Booker, Dubois, Charles Penrose discussed on History That Doesn't Suck


The gospel of thrift. But the Boston riot, as it soon known, has done irreparable damage to Booker. The reality, or perhaps the myth of black Americans being united under his banner is gone. It's becoming clear to all that WEB Dubois isn't part of a small fringe opposed to the wizard of tuskegee's economic focused patient approach, but rather a part of a legitimate sizable break that wants to go faster. Harder. A pack described as radical or militant. And that break is only growing. In 1905, Dubois reaches out to select black leaders. The talented tenth, if you will. Who are disenchanted with Booker. Not Booker rights. He proposes a conference for organized determination and aggressive action on the part of men who believe in Negro freedom and growth. To oppose firmly, present methods of strangling honest criticism to organize intelligent and honest negroes and to support organs of news and public opinion. Including himself and other organizers, 29 men from 14 states answer this call. They meet the next month, from July 11th, through the 13th, 1905, at a lovely hotel on the Canadian side of Lake Erie. It's a busy few days, but most notably, they organize as a group. The Niagara movement, and craft a declaration of principles. This declaration does not dither. It makes several unequivocal demands, including full manhood suffrage, civil liberty for, and I quote, all American citizens, honest economic opportunity, the end of Jim Crow, education for all American children, enforcement of the constitution's reconstruction era amendments, and other basics of full American citizenship. In conclusion, the declaration expresses gratitude to our fellow men and from the abolitionists down. And finally, the document contains a list of duties they willingly take upon themselves. Let's take this in fully. Giving us a chance to absorb it. And while we are demanding, and ought to demand and will continue to demand the rights enumerated above, God forbid that we should ever forget to urge corresponding duties upon our people. The duty to vote, the duty to respect the rights of others, the duty to work, the duty to obey the laws, the duty to be clean and orderly. The duty to send our children to school, the duty to respect ourselves even as we respect others, this statement complaint and prayer, we submit to the American people and all mighty God. Rights and duties. Clearly, these are thoughtful men who understand the full meaning of citizenship in a republic. These Niagara movement leaders never name Booker. Still, this declaration of principles is something of a declaration of war on him. He knows it, and with a sincere conviction that the far more aggressive Niagara movement isn't helpful, but damaging. He opposes it. Ardently. But his opposition doesn't stop its initial growth, particularly mid the injustices of next year. It's late in the evening, August 13th, 1906. Well, it's quiet here in Brownsville, Texas, and what a welcome change that is. See, it's only been a few weeks since the U.S. Army garrisoned the 25th infantry regiment in this southern Texas, heavily Hispanic, U.S. Mexican border town of 6000. But that's upset many of the town's white citizens because the 25th is an African American regiment. And now, at least three men in the regiment, two of whom are known to be model soldiers. Have reported false accusations, assault, or harassment from locals and customs officers. In fact, last night brought new, unsubstantiated accusations that a soldier attacked a white woman. Yet, all is quiet now, thanks to mayor Frederick comb and major Charles Penrose imposing a curfew. Good call. Too bad that won't hold. Suddenly, pistol shots ring out in the dark of night. Mounted police rushed toward the sound. They returned fire. Guns flash is an officer and his horse are both hit. The attackers continue, then advance on a local bar that strictly enforces the Jim Crow segregation color line. The terrified bar to keep tries to lock up, but it's too late. He's hit and eyes. Hearing the gunshots, fort Brown sergeant of the guard calls them into arms. As the 25th musters, they're sure as the townspeople attacking the fort. Yet, no salt cons as gunfire beyond fort walls dies out. The next morning, please return to the scene of the attack. They find Springfield 1903 rifle cartridges. The very same model used by the men of the 25th. Then 14 townspeople come forward as witnesses, swearing that The Killers were black troops. But the men of the 25th all claimed not to have participated in or know anything about the attack. U.S. Army concludes, it's a conspiracy that soldiers in the know are covering for the guilty. The matter rises through the ranks, past Secretary of War, William Howard Taft, all the way to president Theodore Roosevelt. The commander in chief discharges all men of the 25th regiment stationed at fort Brown that night. 167 men in total. Without honor. This without honor discharging rages many Americans. Particularly black Americans, they feel betrayed. How could teddy, the rough rider who fought beside black troops in the Spanish-American War, whose appointed African Americans to office and broke bread with Booker T. Washington. Issue such a hasty, sweeping draconian punishment. Meanwhile, further investigations cast doubt on the regiments assumed guilt. Major Charles Penrose not only stands by his men's integrity, but as a seasoned officer who knows his firearms is sure some shots fired didn't even come from Springfield rifles. He testifies to this during Senate hearings. The first two shots I heard were undoubtedly pistols, sir. And I think they were fired with black powder. Further, when called the arms all the men were accounted for. It's hard to imagine they sprinted through town and snuck into the fort on detected. Finally, when the guns were inspected in the morning, none showed evidence of use. Frankly, it sounds like a setup. In 1972, future president Richard Nixon will pardon the 25th regiments convicted soldiers. To say nothing of lost careers, only two will be alive to hear the news. But that's over half a century from now. Here, in 1906, black Americans have just lost their nascent Abe Lincoln like love of teddy. This shakes their faith in his adviser Booker T. Washington too. Though Booker voices his frustrations within the administration, he doesn't do so publicly and his ideological opponents in the black community hold that against him. We're still for Booker, the Brownsville affair, as this incident comes to be known, isn't the only large scale tragic event for black Americans in 1906. Only a month later, WEB Dubois town of residence for almost a decade. Atlanta, Georgia. Becomes ground zero for horrific, gruesome racial violence, known as a race riot. Tensions have been growing for years between Atlanta's black and white communities. The

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