1918: A Debate on African-American Education
The Social Problem of the South
In the first of these articles published in 1918, the author argues that given the inherent inferiority of the African American, it is the duty of the superior White man to help. He states that the problem in the South of what to do with “the negro” should be solved by educating them because they are a part of the South’s civil society. He says there exists a middle ground solution between those who want to do nothing for them and those who want to give them too much by deciding to educate them in a way that doesn’t raise them to a socially equal status.
The second of these articles is a criticism in response to “The Social Problem of the South.” The author responds aggressively arguing that African Americans’ desire to learn poses no threat to the White man given their nature which is “foreign” to social equality. He also states that with the sickly nature of their race “the outcome is evident.” The author then counters that the real issue of the South is the “half black.” He attacks the entirety of the South saying she only “has a problem to the extent that she makes it,” referring to the misogyny occurring leading to the creation of interracial children. The threat of these peoples is that they possess the negatives of both races coupled with “bodily resistance” and an ambition for social equality.
In both of these articles, the idea of race is approached from a biological viewpoint as they both mention inherent differences between the races which was common during the time. They touch on issues of education and equality that have morphed but still persisted through the years, as can be seen in articles years later that touch on these issues again.