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Spotlight on: 'George H. White' (U.S. Congressman)

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  • multiracialbookclub
    Congressman George H. White [Congressman George White] As 1900 was drawing to a close, Republicans in the US were in a celebratory mood. They had retained the
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 4, 2007
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      Congressman George H. White



      Congressman George White

      As 1900 was drawing to a close, Republicans
      in the US were in a celebratory mood.

      They had retained the White House by a wide
      margin and their plan for building up America
      as an industrial powerhouse at home and
      an expanding power abroad seemed
      to win the approval of the citizenry.

      But one member of the G.O.P. was not celebrating.

      Congressman George White, the sole remaining
      African-American in Congress, had earlier in
      the year come to the conclusion that as a
      result of racist voting regulations he
      stood no chance of being reelected.

      In 1900, it appeared to many
      African-Americans that the march toward
      equality had stalled, or even retreated.

      Although
      African-Americans could count
      among their number many doctors, teachers,
      ministers, and writers, most were mired
       in a world hostile to their ambitions.

      A concerted attempt to deprive them of the
      right to vote was underway in Southern states.

      Through poll taxes, literacy tests, and
      out-and-out intimidation
      African-Americans
      were kept out of the voting booths.

      In instances where they asserted their legal rights,
      African-Americans were subjected to a particularly
      brutal form of terrorism: the lynching.

      Over 2,500 incidences of Southern lynchings
      were reported in the years leading up
      to 1900, 107 in 1899 alone.

      To stem the tide of terror, George White introduced
      a bill to Congress making lynching a federal crime.

      White appealed to his fellow
      Congressmen's sense of justice saying,
      "To cheapen "negro" life is to cheapen all life.
      The first murder paves the way for the
      second until crime ceases to be abhorrent."

      White's bill was defeated soundly by a majority in
      Congress that still regarded the life of a black
      man to have less worth than that of a white man.

      In announcing his retirement from
      Congress, a defiant White declared
      to the House of Representatives ---  
      "This Mr. Chairman, is perhaps the negroes'
      temporary farewell to the American Congress.
      But let me say, phoenix-like, he will
      rise up someday and come again.
      These parting words are on behalf of an outraged,
      heartbroken, bruised and bleeding people,
      but God-fearing people, faithful, industrious,
      loyal people-rising people, full of potential..."

      Not for 28 years would another person
      of the
      African-American Ethnic group be
      elected to the United States Congress.

      SOURCE:
      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/1900/peopleevents/pande7.html 
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