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Comments on a minority a few person know they history of Africa prior to the middle of the 15th century when they African slave trade. Why renew them. Some would be skeptical when they hear what I am now about to say. The voice is that of Dr. Richard Lugar to coalesce with his idea of how to proceed and author of a number of volumes dealing with their clinic for a living as Dr. Logan comments from is it going on the early history of the Negro in Africa 700 then on certain aspects of his history in the United States. These comments were taken from a longer and having looked like you're looking to show his Harvard University Law Review turned out to Doctor of liberalisation which they attain rests primarily on the eye witness accounts of hostile travellers especially Ira. The three kingdoms which I particularly have in mind there were some smaller ones
in quite a logical order. I'm gonna like the new space I've got I'm Malet and song Hey. The media evil paying them of Gond did not occupy the same territory now occupied by the new state than I am but it is hallowed by many historians that people living in medieval Don I migrated to the present state to be gone and that therefore there was justification for that name. It is the considered judgment of many competent historians especially European historians that the stage of civilization attained by these medieval African kingdoms was at least comparable to that in Europe at the same time. Would you like to develop that little bit further. Yes for example they
had an ordered system of government usually with a king and a council notable. They had extensive credo cautiously so how to desert with Africa and with South Western Europe. Many made the pilgrimage to Mecca an indication of the fact that they were Muslims but they were nonetheless what would be called Negroes today and they had universities. And that comes to mind instantly the famous city of Timbuktu on The Big Bam of the Niger River on fortunate lay a French explorer by the name of Felix Dubois. Visitor Timbuktu in the early part of this century and found X-band evidences of the high degree of civilization as manifested by buildings and marketplaces of the people at
that time. It is extremely fortunate that Missy and Dubois made that trip because according to recent travelers practically nothing is left. Moreover one just asked Percy effect the slave trade was that in the beginning it was confined largely to the west coast of Africa. By that time Europeans penetrated into the interior. How to coming down from the North had conquered the indigenous rulers and their people and had destroyed many of their physical ever dancers of their civilization. Show that the writings of visitors from the 18th century on him were based rather on what they saw after the overthrow of those kingdoms than on of the type of
civilization which had existed from 700 down to about 15 91 when the Arabs told with a song Hey the last of those great medieval African kingdoms. Did the aboriginal tribes as we're inclined to think African tribes exist within these kingdoms are side by side with these kingdoms or were they the result of the destruction of those kingdoms. What happen was this. Donna was forced to stop and then its territories expanded to include a large estate Mally and then the kingdom of song Harry expanded beyond both Donna and malaise. There were of course many different try one of the most interesting books available to readers in the United States were written by the wife of a lot of the
Garda laudable God was a famous British administrator and she played a little God referred to in particular true of these groups. Lee Harvey and the Alamo came from what she called Negro land. The exact classification of tribes of them as now was difficult and there was of course some mingling of the tribe. Moreover. Some Semites coming down from North Africa contributed two of our considerable big weight to the development of trade and commerce and the intellectual life of these kingdoms. This is perfectly understandable because here in the United States we also have received contributions from people from many different lands by some I assume mean Arabs and Jews in this entire region.
That is correct. Was slavery in existence in Africa this during the course of these kingdoms a slave regime that it just did in Africa specifically in West Africa for many years going back a cautious wise recorded evidences available to the time of the Romans and during this period from 700 to the end of the 16th century slavery undeniably existed. The difference is how whether that slavery was a kind of domestic slavery it involved undoubtedly into tribal warfare under some degree. But obviously there was little slave trading to the Western world. Had African civil of the civilization we've been discussing had this civilization disappeared prior to the white man's entry into the slave trade.
Or was that white man in some degree responsible for the disappearance of the civilization to which we've been referring to leaving our obvious must bath first of all the principal responsibility for the virtual destruction of the kingdoms especially in the interior because by the time the white man arrived into the interior the Arabs had virtually destroyed civilization in the second place. We must not overlook the fact that Arabs engaged in the slave trade right down. One might say to the passionate dying so that any evaluation of the destruction of African civilization must take into consideration the handiwork of the Arabs as well as that of the Europeans. The balance of the. Contribution made by European nation and the
destruction of African civilization and customs is one of the most difficult problems confronting the contemporary African history. And that balance sheet of caution varies from place to place. Professor Logan would you like to comment at all upon the justification of slavery the development of the justification of the first so-called scientifically developed justification for slavery. Gold back to the great Greek philosopher Aristotle his justification was a beautiful vicious circle. He argued as follows. People are slaves because they are inferior. How does one know that they are inferior. Well they are slaves are they not.
Recently a student at Howard University made a study of the continuing in fact that rationalisation of Aristotle for justifying slavery in different parts of the world. Now the Romans felt it necessary to deny something of that rationalisation by Aristotle because the Roman was first of all had to try to prove they are equal with the Greeks and so it was that the Romans developed the thesis that all men are equal. But later when the Romans themselves began to enslave people from practically all parts of the known world including the Isles of Britain then the church founded child confronted with a problem and the church developed a beautiful rationalization which was
perhaps as good as not as Irish. For many you know I'm sure with the Biblical quotation they always need on all three. There is neither Jew nor Greek there is neither male nor female for you are one in the sight of God. I confess fact is a slight discussion but that is the sense of that famous Biblical quotation. The Church said this. Yes and that is what the Bible says. But what the Bible means is that all the persons are equal in the sight of God after they have gone to heaven and so the church itself became one of the largest owners of serfs of slavery during the early medieval period now. When the modern slave trade began from Africa in a lot of part of the
15th century the Latin Nation Spain and Portugal and protected. You the same justification the Catholic Church for Jews for many years on the part of certain nations especially and the novel began to participate in the slave trade. They used that same rationalization. We come now into the period in the United States prior to the American Civil War. The apologists for slavery the Biblical argument they use the economic argument namely that planters had to be allowed to have the leisure time to devote to art and government and in order to have that leisure time they need a slave to do the work in the fields for them.
But they finally found back upon the last line of defense namely that even if the constitutional argument when I look at the Biblical argument were not good. If the economic argument were not good because they were inferior. Whatever damage did want to have that they were in favor. Well they were slaves where they're not. And so we've come back to the old rationalization of stopping. Most history books deal with the Civil War and the reconstruction period and just sort of skip over the life of the Negro in this country until almost contemporary timeless. You have written a book Professor Logan the Negro in American life and thoughts the Nader 1877 in 1901. What about this period would you like to tell us something about it.
Thank you Mr. retched I think I. First became interested in this specific period when I wrote a paper for a professional author I am a slate changer at Harvard. The paper had little to do with it dealt with municipal corruption. But that seminar made it clear he won 25 years of all that here was a neglected period in American history. And so probably in nineteen hundred forty five I assigned my graduate students specific topics for example one such. The New York Times for that period I'm on the Chicago Tribune in another the Washington Star and great. I selected 15 representative newspapers. We search the leading national magazine which operators Atlanta Monthly North American Review the
forum and then not as surprising as it may seem. We made perhaps the first systematic study of the inaugural addresses and messages of the presidents of the United States. Of course we examine the debates in Congress and we look at the decisions of the United States Supreme Court. The net result of this combined investigation led to the subtitle The lowest point. The lowest point was justified because Congress did not pass a single law we know now. We did not an old man since a book was published in 1954. Congress did not pass a civil rights in behalf of negroes between 1875 and 1957. We know that the Supreme Court regularly ruled against what we today consider to
be the constitutional rights of Negroes. But what amazed students and I might say shocked Maine was the evidence the stereotype in leading national magazine when no one of the students first began to report on the anecdote on the cartoon and the stories on Harper's magazine frankly I did not believe that student and I had her bring copies of Harper's Magazine to class so that we could have this visual evidence. I think one might be safe in saying that there's hardly a newspaper in the Deep South today which lamp power could do it. As did Harper's Magazine in that period between 1877 and 1901 the North American Review
magazine was not as bad as was Harper's but the North American Review Journal right took a position in support of the South. Most of the contributors to the shop storage in Atlantic Monthly in its various departments and they wrote some of the most outlandish stories in the most atrocious dialect that one could possibly read a similar article lampooning was appeared in these Northern newspapers or presidents of the United States. Whether Republican or Democratic and there was only one Democratic president of cost President Lincoln pardon me if I was in Cleveland for his two time to wash their hands of the neg Well problem and said in substance this is a problem for the South to handle as President Hayes is had said when he visited the south
in 1870 when we are content to leave this problem in the hands of the intelligent white people of the South. And so the added to President members of Congress of the Supreme Court magazine newspaper editors and even preachers of the social gospel manifested a clear satisfaction with what we today call second class citizenship for Negroes. Professor Logan would you care to comment at all about the role of the Negro in. Well let's let's just say as a working man in this country without without considering organized labor just as the negro and labor yes many historians dealing with the period after the American Civil War
have focused attention primarily on the political aspects of reconstruction. But as Dr. William Edward Burkhardt Dubois pointed out in his book we construction in America the blunders made in the field of agriculture and in the field of labor placed handicaps upon workers from which they are just now beginning to recover. I remember that when I was in college 40 years ago. Students on this New England college thought it was a huge joke that Negroes believe that they were going to get 40 acres and a mule. On Jan. 4 St. Jean six to six. We have come now to realize that if the federal government or if the state government had distributed land in large numbers to the workers
they would have had a much better opportunity to establish the basis for a decent livelihood. Nine out of 10 negroes lived in the south. About the only kind of work that most of them knew how to do was work on the plantation and on the farm and show the failure to give them a lamb constituted a serious handicap for them in the early days of freedom. Maybe not in this period immediately after the Civil War achieved the strong position which it now had was the national labor union debate it from 1866 to 1869. What it should do with this new contingent of workers. Looking back we would say is that white workers should have welcomed an increment in the form of new workers even though they be black
in their struggle for better working conditions and higher salaries for working men. But prejudicial prevailed custom prevailed and so in 1869 the national labor union voted to help to organize. But in a separate union in 1869 and organize the colored national labor union this union like the National Labor Union disappeared largely after the crisis of eighteen hundred seventy three. Then emerge you know the Knights of Labor which some call a radical organization called its members like Ana kissed and in general succeeded in making it have the image of a subversive organisation. But the Knights of
Labor did make an attempt both in the south and in the law to have some of that unions include black and white workers for the year 1886 was a crucial year in the history of labor in this country and that year it was all going to the American Federation of labor which because of the Association of the Knights of Labor with the Haymarket Riot. I was able to assume the predominant position in labor in the United States but the leaders of the AFL available were mostly European who were interested in skilled workers. Now in 1886 most skilled workers were white men. We're not saying then that they were necessarily prejudiced against women or that they were necessarily prejudiced against Negro workers that was
their philosophy of the labor movement repeatedly expressed by Samuel Gompers and others by the latter part of the 19th century the Knights of Labor had gone out of existence. Perhaps because of this stronger position which the half of our land had its general convention in nineteen hundred authorized each national affiliate to determine its own membership policies. Most of them including such powerful organizations as the machinist and the railway Brotherhood would not permit Negroes to enter on any circumstances wanted to light the stevedores even in New Orleans. I had mixed what we did a call on integrated unions if you like the carpenter a paperhanger and the like in separate trade unions
but again at the beginning of this century. Labor itself was not strong politically or economically or as a pressure group. Today the outlook of the Negro workers is considerably brighter than it was at the beginning of this century. Well perhaps it would be better to say and be more accurate to say that until the recent sidewise movement in our economy grows had been making progress. But during this recession when there have been more competition for jobs negroes again have begun to feel a disproportionate loss of jobs. Now two of the principal reason for this improved outlook of worker whether he be in law than I. Unions are not the consequences. The
first and second world war. Perhaps I may need from the South Atlantic states particularly into the industrial cities of the no large number move from were all areas in the south into urban areas that conditions of living were generally better than they had been in their previous homes during World War 2 and I would perhaps anonyma this time particularly from the southwestern states up along the Pacific coast. Already in 1935 there had been organized a Congress of Industrial Organization the C I O for various reasons the CIO was more liberal in its membership policy than was the American Federation of Labor. Even at that time as they see I increased in number
and in power because of the large number of women workers and well workers. Off of our began to liberalize its policy on June 25th 1941 President Roosevelt issued his famous executive order 8 8 0 2 designed to put discrimination in the war on account of race color religion or national origin. Trade unions themselves began to take a more liberal attitude toward Negro workers. Then jumping down to a period of just about three years ago these two giant Federation the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations murdered one of their first objective was to increase membership from 15 million to 30 million. That object has not been achieved
largely because of adamant opposition on the part of white workers including some in the trade union in the southern states. On the whole however one may say that more workers today. Absolutely. And comparatively better jobs at higher salary is not opportunities for promotion than they had even before the outbreak of World War 2. And those who believe that the need will work I will continue to improve his position. Thank you Dr. Richard Logan. You have been listening to Dr. Richard Logan author and professor of history at Howard University. As he spoke about some aspects of the history of the Negro in Africa and the United States these comments were taken from a longer interview recorded at Howard University in 1958 by our producer E-W Richter in connection with the production of the last
citizen a series of programmes produced under a grant from the National Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. We invite you to join us again next week at the same time as we listen to Miss Polly Murray author or successful attorney and a penetrating observer of the Negro on the American scene. Comments on the minority was produced and recorded by a radio station WB A Purdue University. The preceding program was made available to this station by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the end Radio Network.
Comment on a minority
Rayford Logan
Producing Organization
Purdue University
WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features an interview with Dr. Rayford Logan, an African-American historian and Pan-African activist.
Series Description
This series explores minority issues in the United States in the mid-20th century.
Broadcast Date
Social Issues
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Guest: Logan, Rayford Whittingham, 1897-1982
Interviewer: Thompson, Ben
Producer: Richter, E.W.
Producing Organization: Purdue University
Producing Organization: WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-51-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:04
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Chicago: “Comment on a minority; Rayford Logan,” 1960-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 9, 2023,
MLA: “Comment on a minority; Rayford Logan.” 1960-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 9, 2023. <>.
APA: Comment on a minority; Rayford Logan. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from