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overpowering thought rushed into my soul, All that you have seen on the inside, the dying woman and the forsaken little children and the dishonored home, is what Jesus died to redeem. I promptly returned to the bedside of the outcast, but I did not see the surounding loathsomeness. I saw myself in the presence of a human soul passing into eternity, unprepared to meet God. I silently lifted my heart in prayer: “O God, for Jesus' sake redeem her life before she passes into the great beyond. If it be possible, if it be possible, save this human soul for Jesus' sake."
Secondarily, I am interested for the sake of the negro himself and for the sake of the community in which he lives. I am interested in saving the negro, that we may save our Christian civilization from decay, and save the state and the nation from the dangers that threaten the steadfastness of the one and the security of the other.
"Who saves his state, saves himself, saves all things and
all things saved bless him. Who lets his state die, dies himself ignobly, lets all
things die, and all things dying, curse him.”
THE CHURCH IN RELATION TO THE
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, LL. D.
President Tuskegee Institute What can the church do to conserve and strengthen the ten millions of black citizens in this country? In a very large section of the nation we constitute one-third of the population. In the nation as a whole we constitute one-ninth. We shall either constitute one-third in a large section of the country of the country's poverty and scholarship, or shall we constitute one-third of its wealth and prosperity. We shall constitute either one-third of its ignorance or its intelligence, of its crime and superstition, or of its law-abiding citizenship. Which, my Christian friends, shall it be? No nation or state can prosper with one-third of its population remaining in ignorance. What can the church do, then, to save and keep saved ten millions of black Americans, eighty-two per cent of whom live in the country districts and small villages ? In the rural districts, the negro, all things considered, is at his best in body, mind and soul. In the city he is usually at his worst. Plainly one of the duties of the church is to help keep the negro where he has the best chance.
In a marked degree the negro is a social being. The negro can more largely than is true of any
other race, use the church as the rallying point for his social life. Whether it is a meeting relating to farming, business, education, politics, or a secret society, the negro church house is used. Negro population follows the church building. Few things delight the soul of the negro so much as to erect a church building, even though it be so crude and small as to be almost ridiculous in its appearance. Even though individuals may own no home, and are without proper food, clothes or shelter, they will part with their last nickel to assist in building a church. This is all commendable. Christian civilization does not have to force the church upon the negro.
Here, then, is the opportunity for us to use this great Forward Movement to improve the church life of the country negro and thus help to keep him on the land where he has a chance to grow a strong, healthy body, and be away from the temptations and complexities of large city life.
How can this be done? Make church life for the negro in the rural districts as attractive as it is in the city. The negro problem is to a very considerable extent the problem of rural life everywhere. So long as the negro finds a poor, uncomfortable, unattractive church house in the country, and a good church house in the city, or finds a weak, ignorant minister in the country and a strong, intelligent minister in the city, or finds in the country house services held once a month and in the city church services held twice
each Sunday, so long will the negro be tempted to leave the country and migrate to the city.
So long, too, as the negro in the rural districts is fed upon the old, worn-out theological dogmas, instead of getting from the pulpit inspiration and direction in practical work of community building, connecting religion with every practical and progressive movement for the improvement of the home and community life, so long will he forsake the land and flee to the city. If we would save the negro, eighty-two per cent of whom, as I have said, live in the country, he must be taught that when the Bible says: “The earth is full of thy riches,” it means that the earth is full of corn, potatoes, peas, cotton, chickens and cows, that these riches should be gotten out of the earth by the hand of man and turned into beautiful church buildings and righteous, useful living.
In dealing with the millions of negroes, let us in America learn a lesson from what has taken place in England, where agriculture and the farm have been neglected by the church and state, with the result that the cities of England are filled with millions of unfortunate misfits who are in the gutters instead of being on the soil and out in the free, bracing air where God meant that man should live.
When I was in London recently I found that the churches and other philanthropic agencies of that vicinity alone were spending $50,000,000 annually-not to keep people on
their feet and help them make greater progress in positive, constructive directions, but to save the drunkard, the gambler, the loafer, the pauper and the destitute after they had fallen into the ditch. Happily, the negroes of America have not as yet fallen into the ditch; and I pray that, as a result of this great Forward Movement, a way may be provided, through the negro church and Sunday-school, that the negro, while he is yet part of a new, fresh and vigorous race, may, as the old plantation hymn puts it—be kept from "sinking down." From a money point of view it is much cheaper to keep men from falling than to lift them after they are down.
No class of people should be more interested in this Forward Movement, so far as it concerns the negro, than the capitalists, the captains of industry, those who directly, or indirectly, employ negro labor. Nothing pays so well in producing efficient labor as Christianity. Religion increases the wants of the laborer. The man without religion, is too often satisfied when he has worked long enough to provide himself with a little coarse food, a chew of tobacco and a bottle of whiskey. The negro workman with the spirit of Christ in his head and heart wants land, wants a good house, wants another house, wants decent furniture, wants a newspaper or magazine. He wants to provide himself with the means with which to maintain his church and Sunday-school, and his family with a Bible and hymn book. Some negro laborers have already