The test of mental capacity and temperamental efficiency is the use of the mind.1 The evidence of such capacity and efficiency in the Negro is the acquisition and use of such education as the surrounding opportunities offer and the success he has achieved in the struggle of life in America. The weight of evidence and the best authorities today along this line point to the conclusion that it is not the lack of mental capacity and temperamental efficiency of the Negro, but the poverty in mental property, the accumulated knowledge of our times and freedom to use it, which has made a great difference between the Negro group and other races.1 In spite of the effects of servitude, of the grievously inadequate school facilities, and of the restrictions of the adult population from participation in much of the great stream of economic, intellectual, and civic life, most authoritative testimony agrees that the Negro in America has made substantial progress in education, in acquisition of wealth, in production of literature, art and music, and in other evidences of such capacity and temperament.
1 See Appendix for a brief summary of the principal scientific opinions on the question of Negro mental capacity. The text here deals with the life experience aspects.
Furthermore, hundreds of native Africans have gone to Europe and America and have been successful, some of them winning distinction, in pursuing courses of study at the best colleges and universities. Many of them have later used their knowledge and skill effectively in America, Europe, and Africa. A native African from the Gold Coast, having been educated in a Southern missionary college and Columbia University, and having spent nearly twenty years as a professor and officer in a Southern Negro college, is preparing to return to Africa to lead an educational movement. On a recent tour of that continent he convinced Europeans of his learning and culture in their critical contact with him. Another native African is now studying at Columbia University for a •similar purpose. These two are typical examples of scores. An American Negro graduate of a Baptist mission college of North Carolina sailed last year to become National Secretary of the Y.M.C.A. in South Africa. During the World War he served as a secretary in East Africa, India, and Europe.
Where Negroes have come in considerable numbers into communities in which some of the handicaps and restrictions upon their free participation in the life about them have been removed, individual achievements have often been such that those who made them were regarded as prodigies rather than as concrete illustrations of the capacity of a people. Examples of these results are at hand in many communities as a result of the missionary activities of the past sixty years. The opportunity of Negroes to use the intellectual property in such missionary college centers as Nashville, Tenn., Atlanta, Ga., Marshall, Tex., Tuskegee, Hampton, and Richmond, Va., Wilberforce, Ohio, and other places has brought to the surface hundreds of Negro men and women with minds and spirits that have not only demonstrated their capacity to acquire such intellectual property of our modern world, but to use this material for substantial achievements.
1 See Thomas, W. I., Source Book for Social Origins; Deniker, The Races of Man, pp.. 60-64; Ratael, History of Man-kind, Vol. II, pp. 317 ff.; Finot, Jean, Race Prejudice, pp. 57-108, 120-132, 201-215.
The question, then, of our further search among the Negro people in America is a study in characteristic mental feelings, attitudes, and habits as indications of mental capacity and efficiency. This chapter is an attempt to analyze the results of the mental experience of a large proportion of Negroes, in order to understand their part in making the public opinion which controls race relations. There is no attempt here at an academic study of group psychology. The existence and possession of the acquisitive, sex, and other human instincts, as well as the fundamental emotions, by the white and Negro people are taken for granted.