Colored Conventions Project Digital Records

Proceedings of the Colored State Convention assembled in St. Paul's A. M. E. Church, Lexington, Ky., November 26.


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Proceedings of the Colored State Convention assembled in St. Paul's A. M. E. Church, Lexington, Ky., November 26.


Pamphlet (26 p.)









For a Convention of Colored Citizens of Kentucky.


Fellow Citizens:- When a free people, living in a bodypolitie, feel that the laws are unjustly administered to them; that discriminations are openly made; that various subterfuges and legal technicalities are constantly used to deprive them of the enjoyment of those rights and immunities belonging to the humblest citizen; when the courts become no refuge for the outraged, and when a sentiment is not found sufficient to do them justice; it becomes their bounden duty to protest against such a state of affairs. To do less than vigorously and earnestly enter our protest, is to cringe like hounds before masters, and to show that we are not fit for freedom. We are robbed by some of the railroad companies who take our first class fares and then we are driven into smoking cars, and, if we demur, are cursed and roughly handled. Our women have been beaten by brutal brakesmen, and, in many cases, left to ride on platforms at the risk of life and limb.

We are tried in courts controlled entirely by white men, and no colored man sits on a Kentucky jury. This seems no mere accident, but a determined effort to exclude us from fair trials and put us at the mercy of our enemies, from the judge down to the vilest suborned witness.


For a Convention of Colored Citizens of Kentucky.

Headquarters of Executive Committee of the State

Convention of Colored Citizens of Kentucky,

Louisville, KY., October 15, 1885 }

Fellow Citizens:—When a free people, living in a body-politic, feel that the laws are unjustly administered to them; that discriminations are openly make; that various subterfuges and legal technicalities are constantly used to deprive them of the enjoyment of those rights and immunities belonging to the humblest citizen; when the courts become no refuge for the outraged, and when a sentiment is not found sufficient to do them justice; it becomes their bounden duty to protest against such a state of affairs. To do less than vigorously and earnestly enter our protest, is to cringe like hounds before masters, and to show that we are not fit for freedom. We are robbed by some of the railroad companion who take our first-class fares and then we are driven into smoking cars, and, if we demur, are cursed and roughly handled. Our women have been beaten by brutal brakemen, and, in many cases, left to ride on platforms at the risk of life and limb.

We are tried in courts controlled entirely by white men, and no colored man sits on a Kentucky jury. This seems no mere accident, but a determined effort to exclude us from fair trials and put us at the mercy of our enemies, from the judge down to the vilest suborned witness.


When charged with grave offenses, the jail is mobbed, and the accused taken out and hanged, and out of the hundreds of such cases since the war, not a single high-handed murderer has been ever brought before a court to answer. Colored men have been deliberately murdered, and few if any murderers have been punished by the law; indecent haste to free the criminal in such cases has made the trial a farce too ridiculous to be called more than a puppet show.

The penitentiary is full of our race who are sent there by wicked and malicious persecutions, and unjust sentences dealt out by judges who deem a colored criminal fit only for the severest and longest sentences for trivial offenses.

In all departments of the State we are systematically deprived of recognition except in menial positions. In our metropolitan city, and even cities of lesser note, we are not considered in the appointments in fire companies, police force, notary publics, etc. In fact, we are the ruled class and have no share in the government.

While grateful for much done in the line of school advantages, yet no system in this enlightened day is complete without normal schools. These the colored people have not, while every other ex-slave State has made provisions for normal training.

Recognizing the progressive spirit in our State and with a desire to act for the good of the 271,481 colored citizens of Kentucky. We do hereby, after due deliberation and by the advice of leading men among us, call a convention to meet in the city of Lexington, on the 26th day of November, 1885, to discuss these and other matters pertaining to the welfare of the race, that after due deliberation a respectful petition shall be laid before the Legislature when assembled.

To further carry out these provisions, it is hereby ordered that the colored citizens in each county meet at the county site in mass meeting, at 12 M., November 19th, and elect the number of delegates set opposite the county name.

The apportionment is on the following basis:

Not less than one delegate from each county; three delegates for every 1,000 colored citizens and one additional for every fractional thousand over five hundred, taken from the census of 1880.


Adair ..... 6

Allen ..... 3

Anderson ..... 3

Ballard ..... 4

Barren ..... 13

Bath ..... 6

Bell ..... 1

Boone ..... 3

Bourbon ..... 21

Boyd ..... 1

Boyle ..... 13

Bracken ..... 1

Breathitt ..... 1

Breckenridge ..... 6

Bullitt ..... 3

Butler ..... 1

Caldwell ..... 6

Calloway ..... 3

Campbell ..... 1

Carroll .....1

Carter ..... 1

Casey ..... 1

Christian ..... 43

Clark ..... 12

Clay ..... 1

Clinton ..... 1

Crittenden ..... 3

Cumberland ..... 4

Daviess ..... 13

Edmonson ..... 1

Elliott ..... 1

Estill .....1

Fayette ..... 37

Fleming ..... 4

Floyd .....1

Franklin ..... 13

Fulton ..... 4

Gallatin ..... 1

Garrard ..... 10

Larue ..... 3

Laurel ..... 1

Lawrence ..... 1

Lee ..... 1

Leslie ..... 1

Letcher ..... 1

Lewis ..... 1

Lincoln ..... 10

Livingston ..... 3

Logan ..... 21

Lyon ..... 3

McCracken .....12

McLean .....1

Madison ..... 21

Magoffin ..... 1

Marion ..... 10

Marshall ..... 1

Martin .....1

Mason ..... 12

Meade ..... 3

Menifee ..... 1

Mercer ..... 9

Metcalfe ..... 3

Monroe ..... 1

Montgomery ..... 10

Morgan ..... 1

Muhlenberg ..... 6

Nelson ..... 13

Nicholas ..... 4

Ohio ..... 3

Oldham ..... 6

Owen ..... 4

Owsley ..... 1

Pendleton ..... 1

Perry ..... 1

Pike ..... 1

Powell ..... 1

Pulaski ..... 3

Robertson ..... 1


Grant ..... 1

Graves ..... 7

Grayson ..... 1

Green ..... 6

Greenup ..... 1

Hancock ..... 1

Hardin ..... 9

Harlan ..... 1

Harrison ..... 7

Hart ..... 7

Henderson ..... 22

Henry ..... 7

Hickman ..... 4

Hopkins ..... 7

Jackson ..... 1

Jefferson ..... 76

Jessamine ..... 12

Johnson ..... 1

Kenton ..... 7

Knox ..... 1

Rockcastle ..... 1

Rowan ..... 1

Russell ..... 1

Scott ..... 15

Shelby ..... 16

Simpson ..... 7

Spencer ..... 4

Taylor ..... 4

Todd ..... 19

Trigg ..... 12

Trimble ..... 1

Union ..... 9

Warren ..... 22

Washington ..... 6

Wayne ..... 1

Webster ..... 4

Whitley ..... 1

Wolfe ..... 1

Woodford ..... 16

WM. J. SIMMONS, Chairman.

WM. H. STEWARD, Secretary.











Mr. Berry offered the following resolution, viz.:

Resolved, That 2,000 copies of the speech of Dr. Simmons, and other documents accompanying the same, be printed. Which was adopted.



The delegates to the Colored State Convention assembled in St. Paul's A. M. E. Church, Lexington, Ky., November 26.

The convention was called to order by Dr. Wm. J. Simmons, chairman of the State Executive Committee.

The choir of the church very effectually rendered, "My County, 'tis of thee."

Prayer was offered by Rev. Eugene Evans, of Bowling Green.

The call of the Executive Committee was read by the secretary of the committee.

Nominations for temporary chairman were announced in order, when Messrs. Jno. Bate, of Danville, and Wm. H. Steward, of Louisville, were placed in nomination, which resulted in the choice of Wm. H. Steward.

On motion of Mr. Bate it was made unanimous.

J. S. Hathaway, of Berea, was elected temporary secretary.

Messrs. G. W. Gentry, S. E. Smith and S P. Young were appointed as a committee to escort the temporary president-elect to the chair; Messrs. D. A. Walker, R. Varien and T. C. Buford to escort the temporary secretary to his position.

A committee of one from each county was appointed on Credentials, Resolutions, Permanent Organization and Vice-Presidents.

Adjourned to meet at 4 o'clock.


The convention re-assembled with Wm. H. Steward in the chair.

Prayer was offered by Rev. D. Jones, of Winchester.

The following telegram was read:



Greeting.- In union there is strength. Acquit yourselves like men. Cry aloud and spare not.

Lucy W. Smith.

Mary V. Cook.


Resolutions adopted at the several county meetings were read and referred to the Committee on Resolutions.

Upon request C. H. Parrish, of Louisville, addressed the convention.

The Committee on Credentials reported representatives from thirty-five counties in attendance.

The Committee on Permanent Organization submitted their report, and after a lengthy discussion the following officers were elected:

Wm. J. Simmons, D. D., Louisville, President.

John Bate, Danville, Vice-President.

J. S. Hathaway, Berea, Secretary.

E. Evans, Bowling Green, Assistant Secretary.

Messrs. H. Scroggins and D. Jones were appointed a committee to escort the officers elect to their respective positions, who returned thanks for the honors conferred.

The convention adjourned until 9 o'clock A. M., Friday.


The convention was called to order with Dr. Wm. J. Simmons in the chair.

Prayer was offered by Rev. D. A. Gaddie.

A committee was appointed to select the members of the Executive Committee.

There were several resolutions, relative to raising moneys to meet the expenses of the Executive Committee, adopted.

J. C. Strange, of Bowling Green, was appointed Sergeant-at-Arms.

The following members of the State Executive Committee were then chosen:

First District—Wm. H. McRidley, Cadiz.

Second District—E. W. Glass, Hopkinsville.

Third District—J. C. Strange, Bowling Green.

Fourth District—G. W. Boling, Elizabethtown.

Fifth District—Wm. J. Simmons, Louisville.

Sixth District—J. W. Hawkins, Newport.

Seventh District—Henry Scroggins, Lexington.


Eighth District—A. W. Titus, Berea.

Ninth District—I. H. Natas, Maysville.

Tenth District—J. F. Hummons, Winchester.

Eleventh District—W. H. Mason, Campbellsville.

State at Large—Wm. H. Steward, Louisville; Wm. H. Ward, Louisville; J. C. Jackson, Lexington; G. W. Gentry, Stanford.

The report of the Committee on Resolutions was read by H. S. Henderson, as follows:

Petition of the Colored Citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, through the State Convention, held at Lexington, Ky., November 26, 1885.

We, the representatives of the 271,481 negroes of Kentucky, in convention assembled, at Lexington, Ky., this 26th day of November, 1885, feeling that many of the rights and privileges that should be common to all the citizens of Kentucky are systematically and persistently denied us, and feeling that we are seriously crippled and hindered from making the progress so ardently desired, by the partial and unjust ministrations of the laws of the Commonwealth; therefore, be it resolved, that

While we feel grateful for the improved public sentiment, as evinced in the raising of the school per capita from 40 cents to $1.65, and for the encouragement given to the material and educational development of our race; but as we are still denied many of the rights accorded to other citizens, and knowing that the right of petition is vested in all citizens by National and State Constitutions, and that in the exercise thereof we respectfully petition the Legislature of Kentucky to pass such laws as will remove these grievances.


We respectfully request that such civil rights laws be enacted as will give the humblest citizen the fullest enjoyment of every privilege guaranteed by the Constitution, and which will prevent their denial and abridgement by various subterfuges and technicalities. We do not ask for social rights, but we earnestly protest against the civil discriminations practiced in this State against our people under semblance of law. We petition that


the laws be so changed as to allow the organization of negro militia companies upon the same basis and for the same purposes as those already organized, and that the charters of the several cities which discriminate against our people be so amended as to guarantee to every citizen the same privileges and immunities.


As no educational system is complete without the establishment of normal schools and such other educational facilities as will best contribute to the greatest development of a people of the State, we request that Normal and Agricultural and Mechanical, and other schools be established for our people, with the same facilities as are accorded to other schools, or our students admitted to those already established. We also request the abolition of the law which discriminates in the raising of funds for the erection of school-houses, so that all may be erected out of a common fund, as the educational system, is supported out of a common fund. We are in favor of a compulsory education, and request the passage of such a law, believing it will be beneficial to all the citizens of this State.


That we deprecate the administration of the laws of this State that debar competent negroes from sitting upon juries, and the appointment of men on juries who are inimical to the negro, thus making it utterly impossible to obtain a fair and impartial trial. And we hereby petition the Legislature to come to our relief by taking some step to compel judges, commissioners and sheriffs to include the names of competent negroes in the panel for juries, so that laws may be equi-tably administered.

That we pray the Legislature to pass such stringent laws as will hereafter forever prevent mobs from assembling, and, in defiance of all law, moral or civil, drag men from the hands of justice, and mete out summary punishment without regard to law.

That inasmuch as this is a crying disgrace, and a blot upon the escutcheon of Kentucky, a violation of the laws of Almighty God, we call upon all, especially Christians, to cry aloud against


this great evil—a sore upon the body politic and a disgrace to the nineteenth century and the civilization of the age; and we hereby call upon all good citizens to meet force by force and repel those violators of peace.


We protest against the discriminations practiced against our people by the railroads in this State. The discriminations are not only unjust, but cruel, and have the effect of retarding our progress. They do no good, but blunt the finer feelings and keener sensibilities of our people, and prevent the fullest development of true manhood. We are charged first-class fare and refused first-class accommodations, and in many cases our mothers, wives and daughters are forced to ride in smoking-cars, and sometimes on the platform, with no apparent redress. We request the passage of such laws as will prevent such discriminations.

We respectfully lay these resolutions, setting forth our grievances before you, and ask that suitable opportunity be given to us to be heard on them.

WM. J. SIMMONS, Chairman,

Fifth Congressional District.

Committee—First Congressional District, Wm. H. McRidley; Second Congressional District, E. W. Glass; Third Congressional District, J. C. Strange; Fourth Congressional District, G. W. Bowling; Sixth Congressional District, J. W. Hawkins; Seventh Congressional District, Henry Scroggins; Eighth Congressional District, A. W. Titus; Ninth Congressional District, I. H. Natas; Tenth Congressional District, J. F. Hummons; Eleventh Congressional District, W. H. Mason.

State at large, Wm. H. Steward, J. C. Jackson, G. W. Gentry, A. C. Brent, R. Varien, E. Evans, C. H. Parrish, D. Jones and Wm. H. Ward.

By common consent, the opening address was made by the President of the Convention, Dr. Wm. J. Simmons, at the conclusion of which the convention adjourned until 3 o'clock.



The convention re-assembled with President Simmons in the chair.

Rev. D. Jones offered prayer.

The minutes were read and approved.

The discussion was then resumed on the report of the Committee on Resolutions. The speeches were limited to five minutes, but several brilliant addresses were made during the discussion, after which they were adopted.

The address to the colored people was reported from the same Committee by J. S. Hathaway and unanimously adopted as follows:

To the Colored People of Kentucky: We, your delegates in convention assembled, have pleasure in congratulating you upon the progress you have made in the pursuit of those things which commend you to the world. Your progress is the more gratifying when it is remembered under what circumstances it has been achieved. When you came into possession of freedom you were intellectually, as well as physically, deformed by centuries of unjust and cruel servitude. Your treatment and teaching have been such as would generally convey the idea that the color of the man determined his superiority or inferiority. You had not where to lay your heads. You were without food, and utterly unappreciated as to business or its management.

Such were the unfavorable conditions under which you, a few years ago, began your course as citizens. The hand of Providence has led you in ways you knew not of, and though opposed by foes without and often betrayed by friends within, to-day you make a showing that has no parallel in history. Though industry and economy you have yearly added to your savings, and thus come into possession of homes and other property. In the State of Kentucky your taxable property amounts to nearly $4,000,000. Your progress in education, of which you were once claimed to be incapable, is most marked and under the limited facilities of the past far exceeded the expectation of your friends; then with new methods, live teachers and greater opportunities, you will be able to present a


record wonderful in its results, but we are not yet in possession of all our rights as citizens. Every day sees us at the caprice of a cruel and senseless prejudice, deprived of rights which are clearly ours. Against this great injustice we earnestly protest. In the resolutions we herewith send forth our reasonable claims are stated, and we submit to the intelligence of the land that they are just. Nor do we labor without hope ; justice must triumph sooner or later, and we are persuaded that the day is not far hence when you will more fully clothed with the rights guaranteed you by the great Constitution, for there is a great and constantly growing sentiment based upon truth, which is disposed to do the right. The sentiment is found among the best and right thinking citizens and must prevail. But the day for which you so anxiously long, the day in which you shall stand clothed in the full garment of citizenship, may be hastened by a positive and prudent course on your part. In the name of wisdom and true manhood, see your rights, and content yourself with nothing else. Again, a cause worthy the efforts of any people is the upbuilding and maintenance of a high and noble character.

Education is most important factor in the solution of the problem that is before you. It should not be despised or treated with indifference, but encouraged and acquired to the greatest extent possible. Wealth, too, has its bearing, which is by no means insignificant. The saying that wealth demands respect is true. Efforts to accumulate property are heartily commended. This must be done by rigorous and incessant economy. A people given to temperance have an advantage over those given to prodigality, for temperance conducts to industry and economy.

Thus it will be seen that to some extent the working out of your salvation is committed into your own hand. Let no failure of its accomplishment be justly attributed to a lack of consideration on your part. In full realization of the trying situation that confronts you, we earnestly submit to you the words of David to his son Solomon : "Be strong and of good courage; fear not nor be dismayed ; arise and be doing, and the Lord be with thee."

The Committee on Resolutions reported the following which were adopted :


Resolved, That we indorse the proposed National legislation to aid the common school system of the United States.

Resolved, That the following telegram of the condolence be sent:

To Mrs. Thomas A. Hendricks, Indianapolis, Ind.:

The Convention of Colored men of Kentucky, now assembled, tender their unfeigned sympathies to you in this, your hour of affliction, in the death of your distinguished husband, the Vice-President of the United States.

Messrs. Wm. H. Steward, A. C. Brent and W. M. Jamison were appointed to send the telegram to Mrs. Hendricks.

The following committee was appointed to present the resolutions to the Legislature of Kentucky: Wm. J. Simmons, chair-man; W. H. McRidley, E. W. Glass, J. C. Strange, G. W. Bolling, J. W. Hawkings, Henry Seroggins, A. W. Titus, I. H. Natas, J. F Hummons, W. H. Mason, Wm. H. Steward, W. H. Ward, G. W. Gentry, J. C. Jackson, A. C. Brent, R. Varien, E. Evans, C. H. Parrish and D. Jones.

Resolutions thanking the officers for the fair and impartial discharge of their duties, to the citizens of Lexington for hospitality and entertainment, and to the press for courtesies, were adopted.

After a general interchange of opinions the convention adjourned sine die.


First Day, January 26, 1886.

Pursuant to the call of the committee, through its officers, the following members of the committee met in Frankfort, in the hall of the Young Men's Club, viz:

Fifth District, Wm. J. Simmons, Chairman ; First District, Wm. H. McRidley ; Third District, J. C. Strange ; Seventh District, Henry Scroggins ; Eighth District, A. W. Titus ; Ninth District, I. H. Natas ; Eleventh District, Wm. H. Mason ; State at Large J. C. Jackson, R. Varian, G. W. Gentry, E. Evans, A. C. Brent, C. H. Parrish, Daniel Jones.

The following gentlemen of the Frankfort Committee were also present, and attended all the sessions: Henry Samuels, Wm. H. Mayo, L. T. Clark, Jesse Hocker, W. B. Luckett, J. W. Woolfolk, R. H. C. Mitchell, Jno. Thomas, Sr.


Visitors who participated in the deliberations, and attended all the sessions : J. W. West, S. E. Smith, R. E. Hathaway, C. W. Hines, A. B. Hawkins, David Snowden, Robert W. Todd.

After an exchange of views, the chairman stated all the plans he had made, which were approved.

Adjourned to meet in the Hall of the Representatives, which had been granted them by that body.

The committee then visited the public school building.

At night the meeting was called to order by the Chairman, Dr. Wm. J. Simmons, and the officers were then installed in their places.

President—W. H. Mayo, Frankfort, Ky.

Secretary—A. C. Brent, Hopkinsville.

Vice-presidents—First District, Rev. W. H. McRidley and R. Watkins ; Second, R. Varien and E. W. Glass ; Third, J. C. Strange and E. Evans ; Fourth, G. W. Bolling, and J. W. Wrightson ; Fifth, Wm. H. Steward and C. H. Parrish ; Sixth, J. W. Hawkins and John W. Hillman ; Seventh, Henry Scroggins and Samuel Nelson ; Eighth, A. W. Titus and John W. Bate ; Ninth, I. H. Natas and L. D. Henderson ; Tenth, D. A. Walker and J. F. Hummons ; Eleventh, W. H. Mason and H. Shirley.

Vice-presidents at large—J. W. Woolfolk, James Wilson, J. W. West, J. S. Hathaway, L. T. Clark, C. H. Brooks, S. E. Wharton, J. K. Mason, T. C. Buford, George A. Benton, Henry Samuels, C. W. Hines, O. Durrett.

List of lady vice-presidents—Mesdames Amanda V. Nelson, Thos. Wilson, Lucian Smith, Wm. H. Mayo, John B. Akens, M. B. Wallace ; Misses Lucy W. Smith, M. V. Cooke, Addie Greenup, Mary E. Britton, Sarah L. Smith.

The following programme was then carried out:


Prayer by Rev. R. H. C. Mitchell.


Addresses—G. W. Gentry, Rev. D. Jones, Henry Scroggins, C. H. Parrish, W. J. Simmons and E. Evans.

The House was packed with the colored citizens of Frankfort and different parts of the State. Large numbers of the members of the Legislature were present and enjoyed the meeting.



At 1 o'clock the delegation proceeded from the reading-room, "arm in arm," headed by the chairman, and called on Gov. J. Proctor Knott. The chairman requested Rev. Eugene Evans to make his address to the Governor, which was neatly done, the Governor replying in a strong, earnest sympathetic speech.

Next, the delegation visited Hon. J. D. Pickett, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and J. C. Jackson was called on for the address. This was short, sensible and touching. Prof. Pickett made a reply, promising to do all in his power to help the State.

The Committee on Grievances and Propositions and the Joint Committee of both Houses, with Hon. A. S. Berry in the chair, received the committee with distinguished attention.

The petition, as read and printed in the Senate, was read, and Dr. Wm. J. Simmons spoke on behalf of the committee and the 271,481 colored citizens represented, followed by a brief talk from C.H. Parrish, A. W. Titus, E. Evans, R. H. C. Mitchell, J. C. Strange and S. E. Smith, after which the committee, through its chairman, thanked the committees for so patient a hearing. The speech of Dr. Simmons will be printed in full.

The Executive Committee then held a meeting and voted thanks:

1. To the chairman, for his efficient labors in the accomplishment of the plans.

2. To the members of the reading-room for the use of their hall.

3. To the citizens for their unbounded hospitality, and

4. That the chairman of the committee be and is empowered to secure the moneys from all parties holding it, and secure the minutes.

Rev. Eugene Evans then led in prayer and adjournment followed.




Chairman of the Committee of Colored Citizens, appointed by the State Convention of the Colored Citizens recently held in Lexington, Ky., to lay before the State Legislature the grievances of the colored citizens.


Gentlemen of the Committee of the State Senate on Propositions and Grievances and the Joint Committee on Education:

We thank you for the very kind manner in which you have paved the way to this patient and careful hearing. Such an auspicious opening argues a most successful completion of the errand on which we have come. In order that you may feel as we do, we ask you to put yourselves in our places, and after we are through, then regaining your own vantage ground, look back on your struggling neighbors. Only the history of the two races in our beautiful country could give birth to such a scene as this. That we, born Americans, finding distinctions in law, should be driven to appeal to a portion of the same body-politic for rights and equalities; and though American, sovereigns ourselves, because too weak, bend the suppliant knee, craving that we might be given that which appears rightly ours without contest. We feel some pride, and are consequently jealous of the good name of the State and of the United States. We also feel humiliated that a foreigner who has never felled a tree, built a cabin, or laid a line of railway, seems more welcome to this shore, and is accorded every facility for himself and children to make the most of themselves, even before naturalization; which we, seeing them happy in a new found asylum, and knowing you from our youth up—our mothers washed your linen


and nursed you, our fathers made the soil feed you, and kept the fire burning in your grate - are compelled to beg, in the zenith hour of 1886, your favors. Two generations are before you; the one born in the cradle of slavery, the other born in the cradle of liberty; the one saw the light 'mid the discussions of your fathers; the other mingled their infants voice with the retreating sound of the cannon. We belong to the South - the "New South." Your own progress in the questions of human liberty, and our own thirst for draughts from higher fountains, and, indeed, in obedience to the demands of our constituents, we venture to lay before you in a manly, honorable way the complaints of 271,481 as true-hearted Kentuckians as ever came from the loins of the bravest, truest, and most honored of women, sired by the most distinguished fathers. As Kentuckians we meet you with the feelings and aspirations common and peculiar to those born and surrounded by the greatness of your history, the fertility of your soil, the nobility of your men and the beauty of your women. We come, plain of speech, in order to prove that we are men of judgment, meeting men who are really desirous of knowing our wants. We are still more satisfied that we can but gain your admiration, and only offend by acting the part of a hypocrite or dealing in doubtful expressions. We shall not stand on the order of our presentation of each matter. First, then, we come to ask you to grant by legislative enactment all our fill and complete "civil rights." If we ask less we would not be true to ourselves and doubly false to those who sent us. And though we ask in mild, gentlemanly language, we are nevertheless very much in earnest. What is "civil rights?" We do not, as a lawyer would, give the exact forms of law, but we gather from State laws passed by other Legislatures that it means to protect the citizen in the full enjoyment of every public place opened by license, protected by police and privileged by pay. In other words, when a place is opened for the public, the whole public should be admitted for the price demanded to that same class of accommodations and to the same price demanded to that same class of accommodations and to the same general treatment. Let us define "social rights,' as we understand it, so that we may not be misunderstood. "social rights' is a misnomer; there are "social priv-


ileges," but those are gained by personal companionship, based on a harmony of interest and opinion, which is not purchased by a price, while "civil rights' include protection by civil law, and is gained by paying the demand at the theater door, the hotel desk and the railroad ticket office. In each case a general price is paid, and for extra privileges you pay extra - as the "parquet," "extra meals" and a "parlor car." Against such latter distinctions we make no objections; we object to the "pit" in the theater, the "smoking-car" on the railroad, and either total rejection or kitchen fare, when we pay the price demanded, simply because we are colored. No matter how decent and refined, we meet these difficulties. This country is based on the principle of letting a man have what he can pay for. We think that prejudice should not usurp law; that justice should be done though the heavens fall. We ask for these Chinese walls to be taken down. We do not intrude ourselves into any one's house; we do not wish to do it. There social equality reigns, and that is a man's castle. The streets are common to all, bridges pay toll, but it takes money from all who use it, alike, or they all go free. Says Walker in his American law, p. 187; "Everything in the shape of monopolies is prohibited by the spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution." We ask that no monopoly be allowed and thereby shut us out. Governor Hoadly, in his last message to the Ohio Legislature, said: "Equal rights are enjoyed by all our citizens except those possessing a visible admixture of African blood. I recommend the repeal of all laws discriminating between citizens on account of color. These are both wrong and oppressive." In company with this distinguished gentleman we recommend the same.


We sincerely thank the Legislature and the citizens of the State for kind favors touching our school privileges, and trust this Legislature will continue the good work. We are not unmindful of the good spirit shown, and perhaps this emboldens us to petition you again. Indeed the growing spirit of fair play and good will is here. We look to you, the new blood of a new generation, for modifications and innovations. We are moving



with the tide. " We are heirs of all the ages." Extend the facilities for school children, treating all like, and we shall be both gratified and satisfied. We well know that your constituents do not move as fast as you desire, and that we have outgrown our Constitution n till seams begin to rip. Our convention passed resolutions favoring a new Constitution. Count on us to aid you. We would call your attention to terms used in speaking of the school funds, made necessary by the division of the funds. They are " White School Fund," " Colored School Fund'" " Negro School Fund," etc. Now to the white people this becomes a pleasant distinction, but to us, a badge of inferiority.. Again, the funds are neither" white," " colored," nor " negro," and as a title, is to say the least, not grammatical. Jew, Irish, Dutch, all become distasteful when used so as to call up unpleasant race distinctions. We ask therefore that the law creating separate school funds be abolished, and one general fund created. This will take away the " Colored School Deficiency Fund," always reported to our discredit in the Auditor's reports. We respectfully ask a repeal of the law making provisions for building school-houses separately, by the races. our people are poor and striving to get started in the race of life; hence not able to build houses in this way, and it has the effect of taxing them beyond their means, or going without decent school buildings.


This is a great question. Foreign countries have indeed passed laws touching this subject. the wisest men of all ages have decided that it is the right of the state to enforce such laws. In other countries it was not in vogue till this century. We will mention the dates of a few.:

Denmark, 1739; Sweden, 1842: Austria, Hungary, 1869; Italy, 1877; France, 1882; Switzerland, 1832: Norway, 1869; Scotland, 1879: Japan, 1879; Belgium, 1882; England, 1870-80. In the latter country the local boards were given power to enforce the laws. The subject has crossed the waters and become enshrined in many States, though in a mild form, consistent with the spirit of American institutions.


We here give the table of the States, date of enactments, penalties, and the time of attendance required:

Compulsory School Laws in Different States.









New Hampshire

New Jersey

New York



Rhode Island




District of Columbia

New Mexico

Washington Territory


Wyoming Territory

























$20 to $50


5 to 20

5 to 20



5 to 10

50 to 200

10 to 20

2 to $3 per w'k

1 to 5 per w'k

2 to $10



10 to 20

50 to 200

3 to 10

Not exceed $20 .........


$5 to $20

Not exceed $25

Required Attendance

2/3 school year

12 weeks

12 weeks

12 weeks

12 weeks

20 weeks

16 weeks

16 weeks

12 weeks

12 weeks

14 weeks

14 weeks

12 weeks

12 weeks

12 weeks

16 weeks

12 weeks

12 weeks

20 weeks

24 weeks

12 weeks

12 weeks

This table was taken from the report of the United States Commissioner Eaton, which show the Eastern and Western sections to have passed these laws.They represent the most prosperous States in the Union. They are also among the most enlightened, and are indeed noted for the most beneficent laws. The South has not a single State in the list. It is also notable that all these states, except Rhode Island, in 1854, Pennsylvania, in 1849, and the District of Columbia, in 1864, have enacted these laws since the war. Let us now turn our attention to the question concerning

Normal Schools

As to the necessity of normal schools in a system of education, we need not insult your intelligence by debating their propriety or non-propriety. Their usefulness is universally accepted as a clinching argument in their favor. The fact however remains that Kentucky has none for her colored teachers' training. By referring to the Common School Report of 1880-1, by our very distinguished State Superintendent of Public Instruction, he says ( page 243): "To provide for the education of a


child without providing a proper educator, is poor economy. It is inconsistent." Normal schools should be planted for all; but we pray for ourselves because we have none. Your provisions for the common school must therefore be supplemented by normal schools, or money wasted on incompetent teachers. We have been told to pay no attention to the normal department of the A. & M. College—that it amounted to nothing. By the same report (page 245), we can show that a normal school does exist under the forms of law, though imbedded in an Agricultural and Mechanical College, and no colored person is admitted. We would not refer to this, only we are told so many times that the normal school there is nothing over which to contend. We answer that there is a principle at stake. The Auditor's report (page 5), shows that the State paid in the fiscal year to June 30, 1884, to said college, $17,873.22; and to June 30, 1885, $18,420.30. This money was collected by tax. We may be told that the colored people pay little or none of that, or any other tax. We reply that the State is organized to do through the whole what could be done by the individual—to collect revenues from all alike—and we do not ask to be free from doing our duty, our whole duty, and nothing less than our duty. But let us give the quotation. "The following extracts from the act of the General Assembly incorporating said college (A. & M.), will exhibit the relation between its normal school and the common school system of the Commonwealth. A normal department or course of instruction for regular periods, or exclusively to qualify teachers for common and other schools, shall be established in connection with the college; and those students who attain to the requisite proficiency as teachers, in the opinion of the academic board, shall be furnished by the college with a certificate to that effect, setting forth, in such case, the various branches in which the student is qualified; and such certificate shall be evidence of qualification to teach in the public schools of the State in the various branches named, without further qualification. Those teachers or persons preparing to teach may be admitted free of tuition charge for one year, at the rate of not more than four, at the discretion of the Board of Trustees for each legislative representative district." We ask you to note that a State certificate is granted to graduates, a thing


equal to the amount of funds due the colored people from the which no school in Kentucky grants to colored students. There are private schools granted this privilege by their charters—and this was specifically denied to an institution where colored students attend.. This report also shows that sixteen private normal schools are in our State. In these, no colored person can study, nor does our wealth permit us to found them. We therefore ask for a good State normal school (or schools) that will commend itself to the enlightened scholarship of the age—with grounds, buildings, appurtenances, and ample apparatus. To this might it not be advisable to add the "New Education"—the industrial?

The State University and Berea furnish the only normal training in the State, and neither of these secure a single dollar from the State, and neither of these secure a single dollar from the State, through the former gives free tuition to one student from each senatorial district; consequently many of our teachers are necessarily drown from sister States, for the State system can produce no teachers of high training for her own schools. (see page 244, Prof. Pickett's report.)

"In the normal school, the State lays the very foundation of self-perpetuation. She opens up the future to her own prosperity. She builds the bulwarks of her own strength by giving might to her coming citizen when she gives to herself the normal school, perfect in its parts, strict in its purpose to harness and equip the teacher for the training of her children, and for the development of her future law-makers. Further, in regard to the A. & M. College as a whole, we are entitled to equal benefits derived from it, regardless of the normal features. It is a part of the common school system, and eventually you will have to choose between a similar one for the colored boy, or open its door to him. The money on which the school was founded was derived from the land grant by Congressional enactment in 1832. When Kentucky secured from the grant as follows: (I take my figures from "The Public Domain," by Thomas Donaldson) Amount derived from sale of land, $165,000, number acres received in land scrip, 330,000, and from this we are shut off. We get no benefits from this fund. Virginia recognizing this condition, votes annually to Hampton Agricultural school, for the education of colored youths, $10,000. A sum land grant; and in addition, votes $100,000 to build a normal


school at Petersburg, besides the salary of seven teachers annually. But let us give the proof that the A. & M. College is made a part of the common school system. "Each legislative representative district in the State is entitled to send four properly qualified students to this college free of tuition. Said students are to be selected by a board of examiners appointed by the court of claims; preference being given to meritorious pupils for the common schools. Let me attach here a schedule, showing what other States are doing for the colored people in the normal school line.


(Taken from the Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1883.)

Name of School. Date of organisation Location. State appropriations No. of instructors No. of pupils

Normal school for Colored Teachers ..... 1875 Huntsville, Ala ... $2,000 ..... 3 134

Branch Normal College of Arkansas Indust. Univ. 1875 Pine Bluff, Ark...{Including cost of building, $15,000 6 145

Lincoln Institute .... 1866 Jefferson City, Mo {$16,000 incl'ding $6,000 for b'lding for two years 6 148

State col. Normal School 1877 Fayetteville, N. C.. {$2,000, $200 from Peabody Fund . 3 123

State Col. Normal School 1881 Franklinton, N. C. $705...... 4 75

Plymouth State Colored Normal School.... 1881 Plymouth, N.C. {$500, $205 from Peabody Fund. 3 91

State Col. Normal School Salisbury, N.C... $500 ...... 2 65

Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute.. 1868 Hampton, Va... $10,328 for b'dings 52 501

Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute... 1882 Petersburg, Va... $100,000 .... 12 120

Tuskegee Normal School 1881 Tuskegee, Ala... $3,000..... 3 112

Miss. State Normal School 1870 Holly Springs, Miss. $3,000 ..... 3 136

Baltimore Normal school for Colored Teachers. 1864 Baltimore, Md... $2,000..... 6 150

Lincoln Normal Seminary 1873 Marion, Ala... $4,000.... 5 174

Colored Normal School . 1881 Newbern, N.C... {$500, $200 from Peabody Fund. 4 95

State Nor. School of Texas 1879 Prairie View, Texas $7,600 ..... 3 49


Where they have not established State schools they have made contributions to the denominational schools sustaining normal departments.


We now approach a question that is the very foundation of our lives, happiness and prosperity. On the threshold of this argument we are told, perhaps, that we cannot have a special law to put colored men on the jury. We do not ask that. There is law enough now, but there are loopholes that need plugging up by strong amendments. We do ask a law to prevent the systematic keeping us off. The persistent overlooking of colored men of property, education and standing can no longer go unnoticed; and, indeed, if such continue in the future, it must be patent that there is intention, bold and glaring, to deprive us of the very best thing in the United States. For sheriffs to make excuses that no competent colored men can be found to serve is ridiculous, and smacks of Munchausenism. The table following will show that there are in the State men of property, integrity, honesty, industry, and worth. Their names are apparently overlooked, by looking at them.

There are in the State of Kentucky 271,481 colored citizens, with a voting strength of 54,664; children of school age, 54,346.

Property Owned

Acres of land

Town lots

Live stock—mares, horses, etc

mules, jennets





Carriages, buggies, omnibuses, etc.

Gold, silver and plated watches

To which add equalization tax























Note.—There is for fact more than is shown by the Auditor's figures.

Not being able to get justice before the juries, we are badly treated by corporations, cheated as laborers, and deprived of proper defense—crowding the penitentiary for small charges.


Long sentences are given colored men, while white men largely find their defense and protection in packed juries. The bad, cleared by such juries, have their opportunities extended to do much wrong. Prejudiced juries decide a black man guilty before hearing the case. They have no incentive to do colored men justice, as they know colored men never sit on juries, and the white juror renders his verdict to please his friends.


We have had serious trouble in traveling. We ask you to pass such stringent laws as will forever prevent the scenes of the past; that our ladies be no longer compelled to ride in smoking-cars and wait in cattle pens. We are able to pay first-class fares, and as railroads have scales of prices, we are willing to abide that scale (first and second), but when we have chosen and paid for the first-class fare we want that and nothing less. We do not mean a half a car "For Colored People" and the other part for smoking, and this set up as "equal accommodation;" for from the smoker comes brutal oaths, foul breaths, reeking with beer, whisky and tobacco. And often our ladies have not this poor place to themselves. Loafers come in and tell smutty jokes in their hearing, and when perchance our ladies have gotten into a "ladies' coach" they have bee cursed and brutally treated by conductors to the extent of beating them. It is proposed that the whipping-post be established for wife-beaters. How shall these women-beaters be punished? It is considered disgraceful in Kentucky for a man to strike a woman. These men glory in their shame and the passengers applaud.


The spirit that permits a conductor to brutalize a woman of any color finds its development in the mobs that stain the escutcheon of our State. They should be summarily dealt with. We feel that such a sentiment could be created by the law makers expressing themselves through severe laws against mobs, mobbers, their abettors and derelict officers, that will bring about a radical change in these affairs. It seems bad enough to keep us off the juries, but extreme folly for men to disgrace the State and make


themselves individual murderers when they can sit on the juries and hang us under the form of law. It would be better thus than openly defying law and terrifying women and children and teaching your own children lessons of blood and unfairness; for these things come back to the roost from whence they sprung; and murder grows in the blood of your race.


"Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,

As, to be hated, needs but to be seen;

Yet, seen too oft, familiar with her face,

We first endure, then pity, then embrace."


There are city charters in which the word "white" appears, contrary to the spirit and letter of the amendment of the United States Constitution. We hereby petition that such a word and all other words as describe one race and proscribe the other, denying us the full rights of a citizen of the Commonwealth, be stricken from said charters. We are kept from civil appointments on the ground that the charters are drawn against our interests. In general terms we hope every word will be stricken from our laws that gives advantage to one citizen over another.


We do respectfully ask that such laws will be made as will permit colored citizens, so desiring, to organize military companies, the same as white citizens. There is no fear of an improper use of arms and accoutrements. We are willing to defend the honor of the State when called on so to do. The martial spirit is common to all men. Playing soldier on the time of peace prepares officers for time of war. the tap of the drum, the toot of the horn, the unfurling of a flag to flame the slumbering fires of patriotism and devotion.


We trust that we have given no offense to any one. Our cause is in court and we desire to make a full defense that it fail not for want of advocacy. We pray you to throw down every barrier that keeps us from making the most of ourselves. Do the noblest thing your hearts prompt. The best thing to leave


your children is a noble name, a perfect life for their copying. Be just; be true. By these acts you will teach all men to do right. "Do as you would be done by." We have finished the task assigned us. May God bless you in your deliberations, and may your deeds invite honorable men to dwell among us; and may your entire constituency be prosperous, happy, wealthy, and God-fearing.

"So live, that when thy summons comes

To join the innumberable caravan

That moves to that mysterious realm

Where each shall take his chamber

In the silent halls of death, thou go

Not, like the quarry slave at night,

Scourged to his dungeon, but sustained and

Soothed by an unfaltering trust,

Approach thy grave like one who wraps

The drapery of this couch about him,

And lies down to pleasant dreams."

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Colored State Convention assembled in Lexington (1885 : Lexington, KY), “Proceedings of the Colored State Convention assembled in St. Paul's A. M. E. Church, Lexington, Ky., November 26.,” Colored Conventions Project Digital Records, accessed July 23, 2021,