On November 20, 1898, Reverend Francis J. Grimke, pastor of the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church of Washington, D.C., delivered a sermon in which he denounced those African Americans who called for conservatism and accommodation. Grimke vowed that as long as African Americans were deprived of their full rights as citizens, they would continue to protest and agitate. His sermon, published in the Richmond (Virginia) Planet, a black weekly, appears below.
Lawlessness is increasing in the South. After thirty three years of freedom our civil and political rights are still denied us; the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the Constitution are still a dead letter. The spirit of oppression and injustice is not diminished but increasing. The determination to keep us in a state of civil and political inferiority, and to surround us with such conditions as will tend to crush out of us a manly and self respecting spirit, is stronger now than it was at the close of the war.
The fixed purpose and determination of the Southern whites is to negative these great amendments, to eliminate entirely the Negro as a political factor. And this purpose is intensifying, is growing stronger and stronger each year. The sentiment everywhere is: This is a white mans government. And that means, not only that the whites shall rule, but that the Negro shall have nothing whatever to do with governmental affairs. If he dares to think otherwise, or aspires to cast a ballot, or to become anything more than a servant, he is regarded as an impudent and dangerous Negro; and according to the most recent declarations of that old slave holding and lawless spirit, all such Negroes are to be driven out of the South, or compelled by force, by what is known as the shot gun policy, to renounce their rights as men and as American citizens.
This is certainly a very discouraging condition of things, but the saddest aspect of it all is that there are members of our race and not the ignorant, unthinking masses, who have had no advantages, and who