Popular educational activity among Negroes and white people to inform each race about the other and about race relations is imperative for such purposes. This might be called propaganda. If so, it is the kind of propaganda that, instead of advertising differences, fears, suspicions, and frictions, lays stress upon racial likenesses, points out instances of good-will in deeds, stimulates justice by publicity of ex-amples of it more than the accounts of injustice, and informs each race of the better sides of the other race. The value of such efforts has been illustrated by the work of such newspapers as the Columbia State, the Nashville American, the New York Evening Post, the New York World, by the Southern University Commission on the Race Question, by the Southern Publicity Committee, and by propaganda activity of the Commission on Inter-racial Cooperation, the War Work Councils of the Y.M.C.A. and of the Y.W.C.A., the Home Missions Council, the Council of Women for Home Missions, and the Commission on the Church and Race Relations of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, and other organizations the past few years.
On the whole, Negroes know the life among white people better than the latter know the inner side of life among Negro people. Negroes, especially in the South, prepare the food for most of the middle and upper classes of white people; they clean their homes, wash their clothing, care for their children, nurse their sick, assist at their marriages and in the last sad rites of their dead. Night and day, from season to season, they are closely associated with white people in their homes, in their offices, and on their pleasure trips. White people are so absorbed in their own affairs and so readily assume that they have understood the simple folk who serve them, that much that goes on among the Negro people is unknown to them.
These contacts of domestic servants with white employers have been the means of the Negro's learning and gaining much from white people, who, in turn, have gathered considerable from the Negro. Times have changed. Domestic and personal servants no longer form Negro opinion to the extent they did formerly. Much of the feeling and thinking of Negroes are stimulated by the Negro platform, pulpit, and press. The personnel of these agencies knows little of and sees nothing now of the inner life of white people in home and office. The men and women of color, on the one hand, who largely influence Negro life to-day get their impressions and knowledge of the white world from casual contacts on the streets, from the people they meet in the courts or in the stores, from the white policeman on the beat, and from the white newspaper, which usually "plays up" conventional ideas about Negroes and speaks editorially about them without knowing much of the best among them.
On the other hand, white men and women, except an occasional workman or salesman, rarely enter the better types of Negro homes, as mentioned above. White people are accustomed to draw their impressions about Negroes from the crime accounts of white newspapers, from conversations, from observations of and reports from their Negro servants, and from what they see of the idle loafers about the streets. In many cases, these apparent idlers on the streets are waiters, porters, and other domestic and personal service employees who have "time off".
The first and most influential avenue of popular educational propaganda is the press, white and Negro. The newspapers of our land hold the feelings and attitudes of the people in the hollow of their hands. In the past this has not been as true of the Negro press as the white, but the Negro's "fourth estate" is gradually coming into a place of power and responsibility, as Professor Kerlin's compilation of Negro editorial opinion very well shows.1 Lynchings have been fostered, mobs and riots have been precipitated largely through the sinister propaganda of certain white newspapers. The Grand Jury fixed a part of the blame for the Atlanta riots of 1906 upon a local newspaper. The Washington riot of 1919 was partly due to the false reports published by a leading newspaper On the other hand, many cities have been saved from racial clashes by timely news and editorials of their high-class dailies.
The next agency of popular education for spreading the truths of mutual interests of the two races is the American pulpit. Several of the larger white denominations divided on Negro slavery. Large sections of the white pulpit have been silent in later years when interracial problems have assumed serious aspects. Large sections of the Negro pulpit often have been ignorant, although friendly, and thus limited in power for a better interracial program. They have, nevertheless, always extended a welcome to the white minister when infrequently he chose to come and break the bread of life to his black brethren. When the very homes, government, and communities of all are at stake in the opportunity or lack of it for even the weakest, can the apostles of Him who came to seek the least of these be silent?
A third means of popular education is the lecture platform. In the past, white men and women have been occasional speakers in Negro schools and colleges. There is a larger Negro world that looks for enlightenment. Its churches are the main channels for such activity. The avenue here opened to white speakers is endless. The by-product will be better feeling and understanding between the races. The white world has its church lecture platform, its open forums, its Chautauquas, and similar places of popular education. Rarely is a Negro lecturer, musician, or singer thought of for these places. Many of them would be highly acceptable to white audiences. In North Carolina and South Carolina in 1920-21, Negroes spoke to white students in a number of colleges. These experiments proved popular. They can be multiplied with profit.
1 See Kerlin, R. T., The Voice of the Negro.
The moving picture has come as the greatest instrument for stimulating intelligence since the invention of the printed page. In most instances where it has touched the matter of race relations, it has been used to arouse and inflame prejudice instead of allaying and removing it. Moving pictures can be used to bring to each race views of the better side of the life of the other race.
Another type of agency for popular education in mutuality of race relations is such gatherings as conferences, Sunday-school conventions, Christian Endeavor conventions, Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A. meetings, educational and community conferences and associations, business and fraternal organizations. Negroes have not usually felt a full welcome to such gatherings organized and directed by white people. One Negro who has had much experience in such work expressed it thus: "A welcome is extended to everybody to come; but of course, 'everybody' does not include us Negroes".
Newspapers, the pulpit, the organizations and agencies that hold conferences and conventions, cannot ignore matters so vital to the future of democracy in America. The ignorance of the two races in regard to each other and to the oneness of their interests is oftentimes astonishing and is of most serious moment to a nation which calls itself intelligent and Christian. Race hatred, lawlessness, and disorder are usually caused by the self-willed Ignorant Many led by the selfish Few. When we gaze upon the results of their follies and their crimes in disrupted communities, destroyed homes, and murdered citizens, America should no longer tolerate the lethargy of some of her leaders and the weakness of her means of popular education. The forces of greed, of war, and mistaken self-interest have held the front of the stage too long. The press, the pulpit, the platform, and conferences need to teach people that their greatest advancement will come through treating their neighbors as they would wish their neighbors to treat them.