Buck Speaks on Problem of the Negro; Declares It 'Insoluble' at Present Time
Segregation Best Working Plan For Now; Has Stabilized The South
Published On 1/17/1939 12:00:00 AM
"I believe that the Negro problem is insoluble at the present," said Paul H. Buck, assistant professor of History, and Pulitzer Prize winner, at his lecture on the American Negro in the Freshman Union last night.
"What we have now," he said, "is a working agreement, and to most people in the South and the North it is the only alternative to race riots and persecution."
The trouble with the post-war settlement, according to Buck, was that it gave the Negro too great a measure of political freedom, rather than economic opportunity. "Emancipation was a gift that the Negro could not appreciate," Buck said, "and he had neither the morale of freedom nor the feeling that it should be cherished.
"A white man's country' is the basis of Southern society, whose viewpoint was untouched by the War, and who reestablished their discipline by disfranchising the Negro politically, reducing him to peonage, and segregating him socially."
White superiority, or rather the widespread belief in it, is the permanent base on which the question of the Negro's status rests. "Once people realize the insolubility of the equality problem, then they will learn to live with it."
Buck contrasted the attitude of Booker T. Washington, great Negro leader of the nineteenth century with that of William Edward Du Bois '90. "Washington urged the Negroes to acquiesce to their place on the social and economic scale and to become good mechanics and farmers.
"Dubois has attacked Washington's premise on the grounds that colleges dedicated to those ends, like Tuskegee, did not produce leaders." But while education does furnish a few middle class professional men, it can not drop the barriers of prejudice. Buck said that he was acquainted with college graduates working as porters, victims of the process of segregation.
"We have peace and stability that the South did not have before 1900, and gives the Negro a chance for progress. However slow this may be, when compared to 50 years ago, it is discernible."
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