Original Document
Original Document
Robert Vann, excerpt from speech delivered at the St. James Literary Forum in Cleveland, Ohio. September 1, 1932

So long as the Republican Party could use the photograph of Abraham Lincoln to entice Negroes to vote a Republican ticket they condescended to accord Negroes some degree of political recognition. But when the Republican Party had built itself to the point of security, it no longer invited Negro support.... Instead of encouraging Negro support, the Republican Party, for the past twelve years, has discouraged Negro support.... The Republican Party, under Harding absolutely deserted us. The Republican Party under Mr. Coolidge was a lifeless, voiceless thing. The Republican Party under Mr. Hoover has been the saddest failure known to political history....

The only true gauge by which to judge an individual or a party or a government is not by what is proclaimed or promised, but by what is done.... In those years, the early years, when Negroes held the highest offices, the literacy of the Negro was only ten percent. Today, when the literacy of the Negro in this country is eighty-four percent, that same Republican Party not only declares the Negro unfit to hold office but organizes Lily-Whitism as an excuse and justification for keeping Negroes out of office....

It is a mistaken idea that the Negro must wait until the party selects him. The only true political philosophy dictates that the Negro must select his party and not wait to be selected.... I see millions of Negroes turning the picture of Lincoln to the wall. This year I see Negroes voting a Democratic ticket.... I, for one, shall join the ranks of this new army of fearless, courageous, patriotic Negroes who know the difference between blind partisanship and patriotism.

Credit: Andrew Buni, Robert L. Vann of the Pittsburgh Courier: Politics and Black Journalism (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1974), 193-94
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