The Negro Problem in the United States
November 28, 1919 — Oakland Chapter of the California Civic League, Hotel Oakland, Oakland CA
[She told her listeners that while the Negro people were not inferior as a race, they were subject to inferior opportunities and economic standards. She cited the statistics on the expenditures for the education of Negroes and whites in southern states; she cited the facts on economic discrimination and politics disenfranchisement. Lynching, she said, was the most abhorrent individual social phenomenon in the United States.]
Since 1890, when our statistics have their beginning, there have occurred in these United States 3,288 lynchings, 2580 of colored men and 50 of colored women. I would that I could leave the subject with these bare facts recording numbers, but I feel that we must face all of the barbarity of the situation in order to do our part in blotting this disgrace from our country’s record.
Do you wonder that a colored soldier from Georgia, which state had a record of 17 lynchings from 1919, back from overseas said “that a Negro soldier from Georgia felt safer in No Man’s Land than he ever felt before in his life,” or that a colored man once said that if he owned Hell and Texas he would prefer to rent out Texas and live in Hell, for he had these supporting facts that in Texas the first burning of life took place and that since 1890 Texas had lynched 338 human beings, standing second only to Georgia and Mississippi in this horrible eminence?
[She then invited her audience to join in the nationwide movement to halt lynching which had been launched at a national conference in New York in May.]
It is not alone for the Negro man and woman that I plead, but for the fair name of America that this terrible blot on our national escutcheon may be wiped away. Not our country right or wrong, but our country, may she be right, because we, her children, will her so. Let us then both work and fight to make and keep her right so that the flag that we love may truly wave
“O’er the land of the free
And the home of the brave.”
[At the end of her speech, Whitney was placed under arrest by Inspector Fenton Thompson of the Oakland Police Department for violating the California Criminal Syndicalism Law.]
Source: Native Daughter; The Story of Anita Whitney, by Al Richmond (San Francisco: Anita Whitney 75th Anniversary Committee) 1942, pp. 95-96.
Also: Anita Whitney, Louise Brandeis, and the First Amendment, by Haig Bosmajian (Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press), 2010, p. 83.