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(1903) Capt. Charles Young Speaks At Stanford University

Through much of U.S. military history, officers serving in the armed forces have rarely commented publicly on social issues of the day. One exception to this tradition appears below, a speech by Capt. Charles Young, Ninth Cavalry, at Stanford University. In December, 1903 Young was the main speaker at the periodic campus student assembly which discussed, among other issues the recent diphtheria outbreak on campus and the deadheads, the college men who watched Stanfords athletic contests but who refused to provide financial support for these programs. Following his introduction by Stanford University President David Starr Jordan, Young described the attitudes and aspirations of younger African Americans at the time which he called the standards and ideals of new negrodom. Young expressly drew distinction between the views of that generation and those of Booker T. Washington who was then the leading African American spokesman. The brief speech appears below.

I desire, first of all, to thank you for the opportunity which has been given me to stand before you. I shall try to acquaint you with a few of the standards and ideals of new negrodom. At present I cannot but feel that the higher interest of my people are going netherward, and that the white people of the coming era are not an inch behind. When one part of the body is diseased, it reacts on the whole. We are part and parcel of the body politic of the United States, and to cure the disease you have offered amalgamation, deportation, bodily extermination, and industrialism.

With all that is claimed for industrialism and with due honor to Mr. Booker T. Washington, I fee that what is proposed for the negro in that direction will not do the work. When the black man has learned the industrial trades and seeks work, he runs into the unions, where he his told that no negroes need apply. The white employer would employ him but is afraid; he knows the negro is entitled to work but he cannot give it to him.

We are urged to give up our claims to higher education.