The Negro South And North -- By: W. E. Burghardt Du Bois
BSac 62:247 (July 1905) p. 500
The Negro South And North
It has been my good fortune in the last ten years to have the opportunity of studying with some care the negro problems of two large cities, Atlanta and Philadelphia; and I want in this article to institute some comparisons between the social problems that surround these groups of negroes.
First of all, we must not forget how different a social and economic revolution the Southern city is passing through from the conditions of things in the North. From the plantation economy of the slave régime to the elaborately organized industrial city of modern times is a far step, and when taken in haste gives rise to grave social disturbances. All along the way from Philadelphia to Atlanta one may see rising the bare ugly walls of factories; from Atlanta to New Orleans appear smoking mines and foundries, from New Orleans to Galveston, and from Galveston back to Savannah, are the broad white fields of cotton to clothe the world; and in the midst of all this industry are the growing network of railways, the expanding trade, the spreading cities, and the more and more eager race for the new wealth. One has but to contrast this with the stately languor, the half-shabby gentility, of the old plantation life, to realize how vast a social upheaval is here beginning. The old economy, manner of life, ways of earning a living, and ways of thinking are slowly changing. The sons of the masters are crowding elbows with the poor whites; the
BSac 62:247 (July 1905) p. 501
poor whites are rushing to town, into the mills and factories, behind the counters, in the counting-rooms, and in the legislative halls. Old social conventions, exclusive social classes, and the more ceremonious etiquette, all are falling before the rule of business and commerce and the leadership of the newly rich. Here are social problems enough—problems of birth and breeding, of education and technical training, of business ethics, of municipal administration, of political expediency. There is necessarily the moral ferment that must accompany economic change—the vaster questions of right and wrong in man and neighbor and city and nation.
I do not mean to say that the economic stage of development in Georgia makes it altogether different and distinct from Pennsylvania. They have much in common, many similar questions and equally puzzling duties; and yet, without doubt, measured by the historical evolution of social groups, they stand full fifty years apart, and the same forces that in the forties changed Philadelphia from a provincial capital to a modern city are to-day at work in Atlanta.
But there is one great likeness: forty thousand strangers have been placed in both Philadelphia...
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