Advice to and a Response From an African American

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The following represents the type of advice that was all too prevalent coming from the white community in Texas during Reconstruction.  The first paragraph is from a newspaper and they are writing about the Negro in the Constitutional Convention of 1868-1869.

 

The Houston Telegraph Gives Advice to Negro Freedmen. . . . The Houston Telegraph in an article December 16, 1868, entitled "To The Colored Voters" said in part: "You are aware that a very large majority of the white people of Texas are opposed to allowing all of you to vote, because they do not think you are qualified to exercise this high priv­ilege. If the Convention should confer suffrage upon you it will be the very cause of its being taken away from you after _while, and we believe that it would deprive you of it forever."

C. W. Bryant Replies to The Telegraph. . . . A Negro delegate to the Constitutional Convention by the name of C. W. Bryant answered the article in the Houston Telegraph of December 16, 1868, in' the Weekly Austin Republican December 23, 1868. The title of Mr. Bryant's article was "Good Advice But We Decline To Take It". Mr. Bryant said: "The Houston Telegraph of the 16th. instant says to us as free men of color, not to ask the privilege of Suffrage yet and if our friends in the convention give this right to us we must reject it. Now Sir, I ask one thing: Why is it that the white people are crying daily, 'Let us vote'?  If a free man can live so well in a free country without a voice in the Government, why not try it yourself for awhile?

No Sir; give us the ballot and give it to us for all time, and then if you can outrun us in the race of life, all is well."

Bryant was a delegate from Harris County, in which the city of Houston was located.