A Correspondence


W.E.B. Du Bois


May 1, 1914

The General Federation of (white) Women’s Clubs sent a representative to the meeting of the National Association of Colored Women at Wilberforce, and the magazine of the General Federation published an excellent article concerning that meeting. On the strength of this the magazine has evidently obtained the mailing list of the colored organization and is sending this letter broadcast:

Only official organ of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs
New York, N. Y, Sept. 22, 1914.
My dear Madam:
Your name has been sent to me by Miss Zona Gale, formerly Chairman of Civics of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, who recently spoke before your Colored Women’s Convention, as being one of the prominent colored women in this country who would without doubt be interested in the General Federation Magazine, which is the official organ of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.
I am using this month an account of your Convention by Miss Zona Gale and I know you will be interested to see that in this important Magazine. May I not hope for your support in the way of at least one subscription to the Magazine? I would like to add this also: If one woman could be appointed in each club or organization to take subscriptions, she might find it profiable for herself or her organization to make a business of this matter. The price of the Magazine is $1.00 a year and we allow a discount of 25% on each subscription. Can we not join our forces in some way? We should be glad to give you publicity in the Magazine whenever you desire.
We are sending you a sample copy of our Biennial number.
Very cordially yours,  
Harriet Bishop Waters,  
General Federation Magazine.

This letter has received the following reply from The Crisis

Dear Madam:
I have your circular concerning a subscription to the General Federation Magazine.
Do you think it is fair to ask a colored person to subscribe to the official organ of an organization which discriminates against them so outrageously as yours does?
Very sincerely yours, etc.

We trust that similar letters will go from every colored woman approached. This is not a matter of hatred or complaint. It is a matter of self-respect. The General Federation of Women’s Clubs has insulted every black woman in America. They have deliberately and openly put a brand on her. Clubs composed of every race and nation in America are welcome to this federation except those of black women. Against this contemptible action taken by northern white women to placate the petty spite of southern white women colored women cannot and do not wish to take any action. They are quietly and effectively doing their own club work. But they refuse to forget the insult or condone it.

Above all they resent on the part of these narrow-minded white women the assumption that-the exclusion of colored women’s clubs from the General Federation has “helped” the colored organization. The stealing of my purse may make me careful and saving but I owe little gratitude to the thief, and at all events for the thief to demand gratitude is adding insult to injury.


For attribution, please cite this work as:
Du Bois, W.E.B. 1914. “A Correspondence.” The Crisis 9 (1): 30. https://www.dareyoufight.org/Volumes/09/01/correspondence.html.