A Crusade


W.E.B. Du Bois


March 1, 1914

The Western trip of the chairman of the board of directors was a clarion call to arms. To Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and Indianapolis went the cry which had already aroused black Washington as it was never aroused before. Mr. Spingarn told the people, colored and white, that the time had come for organization and work. The new abolitionism has come. Its workers are in the field and its voice is heard from St. Paul to New Orleans and from sea to sea.

Already the Bourbon press of the South, abetted by colored traitors in the North, is taking notice. The Richmond Times-Dispatch said in its leading editorial of January 12:

Someone has sent us a special number of a Negro monthly magazine, which appears to us to be about the most incendiary document that has passed through the mails since the anarchists’ literature was barred.
On its title page this remarkable publication bears this legend: ‘Hereditary Bondsmen! Know Ye Not Who Would Be Free Must Strike the Blow?’ Answering its own question, the magazine proceeds to list some of the ‘blows’ valiant Negroes have struck, the race hatred they have aroused, the bloodshed they have precipitated, the insolence which has aroused so many against them. Altogether the array would be amusing were not its purpose so manifestly vicious.

It declares that fighting means razors and revolvers and fears that the whites of the South would be inclined to answer with ruthless repression and cruel injustice. All that has been gained in a generation for good will and peace would be sacrificed.

It then cites the recent Southern Sociological Congress as characteristic of the attitude of the South! On the contrary, that splendid congress is precisely the sort of fighting which we advocate, and there was not a Southern man in it who did not risk his bread and butter by speaking out.

It is the reactionary Bourbonism of the Times-Dispatch and its ilk that makes a great moral battle for a new abolition absolutely necessary in the land. The editor thinks that:

This particular magazine is of limited circulation, and is probably the organ of ambitious Negroes in New York. Its remarks, therefore, are scarcely worthy of consideration and its opinions beneath notice. But were this spirit to spread among the Negroes, we can but think how disastrous would be its workings.

The Crisis sold 32,000 copies of its January number, which is a larger circulation than the Times-Despatch has. And The Crisis renews the invitation to every American, black or white: Join or die. Join the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Support its work, advocate its principles.

Ignore the mischievous intimation of venal colored editors that we are “fighting” Booker T. Washington. We are fighting slavery, caste and cowardice in black men and white; nothing more and nothing less.


For attribution, please cite this work as:
Du Bois, W.E.B. 1914. “A Crusade.” The Crisis 7 (5): 238–39. https://www.dareyoufight.org/Volumes/07/05/crusades.html.