June 2020

Vol. 4, Issue 1

We at the Samuel Harrison Society believe Rev. Samuel Harrison’s words are as relevant today as they were in the 19th Century. The following text are excerpts from Rev. Harrison’s “An Appeal of a Colored Man to His Fellow Citizens of a Fairer Hue in the United States” and was written in 1877.

An Appeal

This appeal is addressed to my fellow-citizens of the United States because the subject matter of the appeal concerns them; for nowhere else in the world is such an appeal necessary.  The conventional rules of society are nowhere else so rigid as in the Unites States of America.  Hence we appeal to those who can correct, or at least help to correct, the matter of which we complain, and thus bring about results which will be advantageous to those to whom I address myself, as well as for those for whom this appeal is made.  It is a fact that cannot be ignored, however much men may be disposed to, that the colored man labors under difficulties and burdens which no other people do.

The silence may be interpreted to mean this: That it is no crime, or it is not one of sufficient magnitude to demand protest.  But were the victims of a fairer hue and those who are guilty of these outrages colored men, there would come a united protestation from [everywhere], and the arm of the general government would at once be employed to visit [justifiable] punishment upon the party guilty of such crimes.

We are misjudged by very many of our white fellow citizens, or they occupy a wrong standpoint from which they judge us.  For the misdemeanor of a few, they judge the many, and condemn the many for the misdeeds of the few.

We have always as a class been law-abiding, and no question can be asked to our patriotism, as any student of our nation’s history well knows.  The colored man has always been willing to bide his time.  He believed it was coming, and even now we have entered upon it.  That as old lines are being obliterated or being so, we ask that no man be known by race, or color, or nationality.  This is our status according to the letter and spirit of the American Constitution.

The interest of the one race, if I may speak, is the interest of the other.  We are of one language, and the same system of laws are essential to govern both.  When justice is practiced toward us, there is no need of special legislation for our race.  We are no different from other men and women; we have hopes and aspirations and inclinations the same as others.  This being so, all we ask is to be treated as other men and women are.  We claim no more for a colored man by intuition than can be claimed for others.

It may be asked upon what ground do I base my appeal in behalf of my people?  I answer, in the first place, the love of country.

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