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Rock the Vote

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African American History: Major Speeches

“If I had a thousand tongues and each tongue were a thousand thunderbolts and each thunderbolt had a thousand voices, I would use them all today to help you understand a loyal and misrepresented and misjudged people.” These were the words of Joseph C. Price, founder and President of Livingston College in North Carolina, who in 1890 delivered an address to the National Education Association annual convention held in Minneapolis. Price’s words reflect on the long tradition of African American oratory. Listed below are some of the most significant orations by African Americans with links to the actual speeches.

To 1800: 1801-1860:
(1808) Rev. Peter Williams, “An Oration On The Abolition Of The Slave Trade”
(1809) William Hamilton, “Mutual Interest, Mutual Benefit and Mutual Relief”
(1811) John Gloucester, “Dedication of the First African Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia”
(1817) J. Forten & Russel Perrott, “An Address To The Humane And Benevolent Inhabitants Of The City And County Of Philad
(1826) John B. Russwurm, “The Condition and Prospects of Haiti”
(1827) Rev. Nathaniel Paul Hails The End Of Slavery In New York
(1828) David Walker, “The Necessity of A General Union Among Us”
(1830) Rev. Peter Williams, Jr. “This is Our Country”
(1832) Maria W. Stewart Advocates Education for African American Women
(1832) Maria W. Stewart, “Why Sit Ye Here and Die?”
(1832) Sarah Mapps Douglas Urges Support for the Anti-Slavery Cause
(1833) Maria W. Stewart, “An Address at the African Masonic Hall”
(1834) William Whipper, “The Slavery of Intemperance“
(1836) James Forten, Jr. “Put on the Armour of Righteousness“
(1837) Theodore S. Wright, “Prejudice Against the Colored Man“
(1837) William Whipper, “Non-Resistance to Offensive Aggression“
(1838) James McCune Smith, “The Abolition Of Slavery And The Slave Trade In The French And British Colonies“
(1839) Andrew Harris, “Slavery Presses Down Upon the Free People of Color“
(1839) Daniel A. Payne, “Slavery Brutalizes Man“
(1839) Peter Paul Simmons, “We Must Remain Active"
(1841) Charles Lenox Remond, “Slavery and the Irish”
(1841) Charles Lenox Remond, “Slavery As It Concerns The British”
(1841) Frederick Douglass, “The Church and Prejudice"
(1842) Charles Lenox Remond, “The Rights Of Colored Citizens In Traveling”
(1843) Henry Highland Garnet, "An Address To The Slaves Of The United States"
(1843) Samuel H. Davis, “We Must Assert Our Rightful Claims and Plead Our Own Cause“
(1844) Charles Lenox Remond, “For the Dissolution of the Union“
(1845) Frederick Douglass, “My Slave Experience in Maryland”
(1846) Lewis Richardson, “I am Free From American Slavery“ 1846
(1849) Frederick Douglass, “On Mexico”
(1850) John S. Rock, “Address to the Citizens of New Jersey”
(1850) Lucy Stanton, “A Plea for the Oppressed”
(1850) Rev. Jermain Wesley Loguen, “I Won't Obey the Fugitive Slave Law”
(1850) Samuel Ringgold Ward, “Speech on the Fugitive Slave Bill”
(1851) Sojourner Truth “Ar'nt I a Woman?“
(1852) Frederick Douglass, “What, To The Slave, Is The Fourth Of July”
(1855) William C. Nell, “The Triumph Of Equal School Rights In Boston“
(1856) Sara G. Stanley Addresses The Convention Of Disfranchised Citizens Of Ohio
(1857) Charles Lenox Remond, “An Anti-Slavery Discourse”
(1857) Frances Ellen Watkins, “Liberty For Slaves”
(1857) Frederick Douglass, “If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress”
(1858) John S. Rock, “I Will Sink or Swim with My Race”
(1860) Frederick Douglass, “the Constitution of the United States: Is It Pro-Slavery or Anti-slavery?”
(1860) H. Ford Douglas, “I Do Not Believe in That Antislavery of Abraham Lincoln”
(1862) John S. Rock, “A Deep and Cruel Prejudice”
(1862) William C. Nell Speaks At The Crispus Attucks Commemoration, Boston
(1863) Frederick Douglass, Men of Color, To Arms!
(1863) J. Stanley, “A Tribute to a Fallen Black Soldier”
(1863) Rev. Jonathan C. Gibbs, “Freedom's Joyful Day“
(1864) Arnold Bertonneau, “Every Man Should Stand Equal Before the Law”
(1864) Frederick Douglass On “The Mission Of The War”
(1864) Rev. J. P. Campbell, “Give Us Equal Pay and We Will Go To War“
(1865) Frederick Douglass, “What the Black Man Wants"
(1865) Henry Highland Garnet, “Let The Monster Perish”
(1865) James Lynch, “Colored Men Standing in the Way of their Own Race“
(1866) Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, “We Are All Bound Up Together”
(1867) Frederick Douglass, “Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage”
(1867) John Sella Martin, A Speech Before the Paris Antislavery Conference
(1867) Rev. E. J. Adams, “These are Revolutionary Times”
(1868) Francis Cardozo Urges The Dissolution Of The Plantation System
(1868) Rev. Henry McNeal Turner, “I Claim the Rights of a Man”
(1869) Frederick Douglass Describes The "Composite Nation"
(1869) John Willis Menard, “Speech Before the United States House of Representatives”
(1870) Henry O. Wagoner, Jr., Celebrates The Ratification Of The 15th Amendment To The United States Constitution
(1871) Congressman Jefferson F. Long, “Speech On Disorders In The South”
(1871) Congressman Joseph H. Rainey, “Speech Made in Reply to An Attack Upon the Colored State Legislators of South Carolina..."
(1871) Congressman Robert C. DeLarge, “Speech on the Enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment”
(1871) Senator Hiram Revels Calls For The End Of Segregated Schools
(1874) Congressman Richard Harvey Cain, “All We Ask Is Equal Laws, Equal Legislation And Equal Rights”
(1874) John Mercer Langston, “Equality Before the Law”
(1875) Congressman James T. Rapier, “Half Free, Half Slave”
(1875) Congressman John R. Lynch, “Speech on the Civil Rights Bill”
(1875) Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, “The Great Problem to be Solved”
(1875) John Wesley Cromwell, “Address on the Difficulties of the Colored Youth in Obtaining an Education in the Virginias”
(1876) Senator Blanche K. Bruce, “...Appointing a Committee to Investigate Election Practices in Mississippi“
(1877) Alexander Crummell, “Address Before the American Geographical Society”
(1877) John E. Bruce, “Reasons Why the Colored American Should Go to Africa“
(1877) Peter H. Clark, “Socialism: The Remedy for the Evils of Society“
(1879) Ferdinand L. Barnett, “Race Unity“
(1879) John Mercer Langston, “The Exodus: The Causes Which Led The Colored People of the South to Leave Their Homes – The Lesson
(1879) Robert J. Harlan, “Migration is the Only Remedy for Our Wrongs”
(1880) P.B.S. Pinchback, “Campaign Speech for GOP Presidential Candidate James G. Garfield."
(1883) Alexander Crummell, “The Queens of Womanhood”
(1884) William H. Crogman, “Negro Education: Its Helps and Hindrances”
(1884), Alexander Crummell, “Excellence, an End of the Trained Intellect”
(1886) Alexander Crummell, “Common Sense in Common Schooling”
(1886) Lucy Parsons, “I am An Anarchist“
(1886) T. Thomas Fortune, “The Present Relations of Labor and Capitol“
(1888) Frederick Douglass On Woman Suffrage
(1889) John E. Bruce, “Organized Resistance Is Our Best Remedy“
(1890) Joseph C. Price, “Education and the Problem,“
(1890) T. Thomas Fortune, “It Is Time To Call A Halt,“
(1893) Anna Julia Cooper, “ Women's Cause is One and Universal”
(1893) Frances E.W. Harper, "Woman's Political Future"
(1893) Ida B. Wells, “Lynch Law In All Its Phases,”
(1894) William Saunders Scarborough, “The Ethics of the Hawaiian Question,”
(1895) Booker T. Washington, "The Atlanta Compromise Speech"
(1895) John H. Smyth, “The African in Africa and the African in America”
(1895) Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, “Address to the First National Conference of Colored Women,”
(1895) T. Thomas Fortune, “The Nationalization of Africa”
(1896) Booker T. Washington, “Address to the Harvard Alumni Dinner"
(1896) Booker T. Washington, “Democracy and Education”
(1896) Hugh M. Browne, “The Higher Education of the Colored People of the South”
(1896) John Hope, “We Are Struggling For Equality,”
(1897) Mary Church Terrell, “In Union There is Strength,”
(1898) Alexander Crummell, “The Attitude of the American Mind Toward the Negro Intellect,”
(1898) Booker T. Washington, “The Madison Square Garden Address”
(1898) Margaret Murray Washington, “We Must Have a Cleaner Social Morality,”
(1898) Rev. Charles S. Morris Describes The Wilmington Massacre of 1898
(1898) Rev. Francis J. Grimké, “The Negro Will Never Acquiesce As Long As He Lives”
(1899) Lucy Craft Laney, “The Burden of the Educated Colored Woman”
(1899) Rev. D. A. Graham, “Some Facts about Southern Lynchings”
(1900) Ida B. Wells, “Lynch Law in America”
(1900) W.E.B. Du Bois, “To the Nations of the World,”
(1901) Congressman George H. White's Farewell Address To Congress
(1903) Capt. Charles Young Speaks At Stanford University
(1903) W.E.B. Du Bois, “Training Negroes for Social Power”
(1904) Mary Church Terrell, “The Progress of Colored Women”
(1905) Roscoe Conkling Bruce, “Freedom Through Education“
(1906) Mary Church Terrell, “What It Means to be Colored in Capital of the U.S."
(1906) W.E.B. DuBois, “Men of Niagara”
(1909) Ida B. Wells, “Lynching Our National Crime”
(1914) John Edward Bruce, “Sons of Africa”
(1916) Robert R. Moton, “A Life of Achievement“
(1918) Rev. Francis J. Grimke, “Victory for the Allies and the United States a Ground of Rejoicing, of Thanksgiving”
(1919) William Pickens, “The Kind of Democracy the Negro Expects”
(1920) Archibald Grimke, “The Shame of America, or the Negro’s Case Against the Republic”
(1921) Marcus Garvey “Address to the Second UNIA Convention”
(1922) Marcus Garvey, "The Principles of The Universal Negro Improvement Association"
(1922) Wyatt Mordecai Johnson, “The Faith of the American Negro“
(1923) Bishop Randall Albert Carter, “Whence and Whither“
(1923) James Weldon Johnson, “Our Democracy and the Ballot“
(1923) Marcus Garvey, “A Last Word Before Incarceration”
(1928) Beatrice Morrow Cannady Speaks to the NAACP
(1933) Angelo Herndon Addresses His Jury
(1934) W.E.B. Du Bois, “A Negro Nation Within a Nation"
(1946) W.E. B. DuBois, “Behold the Land”
(1947) Moranda Smith Addresses The Congress Of Industrial Organizations Annual Convention, Boston
(1948) Bayard Rustin, “Jim Crow Army"
(1949) Nnamdi Azikiwe Addresses Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity at its 35th Annual Convention in Washington, D.C.
(1949) Ralph J. Bunche, “The Barriers of Race Can Be Surmounted”
(1950) Ralph Bunche, “Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech"
(1951) Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Addresses the NAACP National Convention
(1952) Charlotta Bass, “Acceptance Speech for Vice Presidential Candidate of the Progressive Party”
(1953) Thurgood Marshall, “Argument Before the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education”
(1955) Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., "Speech on Civil Rights"
(1955) Martin Luther King Jr., “The Montgomery Bus Boycott”
(1957) Roy Wilkins, “The Clock Will Not Be Turned Back”
(1959) Nnamdi Azikiwe Addresses the NAACP Convention on the Organization's 50th Anniversary
(1963) John Lewis, “We Must Free Ourselves”
(1963) Josephine Baker, “Speech at the March on Washington”
(1963) Malcolm X, “Message to the Grassroots”
(1963) Malcolm X, “Racial Separation”
(1963) Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream”
(1963) Robert C. Weaver, "The Negro as an American"
(1964) Fannie Lee Chaney, “Meridian Awakened”
(1964) Joseph Jackson, "The Vote is the Only Effective Weapon in the Civil Rights Struggle"
(1964) Malcolm X, “The Ballot or the Bullet”
(1964) Malcolm X’s Speech at the Founding Rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity
(1964), Dr. Martin Luther King, “Receiving the Nobel Peace Prize”
(1965) Bayard Rustin, “From Protest to Politics: The Future of the Civil Rights Movement”
(1965) Malcolm X, “Speech at Ford Auditorium”
(1966) Stokely Carmichael, “Black Power”
(1966) Stokely Carmichael, “Definitions of Black Power”
(1967) Martin Luther King, Jr., “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence”
(1968) Martin Luther King, Jr., “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”
(1970) Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, “I Am For the Equal Rights Amendment.”
(1970) Huey P. Newton, “The Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements”
(1974) Congresswoman Barbara Jordan's Statement: The Richard Nixon Impeachment Hearings
(1976) Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, “Who, Then, Will Speak for the Common Good?”
(1980) Thomas Sowell, “Politics and Opportunity: Background”
(1981) Audre Lorde, “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism”
(1982) Audre Lorde, “Learning from the 60s”
(1983) Glenn Loury, “Responsibility and Race”
(1984) Rev. Jesse Jackson, “The Rainbow Coalition”
(1987) Clarence Thomas, “Why Black Americans Should Look to Conservative Politics”
(1987) Thurgood Marshall, “A Colorblind Society Remains an Aspiration”
(1988) Rev. Jesse Jackson, “Keep Hope Alive.”
(1993) Clarence Thomas, “The New Intolerance - Law Day Address”
(1993) Lani Guinier, “Seeking a Conversation on Race"
(1994) General Colin Powell Urges African American Students to Reject Racial Hatred
(1994) Sister Souljah, “We Are At War"
(1995) Barbara Jordan’s Acceptance Speech for the Sylvanus Thayer Award from the United States Military Academy, West Point
(1995) Louis Farrakhan, “A Million Men Marching On"
(1997) Kweisi Mfume, “A Shining and Powerful Dream”
(1997) The Idea of an African Renaissance, Myth or Reality?
(1998) Clarence Thomas, "Speech to the National Bar Association"
(2000) Harold Ford, “Keynote Address at the Democratic National Convention"
2001 to present:
Smithsonian Folkways
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