The preceding chapters have attempted to define the task and to describe present conditions and relations of the two races in the main ways of life where they meet and where adjustment is necessary. It now remains to discuss the fundamental principles of amicable adjustment, to point out the method of personal contacts and the agencies through which they may be made for the advancement of both races together, to describe lines of educational publicity needed, and to outline the ideals toward which they travel. The ideals of justice, of law and order, of American freedom of speech, press, and representation, of courtesy, of the obligation of the strong to help the weak, of respect for all personality, and of constructive cooperation on the basis of the brotherhood of mankind comprise the goal. Besides the economic forces described in Chapter II (Sixty Years Of Progress), the school as the avenue of education, the church as the avenue of religion, the home as the avenue of the family, the state as the avenue of government, and the voluntary agencies auxiliary to those organizations are the highways through which the present and succeeding generations must pass toward that goal. It will not suffice that the Few of each race see the goal; they and the Many must also know the road.
In Nashville, Tenn., in 1914, a disastrous fire destroyed the homes of hundreds of families, white and Negro, the latter considerably in the majority. Led by the Commercial Club, the strongest organization of white business men, and by the Negro Board of Trade, with similar irfluenoe among Negro business men, the representatives of many white and Negro organizations rallied together to meet the emergency. They formed cooperative committees of white and Negro members and a joint staff of white and Negro investigators and visitors. The city government through the charities commission and the police department joined hands with the cooperating citizens.
Families in distress were visited by investigators who carefully ascertained their needs. Household goods and supplies were bought in car-load lots with money contributed liberally by hundreds of donors of both races. Working zealously together for about two months, these cooperating neighbors reestablished about five hundred white and Negro families in houses, provided them with necessities for starting housekeeping again, and, finally, visited each reestablished household to see that all had been well done and to deliver a parting message of good cheer and good-will.
This and other community activities were parts of nearly ten years of racial cooperation in meeting community needs. Starting in one of the needy Negro neighborhoods with a little settlement house, prophetically called "Bethlehem House," founded and fostered through the joint efforts of Southern white women of the Woman's Missionary Council, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, who had been interested by "Mother" Sawyer, a saintly Negro woman, and of the Social Science Department of Fisk University, a leading Negro college founded and supported by Northern churches and philanthropists, such racial cooperation had grown until it had spread its influence into many avenues of the city's life. Begun as the earnest effort of a few men and women of the two races to serve the needs of their neglected Negro neighbors, it spread to include white and Negro colleges, five white and Negro church denominations, white and Negro commercial organizations, and departments of the city government. They cooperated in efforts for better housing, wholesome recreation, vocational instruction, employment placement, home improvement, and for protection of neglected Negro districts. This cooperation developed until in 1920 a committee of white citizens met a similar committee of Negro citizens, thus representing the entire city, and adopted plans and undertook activities for the welfare of the whole city and the betterment of race relations. Thus, by gradual steps, led by philanthropic and Christian-minded men and women, through sudden misfortune of fire and the appeal of its victims and through joint effort to soften the lot of the neglected, the whole community became conscious of the mutual interests of all classes and both races.