The practical test of human capacity, physical, mental, and spiritual, is the struggle of life. After all the discussion about the capacity of the Negro, his struggles and achievements under the conditions that have met him in American life are the evidences of his capacity. During the hearings of a committee of the United States House of Representatives on the Fordney Emergency Tariff Bill, a short, thin, coal-black man, a professor from one of the Negro institutions of the South, was ushered before the committee. The chairman announced with emphasis that the gentleman would be given ten minutes to talk about southern peanuts and their need of protection by the tariff. In a high, tenor voice and with a smile on his face, the speaker began. As he neared his time limit, one of the congressmen on the committee arose to ask that his time be extended some minutes more. He continued, giving more information about his researches into the many uses to be made of the "ground pea," from a substitute for cow's milk made of its fat to polishing powder to be made from its hulls and to ink and dyes from its skin.
The members of the committee leaned toward the swarthy speaker with wide-open eyes and plied him with questions. Presently the chairman said, "Go ahead, brother; your time is unlimited."1 He closed after about an hour, declaring that, from his study and experiments, he believed that with the sweet potato and the peanut, the South, if necessary, could feed itself, grow fat, and have a surplus for other parts of the country. When he had finished, the chairman and committee gave him a vote of thanks, and the white Southern peanut promoters who had brought him to Washington as their spokesman went out elated.
1 Hearings before the Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives, Sixty-sixth Congress, No. 14, January 21, 1921.
When, during the World War, Hudson Maxim made the confidential experiments for the United States on the use of magnetism with torpedoes, he had as his assistant a young Negro man, a graduate of one of the Southern missionary colleges, and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Michigan, who is an authority on magnetics, and who now holds a position with a leading firm of consulting engineers.
During the War, the employment superintendent of one of the largest foundries in the country, employing white and Negro molders and workmen, was a stalwart Negro, a technical graduate of a state university.
One of the preachers whom Methodists send for to speak at their conferences is a minister of a Negro congregation who did not have an opportunity for an education until he was nearly a man. And one of the special sermons recently given large space in a leading homiletic magazine was prepared by a minister of one of the Negro denominations.
From one of the missionary schools there went out in the early eighties to the uninviting sand hills of central Alabama a quiet Negro man who began a work which has not only influenced the Negro of America but which has contributed to the educational practise of the South, the nation, and the world. Some of his students have gone to various other out-of-the-way places in rural districts and towns and have set up schools which have been beacons to the oppressed and neglected. Recently white and Negro citizens from every section of the nation gathered and unveiled a monument to the memory of Booker T. Washington and vied with each other in praising his name.
These examples may introduce the reader to the types of mental and spiritual capacity which Negroes of education and character are showing in America. Twenty-two such Negroes have received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, the highest university recognition earned in residence, from the most representative institutions including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Pennsylvania, and Chicago. Three of these are full-blood Negroes who can trace their lineage back to Africa, and three are women. More than seven hundred Negroes have surmounted the obstacles and have been graduated from the best Northern colleges. Over six thousand others have been graduated from missionary colleges of the South.