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(1877) John E. Bruce, “Reasons Why the Colored American Should Go to Africa”

As African Americans increasingly realized that Reconstruction would not usher in permanent citizenship rights and in fact did not protect them from violence, some black leaders began to call for alternative approaches. Not surprisingly a some again urged African American colonization in Africa. In October, 1877 journalist John Edward Bruce added his voice to the colonization movement in a speech outlining why African Americans should return to the ancestral homeland. The speech which was first published in the Christian Recorder on November 1, 1877, appears below.

I shall endeavor to show tonight why the colored American should emigrate to Africa first, because Africa is his fatherland; secondly, because, before the war, in the South he was a slave, and in the North, a victim of prejudice and ostracism; and thirdly, because, since the close of the war, although he has been freed by emancipation and invested with enfranchisement, he is only nominally free; and lastly, because he is still a victim of prejudice, and practically proscribed socially, religiously, politically, educationally, and in the various industrial pursuits.

First, then, he should emigrate to Africa because it is his fatherland. Africa is a country rich in its productions, offering untold treasures to the adventurer who may go there. It has a peculiar claim upon the colored American in this country, and that claim is as just and as equitable as any could be. One hundred and fifty millions of our people are on the other side of the broad Atlantic, groveling in darkness and superstition; five millions are on this side surrounded by all the advantages that could be desired in the march toward civilization. It is our duty to carry to those benighted, darkened minds a light to guide them in the march toward civilization. For centuries the colored race has not been highly educated. This has not always been the fact, and history, which shows what has been done, proves what may yet be. The Africans held possession of southern Egypt when Isaiah wrote,