Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Wave of Immigrants Taking Jobs from American Negroes, 1906

“Italians in Dixie,” from The Semi-Weekly Messenger, Wilmington, published January 9, 1906

Negro’s Future Threatened by Competition…In the Cotton Fields the Negro Must be Alive if He Would Not be Supplanted

The session of the American Economic Associations were resumed today, the chief subject for discussion being “The Economic Future of the Negro.” This discussion was participated in by Charles L. Raper, University of North Carolina; R.C. Bruce, Tuskegee Institute; and Theodore Marburg of Baltimore. W.E.B. DuBois of Atlanta University and Alfred Holstone of Mississippi read papers.

The greatest fact in the negroes’ past economic history, Mr. Stone believes to have been the absence of white competition in the south. The gravest factor in his future is the steady increase of such competition. He quoted numerous negro authorities on the subject of this competition in northern cities in driving negroes into menial occupations, and concluded that the masses of the race had but little to hope for in this section. In fact, the leaders of the negro, with singular unanimity agree that the destiny of their people must be worked out in the south and upon the soil. Hence the question of white competitions in the south becomes one of paramount importance.

Mr. Stone quoted at considerable length from statistical data gathered by himself showing the comparative results obtained by negroes and Italians growing cotton side by side. The figures covered a series of years, and showed that when the two classes worked under identical conditions on the same plantation, the Italian accomplished very much more than the negro, both in the amount of cotton produced and in the matter of saving what he earns. Mr. Stone says that the ability of the white foreigner successfully to grow cotton in competition with the negro is no longer a matter of question or experiment. As to the extent to which they will come into the south and supplant the negro, he does not express an opinion, but thinks it will largely depend on the negro himself. If the latter continues to invite such competition, by his improvidence and unreliability, unquestionably it will come. When it does come there seems to be nothing in such a situation to prevent a repetition of the disastrous results already witnessed in the north.

                --Baltimore Dispatch

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