The colored American, from slavery to honorable citizenship 1901

Suggest and discuss books to read (all languages welcome!)
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Post by soupy » October 12th, 2018, 7:17 pm

The colored American, from slavery to honorable citizenship
by Gibson, John William, 1841- [from old catalog]; Crogman, William Henry, 1841- [from old catalog] joint author
Publication date 1901
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Post by ColleenMc » October 13th, 2018, 5:53 am

Cool! I live about 15 minutes from the school named after Prof. Crogman, but I didn't know who he was until now...

His dates are 1841-1931.

This set me off into the Internet Archive checking out some of his other works, here are some links:

Talks for the Times by W.H. Crogman (collection of speeches) (1896)

The Colored American by Prof. J.W. Gibson and Prof. W.H. Crogman (The authors are helpfully labeled "White" and "Colored" after their names, sign of the times I guess?) There is a 1901 and 1902 edition, this is 1902.

Apparently same book republished in 1912 as The Progress of a Race; the title page and frontispiece look the same but I'm not sure if there were changes made to the book otherwise:

As for J.W. Gibson, things are a little odd. I can't find where exactly he taught tho he is listed as a professor. There is another book by a Prof. J.W. Gibson in Internet Archive, called Golden thoughts on chastity and procreation, including heredity, prenatal influences, etc., etc. which also appears (from the illustrations and the discussion in the book's forward) to be a typical Victorian/Edwardian era book about reproduction and family life and how to behave (no masturbation! "the secret sin") only it is directed at African Americans.

So Gibson is listed as "white" in the author lines on the title page of The Colored American, but a "Prof. J.W. Gibson" was killed (lynched) by a night watchman in Arkansas in 1920, and the context of the story makes it clear that this particular J.W. Gibson was identified as a black man. There is no info about where this Prof. Gibson taught, and I don't see any listing of a current or defunct HBCU in the vicinity of Helena, though that doesn't necessarily mean anything.

Here's a page describing the 1920 incident:

"On December 23, carrying a shotgun, Gibson apparently left his farm and took the train to Helena, where he arrived at 7:35 p.m. and then stopped to get a shave and a haircut. Afterward, as he was standing on the corner of Cherry and Missouri streets waiting for the streetcar, a night watchman (never identified by name) approached him and asked him to turn over his shotgun. Gibson replied that he was carrying no shells for it. The watchman asked him why, and Gibson said that he felt no need to carry any. The watchman then asked to search his “hand bag” but found only books and papers. According to the Express, at this point, he asked Gibson, “What kind of nigger is you?” Gibson reportedly replied that “he was a man the same as the night watchman was.” The watchman then allegedly struck Gibson across the face before taking the shotgun and hitting him with it. He then marched him up Cherry Street to the jail.

A short while later, according to the Express, a local druggist, Dr. J. W. Jennings, called the jail and asked the watchman to release Gibson, offering to make sure Gibson would be available for any subsequent court appearance. Jennings was African American and a graduate of the Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in Mississippi. According to the Huntsville, Alabama, Daily Times, at the time of the Elaine Massacre in 1919, he and A. R. Dupree, who owned a cleaning establishment in Helena, had been arrested and “charged with distributing pernicious propaganda.” When Jennings contacted the jail about Gibson, the watchman reportedly replied, “I have just killed that d---- Nigger.” The means by which Gibson was reportedly killed are not mentioned in the report."

There was little news coverage and no indication of what the inquest ultimately found, but pretty typical for the period.

Interesting mystery....makes me wonder if Prof. Gibson was "passing" at some point, or if there are two Prof. J.W. Gibsons in the time period, or if the publisher chose to identify Gibson as white for marketing purposes....

Last edited by ColleenMc on October 13th, 2018, 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Peter Why » October 13th, 2018, 6:18 am

From the article about the lynching, that Professor Gibson was described as a "mulatto", so whether one called him "white" or "black" would probably depend on the point that was being made .. though the Professor Gibson in the photograph in the earlier edition ( ) seems to be white Caucasian. Who knows who's who?

"Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist." Kenneth Boulding, 1973

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