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THE TRUSTEES OF THE JOHN F. SLATER FUND
Occasional Papers, No. 19



SOUTHERN WOMEN

AND

RACIAL ADJUSTMENT



BY



L. H. HAMMOND

AUTHOR OF

IN BLACK AND WHITE: AN INTERPRETATION
OF SOUTHERN LIFE ; IN THE GARDEN
OF DELIGHT ; ETC.



1917



, BELL COMPANY, INC., PRINTCR*, LYNOHIUlia, VmSINI*



SOUTHERN WOMEN
AND

RACIAL ADJUSTMENT

BY



L^i^H. HAMMOND



1917



NOTE.

In this paper Mrs. Haniniond has told what the white
women of the Sou'li have done and are doing for the unprivi-
leged black women. It is a splendid stor}^ of gallant service.
Its sanity and patriotism make their own high appeal.

James H. Dillard.
Charlottesville, Va.
October 15, 1917.






NOTE BY THE AUTHOR.

For the opinions expressed and the conclusions drawn in
the following pages the writer alone is responsible ; but she
wishes to acknowledge her indebtedness to the following
women, without whose kindly aid in gathering the facts set
forth this paper could scarcely have been w^-itten :

Mrs. Percy V. Pennybacker, president of the National
Federation of Women's Clubs during the last biennial period ;
Mrs. Edward McGehee, Mrs. John I. Moore, Mrs. W. S.
Jennings, Miss Helen Norris Cummings, Mrs. Court F.
Wood, presidents respectively of the State Federations of
Mississippi, Arkansas, Florida, Virginia, and the District of
Columbia; Mrs. Z. I. Fitzpatrick, late president, and director-
for-life of the Georgia State Federation; Mrs. C. P. Orr,
formerly president of the Alabama State Federation ; Miss
Elizabeth Oilman, chairman of the Advisory Committee on
W^ork for Colored People, Baltimore Civic League ; Mrs.
Gordon Green, president City Federation, Jackson, Aliss. ;
Mrs. John Love, president of City Federation of Clubs and of
City Federation of Missionary Societies, Meridian, i\Iiss. ;
Mrs. W. L. Murdoch, formerly vice-president of the Southern
Sociological Congress ; Mrs. Leila A. Dillard, State president
Georgia W. C. T. U. ; Mrs. Elizabeth Preston Allan, chair-
man of the Committee for Colored Work, Y. W. C. A. ;
Mrs. W. C. Winsborough. secretary Woman's Home Mission
Board, Southern Presbyterian Church ; Mrs. B. W. Lips-
comb, Home Base secretary Woman's Missionary Council,
M. E. Church, South ; Mrs. L. S. Arrington and Mrs. W. D.
Haas, superintendents Social Service, North Georgia and
Louisiana Conferences, Woman's Missionary Council ; ]\Irs.
H. M. Wharton, chairman Personal Service Committee,
Southern Baptist Woman's Home ]\Iission Board ; ]\Irs. \\'m.
McGarity, secretary Texas Baptist Home Mission Society ;
Mrs. Bolton K. Smith, president of the Bishop's Guild, State
of Tennessee.



4 Southern Women and Racial Adjustment

The writer also wishes to thank the following colored
women for their kindness in furnishing facts in regard to
colored women's organization and work :

Mrs. Booker T. Washington, editor National Association
A'otcs; yirs. E. E. Peterson, national organizer for colored
women, W. C. T. U. ; Mrs. H. L. McCrory, president of the
Colored Branch, Associated Charities, Charlotte, N. C. ;
Mrs. Sarah Collins Fernandis, executive secretary of the
Advisory Committee, Civic League, Baltimore.

She would also thank Bishop Lloyd, president of the
General Board of Missions of the Episcopal Church, for
many courtesies; Bishop Guerry, of South Carolina; and
Professor Imes, of Tuskegee Listitute.



L. H. Hammond,



Dalton, Ga.

October 1, 1917,



And here to us the eternal charge is given

To rise and make our low world touch God's high.

Alfred Noycs: "In Time of War."



SOUTHERN WOMEN AND RACIAL ADJUSTMENT.

The manners and morals of every community reflect the
standards sanctioned or permitted by its privileged women.
Individuals stand above this common level, blazing ethical
trails into the unmoral wilderness of our wider human asso-
ciations, and draw after them, here and there, adventurous
groups ; but there can be no mass advance until the individual
impulse toward righteousness, which is justice in its finest
sense, is reinforced by a common standard embodying a force
greater than the individual.

These common standards are furnished, actively or pas-
sively, by the privileged women, from whose homes they
spread into the community. Racial adjustment, like many
other moral issues, waits on the leadership of these women.
Their attitude toward it is thus of both sectional and national
importance; and their increasing development of broad
humanitarian standards in racial relations is worthy of note.

New Thoughts for New Times.

One great obstacle to better racial adjustment has been the
retention by many of us of the viewpoint of a day that is past:
our ideal of a good free Negro has been too much like the one
that fitted a good slave. Every misfit action has a misfit ideal
at its root ; and our anomalous crop of racial relations, with
its fruitage of lynchings and migrations, is the result of trying
to grow the Negro's life to-day on past ideals. Usefulness to
his master is a slave's chief virtue ; that of a freeman is his
usefulness to the human race. However undeveloped or
ignorant he may be, the standard of value is shifted at once
from an economic to a moral base ; and the foundation of all
morality is the home. Material progress waits on moral
progress; and the full prosj^erity of Southern industry arid
commerce waits in a most vital sense upon the moral status
of the Negro home. It is the privileged white women who



6 Southern Women and Racial Adjustment

alone can fix this status for the entire community, building it
up in white respect, and helping the better class of colored
women to build it up in colored life.

The purpose of this pamphlet is to show our women's
entrance upon this great humanitarian and patriotic sen-ice.
To perform it they are adventuring into the unknown, dis-
covering their cooks and washerwomen as women beset by
womanhood's clamorous demands and utterly unable to meet
them without help and sympathy. It is out of this thought of
privileged white women for these handicapped mothers, chil-
dren, and homes that the eventual adjustment of our bi-racial
Southern life will come.

Beginnings.

All women's modern activities began in individualistic
religious service. The old Dt:>rcas and missionary societies
first widened their horizon to include conditions beyond their
homes, and tauglit them teamwork ; which overflowed, in
time, into the \\^)man's Christian Temperance Union, the
early cultural clubs, and the Federation. The interest of
Southern women in the welfare of "free people of color"
follows this line of development.

Their first service to the freed Negroes was purely
religious and individual. In a number of states colored
Sunday schools were taught here and there by women of the
first families. The Episcopal Bishop of South Carolina
reports plantation Sunday schools conducted by such women
wliich run back from forty to sixty years without a break.
In the darkest days of the last century these scattered schools
kept alive a sense of the responsibility of the privileged
woman to the unprivileged.

The Woman's Christian Temperance Union.

Through this body Southern women took their first steps
in organized service. Work among Negroes was decided on
at a meeting in Chattanooga in 1871. A prominent South



Southern Women and Racial Adjustment 7

Carolinian, as superintendent of Colored Work, spoke to and
for the Negroes throughout the South. From that time the
policy of the Southern state organizations has been to promote
temperance work among Negroes as part of each local
union's duty. Although this has never been thoroughly
carried out, and many women are indifferent, in this as in
every group, to Negro welfare and to the interdependence of
their good and ours, yet few could be found who would
oppose the policy. In all local campaigns the Negroes are
included. Some of the Union's most noted speakers are
Southern women, and in the South they never speak without
some strong word for the Negro, and especially for the Negro
woman. A place for colored people is almost invariably
reserved at the white meetings ; and, when time permits, the
speakers address colored gatherings, to which they are accom-
panied by local white leaders.

When Atlanta went dry in 1885 the white women held
prayer-meetings with the colored women throughout the city ;
and it was publicly acknowledged that the colored women,
backed by their pastors, had contributed largely to the victory.
In the worst days of our convict camps the Georgia Union led
and won a fight for the segregation and protection of the
women prisoners. The treatment of colored women in the
camps was the avowed cause of this campaign.

The attitude of the Unions has had far-reaching effects.
Their viewpoint has been more humanitarian than racial, and
almost unconsciously they have carried into thousands of com-
munities a latent thought of the common human needs of
white and black. This thought, in the last fifteen years, is
growing in the organized church work of Southern women,
and has been carried by the church women into the wider asso-
ciations of their Federation community work.

Southern Methodist Women.

The first organized body of church women to take up work
for colored people was the Southern Methodist Home Mission



8 Southern Women and Racial Adjustment

Society, now merged with the Foreign Society in the
Women's jMissionary Council of that church. In 1900 they
decided to open an industrial department for girls in the
school at Augusta, Ga., maintained by their church for the
training of colored ministers and teachers. The work met
with strong opposition at first, but has won its way to general
respect and support, as is evidenced by its increasing develop-
ment. The Council now operates, in addition to this indus-
trial work, two settlements, one at Augusta, the other at
Nashville, Tenn. In both places the Board of Directors is
made up of locally prominent men and women of both races.
The aim is community betterment, and care is taken to interest
the better class of colored people without regard to denomina-
tional lines. The older students of the colored normal schools
and colleges assist regularly in the club and class work, gain-
ing a measure of training in community work which will bear
fruit in their home communities.

The \ash\'ille enterprise has taken on unusual significance,
having interested people of both races of all denominations,
the Southern white schools, and the colleges for Negroes
maintained by Northern people. Courses in Social Service are
offered at Fisk University, the field ^\■ork being done at the
settlement under the direction of Southern white women.
The National League on Urban Conditions Among Colored
People cooperates by maintaining scholarships for these
courses at Fisk, which are open to graduates of all colored
schools of a certain grade in the South. Vanderbilt Uni-
versity not only furnishes lecturers to these students from its
faculty, but students enrolled in the V'anderbilt School of
Religion and Philanthrop\- help in the work of the settlement,
thus learning the needs of the colored poor. These initial
steps in establishing contact and understanding have already
had good results. A Public Welfare League, composed of
men and women of both races, is in operation. Its program
includes the promotion of a better understanding between the
races, the improvement of housing and working conditions



Southern Women and Racial Adjustment 9

for Negroes, and the training of students in methods of com-
munity betterment and of race cooperation. This last item is
of especial importance, Nashville being to an unusual extent
a school center for both races. Among the things already
achieved by the Public Welfare League are a public library
for Negroes, the organization of probation work for colored
juvenile offenders, and two playgrounds for colored children,
the city furnishing equipment and salaries, and students
trained at Fisk and in the settlement acting as supervisors.
A further development of this cooperative spirit was seen
after the great fire of 1916, when the white Commercial Club
and the Negro Board of Trade worked together in relie\'ing
some 1,500 colored fire suft'erers.

Local Work of Southern Methodist Women.

The undertakings above described are under the immediate
care of the women's central missionary organization; but
additional work for the 4,700 local auxiliaries has been out-
lined by the Council. It includes service in colored Sunday
schools, promotion of colored missionary societies, school
betterment, recreational facilities, and especially the forma-
tion of and cooperation with colored women's Community
Clubs for betterment along all lines. In the fall of 1915 over
200 auxiliaries were regularly reporting such v^ork. Its effect
on public opinion is illustrated by the experience of the super-
intendent of Social Service for the Louisiana Conference.

"I have changed my views about the Negroes greatly in the
last few years," she said recently. "Our Council has educated
me ; and I think many others feel the same way. A number
of our Louisiana societies are working for colored people."

An initial point of contact established, growth in sympathy
is certain. Handicapped motherhood and childhood of any
race make to privileged women an appeal which is irresistible
once it is understood. The women of the North Georgia
Conference recently illustrated this fact.



10 Southern Women and Racial Adjustment

This body has shown by conference action from time to
time a broadening sense of obHgation to the Negroes ; but at
the 1917 meeting their growing insight was focused on a
\vrong which stirs women for women everywhere.

The perennial petition to the next legislature to raise the
age of consent from ten to eighteen years was up for its
annual endorsement here, as at every gathering of women in
the State. This year the W. C. T. U. was leading the fight.
In their communication to the ^lethodist women they referred
to the fact that certain legislators had openly objected to the
protection the bill would afford colored girls. The W. C.
T. U. regarded this an added reason for the bill's passage,
and the Methodist women unanimously adopted a resolution
calling for "the protection of the childhood and womanhood
of Georgia without regard to race." Other bodies of women
took the same stand and will keep it until the bill is passed.

Southern Presbyterian Women.

These women lead the South in Sunday-school work among
Negroes. Some of them ha\e been teaching in colored Sun-
day schools ever since the war, and of late years the work is
spreading. The first wife of President Wilson told the writer
that when, as a young girl, she went to New York to study
art she sought out a colored Sunday school and taught a class
there the two years she was in the city. She said that if she
had come from any section but the South she would have
taken some other fonn of church work; but, being a Southern
girl, the daughter and descendant of slave owners, she felt
that service to colored people was her especial obligation ;
and, true to Presbyterian type, she sought a Sunday-school
class.

Of late years, however, these women are leading inter-
denominational organizations of church women in several
cities for this and other.purposes. The Federation of City
Missionary Societies at Meridian, Miss., is typical.



Southern Women and Racial Adjustment 11

The Presbyterian women led in formini,^ the h'ederation,
which organized an interdenominational Bible Teachers'
Training Class from the various colored Sunday schools. Tt
meets weekly in the colored public library with the best white
teachers of the city in charge. Then came a Story Tellers'
League of the colored teachers. It, too, meets weekly at the
library, a white woman telling a story to be repeated by the
members at the colored schools. The monthly stereopticon
lectures of the Missionary Education Movement are repeated
before the colored people; and on one night of Christmas
week the Negroes hold a musical service around the municipal
Christmas tree.

In Uniontow^n, Ala., the women of a Presbyterian Bible
Class decided to set apart a definite hour each week when each
of them would teach the servants in her home the Sunday-
school lesson for the next week. This was ten years ago.
The basal need in racial adjustment — a human as distinguished
from an economic point of contact — being thus met, vision
and a broadening service have followed. An interden.omina-
tional Bible Class for colored women was formed, officered
by colored women and taught by white. Class committees
were formed to read the Bible to the colored sick and aged.
This brought forward various problems of poverty, and led to
relief work guided by the white women and done by the
Negro. The children of these homes came into view, and a
white teacher maintains for them a weekly story hour.

Institute for Colored Women.

A significant development from this widely scattered local
work is the inauguration, a year or two ago, of a yearly
Institute for Colored Women by the Southern Presbyterian
Women's Home Mission Board. It is held at Stillman Insti-
tute, Tuscaloosa, Ala., the church training school for colored
Presbyterian ministers. In 1916 there were 155 women in
attendance from six states. Leading white women were
present from the Board, as well as from Alabama and other



12 Southern Womex and Racial Adjustment

states. The courses were given in part by them and in part
by colored women. They incKided Bible study, and lectures
on moral training in the home, the home and the school, prac-
tical home-making, care of babies, common diseases, sanita-
tion, preservation of food. etc.

A combination of the Alcthodist Community Clubs con-
ducted by local auxiliaries with a multiplication of such yearly
institutes by the general organizations seems an ideal plan for
missionary societies to adopt. Both forms of sen'ice are
closely fitted to the needs of both races ; for the rendering of
service by those who can give it is as vital to moral health as
is the receiving of it by those who need.

Southern Baptist Women.

The Baptist Women's Board has no specific enterprise for
colored people. They definitely teach, however, through their
literature, the duty of local Christian serx'ice. This chielly
takes the form of helping the coku^ed Baptist women to form
and conduct missionary societies. This practice is wide-
spread. The Home Mission lioard has a Department of
Personal Ser\ice \\hich officially includes work for Negroes ;
and in se\eral places the cooperation in missionary work above
referred lo is leading out into the field of social ser\-ice,
especially in those interdenominational missionary federa-
tions which are a})pearing in many of our cities.

A fine instance of local social service was found in Balti-
more, where the Baptist women for years carried on a number
of industrial schools for colored children. Through the
children the mothers were reached, and a strong colored
leadership was eventually develoi)ed which warranted turning
over the work to these women, who have since conducted it.

In Texas a number of auxiliaries are doing work among
colored people. In Belton the white college girls, enlisted by
the Baptist women, gave a fine missionary program recently
in one of the colored churches. In the annual State meetings
of the white societies the officers of colored Baptist schools



Southern Women and Racial /\djustment 13

regularly present their work, and a collection is taken for
them. In Austin courses in Bible study are given for colored
women.

A remarkably successful cooperative work is carried on in
Birmingham, Ala., under the leadership of two white
missionaries of the Northern Baptist Women's Board. These
women have not only a present enrollment of over 700 colored
women in their four-year Bible course, but they have enlisted
the white women of the city as teachers of these classes.
Every denomination is represented, and the teachers have the
backing of their local missionary organizations.

Episcopal Women.

The work of the women of the Episcopal Church is on a
different basis from that of all other churches. It is purely
auxiliary to the General Board of Missions, which determines
the activities of the women, appropriates the funds raised by
them, and is composed entirely of men. This ex[)lains their
lack of initiative in church work — a lack not found in their
Y. W. C. A. or their club work. As church members, how-
ever, their directed activities include the \vork for Negroes
maintained by the General Board. This work is larger and
better supported by the Southern dioceses than the work for
Negroes of any other Southern church, and in this the women
have their share. They also share in the local work of the
parishes for Negroes, which is chiefly the maintenance of
parish schools; and where, as in the diocese of South Georgia,
the church employs a trained colored woman for work among
her people they give both interest and money to the work. In
Tennessee the Bishop has organized a Bishop's Guild among
the women for the sole purpose of promoting the educational
work of the diocese for Negroes.

The colored women of the dioceses are organized, like the
white women, into auxiliaries of the Board of Missions; and
the diocesan officers of the white organizations not only attend
the annual meetings of the colored women, but assist them



14 Southern Women and Racial Adjustment

throughout the year in their work. In the main, however,
the social service activities of these women, as of the women
of other denominations, find their largest expression outside
of their church organization.

Y. W. C. A. Work Among Colored Women.

It seems well to consider this phase of the subject in con-
nection with church work, though it is more recently begun
than the club work. For years the only Y. W. C. A. work
among Negroes was done from the New York headquarters
by a colored secretary in charge of the colored schools. There
are now 51 associations in as many schools, and interest is
aroused in 50 more. The feeling, however, has been growing
among Southern workers that the time has come for coopera-
tive work, and in the fall of 1915 it was decided on at a
conference held in Louisville in which women of both races
and of both sections took part. A joint committee of
Southern white and colored women was formed both to pro-
mote the interests of the college associations and to encourage
the formation of city associations, independent, and yet
linked as "branch associations" to the central white organiza-
tion of their respective cities, to which they could look for
guidance and cooperation, after the plan found successful in
the work for immigrant races in the North. Associations are
already in operation in Richmond, Charlotte, and St. Louis,
and a number of cities have made application for organiza-
tion, a necessary feature of the application being the endorse-
ment of the local white association. Jacksonville, Fla.,
Winston-Salem and Wilmington, N. C, and Lynchburg, Va.,
are among the cities applying for organization.

Colored student conferences are now held annually in the
South, attended by Southern white women. The most
promising students are given six weeks' intensive training in
the summer at New York headquarters to prepare them for
future secretarial work among their people. Conferences are



Southern Women and Racial Adjustment 15

also held on city work-, and lierc both races and l)otli sections
are brought together, and a l)roader basis is being laid for
mutual understanding.

Southern Club Women.

The facts already recited show Southern women shifting
the race problem from a sectional to a human basis, and
broadening their adjustment to those Christian standards
which fit the whole Race of Man. They are opening the
doors of our sectional life to the free winds of world-thought
by opening our hearts to the needs of all human life. When
one's heart is open to human needs the life of the world flows
into it. The smallest, most secluded dwelling place, the daily
round of pettiest tasks, is then filled with the throb of a com-
mon aspiration, the love of a common justice, the thrill of a
universal hope. This liberty of soul our women are achieving
for us. Like all the priceless things of life, it lies close to
everybody's hand, inextricably tangled in our everyday rela-
tions and living. What we need are eyes to see it — a standard
of values made visible from the unseen. And this it is the


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Online LibraryLily Hardy HammondSouthern women and racial adjustment → online text (page 1 of 3)