The Freeman. A Great Slight to the Race, April 30, 1892.

Document 6: "A Great Slight To The Race,"(Editorial) The Freeman (Indianapolis, Indiana), 30 April 1892.


This editorial in The Freeman, of Indianapolis, Indiana, addressed the circular which Hallie Q. Brown sent to the Board of Lady Managers on 8 April 1892. Frustrated by the BoardÂ’s approach, and unwilling to attempt to organize exhibits for a race of 8,000,000 while employed in a secretarial position, Brown spelled out the injustices of the situation and made an articulate case for the need to have an African American engaged in outreach activities if the Exposition were to include exhibits focusing on the lives of African American women.



We were moved to say editorially in THE FREEMAN of the 16th.:

"As the days and weeks pass away, President Harrison's mistake in not appointing a colored man on the Board of World's Fair Commissioners seems almost criminal."

Since then we have received from Miss Hallie Q. Brown, the noted elocutionist and distinguished race woman, a copy of a circular letter prepared over her signature and forwarded to each member of the Board of Lady Managers of the Columbian Exposition, which has, if possible, emphasized our condemnation of the whole Exposition business, as far as the treatment of the race is concerned. It will be seen by perusing the letter, which is appended, or rather the appeal, more's the shame, that Miss Brown is calling the specific attention of the "Lady" Managers to the consideration due the "bread winners," or "wage women" of the race, which, however, does not palliate the original cause of complaint, nor will not, if her suggestions and reflections meet the approval of "Lady" Palmer, and the residue of her associates upon the Board. We have once before called the attention of the "Lily White" Board to one of its puerile, ought-to-be-ashamed-of excuses for not considering the claims of their Afro-American sisters, which it will be observed they have already met Miss Brown with on the very threshold of her quest, by causing her to know that "the Lady Managers would seriously object to the appointment of a special (race) representative to canvass the various states." Consistency thou art, indeed, a jewel! This fair minded board of rich white "Ladies" hesitated very much to appoint a colored woman to a responsible position, for fear that their action might invite invidious reflection upon their dear "sister in black" by some heartless person or newspaper, wondering why they should treat her to "special" notice.

We desire to be gallent towards the "Ladies," but we are either compelled to feel, looking at them as a Board, from "Lady" Palmer down, that the accumulated acumen of their mentality, is not as considerable as is contained within the cranium of our own Miss Hallie Q. Brown, who is knocking at their door, for admission, or we ourselves are fools, "and things are not what they seem."

They regard too highly the feelings of their colored sisters, to insult them by "special notice," but have no regret for treating them with "special" neglect.

Were you men "Ladies," we would write bah! The subject, fertile for argument, but space prevents. Read what Miss Brown says:

"Mrs.-------Lady Manager of the Columbian Exposition:-It seems to be a settled conviction among the colored people, that no adequate opportunity is to be offered them for proper reppresentation in the World's Fair. A circular recently issued and widely distributed makes that charge direct. That there is an element of truth in it seems apparent, since neither recognition has been granted nor opportunity offered.

"And further it is known that the intercourse between the two races, particularly in the Southern States, is so limited that the interchange of ideas is hardly seriously considered. If, therefore, the object of the Women's department of the Columbian Exposition is to present to the world the industrial and educational progress of the bread-winners--the wage women--how immeasurably incomplete will that work be without the exhibit of the thousands of the colored women of this country.

"The question naturally arises, who is awakening an interest among our women, especially in the South where the masses are, and how many auxiliaries have been formed through which they may be advised of the purport of a movement that is intended to be so comprehensive and all inclusive? Considering the peculiar relation that the Negro sustains in this country, is it less than fair to request for him a special representation?

"Presuming that such action would be had, several colored men and women, including the writer, have endorsements of unquestionable strength from all classes of American citizens. These endorsements are on file in the President's office of the Woman's Commission in this city.

"It is urged at Headquarters that the Lady Managers would seriously object to the appointment of a special representative to canvass the various states. Permit me to emphasize the fact, that this matter is in earnest discussion among the representatives of eight millions of the population of the United States.

"I address this circular to you, kindly requesting your opinion upon the business the suggestions made herein, and solicit a reply at your earliest convenience.

        Yours respectfully,
        HALLIE Q. BROWN.
        4440 Langley avenue, Chicago, Ill."