W.E.B. Du Bois


June 1, 1919

Southerners in Congress with the aid of the Attorney General are seeking some way to stop outspoken criticism by Negroes of the southern oligarchy. They are cloaking their indefensible tyranny by assertions that a new and wild radicalism among Negroes is creating a danger of race conflict. Some Negro journals are already hastening to cover, by asserting their loyalty and disowning the new radicals. This is dangerous business. The Crisis holds no brief for the: Messenger, the Negro World, and other periodicals, but they have a right to speak.

The Crisis does not believe in violence as a method of social reform—it does not believe in Revolution, but it does believe in free speech and freedom to think, and it is the duty of every Negro to see that the right of black men to think and write and criticize shall not be abridged and taken away under the guise of curbing revolution.

Vardaman’s Weekly, Jim Jam Jems, The Anderson, S. C., Tribune, the Jackson, Miss., Clarion, the Texas Harpoon, and a score of other dirty Southern sheets have been pouring their filth and lies against Negroes into the mails for ten, twenty, and thirty years, and not a whisper of protest has come from the United States Government, from the States, from the white Church, or from any noticeable number of decent white men. But when, now, there arises, as it is perfectly natural there should arise, a shrill and bitter attack on race prejudice by young Negroes—a new demand for new freedom, and even a tendency to join with extremists of all colors in a struggle for liberty. whom have we to thank but the lawless bourbon South? And if these voices are hushed by tyranny, will not the very stones cry out for a shamelessly oppressed people?


For attribution, please cite this work as:
Du Bois, W.E.B. 1919. “Radicals.” The Crisis 19 (2): 46. https://www.dareyoufight.org/Volumes/19/02/radicals.html.