The Negro in the state of freedom

3 May 1883

Rev. Dr. Tucker recently spoke in a church meeting about the evil morals and views of the Negro in the state of freedom and communicated the following to his gawking listeners:

I have seen, he said, how the colored steal from one another while praying. On the way home from a prayer meeting they have no misgivings to empty out a conveniently situated chicken coop. And they do this without thinking that it's a sin against God or without even having an idea that there's a contradiction in their behavior. The most religious Negro that I know is sitting in a prison because of a hideous murder and he doesn't recognize in his crime any sin, although he admits that he broke the law. He can't comprehend that he committed a crime against God and he takes all such allusions as if they originated from personal prejudice or from the fact that he doesn't have as fine clothes as white people. He can't see any other reason why one takes sides against him or that one also sees a sin against God in his crime against human law.

I have, continued Mr. Tucker, known a Negro preacher who committed incest; another who was a regular thief; a third who had two wives; a fourth who was an impudent and chronic liar. But, all of them were industrious and successful preachers and in spite of it, the four people of whom I speak were not aware of being hypocritical and although their sins were manifest, that didn't lessen their influence on their fellow Negroes. It was impossible to be present at their preaching and praying without being convinced that they were completely honest.

As to the relationship between the sexes, Mr. Tucker says the following: In a Mississippi county the Clerk's office issued 300 marriage certificates in one year for whites. According to the population 1200 certificates should have been issued to coloreds over the same time. The actual number of certificates issued was, however, three. I know whole regions where there's not a single legally married Negro couple. Even the married couples don't remain faithful to each other over time. At most for a couple of years, mostly only a couple of months and often only for a few weeks do they stay together. And, concluded Mr. Tucker, what I've told you here today are only indications. I can't say the whole truth publicly about this.

As it was expressly pointed out, it's the preachers and the religious people among the Negroes who behave so poorly when freed. But might the morals of the non-believing Negro be better? We'd like to almost think so. Probably the colored reverends will soon take revenge on their white "Brothers in the Lord" and give us some pictures of the latter's "Lifestyles in Tranquility." One crow shouldn't peck out the other's eyes.