Crogman, William H.(1841–1931)
Crogman, William H. (1841-1931)
William H. Crogman was born on the West Indian island of St. Martin’s in 1841. At age 12 he was orphaned; by age 14, he
took to the sea with B.L. Bommer where he received an informal but international education as he traveled to such places as
Europe, Asia, and South America. After the urging of Mr. Bommer, in 1868 he entered Pierce Academy in Massachusetts.
Throughout his schooling experience he was an exceptional and advanced student. At Pierce he was considered the top student
as he mastered in one quarter what usually took students two quarters to complete. Later as a student of Latin at Atlanta
University, he completed the four-year curriculum in three years.
In 1870, Crogman became an instructor at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. A few years afterwards he
started his lifelong career at Clark University serving in various capacities including as a faculty member, department
chair, and the University’s first African American president from 1903-1910. He was a delegate to the General Conference
of the M.E. Church three times and was the first African American to serve as one of the secretaries. He had a widespread
reputation as an eloquent speaker and was invited to speak from the pulpit of Henry Ward Beecher's church and before the
National Teachers’ Association. Although he had a demanding schedule as a public servant serving as the first secretary of
the Board of Trustees of Gammon Theological Seminary, on Clark University’s Board, and as the permanent chairman of the
Board of Commissioners for all African Americans from all States, he also authored several books including Talks for the
Times which was first published in 1896. William Crogman died in 1931.
Sources: William H. Crogman Talks for the Times (Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1971).
Crogman, William H.(1841–1931) - Educator, lecturer, college president, Chronology.
As churchman, Christian scholar, lecturer, and educator, William H. Crogman distinguished himself during the latter part of
the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth century. He was a master teacher as well as a staunch advocate
of the education of African Americans.
His work was recognized at black educational institutions in Atlanta, in the
Methodist Episcopal Church, and among such prominent black educators as Booker T Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois. A man who
preferred classical training for black students but respected industrial training as a purpose for sister institution
Tuskegee Institute, Crogman left a legacy that is preserved in his speeches and writings on black history.
Born free on the island of St. Maarten, in Philipsburg, on May 5, 1841, William H. Crogman was the son of William and
Charlotte Chippendale Crogman. By the time he was fourteen years old both parents had died. In 1855, B. L. Boomer, of a
New England ship owning family, befriended him and took him to his Middleboro, Massachusetts, home to live.
business enabled Crogman to gain wide experiences as a seaman, as he traveled abroad for eleven years on one of its ships.
He visited primary ports in Asia, Europe, Australia, and South America. His observations provided invaluable information
and broadened his experiences as well.
Born in St. Maarten, Leeward Islands, British West Indies on May 5
Begins eleven-year career on the sea
Graduates from Pierce Academy; begins teaching at Claflin College
Receives B.A. from Atlanta University; begins teaching at Clark College
Marries Lavinia C. Mott
Receives M.A. from Atlanta University
Serves as lay delegate to general conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, returning in 1884 and 1888
Addresses Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, New York
Addresses National Education Association convention in Madison, Wisconsin
Elected secretary of the Board of Trustees of Clark College
Becomes commissioner for the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta
Elected president of Clark College
Resigns from the presidency and returns to teaching
Moves to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dies in Philadelphia on October 16
Crogman attended a district school near his new home. He worked and saved money to support himself in further training, and
in 1868 he entered Pierce Academy in Middleboro, Massachusetts. He achieved so well that the principal placed him in a
class by himself so that he might continue to excel without the presence of slower students who might hinder his progress.
After graduating, in 1870 the Freedmen’s Aid Society hired him as English teacher at all-black Claflin College in Orangeburg,
South Carolina, where he was the school’s first black teacher. He had studied Greek and Latin independently, and now, with
a vision to master those subjects, he enrolled in Atlanta University in 1873 and completed with distinction a classical
course. He accelerated his studies and completed the four-year program in three, becoming a member of Atlanta’s first
graduating class in 1876 and receiving the A.B. degree. In 1879, he received a master’s degree from Atlanta.
In 1876 as well, Crogman became a founding faculty member of nearby Clark University (today a part of Clark Atlanta
University), later becoming a senior professor and a master teacher. On his fiftieth birthday, friends and former students
recognized him with letters of praise. According to Louis-Charles Harvey’s biographical sketch of Crogman, one student wrote
that “he had the ability to motivate even the dullest student.” He was called “a master of his very high calling, teaching.”
A man of unusual ability, Crogman taught Greek, Latin, and New Testament. He had honed his speaking skills and became a
master of clear and elegant style. In his lectures he mixed humor with an easy delivery and held his audience spellbound.
In 1910 Clark celebrated its fortieth anniversary and at the same time recognized Crogman for his work as a master teacher
and advocate for education of his people.
Those organizations and institutions that invited him to speak were the American Missionary Association and the Freedmen’s
Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal church. As a layman, he was invited to speak at Plymouth Church in Brooklyn,
New York, where Reverend Henry Ward Beecher was pastor. He spoke on October 14, 1883, for the morning and evening services.
According to Men of Mark , he noted in his evening discourse that blacks had fought valiantly in all wars in defense of the
United States government. They were in the Revolution and the Rebellion, and military leaders such as George Washington bore
witness to their service. “The Negro fought in common with you to found this government,” he said, “and to perpetuate this
government.” Although “hanged in the streets of New York by an infuriated mob; snubbed and mocked, buffeted and spit upon,…
he has never for a moment deserted the Union.” In spite of blacks’ proven commitment to the United States, heated debates
over the civil rights bill of that period showed that some members of Congress still considered blacks worthless, unmanly,
and cowardly. Crogman’s lecture on “The Negro’s Needs” included his views on what he called “counter-education,” the concern
that blacks were taught one thing in church or school and given another view by mainstream white treatment of the race.
These three lectures of Crogman’s were printed in pamphlet form under the title Talks for the Times and made available for
Crogman also attended the National Association of Teachers in Madison, Wisconsin, serving as a delegate from Georgia. His
address was praised in the press and was published in full in the association’s report. He spoke again at many summer
gatherings at a site that he called Chautauqua Island Park.
A devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Crogman was a lay delegate for the Savannah Conference at the
denomination’s General Conference for 1880, 1884, and 1888. He served as one of the assistant secretaries of the General
Conference in 1884 and again in 1888. The Board of Bishops of the AME Church appointed him a delegate to the Ecumenical
Council of Methodism held in London. Crogman was also a founding member of the Board of Trustees at Clark University and
held the post until 1922.
The Methodist Episcopal Church’s General Conference of 1892 established the University Senate comprised of fifteen educators
selected by the bishops. The senate’s purpose was to set minimum requirements for a baccalaureate degree program at the
colleges and universities that the church supported. Crogman became one of the senate’s initial members and apparently held
the post until 1900.
In 1895 the historic Cotton States and International Exposition was held in Atlanta. Those who planned the exposition
decided that, to succeed, it would need to provide some distinguishing characteristics; therefore, a major exhibit
representing Negro culture would be appropriate. Crogman was the man for the task. He traveled to the leading cities in the
South to gather exhibit materials and ideas for the display. Blacks eagerly supported him in his goal of presenting black
history in an accurate and positive light. He responded by planning a large exhibit of significant educational and
industrial importance. It was at this exposition that noted educator and Tuskegee Institute founder and president Booker T.
Washington gave much of his New South philosophy in his address that many of his critics dubbed the “Atlanta Comprise.”
Notwithstanding criticism that his speech compromised black people, the address catapulted Washington into prominence as a
national black educational leader. So successful was Crogman in his work that the exposition commissioner for blacks in
the state of Georgia, which had a large and effective display, named Crogman permanent chair of the Board of Chief
Commissioners for blacks all over the state.
Read more: Crogman, William H.(1841–1931) - Educator, lecturer, college president, Chronology
(1884) William H. Crogman, “Negro Education: Its Helps and Hindrances”
William Henry Crogman, a native of the West Indian island of St. Martin, was educated at Pierce Academy in Massachusetts
immediately after the Civil War. In 1868 he was named to the English faculty of newly organized Claflin College in South
Carolina. By 1870 Crogman returned to college, entering Atlanta University. He graduated first in his class in 1876 and was
appointed professor of classics at Clark College, another black institution in the city. Crogman was appointed president of
Clark in 1903.
On July 16, 1884, Crogman was invited to address the predominantly white National Educational Association convention in
Madison, Wisconsin. He used the opportunity to describe the remarkable post-Civil War educational progress of African
Americans which he credited mainly to the faculty of the numerous black colleges which emerged throughout the South after
1865 and the dedication of the students and their parents to educational achievement despite their operating in a daunting
environment of poverty and racial violence. Crogman’s speech appears below.
I appreciate most heartily the invitation extended to me to speak before you to night with regard to the educational
interests of my people in the South. Nor can I well suppress within me the feeling that this act of courtesy on your part
was prompted by a generous consideration for a race long obscured, but now hopefully struggling into light under the benign
influences of Christian liberty. Surely, too, it will be a little encouraging to that race to think that, notwithstanding
all the discouragements of the past, notwithstanding all the embarrassments, not withstanding all the misgivings and
speculations with regard to its intellectual and moral capacity, it has, nevertheless, within twenty short years of freedom,
been found worthy of recognition by you, and given to day several representatives among the educators of this great nation.
Verily the world has been moving, and we have been moving in it.
But whatever may have been the advancement of the race within these years, whatever its progress, it would ill become me, I
suppose, to speak of it at all in a boastful manner; for that advancement, that progress, is due as much, I suspect, to your
generous assistance, as to our earnest endeavors. As a race, we have been greatly helped in our struggles up toward a higher
and better life; helped from many and from various directions; helped by the Nation, the State, and the Church; helped by
individuals, and helped by or organizations; helped in money and helped in prayers. In a word, the history of the nineteenth
century does not present a page more luminous, a page more creditable to our civilization, than that on which are recorded
the benevolences of the American people to their "brother in black." As a representative of the race, I take very great
pleasure in making before you to night this grateful acknowledgement.
Nor would we, on the other hand, have you ignore the fact that we have also helped ourselves. Freedom was a great educator
to the Negro, as it usually has been to other people. Indeed, it must ever be the base of all true education, whether of a
race or of an individual. To build upon anything narrower would be useless; for when you begin to educate a human being it
is hard to tell to what altitude he may rise. Let him feel that the earth is beneath him, God above him, and nothing in the
intermediate space to check his growth or chill his aspirations, and then you may begin to teach him the alphabet.
Many things, doubtless, have come to the Negro in this country in the inverted order, but his freedom and his education in
the natural. Under the inspiration of the former, and the light reflected from the latter, he has been enabled, within the
last two decades, to learn quite a number of things about himself and other people, and has been led to the discovery of
this simple but solemn truth, namely, that whatever may be the number of his friends, and however unbounded their generosity,
a true and manly independence can only be reached by self exertion.
How this discovery has affected his character and influenced his actions is apparent, I think, to any candid and observant
mind. It may be seen in his desire to acquire landed property to own some spot of ground upon which he may stand up erect,
and which, unencumbered, he may transmit to posterity; it may be seen in his efforts for more and better education. Never
was there a time in the history of this country when there were so many colored children in school as there are to day. Never
was there a time where the colored people, independent of State aid, supported so many private schools for the education of
their children as they are supporting to day. Indeed, it is not uncommon now to find, even in the rural districts of the
South, here and there, a settlement where the three months summer school provided by the State is supplemented by a three
months winter school sustained by the parents. One of the very best graded schools in the city of Atlanta—a school that
would reflect no discredit on the city of Madison—one of the very best graded schools, with kindergarten attached, taught
by a proficient corps of white lady teachers from the North, enrolling nearly five hundred pupils annually, and annually
sending away from its doors, because of lack of room, scores of applicants for admission, this school, I say, has for the
last six years been supported by the colored people of Atlanta as a private school; partly because the educational facilities
afforded by the city have not been quite adequate to the demand made upon it for instruction, and partly because of the
excellence of the work ever done in that school. From one who has a right to know I learn that, within the last six years,
the colored people have paid into that school, for the education of their children not less than $20,000. Certainly this
looks a little like effort on the part of the Negro to help himself to an education. I am informed that similar schools
exist in other large cities of the South. I know that such do exist in the cities of Charleston and Savannah.
Last year, in the four institutions of higher learning, established in Atlanta by Northern benevolence, there were, in round
numbers, twelve hundred students. Of these, Atlanta University enrolled 310; Clark University, 222; the Baptist Seminary for
males, about 140; and the Baptist Seminary for females, 500. But Atlanta is only one of the great centers of education in
the South. There is Nashville, literally girdled by institutions; there is New Orleans. In fact, you will find to day in
every Southern State, one or more institutions for the higher training of Negro youth, and the very fact that all these
institutions are more or less crowded yearly, and the very fact that frequent appeal goes out from them to Christian
philanthropy for more buildings, for increased accommodations, are proof conclusive, I think, that the Negro not only
appreciates the advantages held out to him, but is also exerting himself to enjoy them.
Dr. Ruffner, for many years superintendent of public instruction for the State of Virginia, in one of his reports, a few
years ago, bore this testimony to the credit of the Negro: "He wants to do right, and is the most amiable of races. The
Negro craves education, and I believe his desire has increased; it certainly has not diminished. He makes fully as great
sacrifices to send his children to school as the laboring classes of the whites. The civilization of the race is progressing
and even faster than his thoughtful friends anticipated."
I turn for a moment from the school to the Church, where evidences of self help are as striking, if not more so. To be brief,
and to speak from accurate knowledge, I will confine myself to the work of the denomination with which I am connected.
Immediately after the war, the Methodist Episcopal Church entered the South, and began its work among the colored people.
Today it has among them a membership of 200,000 superintended by the same bishops who preside over the work here in the
North. At the beginning, twenty years ago, and for some years after, all the Churches among the colored people were
supported, either in whole or in part, by funds from the Missionary Society. To day, it is safe to say nearly one half of
them are self-supporting. In the Savannah Conference, included within the State of Georgia, we have 15,000 members, and
about a hundred churches. Of the latter, fifty six are entirely self supporting.
I have dwelt on these particulars because, unfortunately, there are still some persons who, reading Negro history with their
prejudices rather than with their eyes, deny us even the credit for what little we have achieved for ourselves, and persist
in holding us up to the public as that abnormal baby which never grows, which cannot grow, and which the American people
must nurse for all time.
In the North American Review for this very month, Senator Morgan of Alabama, in a discussion of the "Future of the Negro,"
has this remarkable passage: "For fifteen years, every means that Congress could devise has been supplied to the Negro race
to enable them to attain a condition which will protect them in all their rights, liberties, and privileges that are enjoyed
by the whites. To the personal and political power of the ballot have been added the guardianship of the Freedmen's Bureau,
the Freedmen's Bank and its branches, the civil rights statutes, and all the power of tyrannical courts to enforce their
alleged civil rights; and still they are no stronger as a race, and probably no better as individuals than they were at the
beginning of these efforts." I say this is a remarkable passage; remarkable because coming from a United States Senator,
who ought to be better informed with regard to a race in whose midst he lives. He cannot see that we are stronger as a race,
or better as individuals, than we were fifteen years ago, and that, too, in the face of the following array of facts, which
were collected, not by black, but by white, men, and widely circulated a short time ago through the medium of the press:
"The colored people have already nearly 1,000,000 children in school; publish over 80 newspapers; furnish nearly 16,000
school teachers; about 15,000 students in the high schools and colleges; about 2,000,000 members in the Methodist and
Baptist Churches; own 680,000 acres of land in Georgia alone, and over 5,000,000 in the whole South; the increase in the
production of cotton since emancipation has been 1,000,000 bales per year, or one third more than that raised while working
under the lash; and had deposited in the fraudulent Freedmen's Bank $56,000,000; besides, colored men have engineered and
nearly completed a railroad in North Carolina, and they are assessed $91,000,000 of taxable property." The editor of the
paper from which this bit of information was clipped, asks the question, "How do these facts impress you, when you consider
that this race did not own itself twenty two years ago?" I repeat the question, "How do these facts impress you," gentlemen?
Have they at all any significance? Are they at all indicative of industry, of thrift, of economy, of growth, intellectual
and moral? If they are, then verily the Negro, outside of the help he has received from friendly sources, has helped himself
creditably in all those things which pertain to the building up of an intelligent and virtuous people. I am aware, of
course, that all our achievements, taken in the aggregate, are but small, compared with the vast responsibilities which
still lie before us; but they, nevertheless, constitute a beginning and that beginning is very auspicious.
The unfairness of our critics lies, usually, in the fact that they see but one side of the question; for, while they
recognize very readily our weakness and our vices, and while, for the purpose of bringing out into bold relief those
weaknesses, they invariably marshal to the front our helps; somehow, and in some way, the other fact seems to escape them,
namely, that we have also had some hindrances. Let us consider some of these in a dispassionate way.
At the close of the war, the Negro found himself in the condition of a man who wakes up out of sleep in the midst of a dream
in which all things seemed strange and confused. It took him some time to adjust himself to the new state of affairs. He was
restless; he could hardly realize that he was free. As the impotent man, sitting at the gate of the temple, when healed by
Peter, not only praised God, but walked and leaped to satisfy himself of the genuineness of his cure, so the Negro, to test
his freedom, began to move about. His movements, at first, were individual, then general, as leaders sprang into existence;
and it is really remarkable how many are the leaders when the members are ignorant. For the first ten or twelve years after
the war nothing was more common in the South than leaders. Every little politician, every crank, constituted himself a Moses
to lead the Negro somewhere; and various were their cries. One cried, "On to Arkansas!" and another "On to Texas!" and
another "On to Africa!" and each one had a following more or less. One man told me that he had succeeded in leading away
from South Carolina and Georgia to Arkansas and Texas 35,000 persons. That was in 1874. In December, 1879, the following
appeared in the Southwestern Christian Advocate published at New Orleans:
"The departure of Negroes from Texas to Kansas and the North has assumed large proportions the past few weeks. On an average,
from 1,000 to 1,200 have gone every week. As a rule, they are of the better class, and have money to pay their fares, or to
go on teams, and have something left to buy homes with. While the larger numbers go by railroad, many are going with teams.
In one camp, one of our ministers counted two hundred going thus, leisurely and comfortably. On the International Railroad
over two hundred tickets were sold at a small station in one day. The company had been several days gathering at that point.
We went into one car and counted ninety, men, women, and children. They all had first class tickets the railroad will sell
no others to them and the fare of that company, in that one car, amounted to over $1,000. Just now the tide flows from
Waller and Grimes counties. Private meetings are being held in many other counties, and every indication is that there will
be a much greater movement in the spring than even the one going on now."
Besides these spontaneous and voluntary movements there were also forced movements movements caused by tyrannical and unjust
treatment such as the memorable exodus some few years ago, when thousands fled from the levees of Mississippi to perish in
the snows of Kansas. Now, whatever good may have resulted from any of these movements, and I am not prepared to say that
individuals were not benefited by some of them, it has ever been my opinion that, by keeping the people in an unsettled
state; and by frequently disturbing the growth of the home, they hindered much the cause of popular education.
Again, no one, I suppose, will question the truth of the assertion that the South, at the close of the war, was not in a
condition to undertake the education of the masses. Crippled in her resources, and without a common school system she was
left to confront the most awful responsibilities ever thrust upon a people. That she succeeded as soon as she did in
establishing a common school system is creditable to her common sense and good judgment.
But if the South was not in a condition at the close of the war to enter upon the education of the masses, neither was she
in any mood to rush enthusiastically into the work of Negro education. To prove that she was would be to prove that human
nature has undergone a radical change. But Mrs. Partington says that she finds that there is a good deal of the old "human
natur" in folks to day. The South grew gradually up to the idea of Negro education, some States, to their credit, leading
off in advance of others. I don't know which was first. I do know that Georgia was not last; for, as late as July, 1879,
Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, writing in one of the leading magazines of the country on the "Education of the Freedmen," says:
"With this enlightened policy of other States, it surprises us to find that in Kentucky the colored race have no share of
the common school fund, and are opposed by peculiar laws. A colored school house is not allowed within a mile of a white
school, nor in towns within six hundred feet." It is easy to see, then, that the present state of affairs in the South, as
they relate to education in general, and to Negro education in particular, did not fly into existence at the stroke of a
magician's wand, nor sprang they forth as the fabled goddess, full armed from the head of Jupiter. They are the result of
gradual and steady growth. But, as the old adage has it, "While the grass is growing the horse is starving"; so, while
things were taking years to settle down, while opinions were conflicting one with another, while Southern mind was seeking
a stable equilibrium, while public sentiment was crystallizing around the idea of popular education, the black child, and
the white child, too, had to wait impatiently for their intellectual pabulum; and, had it not been for the timely efforts
of the Christian Church, during those years of uncertainty and delay; had it not been for the philanthropic heart of the
North, that sent down to us, without stint, both money and men, it is hard to say what would have been the fate of the black
child, at least, and of the country in which he lives. The South, then, to be judged fairly to day, must be judged not
simply by what she has done, but also by what she has prepared to do; nor must the advancement of the Negro be judged merely
by the length of time he has been free, as if that period had been one of uninterrupted progress, but also by the time it
took to give him a start. I understand that in horse racing and boat racing a great deal of importance is attached to the
start. Everything must be ready, the preparations complete, the oarsmen trained. To day the Negro has a better start than he
had twenty years ago. For this reason I shall expect more from him in the next twenty than in the last. He has now, as you
have seen, several thousand trained teachers of his own race. Besides the continued aid of the Church, he has the benefit,
little or much, of the common school fund throughout the South, and, more than this, he is receiving gradually the
recognition, sympathy, and influence of some of the best white men of the South. Prominent among these, and pre eminently
worthy of recognition, is Dr. Atticus G. Haygood, of Georgia, the morning star of a better day, the Christian knight whose
white plume, seen in the thickest of the fray, is rallying many stout hearts and strong hands to the cause of humanity.
His church, or, rather, the branch of the Christian Church to which he belongs, has established a school for colored youth
in the city of Augusta, GA Payne Institute at the head of which is Dr. Callaway, assisted by Prof. Walker, of South Carolina,
and others, all Southern men. That school to day is the lone star of Southern Methodism; but it shines with an auspicious
light. It will be the brightest star in a constellation of similar schools by and by. The world is moving, and its movements
are ever in the direction of humanity. Gethsemane and Calvary shall yet conquer.
Some time ago I read an article written by an Ohio man who seemed to know all about us. He had spent a couple of years in
the South teaching Negroes. From the tone of his article it was evident that he had been disappointed in more ways than one.
At any rate, in that article, he poured out without stint his vials of wrath upon the Negroes' heads. He told all about them
, what they could do and what they couldn't; and that article was made up of more couldn'ts than coulds. Among other defects
of the race, he made the marvelous discovery that Negro children down South couldn't learn as fast as white children up in
Ohio. Well! When I read that I said to myself, If black children down on Southern plantations and white children up in Ohio
are expected to day to move pari passu along the lines of education, it is high time for our Anglo Saxon friends to begin a
thorough revision of their philosophy. To leave out of consideration an inheritance of two thousand years of trained
intellect, the white child's cradle was rocked by an intelligent hand; his early footsteps directed by an intelligent mind.
It was his good fortune to be born in an intelligent home. From the time when his eyes and his ears opened, he has been
receiving instruction. There are pictures on the wall for him to gaze upon; there are carpets on the floor for him to walk
upon. There is neatness, there is comfort, there is order in that home that home more potent in its influence than school
or college. The white child hears intelligent conversation daily; daily he imbibes new ideas. He is in a magnificent school.
How many are his helps, how few his hindrances!
Come with me to the cabin of the South I will not call it a home. Look into it. Perhaps it is one room, in which live father,
mother, and several children. In this they cook and eat and sleep. Father and mother are not models of intelligence; O, no!
"Knowledge to their eyes her ample page, Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unroll.
Here are no art decorations; here nothing to instruct the eye, to elevate the soul. Here the ear drinks in more often the
"loud laugh that speaks the vacant mind." Yet, here, too, is a school; and the black child is pupil here. Alas! how few are
his helps; how many his hindrances!
Recognizing this fact, namely, that the education of the colored people must be greatly hindered so long as the home
militates against the school, the various Christian denominations laboring in the South have begun, in connection with their
institutions of learning, the establishment of "model homes," or "school of domestic economy," where our girls are taught
to do all manner of housework, and are instructed in all the properties pertaining to a well regulated Christian home.
To meet the question now which might be rising in your minds, and which has been asked me at different times by white friends
, "Why do not our people, as they are now accumulating means, move out of those cabins and build them good homes." I reply,
that many have done so, and are doing, all over the South. In the city of Atlanta, the colored people have secured many
comfortable and some few elegant homes. I find, however, that the majority of those who have done so are the younger people
and their parents who have been reached by the schools, the former directly, the latter indirectly. The large number of the
older people are inclined to cling to their former mode of living. In this they are not peculiar. They only illustrate the
lack of taste and the power of association. To have men surround themselves with beautiful things there must be first created
within them a taste for the beautiful. In these cabins, too, the older people have experienced their joys and their sorrows.
Their little ones were born here. Their aged ones died here. If, therefore, it be true that "home is where the heart is,"
these cabins are their homes, notwithstanding they are a hindrance to the education of the people.
But I must hasten to a close, for I wish to tell you in a few brief sentences what I regard above all and above every other,
the greatest and most aggravating hindrance to the education of the Negro in this country, and I shall speak very plain,
for he who has convictions and not the courage to express them, is unworthy to stand where I am standing to night. I say
that most aggravating hindrance to the education of the Negro to day, is the counter education which is continually going
on in society.
In the school room the Negro is taught one thing; in society another. In the school room he is instructed in the same Bible
which you study. He is taught that God made him, that Christ redeemed him, that the Holy Spirit sanctifies him. In society
he is taught, that, although God made him and Christ died for him, yet there is a vast difference between a white man and a
black, a wall of partition between a Jew and a Samaritan, between a Brahmin and a Pariah. In the school room he is taught
the dignity of manhood after the American idea taught that
"The rank is but the guinea's stamp The man's the gowd for a' that"
In society he is taught that rank or no rank, although a man, he is a black man; hence not a man "for a' that." In the
school room he is taught that character is only shibboleth demanded in civilized society, that learning, that culture and
refinement, are the only passports needed. In society he is taught that whatever may be his character, his culture, or his
refinement, he must not attempt to enter any and every hotel in this country, and that he must sometimes, after paying
first class fare, ride with his family in a second class smoking car among drunkards and blasphemers. It was only two weeks
ago I read in the Christian Advocate, the leading paper of the Methodist Episcopal Church, published in New York City, the
"Prof. R. T. Greener has recently made an extended tour through the Southern States. His opinions of the progress of his
race as reported by the daily press are worthy of great respect. Few men are better qualified to form a correct judgment.
He finds more pride of race, more independence of character, greater neatness of dress, a stronger desire to enter business,
and increasing thirst for education. He expresses high admiration for the work of the missionary teachers. He found the
Negro not only in the cotton field and tobacco factory, but acting as carpenter, wheelwright, hack man (often owning the
stable), blacksmith, brakeman, and in other avocations. He returns very greatly encouraged as to the future of his race.
It is a burning disgrace that this cultured gentleman was four times ordered out of `first class' cars, and it is to his
credit that in each case he refused to go."
Now, who is this Prof. Greener? He is nothing less than a graduate from old Harvard. I know him well, and knew his mother
before him. But what does society care about a Harvard graduate, if his complexion is tinged with the hated color? Prof.
Greener's is very little tinged. He is nearer your color than mine. Now, ladies and gentlemen, I submit, here are two lines
of education running counter to each other. Here are two forces acting upon the Negro, one in a straight line along the
plane of manhood, the other urging him downward. Consequently, if you would find his true position in society, you must seek
it along the resultant of these two forces, and whenever found it will be a position beneath the American idea of manhood
beneath God's. What is to be the outcome of this? It must certainly be clear to you that the more you educate a man, the
more sensitive you make him to bad treatment. What is to be the outcome? There are men who are devising makeshifts, men who,
in the language of Dr. Callaway, of Georgia, are inquiring, "What shall we do with the Negro?" instead of "What shall we do
for him?" You can't do anything with him. He is in God's hands. You can do much for him. You can do simple justice to him.
In the Popular Science Monthly for February, 1883, Prof. E. W Gilliam advises colonization as the only "remedy." Colonize
whom? Colonize men with the ballot in their hands, and with half the white people protesting against their departure? For
Anglo Saxons will fight over ideas, and to many of them the Negro in this country represents an idea. Colonization will not
solve the problem. The thousands that go will be as a "drop in the bucket" to the millions that remain.
Another author, in a pamphlet more remarkable for its bitterness than its logic, thinks we ought to be helped to go to the
newly founded States of the Congo, where we may display our capacity for self government in the land of our fathers. Now,
that is worth a good deal as rhetoric; but surely the author is un happy in his reference to the land of our "fathers," for
he has ignored the serious fact, that, of the six and a half million of us in this country, fully a million and a half would
have considerable difficulty in finding the land of our "fathers." Undoubtedly we should find in Africa the land of our
mothers, but the land of our fathers we should certainly have to seek somewhere else. Perhaps along the shores of the North
Sea and the borders of the Scandinavian peninsula.
The only remedy, then, for these social troubles, the only one which God can approve, is even handed justice meted out to
every man. Why, when the Almighty sent Columbus to discover this country, he did so because he was tired looking down upon
the tyranny of the old world and the oppression of his people, and desired to establish here a home for mankind. It is said
that Columbus, on landing, took possession of the new world in the name of the Castilian sovereigns. If that intrepid
mariner had had the light of the nineteenth century, he would have taken possession of it in the name of God and destiny.
I repeat, the solution of this race problem, so called, must be simple. Justice meted out to your brother man. Go, preach
this in your pulpits. Go, teach this in your school rooms. Go, educate the people up to where they stood in the days of
George the Third, when they declared, and staked their lives and their fortunes on the declaration, "that all men are created
equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness." Go, teach this I say, in the spirit and in the letter, in the school room and by the fireside; and
twenty years hence, when some Negro addresses the National Education Association of the United States, he will have the
exquisite pleasure, denied me to night, of thanking you for the helps, without reminding you of the hindrances.
Sources: W. H. Crogman, Talks for the Times (South Atlanta, Ga: Franklin, 1896), 45-69.
April 28 - *The birth of Professor William H. Crogman in 1841 is celebrated on this date. He was an African-American educator.
Born in the West Indies in 1841, he was orphaned at twelve years of age. For ten years he followed the sea. Then,
encouraged by a shipmate, he entered school in Massachusetts. He passed every one of the hundreds of students in
learning, accuracy, and scholarship. He accomplished as much in one quarter as the average student did in two, mastering
both mathematical and linguistic requirements.
In 1870, Crogman became a teacher in Claflin University, the first Black to be regularly employed by the Freedmen's Aid
Society in education. He stopped teaching long enough to take a full course at Atlanta University and in 1876 he joined
the faculty of what is now Clark University. For seven years he served as president of Clark where the school grew both
in numbers and strength. He was the first secretary of the Boards of Trustees of Gammon Theological Seminary and of Clark
University. For twenty-nine years he was superintendent of the Sunday school at Clark, and had the reputation of never
being late during that period.
Three times he was a delegate to the General Conference, and he was the first individual to receive the degree of Doctor
of Letters from Atlanta University. He is the author of several books and spoke by special invitation from the pulpit of
Henry Ward Beecher's church. At the time of the Atlanta race riots, when it was falsely rumored that Clark University had
harbored Negro criminals, one of the leading Atlanta papers published a strong editorial in defense of Dr. Crogman, then
president of the school, and declared: "This rumor is entirely and absolutely undeserved."
At the 1921 commencement, Dr. Crogman retired from active teaching. The Carnegie Foundation granted him a pension for life.
William H. Crogman died in 1931.
The African American Desk Reference
Schomburg Center for research in Black Culture
Copyright 1999 The Stonesong Press Inc. and
The New York Public Library, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Pub.
Letters to Ada - 1
Letters to Ada - 2
Letters to Ada - 3