Friday, August 12, 2016

Black Indian Biographies: George Henry White: Militant Congressman

Proudly Red and Black: Stories of African and Native Americans, William Loren Katz and Paula A. Franklin, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 1993.

George Henry White: Militant Congressman. 
When George White left congress in 1901, no African American would serve in congress for nearly thirty years.  Twenty men served between 1870 and 1901.  White was the only African American in congress during his second term.  As such he says re represented 9 million Americans.  White identified as a Black man, although he did have some Native American ancestry.  He did not shy away from speaking his mind.  Among other things he introduced legislation to outlaw lynching.  It failed.  He was elected through an alliance between Black Republicans and more liberal Democrats.  However, the majority of the Democrat Party despised the service of African Americans, and used racist threats and innuendo to drive Blacks out of Congress.  They also used Jim Crow and Black voting laws to make sure Blacks could not serve. 
White was from North Carolina.  However after his service he did not return, but lived in Washington, D.C. where he worked as a lawyer.  He was a contemporary of Booker T. Washington, but they had different philosophies about how to in interact and work for Black rights.  White was much more vocal.  This chapter says militant, but I don’t see him as being militant, just persistent. 
He is well noted for his farewell speech to congress, “This, Mr. Chairman, is perhaps the Negro's temporary farewell to the American Congress, but let me say . . .he will rise up some day and come again.  These parting words are in behalf of an outraged, heartbroken, bruised, and bleeding, but God-fearing people, faithful, industrious, loyal people—rising people, full of potential force.”

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