Lily Hardy Hammond.

In black and white; an interpretation of southern life online

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In Black and White

An Interpretation of Southern Life

In Black and White


In Black and White



Author of "The Master-Word"

With an Introduction by

President of the Jeanes Foundation Board, Director of
the Slater Fund


Fleming H. Revell Company

Copyright, 1914, by

New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
Chicago: 125 North Wabash Ave.
Toronto: 25 Richmond Street, W.
London: 21 Paternoster Square
Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street

To my mother and my father,

both slave-owners in earlier life,
whose broad thinking and selfless living
first taught me the meaning of human

I dedicate this book,
with a gratitude deepened by time,
and a love undiminished by death.



THE problem of the South to-day is
how to find voices and hearings for
her best thoughts and sentiments.
Especially is this true in regard to the rela
tionship between the races. Public sentiment
rules. It rules the attitude of individuals.
It makes and unmakes the laws. It enforces
or neglects the laws that are made. Public
sentiment is mainly dependent upon the
thoughts and sentiments that find expression
in the constant utterances of pulpit, press, and
political campaigns. On this question of race
relationship the pulpit in the South is remark
ably silent. The point is not raised whether
or not the province of the pulpit is to discuss
public and social problems. The fact is that
the pulpit in the South is remarkably silent
on the race question, even on the side of re
ligion and religious duties. With few excep
tions the direct contributions of the Southern
clergy in establishing public sentiment on this
question have amounted to little, and may
almost be left out of count. It is the editor

f .* .>.;< K . ^


and the politician who, more exclusively in
the South than in any other part of the coun
try, influence public sentiment on the race
question as well as on other public questions.
The men of letters, the educators, the edu
cated business men, have not counted appre
ciably in moulding public sentiment. I said
editors along with politicians, but it is not so
much the editorial writers as it is the mana
gers who direct what news shall appear, and
regulate the tones and head-lines of what ap
pears. It is these and the politicians who are
most responsible for public sentiment. For
reasons that run back to the awful mistakes
and hardships and outrages of the reconstruc
tion period, the men who deal professionally
in politics and public questions, and these in
clude the newspaper men, have taken and
still continue to take, not all of them but a
large majority, an attitude of hostility and re
pression towards the Negro race. It is nat
ural that it should be so.

But is it not time for a better note ? The
Negro is here, and so far as human vision
reaches, he is here to stay, and to stay mainly
in the South. He is not only here, but he is
improving wonderfully in education and in
the acquisition of property. There are ex
ceptions. There are in fact large masses of


Negroes who are not improving in their con
ditions ; but the figures of statistics are be
yond contradicting the fact that the race as a
whole is making forward strides away from
gross illiteracy and dependent poverty. Shall
the white people wish it to be so ? It seems
to me that they should wish it to be so. It
seems to me that our material prosperity de
pends upon the spread of intelligence and
thrift among all the people, even the hum
blest. It seems to me that our public health
demands this, because filth and disease ex
tend their evils high and low. And how dare
we say that humanity and religion do not de
mand it? If humanity and religion mean
anything, they mean good will to man and
the application of the eternal principles of
justice and righteousness now and always.

It does not follow that any amount of good
will and desire for righteous dealing does
away with the fact of race. The Frenchman
is not a German, nor the Jew a Gentile, and
the difference of the Negro and the white is
most of all distinctly marked. The problem
of their living and working side by side in
the same region is a problem, which no
amount of optimism can deny. The problem
is a problem which calls for neither a blind
and hopeless pessimism nor a weak and wa-


tery optimism. The call is for facing facts,
and dealing with them in the light of wise
statesmanship and the holy principles of
religious faith. Some advanced spirits would
ignore the universal fact of race, and in the
highest sense they are right in the sight of
law and religion ; but in the practical living
of our lives there is no reason to ignore racial
any more than other natural distinctions and
affinities. There is a segregation which is
perfectly natural and inevitable, and will
surely take care of itself. Negroes as nat
urally and inevitably flock together as do the
whites, and in my opinion their leaders op
pose any denial of such natural segregation,
and frown on offensive efforts to ignore the fact.
Many doubtless question the truth of this at
titude of the Negroes, but my experience
leads me to the conviction that, however much
we may think to the contrary, it is essentially
and almost universally true.

For the white people the main point is that,
with all recognition of racial feelings, we are
bound to acknowledge the common rights of
humanity. We are bound to acknowledge
that all men are human, and have human
rights and claims to life, liberty, and the pur
suit of happiness. Are we not, we whites of
the South, also bound by peculiar claims both


of nearness and necessity ? The Negro served
us as a slave ; in the providence of God he is
now by law among us as a man. For his
good, for our own good, is it not well for us
to be helping him on to useful manhood ?
Grant that in the mass he is low down, can
any low class, black or white, lie in the ditch
and all of us not suffer ?

It is because Mrs. Hammond s book strikes
the good note that it is to be greatly welcomed
at this time. I believe that our press and
public will welcome it as a sincere, earnest,
and able effort to tell the difficult truth. All
may not agree with all she says, but that is
not so important as to recognize that her
book is one of the utterances which are needed
at this time, and that she is seeking to help
us all, korth and South, to think rightly on
this problem.













Bishop W. R. Lambuth of M. E. Church (South)
and Professor Gilbert on their 900 Mile Tramp
in Africa . . . Frontispiece

Facing page
Preston Street Cooking School, Louisville, Ky. . 26

Southern White Teachers, Louisville, Ky. . . 52

Christmas Celebrations, Bethlehem House, Nash
ville 78

An Alabama School Improvement League . .104

A Georgia County Superintendent Visiting Negro

School .... .104

Playground at Story Hour, Louisville . . .130

Home of Atlanta Negro Who Was His Own

Architect and Builder . . . . .156

A Respected Negro Doctor . . . .182

Paine College, Augusta, Ga 182

Stillman Institute, Tuscaloosa, Ala. . . . 208
Poor Housing Conditions in the South . . 234



THERE is nothing except love itself
which so adds to the richness and
charm of life as a sense of wide
horizons. One breathes in freedom under a
wide sky, catching the proper perspective for
life, and setting large and small in their true
relations. The burdens and hindrances which
press so close in a narrow, personal atmos
phere drop away, and dwindle to their true
size in those far spaces which include all
human life. We never understand them till
we see them so, set against the background
of a world-experience, translated into terms
common to all mankind.

We were made to be world-dwellers ; mem
bers of our own small circle and section of
country, loving and loyal to them all, yet
members too of the whole human brother
hood : of our own race intensely ; yet just as
vitally, and more broadly, of the great Race
of Man.

The best that can be said of an isolated


man, cut oft from his wide human relations,
is that he has a capacity for life. A human
stomach, or liver, or heart, may be cut out of
the body it belongs in, and yet be kept
" alive." It serves no end of use or beauty,
poor unrelated thing, and is practically dead
in its cold, colourless abiding place. Yet it
has a latent capacity for living, if only it be
placed again in vital connection with a hu
man organism, and receive life from a work
ing connection with the whole.

So many of us lead cold-storage lives, and
find them, naturally, dull enough. So many
more are vitally connected with but a frag
ment of life our family circle, our neigh
bourhood or section. It is as if a heart beat
in a mutilated body, legless or armless, per-
haps without sight, or deaf to the far, sweet
voices which call to the freest and happiest
things in life.

We are made far-sighted. Scientists tell us
that our increasing need of glasses is due to
the fine, near-at-hand work imposed by civ
ilization on eyes planned by nature for far-
sweeping vision, for the wide look which goes
from verge to verge of the high-arching sky.

It is much that we have acquired near
vision ; we would be savages still without it.
Close observation, thought of little things,


the constructive spirit at work upon details
these, inch by inch, through the ages, have
built the road over which the race has ad
vanced. Long sacrifice has gone into them,
untold patience and endurance, the endless
drudgery out of which character emerges,
like a winged thing from its cocoon.

But we need not lose the wide look, nor
work at details knowing nothing of their re
lation to the big world-life of man. How
could we understand them so, or understand
ourselves ? How should we bear our griefs,
or meet our difficulties, or work in hope and
with joy ? Life is such a dull puzzle to near
sighted folk; and so many of those whose
lives touch theirs are sealed books to them,
uninteresting because unknown. And igno
rance breeds prejudice as a dunghill breeds

The commonest prejudice of all, perhaps,
is the near-visioned belief in the superiority
of the people of one s own small corner to all
the rest of the world. This frank and child
ish egotism is the hall-mark of the separated
life, whether lived by Anglo-Saxon or Pata-
gonian, Chinaman or American. We are
the people, and wisdom will die with us!
That is the world-cry of unrelated man ; and
it arrogates a superiority which implies an-


tagonistic criticism of all dwellers without
the small charmed circle of the crier s under

This unsympathetic criticism betrays itself
as ignorance by the very fact of its existence ;
for sympathy cannot fail if only one under
stands deep enough. It is the surface view,
always, which breeds antagonism. If one
could understand to the uttermost one would
inevitably love to the uttermost : one s com
passions, like God s, would be new every
morning. It is because it is ordinarily so
apart, cut off from sympathy, that criticism
is so often shorn of renovating force. Its
only chance for constructive service lies in
being passed through the alembic of a living
sympathy, which alone can transmute the
inorganic matter of criticism into food for
assimilation and growth.

For love, and not intellect, is the vital
force ; and no man is shut out by lack of
knowledge from the widest human life.
Things dim and confusing to the mind are
clearly apprehended by the heart. If I ven
ture to offer this partial interpretation of the
life of that corner of the world which is home
to me, it is not because of a belief that pe
culiar powers of any kind have been given
to me, entitling me to speak of my people,


or to them. It is because I am so truly one
of the mass, living a small life in a small
place, walled in by circumstances, like my
brothers. For any sharer of the common lot
whose deepest desire is to walk in love
towards all the world will find, with the
years, a way opening into the very heart of
life, and will come upon the reasons for many
of the things which perplex us, for much of
the wrong we bear and the wrong we inflict,
much which hedges us in, much which makes
our brothers of a wider circle misunderstand
and misjudge us. What is said must be in
complete, and partly incorrect. One life may
mirror the race life ; yet the waves of per
sonality inevitably refract the reflected rays.
It is offered only for what it is : an attempt
to translate some fragments of Southern life
into world-terms ; to set our sectional prob
lems in their wide human relations, and so to
see them as they really are.

When one lives on a little hill, all closed in
by mountains, one cannot possibly see " the
lay of the land " ; and most of us begin life
in a place like that. Some of us climb later
to a mountain top, and live there with wide
views, and heads near the stars. But the
valleys look deep and dark from up there,


the hills seem small, and the mountains fill
the world. It is beautiful and splendid, and
true, too : but it is only the half of truth
that most dangerous of all lies until the
mountains, too, are set in their wide relations.
When men make them wings like birds, and
fly high enough, they see something bigger
than the mountains, and that is the earth to
which they all belong. One can love the
mountains after that without any childish
pride in them, or childish scorn of the valleys
and hills.

It is so with the races of men, and with
that great, underlying humanity which binds
them all in one.

Long ago, when I was young, I knew so
many things that aren t so. I could label all
the deeds of men as fast as I heard about
them ; and what was far more amazing, I
could label the men who did them. Label
ling deeds is really not a very complicated
process. Even a child, for instance, can dis
tinguish lies of a fairly simple type. But to
put the right label on the man behind the lie
that is a different and most difficult matter.
He may be a man who would die for the
truth, who daily sacrifices for it as he under
stands it He may be all hedged in with in-


heritances from which he has no way of es
cape an example of " invincible ignorance."
He may be just at the beginning of things :
so many of us tell lies because we are not out
of the kindergarten yet, and life exists for us
only in relation to our own exuberant person
alities. And he may be though it isn t
likely a deliberate lover of lies. To label
his deed is easy ; but how shall one label

Yet youth has a passion for labels. It is
such a fascinating way of displaying one s
knowledge to a supposedly admiring world.
And the more recently acquired our knowl
edge is, the more superficial, the more, in our
youth, it refreshes our souls to display it, and
to criticize the little folk of the family, who
are still in those depths of ignorance so re
cently occupied by ourselves ; and to criticize
the old folks, whose knowledge has so fruited
into wisdom that we cannot trace its connec
tion with our own brand-new buds at all.

Dispensing information concerning its own
shortcomings to a world that lies in darkness
is, in fact, one of the natural and unforget
table joys of adolescence. Nobody ought to
begrudge it to anybody. It is part of the
glamour of youth, and dear, at one stage of
life, to every soul alive. As we grow older


we should remember, and smile. Poor
young things, they beat against the walls of
their ignorance so soon 1

But one s wisdom must be ripe and gar
nered for this understanding. It is not to be
expected of the younger young folks, whom
older adolescence is so very hard upon.
Their knowledge has achieved little more
than a pair of cotyledons as yet, perhaps, and
wisdom waits on the years. But they will be
as big as the biggest soon, and know as
much, or more: the younger ones "sass

That is the way quarrels start in families,
as all long-suffering parents know. And I
think something very like that has happened
between the North and the South between
the big brother and the little one. For races
are men writ large, and men are but larger

Sometimes we see twins whose individual
development indicates a difference of years
between the two. One had measles, perhaps,
or scarlet fever, " with ulterior consequences,"
as the doctors say, and it has set him back
a long time. His digestion was impaired,
and lack of nourishment has stunted his
growth. The other boy is full fed and vig
orous, glorying in his strength as every boy


must, and claiming the earth as his birth
right. He wants to be nice to his little
brother, but the child can t live his big-boy
life at all ; and he s grouchy, too always
getting his feelings hurt. It isn t the big
boy s fault he s no bigger ; and he s pig
headed and mean, anyway : just see the way
he picks on folks that are weaker than he is !

The war was our measles ; and we have
hardly recovered from the ulterior conse
quences yet. But our Northern twin kept
right on growing. He came to adolescence
first : and in the last twenty-five years or so
he has reached that later period of youth
when one begins to look soberly out upon an
ever-widening world, and to see a man s
work and a man s responsibilities shaping
themselves from dreams.

I am sure that when I was a girl of fifteen,
and first began to explore the purlieus of
some Northern tenements, hardly any of my
well-to-do, educated, and entirely respectable
and Christian acquaintances cared anything
whatever about them. Our rector was a man
of visions and dreams, and he stirred his peo
ple to open a mission in what was considered
the worst section of the city. I was a mem
ber of its regular working force until my mar
riage, a few years later. But to nobody con-


nected with that mission did it exist for any
purpose whatever except to save the souls of
the tenement-dwellers out of this world into
another one, and, incidentally, to show per
sonal kindness, as occasion offered, to indi
viduals of the district. Nobody dissented
from the doctrine that whatever was wrong
in the general tenement-house environment
was merely the outward and visible sign of
the tenement-dwellers inward and spiritual
lack of grace : if all their souls could only be
saved there would be nothing left wrong with
the tenements. There was no sense of re
sponsibility on landlords, on the health au
thorities, the employers of labour, or the pub
lic at large. There was, in every one I was
thrown with, a vigorous personal conscience ;
strong personal sympathy for individuals, who
were to be got out of the general tenement-
house mess if possible ; much personal sacri
fice ; and a deep sense of personal obligation
to be individually kind, and to save all the
souls that were savable. But that was all.
There was no glimmering of community con
sciousness, of community conscience, or of
community sin. The North was growing
fast, but it was still a many-individualed
North. It responded keenly, as growing
children will, to those stimuli which pene-



trated the area of its awakened consciousness.
It was eager, alert, questioning, learning, im
measurably more stimulating mentally than
my own beloved South : but it had not yet
reached that stage of growth where a social
conscience is possible. In the presence of
appalling social wrong there was no response
to stimulus whatever.

For myself, I was in wild revolt : but the
only way out then conceivable to me was for
the poor all to get saved in a hurry, and die
and go to heaven. God might have known
what He was about when He made slum peo
ple : but His reasons passed my understanding.

Just then I came upon some old English
magazines containing Miss Hill s earlier arti
cles on housing, and God was cleared of the
charges I had brought against Him. The
evils in the tenements were man-made ; and
if enough people would do the loving thing
they could be stopped. It was all personal
still work, responsibility, and righted wrong ;
but saving souls included the changing of
physical conditions.

But good people were not interested.
Those to whom I talked considered Miss
Hill s ideas visionary. They did not believe
it possible to redeem slums only to redeem
some slum-dwellers souls. I labelled them


all on the spot, and " stupid " was the nicest
word in the list. The indictment grew longer
and blacker as the years went on. I was
back in the South now the beautiful, Chris
tian country, where there were no slums, nor
child labourers, nor sweat-shops, nor white
slaves. It never occurred to me that we were
too young and small, industrially, to develop
these things ; or that, like the North, we had
to travel through the country of indifference
to the evils we did have before we could grow
old enough to care.

When Stead wrote "If Christ Came to
Chicago " it was the last straw : respect for
the North was gone. They had money up
there ; they claimed to be Christians ; and
they knew. Yet nothing was done. The
imprecatory Psalms made excellent reading.

And then, out of that vast welter of indif
ference, the emergence of a social conscience
in the North ! There had been already, here
and there, a point of light a man or a
woman flinging an isolated life against em
battled social wrongs. But now began a
gathering of little groups ; here and yonder
one heard a word caught up by other voices
until it rose into a cry : and now the sound of
marching feet, and a thunder which begins
to shake the world 1


The North is a glorious big brother : and
as the hatred of newly-realized old wrongs
grows within him, as that which is highest in
him is more and more committing him to the
doctrine and life of brotherhood, it is part of
the law of youth and growth that he should
have scant patience with those who are indif
ferent to conditions which touch him to the
quick. The one unforgivable thing to him is
that a people should be lacking in social con
science ; the one inexplicable audacity, that
without it they should dare to call themselves
Christians. Our brother of the North is deep
in the labelling stage.

And we Southern folk ? If the big broth
er s contempt has scorched and burnt us,
have we had no contempt for those who are
younger than we ? We had no smaller child
in the immediate family to outlaw with labels ;
but providence has not been altogether un
kind. For there is the cook s black baby :
and it is so long since we were babies our
selves we can t be expected to remember that
stage of our growth. Anyway, there is the
baby ; and the labels show up on him beauti

The North, of course, thinks it had a social
conscience fifty years ago : but that was a


social conscience about other people s sins
a delicate variety for early forcing merely, as
I know by my own experience. I once had
a deal more social conscience about Northern
conditions than about those of our Southern
Negroes, 1 though my personal conscience
about the Negroes was in a flourishing state.
Besides, we had a conscience about slavery
ourselves a true social conscience in the
germ. One of our sorest sore points is our
Northern brother s irritating inability to grasp
this fact, which is matter of common knowl
edge in the South. Thousands of slave
owners, like my own parents, thought slavery
wrong, and confidently expected the time,
not far distant, when the states would them
selves abolish it. The South did not fight
for slavery. We have seen the day, down
here, when we would have enjoyed putting

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Online LibraryLily Hardy HammondIn black and white; an interpretation of southern life → online text (page 1 of 13)