Fraud and Imitation (1912)

Fraud and Imitation (1912)

As the colored people become more and more a self-conscious, selfdirecting group, with organs of intelligence and moving representatives, it is becoming difficult to deceive them as to men and movements. On the other hand, there is still opportunity for unscrupulous colored men to play on the ignorance of the white world as to what is going on in the colored group. If a man announces himself to be of a certain position in the white world, he is immediately looked up carefully. But the colored impostor is taken on blind faith and his lies and peculations when discovered are credited to the whole black race. In Atlanta there is a colored preacher who is making a living and some notoriety by vilifying his people; he has been repudiated by his own church and school, but has an institution of his own which he is promoting. His latest bid for white Southern support is this:

Our training in the college, university and grammar school has been t,oo much of the theoretical, showy kind, more for name than reality. How many of our boys and girls, who are said to be well educated, are almost helpless for the reason that they can do nothing that really pays or that somebody wants done. This is illustrated by the large army to be seen at our depots, pool-rooms and street corners in the red-light districts of the communities and cities where we are so largely congested.

This is a contemptible lie. The graduates of Southern Negro schools and colleges are not loafing in the “red-light” districts and this man knows it. But what difference does that make so long as the white world of Atlanta praises him, uses his words to traduce and cripple worthy colored schools, and gives him letters with which to raise money from gullible Northerners for an institution that exists chiefly on paper?

Another method of deception has been discovered in promoting conventions. There is a National Association of Teachers in colored schools, which is now nine years old. Seeing its success, some colored men in Kansas City have been promoting in the last two years a “Negro National Educational Congress.” They have advertised widely, induced governors to appoint “delegates” and sought to make it appear that they had the support of some body of worthy teachers.

In fact they are nothing but a private set of promoters, many of whom are said to be of doubtful reputation, and not one of them of any considerable standing in the colored educational world. Their “convention” at Denver last year barely missed being a fiasco, and we trust that the worthy colored citizens of St. Paul will see to it that this “convention” does not parade in that city under false colors, and bring ten million people into contempt.

Citation: Du Bois, W.E.B. 1912. “Fraud and Imitation.” The Crisis. 4(3):130–131.