This is sort of connected to the previous chapter, infighting still continues in this chapter. This time the example is among the working class:

Another employer conducting a wholesale business placed a Negro foreman in charge of others of his race to function as one of the important departments of the establishment. The Negroes working under him, who had formerly taken orders without question from the white foreman, soon undertook to take liberties with the promoted Negro and to ignore his orders. Knowing that the Negro foreman was well qualified, however, and being personally interested in him, the employer instead of doing what so many others under such circumstances had done, dismissed those who refused to cooperate and supplied the vacancies with others until an efficient working force could thus be obtained. Only a few employers, however, have had such patience and have manifested such interest in the advancement of the Negro. As a rule they merely dispose of Negro foremen with the excuse that one Negro will not take orders from another.

This refusal of Negroes to take orders from one another is due largely to the fact that slaveholders taught their bondmen that they were as good as or better than any others and, therefore, should not be subjected to any member of their race. If they were to be subordinated to some one it should be to the white man of superior culture and social position. This keeps the whole race on a lower level, restricted to the atmosphere of trifles which do not concern their traducers. The greater things of life which can be attained only by wise leadership, then, they have no way to accomplish.

Undermining each other among the upper classes and the same among the working classes.

Exploitative preachers were a problem in the past, a problem in the present, and sadly will probably be a problem in the future. Despite Woodson’s criticisms of Black preachers, I still refuse to believe that he’s an atheist.

We must feel equally discouraged when we see a minister driving up to his church on Sunday morning in a Cadillac. He does not come to feed the multitude spiritually. He comes to fleece the flock. The appeal he makes is usually emotional. While the people are feeling happy the expensive machine is granted, and the prolonged vacation to use it is easily financed. Thus the thoughtless drift backward toward slavery.

In my last post I thought the African American doctor was in the admirable column for Woodson. I spoke too soon.

When you see a physician drive to one’s door in his Pierce Arrow, you cannot get the impression he has come to treat the patient for a complaint. He has come to treat him for a dollar. Such physicians, as a rule, know less and less medicine as the years go by, although they make much money by learning human psychology and using it for personal gain. With leeches of this type feeding upon an all but impoverished people and giving them nothing back there can be no hope for advancement.

sigh.

What did Woodson want? He wanted a servant leader, not wolves among sheep.

The servant of the people, unlike the leader, is not on a high horse elevated above the people and trying to carry them to some designated point to which he would like to go for his own advantage. The servant of the people is down among them, living as they live, doing what they do and enjoying what they enjoy. He may be a little better informed than some other members of the group; it may be that he has had some experience that they have not had, but in spite of this advantage he should have more humility than those whom he serves, for we are told that “Whosoever is greatest among you, let him be your servant.”

Carter G. Woodson- Mis-Education of the Negro- Chapter 11: The Need for Service Rather than Leadership

It’s Black History Month, so I am continuing with reprint of the 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.

On occasion I will look for study aids to add to these posts. I look at what others have written and wonder if we were reading the same book. The organization Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded, ASALH’s aid skips Chapter 11 in the table of contents. There are two points many aids point to in this chapter and they are:

    1. Checking up on what they do, Negroes often find themselves giving money and moral support to various persons and institutions which influence the course of the race in the wrong way.
    2. If the Negro could abandon the idea of leadership and instead stimulate a larger number of the race to take up definite tasks and sacrifice their time and energy in doing these things efficiently the race might accomplish something. The race needs workers, not leaders. Such workers will solve the problems which race leaders talk about and raise money to enable them to talk more and more about.

I bolded the point but thought it was meaningless without Woodson’s surrounding words.

As I wrote, I feel like I’m not reading the book the way others are, and coming away with a different message. If I were to summarize this chapter it would be, ‘get the Old Bay we got crabs in a barrel‘.

The problem that existed in the 1930s, exists still. There is no real unity. There is lots of infighting.

In one city of a few thousand Negroes there is no chance for community cooperation because of the antagonism of the Methodist and Baptist preachers in charge of the two largest churches. The one is determined to dictate the appointment of the teaching corps and the social welfare workers; the other is persistently struggling to undo everything accomplished by his opponent. The one is up today, and the other in ascendancy tomorrow. Several efforts have been made to start business enterprises there, but none has succeeded because one faction tears down what the other builds up.

There’s a book I have yet to finish about African Americans in Chicago and real estate injustice. Part of the book covers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s efforts to improve housing and there was another African American pastor in the area that seemed to try to thwart King’s efforts. King was intruding on the other man’s territory.

The problem wasn’t limited to the clergy:

In another state the ambition of the highly educated Negro is restricted to becoming principals of the high schools. The neglected state school has not developed sufficiently to become attractive. The warring area, then, is in the cities. In one of them, where several Negroes own considerable wealth which, if pooled and properly used, would produce all but wonderful results, the petty strife has been most disastrous. Little thought is given to social uplift, and economic effort is crushed by factional wrangling. Before the author had been in one of the towns an hour a stalwart of one faction sounded him on becoming a candidate for the position held by the principal of the high school. A few minutes thereafter another approached him for advice as to how “to get him out.”

Take a drink if you caught the snipe at the ‘highly educated’ African Americans. It’s a constant theme. Continue reading Carter G. Woodson- Mis-Education of the Negro- Chapter 11: The Need for Service Rather than Leadership