Nell Irvin Painter on Understanding Blacks’ Motives

In the very same way that whites interpreted Black hopes for land as insurrectionary, they misunderstood Black solidarity – a new thing in its scope – as antiwhite militance.

Blacks reacted to their freedom by coming together in many self-help organizations and gestures. In voting, as in economic activities, they were not notably antiwhite. “We colored folks thought that if we were allowed to be voters we could, of course, express our own opinions,” said a Black Louisianian. “We did not want to do anything against our masters, but we wished the privilege of voting according to our judgment and knowledge.” 13 A kindred desire to help their own led Blacks to form cooperative stores and societies.

  • 13- Solomon White, United States House of Representatives, 41st Congress, 2nd session, House Miscellaneous Document no.154, Testimony Taken by the Sub-Committee of Elections in Louisiana (Washington, 1870), II: 165
  • P. 9, Exodusters – Nell Irvin Painter, ISBN 0-393-00951-3

Nell Irvin Painter


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