Inter Ocean, June 28, 1893
The convention of the Colored Men’s National Protective Association got to work in earnest yesterday and carried through an interesting programme. They will conclude their labors this morning and be photographed in a group in front of the art palace at 10 o’clock.
Incidentally in the course of the discussion on resolutions the question of the negro’s attitude to the World’s Fair came up and it was decided to take notice of Aug. 25, as colored people’s day at The Fair.
The convention was called to order by J.G. Jones, Chicago. The first business was the appointment of a committee to escort Hon. Frederick Douglass to the platform. The old liberator was given an ovation. President George W. Taylor was introduced as the permanent presiding officer of the convention and delivered his annual address. He spoke of the objects of the association, and how it meant the social, moral, and educational uplifting of the negro, and touched briefly on the questions affecting the welfare of the race. He said a scheme of negro colonization was perhaps the most feasible plan of bettering the condition of the colored people.
Before Mr. Douglass was called upon to speak, a committee was appointed to conduct the prominent women to the platform. The veteran diplomat was then introduced as “the sage of the colored race and the peer of any orator of the nineteenth century.”
In the course of a powerful address Mr. Douglass said:
Truth is from everlasting to everlasting. It is eternal, and can never pass away. Such is truth is man’s right to liberty and all that is necessary to develop him into perfect manhood. Anything beneath the sky that interferes with the relation of this right of men and women to develop every organ and every faculty with which we are possessed and that impedes our progress is wong, and must be moved out of the way. (Applause)
I don’t think we are wise in assuming that we constitute a problem before the minds of the people of the United States. The question is whether the people are willing and able to make the constitution of this land, which they have sworn to support the law of the land. The problem of negro slavery was solved nearly thirty years ago when Abraham Lincoln issued his proclamation of of freedom and the problem of negro citizenship was settled by the amendment to the constitution conferring citizenship upon the men of the colored race. What’s the matter with the negro? He’s all right.(Applause
Short addresses were given by President Krevan of Fisk university, Nashville, Tenn., and Mrs. M.R.M. Wallace, Chicago.
The evening session was opened by the singing of the hymn, “Hold the Fort,” led by Mrs. Thurman, Michigan. The lady then presented “Aunt Laura” Haviland to the audience. Then old lady is 84 years of age, and at one time she was station-keeper at the underground railroad for freeing the slaves. She has written a book giving an account of her services in the cause of the oppressed. She was given a standing vote of thanks and had a golden badge pinned on her breast, making her an honorary member of the association.
While waiting for the report of committee on resolutions papers were read by E.H. Wright, on “Emigration,” and by Dr. Magee, on “What of the Negro?”
A Lively Debate.
The report of the committee on resolution was read by Ida B. Wells. It was passed on seriatim, and the following section relating to the World’s Fair caused a lively debate:
Whereas. It has been published that the 25th day of August has been set apart as colored folks, or jubilee day at the World’s Fair.
Resolved. That such a resolution meets our most emphatic disapproval, and we earnestness is recommend to the colored people throughout the country that no attention be paid by them to the setting apart of that day, and they refrain from making any demonstration on Aug. 25, but that, on the contrary, they all do all they can to discourage it.
Mrs. Thurman, Michigan, made an eloquent plea against the resolution, while J.H. Porter and Miss Wells stoutly defended it, as did the majority of the other speakers. It was carried by an overwhelming majority. Other sections of the report condemned lynch law, the “jim crow”car system of the South, and the proposed annexation of Hawaii by the United States.
In the evening a banquet and reception were tendered the visiting delegates by the colored people of Chicago at Central hall, Twenty-second street and Wabash avenue, when oratory, music and good fellowship reigned supreme.
Inter Ocean, August 26, 1893
Colored American day at The Fair, and the dignified manner of its observance, did honor to the race. Even in the face of opposition in their own ranks, with which those in charge had to contend, the celebration was everything that that grand old statesman, Frederick Douglass, had hoped for it.
The programme which was carried out in Festival hall during the afternoon reflected the highest credit on those who listened as well as on those of special gifts in music and oratory who took part of entertainers, and the oratory, which were listened to by an audience of several thousand persons, have not often been surpassed by any race on any occasion. Every one appearing in stage, whether singer, speaker, or instrumentalist, was rewarded with the most liberal applause, and it was all well earned.
After a creditable and successful street parade in the principle streets of the city, the colored people to the number of several thousand quietly went to Jackson park, entered the gates in groups and distributed themselves over the grounds. They were, as a rule, well dressed, prosperous-looking and courteous in manner. All were not from Chicago; many were visitors from distant parts of the country.
At 3 o’clock a large audience, in which there were many white people, assembled in Festival hall. Hon. Frederick Douglass came out on the platform, preceded by Mrs. Isabella Beecher Hooker, and the sight of them was a signal for loud applause.
Some Distinguished Visitors.
Mr. Douglass was president of the day. On the platform with him sat the following gentlemen, who acted as vice presidents:
Bishop Arnett, Hon. George Jackson, Bishop Walters, W.E. Matthews, Professor J.M. Gregory, Bishop Turner, Professor D.A. Shaker, and Dr, Majors. Will Cook was musical director and Charles S. Morris manager.
In the audience, among other distinguished persons, sat D. R. H. Rust, who was the first president of Wilberforee university, and is now honorary secretary of the Freedman’s Aid Society; Dr. Walterhouse, of Maine; Dr. J. Norman Croker; Lieutenant J.H. Alexander, the only colored graduate of West Point, and now stationed at Fort Robinson, Neb., and Miss F.E. Alexander, a sister of the lieutenant.
The artists were Mme. Delseria Plato, mezzo contralto; Miss Hallie Q. Brown, elocutionist; Sidney Woodward and J. Arthur Freeman, tenors; Harry Thacker Burleigh, baritone, teacher in National Conservatory of New York; Josepha Douglass, violinist, a grandson of Frederick Douglass, and Maurice Arnold Strothotte, accompanist.
Just before the last numbers on the programme were given Frederick Douglass came to the front of the stage, amid hearty cheers, and delivered the the following address:
Our presence here in such numbers is a vindication of our wisdom and of our good nature. I am glad that we have cheerfully embraced this occasion to show by our spirit, song, speech, and enthusiasm that we are neither ashamed of our cause nor of our company. It is known to many of you that there is a division of opinion among intelligent colored citizens as to the wisdom of accepting “colored people day” at The Fair.
This division of opinion has been caused, in part, by the slender recognition we have received from the management of the exposition. Without expressing any satisfaction with this phase of that management, I think that we cannot wisely withhold our thanks to the World’s Columbian Exposition for the opportunity now afforded us to define our position and set ourselves right before the world. It might perhaps have done more and better for us at its inception, but we should not forget that it might also have done less and worse for us.
The question will be asked and is asked by our transatlantic visitors, why we do not more fully share in the glory of the great World’s Exposition. To answer that question and to protect ourselves from unfavorable interference and misrepresentation is, in part, the purpose for which we have assembled to-day.
Rejoicing in the liberty we have already secured and congratulating the nation upon the recognition given our rights is the fundamental law of the republic, we shall nevertheless fully expose and denounce the injustice, prosecution, lawless vilence and lynch law to which as a class we are still subjected. We wish especially to emphasize the fact that, owing to our two hundred years of slavery and the prejudices generated by that cruel system, all presumptions in law, government, and society in this republic are against us, so that it is only necessary to accuse one of our number of crime in order to secure his conviction and punishment. This state of affairs thus engendered, will in a measure explain to our transatlantic friends why we have a share so slender in this World’s Columbia Exposition. I deny with scorn and indignation the allegation, by whomsoever made, that our small participation in this World’s Columbian Exposition is due either to our ignorance or to want of public spirit.
Discrimination Against the Negro.
That we are outside of the World’s Fair is only consistent with the fact that we are excluded from every respectable calling, from workshops, manufactories and from the means of learning trades. It is consistent with the fact that we are outside of the church and largely outside of the state.
The people who held slaves are still the ruling class at the South. When you are told that the life of the negro is held dog cheap in that section, the slave system tells you why it is so. Negro whipping, negro cheating, negro killing, is consistent with the Southern ideas inherited from the system of slavery.
We hear nowadays of a frightful something called a negro problem. What is this problem? As usual, the North is humbugged. The negro problem is a Southern device to mislead and deceive.There is, in fact, no such problem. The real problem has been given a false name. It is called negro for a purpose. It has substituted negro for Nation, because the one is despised and hated, and the other is loved and honored. The true problem is a National problem.
It has been affirmed on the one hand and denied on the other that the negro since emancipation has made commendable progress. I affirm that no people emancipated under the conditions could have made more commendable progress than has the negro in the same length of time. Under the whole heavens there never was an enslaved people emancipated under more unfavorable circumstances, or started from a lower condition in life.
Denounces a Contemptible Trick.
Mr. Douglass was frequently applauded during his speech.
All the singers were highly gifted and cultivated, and pleased the audience so greatly they were recalled again and again.
Manager Charles S. Morris apologized for the absence of Mme. Sissieretta Jones, the “Black Patti,” who was engaged to sing, but remained in the East at Asbury Park, because opponents of colored American day at The Fair had written and misled her and her husband in regard to the good character of the celebration. This was done after her manager, Major Pond, had signed an agreement for her to make three appearances here for the sum of $800, of which $300 was paid by telegraph.
Rev. C.L. Work, of Dayton, Ohio, jumped up in the audience and offered a resolution that those persons who meddled with the celebration and deceived Mme. Jones were deserving of the contempt of every true American citizen. The resolution was seconded by S.T. Ellsworth, of New Mexico, and one or two others. President Douglass failing to submit it to the house it was put to a vote by its author and unanimously carried.
In the platform with Mrs. Isabella Beecher Hooker sat two nieces of the Beecher family, daughter of Colonel James Beecher, who raised the first colored regiment ever organized in North Carolina.
Puck, August 21, 1893
Puck—the first successful humor magazine in the United States, and at the peak of its popularity—joined the world’s fair fray.
Puck positioned itself not only on the cutting edge of satire in America, but also on the cutting edge of printing technology. As the first magazine to print brilliant full-color cartoons each week, Puck showed off the emerging technique of chromolithography. So the fair organizers invited Puck founder Joseph Keppler and his partner, Adolph Schwarzmann, to give fairgoers an open-air demonstration of their process. The fair organizers awarded Puck a central location in one of the “cheerful little pavilions” between the Horticultural Building and Women’s Building. Each week from May to October, they produced twenty-six issues from their McKim, Mead & White-designed Puck Building, while the parent magazine continued its regular weekly production schedule in New York. Puck often made fun of Midwesterners in general.
‘Darkies’ Day at the Fair,” (Puck, August 21, 1893), is a blatant example of prevailing racism that placed people of color at the bottom of the social hierarchy and enforced cruel stereotypes.