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Author of The Master Word, In Black and White:
An Interpretation of Southern Life, etc.

Published jointly by















I A LONG ASCENT ...;.,.. 1

II A STORY OP SERVICE . . . . . 16
Booker T. Washington and Robert R. Moton


Dr. Charles V. Roman


Miss Nannie H. Burroughs

V A CITY PASTOR ...... 63

Dr. William N. DeBerry


Mrs. Janie Porter Barrett


John B. Pierce

VIII A WOMAN BANKER . . . . . . 108

Mrs. Maggie L. Walker


Harry T. Burleigh

X A LIGHT IN A DARK PLACE . : . . . 131
Miss Martha Drummer

XI SURE FOUNDATIONS . . .< .- . . 148

Rev. James H. Dunston


Joseph S. Cotter, Jr.



Booker T. Washington . . Frontispiece

Tuskegee Institute 32

Dr. Roman s clinic 40

Miss Nannie H. Burroughs 48

Dr. DeBerry and his staff . . . . . 64

Mrs. Janie Porter Barrett . . . . . 80

John B. Pierce 96

Mrs. Walker s office force 112

Harry T. Burleigh 128

Miss Martha Drummer and her school . . . 144

Rev. James H. Dunston 160

Joseph S. Cotter, Jr 168


PERHAPS the most striking feature of this book
is what is not in it. The material for it was
sharply limited by reason of the necessity for
keeping it within the size and price of the series
to which it belongs. Any general survey of Negro
literary, artistic, educational, or business achieve
ments was prohibited by its biographical form, in
which it adheres to the method adopted for a
group of books already issued.

Unless the telling of their stories does them
injustice, the men and women whose biographies
are included in this book are manifestly worthy
of the rank accorded them. But any one ac
quainted with Negro life <3an furnish a much
longer list of members of the race quite as dis
tinguished as those here given with the exception
of a very few preeminent names.

I have felt especially the limitations in regard
to the artistic side of Negro life. Mr. Burleigh,
the musician chosen, speaks for himself ; yet there
are so many others of whom the race may well be
proud. Among painters there are E. M. Banister,
one of whose pictures was awarded a medal at the
Centennial Exposition of 1876 ; W. E. Scott, whose
picture, The Poor Neighbor, was purchased by
the Argentine Eepublic, and who has done mural
paintings for many public buildings in Illinois;


x Preface

and Henry O. Tanner, foremost of them all, who
is a frequent exhibitor in the Paris Salon. Sev
eral of the latter s paintings have been purchased
by the French Government and placed in the

The honors as sculptors are with the women.
Edmonia Lewis s work was accepted for the Cen
tennial Exposition ; Mrs. Meta Warrick Fuller has
exhibited in the Paris Salon and executed a group
for the Jamestown Exposition; and Mrs. May
Howard Jackson has won high praise from art
critics for work exhibited in the Corcoran Art
Gallery, Washington.

Among actors, none who have seen him will for
get Charles Gilpin, who drew thousands of white
people to his extraordinary presentation in New
York of "The Emperor Jones/ and whose work
was listed by the American Drama League among
the ten outstanding achievements of the American
stage in 1921.

The list of singers is long and notable. It in
cludes Eoland Hayes, who has won success in
Europe as well as in America, and who was re
cently presented with a jeweled pin by King
George of England as a token of appreciation of
his art. Joseph Douglass and Clarence White are
both well-known violinists, the latter having also
won distinction as a composer. One passes Cole
ridge-Taylor, most distinguished of them all, only
because he belongs to England rather than to

Preface xi

America, yet, like Dumas and Pushkin, he belongs
to the Negro race.

So with the other groups ; the men and women
written of are representative of classes. The con
sciousness of this large and growing body of lead
ers should be the mental background against which
should be set the individual achievements here

One thing which will doubtless strike the reader
is the frequency with which, at some vital turning-
point in the lives narrated, the mother s character
and influence have been deciding factors. These
mothers are typical of unnumbered thousands
from every level of opportunity, whose standards
of faith, conscience, and self-forgetfulness have
shaped those of the race and are a light upon the
long, hard path which it must climb in the years
to come. They show the Negro women bearing
their share of the responsibility of womanhood to
the Eace of Man. The creation of ideals, plant
ing them in the hearts of children, unfolding and
enriching them from generation to generation
this, the biggest and finest of all human tasks, is
preeminently the work of the women of every race.
Like all the big, essential things of life, it may be
achieved by common folk because it is primarily
of the heart and not of the head. We have per
verted the original meaning of the fine old word
"common" into something to be regarded as in
ferior; but the things which are common to the

xii Preface

"Pace of Man and to the individuals of all races
e the most precious possessions of every race,
.uiowever wide and deep the separation of the low
est savage from the most highly developed man,
science and religion alike declare that the things
which they hold in common and which separate
them both from all other creatures are wider and
deeper yet.

The deepest of all our common possessions is
a capacity for God. This the Negro brought with
him from Africa ; and it was chiefly the Christian
white women of America, and especially those of
the South, who kindled in the Negro women s souls
that which this capacity awaited the light of
Christian ideals. Notwithstanding the evils and
wrongs of slavery, in thousands of kitchens,
nurseries, and sewing-rooms the house-servants
of the old days found God through their mis
tresses lives and took up their predestined task
of making Him real and lovable to their own peo
ple by living in His spirit from day to day.

So the race advanced, in slavery and through
it. To-day the broadening opportunities of its
leading women are quickening its progress; yet
the humbler women still bear their vital part in
the movement. When we think how few genera
tions ago these Negro women had to begin at the
beginning, and of the ages through which our own
women have been lifting our ideals, we must ad
mit that the Negro women are entitled, not only

Preface xiii

to our sympathy, but to our respect and coopera
tion. The advance of both races largely depends
upon the extent to which this respect and coopera
tion are given henceforth. In a book like this, only
glimpses can be given of the growing recognition
of this fact by both white and colored women ; but
it is the biggest and most hopeful of all the hope
ful facts in the wide field of interracial relations

The authorities for the historical and scientific
statements made in the first chapter of the book
are Green s Short History of the English People,
Hallam s Middle Ages, Campbell s The Puritan in
England, Holland and America, Wells s Outline
of History, Kipling s Short History of England,
and Scott Elliot s Prehistoric Man.

For various statements in regard to the Negroes
and interracial relations before the Civil War, the
writer has referred to Washington s Story of the
American Negro, Brawley s Short History of the
American Negro, Helper s The Impending Crisis,
an anti-slavery book by a white North Carolinian
published four years before the Civil War, and the
Negro Year Book, compiled by Monroe N. Work,

f Tuskegee Institute.

In conclusion, I would thank the following

j mends and helpers for information, advice, and

many kindnesses in the preparation of my book:

Miss Ida A. Tourtellot of the Phelps-Stokes Foun-

xiv Preface

dation, Miss Flora Mitchell of the "Woman s Home
Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, Mrs. Booker T. "Washington of Tuskegee,
Mr. Jackson Davis of the General Education
Board, Mr. N. C. Newbold of the North Carolina
State Department of Education, Mr. W. T. B.
Williams of the Jeanes and Slater Boards, Pro
fessor G. Lake Lnes of Tuskegee, and Dr. A. M.
Moore of Durham, North Carolina.





Slow moves the pageant of a climbing race.
Paul Laurence Dunbar

BETWEEN fifteen and sixteen hundred years
ago England was a rich and peaceful coun
try with many prosperous cities connected
by splendid roads. Ships from all parts of the
known world came to her harbors bringing rich
cargoes and carrying back grain, wool, furs, and
tin. Churches stood in many towns, and the
homes of the wealthy dotted the country. These
homes were built of stone and marble, with beau
tiful gardens about them. They were heated by
furnaces and piped for running water which
flowed into splendid marble baths and fountains.
The law of Rome ruled from the Channel to Sol-
way Firth and had ruled, unopposed, for two hun
dred and fifty years. The island, prosperous and
increasingly Christian, was part of the highest
civilization the world had ever known, for Eome,
after her fashion, had first conquered the wild
heathen Britons mercilessly, and then tamed and
taught them and blessed them with peace and pros

Then came the pirates, swooping down before
the north wind in their queer little ships, each
oarsman bent on plunder and ready for any


2 In the Vanguard of a Race

cruelty to obtain it. Huge, red-haired, blue-eyed
fellows they were, these English ancestors of ours,
heathen barbarians every one, bold, cruel, and
bloodthirsty. Their gods were like themselves,
and they believed in a heaven to which only those
who died in battle could go and in which they
could drink and boast of their bold deeds forever.

Britain was a fat and fertile land, and these
Angles meant to have it; but they wanted no
Britons in it, and they left none. The churches
and priests they especially hated, burning the
former and slaying the latter on their own altars.
They destroyed the beautiful country houses and
left city after city a heap of ruins "without fire,
without light, without songs. "

For fifty years they fought and pillaged and
butchered and made slaves. By that time all the
eastern half of England was theirs. It took them
a hundred and fifty more years to root out the
last Britons, for the dark little folk fought bravely
and long ; but at last they were all gone, and with
them civilization and Christianity. Britain was
England now, a wild heathen country where our
forefathers lived in rude huts open to the weather.
They ate and drank like gluttons and fought one
another like wild beasts.

They lived in little villages made up of kins
folk, with marshes or forests around them, or per
haps both, as a protection from the men of other
villages whose pirate instincts might set them on

A Long Ascent 3

the war-path against their neighbors. They had
very few horses and plowed with oxen. They
raised sheep for wool and cattle for plowing.
Their usual meat came from their droves of hogs.
Each village had a swineherd who took all the
pigs to the forest every day, where they could
root for acorns and other food.

A stranger was always considered an enemy
until he proved himself a friend, and often, to
be on the safe side, they killed him anyway, and
bothered no more about him. After a while
a law was made that when a stranger came to the
woods or marsh about a village, he should blow
a horn to show that he came honestly and openly,
not trying to sneak in to murder or rob. If he
failed to blow a horn or if nobody heard him blow,
he was to be killed on sight.

A hundred years after these savage men came
to Britain, it was written of them that they were
" barbarians, " "wolves," "dogs," "whelps from
the kennels of barbarism," "hateful to God and
man." In France and Spain and Italy when bar
barians overthrew the power of Eome, they settled
down among the cultivated people they had con
quered, learned their language, adopted their laws
and customs, and took on civilized ways ; but the
men who came to England made a clean sweep of
all these things. They did not even keep many of
the Britons alive as slaves, they made slaves of
one another. When village fought with village

4 In the Vanguard of a Race

or, long afterward, when one little king whom the
growing tribes set up fought another, the captives,
nobles and slaves alike, were made slaves by their
captors. Sometimes they were taken to their con
queror s home, or, frequently, they were sold to
pirate vessels that carried them to the slave-
markets of southern Europe.

It was the sight of some of these English slaves
put up for sale in Italy that led to missionaries
being sent once more to what had been Christian
Britain, and which was now heathen for a second
time. Missionaries came, too, from Ireland, at
this time one of the brightest spots in a dark and
troubled world. Eoman Britain had furnished
many Christian martyrs when the savage Eng
lishmen first came, and now Irish and Eoman
Christians came to this wild and cruel land, not
counting their lives dear to themselves if only they
could win the heathen to the gospel.

It took two hundred years to establish Chris
tianity firmly on the island, for now and again
there would occur relapses into heathenism when
some petty king arose who preferred to worship
Odin rather than Christ.

Sometimes we hear people say that foreign
missions to-day accomplish very little in China
or India or Japan. See how few Christians those
countries have, they say, after trying for a hun
dred years to convert them! That is not quite

r A Long Ascent 5

true, for it is not much over a hundred years
since the pioneer of modern missions in China,
Eobert Morrison, went there. At that time most
Christian people who knew about him thought him
crazy, or silly, at best, and for long years the
Church did almost nothing for missions. It is only
in the last fifty years that it has made any great
effort as a whole. Fifty years among hundreds
of millions of heathen !

In the days when the Eoman and Irish mis
sionaries came to Britain, the English could have
been counted by only the hundred thousand.
Even a thousand years after missionaries came to
England, there were only five or six million peo
ple in the whole country about as many as in
the city of New York to-day. Yet it took two hun
dred years to make our ancestors Christian, even
in name. We should remember this when we feel
like criticizing people of other races whose prog
ress we think is slow. And we should think of it,
too, when people ask if missions pay. Has it paid
to have a Christian England in the world?

For a long time a tribe was Christian or heathen
only as its "king" ordered it out either for bap
tism or for worship of Odin. However, some of
these early Englishmen made noble Christians.
But it was not until Elizabeth became queen, a
thousands years later, that Christianity had gone
deep enough for the people to take such a stand
for the open Bible that their rulers did not dare

6 In the Vanguard of a Race

to forbid it to them or to kill those who disobeyed.
And so, all down the centuries are scattered the
shining names of those who greatly lived or
greatly died for the love of Jesus Christ.

They were splendidly brave, these early Eng
lishmen. They always had been brave, even as
savages, with a rough, cruel, selfish courage, but
now they were brave for finer reasons. It was
not only for personal gain and glory that Drake
sailed unknown and dreaded seas and carried the
flag of England around the world. It was with
no thought of self that Philip Sidney fought free
dom s battle in Holland, or that he refused, in
his dying agony, to relieve his own raging thirst
that the water might be given to one suffering
more than he. It was a glorious day when little
England faced the great Spanish Armada to die,
if need be, for God and freedom. Nor can any of
English blood forget Ridley and Latimer and all
that noble army of martyrs who, in Mary s time,
passed through the fire up to God rather than deny
their faith. The barbarians had come far in a
thousand years.

But Christian though they had become in Eliza
beth s time, there were still many of their ways
and thoughts which seem neither civilized nor
Christian to us who live over three hundred years
later. A climbing race moves slowly, and behind
the shining banners of those who lead skulk ugly
things and wicked and stupid things which most

A Long Ascent 7

of the people do not yet know are ugly or stupid
or wicked, and so permit them. Along with
all the noble things and the splendid intellectual
power of Elizabeth s reign went others, disgust
ing and barbarous after a thousand years ! Pun
ishments were many and horrible. Mutilation,
torture, and death were meted out for petty of
fenses. The sight of bodies hanging by the road
side and falling into decay was not uncommon.
The people lived in filth. Garbage and sewage
were habitually emptied into the middle of Lon
don s streets, where it rotted and bred disease and
smelled to heaven. The people had very little
knowledge of washing their bodies. The queen
had three thousand dresses ; but most people had
only one and wore that one day and night till it
dropped to rags. Underclothes, if worn, were
never washed. Few, even of the rich, had carpets,
and those they had were used for table-covers.
The floors were of dirt or, in grand houses, of
wood or stone covered with rushes into which
bones and other refuse of meals were thrown as
people sat at table. Forks were just beginning to
be known among the wealthy, anc? it was quite
proper to eat with one s fingers and dip them into
the dishes as well. Chimneys began to come into
use at about this time. Before this, smoke got
out as best it could at openings in the walls!
These openings, which were without glass, let in
both the light and the weather.

8 In the Vanguard of a Race

Some of the prevailing ideas of justice were
much more like those of our pirate ancestors than
like our own. The men who first made England
famous on the seas were freebooters and traders
in human flesh. Many of the great fortunes piled
up in the last half of Elizabeth s reign were made
by seizing unarmed ships of friendly countries
even those of Protestant Holland and appro
priating their cargoes. Hawkins, one of the sea-
heroes of his day, began England s slave-trade
with a cargo of Negroes he kidnaped on the Afri
can coast and sold in the West Indies. This traffic
was legal in England and in America until a little
over a hundred years ago. The last serfs of Eng
lish blood in England were freed by Elizabeth in
1574, but long after that, Englishmen were
shipped to the American colonies and sold as
slaves as a punishment for crime or for political

Over three hundred years have passed since
these conditions prevailed, and the higher a na
tion climbs, the faster it can go. We have come
further, as a people, in the last three hundred
years than in the previous thousand years. Who
can say what heights are ahead? Would any of
those Christian Britons have believed when
Roman civilization was being blotted out by the
English barbarians that that same race would one
day stand as one of the world s great bulwarks of
justice among men, creators of wonders beyond

A Long Ascent 9

the dreams of magic, with ideals that reached the
stars? Yet all this we have seen come to pass
in England and in America in these last few years.
We are yet far from where we would be. There
are wrongs and injustices still to give way before
God s laws of justice and kindness rule us all.
How soon this comes to pass depends largely on
the young people now coming into power. If we
assume that our own race is already on the
heights, it will never attain its highest possible
plane through help of ours. If we forget our own
slow and incomplete progress as a race or despise
others who are climbing the same hard and painful
path, we shall be, not lifters of mankind, but a
stumbling block in the path of the human race.

The part of Africa best known to us is the little
strip around the Mediterranean Sea. But this,
so far as we can tell, was not settled by Negroes,
but by peoples who came out of Asia in widely-
separated times. South of these lands lived the
Negroes, of whose life at that time little is known.
Few explorations have been made south of Egypt,
though at one point, Zimbabwe, the ruins of a van
ished civilization have been found.

For hundreds of years the upper western coast
of Africa was raided by white pirates, most of
them English, and the people were kidnaped and
sold as slaves. Probably for thousands of years
east coast was raided in the same way by

10 In the Vanguard of a Race

Arabs and other Asiatics, but except along the
coast, the continent was almost unknown to white
men until within the memory of men now living.
Between 1850 and 1900 the land was explored, and
European nations seized it for themselves as
though the people who had lived there for thou
sands of years had no rights in it at all. The only
parts of Africa still belonging to Negroes are
Abyssinia and the little country of Liberia. These
fifty years and the twenty following have seen
thousands of white men from Europe and Amer
ica flocking in missionaries, explorers, traders,
men bent on service and men bent on ruthless gain
- until Africa s geography and races are fairly
well known.

The oldest races are the pygmies of the Congo
and of South Africa. They are a queer little folk
who, Professor Elliot says in his Prehistoric Man,
"seem to have been the very first race to under
stand and realize the importance of botany. "
Their knowledge of plants is quite wonderful.
They are also "clever artists and musicians, and
may be the inventors of the first violin." But
they are a very savage little people for all that
and very deadly to their enemies by reason of
their cunningly-poisoned weapons. Between them
and the Zulus and people of Uganda, the most
highly developed of the many African races, are
peoples as varied as those of eastern Europe or
Asia and of many grades of intelligence. Many

A Long Ascent 11

of them are clever iron-workers. In fact iron is
believed to have been made into tools and weapons
in Africa long before Europe learned its uses and
even while our own forefathers still had no tools
but flints.

But except for its sea-coasts, Africa has been
cut off for ages from the rest of the world. In
Europe and Asia men passed back and forth so
that what was learned in one place, sooner or later
became known in others. Isolated people can
not learn very fast, and Africa, in some respects
ahead of Europe when we were all savages to
gether, seems to have stood still while other coun
tries have forged far ahead of her.

Among Americans the first knowledge of Afri
cans came through the Negroes who had been
stolen from their homes by Dutch and English
pirates and sold in the colonies as slaves. Later,
Americans joined in this trade. It must be re
membered that Christian nations had no idea, in
those days, that they should behave like Christians
to savages. Wicked things went on because good
people did not understand it was their duty to
stop them. When some of the unjust things still
allowed by Christian people are put a stop to, it
will be by the same steps that ended first the
slave-trade and then slavery.

First a few people who best understood God s
thoughts of justice began to talk and write and

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